Monday, February 29, 2016

Swap N' Hop: What I Sent My Partner

Both my partner and I have officially swapped--sent and received--our beads for the Swap N' Hop! 

And, since Michelle knows what I sent her, now I get to show it off here!

Here is the teaser picture that I posted, followed by what the picture actually shows...


In this collection: two shades of freshwater pearls, two colors of paper beads that I made specifically for her mix, two clay pod beads by Selena Anne Wells, a copper-brown lampwork focal bead by Carol Christensen-Day of GlassyFields, vintage wooden beads, two different colors of Czech glass (Montana blue and brown iris), a porcelain focal, and brass accents.

I had so much fun putting together this mix for her... It is such a joy to be able to share such happy shiny things! (And I really couldn't narrow it down--so, I just sent her everything. Heh.)

And, I didn't stop there.

As a bonus, I sent her this too:

In this collection: five different types of papers beads that I've made, white freshwater pearls, red and black Chinese crystal bicones, a ceramic focal, and silver-plated metal accents.

Something fun about this collection: I also have these materials! I thought it could be fun for us both to make something with these components... You know, as a special side-project. :)

I'm so glad that she likes what I sent, and I can't wait to see what she makes with it all!

And! I'm really excited to show off what she sent me. In fact, it deserves a blog post all its own... I just need to remember to get pictures of it before I start creating. Oh, what fun!

So, there you go... Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Happy last day of February!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Introducing: My Partner for the Swap N' Hop!

Part of the fun of doing swapping-style blog hops is finding out who your partner is going to be... And I am definitely thrilled to introduce you to my partner for the 2nd Annual Swap N' Hop!

Who is it, you ask? 

My partner is Michelle McCarthy!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be partnered with Michelle... She is a very talented ceramic artist, and I've been a fan of her work for quite some time. Taking a quick foray on her blog, you find all sorts of beautiful things:

Not my photo!
From Michelle's Blog, this entry.

Not my photo!
From Michelle's Blog, this entry.

Not my photo!
From Michelle's Blog, this entry.

Not my photo!
From Michelle's Blog, this entry.

...And taking a quite foray on her Etsy shop, I end up with all sorts of goodies in my cart. Heh. Definitely makes me wish my beading budget was more hefty!

Now, both of us have already sent our Swap N' Hop bead-y selections to each other... I'm really excited for her to get what I sent her. I hope she likes it!

Want to know what I sent her? Well, here's a teaser... I'll be sure to post the actual picture once she gets it:

And I'll be sure to post a picture of the beads she has sent me when I get them! Woo!

This is going to be so much fun!

....And here are her links! (I have them peppered throughout the above entry, but here they are again, in case you missed them. *grin*)

Her blog is here:
Her website it here:
Her Etsy shop is here:

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Jenny Monthly Challenge - February Reveal

It's time for this week's last reveal--the reveal of what I made for my personal February Challenge! 


As you may recall, this month's challenge was focused on origami. Basically, I had picked up a Deluxe Origami Jewelry Kit from Barnes and Noble on clearance, and wanted to make something with it.

After all, just look at these beautiful papers!

These are the origami papers that were included in the kit.

So, I got to work making things! Using the directions from the book included with the kit, I made two different designs: butterflies and kusudama units, in a variety of different sizes. And then, feeling emboldened, I went online and learned how to make origami leaves as well.

Then, once I finished pieces I was pleased with, I gave them all a nice protective coat of Triple Thick Glaze. The book recommended using polyurethane, but I decided to use what I had on hand. 

Here you can see my pieces about to be glazed (including a giant butterfly that I want to make into a Christmas tree ornament at some point):

Everything I needed: glaze, origami pieces, paintbrush, and coffee.

Coating the pieces is what makes them sturdy enough to incorporate into jewelry... And incorporate them into jewelry, I did! 

Overall, I made three sets: one for each type of origami I had learned. For fun, I'm going to show these off in the reverse order that I made them. 

So! To begin with, here was my original idea for the butterfly necklace...

...And, from that, I made this is the final set:

I used orange freshwater pearls, pink mother-of-pearl rounds, and pink vintage German beads--both rounds and teardrops. I was trying to choose colors that complemented the sunshiney origami paper that I had used for the butterfly.

The second set that I made was the one with the kusudama units.

I had several to chose from--from two different color schemes: orange/pink and teal blue. Ultimately, I decided to make something with the larger orange/smaller peach units (because I already had a blue set--the leaves).

Here, I was gathering materials:

You can't quite tell, but there really is a color difference between
the large and small kusudama units.

...And this is the final set:

The set is made with goldenrod freshwater pearls, two different shades of crystal, and copper.

And yes, the earrings are missing earwires, because apparently I am out of copper ones. Oops. That will be remedied soon; I just wasn't able to get some in time for this reveal.

And now for my favorite set--the leaf set, which was actually the first one that I made.

Here are the materials I gathered together...

I am in love with those purple-teal-shiny Czech glass rondelles. Just saying.

...And this is what I came up with!

This set is made with Czech glass, teal freshwater pearls, wood heishi beads, and copper. And I really love it.

Now, you may have noticed that all three necklaces are a variation of the same design: a long necklace where chain gives way to a series of beads, which then gives way to a pendant. It wasn't actually a conscious decision that I made; they each just developed that way, partially because of the weight of the origami pieces. 

In fact, weight was my only problem in making these necklaces--even coated, the origami pieces are so light that weighting the necklaces to lay right proved rather difficult. Anything too short was constantly moving around or flipping over. So, I decided to go with longer designs, where natural movement was expected. That decision was further reinforced when I realized that too many beads drowned out the elegance of the origami, so more chain/less beads ended up being a good thing!

And while weight was a bit of a problem for the necklaces, it was certainly not a problem for the earrings. Each pair of earrings I made are extremely light and have wonderful movement. I find them a joy to wear! (Especially the butterflies!)

So! There you have it. Those are the pieces that I made for this month's challenge. It is always fun taking something like paper--something not usually associated with beads--and turn it into jewelry. Pearls and paper--what a lovely combination!

Thank you so much for joining me for this reveal! It's been a busy week here on my blog, and it's been a pleasure to share my creations with you. Now, to finalize preparations for March's challenge! :) 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday's Worktable

Some days are good for planning. Some days are good for doing. And some rare, wonderful days are good for both.

...And then there's today, which is apparently good for absolutely none of those things. Argh. 

For example: this morning, I designed and made a bracelet. Not only did the design flop, but I didn't plan the execution well enough. I cut the leather too short, making it a one-wrap instead of a three-wrap. I started off using the wrong color thread, and even changing to the right thread didn't save it. Not even coming up with a clever name for the design made it worth it. Just, no.

Two-tone Czech glass, olive jade serpentine, a vintage button--beautiful possibilities!
And, no, I'm not going to show you the design that flopped... mostly because I
disassembled it before taking a picture, and am not putting it back together.

Undeterred, I then designed and started another bracelet--but had to stop after the first inch. The bead holes are super inconveniently small, and the thread keeps getting tangled, and my fingers apparently have the dexterity of mud. I. Keep. Dropping. Things.


At least I think the design will be lovely, once I'm able to wrestle my way through the rest of it.

Mother-of-pearl shell beads, black leather,
and a vintage button that matches perfectly.

To be fair, though, I've been having a lot of creative success recently... I suppose I shouldn't complain. 

In fact, I've been having so much success that there are two projects that I've made this week that deserve their own separate write-ups. (Those who have been following my Instagram have a heads-up on what those two projects are.)

So, before I go work on those entries (and tomorrow's reveal!), I'll leave you with the other two projects that I have made this week (not today) that have not totally flopped--either in design, or in execution:

Making my first wrap bracelet that used 6/0 seed beads instead of my
normal 4mm rounds--and it turned out surprisingly well!
Will work better with more uniform beads, but still--not bad!

Simple yet elegant design, made with delicate vintage Japanese acrylic.

So, there you go: an honest look at today's worktable. After all, no matter how much we work at this, the creative process can still be messy, and imperfect, and even frustrating at times. 

And that's okay. 

As for me, I'm just going to take a break, have some coffee, clean the house a bit, work on tomorrow's reveal post, and then get back to it--and remember that it's okay to have off days.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Thursday, whether it be perfect or not!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February Pretty Palettes - Reveal!

Reveal time!

This month, I decided to try my hand at creating something for the Pretty Palettes challenge, posted on the Halcraft blog. This month's inspiration for Pretty Palettes was lace. (For more information about the inspiration--and lace-making--go read the introductory entry.) 

And, in keeping with the theme, here is the collection of pretty lace-inspired beads they picked out:

Not my photo!
From the Halcraft Blog.

In an earlier entry, I alluded to the fact that I was only able to find three out of the five components in stock at my local Michaels... So, I improvised! Keeping with the lace-and-pink motif, these are the beads that I picked out:

The pendant, the rose painted ceramic beads, and the large-holed ceramic beads are from the original palette. My additions are the Czech glass, the lace-like silver filigree, the cats-eye ovals, and the peachypink agate rounds (that I didn't end up using for this--I decided to save them for something else).

This time last year, I would have been quite challenged by all that pink. Things have changed, apparently, because that was not the case this month. Instead of beating my head against beader's block, my creativity kind of exploded.

But instead of just telling you that, I'm going to show you. Using those beautiful components, here is what I made:

So. Many. Things!

There are nine pieces overall: 5 necklaces, 3 pairs of earrings, and a bracelet. What can I say? I was inspired!

(And I probably went overboard, but ah well. I do tend to do that. I just have a hard time stopping when I get on a roll!)

And now for some close-ups of the different pieces.

Rose and Ribbon

I actually really struggled with how to use these large-holed beads. None of the designs that I was coming up with quite matched the delicate-lace theme. None of the spacers I added looked right, either. Eventually, I decided that simplicity was best, and strung them by themselves on multiple strands of lace-white ribbon. I figured I would just let the beauty of the beads speak for themselves.

English Tea Garden

Next up: the pink flower ceramic beads paired with white freshwater pearls. Another relatively simple design, the wire-wrapped links make it dainty and elegant. This set makes me think of something that could be worn to a fancy garden party--to complement a lace parasol, of course. :)

Silver Lace

I picked out the above silver filigree rounds because their designs made me think of lace. Here I strung them with silver spacers and freshwater pearls.

And now for the grand finale. The last four pieces are a set--they can be worn together or separately. (Granted, the necklaces aren't quite the right length for layering--but a little tweaking would take care of that!) Here they are, all together:

February Blush

All in shades of pink and white, paired with filigree silver!

This first necklace is made with the Czech glass and rose quartz (both the pendant and rondelles), coupled with chain that I bought from Michaels. 

This is also the first necklace that I made for this challenge--and it was my success that spurred me to keep creating. It hangs long and moves just like a lace bobbin, and I love it. (My original plan was to give it to my sister, but I am definitely debating keeping it for myself!)

These last three pieces are made with Czech glass and cat's eye glass, and the tassel necklace also includes rose quartz and rainbow moonstone. I actually made all three of these pieces in one day (my husband didn't see much of me that day--tassels like that take quite some time, even when they're only six-strand instead of my customary ten)... And I was absolutely thrilled with how it all came together!

So, there you go! So many pretty things! 

Here is one last shot of everything together...

Now, while I didn't include any actual lace in these designs (although I have done that before), I certainly tried to stay true to the inspiration with the delicate and intricate designs, coupled with the color palette--and I had a blast while doing so! 

Thank you so much, those at Pretty Palettes, for putting together such a lovely collection to work with!

And thank you for stopping by! I have one more reveal for this week, coming on Friday--and it should be fun! Feel free to join me, then, too!

For those looking for my usual Wednesday's Worktable post, I'm planning on posting one tomorrow. I figured today should be specifically dedicated to Pretty Palettes fun! :)