Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June Pretty Palettes - Reveal!

I am so incredibly excited for this month's Pretty Palettes reveal!

Why, you ask? Because, this month, I was asked by the talented Erin Prais-Hintz to be her partner! That's right--the official partner on the official Pretty Palettes reveal on the official Halcraft Blog. And, trust me, I was beyond flattered... What an honor! 

The theme for this month's Pretty Palettes challenge was the ocean--quite fitting, considering it is the beginning of summer. As such, these are the beautiful sea-ish beads that Erin picked out:

Aren't they lovely? I think that they quite nicely capture the shades of the ocean... and there are even fun seahorse charms! :)

Now, I was super excited when I was asked to be the official Pretty Palettes partner this month, and then I was doubly excited by this mix. You see, this is quite the nostalgic mix for me. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where I spent quite a bit of time at the Inner Harbor--whether it was to go to the National Aquarium, to my first job (ah, the joys of retail), or to visit the beautiful tall ships that came to port. Then, for college and several years afterward, I lived on the Eastern Shore--sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Water water everywhere!

Now I'm landlocked in the Midwest, but oh! I miss the ocean.

...And, perhaps because I was so inspired by these beads and my nostalgia, I made many many things for this challenge. Overall, I made three necklaces and six pairs of earrings. Because when I get inspired, I make all the things, apparently. 

So, sit back and relax... and let me show you lots of pictures! Yay! :)

Necklace Set #1
Mermaid's Tokens

This first set was made using all of the beads picked out by Erin--and only the beads picked out by Erin.

Well, okay... Those two Czech bead rounds in the starfish earrings were from
another Halcraft mix. But all of the others are from the Official Bead Selection!

As suggested by its title, this necklace made me think of something that a mermaid would gather, like little tokens of affection or remembering: shells and treasures from under the sea, collected and strung together. The big blue rounds, while made from lava, really make me think of coral... and those lovely howlite drops make me think of solidified waterdrops.

To be honest, this necklace was also one of my first real successful attempts at making a multi-stranded piece... And I am very happy to say that it turned out exactly like I had in my head. Isn't it wonderful when things just come together?

As for the earrings, I decided to make two pairs--one silver tone, and one that was more gold and brass. After all, both technically match the multi-metaled necklace... It will just depend on the mood of the wearer.

I really couldn't be happier with this set. As I said, it turned out exactly as I had envisioned, and it uses everything that had been picked out for this month's challenge. I definitely call that a win! :) 

Necklace Set #2
Charm of the Urchin

But wait, there's more!

This next set was knotted on waxed linen cord, and used a combination of the Official Bead Selections and items from my stash.

...Items including (but not limited to) vintage sea urchin spines, wave-swirled ceramic rounds, and a handful of little shells. 

The result is very bohemian and free-flowing--and it makes an absolutely wonderful jingly noise! (I totally want a windchime made with sea urchin spines... I just love the sound they make!)


For the earrings, I again made two matching pairs... The first is a long asymmetrical pair, made that way because: a.) I had two unmatched sea urchin spines to work with, and b.) it seemed to fit the necklace's aesthetic. 

The second is a simpler pair made with the main colors of the necklace, for the days when shoulder-dangling earrings are a bit much.

I am extremely fond of this set, and have already planned an entire outfit around it.

Oh, and in case you're wondering... it's that rather eclectic fantasy-story-beachside-gypsy-vendor feel, coupled with the fact that I literally made a charm necklace using sea urchin spines, that led to the name of this set. :)

Necklace Set #3
Coastal Treasures

And now for the Grand Finale!

This last set is very special--and actually uses only a few of the Official Bead Selections. (In supporting roles rather than being the main event--see if you can spot them!) 

Instead, it mainly focuses on this particular Halcraft mix... which, when I saw it, immediately inspired me to make this:

Yes, that is another multi-stranded necklace--and my second real successful attempt to make one. (You've already seen the first one at the beginning of this post.) I was emboldened by my earlier success, and just decided to go for it.

...And, like the first necklace, this one came together exactly as I had envisioned it.

A little about the construction... It was made using the aforementioned Halcraft mix, as well as two different strands of shells, dyed magnesite, and Chinese crystal (seen in the shell strands).

The shell in the pendant is very special, too--and is what led to the title of this set. The shell, you see, is from my mother... She found it when she was beach-combing on Sanibel Island, in Florida. (She and my dad were there on vacation.) I wire-wrapped it, added the howlite teardrop tassel, and attached it to the bail so that it could be worn with the necklace.

Oh, and also?

That pendant comes off.

That means that the pendant can be worn on a scarf (I have a beautiful blue one that matches it perfectly, but I didn't think to photograph), and the necklace can be worn as a multi-stranded ocean beauty all on its own.

The earrings were made to match the colors of the necklace, regardless of whether the pendant was on or not. Oh, and it was also an excuse to use more of the seahorse charms. Can you blame me? ;)

I am over the moon with how well this set turned out. It is truly wonderful when the vision in my head can be translated into reality. It's a moment that would make any artist proud, and I am no exception!

So, ta-da! That is what I made for this month's Pretty Palettes challenge. I challenged myself to make things I don't usually make, and I am ecstatic at how they turned out. Imagine, I didn't even make anything with wire-wrapped links! (Granted, I had a plan to make one like that--I just didn't get a chance to. Heh.)

Thank you so much, Erin, for asking me to be your partner! I had a wonderful time, and I'm honored that I got to participate.

And thank you, readers, for stopping by! Please be sure to stop by the Halcraft Blog for the main reveal... I know that there will be lots of beautiful ocean-inspired jewelry to see! I, for one, am excited to see what everyone made!

Have a wonderful day, everyone... I know I certainly plan to!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Reveal - SJ Designs Jewelry Honey Do List June Design Challenge!

Up until this morning, it looked like I wasn't going to be able to participate in this month's Honey Do List challenge (that's the monthly challenge Eric Wentling has been giving his wife Sarajo over at SJ Designs Jewelry, in case you didn't know).

And why was I going to sit this one out? Well, it's been quite the busy month for me, and I hadn't had a chance to sit down at my beading table for the last week and a half. (That's a long time for me to go without a creative outlet! Oi.)

Still, this morning I had a few moments to put something together... And, ta-da! I get a chance to be a part of this reveal. Hurray!

So! Without further ado, here is the inspiration picture for this month's Honey Do List:

Not my photo!
Taken by Eric Wentling, and posted on the SJ Designs Jewelry blog.

Isn't that a beautiful picture? I love the way he captured the reflection in the water, and the koi that was swimming by. Just lovely!

And from that beautiful, artistic photograph... I made a whimsical (i.e. rather silly) pair of earrings:

...Yep. The noble koi and majestic fern of the photograph have been reduced to ceramic fishies with acrylic leaves.

And I know that they aren't even fern leaves, but that's okay. They're still a nice size to balance out the fish--and light enough so that this pair of earrings is actually quite comfortable to wear.

(Oh, and I just realized that they actually look a bit like lily pads. Heh. I suppose that works, too.) 

...Honestly, while I doubt these earrings will win any grand awards, they make me happy. Those fishie beads just make me smile!

So, there you go! Please feel free to stop by SJ Designs Jewelry to see the beautiful things that Sarajo made... Lovely things, much more refined and artisanal than my whimsical little fishes. Still, I am very pleased that I was able to participate in this month's challenge--thanks, as always, to Sarajo and Eric for letting me play along!

...And thank you so much for stopping by! I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Jenny Monthly Challenge - June Reveal

Although it's later than I had intended, here is my reveal for June's Monthly Challenge! Thank you so much for your patience as I've been getting my computer situation figured out!*

As a quick reminder, my challenge this month was my husband's idea: to make jewelry that incorporated 15 beads or less. 

That's right... While I could use as many findings (and functional don't-slide-off-the-headpin seed beads) as I needed, there could only be 15 beads. The goal was for me to make simpler jewelry--necklaces, especially, since I've been making so many one-of-a-kind statement pieces recently. (And because most of the earrings I make are under 15 beads already.)

So, how did I do? Well, overall, I made four necklaces--some with matching earrings, some not. Not too bad!

Necklace 1

A variety of gemstones to choose from!

The first necklace that I made uses only 9 beads. And while the beads that I used were not actually any of the beads pictured above, they were gemstones: rutilated quartz. 

I paired them with silvertone metal to create this set:

See, 9 beads! And the earring pair only used 2 beads, so they are also way under the 15 bead limit. Woo-hoo!

The construction for this set is fairly straightforward... I figured that I would let the beauty of the gemstones be the main, uninterrupted focus. As such, I think it turned out pretty well!

Necklace 2

The second set that I made has a design similar to the first one, but a much different color palette:

Ooooo, what a lovely collection of colored glass!

I have been really enjoying playing around with random combination of beads (like I showed in a worktable post from a few weeks ago), so that's what I did for this piece:

Ta-da! 15 random glass beads, accented by gold and brass findings.

While the rutilated quartz necklace is a classy 16 inches long, this one measures over 20 inches. It's more free-flowing as a result, and the bead combination makes it feel more bohemian.... A great way to add some color to an outfit!

Necklace 3

...And this is the point in the Monthly Challenge that I got creative. 

You see, apparently my desire to make a tassel would not be deterred. That's why, when I saw these beads, I immediately had an idea:

And, you guess it: that idea involved making a tassel!

This necklace is made with 14 beads, and the earrings are made with 4--both under the 15 bead limit. Materials include glass, pearl, goldtone metal, and a focal cloisonné bead. (It also needs a clasp, but I forgot and haven't added one yet. Oops.)

And, although these pictures don't quite show it, this necklace is actually quite dainty--reminding me that a tassel doesn't need to be huge to be lovely. :)

Necklace 4

And now it's time for the last necklace set that I made for this challenge... and, yep, it's a also a tassel necklace!

I took the triangle beads featured at the very top of the above picture, and--after some playing around and experimentation--I turned them into this set:

The necklace is made with 15 beads, which includes the triangle piece. Both pairs of earrings are under 15 beads, too, so they also count towards the challenge.

This necklace was a great deal of fun to make--especially since I had never done anything quite like it. (For one thing, the tassel is constructed differently than any I've done previously... And for another, I had never used triangles like that before.)

I also really enjoy the combination of metal colors (brass and silver with touches of copper), as well as the juxtaposition of the faceted glass and the matte brass. 

The longer length also gives it a great amount of movement... And, what can I say--I really like tassels. :)


And there you go... That's what I made for this Jenny Monthly Challenge! 

I turned a mish-mash collection of beads:

I posted this picture in my blog post introducing this challenge.

...into this collection of jewelry:

As I said before: not too bad!

...Especially since, I confess, this was a fairly difficult challenge for me. I kept wanting to make things more complicated--and I definitely kept wanting to add more beads! Yet, in all cases, I think the number restriction enhanced the designs... And that is definitely something good for me to remember going forward. :)

So, there you go! Thank you so, so much for stopping by to see the reveal this challenge... I hope you enjoyed seeing what I made!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

* - Photograph Disclaimer:
Please pardon if any of these pictures seem a little wonky... I'm still readjusting to using my desktop computer as opposed to my laptop--and my actual cameras, as opposed to just my phone. 

As such, there is a bit of a re-learning curve... Thank you so much for your patience, as I figure out what lighting is best, what settings to use, and so forth. I'm always endeavoring to make this blog the best it can possibly be, and right now is no exception! :)