Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday's Worktable

It's Wednesday! We've made it halfway through the work week... hurray!

My worktable is currently overflowing with projects--just the way I like it. I've got pieces going for my personal Monthly Challenge, for the We're All Ears challenge, for the Pretty Palettes challenge, and even for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge (a new one for me!). Every time I think I'm going to cut back on the amount of challenges I do, I find another one that sparks my interest and my creativity goes into overdrive. What can I say--I'm inspired! :)

Yet another project on my worktable this week--one not dictated by a reveal date--is the following selection of beads: 

That's the Bargain Bead Box for July. It's their second anniversary, so the theme this month is growth. The collection is full of green and brown and silver... oh, and leaves. :)

I haven't quite decided what I'm going to make yet, but here are some the components I picked out as possibilities:

Whenever I have brown and green, my first instinct is to put them with either copper or brass or even gold--one of the warmer metals. Having silver as the metal of choice is intriguing for me... It cools the palette down. 

I'm still debating whether or not to keep the brown, or just stick with the greens... I guess we'll just have to wait and see what I go with!

Thanks so much for stopping by today to see what I'm working on... As I said, my worktable is quite the hub of activity this week! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday's Worktable

I have so, so many projects rattling around in my head this week. Happily, I've been making good progress on them, too. It's always exciting when the inspiration comes in a rush--even when it's hard to keep up! (I have to remind myself to get up, walk around, get my exercise, drink some water. Heh. It's so easy for me to get caught up in my work, and sometimes I ignore things like that.)

So! Time to show you one of the many things on my worktable this Wednesday:

Inspired by my success with one of my Monthly Challenge projects last month, I decided to revisit that same idea again... this time, in the above shades of black and brass.

Yep, you guessed it... it's tassel-making time!

Once I (mostly) finished the tassel, I laid out the order of beads to go in the main strands (only partially seen above and below):

...And then I wire-wrapped it all together!

I haven't gotten a good picture of the final necklace in its entirety yet, but here you get a good idea of what the finished piece looks like:

What can I say, I really like the look of this type of design. This one is actually quite light, too... the brass beads are all hollow, and some of the other beads are acrylic (not that you can tell, unless you study them). All in all, I'm quite pleased... especially since I bought the beads for this last week, and I've already finished it. Hurray!

Thanks for stopping by today to see what I've been working on... Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - July Edition

As I was thinking about what my Monthly Challenge should be for this month, I realized that it's been quite some time since I dedicated one to a visual artist. Considering my love for Art History, that's a shame.

So! The inspiration for this July's Monthly Challenge, then, is another of my favorite artists. I've already done James McNeill Whistler and Edward Gorey, as well as Louis Comfort Tiffany and even the mosaic artists of ancient Rome.

Who am I focusing on this month, then? Let's see if you can guess:

Self-Portrait, 1887
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

That's right! Vincent van Gogh!

Vincent van Gogh is a fascinating character and a fantastic artist. He's probably most well known for his painting The Starry Night:

The Starry Night
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

...Although his other works are also quite lovely, and just as compelling.

Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

Honestly, trying to sum up Van Gogh in one short blog entry is a bit daunting. He's known for his broad use of brush strokes, bold use of color--and his mental instability. In fact, he "exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist 'where discourses on madness and creativity converge'" (quote from the Wikipedia article, with an interior quote from Melissa McQuillan's 1989 work entitled Van Gogh).

Wheat Field with Cypresses
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

For some biographical information: he was born into an upper-middle-class family in 1853. He was very close to his younger brother Theo, the latter of whom supported him financially and encouraged him in his art. He had a rather complicated friendship with Paul Gauguin--which, incidentally, led to the famous ear-mutilation incident that everyone associates with Van Gogh. 

He died at age 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after a life of poverty and perceived failure. The ultimate "tragic artist," he only became famous after his death... And the physical causes of his psychotic episodes, depression, and mental turmoil have long been discussed by art historians and medical professionals alike.

Starry Night Over the Rhone
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

Just remembering him as a madman or a tortured genius doesn't do him justice, though. He was a innovative and prolific painter--with over 2,000 artworks credited to his name. These artworks include landscapes, still lifes, portraits of others, and portraits of himself, and are "characterized by... dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art" (source: again, Wikipedia).

Also of note is his use of color. He was fascinated by it. According to Robert Hughes in his work The Portable Van Gogh (2002), "Van Gogh perceived color as having a 'psychological and moral weight', as exemplified in the garish reds and greens of The Night Cafe, a work he wanted to 'express the terrible passions of humanity'. Yellow meant the most to him, because it symbolised emotional truth. He used yellow as a symbol for sunlight, life, and God." (Quoted from, you guessed it, Wikipedia).

The Sower
Not my photo! From Wikimedia commons, found here.

So, what does all this mean for my challenge this month? Mostly, I'm hoping to pay homage to this remarkable artist--inspired by his use of color and his broad painterly style.

I'll leave off with a quote from one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, wherein the eponymous Doctor is talking to a museum curator about Van Gogh's legacy:

The Doctor: Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art? 
Curator: Well... um... big question, but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.*

Wow, those are some big shoes to fill! While I certainly don't think my offerings will be quite to that level of magnificence, come back on Friday, July 28th to see if I do justice to this challenge!

* - Disclaimer: While I love too many artists to say that I think Van Gogh is the best to ever live, I certainly agree that he was pretty spectacular! :)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hello, July!

Well, it's July, and 2017 is now more than halfway over. Can you imagine! This year is simply flying by!

I don't have much to show off on my worktable this week... there has been a fair amount of hanging out with family and friends, and not as much jewelry-creating. That being said, though, there is one thing I can show off...

Last minute 4th of July earrings!

Happy little clusters in red, white, and blue! They remind me a little bit of fireworks that have burst, their fiery tales trailing down the sky.

Oh, and I made them to match my Captain America shield necklace:

Geeky and patriotic, heh. I suppose I could do worse. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by today... I hope you have a fantastic week.

Happy July, everyone!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - June Reveal

It is the last Friday in June... and actually the last day in June, period. 

What a wonderful day, than, to have my reveal for June's Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge! :)

As a reminder, this month's challenge was based on the idea of "Something Old, Something New"... meaning that I was going to attempt to finish a project that had been sitting on my worktable for a long time (something old), as well as to start and finish a project I had never tried before (something new).

...And wow, I had a lot of success with this challenge! So much so, that I actually don't have time today to show you everything I made. That's all right, though--I'll show you one for each category, and hopefully share the rest at a later date. :)

So, first up, one of the three necklace sets I made for the first part of the challenge:

Something Old

I have had this collection of beads on my table for months. I actually bought them on my trip to Maryland back in March--I had great plans for them, but never got around to working with them.

Until this week, that is.

Now, I knew that I wanted to make at least two different necklaces with those beads--one focused on the combination of silver/gunmetal/turquoise, and the other on copper/brass/green. I didn't do both this month, but I did do one of them. 

Guess which one:

...And yes, it involved making my own giant tassel. :)

After quite a bit of work (it took me longer to make that tassel than I care to say), this is what I came up with:

I love the way that this turned out. It is a combination of glass, silver plated metal, and magnesite, all wire-wrapped together with 22 gauge gunmetal wire. The tassel is weighty but not overbearing, and has a gorgeous amount of sway to it.


Yeah, I'm definitely in love with it. I've been going through my recent jewelry, trying to decide which pieces to sell and which to keep... This one is definitely staying in the "keep" pile. :)

Something New

Up next, the Something New part of this challenge! For this part, I ended up making two things: a necklace, and a papercraft. I'll show off the necklace some other time... For now, though, I'll share something that my mum showed me how to make:


Now, to be fair, I've done bookbinding before. This was a new experience, though, because we only used one signature instead of multiple--which makes these more like folios or impromptu poetry journals. 

We also made the covers, which was a gloriously creative (and messy!) process. We painted and sprayed and stenciled heavy watercolor paper, on both sides to decorate the cover and as well as the inside:

Once both sides of the covers dried, we then measured and cut and folded paper to serve as the pages: 

...And chose which color linen we wanted to use to bind them:

I didn't get any pictures of the actual binding process, but it involved poking holes through the cover and the pages, and then using the linen to stitch them together:

My mother's craft table is always so neat and clean, and then I come through
and there is an explosion. Heh. Also, I managed to dye my fingers with all
the inks and paints we used. What can I say--creativity can be messy! :)

All in all, I made three journals. Here are some close-ups for you...

I had so much fun making these! I want to make so many more... and part of me wants to make necklaces in those same colors, too. How fun would that be--having your journal and your jewelry match. :)

So, there you go! Thank you so much for stopping by today to see what I made for this challenge! As I get the chance, I'll share the other pieces that I made, too... And I'm already planning what I'm going to do for July. So many creative projects... Woo-hoo!

Have a wonderful last day of June, everyone! :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pretty Palettes - June Reveal

It's the last Wednesday in June... and you know what that means! That's right, it's time for the Pretty Palettes reveal! Hurray! :)

This month's palette, chosen by the talented Molly Schaller, is proof that you really can find inspiration anywhere. In her post introducing the challenge, she wrote that she had been looking high and low for a color combination, to no avail... until she looked down at her pencil case, binder, and book she had recently picked up from the library. The combination of colors and patterns really popped out at her:

...and inspired her to come up with the following palette!

To match those colors, as well as the patterns from the inspiration photo, these were the beads that she picked out:

...And I actually picked out most of those same beads, as well. When I went shopping with my mother while on vacation, these are what I found:

The main differences are the size of the white howlite beads, the fact that the blue beads are wood and not magnesite, and the addition of the blue rectangles (the latter of which I didn't actually get to use). Oh, and you may notice that there's some matching paper under there, too. Yep, paper beads are going to make another showing this month!

I had so many ideas of jewelry to make with these beads... In the end, though, I only had time to make two sets. Still, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out... And so, without any further ado, here is what I made!

Set 1

When I was first designing this set, I attempted to use all of the beads I had picked out. Eventually, however, I realized that not everything worked with the vision I had... So, I put aside the crackled agate, rummaged through my stash for matching beads, and came up with this:

Surprise! It's a tassel necklace. :)

To make this necklace, I made four different colors of paper beads: red, brown, redbrown, and bluewhite. Four of each color are featured in this necklace--two in the tassel, and two in the mildly asymmetrical strands. (If you look closely, you can see that the strands are actually reverses of each other. *grin*)

I also made sure to add some dark brown wood rounds (leftover from March's Pretty Palettes, actually) and some 4mm grain stone... That way, both the dark and light shades of brown were represented, even though I didn't use the crackle agate.

After I made the necklace, I decided to also made some matching earrings:

These were so much fun to make! They're so much bigger than I usually create, and it was fun stepping out of my comfort zone. Using paper beads and the silver plated saucers helped cut down on the weight, so even I can wear them comfortably. (I'm incredibly, incredibly sensitive to heavy earrings, and never wear them as a result.)

The patterns featured in the inspiration picture really made me think of my college thesis, which included a section on Navajo textiles... So, with this set, I tried to stay true to both the color palette as well as the slightly Southwestern feel of the inspiration. Overall, I am very pleased with how this set turned out! :)

Set 2

After finishing up the first set, I wanted to work next with the crackle agate. I didn't finish making a necklace, but I did make a pair of earrings (seen above), and a bracelet (seen below).

To make the bracelet, I used grain stone and two shades of magnesite (blue and white). The leather I used is metallic rose; it looks brown in these photos, but it is in fact a beautiful muted red. I then finished the design--and made sure all colors were represented--by making dangles with crackle agate and wood rounds.

While the colors of the first set are very bright, the hues of this second set are much more subdued. I'm excited to make a matching necklace at some point--perhaps with those beautiful crackled agate ovals. We'll have to see!

So, there you go... Those are the pieces that I made for this June's Pretty Palettes! I admit that it was a fair challenge for me--those are not colors I usually think to put together. I certainly enjoyed pushing myself!

Thanks so much for stopping by today to see what I made... Happy Wednesday, everyone!