Saturday, March 28, 2015

Art Jewelry Elements Monthly Challenge: March Hares

Every month the talented artists from the Art Jewelry Elements team host a component of the month challenge. This month's themed challenge, March Hare, was aligned with the spring season. Bead and component makers created hares in their respective mediums. For hare eye candy, head over to the blog post introducing the AJE March Hare Theme

Jenny Davies-Reazor, a mixed media artist inspired by myth and folklore, was kind enough to give away two of her hare pendants, and I was fortunate to win one of them. What an exciting day it was when this little hare arrived in the mail. 

His cute little face sat on my studio work table for a long time both inspiring me and taunting me. Purple is a color I rarely use in my jewelry, so this project challenged me a bit. I pulled out trays of purple and brown beads to match the pendant but then felt stuck determining secondary colors. Then I remembered that I had just purchased some ribbons that might work in this project.

Elizabeth Girod makes the most gorgeous hand-dyed, serged cotton/silk batik ribbons. Just take a look at the selection in her shop, Fire & Fibers. The ribbon I wanted to use had an array of colors in it - purple, green, brown, orange, red, and blue.

That ribbon really inspired interesting color choices. The next moment my table was cluttered with beads in a variety of colors and the fun began. I textured and antiqued some copper washers and attached the ribbon to them. Now, what to hang from them? I discovered some purple satin cord in a long-neglected drawer; it matched the pendant exactly.  After weaving the cord through the chain, I slipped on a bail and attached the pendant with a jump ring.

The simplicity of this design really spotlighted the hare pendant. But anyone who knows me, can totally relate to this next sentence. I can not leave things well enough alone. Simple just doesn't register with me; I always take the next step into complicated.

I decided to add another beaded strand, stringing Czech glass, crazy lace agate, variscite, and turquoise beads along with copper spacers. Allowing for options, I made this piece convertible by attaching extra jump rings to the copper washer and crimping lobster clasps to the beaded strand. (This idea was a collaboration with a dear friend who always helps inspire me creatively. Thanks, Bonnie!)

Here is the necklace with the beaded strand attached. I think the weight of the necklace feels more balanced now than with just the single chain.

Then, another birdtrack into complicated hit me. With lobster clasps at both ends, the beaded strand could be removed from the necklace and used in a bracelet. On its own, it was too long for a single wrap and too short for a double wrap, so I tied two pieces of deerskin leather - turquoise and chocolate brown - to a jump ring and clasped the beaded strand to it. Now all I needed to do was knot the other end of leather to another jump ring and add an extender.

As a triple wrap, this bracelet has an interesting variety of colors and textures. 

The chain extender allows for adjustability, something I think is necessary in marketing bracelets. 


Now, with this leather section, I had yet another necklace option: attaching the leather section to the clasp and randomly weaving the leather around the beaded and chain strands. Looking very boho now!

With all of these materials crowding my work space, how could I not make earrings to accompany this set? I colored some copper rings with amethyst Vintaj patina, textured and antiqued some copper washers, and made a riveted deerskin loop to hold them. A few dangling beaded jump rings provided some color and movement. 

So there you have my Convertible March Hare project. Thank you, Jenny, for sending me your sweet hare pendant. This was most certainly a challenging but satisfying project.  I look forward to working with the other two wonderful pieces you included in my package. Thank you!!

See what I mean about my difficulties with simple? Enjoy hopping around to see the other March Hare creations linked below. 

Art Jewelry Team

Cindy Martin-Shaw  (You are here!)
Karin Grosset Grange - Ginko et Coquelicot

Michelle McEnroe (4 pieces pinned on  the AJE Pinterest page)

If you'd like to read the reveal post on the Art Jewelry Elements blog, click on the link below:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Leather on Leather

It's quite a sight. Gorgeous leather on a leather ottoman next to a leather chair. Now if only I was wearing a leather jacket, leather pants, and leather shoes, adorned with leather jewelry. Ok, so that would definitely be a bit much. Nevertheless . . . 

This treasure arrived today. Sometimes the trip to the mailbox is deliciously rewarding. Just look at this soft, deerskin leather. Scrumptious! 

Nina Designs has such lovely quality leather. I am happy to order from them because of their quality products and philanthropy They practice fair trade and support women artisans worldwide with their microloans. It is a total win-win. 

Looking at this pile of gorgeousness makes me positively itch to create something wonderful!

Sand Dollar Summer

Just completed this new set. Still feelin' the summer vibes, even though it is rainy and windy outside.

Earrings: embossed and patinated tin, howlite, bone, brass nut, silver earwires

Bracelet: old padre trade beads, wood, brass, hemp

Friday, March 20, 2015

We're All Ears :: March Reveal

This month's earring inspiration is macro photography by Martin Amm, a German nature photographer. These extreme close ups are of dragonflies or damselflies covered in morning dew. 

Interestingly, the very first We're All Ears monthly challenge in February 2014 was a pair of damselflies. As our hostess Erin pointed out, we are coming full circle in our monthly challenges. I love stories with circular endings! I also find it interesting that the only challenge that I missed participating in was the February 2014 damselfly one. I guess it only took me a full year to finally create something! :)

Erin chose the words "positively effervescent" to describe these images. I couldn't have chosen a better adjective, so I am stealing hers!

Photo #1

In this photo, I was struck by the gorgeous yellow of the flower and the long segmented insect tail.

Earrings #1

Lately, I have been addicted to riveting leather, and this caramel leather seemed perfect for this image. The "long strings" of leather echo the insects long tail. The wire-wrapped ends reflect the tail segments. Of course, the dragonfly connector is a ridiculously literal interpretation, but I have a ton of them, and I couldn't ignore the opportunity to use them. The Czech glass flower bead represents the flower in the photo. (I guess I should have turned the connector upside down so the insect's head was in the flower. Ah, hindsight.)

It was such a gorgeous day, I decided to experiment with taking photos outside in my garden. Tricky. 

Photo #2

Just look at these gorgeous drops of morning dew and beautiful colors.

Earrings #2

Again, I was drawn to those firey reddish-orange and yellow tones, which I captured with patina on some embossed discs and overlayed with brass dragonfly connectors. What I really wanted to capture from this photo, however, were those luscious dewdrops. These gold-etched clear glass beads did the job perfectly.  I've been hoarding the striped orange Indonesian glass beads forever. 

The colors in the discs really pop in the natural light outside; the clear beads, however, look like stone or brass. Advantages and disadvantages of outside lighting. 

By the way, here is the whole outside set-up. I love this blue heron in my garden. 

Photo #3

Aren't these pastels beautiful? I love the way the dewdrops magnify the hive-like pattern underneath. 

I cropped the original photo to magnify the pattern even further.

Earrings #3

It was with these last earrings that I had a significantly profound realization. Making something quick and simple can be fun and rewarding. My usual process is most often complicated in some way - cutting, forming, and coloring metal; wirework; fiberwork, etc. By the time I complete umpteen steps, I sometimes lose my momentum on a project. I can't recall the last time I simply stuck some beads on a headpin and called it good. These earrings came together in a snap!

 It all began with these funky beads. 

I have no idea where I got them, but I've had them in my stash f-o-r-e-v-e-r!  I never really knew what to do with them. Until now. When I looked at them, I immediately saw the hive-patterned sphere and the glossy sparkle of the dewdrops. This one was all about texture and pattern.  After adding some soft rose quartz, textured silver beads, and beaded earwires, I sat back and smiled. Way too cute. Sweet sparkle. Feminine and fun.  I just love them. 

Thank you, Erin, for another great challenge. Check out all of the other creative designs at Earrings Everyday!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Display Fit for a Queen

Sunflower Flats Jewelry Display

Today's topic: jewelry display. I always notice jewelry displays in shops, taking note of creative use of props. I have had the unique pleasure to observe the workings of a particular creative mind, Cindy Gardner from Sunflower Flats in Tillamook, OregonTo see my jewelry so artfully displayed in this beautiful shop touches my heart in a way I just can't describe. My jewelry has a new home, and what a beautiful home it is! This green hutch is perfect.

I love the colors and the props. That miniature dresser is adorable! 
 I feel like I have stepped into the vintage bedroom of a style icon and taken a sneak peek at her dressing table.

I see that we are on the same wavelength with our love of orange!

Suitcases make a great jewelry prop, and this cute little one is very sweet. I love the red and white fabric with my red jewelry. The starfish and shells are perfect with my ocean-themed jewelry. 

I love the way the jewelry sets are paired. I'm glad the brown and white bird is keeping watch over his new similarly-colored friends.

Earrings galore . . . 

These beautiful photos were taken by Cindy's daughter and partner, Natalie. Just lovely. 
Thank you, gals!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunflower Flats

Sunflower Flats
3rd & Main St.
Tillamook, Oregon

Sunflower Flats Blog (link to blog)

Sunflower Flats is sensory nirvana. All my senses are simultaneously activated the minute I step foot inside this delightful gem of a shop. Vibrant colors, floral scents, and stunning displays abound. If I had to illustrate my experience with an analogy it would be this: Sunflower Flats is like active reading. 

As a former English teacher, I used to encourage my students to read actively, both as a reader and a writer. As a reader, we get meaning, meet the characters, and enjoy the plot. As a writer, we appreciate the writing style: the beautiful language, the stylish sentences, and the colorful imagery. In order to do both, it might be necessary to read and reread.

Being in Sunflower Flats requires active shopping. Let me illustrate using a photo.

First, you shop for stuff. Everywhere there are cool things - cards, garden art, sculptures, soaps, artwork, kitchen towels, ceramics, plants, wreaths, glass, yarn art, jewelry, signs, ornaments, driftwood art, books, Moonstruck chocolates, and unique flower arrangements. You'll find something you just have to buy. Trust me. 

Next, you shop like an artist. Just look at the displays. Cindy Gardner, the owner, has a seriously skillful eye for design. Her vibrant color palettes are visually stunning. As an artist, I could hang out there all day, getting inspired to play with unique color combinations. Cindy's ability to arrange flowers generalizes to her display vignettes. Each grouping is perfectly composed, like fine art. Photos will speak louder than my words.

See what I mean?  How could you not find something you adore here?

To get back to my analogy . . .  if active reading requires reading and rereading, then Sunflower Flats requires shopping and more shopping. One trip just won't cut it. You have to be a repeat customer to really take in all the cool stuff.

(Or, if you are like me, you'll keep coming back to soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the displays.)

So . . . At this point, you might be wondering why I am writing about this shop on a jewelry blog. I am proud to announce that 49 pieces of my jewelry have the privilege of living in this artful environment. (I find myself oddly jealous of them right now.)  They will be arranged on this gorgeous hutch. I'll stop back later this week to get a photo of Cindy's completed display. It will be gorgeous. I mean, look at the props and the potential here. 

Getting to know Cindy has been a delightful experience. I felt a connection with her immediately, given the things we have in common - our names and the fact that we are both retired 8th grade language arts teachers. What are the chances of that? Let me tell you, two former English teachers have fodder for hours of passionate conversation about our profession. Thank you, Cindy, for your encouragment, support, and fun emails. I am glad my little "children" are in your care. 

A special thank you to April Petersen for being such an inspiring connection to the arts, for introducing me to Cindy at the Festival of Trees this past December, and for suggesting this partnership. You rock, April! 

Also thanks to Kathryn Christensen for your encouragement, for being one of my Tillamook connections, for our "drawing" lunches, and for your support of my jewelry business.  Any time you need more earrings, just let me know. 

Now, go shopping at Sunflower Flats!

A sampling of my jewelry, available in the shop:

Jewelry Sets