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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Jewelry Designer's Event of the Year Is Here - Lori Anderson's Bead Soup 2014

I have participated in this event for the last five parties and let me tell you, it is the event that I look forward to every year.

"What is Bead Soup?" you ask.  This is the concept of Lori Anderson.    It is open to anyone that wants to participate and after sign ups are closed, jewelry designers are paired.  They send a soup to their partner, which has to include a focal and a nice clasp, but may include (and most often does) additional supporting beads and components.  Each partner creates jewelry from the soup they receive, they have to use the focal and the clasp, but not necessarily in the same piece, and on a "reveal" date, all the participants post their creations on their blogs. 

We are now at the point in the 8th Bead Soup where partners have been chosen, soups have been exchanged, and we are revealing our soups, both what we sent and what we received, and introducing our partners.

I would like to introduce my partner.  This year I was partnered with Ginger Davis Allman.  She has quite a famous blog known as the The Blue Bottle Tree.  I am so excited and happy and proud and honored and ......well you get it.....  I think we were paired by the universe through Lori somehow.  Amazingly enough, I had seen her work on etsy and last year in the reveal of the blog hop.  It was her first time to participate and after I viewed her reveal, which was gorgeous by the way, I got distracted by the rest of her blog. 

Her blog is amazing.  She must devote most of her time to writing posts and looking for material.  She is always hosting other people's work and believe me if you have any interest in polymer clay she should be the first place you look for information.   She is a wealth of knowledge on the subject and even markets some of her tutorials on Etsy.  She also sells absolutely gorgeous rustic headpins, connectors, pendants, charms and other components there.  After I learned she was my partner but before I received her soup, I drooled over the things in her shop and wondered how in the world I could have been so lucky as have been chosen as her partner.  You know, sometimes, the universe has a way of really putting you in your place.  More about that later.

We have been getting to know each other better and as she pointed out in her introduction on her blog yesterday, we have uncovered many similarities.

First, we are both from Springfield, MO.  I have lived in Kansas City, MO since 1990 when I moved here to become an attorney, but my family and four of my sisters and my brother, along with my Mom, still live there so I spend a great amount of my time in Springfield.  It is about 170 miles south of Kansas City - not a bad drive and we have driven it many, many times in the last 25 years.

We both graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in the spring of 1990, different majors, but we walked in the same ceremony.  We both left Springfield to pursue our careers in larger cities.  I went to Kansas City and she went to Chicago, but she has since returned to raise her family.   We both had dark hair when we were young and preferred darker metals and warmer colors in our jewelry, but now we both have gray hair, although I have had it much, much longer than she has, and now we have both found that all of a sudden silver or pewter metals and cooler colors look pretty good on us. 

Ginger received her soup from me before she mailed her soup to me.  She reports that she burst out laughing when she saw it.  I would soon know why. 

She sent me some wonderful polymer beads and pendants that she made.  A couple of them are faux glass, a couple
are faux biwa pearls and some nuggets.

She also sent a beautiful silver toggle clasp, a smaller round toggle clasp, and a fund teapot and spoon toggle clasp, along with a gorgeous victorian silver stamping.  There are miscellaneous glass beads, some ceramic tube beads (which I particularly love) and some blue freshwater pearls.  Another one of my favorite beads is a handmade lamp work lantern shaped bead.

Everything is very pretty.  Even though I had a wonderful and absolutely giddy time looking at it over and over and fondling each beautiful piece, once I started to think about what to do with it, I thought "Oh my God!" Nothing was coming to mind.  It didn't take me long to figure out that this was going to be the most challenging soup I have received so far.

But, that is really one of the main purposes of this party.  Of course, one of the great things about it is getting to know other jewelry designers that we may not have yet become acquainted with, but another one of the main purposes is to push us out of our comfort zones by designing with things that we are not used to designing with.  Ginger really, really, really understands that purpose.

She also packaged the fantastic soup in some charming handmade surcees made by Etsian Lynda Moseley, who sells a tutorial for making them in her shop at Diva Designs Inc.

The funny part that I hinted to above having to do with the universe being a real bitch sometimes had to do with the soups we sent each other.  I mentioned that I was drooling and lusting over some of her rustic or more tribal pieces in her shop.  Well, guess what!  She sent me a soup that could have been the twin of mine.  She called them long lost sisters.  I don't think they are long lost at all.  I think they are more like litter mates.

Here is the soup I sent her.  See what I mean? 

I am really looking forward to seeing what we both make.

I am genuinely enjoying getting to know Ginger better, I look forward to meeting her in person on one of my frequent trips to Springfield, and I am so thrillled and excited with the soup she sent me. 

Reveals are scheduled for May 3, 2014 so be sure to check back for the blog hop itself. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Charm Bracelets

Another custom project that I was commissioned to do this summer had to do with charm bracelets.  Now I love charm bracelets.  Especially charm bracelets with a theme.  But, I like to make them lush and plush.  With the quality of materials that I use in making my jewelry, it is easy to price a piece out of the market.  Every now and then, someone will come along that truly appreciates a great charm bracelet.

One such bracelet was made and sold that summer.  It was a bracelet that celebrated the 4th of July - primarily in beautiful red, white and blue Czech glass beads.  I only made one, but I had a photograph of it on my facebook business page.

This winter someone spotted it and contacted me wanting to know if I had any plans to make another.  I told her I had no such plans at the time, but would be happy to make one if she wanted to order one.  She had been married on July 4, 2013 and though that such a bracelet would be a great way to commemorate her wedding day. 

She loved it.

She asked me if I would be willing to help her design and make a charm bracelet that represented her family, her interests, things she loves, and other aspects of her life. 

Of course, mostly thanks to Lori Anderson, I now embrace a challenge with excitement and enthusiasm, so I told her sure.

And, this is what we came up with.  There charms and beads on this bracelet that represent her wedding, her husband, her brother, her son, her daughter, her occupation, birthstones, favorite colors, her favorite holiday and even her husband's pet name for her.

There are vintage charms, new charms, sterling charms, brass charms, pewter charms.  There are charms with cubic zirconia, glass, crystals, and gemstones hung from a handmade sterling silver filled chain.

It is certainly lush and plush and she loved it.

And, the last custom bracelet I made for her was a Halloween bracelet.  Halloween is her favorite holiday. 

This bracelet contains Tierra Cast pewter charms, czech glass, howlite melons, and lampwork, with other miscellanous charms and beads.

It is so nice to design jewelry for someone that appreciates and understands the value of handmade.

Thank you Brittany!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Custom Project: Vintage 1970s Glass Beads

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was asked by a client of mine to "make something" with a strand of 1970s vintage glass beads that she had.  She'd had them for years, they were strung, and she had always just worn it the way it was, draped over her head.  I told her sure, I would be happy to do that.

Here are the beads that she sent me.  Pretty bad, huh.  But it was a fun challenge and I embraced it.  Other than to tell me that she loved my wire wrapping she pretty much left it up to me. 

Since they were her beads, I wanted to use them all. 

A few of the smaller beads were broken and unusuable and the green drum bead on the right side of one of the "bracelets" was also broken and unusuable.  Other than that I used each and every one.  Also, I didn't want to start adding beads until I had to to finish out designs that would allow me to use all of her beads.

First I used the larger beads and did a lot of wire wrapping and my own handmade jump rings.  I made the bail for the teardrop pendant and the earwires. 

I was pretty satisfied with it and she was thrilled, so I moved on to the next project.

For this necklace, I used the similarly shaped and color orange beads and made coiled frames for them.  I added turquoise howlite disk beads, some glass spacers and some brightly colored seed beads.  I used a few more of her small beads to finish this design out.

All I had left at this point were the two red rondelles and many more small beads. 

I added the orange lampwork, turquoise howlite, Czech glass and spacers for these.  I made matching coiled hangers for them.  I thought they were huge and I never ever ever would be able to wear anything like these, but she can wear big earrings, loves big earrings and loved these.  Whew!

Which brings me to the bracelet that I posted in m previous post.

I designed this bracelet with two strands connected to a common very small lobster clasp.  This way she can wear it full or with only two strands for a simpler look. 

I wrapped these in the evening while I was winding down to go to sleep and frankly it didn't take but a few days.

I love wire wrapping, I find it mindless and comforting to do and I could wire wrap beads for a long long time without getting tired of it.  I don't find it tedious at all.

With this bracelet, I was able to use every single last solitary little bead that she sent me that was capable of being used.  What a fun, fun project this was and she was tickled pink with everything. 

These small beads were not seed beads.  They were small wound glass beads, I don't think they were pressed or lampwork, but some kind of wound glass.  About 3.5 - 4mm in diameter but they varied in size. 

All of these beads were very rustic and I wish I knew more about what they were.  She didn't know much about them either except that she had them for a very, very long time.  Does anyone out there have any information on them?  Or best guesses?

So, I would love to have your feedback on this.  What do you think?  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Back After A Long Sabbatical Just in Time for Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party 2014

As some of you know, my father passed away in January of 2013.  After getting through his funeral and setting up an estate in the local probate court, I found myself unable to keep up with processing his estate, both in the legal arena and in the physical arena of going through his things, grandma's things (which he had inherited 10 years prior and had done nothing with), his house and grandma's house, meeting submission deadlines for publications, and designing new jewelry.  So, in June, after learning that I had just spent six weeks designing a layout for Bead Trends September, 2013 issue, only to learn that June would be their last publication before going out of business, I decided it was time for a break.  At the time, I had no idea it would be nine months, but I decided to take as much time as I needed to give myself time to grieve and to deal with some of the family work that I would have to deal with.

That process included a lot of work, both for me and my brothers and sisters as we had learned something that we had known all along, but had never had to really deal with since we didn't live with Dad.....He was a hoarder!  And, one of the worse kinds of hoarders.  He had every inch of property that he controlled full of steel, antique and vintage trailer parts, building materials and all kinds of collectibles and other things that had been grandmas.  My brother began the task of hauling off tons, and I do mean tons, of steel and I began the task of sorting through smaller things to make determinations on what could be kept and what needed to be trashed.

Of course, Dad's house needs a complete - down to the studs - remodel and grandma's house will have to be torn down and built from the ground up.  My five sisters, my brother and I have decided to form a company and to rebuild them.  Hopefully, construction will begin on Dad's house in the next few weeks, weather depending.

In the meantime, I wasn't completely absent from creating jewelry.  I continued to do custom requests and above is a bracelet that I made from a client's beads.  More about that project next post.

In the meantime, I am back home and excited and anxious to get back into the studio.  I have decided to take a further break from publication submissions and just to concentrate on getting my juices flowing again.

And, what better way to begin than to participate in Lori Anderson's 2014 Bead Soup Blog Party.  Sign ups have been completed and partners have been chosen.

I am so proud to announce that my partner this year is the super talented Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree.  She produces tutorials on polymer clay art and also makes jewelry components.  Her work is amazing.  She can make polymer clay look like ancient Roman glass, and we all know how beautiful that is.  She can make it look as if it has a hologram on it and also other faux glass treatments and finishes. You can check her out on her blog at The Blue Bottle Tree.

Now, I begin the task of making the final choices on the bead soup that I will send her.  This is always the hardest part of the challenge for me so this year I am approaching it a little differently.  I hope she loves it.

Finally, I apologize for my absence, but I really needed it.  I couldn't even remember how to get into my blog!  LOL  But, now that I have figured it out, I am sure I will get back into the swing of things in no time.  I am looking forward to a productive and creative summer.