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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge Reveal Day

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.  This is going to be a long one so make sure you have a nice fresh cup of coffee and prepare to be awed.

Today is the reveal day for the Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge and Giveaway.  This whole thing started when Barbara included one of her structural pendants in my order as a gift with a little note challenging me to see what I could come up with.  You can read about the original challenge post by clicking here. 

The following piece is what I made with her generous gift and challenge.  You see, I have found in the last few years of making jewelry, that a challenge is a good thing, at least in this context.  It takes us down paths we would not have otherwise gone and that is a good thing. At least I know that has proven to be true for me.  And, I suspect you are no different and it is also true for you.

But this post is not about me.  It is first about all the wonderful creative talent of Barbara Hanselman.  I want to first give you links to Barbara's Etsy Store and to Barbara's Website so that you can learn more about Barbara and the inspiration for her work.  I encourage you to spend some time in both places.

Barbara has a long, long resume in the arts, but I asked her to tell us a bit about how her background led her to where we are today - this challenge.  This is what Barbara had to say.

"Sculptural focals are not new to me. When I first started hand building with clay, I would save all the 'trimmings' from my pots and make clay pins from these leftover cuts. They looked so sculptural, that I mounted the pieces (with their pin backs) in frames for hanging when they were not being worn. (Designing a mounting for them was a little tricky but well worth the effort.) The idea of "wearing art" came out of this and even today when I fabricate a total necklace, I tend to display & offer it for sale in a custom made frame... handmade ART should be constantly on display!

Recently when I returned to making sculptural clay pieces as focals, I became aware of the CHALLENGE they were to many jewelry artists, so when Jean decided to feature them on her blog, I was thrilled. I believe they ask the creator of a finished neck piece to think more like an artist. They encourage us to go beyond being makers of well-crafted jewelry and become more visionary. I can't wait to see all the museum quality pieces which have been fashioned using my focals!

Barbara calls this piece "Tire Tracks". She specifically designed it to be reversible.

She wire wrapped the four corners with 22 gauge copper wire to a frame of 12 gauge hammered copper wire.  She oxidized the wire.

She hand formed the chain from 12 g wire and her clay center-hole stoneware discs are wrapped with 14 g copper to form connecting links. 

By making it in this fashion, Barbara virtually made it two necklaces in one.

The earrings are made with niobium ear wires.

My first piece for this challenge.  I used the same technique as I did on the first pendant by putting beads in the large holes; however, this time I backed them with domed copper caps and I added a soft leather ribbon at the top.  I recently made a wholesale order for some wonderful rustic aged Czech glass beads and was anxious to use those.  I thought they complimented the pendant perfectly.
I made coiled copper ends for the 3mm leather strand and made a special clasp with a lightning shape to match the lightning shapes I added to the wire on the pendant.

Barbara further challenged me to make it this second piece reversible.  She had made the pendant with a gorgeous design on each side.  I originally pictured this pendant with a plain wide leather neck strap, but I tried several different things, but I couldn't figure out how to attach it so that it would lay flat.  As an alternative design, I went with very dainty small macrame using .5mm aged leather.  It is worked with the rustic etched lampwork beads of Julie Burgard of Outwest.  Doing the macrame gave me the wide leather look that I wanted and it lays correctly.

I used more of the aged striped Czech beads that I recently received, along with red, black and blond horn rice beads and a nice silver Buddha charm that I recently purchased from Happy Mango Beads which also was reversible on both sides.  Well that was the key.  I tied it to the top of the pendant with the same aged leather and now you can just flip the Buddha to one side or the other making this one truly reversible.

Now, for our challengers.  One lucky winner will be drawn by Random Generator to be the recipient of a $50.00 Gift Certificate from Barbara's Shop.  Wow, what a thrill it would be to win that!

 I have listed the following participants in the order that they provided me with pictures of their finished pieces.  Just so you know, I have disqualified myself from winning the gift certificate, well because, that's just the kind of gal I am.  

NUMBER 1.  The first challenger is Julie Thelen.  She has been designing jewelry since before 2008.  She is a proud member of the international organization for the Self-Representing Artist in Jewelry Design -- SRAJD 2335. You can see more of her work at Julie Thelen's Jewels by Jules.  All of Julie's work is beautiful, but Julie makes some beautiful handmade belt buckles.  They are like nothing I have ever seen.  If you have not seen them before, you should take a few minutes and look at them. 

 For her piece, Julie used recycled beads and discs from Ghana, carved wooden beads, mykonos Greek beads, chocolate brown leather and beautiful handcarved and handpainted polymer beads from One Urban Tribe on etsy.
She also made a pair of matching earrings.

Julie told me that she had an absolute blast with this challenge and that this piece is one of her favorites.
She said she had fun and learned a lot!

I want to point out that this photograph is the backside of her necklace and in my opinion, Julie has also accomplished the challenge of making it truly a reversible piece.

Number 2.  The second challenger is Maressa Garner of Kiss of Venus.  She considers herself an assemblage artist rather than a jeweler and, boy, can I relate to that.  She loves most things old, organic, ethnic and natural.

In her piece she used a variety of organic materials -- clay, bone, hammered Smokey Quartz, Myrrh resin, pyrite, wood, rough faceted Andalusite, and worn glass.
About her piece, Maressa says, "I love the marriage of gemstones with elemental earthen materials and think it lends an appropriate energy to the rustic, slightly primeval imagery of the Green Man."
"I love to work with symbols, and in particular, those of Celtic origin. Creating a modern work of wearable art with symbols, imagery, and intention which trace back thousands of years is a unique way to merge the past and present. This piece, which I have dubbed 'Cernunnos' recalls the ancient horned god once worshiped by the Celts and other polytheistic religions."

Maressa does beautiful work. I have admired her work for some time, especially her bracelets.  She just has a way with them. 

Number 3.  The third challenger is Lynn Ferro of Yuccabloom.  In Lynn's etsy store profile, she says of her work, "I travel deep into my imagination for my designs which is inspired from all my amazing customer's who can't wait to see each new listing."  I am here to tell you that her imagination is a beautiful place.  If you are not familiar with her work, you owe it to yourself to spend some time in her store.

Lynn's creative journey with this challenge began by just looking at Barbara's store.  Of that journey, Lynn says.....

Well, let’s start with this amazing yet unusual pendant from Barbara. I mean, that’s what got this whole challenge started in the first place!

When I was searching in Barbara’s shop for just the right one, I looked at all of them over and over again, contemplating how to create something amazing from each. Her pictures are dead on for what you receive, but I was concerned about size. I felt safe choosing this one because I thought it would give me a couple of design options. My first impression of this piece was a gate, an old worn fence gate, but then I also saw a contemporary piece with an Asian flare. I think the curves mixed with the straight lines and the swirls brought the Asian appeal to me. All in all, this is how I arrived to my final choice.

When the piece arrived, I examined it for quite some time, like Jean mentioned with her piece, I had to “get acquainted with it”. I turned it on every side to determine what would be the best lay out. The challenge on this one was the loop on the side. I really wanted to use it to hang a bunch of dangly charms from, but because of where it was positioned, it was tough. Then the leather came out and it was clear going forward that I would choose a Western design.

I knew I wanted to hang beads from the rails and the leather gave the pendant a medicine bag-pouch look. The leather took me a couple of tries for the right length and stitching, yes I scrapped a few pieces through this process☺. Once that was complete, the threaded beads were easy. Since there was so much going on with the pendant, I wanted the neckline to be somewhat simple, yet relative. Choosing rustic glass beads mixed with some silver African spacers and leather, I think it completed the piece perfectly.

This was the first “contest” I have participated in. It was a blast and would be thrilled to do it all over again. Thanks Jean for asking me to participate. Without your nudge this creation would not have come to fruition.

~ Lynn Ferro

Number 4.  Emily Cohen of Catfish Studio sent me a picture of a beautiful sterling silver and clay necklace she made from Barbara's work.  She and Barbara have known each other for years and have worked together.  

Emily says of her piece, "I made the fish  from scraps that Barbara had left from a large piece, maybe a cup.  She turned the scraps into small clay "cabochons"  for lack of a better term and this one looked like a fish to me.  I cut the fish shape from sterling sheet, soldered on a bezel, set the body into the piece and put it on a chain.  And there you have Barbara's fish necklace."  "I've really enjoyed seeing your work.  It has inspired me to try new techniques as I am getting back into my jewelry making after spending a year or more packing and moving and neglecting art."

Emily presently lives in Ormond Beach, FL having moved from Ardmore, PA where she lived for 17 years.  You can see more about Emily and her work at her website Catfish Studio.  I took a browse through it and saw some gorgeous things.

Number 5.   Mary Shannon Hicks has been seriously making jewelry, mostly beaded, since 1994.  Her mother was tremendously gifted, could sew and crochet, and even as a child Shannon made crafts with her mother, especially at Christmas.  Mary recalls that one year they made angels out of styrofoam balls, old Reader's Digests and lacy doilies!

The chain is silk wrapped closed with wire, and then between the silk links, it's wire wrapped jump rings.

Of her piece, Shannon says, "Here is my Navette Ladder Necklace for Saturday's Blog Hop.  I made three navettes from a pattern by Diane Fitzgerald, then I made some simple brick stitch components for the other side.  After that, I added some silk and wire wrapped components and Greek ceramic beads (some of my faves.)  Last, I wire wrapped some green navette dangles and hung them from the bottom with silk knots."


You will recall that in the original post about this challenge, I said that this was the piece I was going to buy next - if it didn't sell.  After seeing her necklace, I want you all to know that I have forgiven Shannon for buying the piece that I wanted.  It clearly found its rightful place in Shannon's care.  It's beautiful!




Mary Shannon enjoys making jewelry where most of it becomes the treasured gifts for family and friends.  She does have a blog where she chronicles her work at Falling Into The Sky.  She also has a Pinterest link where she shows some of her work as well at Gypsy Moon Dancer.

In Conclusion:

I hope all of you who have found your way here today have enjoyed this post.  Most importantly, I wanted to honor Barbara Hanselman's work and the work of all the artists who have participated in this challenge.  I wanted to provide an opportunity to share our work which has as its center, one woman's art and to extend her initial challenge to me to other artists who were brave enough to pick up the challenge and do something with it.  Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to have fun and I certainly did that.  It was really nice getting to know you guys - some for the first time.  I want to thank all of you who were touched in any way by this post.  Whether you participated by making something to be revealed today, whether you took the time to leave a comment, or whether you just took the time to read this post.  I hope it touched each and every one of you in a positive and creative way.  And, my heart felt Thank You all for your participation.  I hope you all have had as much fun as I have had.

Now, you say, SHOW ME THE MONEY!  After I did my original "Challenge" post, which I did without first discussing it with Barbara at all, she saw the post and contacted me and made the offer of the $50.00 Gift Certificate to her store.  Wasn't that generous of her!  That's the kind of lady she is!  In my original post I had said that I would not be posting the reveal until Sunday.  I am a day early.  I also said that Barbara would do a random drawing and that we would announce the winner on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  I don't think it will take her that long but in fairness to anyone that may have been counting on the reveal being tomorrow, I think it best if we wait another day to do the drawing.  I will post the winner on Monay, September 17, 2012 pray, cross your fingers, speak to the universe, meditate about it, or just wish really hard that you see your name posted on Monday.  Good luck to you, Julie, Maressa, Lynn, Emily and Mary Shannon.

(If any of you see anything that I have gotten wrong, please e.mail me at and I will correct it.)



Julie Thelen said...

I am honored that you had invited me to participate in your challenge. It was an amazing experience! What beautiful and ecletic works of art. Thanks again. Julie

Unknown said...

Jean, thanks so much for including my piece and so much of my individual story in your lovely blog. I was so impressed with the other artists, I feel humble being included with you and the others. These art pieces are absolutely amazing, and Barb's focals were just the spark for launching these beauties. Thanks to you both, and to all the other artists here. You are all wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Everyone did such lovely, creative work it makes me really, really wish I could use my hands like I used to. Kudos to all who participated in the challenge.

BHClaysmith said...

The CHALLENGE officially ended today, September 15th, 2012 and the winner of the $50 to spend in my BHClaysmith Etsy Shop will be announced at the beginning of the week. I want to stress that the prize will be awarded randomly to one of the artists who chose to enter and in no way is determined by the entry submitted. I just spent a good hour looking over the work submitted and am simply blown away by it. (I am so glad that I do not have to pick just one as BEST of CHALLENGE and that the winner will be decided by an impartial computer!) Every participant came up with such magical, innovative Art-to-Wear necklaces which not only include one of my focals but thoughtful, appropriate complements.

BHClaysmith said...

I also want to say that I pride myself on making focals which have two sides instead of a front and unfinished back. I do this for two reasons -
First of all, focals tend to turn or move when worn and there is nothing more distracting than an unfinished back. The second reason in to enable the artist to be able to create "two necklaces in one" and use that as a selling tool. My aversion to blank backs started a long time ago when I had a greeting card company - none of my card designs had unfinished backs but instead had designs and surprizes which continued all the way around the card. I'm thrilled that some of the artists who entered this challenge utilized both finished sides of the pendant involved.

Anonymous said...

To BH claysmith: I applaud you for your two-sided focals. It does, in fact, benefit both the jewelry creator as well as those who wear it. All jewelers should take that into consideration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,

I want to thank you again for this challenge and the support you offered through your blog and Etsy shop to offer all of us exposure. You are a spectacular woman and I'm enjoying getting to know you better and better everyday. Many thanks to Barbara for providing the talent she has in creating her clay art pendants and coming up with this contest. I had a blast with my creation, but I think the best was seeing everyone else's talent and comments.

Till next time, Lynn Ferro (Yucca Bloom)☺

Maressa said...

Wow! I feel so blessed to be included in such an artistic group of women! Thank you Jean and Barbara for reaching out and providing this opportunity for experimentation and sharing, everything is beautiful! And congratulations to the winner of that fabulous prize ;)

Karin Slaton said...

Thanks for a fantastic post...and for introducing me to Barbara's work. All of the artists created truly inspired pieces. I can't stop looking...