Sunday, October 21, 2012

Night Owl

This piece is somewhat of a big first for me as a jewelry designer - the first piece I'm going to submit to a contest.  It was an easy decision to join the contest - its all about OWLS and I ADORE owls!
 The contest is called "Show Us Your Hooters Owl Challenge" and is sponsored by a new group I am lucky enough to belong to, the Artisan Whimsy.  Here's the link ~ check it out ~  Both jewelry designers and component designers are competing. There's so much talent in this group, check out all the contestants, join the site if you like, and vote!  I will be listing this necklace on my Etsy site, Grace Elements, so check that out too!  Happy Sunday everyone!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lazy Sundays

I love lazy Sundays.  This one is somewhat typical for our house.  We all slept late, which in our house means past 8 am, but only because Emma was away at a sleepover.  She's our early riser, even on weekends.  After getting up, Derek turns on the radio to NPR, makes coffee, makes Claire breakfast, and I slowly stumble into the day.  Derek stretches and leaves to go play soccer across the street at the Middle school,  Claire settles in on the couch with Derek's iPad, playing some game.  I surprise myself by stretching and then getting on my bike, taking our dog Copper over to the Middle School for a run.  I ride around the track, covering nearly two miles, wave to Derek, call to Copper, and head home.  "This American Life" is on NPR now, so I make another pot of coffee, settle on the couch to listen, laughing at the short story being read by the author, and contemplate getting up to start laundry.  Claire's still playing her game, Derek's not home yet, and the house is unusually quiet without Emma here, the radio the only sound bouncing off the walls.  I'm on the couch now, computer in my lap, watching the morning coastal cloud cover blow across the sky, and typing this blog. I'm considering making a necklace, getting up for more coffee, stretching again, starting that laundry.  But for now, I think I'll just continue to be lazy.  Happy Sunday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When It Doesn't Come Easy

I usually don't struggle with the creative process.  I think this is because I buy pendants that inspire me, and that makes it easy for me to create with them.  But recently, I REALLY struggled, first with a custom order I had, and then with another piece.  The custom order was really tough for some reason.  A dear friend gave me four lovely pendants she'd bought on a trip to New Zealand, and asked me to create long necklaces with them, on silver.  I had free rein to design what I wanted, with the caveat that she didn't want anything that was "too much."  No worries, I thought.  Famous last words!
So when I returned home on the Sunday before Memorial Day, after a lovely day and night in Monterey with my family, I set to work on the order.  And it was like pulling teeth.  I guess it had a lot, if not everything, to do with the fact that I was trying to create something for someone in particular, and that I hadn't chosen the pendants.  And the pendants were lovely, but not what I gravitate towards lately - one was abalone shell, one green jade, one black jade, and one bone.  Besides the green, not really colors I typically start with. Then I felt like I HAD to make them symmetrical, because past pieces this friend had bought from me were all symmetrical.  Lately, symmetry makes my head hurt - I just can't do it, it feels wrong.  (Ironic, given that I'm someone who for years loved and reveled in the symmetry of nature and wouldn't have dreamed of creating an asymmetric necklace!)

But then I started pulling beads out and setting them next to the pendants, and starting wire wrapping, and gently coaxed the designs out.  The results are shown here, all four asymmetric! but my friend loved them all, she's already worn three of them.  So I guess I did ok!  But it bothers me as to why this was so tough.  Because it was for someone else?  It can't entirely be that, because all the pieces that go into my shop are in theory for someone else.  The key thing there though is I don't specifically know WHO those pieces are for, where here I did.  Was it because it was something I felt I HAD to do, rather than something I wanted to do?  Yes, that's it too.  That seems selfish somehow.  Anyway, while I'm happy my friend liked the pieces, I don't think I'll intentionally take on any custom orders.   This felt too stifling at first, and stressful.  And that's NOT why I do this, at all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

out of my rut

I feel like I'm creatively in a bit of a rut lately.  I am continually drawn to the same color palette lately - an aqua color with some variation on brown tones.  The necklace below typifies this - a lovely medium brown pendant paired with variations on brown and aqua colored beads.  Its lovely - to me - but not outside my comfort zone.  And just why or how has that palette become my comfort zone?  I've never felt compelled to stick with one palette and yet time and time again lately this is the palette I end up with.  I'm also not sure why I'm bothered by this.  But I am.  So after I finished my bee necklace (which I'm keeping and actually wearing right now!)  I looked at the lovely bronze butterfly pendant I had sitting on my table from Lesley Watt at Thea Too.  I've had this piece for weeks now and just couldn't seem to come up with a design to go with it.  Probably because it is a metal pendant and not ceramic, and didn't quite fit my current color palette rut!  But as I looked at it and at the beads sitting on my table, inspiration struck!  Its an amazing pendant and calls to mind a big field of wildflowers.   I had just received some lovely lampwork glass beads from Pam Ferrari in a pale greyish purple tone. Once I saw those, the lepidolite squares jumped off the table at me and said "use me too." And yes, there's still the brown - but look at the vibrant teal color !!!   Ah, I've successfully veered out of that creative rut...feel better now...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gaea My Earthy Muse

I haven't blogged in about a month, and I should be grading and but just can't bring myself to even start.  So I'll say I'm taking my lunch break and blog instead!

I'm going to blather on today about Gaea Cannady and her WONDERFUL ceramic pendants and beads.  I adore her work, every time she posts new sets on Etsy I drool and drool and invariably order something, even if I already have about six of her pendants at home waiting to be used (like I do now).  Her pieces are so detailed and rich in color, and I'm drawn to her nature-driven pieces and her more earthy colored glazes.  Gaea herself recently called me The Queen of Earthy on my FB page, which made me feel SO good (and blush a deep red) and if I am that, its all thanks to the inspiration of her pendants and beads.  I'm drawn to her more mellow, earthy colors, like those seen in the pictures here, calm aquas, pale blues, serene greens and sedate browns. I also recently made a necklace (one of the ones I just sold) with a brighter cream and green pendant that I got as part of some destash sets I got from Gaea Exchange on Etsy, and even though the pendant was brighter, the color palette I ended up using with it was still earthy, just with a lighter edge to it with cream beads and silk. 

I just sold two pieces that have Gaea pieces in them, (the ones shown here) and I've made at least two more lately that I'm keeping (one being the bee above and the other the heart at the top of this blog).  I want to keep all the pieces I make from her pieces, and I seem to be able to ALWAYS instantly create a necklace with her pieces, no matter what they are - her work just speaks to me.  I've said that before about other artists, but lately its so true with her work.  And its not just her work, its also about Gaea the person.  She answers my convos immediately, mails out my orders in record time, ALWAYS comments about the necklaces I post with her work in them (and others), and is just so sweet and generous in everything.  She always sends a little extra with my orders - I ordered two destash sets from her about a month ago, which were huge bargains already as they were discontinued styles, and the dear woman still sent me extra goodies!  I passed on some of those in a swap I recently did, and am about to pass on a couple more to a woman I've met on Facebook from Belgium.  I'm happy to share this amazing work of this wonderful woman with as many folks as I can - either through my jewelry or through swaps.  I'm already looking forward to my next purchase from her!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Love of Mud - Marla's Mud

I LOVE to look at beads and components.  I could spend hours just looking through my favorite shops on Etsy.  My husband doesn't get that, nor do my kids.  Its a compulsion and a near obsession.  Buying comes in a close second lately, in terms of my obsessiveness.  But to be good, this month I've limited myself in what I buy and how much I buy (i.e. NOTHING), and anyway, I find myself focusing on just a few shops lately that I adore.  I want to tell you about one of those shops today - Marla's Mud.

A big part of it is Marla herself.  I have never met Marla in person, I only know her through Facebook, but I can tell that if we lived in the same town or even within easy driving distance, we'd be fast friends.  I love her sense of humor and her spark. She's kind and funny and generous and supportive.  She has a wacky sense of humor, but you can tell there's also a serious dedication to her. She cares about her craft, and that shows through in her pieces.   It makes her work as beautiful as it is, and that makes her pendants so easy for me to work with.

Her pieces are earthy, organic, with gorgeous texture and some soft subtle colors, other strong rich colors.  I could gaze at her pieces all day, but I also love to hold them, feel their weight and texture and marvel at their beauty in person.  I broke my vow to not spend this month - I can't blame it all on Marla because I bought some pendants from a couple of my other favorite shops - and splurged on three LOVELY pendants from her shop that I got in the mail just two days ago.  I already finished one necklace that I'm keeping (the daisy to the left) and I've set out beads with the dragonfly to work on next.  I bought three of her lovely goddesses last month and have already used them all.

I have to be honest - I struggled a bit with the first one of the goddesses I worked with (the necklace sold right away!), but with the other two, the designs just came to me, like it did with the daisy. I'm keeping the goddess in the picture here, she was the second I worked with and my favorite, the pale green color is so peaceful and lovely.

I bought several of her lovely lovely heart pendants before Valentine's,  I remember when I first got these hearts, I IMMEDIATELY started to work with them, pairing them up with beads and having a literal creating storm.  I used them all up within a week!  The necklaces that are still in my Etsy shop are pictured below.  I can't do that with every piece I buy.  I really struggle with many of the pendants I buy, but not with Marla's.  I connect with her pieces, they speak to me, which maybe that sounds odd or silly, but I think some people might get that.

 In fact, I think I hear the dragonfly talking to me right now...I better go listen to what he has to say...

Thank you Marla for your amazing pendants!  I will definitely be back again and again for more!

Check out her shop at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bead Swap - Finally Posting!

I have been seriously remiss in posting pictures from the Bead Swap I took part in recently.  So here they are finally!  To the right are two lovely focal pieces from Black Mud, I've already started using the green one but I've hidden what I'm doing!  Below are the stones and ceramic beads. And at the very bottom of this post are the gorgeous pearls she sent, the lucite and the brass components.  I was seriously spoiled by Lauren Potts!

I've had the beads for well over three weeks, and I've used some already, even sold a pair of earrings that included some of the lucite flowers.  And I'm just today getting around to taking pictures.   Shame on me!  I also forgot to take a picture of the beads I sent, and I didn't make a list, just sent sticky notes attached to the bags.  Yeesh - I guess its obvious this is my first bead swap!  But hopefully it won't be my last!  I thoroughly enjoyed the process, although it did stress me out a bit - will I send enough?  what if I send too much? will she like what I send? - and I fretted over the fact that it took me so long to send out my beads, especially after I got my swap from Lauren.  BUT, enough words, here's the beads, let them speak for themselves!  Also, a big thanks to Lori Anderson for setting up the swap and to Lauren Potts for being a patient partner and for the lovely lovelies she sent me!