Monday, March 29, 2010

Earring Giveaway -- don't forget

Don't forget to leave a comment on the Happy Spring post to be entered into a drawing for my spring-inspired earrings!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Spring

Today is the first day of Spring, and after a little snowfall yesterday, we have sunny skies and warm(er) temperatures. In honor of this delightful day, I bring you my latest Artbeads creation.

When I heard the theme was "The Beauty of Spring" I went immediately to the Czech Glass and selected large bell flowers in translucent white and pink crystal. I also chose small fuchsia crystal and a blue/purple/jonquil combination. I knew balled headpins would add the detail the flowers needed. Because I would be using plain loop connections, I only needed 1 1/4" long headpins. Here's my tray of goodies before I got started:

I was going for the look of a group of naturalized flowers that had just burst forth from the ground. While we do have a few shoots peeking out from the muddy ground, we're still about a month away from flowers, so I had to use my memory and imagination for inspiration. Fixing the looped flowers to chain would give the clustering look I wanted. I started with the largest beads, since I had fewer of those. I added a tiny daisy spacer to the headpin, and then the glass flower.

Are you wondering about that out-of-place coral round? Well, that's what I use to measure so I get uniform loops. It takes 1 cm of wire to turn a plain loop. My red bead is a 10mm. So, by placing it on my headpin, making a flush cut above it, and then removing the bead, all my loops will be even. I ended up making more than 60 for this necklace, so having a guide really helped.

Here's the cut wire just before I made the loop:

Enough of the tutorial! I know you really just want to see the end result! Here's the necklace:

And a closer view:

I made these silver connectors to help space out the crowded chains. I like a lush fullness but not a jumbled mess!

I liked the connectors so much, I thought they would make nice earrings:

And just for fun, I made a hula-hoop inspired pair:

How did you celebrate the first day of Spring? To win a pair of earrings, leave a comment and let me know! Become a follower or link to this post on your blog, and you'll get a second entry. I'll draw the winning names on March 31 -- one for the hoops and one for the dangles.

Disclaimer: I have received these beads (glass flowers and headpins) free of charge from My review is my own opinion and I have not been paid for this endorsement.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Like Christmas and my birthday

I really love my day job. Publishing a book is a long cycle (ask any author) but there are two days I love the most: The day a new manuscript arrives, and the day a finished book comes back from the printer. Last week, I got both! First, Perfectly Paired: Designing Jewelry with Polymer and Metal Clays arrived from the printer. Here's the cover:

This book is a perfect balance between metal clay and polymer clay. Both are fully featured in every project. The book is written in such a way that if you have experience in one but not the other, you'll be able to learn what you need to know without wading through a lot of information you may already know. It's an intermediate-level book, but an ambitious beginner will do just fine. I really enjoyed working with Patti Kimle on this book. We met two years ago at the Bead&Button show to talk about her proposal, we met last year to exchange the projects, and this year she'll be doing a book signing! Check out Patti's blog here, and her etsy shop here.

The other great thing that happened last week was a big box came from Kim St. Jean with projects from her book, Mixed Metal Mania, which is my next big project. Before we saw the projects, the art director, Lisa, and I were brainstorming cover ideas and thought maybe a single image would be good. Well, after we opened the box, Lisa walked away with about 10 cover candidates. Our cover meetings are next week, so I can't wait to see what she comes up with. I can't tell you much more about this book, but let me say that if you like Kim's style, you'll love this book. Kim has a way of making a copper cuff bracelet look like supple leather. Can't wait to dive in and learn how she does it!

In the meantime, there's a long stretch between the day a manuscript arrives and the day the book comes from the printer. That's when the editing takes place, and the design and layout, and the proofreading, and so much more. My current in-the-works project is Lacy Wire Jewelry by Melody MacDuffee. When I edit a book, I have the opportunity to sort of get inside the artist's mind, and understand where the creations come from. I am having a delightful time with Melody's book. If you like filigree (but don't like soldering) this book is for you. If you think filigree is a little frilly, don't worry. Melody does some great work with heavy copper wire and beautiful Krobo beads. See Melody here, and learn more about Soul of Somanya, too.

Do you have a book idea? As an author and an editor, I can tell you that it's a wonderful experience to bring your idea to life. I'd love to hear what you're thinking about!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Must-have tools

A measuring tape and a mirror can be your most valuable tools. Case in point ... this bracelet and earrings set. I was shopping at Michaels and I had to have these cool brass rings. I knew just what I would make -- a multistrand bracelet. When I got home I got to work on the bracelet and while I was at it I whipped up the earrings.

I loved my creations until I tried them on. The focal ring on the bracelet is out of proportion to my wrist, and I have a pretty big wrist. The earrings are attractive, but much too long. Time for a quick re-design.
The earrings have a similar look without the extra dangle:
and the bracelet became half of a necklace:

I like the end result much more than what I started with, and it fits better, too.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Easy Peasy Kid Pleaser

Do you have little ones at home? Next time you make cookies, try this idea:

Bake your cookies on a stick. It makes them so much more interesting and fun to eat, especially on a spring day (I'm assuming spring has arrived somewhere in the country!). That's three-year-old Karin between her two friends Scott and Laura back in 1966. Weren't our moms clever?