What, again??!



I can’t believe it’s been a month since the last Component of the Month challenge over at AJE (and since I’ve posted here at all – sheesh)… and I was not the only one who was having a rough go of it this time around. The entire team has been hit hard with a number of personal things and we all agreed a few extra days would be useful, so we delayed the reveal to today.(Pssssst: I’m hosting the July Component of the Month – head over and see what I made up for everyone!)

And honestly, I am so glad we did, because June’s components were so special and I especially wanted to do mine justice. Linda Landig was this month’s hostess and she has been spending a lot of her focus on fulfilling a long-time desire to learn how to make ceramic components. She’s done an amazing job translating her years of experience in other mediums into this new one, and I was utterly smitten with the pretties she offered us.

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Aren’t they gorgeous?? As usual, I asked to be surprised… but I did hint that I really loved the leaf imprint stoneware pieces! Lucky me: Linda sent me the green leaf pendant piece in the top row!

I started out with one idea, involving green nylon cording, picasso finished Czech glass tab beads, and antiqued brass rondelles. The colors were perfect. But unfortunately, everything I came up with looked anemic and washed out. Nothing was clicking and there was no pop.

So yesterday morning, I ripped it all out and did this instead.

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Because my original design involved using cording in the holes, I cored them with brass eyelets to keep the cord from fraying. Thankfully, they worked just as well with the brass jump rings I had on hand.

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I had some sueded leather cording that was nearly exactly the same color as the stoneware Linda used for this pendant – and since I had started with brass, I decided to make wrapped brass stations to create some interest along the leather cord.

And people, let me tell you: those wrapped brass stations really kicked my badonkadonk.

First, brass is harder to work with than copper or sterling. Second, soft sueded leather cord isn’t prone to staying where you put it. It’s… floppy. Third, figuring out the best way to tuck in the work-hardened wire ends so they didn’t snag and would still look good and symmetrical was less easy than it sounded in theory.

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The other thing that kicked my butt was the leather ends. I originally planned for a Celtic button knot made with both strands on one side of the necklace. It looked horrible. Then, I did a single Celtic button knot and wrapped the other strand underneath it.

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It too looked…. suboptimal.

So I settled for a single Celtic button knot and wrapped both sides with brass wire stations. To one side, I added a very thick twisted brass jump ring and the button fits snugly through, lariat style.

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Much better.

(Of course, after I’d done all that work, I realized the necklace was long enough to slip over my head and didn’t really need a clasp. D’oh!)

Thank you, Linda, for the gorgeous component – I am so thrilled for this new artistic phase in your life and the way you are completely rocking it!!

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If you want to see what the other folks made, including a couple of guest artists, check out the links below.

Guests

Ann Schroeder

Mischelle Andrade Fanucchi

Therese Frank

AJE Members

Susan Kennedy

Diana Ptaszynski

Linda Landig

Lesley Watt

Melissa Meman

Caroline Dewison

Francesca Watson

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Rebekah Payne

Kristen Stevens

Late to the party….



… as usual.

But seriously, between the house stuff and running Roadhouse and teaching a bunch (a whole bunch!), I am having a heck of a time getting all my to-do’s crossed off the list. That means that I am two days late finishing my Art Jewelry Elements component challenge piece, taking photos, and getting it posted.

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This month (or, technically, last month) the wonderful Susan Kennedy of SueBeads gave us these very pretty glass cabochons to work with. She was also offering some cool bead sets, but I almost always ask to be surprised so I don’t know what’s coming. I got a sweet lavender cab with the snowflake/flower pattern shown in the dark blue cab above, and I knew right away I wanted to do a prong-set pendant. My problem was that until today, I didn’t have more than 20 minutes at a stretch to focus on putting it together and my first attempt was a dismal failure. (No photos – I destroyed the evidence!)

But today, I was able to sit down and really pay attention to what I was doing – and I’m really pleased with how it came out.

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The color of this cab reminds me of the lilacs that bloom each spring in Rochester, New York, where I grew up. Down the block from our house was a very romantic-look, European styled stucco home that boasted a huge courtyard, and around the open sides grew enormous lilac bushes. When they weren’t flowering, they looked like something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale - gnarly and a little scary. But come spring, they would erupt into masses and masses of the most fragrant lavender-colored blooms, and I’d make any excuse to walk that way so I could revel in them. (I was something of a romantic as a girl!) I wanted this piece to evoke the rustic feeling of the bushes in their everyday state, the elegance and romance of the house, and the lush, opulent blooms.

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I heavily distressed the sterling silver disc for the pendant’s backplate, and then made a pinch bail textured to look like tree bark. The prongs (hopefully) let the cab shine and play up the contrast between the sleekness of the glass and the rustic feel of the metal. I used a simple chain and two wrapped stations with a little bling (rock crystal and vintage cut glass beads) to represent the elegance and simplicity of the house, and finished it off with a plain hand-made hook clasp. I plan to add an extender so that the necklace can be adjusted, but I don’t have the right chain at the moment – when it comes in, I’ll add a short length and finish it off with a rock crystal bead so it hangs properly in the back.

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Thank you, Sue, for the wonderful cab and the opportunity to take this walk down memory lane! If you haven’t already, check out what the other AJE ladies did with Sue’s wonderful components.

(P.S. If you love art jewelry, and you want a chance to win a free component as part of the Art Jewelry Elements monthly challenge, check out what Linda Landig has for us in June!)

Hold, please!



If you’ve gotten here looking for the Art Jewelry Elements monthly component challenge, I have fallen behind – my contribution won’t be up until Monday. In the meantime, please head over to the blog and see what everyone else made with the gorgeous glass components Susan Kennedy made for us this month!!

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Life Changing



I haven’t meant to be silent, but there’s been a lot going on.

  • Our house is – finally – on the market. I have loved this house, and hated this house, and cried in this house, and birthed dreams in this house. Saying good-bye – preparing myself to say good-bye – has been wrenching and exhilarating, all at once.
  • I had check-ups with my doctors a month ago and one of them was so mad at me she threw a pen down on the desk. The other one had just returned from a conference about the connection between modern foods and inflammatory syndromes. Long story short, I committed to doing away with corn, wheat and dairy and to making a change to organic foods. I’ve learned a few things:
    • Grass-fed beef is a whole different food group and an organic, grass fed rib-eye is my new love language.
    • Dairy really jacks with me, as much as I love it.
    • I’ve lost almost 15 pounds in one month, and I have not felt deprived for one second.
    • Corn chips and bread (carbs) are addictive. As in, “step away from the crack.” I need to treat them that way.
  • We just finalized the summer and fall schedule for Roadhouse Arts, and I intentionally scheduled in some stretches of time to just… make. Make things.
  • I completed a significant reorganization of my working space at Roadhouse – after working there for six months, the things that weren’t working became really clear. Read about the results over on the AJE blog.
  • I will be part of my friend Gail Stouffer’s master’s capstone project: a curated show about women’s issues opening June 13th at the Highwire Gallery in San Antonio. I was hugely honored to be invited to participate – and a little stunned that neither of the two pieces I came up with involved jewelry.

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  • I have fallen in love with mixed media work and part of my studio rework was intended to ensure that I had some space to explore it.
  • While I am in the throes of saying good-bye to this house I have loved, I am (obsessively) stalking the houses in the area where we hope to move. Ask me what’s for sale there… I can tell you. Even if it’s entirely unsuitable and out of our price range. I guarantee I’ve been watching it and have driven by it at least once.
  • Life is changing. Again.

Metal Retreat!



Does a week in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest with a bunch of other creatives sound like a great time?

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We had so much fun last year – oh my gosh. We laughed and made things and ate great food and drank wine and shared our favorite techniques and helped one another grow. It was absolutely amazing. I made friends there who will be friends for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, two of those friends couldn’t make space on their calendars to join us again this year. That is sad news for us, but great news for you because it means there are two spots available in the bunk room if you’d like to join us. It’s an unstructured week where you can dig in and learn from fellow artists – and share what you know, too. Bring your own tools and materials and plan to have fun in a relaxed, cooperative atmosphere with a terrific group of ladies. This year, we know we’ll be playing with torch fired enamels, etching, leather, copper clay, basic metal skills, the hydraulic press, and stone setting. Sound like fun? Read more and register here! 

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