Thursday, February 27, 2014

Radiant Orchid Challenge Blog Hop

Andrew Thornton has done it again!
“What?” you ask.
He’s organized another fun blog hop...
This time, he put together a great kit using Pantone’s color of the year – radiant orchid. 

photo from Andrew's blog
The kit contained "a selection of handmade polymer clay beads, Czech glass, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, a lampwork glass bead and a Luxury Bead Blend."
The Luxury Bead Blend has Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, freshwater pearls, amethyst, Czech glass, African recycled glass, Chinese Crytal, Swarovski crystal, vintage sequins, German glass, flourite and Javanese lampwork glass."

I dumped everything out on my worktable and stared at the glittering mess; my mind a total blank. And yes, I did stare blankly into space. Or so it seemed to my husband. In reality I was visualizing. 
But first I had to sort everything. 
I was excited to find some of my favorite gems in the mix- amethyst, garnet and tourmaline. 
I knew I wouldn't use the tiniest seed beads, so it didn't matter when I dropped them on the floor. 

I love Andrew's challenges because they always inspire me to stretch myself. 

His "mystery component", 2 fire enameled
filigree beads screamed EARRINGS at me. So that's what I made. 

There were just four rice shaped freshwater pearls and 6 Swarovski 6mm bicones.
Perfect for my dangles. My cheap silver chain broke as I was attaching pearl and crystal units so I used 5mm sterling silver jump rings and finished them off with my handcrafted earwires. 

Stephanie Dixon of ParaWire inspired me to crochet something.  (I had a lot of fun hanging out at their  booth at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson) I’ve crocheted wire bracelets before, but never a necklace. Out came the 26 gauge “smokey quartz” copper wire I purchased in Tucson. 
It was my first time using ParaWire and I love it

I crocheted 3 chains of randomly spaced beads which I loosely braided.  I tried to make these really cool end caps from a Wig Jig "tut", but didn't love the way they turned out.
photo from Wig Jig

Instead, I finished off the ends with Vintaj Natural Brass Magnolia Leaf  Bead Caps from Lima Beads and a handcrafted hook. 

Of course I have tons of materials left over to play with. I definitely see a bracelet or two in my future and several pairs of earrings.

Thank you, Andrew, for inspiring me once again!

There were just 20 kits! 
I can't wait to see what the other designers did with the same raw materials!

Check them out...
Rebecca Anderson
Jeanne Steck - ME - you're here!
Carol Carlson
Leah Tees
Andrew Thornton, Alison Herrington, Laurel Ross, Joanne Goldberg, Julie Katz, Irene Leniham, Linda Starosciak

Monday, February 24, 2014

What was I thinking?

A few months ago, someone posed the question, "how do you get over a creative slump?"
Yes, I'm anal! I had to sort everything.
I responded that a challenge always helps.
With that in mind, I joined a few, including...
Andrew Thornton's Radiant Orchid Challenge -
I got a ton of "pink" and "purple" beads... 
And have till Thursday 2/27 to create something (or things) and blog about it. 
Yep - just 3 days away.

What was I thinking?

This is after going to Tucson. 
In addition to the Inspired By Reading Book Club, 3 custom orders and preparing my soup for the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Don't you worry!
I can do it - just you wait and see.  
Here's a sneak peak just to wet your appetite...

Check back Thursday to see where the creative juices have taken me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tucson Discoveries

One of the best things about trade shows is discovering new suppliers.
It's even more fun at the Tucson Gem Shows because you get to discover ARTISTS!

I met many talented artists and purchased a few items for myself!

It was so much fun to discover Marianne Kasparian of MAKU Studio! In her own words, from her website, Mak creates...

Funky, eclectic raku fired ceramic artisan pendants, beads, cabochons, buttons, jewelry and decor.

I love, love, love the pieces I acquired! I'm keeping one of the birds for myself!
I had to go back for a second bird, which has already been gifted.


And I couldn't resist this heart!
I plan to make an oxidized silver bail. I found gorgeous silver green fresh water pearls at Pearl Concepts. It's going to be so much fun to play around with my glass , crystals and other beads to create an amazing necklace.

It was so much fun to meet Julie L Walls at my soldering class. She and her mom own Pagosa Peak Fiberworks. They design handpainted, one-of-a-kind beads, pendants and earrings. 

Aren't these earrings fun?!

Sorry these are mine! 

They go so well with the tunic and leggings I was wearing that day!

I'm thinking next year's strategy just might be to search out indie artists for unique focals and components!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I have returned from Tucson!
I could discuss the horrible experience travelling ~ Let's just say do not fly from the northeast before or after a snowstorm.
sneak peek 

Once in Tucson, it was 10 days in Gem Heaven. I met so many wonderful people, learned new skills and bought tons of gems. I plan to blog about specifics in other posts.

I was lucky enough to stay with my sister, Nancy and her partner, Kate. I attended many family gatherings with them ~ Super Bowl party, Korean New Year, 2 birthday parties and a few of Kate's brother-in-law's "gigs". If you're looking for some great 70's rock in Tucson check out these two groups - Five Way Street (a five piece band - great for dancing) and C S & M (Coy, Serres and Murphy) (a folk/rock acoustic trio). Mike Serres is in both groups. Coincidentally, I taught 2nd grade with Mike's aunt over 20 years ago.

C S & M
Five Way Street

Kate lent me her car for the duration of the trip! Family is wonderful.
Tucson sunsets are amazing! And I enjoyed an afternoon of hiking in the Catalina Foothills.
Finger Rock Trail

I don't know why I waited so long to go.
But, I do know that I will be back next year!

Saturday, February 8, 2014