Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cold Connections Studio Day

We took the summer off as far as our monthly cold connections studio days, and today was our first day back in about 6 months. We have a terrific, cozy, compatible group who try to get together monthly, and make fabulous cold connections creations, and we all help each other out, and share ideas and tips. It's a lot of fun, and I have really missed it.

Today was a terrifically productive day for me - the ideas were flowing, and I completed 5 projects, and didn't leave anything halfway done, waiting for next time.

I started the morning by tackling the project I dreaded the most: I needed 2 more of these intricate copper flowers that I have used before in necklaces; this time, I wanted them to go on either side of an elaborate, colorful Dutch spiral woven necklace that I finished stitching over 2 years ago, and have just been waiting for the perfect way to finish. (And Yes, I am counting these 2 copper flowers as 2 cold connections projects, because they are a giant pain to make!) This particular Dutch spiral is very fat, and I didn't have enough of the pearls to make a full-length necklace, so my plan is to use the copper flowers to accent each end of the spiral, and then hook into the back of them with chain to finish the necklace.

The liver of sulfur patina turned the flowers almost the same color bronze as the seed beads in the spiral, and I chose 8mm round Sapphire Satin Swarovski crystals as the center of each flower, to bring out the blue in the spiral. It feels great to be clearing out the backlog of partially finished projects I have stored up! 1 down, 725 to go!!

Next, I created this copper pendant, which is acid-etched for texture, fold-formed for more texture, then cut in a crescent shape, with the top portion given a rich blue patina, and then reattached to the copper section with twisted sterling silver jumprings. A hammered sterling silver bail was then wired to the pendant, and all that awaits is the attachment of 2 sterling jumprings to the ends of the bail, and the addition of chain. I have some blue-patinaed copper chain which I plan to mix with some sterling chain to finish this necklace.

Then I moved on to this beaded, fold-formed copper pendant:

This was a lot of fun, probably because I love designing free-form jewelry. I used a couple of different shapes of blue Picasso Czech glass in this piece, and hung it from copper chain, and hope to get it up on Etsy in a couple of days.

I still had an hour to go, so I moved on to a project that the other girls had worked on earlier this morning - these great wine-cork pendants, which could also work as key chains. There are so many different ways to embellish these corks; everyone's looked completely different today.

I used a mixture of copper and stainless steel washers which I texturized with a hammer, a big sponge coral rondelle, a copper bead cap, and wrapped it all together with 16g sterling silver wire. It would definitely be sturdy enough to function as a key ring, but I plan to hang this one from a chain.  

Fun day! I feel so productive!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You know you are a bad, bad blogger when...

... it has been so long since your last post that you no longer remember your password. Geez.

But anyway....

I have been busy, busy; I have been on a real creative spurt since my last, and jumping from medium to medium, occasionally combining media, and have started a number of different projects, and actually finished all but 2 of them! So here's a run down of what's been going on:

I have been playing around with different color combinations, as well as different metals, in this variation of the Byzantine chainmaille weave:

This pattern is fun, easy, and so versatile, and was attracting a lot of attention in the shop, so I actually put it on the class schedule, and taught it for the first time today. I spent almost all day coiling, cutting, and tumbling rings on Thursday - I figure I cut over 2000 rings! We had a good turn out for the class, and the students chose some beautiful color combos, and everyone had a great time.

Beadweaving is one of my first loves, and it had been over a year since I did any beadweaving (other than teaching, so I was so excited to get this project started. I had all the beads picked out, and all last weekend to play with them, so I started by sketching out a crude road map, and began by stitching the clasp: I added a row of picot to the Vintaj brass ring, and stitched the bar in peyote.

I was basically designing the whole necklace around those juicy 8mm top-drilled topaz Swarovski crystals - I turned them into a ripe cluster at the front of the necklace, and then used the spiral stitch and some Vintaj chain to finish the piece. Lots of fun! Nice earthy Fall colors, too. And it's available in my Etsy shop!

But I wasn't done yet - I still had time last weekend to make this chainmaille necklace and bracelet, in navy blue and sterling silver. I love this particular weave!

I was able to snatch up this gorgeous cabochon from MAKUstudio, and while there are a lot of ways to turn a cabochon into jewelry, I really wanted to make a chainmaille bezel for this one, so I pulled the copper, burgundy, and blues from the cab with the rings,
but decided the end result was too "hard" looking, so I decided to soften it by weaving seafoam green eyelash yarn into the chainmaille, and I just love the organic look that resulted. I finished the necklace with a small, tricolored Jen's Pind Linkage chain, again pulling the colors from the cab.

Check out MAKUstudio's shop - you won't be sorry! She is a tremendously talented lady!

I had enough rings left over from the chain to make this pair of shoulder-dusting dangle earrings - and the necklace and earrings are available (separately) in my Etsy shop, too!

I was determined to teach myself the dragonscale chainmaille weave, and found several free tutorials online, and also had a pattern from an old magazine - Step-by-Step Wire, maybe - not sure. But between the 3 sets of instructions I had, I figured I was good to go.

The instructions recommended making the bracelet in 2 colors, one for the small rings, and one for the large rings, so that you could more easily see what goes where - but I didn't WANT a 2-color dragonscale bracelet; I wanted a multicolor one in blues, greens, pinks, and purple, so I spent hours figuring out how many rings of each size and color I would need, spent half a day coiling and cutting them, and got down to business.

It took several hours to get the hang of the pattern, but I finally got going, and then it just took several days to weave it up - there are a LOT of rings in this bracelet!

Love the result, and it is definitely a keeper!

And while all this was going on, I received a custom order: the lady wanted 10 pink bracelets for her coworkers, and she wanted all of them to be different, and while they were for breast cancer awareness, she didn't want any pink ribbon stuff -

So these were the 10 complete bracelets, and she was delighted, and wants to get more.

I also started 2 other projects - a  beadwoven lariat, and a purple kumihimo lariat (I am on a real lariat kick lately). These are both more than halfway done, and my plan is to finish them this weekend (MY weekend is Sunday and Monday) and then get started on a bracelet pattern I purchased from SandFibers. I want to be able to get the pattern stitched up, and then start teaching it at my shop as soon as possible. So I see a busy 2 days in my future!

But tonight is "sit with your feet kicked up" night, which is actually pretty hard for me - I like to be doing something with my hands, but this week has kicked my butt! But as you can see, I am not doing a very good job of not doing anything, because here I sit blogging - so I am done now, and am going to watch a little TV.

PS - Gumball and I popped into the vet's office to check on his weight, and he has gained 1.5 pounds! He now weighs 12 lbs, and only has to gain 2 more pounds to no longer be considered underweight. But 2 lbs is a lot, when you only weight 12 lbs - that's almost 20% of his current bodyweight, right?
This is my little sweetie right now - lying on Bailey's big bed, which he has claimed as his own, snoring after snarfing down his dinner!