Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why do we blog?

No, really...why DO we blog?  Some of us are very good bloggers...frequent posts, great pictures, inspiring posts.  Some of us are middle-of-the-road bloggers...frequent posts, okay pictures, mostly uninspiring posts.  And some of us are what I call reluctant bloggers...infrequent posts, mostly dreadful pictures, and random posts that may (or may not) grab the attention of anyone passing by.

I am in the third category.  I started blogging so I could wade into the pool of amazing jewelry designers whose blogs I follow.  I wanted to join in!  I am certainly not an amazing jewelry designer; I have so, so much to learn...but I wanted to participate in the online challenges such as Jeannie Dukic's Do-Over Challenge and Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party.  I wanted to play with the big girls!  The ladies whose work inspires me every time I see it.

I don't follow only jewelry blogs.  I follow blogs written by women who crochet amazing things.  Blogs written by women who are funny as hell, and write about their lives (Crazy Aunt Purl, this means YOU!).  Blogs written by women who live beautifully...or at least whose photographs indicate that they live beautifully.  Don't ask me to pick a category as my favorite; I just couldn't do it.  I love variety.

And in my own life, there is so much more going on than a few jewelry blog parties each year.  I like variety in my life, too.  And I've noticed that my days seem to slip away, one after another, without any real feeling of accomplishment on my part.  I no longer have a job, which is good...and bad.  Being retired isn't all it's cracked up to be!  I never, ever thought I'd be drifting through this quarter of my life...after all, I do so much!  I make jewelry; I sell jewelry.  I crochet.  I love my needlework and I love it most when it's very intricate.  I sew.  I cook.  Actually, I used to cook.  Now I mostly reheat.  That's another thing I never thought would happen: the microwave is my favorite kitchen tool. 

So I think I might start documenting the things I do accomplish each day; maybe that will make me feel less like a drifter.  Just for me.  Not for show (although anyone is invited to peek).  Really...just for my own benefit.

Yesterday, which was Saturday April 27th, I displayed some truly dreadful pictures of my jewelry makes from the bead soup sent by my Minnesota friend, Brenda Sigafoos.  But I did other stuff, too.  I finished my monthly private swaps for my Swap-bot friend, Sheryl.  I made a dotee doll:

Dotees are handmade dollies (funky little dollies about five inches long) with no arms and no legs; they must have a hanger of some sort and a tail.  This month's theme was "Diamonds".  This is Diamond Lil.  She is wearing diamond-patterned clothing, her tail (not visible here) is an organza ribbon with a "diamond" dangle, her jewelry is made from Swarovski "diamonds".
I am making...I've been making, for such a long time...a color-blocked yo yo coverlet for my king-size bed.  Oh, the hours I've spent making yo yos!  I believe my coverlet is about 2/3 complete...but I could be wrong.  It is so big now, and so heavy, that I'm making the squares individually and will attach them to the body of the coverlet later.  Yesterday I stitched together two squares (each square contains 16 yo yos in a particular color range).  I made a square of pink...
And a square of blue...

There are 10 colors in the coverlet. I may never finish.  Strike that: I WILL finish!  It will take time, lots of time.  I alternate my projects; I'm not capable of going start-to-finish on any one project, unless it is an artist trading card or something equally small.  I have a rotation list, and it gives me pleasure to work on one project for two weeks, knowing that I'll be on to another project soon. 
Just for me, this has been a visual representation of what I did on Saturday, April 27th.


Friday, April 26, 2013

7th Bead Soup Blog Party!

I seriously do not know how Lori pulled off another massive BSBP while feeling like she's been feeling.  But she did!  And I can't wait to see what the other third reveal jewelry artists have created!

I was teamed with a lovely lady from Minnesota, Brenda Sigafoos.  I almost cried when I opened the package from Brenda...she sent masses of stuff, not just a few beads and a focal and a clasp, oh NO...she sent the most amazing assortment of black and white beads and crystals, a beautiful handmade silver wire clasp, a stunning black and white cameo focal, and a bunch of vintage loveliness all wrapped in three vintage hankies.  Amazing. 

I wanted to make a few pieces of jewelry that honored Brenda's sweetness and generosity, and that would showcase the beautiful pieces she chose for me.

I knew I wanted to show off the beautiful handmade silver wire clasp...I didn't want to stick it in the back of a necklace where it would be hidden; I wanted it to be the focus of this necklace.  I created a very simple strand of various beads, and made an equally simple fake chain maille (maybe it's real chain maille, I've never done it before!) section on the opposite side of the clasp to give balance to the piece.
Close-up of clasp in hankie.
Once again, I am reminded of the general suckiness of my photographs.  When will I make this a priority?  When will I set up and actually learn to use the light box I bought a full month ago?  Rhetorical questions...don't feel compelled to answer.  Really...don't.
Moving on.  The cameo.  Lovely, lovely cameo.  Again, I wanted it to be showcased.  The star of the show, so to speak.  So here it is:
I added a little dangle to the cameo, using one of Brenda's (I mean, my) cracked glass beads.  The chain...ah, that chain.  It was made by Jeannie Dukic, of do-over challenge fame!  I received two strands of these meticulously wire-wrapped pearls as my challenge to "do over" into something different.  Make them over?  Take them apart?  Oh no.  Let me tell you, Jeannie is a wire-wrapping MACHINE!  Each is identical to the next.  Perfection.  I couldn't demolish it.  All I could do was add to it.  So I did.  I took small sections (3 pearls each) and made a double strand on each side at the top of the pendant.  Added a couple swirly "S"-like connectors, and placed a single strand of pearls around to form a short necklace.  The cameo rests just below the collarbone in front.  The clasp...there is no clasp.  It is very simple to wind one of the silver jump rings around and up one of the connectors to put on and take off.  Simple but secure. 
I created a super-long necklace using many (oh, so many) small graphite beads from my stash.  Each bead is separated by a tiny seed bead.  I had a black ceramic connector in my stash with five holes on each side.  I turned it on end and added a different dangle to each hole.  The center dangle has a crystal dagger on the bottom, and the beads are wire wrapped together. I added equal lengths of black chain to each of the five holes on the top end, and connected them all to a graphite circle.  The long rope of beads is attached to the circle.  This necklace can be worn long, or may be looped around the neck to form a choker and a longer necklace.  (Why do you suppose this photograph is appropriately oriented in Picasa, but will not rotate here?)

Next I turned my attention to one of the vintage pieces...a beautiful, flashy bright gold pendant with seven dangling daggers.  (Doesn't that sound like something you'd chant while jumping rope?  Seven dangling daggers...six dangling daggers...)  Anyway.  Inspired by Lil Ruby and her ice enamel perfection in the first reveal, I decided to enamel this piece.  Alas, the enamels I purchased are, green, and blue.  I wanted something more muted for this piece.  So I took a breath, dared myself to do it, and used a combination of dark gold, black, and silver embossing powders.  Yes, I did.  And I blasted it with my heat gun till it was melted. Twice. I did it two times. I attached this pendant to a simple strand of cathedral beads...clear glass with antiqued gold ends.  I can't say I'm exactly thrilled with the result...but I'm not horrified by it, either.  I believe I will be playing with this pendant for some time, until I get a result I really am thrilled with. 
And then, just to make good use of many (many, many!) of Brenda's beads plus some of my own, I made a five-coil memory wire bracelet, as seen here: I strung the beads in random patterns...I have a bad habit of making things so symmetrical that all the beads line up when worn, and that's not a look I like.  Variety is the spice of life on these bracelets.  I had to work REALLY HARD to make random patterns (you will notice I am not exactly saying that I strung the beads randomly, because I did create little sets...little satisfy my secret OCD tendency to make things symmetrical). 
Thanks so much for viewing what I made with Brenda's generous gift, and please stop by the other bloggers who are revealing their creations today!
Agi Kiss
Amanda Tibbetts
Ana Cravidao
Andra Marasteanu
Angela Perkins
Anja Schultz
Ann Sherwood
Anna Nordeman
Annita Wilson
Arlene Dean
Astrid Boyce
Barb Fernald
Betty James
Bonnie Coursolle
Brandy Thomason
Brenda Sigafoos
Carmen Lau
Carol Wilson
Caroline Dewison
Catharine Temaluru
Catherine Turrell
Cherrie Warzocha
Christa Murphy
Christina Hickman
Christine Hansen
Cindy Cima
Colleen Vinthagen
Dagmar Liebisch
Danielle Kelley
Dee Elgie
Denise Milward
Diah Anggreni
Diane Valasek
Dita Basu
Donetta Farrington (You are here)
Doris Stumpf
Elizabeth Bunn
Elizabeth Drake
Elizabeth Jones
Elizabeth Stolarczyk
Ema Kilroy
Erin Kenny
Francesca Watson
Gen Smith
Ginger Davis
Heather Otto
Jackie Locantore
Jane Pranata Lim
Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Tough
Jenny Vidberg
Jessica KlaarenHttp://
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Judith Johnston
June Butt
Karen Mitchell
Kari Asbury
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Mowse Doyle
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Natalie Moten
Nikki Banham-Hall
Noemi Baena
Norma Turvey
Pam DeBoer
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Regina Wood
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