JAC Blog Hop – Inspiration Strikes

March 25, 2014

Each month some of the artists of the Jewelry Artisans Community participate in a blog hop. This month’s topic is about where we find our inspiration.

Many of my creative friends are inspired by specific things, such as nature, culture or a type of art. I find it hard to translate such abstract themes into jewelry. What drew me into the jewelry arts initially was the gorgeous glass, and that’s where I usually start, with the beads.

Take this sea glass. This is real sea glass, found on a beach in North Carolina. Isn’t it fabulous? I’m pretty sure I will wire wrap it into a pendant. I want to make it into a memory of the trip to the beach, so when I found these sand-colored lampworked beads, I was thrilled. Together, these will form the basis of the necklace.

sea glass

Sometimes what takes my fancy is a bead that is really different from anything I’ve seen before. On occasion it isn’t even a bead that gets my juices flowing. In the picture below, I’ve collected a group of things I might use in the final piece, but what started the project was the brass bells.

brass bells

Once I find an item that sparks an idea, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the supporting cast of beads to go with it. I like to have an excess of beads from which I can pull a selection. That’s when the agony starts. What to put in, what to leave out. So painful. The actual construction of the necklace is almost anticlimactic. Still fun, though.

See what other members of the JAC have to say here:


Radiant Orchid Challenge

February 27, 2014

I was lucky enough to snag one of Andrew Thornton’s challenge kits – he only makes 20 each time. This one was inspired by the Pantone color of the year, radiant orchid. Andrew refers to his kits as luxury bead blends, and there certainly was a lovely lot of beads in the kit. The rules allow you to pick and choose what you want to use out of the kit. If you want to know what was included in the kit, you can see it here: http://andrew-thornton.blogspot.com/2014/01/radiant-orchid-challenge.html

I wanted to use some of the seed beads but didn’t want to string them, so I whipped up a couple of beaded beads to add to my piece. As a surprise, Andrew included a pair of lilac enameled beads, which not only did I use, but I fired up my torch and made a couple of enameled beads in a greenish-yellow color to toss into the mix. As long as I had the torch going, I made a few enameled leaves too, but only ended up using one.

I enjoyed the challenge, and as it turns out, my cat Loki really likes enameled beads. Thanks for your help, Loki.

Below is a picture of my necklace.

Blog picture

You can see the creations of the other participants by visiting their pages here:





Love Actually – Jewelry Artisans Community Blog Hop

February 25, 2014

Each month some of the artisans of the Jewelry Artisans Community blog on the same topic. This month, we are talking about love.

The JAC hosts a monthly challenge, and this month’s challenge was to make a piece of Valentine’s Day jewelry that did not include the traditional red and pink colors. I thought I’d take a tip from that, and talk about the love of one’s friends, instead of what we usually think of for Valentine’s Day.

A number of years ago, I met a woman on a work assignment. She worked for my company but I’d not met her until I arrived at the client site. We hit it off immediately, found we had a mutual interest in crafts, and became craft fair buddies. I got her interested in beading and we went to Beadfest together. It was great.

I call her DB because at the firm we worked at, everyone was referred to by their initials. A few years ago, she told me that she was moving to Phoenix. I was so sad. We met for Beadfest the following year, and then the relationship dwindled into exchanging Christmas cards.

Then last fall I decided I would go to Tuscon for the bead shows. I called her to see if she was interested. I later realized it had been 8 years since she moved, and probably 7 since I’d seen her, but it didn’t seem like that long at all. What really hit me between the eyes, though, is that she told me that she had been seriously ill last year – and I never knew.

It is so easy to take it for granted that your friends will always be there when you want them.

We had a great time in Tucson, and have resolved that it will not be another seven years before we get together again.

Since this is a jewelry blog, I have to put in a picture of some jewelry. This piece is very simple, but I will treasure it as a reminder of my friend. We each made one at a make-and-take project at one of the booths at the Best Bead Show.

DB pendant

See what everyone else has to say here:




Jewelry Artisans Community Earring Challenge

October 28, 2013

I participate in a forum for jewelry-makers known as the Jewelry Artisans Community. The group runs challenges at least monthly, in an effort to stretch our designing muscles. Every so often we’ll host a special challenge, like this Earring Challenge sponsored by forum member Nicole from NValentine Studios.

Nicole donated a pair of her artisan beads to each participant in the challenge; each of us had to make a pair of earrings. There was much good-natured teasing in our challenge thread, as some of us took a bit longer than others to produce our earrings.

Lotty64 (Caroline) was the first to post. These are her earrings:

Here is Michelle’s pair:

And Gayle’s:

Cat made this pair:

Zili’s pair:

These are Nicker’s earrings:

Dawn’s effort:

And these are mine:
Nicole earrings

Aren’t they gorgeous? You’ll notice they are all different. Our community is full of talented artisans of all sorts: wire artists, lampworkers (like Nicole), beadweavers, wire workers and more.

If you want to see the tomfoolery that accompanied this challenge, here is a link to the forum thread:


I started you off at page 9, because that’s when the teasing really got started.

We invite you to check out our forum at http://jewelryartisans.proboards.com/index.cgi. We’d love to have you join us!

Resin Alchemy – JAC Blog Carnival

September 1, 2013

This month’s topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community blog hop is a book review.  I chose a brand new book, Resin Alchemy by Susan Lenart Kazmer.


I have taken a couple of in-person classes from Susan and enjoy her approach to jewelry.  She is a master of cold joinery and non-traditional materials.  I believe she will use literally anything in jewelry if she takes a fancy to it.

It is not surprising that Susan would choose to use resin in her work.  In order to incorporate some of the things she wants to use, such as organic material, she has to find a way to stabilize and protect them, and resin is a perfect way to do that. 

Now, about the book.  The book itself is gorgeous, a little oversized, with big, beautiful photos of the projects and clear, up-close process shots.  It is also well-organized, starting with a chapter on tools and supplies, followed by a chapter on the basics of working with resin.  I liked that Susan included information on safety, as I think that is hugely important, especially if you have children or pets about.  This chapter also discusses adding ephemera and special effects to the resin.

Then there is a chapter on making cold connections, with an emphasis on how to incorporate your resin pieces into jewelry.  One method demonstrated is adding eyelets or rivets to the piece so you can hang it on something.

A chapter on making your own bezels follows, and then she gets into stabilizing organic or fragile material, casting molds and what she calls cold enameling, which is essentially adding color and then sealing it with resin.

Two or three projects are demonstrated after each technique chapter.  I noticed that although specific supplies are listed, Susan also gives ideas of how to handle the project if you aren’t using the same thing she used, so you aren’t limited to copying the project exactly.  I appreciated this feature, because I don’t have a lot of interest in copying other people’s projects, I like to put my own spin on things. 

Throughout the book, Susan discusses design choices, which should be of interest to the serious student.

Overall, I was very pleased with the book.  The projects are fine for a beginner, but those with intermediate skills will find interesting projects and ideas also.  It’s also just a gorgeous book, and one I’m happy to have in my library.



Read what other members of the JAC have to say this month here:


JAC Blog Hop – Improvements

July 28, 2013

Each month some of the artists from the Jewelry Artisans Community forum write about the same topic.  This month’s theme is improving our shops.

To be frank, the best way for me to improve my shop would be for me to put something in it.  I haven’t listed anything in well over a year.  That is due to the world’s longest move (can we get the Guinness people over here?  Oh, wait – I think we’d have to actually complete the move in order to get a count.)  My supplies and tools are slowly making their way over to my new location, but it is taking forever.

So I had to find something else to focus on, and I have decided that I need to spend more time right here on my blog.  To that end I have created a blogging calendar with the aim of posting more frequently.  I have enough ideas to post 3 times a week, but I am going to work up to it slowly, to make sure I can manage it.  The ideas are the easy part, but there is some research involved, and I want to make sure I have enough time to do it right.

I’ve also invested in a WordPress training manual, so I can do things like post links and videos properly.

******Free stuff alert**** The Jewelry Artisans Community is hosting a beading challenge. Participants will receive two beads to use in a pair of earrings (while supplies last). Go to our forum page at http://jewelryartisans.proboards.com/, click on the Contests and Challenges board, and look for Nicker’s Bead Challenge for the rules and to sign up. *********

Now back to our regularly scheduled feature.

Read what the other members have to say here:






JAC Blog Hop – Mother’s Day 2013

April 27, 2013

Each month, some of artisans of the Jewelry Artisans Community post on the same topic.  This month’s theme is Mother’s Day.

Last summer I was invited to a wedding and I needed a new dress.  Because I’ve gained a fair amount of weight in the last couple of years (due, no doubt, to stress), I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in the dress – or a lot of time.  I bought this dress at Kohl’s.


The wedding was to start at 2pm, so we headed out around 1:15, only to find a big traffic jam on the Capital Beltway. Judging by the flags on many of the cars, it was the day of the West Virginia-Maryland game. We made it on time, but many people were late, including some of the bridesmaids and the ring bearer, so the wedding was late.

As we drove away, I caught a glimpse of someone wearing what looked like the same dress as me. I had time to change, but really didn’t have anything else to wear, and my husband assured me it wasn’t the same dress.

So wrong. At the cocktail reception, I ran right into the lady, and it was the same dress. Someone commented on it, so I made up a story about how we were the original bridesmaids but got caught in traffic. My husband threw in that it was a good thing the bride was able to find all those girls in blue dresses to take our places.

This story made the rounds of the wedding, so much so that the photographer came to take our pictures together. The bride thought it was funny when she heard it and regretted that she hadn’t thought to put us in the bridesmaid pictures. As she said, orange goes with blue!

Now, I know you are wondering what this has to do with Mother’s Day. Here it is: when my daughter saw the dress, she told me she had the perfect pair of earrings to go with it, and loaned me these:


She was right, they do go with the dress. Only one problem: these are MY earrings, which I do not even remember lending her. So that’s my Mother’s Day commentary: Mom – the woman whose closet you raid whenever you feel like it!

Read what the other members of the JAC have to say here:






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