Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I'm Jellin'...Are You Jellin'?

I often consider myself the "idea girl".  I have always had the gift of being able to spout off a storm of ideas until something sticks.  I actually pride myself on it - I think it comes from the same place in me that allows me to have a never-ending excitement about the next project. I am NEVER out of ideas for what to do next.  It is this ability that has my creative friends calling me when in crisis.  I may not give them the idea they run with but its a great springboard for other ideas and can be a lending hand to their "lightbulb" moment.  This is what happened when my lovely PIB, Lindsay Starr called to gather ideas for her Component of the Month Challenge for AE!  Whatever idea lead her to these beautiful cabs, I do not know...but she was kind enough to send one made especially for me as a thank you.

I have been a bit obsessed with jellyfish for quite a long time.  Early in my beadwork I made netted bead jellyfish with clear AB 15s and they have been an obsession since.  They are elegant, dangerous, and come in such astounding variations in shape, color and size that I can't help but be fascinated by them.

It had been a long time since I made those silly little beaded jellies - then, one afternoon while I was attending a Gem & Mineral show in North Carolina I came across a pricey dendritic agate that I could NOT stop thinking about.  It was PERFECT for a jellyfish and it was beautiful.  Since that necklace I have made several others - my jelly obsession complete.

My Jellyfish masterpiece & my favorite!

Jellyfish made from bowlerite
for a beady friend.
This is the story of my psychedelic/ aboriginal leather jellyfish.  (whoa....)

This beautiful cab created by Lindsay is made of domed leather that has been painted and sealed.  The edges are thick and while the inside is hollow it is stiff enough to hold up and did not need to be filled in-between it and the backing.  I wasn't sure how all this was going to play out but I decided to use beads that matched the swaths of color to bezel the cab.

After completing the bezel I needed to add a round of beads at the outter rim of the cab.  I opted for opaque white 8s in order to add back more of the white that had been covered up by the bezel.  I ended up with this:

So...I actually hate what I did with it.  *laugh*  This happens from time to time.  All I could do was hope that it was just in that "ugly duckling" phase and that once the tentacles are added that I would fall back in love with it.  Sometimes you have to bead beyond your dislike and you end up discovering it all came together in the end.

My next challenge was that neither my stash nor my local bead store had the beads I wanted to use for the tentacles.  This became a bit frustrating because, as it turns out, they don't MAKE what I was hoping for.  I usually use peanuts to make curly lengths of tentacley goodness but nothing I could find was the right color.  I had to get creative (who woulda thought?!).  I finally decided to try opaque white drops and mix them with seed bead colors to get the effect I was looking for.

While I didn't quite finish this necklace, all I need to add is the strap and I will have another jelly to add to my little smack of jellyfish.  (A group of jellyfish is called a smack. *giggle*)  Don't forget to check out the other artisan's take on their leather cab!

Kelly --- You are here!

AE Writers:

Update (2/7/17)
I figured I would post the finished product.  I spend quite a lot of time stringing and restringing beads and trying different combos before I finally landed on the strap I thought best suited for my newest Jelly.  Interestingly enough, while working thru this I ended up realizing that the green beads I was trying to use in the strap originally were just NOT working.  I happened to be going to Asheville, NC the next day so I stopped in at the local bead store and found these awesome matte saucer beads.  I also found....*duh duh dum!* the beads I didn't think existed!  Those darn opaque white peanuts had just been elusive.  It was too late to use them in this project but I grabbed a tube for my stash.  All that to say...here she is!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mother of Nothing Really - AE Dragon Challenge

Dragons.  Beast of fantasy and fire.  They have been central to popular fiction in novels, film and more recently, television (OMG...Game of Thrones!!!) and lets not forget mythology!  I have been fascinated by dragons since I read The Hobbit as a child.  Smaug, in all his sinister glory, is fantastic character.  And who could forget Dragolin?  Our fascination doesn't stop there...now we have everything from How to Train a Dragon, Eragon all the way to the upcoming Pete the Magic Dragon.  I was even given an AWESOME dragon bottle holder for Christmas!

For the month of December Art Elements blog challenged its members and readers to create a piece inspired by dragons.

Initially I had intended to use one of my 2 phenomenal dragon beads by Mary Lockwood, however, that is going to take me some serious time to create the perfect beady environment for them.  So, I opted to use one of my reptile-esque cabs by Jo Hoffacker.  I did not get before pics, of course, but I have a couple other cabs of hers so I have posted a picture of them below.

Mary Lockwood's Dragon Beads
Jo Hoffacker's Eye cabs
I recently purchased a really nice maroon blazer and have been thinking I needed a lapel pin so, I decided to make this cab into one.  This is the first time I have made one of my embroidery pieces into a pin but I figured it would be a perfect project during the holiday season.  This means I can sport my artwork, be quirky and freak people out during my “day-job”…all things I enjoy the thought of.  Even my macabre mother shuttered at the thought of an eyeball lapel pin.  *giggle*

The first thing was to bezel the cab.  I opted for a double bezel – an inner white bezel and an outer green bezel.  I actually haven't done this before either.  One thing to note - for whatever reason I could not tighten the thread enough at the rim on the outer bezel.  I am not sure if this is because I ended with a jagged edge or not.  More experimenting is needed here.
Double Bezel
 I played around with the idea of using jewel beetle wings for the scales, however, to get the look I would have wanted with those I would have ended up with one honkin’ big pin.  Big, in my book, is never an issue...UNLESS your lapel just won't hold it all up!  I opted to go with some long magnatamas instead.

While attaching the backing I nearly screwed completely up – I forgot to cut the holes and attach the pin!  Thankfully, I remembered in time to rescue it and get the pin back on appropriately.  Panic averted!  Unfortunately, I did end up getting a little bit of the glue onto the outside of the ultrasuede but I am hoping I will be able to get that off once it dries a bit.  I went ahead and finished the edges and tada!  I may end up adding something more to the scale aspect of the piece but for now it will rest on my lapel.  I may be a mother of nothing really...but I have a cool dragon eye!  #whatwhat!

Please don't forget to visit all the other artisan's blogs!

Shai Williams
Kathy Lindemer
Anita Rao
Kelly Rodgers  <-----you are here!
Tammy Adams

AJE Team:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Eye-saiah's Vision

Found on Tumbler.

This month eye participated in Art Jewelry Element's (AJE) challenge; "Eye Love Beads".  When Lindsay Starr (of Phantasm Creations) posted this challenge eye IMMEDIATELY knew what eye wanted to do.  Eye had just purchased the PERFECT bead for this challenge - an AMAZING Joan Miller Ceramic bead:

Photo credit: Joan Miller

The first thing eye thought of when eye was considering a design was seraphim.  Seraphim are described once (maybe twice) in the Bible - in Isaiah 6 when Isaiah has a vision, but there is also speculation that the "4 Living Creatures" mentioned in Revelation 6 (that are described as being covered in eyes) are also seraphim, however that is up for debate.  Eye decided to create a "seraphim" that did not have the 6 wings ('cause that is a LOT of wings to create...) and were covered in eyes!

Here is a drawing of what eye had in mind for this necklace:

Crazy scribbles.
My intention was to create the "Eye of Providence" which is an eye within a equilateral triangle with rays of light emanating from it.  This symbol is said to represent the Omniscient (all-knowing/seeing) character of God.  The three sides of the triangle are representative of the Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).

And so began the journey to create a piece inspired by the vision Isaiah saw of God on the throne...

...there were many sacrifices on this journey...

Eye created what eye thought eye wanted for the triangle piece and this is how it ended up:

There were a couple problems though...after having created the triangle, eye realized the eye did not sit well on the triangle and my tension was so tight that eye kept breaking beads as eye tried to add in the rays of light.  Eye kept breaking beads...there were many bead sacrifices...and these suffered many stabbings too...
Poor digits.
Eye finally decided to scrap the open triangle idea and go for a more solid triangle.  Plus, eye wanted to change the background color to purple - the color of royalty.

After finishing the "Eye of Providence" eye began searching for a way to make wings for my seraphim.  This proved to be more difficult than eye thought.  Eye knew that eye needed something that would hold the wing shape on its own but eye didn't want to make bead embroidery or metal wings.

Much research and pinteresting (word?) ensued and eye came across a pin which showed netted wings that seemed to hold their shape.  Using this picture as a template, eye created wings.  Eye will admit...eye do not like writing down what eye do as eye go...probably will never do that...so the wings (since eye had to make two) are slightly different.  Eye attached the wings to the Joan Miller bead and then attached the component to the "Eye of Providence".

Pseudo Seraphim (Tongue twister, anyone?)

The last step was to add the straps.  You would think this would be easy...but nothing on this small ball we call Earth is "easy".  Eye could not match the colors eye wanted for the strap but after much frustration, many failed attempts, and finally giving up and running with it...eye came up with a do-able option.  Now for the finale!


Don't forget to visit the other blog hop participants and see what they created for this eye-themed challenge!

Guests - 
Kelly Rodgers* You are here!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Beading Goliath

So I figured...if I was ever asked to be in a rap video I HAVE to have some bling 'cause I'm sure NOT going to twerk....

I like to break the rules.  I especially like challenging the idea that jewelry should be a certain way or made of a certain thing or that earrings, bracelets and necklaces should match.  I don't know if this is the little rebel in me or if I am a touch eccentric...but probably a little of both.  =P

A while back I went to a very small local Gem & Mineral Show and encountered a man with stone slab that did custom cut work.  *grin*  YAY!  While looking through his buckets of slab, a piece of Outback Jasper called out to me so....I decided to have him cut it for me.  I wanted a BIG cab...a really big cab...a really really big cab...like a brobdingnagian cab - I call it Goliath.  (Ha!  I crack myself up - how appropriate to call a big stone Goliath...)


           1. gigantic.
           2. a giant.

Now, you have to understand, I knew this was gonna be a large piece of rock...but I have to admit, when I received it in the mail its size took me by surprise.  This beast is 4 3/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches.  Here is a pic of the finished cab:

Now look at your palm.  See?  Huge.

I am breaking the rules and making one hell of a big necklace with this one.  Because of it's sheer size and weight there were some unique challenges I faced...which I will share here.

First, I normally do NOT glue down my cabs to Lacy's Stiff Stuff or Ultra Suede before beading them - partly because if something happens and I am not happy with the final product I don't have to worry about trying to rip the backing off the cab.  This one is a bit different.  This cabs weighs a ton and I didn't like the idea of that kind of weight resting solely on the beads and thread of the bezel.

So, I glued down the monstrous cab and spent what seemed like eons building up the peyote-stitch bezel.  Now, next step was to add a line of beads around the outside of the cab.  One thing I knew not to do with this piece was to make it any bigger than it already was, but one thing I have learned - you always need to have at least 1 row of beads around the outside of a bead-bezeled cab.  The primary reason is this ensures you don't have a strange rim of Lacy's sticking out beyond the cab after you do your edging row.

I knew before I started this crazy project EXACTLY what I wanted to achieve - and I knew HOW I wanted to achieve it (unusual!).  The goal?  Lichen...  Now, I had worked on a project back in the day as part of a challenge for Blu Mud (back when they made ceramic components).  It involved creating a whole lot of seed beaded circles.  I remembered that they only laid flat when I worked hard not to have a tight tension - so I knew if I increased my tension I would be able to make little cups.  Here is the result:

So I attached the lichen and ran into a bit of a challenge...how was I going to attach the straps?!  I mean, being that this thing weighs a ton, thread would NOT be an option...and I was even concerned about using SoftFlex since the attachment point would still be small and involve thread.  I came up with a cool idea.

I have been making copper jewelry for some years now under the name Magnolia House.  Most of our (it's a mother/daughter business) pieces sell either person to person or in one of the 2 local stores that carries our work.  This being said it popped into my head that I had a soldered wire triangle sitting on my worktable with no where to go.  This would work perfect!

Here is what I did:  I cut around the cab so that I had it ready for a backing of ultra suede, then I cut another piece of Lacy's the same size and shape. Then I used Fireline and secured the triangle by sewing...and sewing...and sewing loops around the copper piece.  This is the end result:

The reason I did this was so that I had a very secure place for the straps to come off the piece of work that would not compromise the beadwork of the piece...AND...was weighty enough that it would easily hold up.  Then I glued (GENEROUSLY glued) the 2 backings together sandwiching the stitched copper piece between the Lacy's.  THEN I backed the piece and beaded the edges to finish.

The end result of this piece was EXACTLY what I wanted.  I have not yet been asked to be in a rap video...but if I am, I am DEFINITELY prepared!

             And here is the thug-worthy final product!     

There were quite a few challenges in creating this piece both due to size and weight...but with a little out-of-the-box thinking I am now rap video ready!  *smirk*

Monday, December 14, 2015

When Creativity Leaves The Creative

Writers block.  Lost inspiration.  Empty.  When you sit down with everything in front of you and just can't make yourself make something.

No, this isn't yo mama's blog entry about how to find inspiration.  I think we probably all already know several ways to ignite the inspiration bulb.  Thing is...WHY does it happen?  I have been struggling with this problem off and on for a good year.  Its not that I don't have ideas or that I am not excited about my ideas...its actually that I can't make myself DO the things I want to do.
Here is something I have discovered.  Creatives are EXTREMELY sensitive to their environment and emotions.  When something is off, like dealing with an overly stressful time at work or a infuriating boss or internal emotional turmoil, our creative center becomes tapped.  I'm not sure if its because we employ all our creativeness in resolving the situation we are in or if its that it just happens to be the first "extra" resource of energy we tap.  Either way, the first thing that seems to leave is our ability to act upon that which makes us most happy - creating.  This is a vicious cycle and can spiral downward for a long period of time - sometimes taking weeks, months or even longer to kick out of.  Basically, when you are drained in other life-areas...many times you will find yourself drained creatively.
The only real advice I have for these times is to not lose hope...to not give up and allow yourself guiltless time to work things out and get back to the status quo.  This is important because it WILL return and to feel guilty about a pause is really counter productive.  All this to say that I had a recent burst of energy.  Small...but enough to FINALLY complete a new piece.

You may recognize that this necklace was my entry for the final Beading Back in Time blog hop.  I am JUST NOW finishing it and I am totally patting myself on the back right now...because it is a small step away from the empty bucket I had been feeling.  It is a bright spot and sometimes you just gotta congratulate yourself for beginning the process back into your creative self.  Finally.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Beading Back in Time Blog Hop - Favorite Time in History

Indecision is the enemy of creativity.

This is my seemingly unscalable mountain in beading.  Indecision has directed a series of challenges that have resulted in a lot of unfinished projects for me.  Many times I knew what I wanted in a general way but I either became frustrated in the process or couldn't decide what to do next.  I was determined that this piece would not end like that.

For this hop, I decided to rummage through some of my stash and let IT speak to me.  I ended up gravitating toward an old German glass pendant I picked up in Nashville while visiting Lindsay Starr (of Phantasm Creations).
I decided to try for a Victorian/ Art Nouveau look for this piece.  I rarely sketch what I want to create ahead of time but I almost immediately know what direction I would be heading in and I needed to get it out of my imagination and onto paper:
I wanted to incorporate the wheat theme that you see frequently in Victorian mourning jewelry (see some examples below: 
Get this...these pieces are made with human hair!  If you have never seen Victorian hair work - you really need to do some google searches...it is some of the most incredible/ awe inspiring jewelry, pictures, etc etc.

After hours of embroidering and ripping out stitches, it dawned on me that the only way to replicate the wheat-look I saw in my mind's eye was to use bugles!  I have NO idea why it took me so long to realize this...but you know how sometimes you get stuck in a single vein of thinking and when you finally step back, you realize...*light bulb*!

Here I had already bezeled the pendant, figured out the stupid wheat situation and begun my first row of 15s around the outer edge.  See...YOU get the short painless version of the story - the one that doesn't include all the hassle and frustration and duh-moments.

I continued the 15s around the outside of the pendant until I had encased the majority of the wheat motif and promptly realized that I didn't have enough room for the bottom portion I drew on my sketch.  Oops.  Ultimately. I realized that trying to cut out, back the piece, and finish the edges would have been impossible with the original design.
I ended up with this as the finished pendant portion of the necklace.
Now I am gonna be honest here - I did not struggle with indecision with this piece for 5 seconds...BUT while being away with my aunts and cousins this weekend for a MUCH needed girls weekend and having stayed up till 2:30am having a deep familial therapy session, finishing this blog much less the necklace became impossible.  It is nearly 3:30am as I sit here writing this.  But family...especially these amazing women I share blood and love for must take priority.

I did eventually figure out how to finish the bottom of the necklace before I stopped.  I intend to finish with black faceted beads and silver Czech beads for the strap...but, alas, this must be for another day.  Here is what I have to this point:
Let me tell you...I am slowly learning to trust my gut and not get wrapped up in indecision whether it be from too many choices or being generally unsure.  This is something that is more than just a bead-lesson -- it's a life lesson.  Tonight around a table sat 2 generations of women who descended from Kings and Paupers, Manhattan Project chemists and at-home-mothers, from one of the first women to ever receive a college education to unsung heros.  We have pictures a hundred years old and love letters spanning over a century - we have a deep sense of where we come from and who we are and you know what?  History is utterly priceless - family history, the history of human-kind, the history of beads.  Pardon me for waxing poetic at this late hour but I can't help but look back and realize; choices are the stuff of life and indecision is the stuff of death.  What a privilege we have to work with that small piece of glass with a hole in it - something that humans have used since time began!  How truly incredible it is that this link to our history - that tiny piece of glass with a hole in it - has the ability to teach modern-day-me SO much about myself and life.  Funny how that is...isn't it?

Please check out my beading buddies blog and the time in history they chose!

Sherri Stokey -----Co-Host
Lindsay Starr -----Co-Host
Kelly Rodgers -----You are HERE!