Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Hop

What a fun way to start off the weekend...
being a part of the 6th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party,  
hosted by Lori Anderson
(And sending her a big Thank You for all the work and effort
she put in to make this happen!)

There are almost 400 people from around the world
who are participating this year and you can find all their blogs here:
Bead Soup Blog Party People 2012

My jewelry was inspired by the pieces sent to me
by my Bead Soup partner, Cynthia.  Be sure to check out her amazing blog, 
Antiquity Travelers,
to see her creations using the components I sent her.

Cynthia generously sent me several pieces of sea glass from Cuba and a beautiful large pendant made from paua from New Zealand.  She also included quite a few paua chips and a stunning leaf toggle clasp.

I have to be honest...the biggest challenge was incorporating the toggle clasp into a design.  I didn't want to hide it away at the back of a necklace, but I tend to lose bracelets that have toggle clasps.

So I started out with designing a piece of jewelry using the sea glass because that's what I know the best.

I wanted to make several pieces with the various colors of sea glass, but because of the terrible storm that hit the East Coast several weeks ago (we lost power for 6 days and are still trying to clear away the branches and fallen trees), I just didn't have the time.

But I will be sure to post them as I get them designed and created!

I wasn't sure which piece of sea glass to use for the Blog Hop,
but because I wanted to challenge myself, I chose
a brown piece.  I tend to gravitate towards pastels and shades of blue,
so choosing the brown sea glass was going to force me
to move out of my comfort zone. 

So off I went to a local bead shop to find some seed beads
that would showcase my sea glass pendant.
  I'm not normally drawn to oranges, but when I saw
these iridescent orange drop beads, I knew
I had found the base color for my necklace.  I added
white pearl 8/0 beads and yellow/gold matte iridescent 11/0 beads
to complete the color palette. 

I chose to use the spiral rope stitch to create my necklace,
in part because I love how the colors play off each other
in the design.  The necklace and sea glass pendant work together
to create this dazzling summer look. 

I used non-tarnish silver plated wire to wrap the sea glass
and create the bail.  I prefer to use a simple wrap design
so that the natural beauty of the sea glass shines through.   

Next I turned my attention to this fabulous paua pendant. 

I had a hard time deciding whether to pick up
the shades of aqua, or teal or purple that shone so brilliantly in the sunlight.  And no matter what I tried, a necklace that focused on one color just looked out of place when next to this amazing pendant.

It was desperation, really, that sent me back to the bead shop
in search of something--anything--that would live up
to the beauty of the paua shell. 

After wandering through the entire store,
trying to find just the right shape, color and who knows what else
I was looking for by that point, I found myself
 back at the seed bead wall.  Helping one of the other customers
find the colors she needed for her necklace. 
(Go figure.) 

And that's when I really looked at my pendant. 
For the first time, I wasn't mesmerized by the play of colors
that changed each time I moved it in my hand. 
I noticed the black and grey that created the design
that showcased the amazing display of colors. 

And I remembered that if you want a color to pop,
you need to pair it with a neutral.  After that revelation,
it was easy to find the beads I needed to create
the dramatic necklace that would allow the paua pendant
to stand out but not overwhelm the rest of the design. 

I used matte black drop beads and 11/0 beads in a shade
called "Montana Blue Gold Luster."  The 11/0 beads have enough
of a hint of blue that it keeps the necklace
from being monochromatic but not enough color
that it draws your eye away from the pendant.

I guess confession is good for the soul...
I really didn't want to use the same stitch for both
necklaces.  But every other beading stitch I had learned
just didn't look right.  I even tried making a wire wrapped necklace
but it didn't have the flow that I wanted. 

The spiral rope stitch reminds me so much of the waves
rolling onto the beach that it seemed to be a perfect fit
for this necklace as well.  And since I just learned this stitch,
it seemed fitting to use my new skill for this challenge. 

So now I still had the paua chips and the beautiful toggle clasp
to incorporate into a design...and I'm getting worried
because time is running out.

When in doubt, go back to what you love, right? 
And I realized that I love charm bracelets...
and that a bracelet that had these beautiful paua chips dangling
off a simple chain would be something pretty amazing.   

I guess by now you've realized that I was designing these pieces for myself. 

(Especially once I realized that this toggle doesn't slip off when I wear it!)

And the best part was that I had just enough paua chips to make a pair of dangle earrings to complete my new jewelry set!

I'm so excited to be a part of this year's Bead Soup Blog Hop and can't wait to see what Cynthia has created with the pieces I sent her! 
You can visit her blog here

Be sure to check out as many blogs as you can...there are so many amazing and talented artists participating!  And don't forget that there are two more reveals this year to see what everyone else has created with their Bead Soup!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Count Each Day as a Blessing

When I first read this blog post, I was moved to tears.  It is the heartfelt enotional wrestling of a woman who was unwittingly at the tragic shooting in Colorado and her attempt to come to terms with what happened. 

We live in a world where things don't always make sense and in our attempt to figure it out, we usually want to assign blame.  This woman found another way to deal with it all...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beading and More Beading

I got my wish this summer...
I have been able to take several beading classes at The Potomic Bead Company in Ocean City, NJ. 

I have been thinking that some of my sea glass designs would look so much better with a beaded necklace rather than just a plain chain.
Not that there is anything wrong
with a simple pendant suspended from a simple chain necklace...In fact, this is still one of my favorites!

I have already created several pieces
that use a simple stringing technique
to make fantastic necklaces. 

I love the colors in this necklace...
so tropical and summery. 

But I was looking for something with more detail, more drama!  And when I saw a sample of the spiral rope design, I knew it was just what I was looking for...


I originally chose these colors
and created the necklace for the BIG reveal this Saturday (7/28) for the Bead Soup Blog Hop, but I just didn't like the colors next to the focal piece of paua from New Zealand my partner had given me. 

So I found this gorgeous piece of light aqua sea glass, wrapped it into a pendant and added it to the beaded spiral necklace. 

With my next design, however, I realized that simply using wire and a jump ring wouldn't do.  After all, a bridal necklace needs to be unique and special...

So I went back to the drawing board
(well, actually the internet) and found some great instructions for creating a bezel for my sea glass pendant.  It took the entire evening and several false starts before I figured out how to get the look I wanted. 

But what a finish!

Don't forget Saturday is the big reveal for the Bead Soup Blog Hop!  There are about 100 of us that will be showing off our creations and designs for this first reveal date. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fireworks or Candles

The fireworks came late this year for the 4th of July celebration.  (So much clean-up from the massive storm the week before!)  But they were as amazing as they always have up the sky with spectacular colors and shapes.

And I got to thinking about my teenage daughter, who was standing next to me.  She wants to be remembered, to be "somebody," to be famous.  And I realized that she was talking about being like the fireworks that light up the sky and leave you speechless because of their dazzling display in the night sky. 

I remember wanting to be like fireworks when I was a teenager.  It seemed that the only way to measure the importance of your life was whether you were known by millions of people.

Obviously, I'm not famous.  In fact, I'm pretty much unknown.  I'm a stay-at-home wife and mother.  

But as we stood there watching the fireworks display, God brought to mind the image of a candle.  Simple and small, candles provide light in the darkness.  They are steady and consistent and their light shines for a long time.

And I realized that we each have to decide how our lives will be spent...chasing after a moment of fame that is soon over and will never come again or simply living each day to the fullest.

Maybe this is part of growing realize that each day is a gift and that to be loved by your family is more precious than being recognized around the world. 

I'm a candle and I'm content.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bead Soup

Sometimes you just have to dive in
and deal with the worries and "what ifs" later. 

I don't remember where I first learned about the Bead Soup Blog Party (Pretty Things - Bead Soup Blog Party), but it sounded like a LOT of fun!  But as soon as I  made up my mind to sign up, the old fears started to march back in.

 (You've just started to create jewelry this year-you don't have enough experience; you've seen the work of some of the artists from previous years and their work is amazing; just sit back and watch this year and see how it goes for next year...) 

After a couple of days really searching myself to see if I was ready to put myself out there for the world to see, I realized that waiting never produces results and I signed up.

My partner contacted me as soon as we found out who we had been paired with and sent me the most amazing collection of natural jewelry components I have ever seen!


My jewelry will be international because I have pieces from New Zealand and Cuba!

This huge focal piece is paua and is from New Zealand.  I am going to use some of the beading techniques I have learned this summer to make a necklace that will allow this piece to take center stage.

These chips are also paua and each has a tiny hole drilled near the top.  I am still trying to come up with a design that makes the best use of these amazing colors.

Better picture of the intricate detail on each of these chips. 

This amazing clasp is what I am using on the necklace...but I think it's too pretty to be covered up by my hair so it might find its way to the front in my design.

These pieces of sea glass are from the shores of Cuba and are just so pretty.  The shapes are different from what I find in New Jersey and they will be fun to work with.

Sea glass comes in many shades of each color and these three pieces of green sea glass from my Bead Soup partner are a great example.  

The first reveal for the Bead Soup Blog Party is July 28 and you can see my designs (as well as about 100 other artists) that day. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Storm July 2012

I'm not one to be scared by thunderstorms,
 but when the lightening is striking so fast that it looks like daylight
at 1 AM, I'm not taking chances. 

After the storm passed, my husband and daughter ventured outside
to check everything out...I decided to stay in the house
and comfort the animals instead. 

When I went outside the next morning,
this is what the front door to my house looked like...

This huge branch fell between our house and the garage. 
It clipped the back porch and some of the siding as well as tearing
my pergola apart a bit, but the buildings were spared. 
I know God was watching over us because the branch split
and left my car untouched as well!  (The other part of that branch
was about 15 feet long on the other side of my car!)

You can see how close the branch came to hitting my car!


The awning was just ripped off the side of the house
and the railing was demolished.  But the window on this side
of the house was not touched at all!


Thank goodness that the grills were OK,
just tumbled around.  We were without power for six days and hubby
was able to cook using the grill each day. 
(Not that this was unusual for us...he loves to grill!)


My poor little mimosa tree either was hit by a branch blowing 
by or the wind just was too much for it. 



Our beautiful shade tree in the back yard was hit by lightening...
we think this tree must have been over 100 years old. 
My daughter's tire swing is on the ground to the left of the photo
to give you an idea of how big this tree actually is.


And this branch came down the next morning...
so grateful that we weren't under it when it fell!


And just a reminder that God still is always watching over us...this little tiger lily decided to bloom that morning.