Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Design This – Beaded Necklace to Match Azurite and Malachite Pendant

Two years ago I purchased a beautiful azurite and malachite cabochon that had been formed and set in a handmade sterling silver mounting by Donato 2 Hawks. I looked forward to making a beaded necklace to incorporate the pendant into. The azurite is such a beautiful blue but it is different than most of the blues that I have in my bead collection and I didn’t have any malachite greens either so I needed to do some searching for the right materials. There was a bit of light blue in the pendant that reminded me of some of my turquoise beads.

At each trade show I went to after that I looked for appropriate beads. I found that some chrysocolla beads had potential. During the first year I found some nice large rounded rectangular chrysocolla beads and some faceted dark green synthetic beads. At the beginning of the second year I found some medium sized spherical malachite beads but the azurite blue continued to elude me. Just recently I found what I hoped would prove to be the final pieces to the necklace puzzle. I found some small, spherical, high shine colorful chrysocolla beads and two sizes of faceted agate spheres that were dyed a blue that looked like it would complement the azurite. I normally don’t purchase dyed components but these were a nice color that didn’t scream fake, so I brought them home.

Soon after, I had a chance to see if my collection would allow me to design a necklace that would do my pendant justice. In addition to the beads I already mentioned, I also included some silver and some opalite beads in my pile of components that looked promising. After laying out some different combinations, I settled on a few turquoise teardrops and small spheres, the rounded rectangular and high shine chrysocolla beads and both sizes of the blue dyed agate that turned out to be a good foil for the azurite in the pendant. Once I had a design that I liked, I began to string it up. Before finishing off the second end, I took a moment to see how the necklace would wear and found that the very large bail of the pendant was going to cause the pendant to slide too easily back and forth along the necklace.

Luckily this was only a minor setback. Looking closely at what I had already strung up, I saw the potential to create a loop that would keep the pendant in place. It turned out that the loop idea worked well to corral the pendant if I could find some smaller beads to allow it to bend tightly enough. Again I was lucky in that I had some dark blue seed beads in my stash that worked perfectly. The first try at making the loop took some attention away from the focal pendant however. Before I tried downsizing the loop I took a photo so I could compare my second attempt to the first one. I was pleased with the second loop. (You can see the first and second attempts above.) Now that I had a pleasing and functional design it was time to finish off the second end. Since the pendant was sterling silver, I also used sterling silver findings to complete the necklace.

If you have a special component that you would like to have incorporated into a custom piece of jewelry for you, contact me to see if I have what is needed to accomplish that for you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Great Backyard Bird Count 2014

It's that time of year again to dust off your binoculars and print out your local bird checklist. The Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for February 14-17, 2014.

If you aren't familiar with the GBBC it "is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are." Why is this important? Analyzing the data can help scientists answer a variety of questions about migratory patterns, health of bird populations, climate changes, etc. They need our help as citizen scientists to gather this data as there are not enough scientists in all parts of the world to do so. Do your part and have some fun while you are at it. Grab your checklist and head out with your binoculars for some fun outdoors while you count birds. Data submission is easy. GBBC has online resources to help you identify the birds that you find. If you enjoy photographing birds, there is even a photo contest. See last year's winners for inspiration. Happy Counting!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas 2014

While red hearts are a more traditional color for Valentine’s Day, if your sweetheart also has a February birthday (birthstone amethyst) or has a penchant for color trends (2014’s Pantone color of the year is Radiant Orchid.) then you’ll want to check out my purple heart options.

Most of my EDCCollective Etsy shop’s current heart selections are purple. While I don’t have any purple hearts currently among my heart listings at EclecticSkeptic, you can find some in my sold items like the purple heart flying pig earrings seen in this post. I would be very happy to recreate any of my sold listings, that I still have the materials to do so, as a custom listing for you if you give me enough lead time.

Order ready to ship items no later than the end of the first week in February (U.S. addresses) so that your gift should arrive in time for Valentine's Day. If you are interested in a custom order for your Valentine, contact me by the end of January to discuss details so I can complete your request and ship your gift to you in a timely manner.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Design This – Branded Jewelry

Last year I got involved with brainstorming a way to include jewelry in the small, exhibit related gift shop that the Arlington Museum of Art has started including with their larger exhibits. The jewelry would need to be related in some way to the exhibit and I thought that it would be good for it to also relate to the museum if possible. Branding isn’t very different from the personalization that I was already doing so I immediately thought of making a charm using AMA’s logo. If additional charms could be found that related to specific exhibits it would then be easy to design some simple earrings and necklaces that I could wholesale to the museum for their gift shop.

The challenge with the AMA logo for me was that it was square and if I reduced it to fit into my round bezels that I have been making custom jewelry and accessories with, it wouldn't be as recognizable as I’d like it to be. Luckily, after quite a bit of searching, I found square bezels and glass that matched the size of an available square punch.

The first exhibit that AMA wanted to do a full test run of jewelry in the gift shop was for their “Artists in Motion” exhibit. It highlights the grace and beauty of dance. I located a few charms that went with this theme and then it was time to begin designing. I came up with two earring designs and a few variations on one basic design for necklaces.

You can see what I came up with in person if you get a chance to view “Artists in Motion” at the Arlington Museum of Art during its run from January 11 – February 16. Click here for more information about the exhibit.

If you find yourself in need of personalized or branded jewelry for you or to promote your business or event, please check out the “custom” tab above for my contact information so that I can brainstorm, what I could create, with you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thanks for the Treasuries - December 2013

One Etsian and one Etsy team let me know that they featured one or more of my items in a treasury during December. One December Etsy treasury, that a treasury maker let me know about, included one of my creations. One other treasury included one item from each of my shops. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during December. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy seller that let me know that they featured one of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. You will also see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured items of mine.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.

This artist has prints of scenic nature, landscape, and flower photography of the USA, nostalgia subjects, seasonal photography (Autumn, Winter, Spring), beach/ocean images, monochromatic (sepia and color), and black and white photos for home and business decor.

Past, present and future Texans are welcome and encouraged to join this team. The only real rules of the group are to promote friendly, The TX Way, and be respectful to all who participate.