Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AJE Component of the Month for September...

featuring a very cool copper clay focal by Kristi Bowman!

I decided that my design should stay fairly simple to show off this wonderful pendant, but wanted to incorporate some color.  I found these pretty serpentine beads that I was saving for a rosary and decided to do a necklace of wrapped links.  Serpentine is one of my favorite stones and this strand had such wonderful autumnal colors that really work well with copper.  I decided to add a bit more weight and paired the wrapped links with some small copper chain from my stash.

I punched an additional hole in Kristi's focal so that I could dangle a bead below...unfortunately I didn't have any serpentine briolettes, but this quartz one has the right pale celadon green shade to pair with the serpentine.

Quirky me decided at the last minute to add a bead to one of the holes in the pendant, just for another bit of color and fun...I used a copper headpin and a round copper disc in the back to hold the bead in place.  I am not sure I like my clasp...I may try to come up with something different that doesn't distract, or possibly move the clasp to the back (gasp!).

Here is the list of other designers who created...go show them some love!

AJE Team Members

Sunday, August 31, 2014

AJE Component of the Month for August - Leather Feathers!

This month, our component comes from the talented Rebekah Payne of Treewings Studio.  She created these fun, organic leather feathers...she talks a bit about the process here!  We had our choice of an earring pair, or a larger focal feather.

I opted for an earring pair and received a gorgeous set with purple, blue and metallic designs!  I knew that I wanted to create a copper backing to somehow attach the feather to, but it took going to BeadFest this past weekend to solidify my idea in my brain!

Gorgeous lampwork headpins by Jen Cameron and Sue Kennedy!

See the ones circled in yellow? Yep, the orange swirls with purple stripes!  As soon as I saw them, I knew what I was going to do.  I set about making my copper back plates, adding texture, measuring, punching holes and creating balled headpins and earwires.  The plan was to rivet the feathers to the copper piece using the lampwork headpins at the bottom and copper balled headpins at the top.  The tips of the leather would be folded over so the copper headpins would go through twice, making a loop for the copper jumpring.

A not great photo of everything all laid out after I patina'ed and tumbled the wire and metal...except for 1 stupid jumpring that flew out of my hands never to be seen again!

The design itself, I really like...I wish my construction had been a bit neater.  I had a mishap with one of Jen's headpins...I started swirling the back and couldn't get it straight for some reason, so I gently straightened it back out, hoping I hadn't work hardened the wire too much.  When I went to try a second time, the wire snapped.  Luckily, there was enough left to work with to get it riveted fairly tight, but I may go back and add a drop of E6000 to make sure it holds.

Thanks, Rebekah for the challenge of working with a new medium for me!  I can't wait to see what everyone else created.  Here is the list...

Guest Artists

The AJE Team
Diana Ptaszynski -  http://www.suburbangirlstudio.com
Jenny Davies-Reazor - http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog
Francesca Watson - http://francescawatson.com/

Thursday, August 28, 2014


It seems like the only time I write on my blog these days is when I have a Component of the Month post ...speaking of...stay tuned for my August creation featuring leather feathers by Rebekah Payne.  I keep trying to be better, but life somehow always manages to get in the way, and that is okay!

Last week I had the good fortune and opportunity to go up to Philly for the day and visit my Art Jewelry Elements gang and a few others at BeadFest!  I had a wonderful time, albeit a short one.  The 2.5 hour drive the directions indicated ended up being more like over 3!

L-R: Karen Totten, me, Sue Kennedy, Lesley Watt, Diana Ptasynski, Kristen Stevens (back), Jen Cameron (front), Linda Landig and Jenny Davies-Reazor

I, like most people these days, was on a budget, but was able to do some swaps and snagged some wonderful stuff!  Take a gander!

Cool lampwork headpins from Jen and Sue
I also participated in a Bead Swap hosted by Diana P.  My partner was Linda Younkman and she gave me a couple of cool Karen Totten rings and some polymer clay by Jeannie Dukic.  I made her a sampling of my morsels...a couple polymer clay pieces, torch-fired enamel, and  a molten morsel.

Diana made us "bead pimp" buttons to wear!
In other news, I re-joined the Earrings Everyday blog team for 1 post a month...my 1st one back is up today, featuring earrings made with my torch-fired enamel and some of Jen Cameron's gorgeous lampwork headpins!

An eventful weekend is ahead starting with my baby boy's 13th birthday on Saturday...I can't believe it, can you? Then on Sunday, the AJE Component of the Month hop, and I am going to DC to meet Jenny Davies-Reazor and Lesley Watt for some touristy stuff. Fun, fun!

That's all for now...that's more than you've heard from me all year!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July AJE Component of the Month - Fused Glass Fantasy!

This month, the design team over at AJE was honored to work with gorgeous fused glass pieces by the multi-talented Francesca Watson.

She asked if we wanted cabochons or drilled pieces and I chose the red piece on the bottom right and left it undrilled since I thought this was a perfect opportunity to practice my bezel-setting skills!  And I was right!

I chose some scalloped bezel wire to use and originally was going to use a copper backing to create a pendant, but the more the copper laid on the work bench, the more I longed to jump in and use the sterling sheet I had stashed away.  I told myself I wasn't going to use it until I felt more proficient...sterling is expensive, y'all!  But, I jumped in with both feet!

I went with an organic shape, but when I put the cab in, I wasn't sure which side was going to be the top, or how I would attach a bail.  I punched one hole where I thought I might try to hang it, and didn't like it, so I punched holes in each of the scallops, then punched a few more, and then a few more! I also wanted to pierce the back so that the red glass would show through in a design...believe me, this was not the design I wanted!  It was going to be a pretty spiral, but after I got part of it sawed out, I realized how flimsy it was so I sawed it into a big hole, then tried to mimic the outer shape with the waves and holes.  After a trying soldering session (couldn't get it to flow) I finally got my act together, decided to use my bigger torch and finished it up.

I like it and am so happy I persevered and went with the sterling instead of the copper!  Here is the back...

Now, I need to get the rest of the design going!  I think I am either going to do a sterling viking knit or a handmade chain of some sort...what do you think?

Thanks, Francesca, for the gorgeous glass cabs, and for the design challenge!  Go see what the rest of our team created!

Guest Designers

Toltec Jewels - www.JewelSchoolFriends.com

Carol Briody - cbriody.blogspot.com

The AJE Team

Caroline Dewison - blueberribeads.blogspot.co.uk

Susan Kennedy - www.suebeads.blogspot.com

Jenny Davies-Reazor - www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog

Francesca Watson - www.francescawatson.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

June AJE Component of the Month

This month our component comes from our team member,  Linda Landig.  We are so proud of Linda over at AJE...she has just started playing with clay and look at all the gorgeous pieces she is cranking out!  She is a natural!

I had a hard time choosing one, so I asked her to surprise me.  I received one of the little pink squares with a blue flower.  It yelled "Summer!!!!" to me loudly as I unwrapped it, so I set out to create this summer of love, peace and flowers, leather and ceramic, hippie necklace!

I really wanted to keep this piece as simple as possible, so I started by looking through my leather stash and found this length of natural, tan leather that I thought would be perfect.  For accent beads, I decided to torch-fire some bisque beads I had in stock...not only did I have the perfect shades of transparent enamel to match the pendant, the beads have really big holes and worked perfectly with the leather!  It took me several attempts to get the necklace the way I wanted it...I really didn't want a whole necklace of beads, and I knew I didn't want to include any metal components, so I incorporated adjustable, sliding knots to finish it.

Originally, the pendant was tied on to the leather with the beads knotted up the length  a little more sporadically, but to me, even though I didn't want to add any other components, I felt it needed a bit more oomph.

After searching on Pinterest for designs with leather cording, I found some plain cord necklaces that incorporated knots...one in particular caught my eye.  A Celtic heart knot.  There are several tutorials out there, but I found the easiest one on You Tube.

After  playing with it, I realized my leather cord wasn't thick enough to make it look like this and it was sort of unstable...every time I knotted a bead on, or messed with it, the shape went wonky!  I also realized that even though I like the idea of a knot, I didn't want it to be really heart shaped.  I played with it and reshaped it into more of a triangle, exaggerating the bottom point more so that I could use a jump ring to hand the pendant.

I think it works!

There you have it!  Last night as I was finishing it up (for about the 3rd time), my hubs was watching a documentary on Jimi Hendrix, and I thought, "yes...this hippie necklace was meant to be!"

Thanks Linda, for the wonderful pieces.  Make more!  Now off to see what our design team and guests came up with...you know they rocked!

AJE Members

Saturday, May 31, 2014

AJE Component of the Month for May 2014

The gorgeous components this month are created by the talented Sue Kennedy of SueBeads.  She gave us the choice of one of her amazing pressed glass cabochons and several of her new pressed bead design...chiclet beads!  It was a really hard choice, but I chose a cabochon and received a gorgeous purple one!

I first thought that I would practice my soldered bezel setting skills, but kept trying to think of something different.  I settled on creating a woven wire "lace" bezel against a copper flower back plate.

I wanted to keep the necklace simple, but wanted to incorporate some different color than the copper and purple of the cab.  I remembered these sweet little Czech glass "twin" beads I bought a while back.  Not sure what I was thinking...am not a seed beader!  I devised a way to wire-wrap them into a chain though and they work perfectly with the purple cab.  I added a second strand of copper "hammered bar" chain I had in my chain stash.

Wanted to add a dangle beneath the flower, but couldn't figure out what.  I remembered some Czech glass teardrops I had bought and they really complemented the purple cab and the Czech glass in the chain. I oxidized everything with LOS and let it tumble for an hour or so.

This was such a fun piece to make and you all know by now that I am a sucker for Sue's lampwork!  In fact, I purchased one of the 1st pairs of chiclet beads she posted, and just last week, swooped in for 2 more pairs!

Thanks for stopping by!  Go show some love to our guest designers and the AJE team!


AJE Members

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Adventure!

Hi all...it's been a while since I have blogged about anything here except my monthly COM challenges.  I have embarked on a bit of a new adventure, though and thought I would share my recent post from Art Jewelry Elements here!

If you read that blog, sorry for the duplication, but if not, a couple of weeks ago, I experimented with some PMC3?  I shared with you that working with metal clay had been a big "want to do" on my art bucket list!  I had fun playing and really liked the outcome, but I will be honest with you,  the price of the silver clay and the limitations were a huge drawback.  I didn't want to admit it at the time, but after looking at the 2 little pairs of charms, plus the very small amount of raw clay I had left out of a 16g package, I realized that if I was going to go further with this dream, I had to rethink some things.

After a lot of research, discussions with my sweet hubby, advice from my awesome, talented, knowledgeable, patient and giving teammates at AJE, I decided to purchase a kiln!  Yes! Jumping up and down, clapping hands!

Here she is!  A Paragon Caldera...perfect for metal clay, ceramics, glass fusing, and more!
The consensus in the group was that this kiln would be the versatile tool for someone like me who is still testing the waters.  While I think it will predominantly be for metal clay, I would be able to dabble in ceramics or glass.  I will probably eventually purchase the enameling collar which will enable me to play with cloisonne, and other kiln-fired enameling!

I jumped right in and bought some 3 types of metal clay...Copper, White Copper and Bronze.  I found out later that I should have probably opted for FastFire Bronze, but that will have to be another day!  After reading all the firing instructions, I decided that the copper was the most straightforward so chose to work with that first.  I'm glad I played with the PMC3 before...this was similar, but not quite as finicky, and since I was able to afford much more of it, I wasn't so scared to mess up.

I was happy to see that a lot of the tools and texturing materials I had been collecting for my polymer clay worked perfectly with the metal clay as well! I have a running list of things that I know I will be going back and getting.

My 1st batch...they haven't dried yet.
So, I get some pieces made, drying, getting ready for cleanup and think I am ready for my 1st firing! Excitedly, I post to my team and they are all.."whoa, hold your horses, have you done a test run?"  I found out that I needed to run the kiln empty to make sure it worked.  Okay, I can still get these done, just a lot later!

After a successful test, and cleanup of my dried pieces, I loaded my new kiln for the first time.  By this time it was late, so I set my alarm to get up and check on it several times!  This morning, I opened it and found my treasure!  It was a bit sad to see my shiny new firing pan was now black and ugly, but I knew that was going to happen.  I found a slotted spoon and started sifting for the buried treasure!

Another thing I knew would happen, but maybe not quite so much was how much shrinkage happened.  The little squares and circles came out really tiny!  I need to remember to compensate for that more in the future!

My pieces right out of the charcoal, before cleanup!

Here they are, cleaned up with a brass brush.
Aren't they pretty?!  Next step is to patina and make them into something!  All in all, for a first try, I think this was a success!  I think one of the hard things will be to work at finding my own style with this..I mean, there are such talented metal clay artists out there...some of the best at AJE...Kristi, Karen, and Lesley! Thanks to them for the inspiration and sharing of knowledge!

Stay tuned!


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