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Unearthed

Posted by on 9:29 pm in Art Jewlery Elements 2013 Earring Challenge, Earrings, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Unearthed

These little earrings have taken a beating.  Literally.  I finally decided it was time to me to use my copper washers and liver of sulfur patina solution – both new additions to my creative kit.  I loved these little screenplay beads I made a few weeks ago, but then was stymied on how to use them in my designs, and what to pair them with.  They are so rustic and recently-unearthed looking I realized that my problem was simple … my wires and beads are all too shiny looking!

patina 3

For these earrings, I hammered the heck out of a small pair of copper washers, and then doused them in a solution of liver of patina.  I love how they look, and will be experimenting further with other sizes of washers.  For some reason the wire I placed in the patina solution didn’t cooperate, but I decided to go ahead and wire them up with shiny copper wire – I might change this later once I know the ins and outs of patina solutions a little more.

patina 2

This is set #11 of 52 … we’re one quarter of the way there in making art bead earrings with the fine artisans of Art Jewelry Elements.  I’m a day late to the party, but I’m not giving up!  Click on the links below to see the other offerings … that is, if you’re not already staring and drooling at all the Bead Soup offerings online this week!

Balancing Act

Posted by on 10:21 pm in Necklaces, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Balancing Act

I was rather late to the party, but I recently watched Man on Wire, a crazy/fantastic documentary about a Frenchman who strung a wire between the twin towers and then calmly walked back and forth between them.  This necklace, “Balancing Act” is my response.  I started with three matching “screenplay” beads in gold with blue and turquoise accenting.  When I made them, I thought it would be a simple matter, big one in the middle, smaller ones of the sides, accent beads.screen 1

Once I got around to it, however, I soon discovered that was a route to a pretty ho-hum creation.  So I started adding some drama, some flair – faceted black glass beads, and – the real innovation – these huge (27 mm) round flat antique brass beads. (I added the link, since they were a great deal.)

I totally didn’t plan this.  I might as well have closed my eyes, shuffled the beads, and strung blindly for all the planning that went into this particular arrangement.  Once it came together, however, I can easily read back how and why it works.

balancing act 4

Focal?  Check – that big one in the center also weighs it down a bit in the middle, so it drapes pleasantly.  Hanging it from the necklace on a bail, rather than stringing it straight, keeps it distinct from the rest of the necklace.

The two smaller screenplay beads on either side provide some balance.

The last two beads – a larger screen play bead on the right and the second flat round bead on the left are actually fairly close in size and “visual weight” (not so in actual weight).  They are totally different form one another, but with the “visual weight” the same, the necklace ends up surprisingly balanced.

balancing act 2

Like the man on the wire, it doesn’t look like it should work, but it does.  Cool!

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Forest Floor

Posted by on 9:43 pm in Acrylic Paint, Alcohol Inks, Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge, Polymer Clay | 4 comments

Forest Floor

[I double dipped with this set - the necklace is my submission to this month's Art Bead Scene Challenge.  I made matching earrings for the Art Jewelry Elements Earrings Challenge, see below for those!]

New Jersey is a riot of colour once spring hits. We’re just before that moment, just before every tree, bush and shrub erupts in a celebration of spring.  I saw buds on the trees today, so I know the party is about to begin.  This month’s art bead scene painting, Deer in the Forest by Marc Franz, presents just this kind of riot of colour.

And yet, I’m not quite feeling it yet – it almost seems wrong to preempt a New Jersey spring and start designing with bright yellows, reds, and oranges now.  So rather than be inspired by the bright saturated color palate I decided to take another tack this month.  I designed my necklace and earring set around the idea of a forest floor about to bloom.  I imagine that in the folds on this painting lie darker places, where new life and new growth are just beginning.march abs concatenation 2

The disk/heshi beads in this necklace are made of ivory and brown striped and lightly textured polymer clay.  I splashed on some colour and added definition with a haphazard application of alcohol inks and acrylic paints.  I strung the beads overlapping one another using waxed linen cord (a technique I learned from a set of earrings in the book Bohemian Inspired Jewelry) and hung the necklace from matching antique brass chain.

The brown disks in the background symbolize the earth and organic material on the forest floor.  The green ones new buds on the branches.  The pink disk, and the pendant, are the very first colours of spring, the first flowers popping out.  A few silver pearls hang off jump rings like dewdrops in the morning.

march abs concatenation 6

I also made matching earrings, bringing together the same elements and beads into dangling bunch of pearls and disks.  This is set #12 of 52 earrings this year with the lovely artisans at Art Jewelry Elements.  I’m one day late to the party, which means there are already lots of earrings to inspire you.  Click on the links to keep hopping along!

forest floor earrings

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Playtime

Posted by on 7:22 pm in Alcohol Inks, Bracelets, Necklaces, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Playtime

I’m not sure why, but I tend to shy away from necklaces.  There’s something about making all those elements work together at the same time that feels somewhat daunting, especially when I’m often beading in relatively short sessions in the evenings.  But I made these big rounded-square-and-dotted beads specifically for something other than my ears.  I actually designed this necklace as a bracelet, and then realized – only after it was done – that it was a necklace too.  Just depends on how you wrap it!

circus 2

I think of playtime when I see this necklace/bracelet.  The three dotted beads remind me of the types of patterns used on little kids toys.  I complemented these biggies with some littler round polymer clay beads (my fist attempt at alcohol inks).  The end result is something altogether very jewel-tones and slightly asymmetric that looks great over a hot pink shirt.

Playtime by Concatenation Creations

I think this one will help you to Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Golden Tango

Posted by on 8:08 pm in Art Jewlery Elements 2013 Earring Challenge, Earrings, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Golden Tango

I’ve used this texture sheet in so many different ways now, it’s hard to keep count.  I tried to make these beads look something like stained glass, filling the windows with semi-translucent and semi-glossy green and blue dyes.  I love how the colour tapers out as it approaches the edge of the piece – a completely unintended effect, and one that I think adds new interest and dimension to the beads.

To turn them into earrings, I simply hung them from some jump rings, and wire-wrapped on a couple teeny little flat backed pearls in royal blue in a tangly tango kind of way.  Which is I’m not showing you a whole lot of the back.  If I were to make these again, I’d plan to attach them a little more elegantly.  As is stands now, the underside reveals only a functional mess of wires, and they won’t sit flat.  I plead beginning status.

golden tango 2

I also made the ear wires myself, following a great tutorial shared by MiShel of MiShel Designs.  Not only is her design quite elegant, she also gives some great tips in general for how to shape, hammer, and file to perfection.  One tip she shares – which I found very helpful – was to run the end of a filed wire across your fingertip to check for burrs.  If it makes a small scratch, then you’ll know to file some more.

Golden Tango by Concatenation Creations

golden tango 3

This is earring set #12 of 52 – and going strong.  Click on the links below to see all the other beautiful entries for this week’s reveal!

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Tribal Amulets

Posted by on 4:32 pm in Art Jewlery Elements 2013 Earring Challenge, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 8 comments

Tribal Amulets

Are there such things as statement earrings?  Not being much of a jewelry-wearer myself (ironic, I know) I think there must be.  These earrings, which I called “Tribal Amulets” are big and bold.  From top to bottom they are 2.5 inches.  The artisan beads – made by me in polymer clay with metallic acrylic paint, patinas, and dyes – measure 1.5 inches long.  They almost reach my shoulder.

Handmade Tribal Amulet Earrings by Concatenation Creations

I turned to this medium, polymer clay, out of pure lack of patience.  Sculpting a piece and having it hardened and ready to use in half an hour was too good a prospect to ignore.  But it’s real value lies in its weight.  These earrings look like they heavy solid copper, and yet they are oh-so-light … which means I can wear them and make a “statement” without the earache.  Which is good, since if I’m honest I’ll pretty much always choose comfort over beauty.

This is earring set #11 of 52 … that’s real progress.  I’m doing this along with the lovely artisans of the Art Jewelry Elements 2013 Earring Challenge.  We “reveal” our art bead earring designs every two weeks.  Click on the links below to see the rest of the newly-revealed creations.

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Aged Headpins

Posted by on 9:31 pm in Acrylic Paint, Components, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Aged Headpins

In my Intrepid pair of earrings, I mentioned that I had made some headpins in polymer clay that I’d be working into my designs in the next couple of weeks.  Headpins, for those of you less addicted to jewelry-making, are simply a bead on the end of a wire.  One would not think that was such a huge innovation, except its nice to have some lying around – you can string beads on them to make a stack (and the “head” part of the headpin prevents it all from falling off), or – and I’ve only imaged this yet – you could so some right fancy things with wire-wrapping and using the wire attached as a structural element in your design.

Today I thought I’d share some of the glorious shapes, textures and colors that I’ve dreamed up recently in a line of aged headpins.

head pins 3

A pair of deeply encrusted blowing-in-the-wind leaves in gold and green…

two twirls headpins

Another pair in blue and gold

Golden coin

A pair of aged golden coins,

head pins 2

And a parade of whimsically coloured organic seeds.

I made sure to make at least a pair of each, so earrings – he were come!

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

Screen Play

Posted by on 5:48 pm in Components, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Screen Play

Two-holed beads open up so many design possibilities – use them like spacers and they can make beautiful and rich-looking multi-strand necklaces and bracelets.  Thread through only one of the holes and you have a dangly pendant that will resist flipping and tipping.  Rather than by some tila beads to get my fix, I decided to make some of my own.  The process I used to make them even and line up was simple – I folded some 18-gauge-or-so-wire in a fairly tight “u” shape, and then used this to make my holes.

screen 9

The process was made even easier since I’d also looked recently at Stillpointworks tutorial on hollow strata beads.  I didn’t make mine hollow (since they were small), but it was a simple matter of building two layers of roughly-cut squares on top of one another, placing the u-tool on top, and then covering with another two squares.  I textured them a “screen” on both sides.  For added interest, on this first set of two-holed beads (more to come!) I decided to make the holes run corner-to-corner, so they string as diamonds.screen 8

I spent a happy weekend morning putting these together.  They were a little time-consuming, but surprisingly relaxing to create.  To facilitate later designing, I made many smaller ones – just under a centimeter in length, and a couple focal-type pieces (2-3 cm in length).  Metal paint, patinas and a little dye oxides later … and I had a pile of screenplay beads in a variety of colours, copper with a bright green patina, gold with a muted blue patina, and then one copper patina focal with hues of turquoise and blue.

screen play

 

screen 4

Screen play

Hilariously enough, I’ve had these on my desk for over a week and have yet to find that perfect set of matching beads to complement them with.  Any ideas?

Keep Smiling,Michelle

Intrepid

Posted by on 2:10 pm in Earrings, Polymer Clay, Swellegant | 0 comments

Intrepid

These simple little beauties put together some peacock pearls with the my newest iteration of artisan beads – headpins!  I think it all got started when Love My Art Jewelry began showcasing balled headpins as part of their 2013 Art Jewelry Boot Camp.  I thought long and hard about getting a microtorch.  I really did.  Then I remembered that my body-awareness leaves something to be desired (I’m known to bump into people on the street).  So I thought I’d take the safer route, and make them with polymer clay.

I rummaged through the Glass Attic (a big thank you to the hundreds of polymer clay artisans who came before me, and shared their talents so generously) and quickly found out “best practices” for making sturdy headpins in polymer clay.  I concocted these organic shapes, textured them between two disks, and then painted them up.  Voila … a whole new element to design with.

 dangles 2

Keep Smiling,
Michelle

 

Merry Go Round

Posted by on 8:00 am in Bracelets, Polymer Clay, Swellegant, Wirework | 0 comments

Merry Go Round

I’m all into bracelets recently.  This chain bracelet has a funky, fun feel.  I put some of the brightest links in my stash together with a very large pearl, swirled in black seed beads.  Some picasso finish black Czech faceted turbines (hows that for a mouthful of a description) finish off the focal element.  I particularly like the clash of opposites in the bracelet – the criss-crossed links up against the curvy-swirled caged pearl.  With all that circus-like crazy going on, I decided to quit while I was ahead – the rest of the bracelet is a hefty gold chain.

I must admit – the pictures do this one a little more than justice.  I didn’t think to make the links double sided. The bracelet has a tendency to flip around, showing just plain gold on the other side.  There’s nothing wrong with it – only it loses a little of its fun when its all gold-and-pearls.  Or maybe I like it that way – its like a little party hiding underneath…

art deco 5

Needless to say, this bracelet is all matchy matchy with my Trisect earrings

Keep Smiling,
Michelle