Saturday, September 29, 2012

Celebrating 100 Followers With A Giveaway!

A little over a year ago ago, I started on a journey of blogging about who I am, the jewelry I create and what inspires me. I wanted to share a little bit about myself while connecting with other people in the jewelry designing, bead making and artistic communities.

This is what I wrote in my very first blog post, June 2011:

As a jewelry artist, my designs are influenced by nature and the aspects of my daily life. The journeys I have taken, places I have visited, and the colors and texture of the landscape all inspire my creativity.  It is a creative world, the one I live in. Through this blog, you will find insight into the thoughts and inspirations that influence my creativity. It is a fun, artistic, colorful, sometimes comical and always adventurous place to be! Welcome.

Through blogging, I have had the opportunity to connect with other creative types; 
to learn, share and be inspired by one another. 

A few of the amazingly talented artists who inspire me!

I have met some wonderful people through blogging that inspire me in so many ways! Thank you, I am a better designer because of you. As of Wednesday September 26th, I now have 100+ people following my blog! To celebrate this small milestone, I thought it would be fun to have a giveaway!

Some of the essential tools that I keep close by are inspiring references such as books and magazines. I also always have a note book to jot down ideas and a sketch book with colored pencils to help bring those ideas to life! So to share a little of my creative process, I am giving away a large sketch book, a set of Crayola colored pencils, a notebook that will be personalized with your initial along with the Fall issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine (one of my favorite resources for inspiration).

If you would like to win, leave a comment telling me how you document the moments and ideas that inspire you. You also must be a follower to be eligible to win. The winner will be chosen Wednesday morning, October 3rd.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Art Bliss 2012

Last weekend I attended ArtBliss for the first time. I remember reading about Lori Anderson's experience there last year and thought it sounded like the perfect creative weekend that would inspire me. That and I only live six miles from the venue; how could I not go!

My artistic journey began with the Meet & Greet/Author Signing Friday night. Not only did I get my books signed by the talented authors, but I got to mingle with a great group of women! It gave me a chance to meet some of the fabulous people that I interact with through blogs and Facebook. I also discovered that a few of these lovely ladies live close by. Creative play date anyone?

The lovely Erin Seigel signed her book "Bohemian Inspired Jewelry" and 
sold her kits and tutorials for her macrame bracelets and knotted earrings.

In between mingling, I couldn't resist the gorgeous bright colored lampwork
 beads that Kerry Bogert was selling.  She too was signing copies of her new 
book "Rustic Wrappings" as well as "Totally Twisted".

Saturday evening, I stopped at the Bead Destash organized by Lori Anderson. Lori contributes to the bead community in so many wonderful ways and this was just another one of her brilliant ideas! Thank you Lori!

 Erin Seigel checking out some of the beads.

My bead destash loot! 
If any of the artisans recognize their beads, please let me know as I like to credit artists in my design description.

The amazing Lori Anderson packing up the remaining beads. 
I love her pink hair!

Saturday evening was my class Heavy Metal Beads with Stacie Florer. What an incredible class and instructor! Stacie helped me overcome my fear of micro torches. I purchased a soldering kit a year ago and haven't used it since, due to my fear of butane and the tiny flame! Well, that fear didn't last long as I was soldering two days later at home! Woot for me!

 Stacie demonstrating a metal forming technique.

These are the beads that I made in class!

After Stacie's class, I headed to a trunk show held by Jenny Davies-Reazor and Carol Dee Meyers. 
I arrived with 15 minutes left and by that point few beads remained, little wine was left and much fun was had!

 Jenny and her gorgeous ceramic beauties!

Girls just wanna have fun...and they do! 
Some of Carol's stunning enamel beads in the foreground. I missed out on the 
tornado beads that I love...maybe next time!

As it was getting late and I needed to get up in six hours for my Sunday morning class, I bid everyone farewell. At least for the time being!

Sunday morning, bright and early, was my all-day class Color Your World with Christine Damm. I have been wanting to work with polymer clay for the past two years. I have already bought everything I need, just needed that creative nudge to get the spark lit. That spark has turned into quite the flame, thanks to Christine's class!

Christine demonstrates how to paint polymer clay with heat set oil paints.

Look what I made...

My homework: finish coloring the pendants that I made. Not a bad assignment at all!

This class was so much fun, not just because Christine was an awesome instructor but I was surrounded by a great group of students who inspired and encouraged one another.

 Carol Dee Meyers uses some antique buttons to create an impression in a mold she formed.

Cindy Wimmer, Kerry Bogert, Heather O'Brien and Carol Dee Meyers work on coloring their world!

Are we not the most awesome polymer clay class ever!

A heartfelt thank you to Jeanette Blix and Cindy Wimmer for organizing and hosting this fantastic event!
I learned some amazing artistic techniques, met some wonderful people and left with new friendships!  
A fabulous weekend-can't wait for next year!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Challenge of Travel...Poland

It is time for a fascinating journey, hosted by the lovely and talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Treasures-Found. On this journey, you will travel the world via the Challenge of Travel and see beautiful pieces of handcrafted jewelry. So please join me on a venture to Poland, where culture is rich and family values are strong...

Size: 312,658 square kilometers
Population: 38,415,284
For more facts on the country of Poland, follow this link
Town of Warsaw.

I have never traveled to Poland but have heard magnificent stories from my husband's grandmother, or Babci as we all knew her as, Waltie (Pytko) Fortuna. Babci is the Polish word for grandmother. She migrated from Ruda, a town in the southern part of Poland, to the United States at the age of 17 with her sister. It was the beginning of World War ll. Fearing for their safety, the two young girls headed for America in hope of a better life. They settled into a small town in upstate New York named Little Falls. There was a strong Polish community there, helping ease their transition into a town that became their home. While she spent the majority of her life in the United States, Waltie always held on to her Polish heritage and traditions and passed them on to her children Marian and Brian. I felt this challenge was the perfect opportunity for me to get to know a little more about the ancestry that ties Brenton (and now me) to this beautiful land.

At the age of 86, Waltie traveled all the way to Havre de Grace, Maryland from
Little Falls, New York so she could see her grandson get married!

One of the most prevalent materials in Polish jewelry is Baltic amber. Amber is fossilized resin from coniferous trees. Baltic amber dates back in time to 40 million years ago. Really hard to wrap my mind around that number! Besides being primarily used in jewelry and adornments, amber is also used in perfumes, folk medicine and certain liquors. It is also possible to find a specimen in a piece of amber including tiny insects, flowers, wood, marine microfossils, or other small organisms. If you have a piece of amber with an entire insect inside it, consider yourself lucky!

I purchased a gorgeous strand of large nugget Baltic Amber a few years ago at Bead Fest. When I returned home, I held the beautiful golden strand in front of a light to get a closer look. It was then that I realized one of the nuggets had an entire insect in it! The poor thing looks as though it was frozen mid flight. Under a microscope, you can see its body, wings and antenna. Amazing!

While I have a few different strands of Baltic amber, I have been saving this particular strand for a special design. This challenge was the perfect inspiration...

My original concept was to place the amber off-center, adding in a variety of materials to give the piece an ethnic style. I then realized that the gorgeous golden nuggets needed to be the focus of this design and that keeping it simple would pay tribute to their beauty.

The ceramic Diane Hawkey family bead not only represents the strong family bonds that are prevalent in the Polish culture, but is also a symbol of the special meaning the word has taken on since first meeting Waltie (Babci). The day that Brenton introduced me to her, she gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek as if I was one of her own. From that day on she treated me like a member of her family, saying "I love you" every time she hugged me goodbye.

The cobalt blue Elaine Ray ceramic bead, set in between the brown porcelain rondelles, represents another well known art form that Poland is noted for: Polish Pottery. Cobalt in the dominant color in most patterns. Waltie's daughter Marian (my mother-in-law) has been collecting Polish pottery for many years. She primarily uses the dishes for her Thanksgiving dinner each year, tying in her Polish heritage with her love of spending time with family. 

I finished the necklace with a beautiful flower and bee clasp from Green Girl Studios. It represents the insects and plant life that were touched by the tree resin, which we all know as amber.

Waltie Fortuna (Babci).
She enriched the lives of everyone who knew her, treating them like family! 

You can see what other participants have created here:
Name Blog Region Chosen Inspiration Nation
Monique Urquhart Africa Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers Africa Egypt
Therese Frank Africa Kenya
Raychelle Heath Africa Lesotho
Joan Williams Africa Mauritania
Sherri Stokey Africa Senegal
Regina Santerre Africa Seychelles
Raida Disbrow Africa Tanzania
Kristi Wodek Africa Zimbabwe
Sally Russick Americas Brazil
Melissa Trudinger Americas Mexico
Tracy Stillman Americas USA
Sandra Wolberg Asia India
Tanya Goodwin Asia Japan
Susan Kennedy Asia Japan
Beth Emery Asia Japan
Lisa Cone Asia Japan
Tanya Boden Asia Japan
Inge von Roos Asia Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz Asia Nepal
Dee Elgie Asia Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson Asia South Korea
Lisa Stukel Asia Sri Lanka
Elly Snare Asia Thailand
Shelley Graham Turner Europe Austria
Mallory Hoffman Europe Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim Europe France
Jenny Davies-Reazor Europe Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Europe Greece
Evelyn Shelby Europe Iceland
Holly Westfall Europe Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag Europe Ireland
Toltec Jewels Europe Ireland
Lee Koopman Europe Ireland
Laren Dee Barton Europe Italy
Cindy Wilson Europe Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik Europe Poland
Shaiha Williams Europe Portugal
Jennifer Justman Europe Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca Europe Spain
Lola Surwillo Europe Sweden
Kim Hora Europe Switzerland
Leanne Loftus Europe The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen Europe The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll Europe Turkey
Marlene Cupo Oceania Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle Oceania Fiji
Tammie Everly Oceania Guam
Alice Peterson Oceania Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld Oceania Nauru
Susan McClelland Oceania New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland Oceania New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman Oceania New Zealand
Rebecca Anderson Oceania Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi Oceania Samoa
Kari Asbury Oceania Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier Oceania Tonga
Emma Todd Oceania Tuvalu
Debbie Price Oceania Vanuatu