Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ordinary Extraordinary Everyday - Mini Photo Challenge Days 1-5

There is beauty everywhere, you just have to pause for a moment and take a look.
It is then that you realize those ordinary moments are quite extraordinary!

My week captured in images...

Kitchen Ritual
Every morning starts with a cup of fresh ground and brewed coffee (thanks to my husband). 
It is my favorite way to start the day!

I started working on wrapping a wooden bangle with wire and batik ribbon from Karen Totten of 
Starry Road Studio. It was inspired from a project by Erin Siegel in her book Bohemian Inspired Jewelry.

Liam loves to look at his reflection in the mirror. It is a daily ritual that I enjoy sharing with him.

 This week I am working on creating Valentine's Day cards! 

Repetitive Pattern
Shower curtain. It stands between me and the day that lies ahead, even if only for a few moments.

I am participating in the Ordinary Extraordinary Everyday - Mini Photo Challengehosted by Sally Russick
The purpose of this challenge is to capture ordinary moments in your life for 15 days. There is a different word assigned for each day and the object is to take a photograph to reflect that word. This is the first set of photos that I have created for this inspiring challenge, which is divided into three reveal dates.

Photos 6-11 to be posted soon...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentine's Day Inspiration

Love is in the air...and inspiring some of my newest jewelry designs! 

Artisan Beads
Last weekend I gathered all of my heart shaped beads and let inspiration take over.

These are some of the pieces I created.

Goddess of Love
Elaine Ray ceramic heart charm, garnet, matte gold chain and clasp, copper hearts, vermeil beads.

Sweet Melody - Necklace
Marsha Neal Studio ceramic heart pendant, rose quartz, Greek ceramic flower discs, 
vermeil beads, matte gold chain and clasp.

Sweet Melody - Bracelet
Rose quartz, Greek ceramic flower discs, matte gold chain, vermeil beads and toggle.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Modern Reston Feature

Last week, my jewelry business Modern Nature Studio had the honor of being featured in Modern Reston, an online magazine. Modern Reston is a wonderful lifestyle magazine focusing on the contemporary culture of Reston, Virginia and the surrounding area. It features great places to dine, amazing art and artists, tours of stunningly designed homes and unique and fun places to visit. If you live in Northern Virginia, consider this your go-to guide! I have learned about numerous places and people that I had never heard of but am now interested in, thanks to Modern Reston.

As my little boy keeps me very busy, I don't get much opportunity to share my newest designs or talk about my creative world as a jewelry designer. This article accomplished that beautifully!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Charlotte Geary and Michelle Schoening, founders of Modern Reston, for their praise of my jewelry and the fabulous article they published. I am truly honored! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 2014 Pretty Palettes

The immensely talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry invited me to join her in Halcraft's
Pretty Palettes Challenge for the month of October. Erin creates really stunning and innovative jewelry, as most of you are probably familiar with, and I was honored to be part of this challenge with her!

Erin was inspired by the work of a painter named Erin Fitzhugh Gregory and chose one of her paintings for October's palette. I can see why Erin was so drawn to this artist's work; the bold colors and style are captivating!

She then went to Michael's and selected an assortment of beads from Halcraft's 
Bead Gallery line for this color palette. Each of us is required to design a piece of 
jewelry using these beads. 

I love the assortment of contemporary shapes! 

I noticed that there is some gray in the vase, so I incorporated gray into the color palette. I used gunmetal and dark annealed steel along with the navy blue sandstone beads as the basis for each design. With a bold color palette and contemporary shaped beads, I was inspired to create modern pieces that reflect my style and pay homage to this stunning color palette.

These are the designs I created....

"Modern Bouquet"

 "Meditearranean Sea"

  "Dance by the Moonlight"


 "Modern Geometry"

This bracelet was made with circle links that I created with dark annealed steel wire on
Brenda Schweder's brilliant invention Now That's A Jig.

October 2014 Pretty Palettes Collection.

I'd like to thank Erin Praise-Hintz for inviting me to join her this month for the Pretty Palettes Challenge.
I thoroughly enjoyed this venture, not only because it was fun but more importantly because it
helped me think outside the box and stretch my creative boundaries.

I'll have to admit, initially I was stumped by this color palette. While the inspiration painting and it's colors are exciting and bold, it was a challenge to unite the different hues. I started out by creating different shapes on Now That's a Jig. From there, my inspiration and creativity took off along a colorful contemporary path!

To see the stunning designs that Erin created follow this link.
They are really beautiful and as expected, innovative!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bead Fest Adventure 2014

Bead Fest has come and gone much too quickly and I have returned with some amazing artisan treasures, gorgeous gemstones and wonderful memories of time spent with super awesome beady peeps. I have lots of photos to share, so I won't overwhelm you with lots of text! Plus, what everyone really wants to see are the beads!

Bead Treasures from Artisan Alley...

I spent 90% of my time and money in Artisan Alley. In my opinion, it is the best aspect of Bead Fest! 

My first stop Friday morning was Staci Louise Originals by Staci Louise Smith. She creates the most amazing polymer clay art beads. Seriously, this girl is really talented! What a hard decision as I wanted to buy them all! So I put on my "serious bead shopper face" and selected my favorites. And then an hour or so later, I returned for more. And then again on Sunday. Did I mention how awesome her beads are! She generously gifted me the beads on the right. Bead friends are the best kind of friends!

Look at all those amazing art beads! I was beyond giddy.

Staci made this set of gorgeous beads for me as a gift! I was so surprised and honored when she handed me the box and even more excited once I opened it! She really made my day. Aren't they awesome!

My next stop was Suburban Girl Studio to see Diana Ptaszynski and her uber helpful husband Colin. He is an official beady peep in my book! I am a bit of a Suburban Girl bead addict and couldn't wait to add more of her fabulous ceramic beads to my design ideas. Her stoneware beads are 
absolutely gorgeous and my absolute favorite! I picked up some real beauties!

Lesley Watt of THEA elements hopped the pond from England to share a booth with
Diana and meet all of uscrazy American's.
This is the first time I was able to purchase from Lesley as I always miss her shop updates! 

I had seen her post a photo of some of the ceramic beads she made for Bead Fest and had my heart
set on this kite. What a brilliant design-love it! So happy it is mine. I will probably hoard it for a while!

Next on my list was Green Girl Studios. Cynthia Thornton and her husband Greg Ogden create seriously amazing pewter beads. Greg always sells out of some of my favorites, so I made sure to get to his booth on Friday! He was also selling copies of his children's book, Franklin Frog and the Fallen Tree. He drew the most amazing illustrations for it as well as wrote a beautiful story. And if creating awesome beads, writing and illustrating a children's book weren't enough, Greg is also a musician! He passed one of his demo CD's along to me which I listened to in my car on way home. Amazing!

Andrew Thornton stopped by to say hello and I finally got the chance to meet him in person. 
Up until that day, I only knew him virtually. He was really fun to talk to, what a great guy!

Dinner is served...

After a full day of shopping for beads, there is nothing like finishing it off with a
good meal at Legal Seafoods and chillin' with the beady peeps. 

I managed to capture the essence of the evening perfectly in this shot-it shows several shenanigans all in one frame! Front and center is the awesome Melinda Orr and her side-kick for the evening Cynthia Machata. That's Diana Ptaszynski's husband Collin making bunny ears with Karen Totten capturing the moment. 

(R-L) Karen Totten, Anne Lichtenstein, Amy Freeland and camera shy Lorelei Eurto.

Bead Treasures, day two...

My first stop on Saturday morning was Firefly Design Studio. Michelle McCarthy, the artisan behind these beautiful ocean inspired ceramic beads, had created some turtles for me. The turtles are stunning and everything I imagined them to be! She is really great with custom orders and never disappoints. I am really excited over the collection of beads I purchased from her, all nature and ocean inspired. 

Next to Michelle was Gardanne. Anne Lichtenstein creates the most gorgeous enameled pendants I have ever seen! Her leaves are amazing. I picked up a beautiful set in shades of aqua and rust, along with some really cool enameled discs (they remind me of an aquarium) and a set of gorgeous lamp work glass beads. Anne told me that she started out with glass and then moved onto enameling. Clearly she is talented at both!

My next stop was Starry Road Studio
Karen Totten makes the most amazing nature inspired ceramic beads!

Like most of my favorite bead artist's, I usually end up missing Karen's shop updates because my time is devoted first and foremost to my 11 month old son. Her amazing beads always sell out. This was my opportunity to acquire some gorgeous beads that I had been coveting, like the whale-isn't it awesome! Here too, it was hard to narrow down my selection. Like most bead addicts, I have a budget so I had to go with the "must have right now" beads. When I win the lottery...

I then made my way to XAZ Bead Company. Oh what gorgeous beads! Gorgeous, gorgeous raku beads in amazing colors. I had a really hard time deciding on a set of beads (they were all so beautiful) that I spent nearly an hour there! Too many beautiful choices, hunger and exhaustion added to my indecision. Amy Mealey, the artist behind these treasures, was really patient with me and helped me select the perfect set. She also gifted me six square beads to create into earrings! Thank you so much Amy, your kindness was very appreciated!

Right next to XAZ was Jenny Davies Reazor. I scored these two gorgeous pendants. 
I love the design and color palette in both!

Jenny makes beautiful and unique ceramic pendants and beads, most of them have a mythical theme. She also creates mixed media art as well as teaches! She is super fun to talk with, especially when we are talking about our beloved fur babies! 

Teri Greenawalt (left) and Sally Russick holding down the fort for Jenny so she could take a break. Both of these talented ladies kept me on my toes as "bead show haze" set in. It was around 4 pm and everyone seemed to have the "beads, beads, so many beads, beads everywhere" blank stare on their faces, I know I did!

And next to Jenny was Sue Beads. That sure was convenient-three amazing bead artisans in a row!
The beads to the left were won when my name was drawn during the Creative Bead Chat meet n' greet (more on that in a bit). I was beyond excited to win a set of Sue's awesome chicklet beads! The other set, I purchased. They are stunning matte finish with hues of green and gold specs throughout. They remind me of turtle colors!

Susan Kennedy and her partner in bead crime Jason. 
Jason helps her out at shows and even painted the wooden trays for her! 

 At 4:15 sharp was the annual Bead Swap hosted by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio. This was the fourth year and my second time participating. This is our group photo, courtesy of Cynthia Machata's blog post in Creative Bead Chat. Notice Kristen Stevens texting! "Dear Facebook, you'll never believe what Diana did..."

I was partnered up with Rose Milazzo Mast. She is a talented jewelry artist who also makes polymer clay beads!
She is second from the left, standing, in the pink shirt.

These are the fabulous polymer beads that Rose created and gifted to me. My favorite is the coral and pale blue cane disc. What a beautiful bead! The poinsettia bead is also pretty darn amazing too. I have created polymer beads but have no clue how to create cane beads-an art form in it's own league!

Always the packaging geek, I boxed the beads up in a cardboard 
box made from recycled chip board and presented them in a hand stamped gift bag. 

These are the art beads that I gave her: (clockwise from top) 
Classy Sassy - glass discs 
Suburban Girl Studio - ceramic bloom pendant 
(I thought the Rose pendant was fitting for a lovely lady named Rose)
Firefly Design Studio - ceramic owl pendant
Slate Studios - ceramic acorn 
Gaea Handmade - ceramic leaf pendant
Sue Beads - enameled leaves
Unicorne Beads - glass teardrop pendant
Marsha Neal Studio - ceramic butterfly

After the swap, I headed over to see Humble Beads. Heather Powers creates the most beautiful nature inspired polymer clay beads I have ever seen! Most of her beads have artwork hand painted on them.

These are the beads I purchased. Love the little birdie painted on the charm pendant and 
the birch rondelle beads are spectacular! Birch trees are my favorite, so I was instantly drawn to them.

Time to party...

After a full day of bead shopping and swapping, it was time to head over to the Creative Bead Chat meet n' greet hosted by the fabulous Melinda Orr of Orr Tec. She generously plans this magnificent event each year for all the CBC members attending Bead Fest. 

We were welcomed with notebooks and gorgeous suede bracelets handmade by Melinda. Every time I wear my CBC bracelets (I have one from a previous year) I am reminded of the wonderful friends I made through a love for artisan beads and jewelry design! Life is good!

Each year is always a wonderful time! Awesome talented people, wine, chocolate, artisan bead giveaways-what more could you ask for! Seriously! Everyone had a really fun time. Some more than others, wink, wink.

While we were waiting for a group photo to be taken, I decided to take a "selfie". Look at the mischief
going on behind me-well done beady peeps! This was the result and the now infamous CBC selfie!

From left: Lesley Watt, Colin Mellars, Kathleen Lange Klik, Heather Powers, Barbara Bechtel, Anne Machata,
Sally Russick, Linda Landig, Diana Ptaszynski. A fine group of people if I do say so myself!

Heather Powers, Sally Russick and Diana Ptaszynski. These ladies are a riot! I'd tell you what they were doing 
but what happens at the CBC party (mostly) stays there! Although I might talk for a few art beads. ;)

This is the entire CBC Bead Fest group in all our glory! 
What a great group of women!

Sunday, the (last) day of bead shopping...

One of my favorite vendors is The Bead Goes On. They have a gorgeous array of fair trade beads and components from around the globe. I picked up a set of resin fans, some sterling silver plated resin beads and copper seashells created by the Karen Hill Tribe. Another go to vendor is Cherry Tree Beads. There I picked up some frosted recycled glass pendants. I am particularly giddy about the round pale yellow ones.
I have been drawn to the color yellow this past year.

ceramic; India Gems, spiral discs and rectangle beads; Cherry Tree Beads, Czech glass; Veni Vidi Beadi

bronzite, pyrite, dyed agate; China Mountain Gems. hematite; New Century International. blue dyed agate; Commercial Resources Corp. hematite, peacock coated hematite; Intrinsic Trading. copper coated hematite; Bead Plus Silver. antiqued copper beads, stardust gunmetal spacers; J&M Gems and Things. gold plated brass spacers; Hands of the Hills. jasper cylinder; New Century International. shell pendant; Ocean Dreams.

And last but certainly not least was my purchase of Brenda Schweder's genius invention Now That's A Jig! I have been coveting this for the past two years. My birthday is coming up in October, so I sent my husband a text message asking if he needed any birthday gift ideas! He was game and I was ecstatic! I can not wait to play 
around with this. I have already dreamed up several ideas. So excited!

I did a "make and take" at her booth, with help from Tracy Bell, and created this 
infinity bangle with annealed darkened steel. I was hooked instantly!

As I bid farewell, I'd like to show you a nifty photo of the hotel entrance. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn near the Expo Center. Love the long sheer panels that hang in the lobby. Super friendly staff too! The only thing I didn't like about this hotel was that they add extra pending charges to your credit card to deter you from damaging or stealing anything in the room. Seriously, I'm a bead addict. The only damage I did that weekend was to my wallet!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Bead Fest adventure and seeing all of my bead treasures. 
Thank you to all of the artisans that make the world a more beautiful place with their amazing art beads!
I had a magnificent time and look forward to next year. Oh happy day, er weekend!