Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Best Gift Ever...Our Dog Twila

Four years ago Brenton and I decided to get a dog. He grew up with dogs and felt that owning one would bring a lot of joy into our lives (and it has). We decided on adopting a dog, rather than purchasing one from a breeder. We were focusing on pit-bulls and boxers because Brenton’s sister adopted two pit mixes and they are the most wonderful dogs.

Adopting was a long process of several months. We went through multiple organizations, paid application fees, and even sat through a home inspection. We attended several adoption events to meet/try different dogs. At one event, while looking at another dog, Twila chose us.

She nuzzled her way into our laps, and soaked up our affection. Unfortunately, we were about to leave on a vacation, and had to postpone her adoption for three weeks. When we returned, we picked her up at an adoption event in a town just west of Richmond, Va.

Sadly, she was bleeding. That morning, or the day before, the "foster" owner claimed his dog beat her up. She had cuts on her legs, ears, and face that later became scars. None of this trauma jaded her affection toward other dogs or people though.

Over the years, we have given her a stable home, predictable routine, the mental stimulation she needs through training and more love than you could imagine! She's become a wonderful companion, and brings joy to us and others wherever she goes.

Recently, she's had some problems with her shoulder, causing her to limp. After it persisted for too long, we took her in to get x-rayed. They x-rayed the upper half of her body. We were horrified.

As the veterinarian posted the x-rays up onto the light box, my eyes filled with tears and my jaw dropped. Several air rifle pellets and a bb where shown to be embedded inside her. This could have only happened to her when she was just a puppy, having adopted her at just under a year old. It appears that someone must have used her as target practice. It sickens us to think of people who would do this. It breaks my heart to think of her past, but knowing that she will always be safe and loved puts my mind at ease.

Luckily, the pellets don’t appear to be causing her any problems. Her limp turns out to be a pulled shoulder from having too much fun while playing.

Those of you thinking of adding a pet to your life, please adopt. Consider all breeds. Clearly, these animals have been through more than you'll ever know, and need a loving home.

I titled this post “The Best Gift Ever” because that is truly how we feel about our dog Twila. Everyone says “she is so lucky to have you”, but the truth is we are the lucky ones. She has brought more joy to our lives than we ever imagined. Nothing brings a smile to my face like she does!

Christmas 2010. This is what our living room looks like after opening presents on Christmas morning.
No, we don't have four kids just one dog who LOVES to open presents!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ornament Swap Blog Hop

Today is the reveal day of the Ornament Swap Blog Hop hosted by Sally Russick of Wire Worked. The idea was to create an ornament, containing at least one art bead, and then mail it to the person you were paired up with. What a fun concept-count me in! I was paired up with the ultra talented Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads. She makes gorgeous lampworked beads. I did quite the happy dance when the partner list was revealed!

This is the beautiful ornament that Sue created for me...

This is the lampworked bead she created-isn't it gorgeous! 
Looks like a tiny poinsettia!

This is the ornament that I created for Sue...

The materials I used were a cherry red ceramic bead by Elaine Ray, Chinese crystals, 
a textured aluminum square that I created and a spiral head pin. 
I created the spiral hook from silver filled wire.

Now, it is time to finish decorating my Christmas tree!

Please visit the other participants:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Quiet Walk Through The Woods

The trees are bare and the temperature outside colder, but a walk in the woods never ceases to inspire me. Without the leaves, I begin to focus on the beauty of the branches. Their texture and angles are so unique. Just like a snowflake, no two are ever exactly alike!

It is quieter in the woods, this time of year. The birds have flown south and the owls have taken refuge elsewhere. The trees are sweet reminders that they will return again, but beauty and inspiration are still just have to listen in a different way.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Ornament Winner...

In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to give away one of the ornaments that I created for the Art Bead Scene Holiday Ornament Blog Hop! The name of each person who commented was printed on a piece of paper, folded and dropped into a bowl. I know, very old school.

The name that was randomly pulled from the bowl is...Diana P. of Suburban Girl Studio
She commented that this ornament was her favorite.

Thank you Heather Powers for hosting the ornament blog hop, the talented people who participated and the wonderful people who left comments on my post-each one is greatly appreciated!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Art Bead Scene Holiday Ornament Blog Hop...And Giveaway!

Today is the reveal day for the Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop, hosted by Heather Powers. The criteria for participants was to create a holiday ornament using handmade components or art beads. I had so much fun designing an ornament that I ended up creating two! I even have a few more ornaments on my bead table that I am working on for Christmas gifts.

Both of my ornaments have pottery components created by Cindy of Captured Moments. She makes really fantastic pottery beads and pendants and welcomes special orders. I selected the colors and textures for each bead and she created them for me!

The first ornament I created began with an oval pottery bead from Captured Moments. I attached clear and emerald green Chinese crystals to the bottom, finishing it with a spiral head pin. I made a fun spiral hook with 18 gauge silver wire and attached it with a jump ring that I added two silver seed beads to.

For this ornament, I cut and textured pieces of aluminum, connecting each one with jump rings and matte gold seed beads. The bottom bead is a pottery bead with a script design from Captured Moments. The ornament hook is made from 18 gauge silver wire.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I will be giving away one of my ornaments! For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post and tell me which ornament you would like to win. The winner will be selected on Friday December 9th.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Earrings

I will admit, in the past I mostly created necklaces. This is due to the fact that I always wear a necklace, but bracelets and earrings not as much. When I signed on last May to sell my jewelry at Body Wellness Spa, the owner requested that I include earrings in my collections. She explained that this was due to customers wanting to add a finishing touch to their new hair style or glowing skin after a facial. So at her request, I made sure that I always had a selection of earrings.

Upon the request to create more earrings for the spa, I realized how much fun designing earrings can be! Options are endless; ear wires in a variety of shapes and metals, posts, long, short, casual, funky, dressy, artsy...

So I thought I would share some of my new designs with you...

natural turquoise small nuggets
sterling silver wire
triangle pewter spacers

16 karat gold plated brass pine tree branches
smokey quartz faceted rondelles
gold filled ball posts

sterling silver coated ceramic 
sterling silver wire

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Challenge of Color Reveal...

Today is the reveal day for participants of the Challenge of Color, created by the lovely and ultra talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry. Erin created a grid of 12 colors, instructing each participant to select one hue. I chose teal for my color.

She then selected color palettes from Design Seeds, one for each person, based on the hue we selected. Design Seeds has an endless supply of inspiring color palettes! Mine was Silk Hues. Both the name and hues in the color palette are beautiful. I have never combined teal with pink, so this was definitely a challenge of color for me!

After bringing the Silk Hues color palette up on my monitor, I started looking through my bead collection. I had already envisioned using teal leather cord, but wasn't quite sure what beads I wanted to work with. Another part of the challenge for me was to create a piece of jewelry with beads that I already own, rather than purchasing new ones. I pulled everything that fell into the color palette and set them on my bead table. I was instantly drawn to teal javanese glass disc beads. They have a contemporary style to them, which I love, so I let them set the tone for my design. I then started adding in round watermelon dolomite marble beads. This is the first time I have ever used those colors together! The result is fun and contemporary!

I had a lot of fun with Erin's Challenge of Color. It really encouraged me to create outside of my comfort zone. This necklace is by far the most colorful piece I have ever created! Thank you Erin for such an awesome design challenge!!

Now on to to see what the other participants have created...

  Norma Turvey Teal Color Crave 
  Jeannie Dukic Green Mineral Tones 
  Mary McGraw Teal Embellished Hues 
  Jo Tinley Red Decadent Tones 
  Rebecca Anderson Pink Tulip Tones 
  Kristi Jaro Red Temple Entrance 
  Stephani Gorman Green Dew Tones 
  Melissa Meman Green Fruit Star 
  Kathleen Lange Klik Teal Silk Hues 
  Cynthia Riggs Red Autumn Comfort 
  Heidi Post Teal Flora Bright 
  Cece Cormier Teal Merino Teal 
  Amy Freeland Gray Cultured Tones 
  Alice Peterson Blue Island Play 
  Rose Noble Gray Autumn Stacked 
  Kristina Johansson Yellow Sunny Flower 
  Kirsi Luostarinen Teal Dragon Hues 
  Tari Kahrs Orange Citrus Tones 
  Mallory Hoffman Purple Petaled Dark 
  Molly Alexander Brown Peppered Tones 
  Regina Santerre Red Frosted Berry 
  Emanda Johnson Teal Color Purl 
  Amy Severino Orange Winged Tones 
  Bobbie Rafferty Teal Lime Hues 
  Tanya Goodwin Gray Pecked Tones
  Lisa Lodge Blue Nocturnal Tones 
  Hope Smitherman Blue Bloom Tones 
  Linda Landig Green Cacti Dark 
  Ambra Gostoli Teal Perched Autumn 
  Lori Bowring-Michaud Blue Sharpened Blue 
  Pippa Chandler Teal Hungarian Hues 
  Keirsten Giles Purple Mineral Brights 
  Jennifer Justman Blue Autumn Rays 
  Sandy Richardson Purple Moroccan Brights 
  CJ Bauschka Teal Teal Air 
  Shaiha Williams Teal Sushi Hues 
  Kay Thomerson Purple Autumn Spectrum 
  Sally Russick Purple Golden Gate Tones 
  Cilla Watkins Purple Autumn Infused 
  Shirley Moore Purple Frozen Heather 
  Jenni Connolly Gray Paw Tones 
  Tamara Soper Green Field Tones 
  Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Blue Nested Blues 
  Jen Velasquez Pink Sweetened Tints 
  Maria Grimes Red Bright Bloom 
  Elisabeth Auld Gray Petaled Tints 
  Susan Kennedy Pink Zinnia Tones 
  Shannon Chomanczuk Gray Autumn Leaf 
  Holly Westfall Yellow Sprinkled Tones 
  Patty Gasparino Red Color Carton 
  Angela Little Pink Singapore Brights
  Lizzie Zawinski Green Budding Hues
  Kristen Stevens Green Scooped Tones
  Dawn Doucette Brown Jarred Tones

Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspiration is everywhere, even in a nut!

While in Hawaii, I of course found a bead shop to check out! I was hoping to find beads native from the island. I came across two at Kathleen's Creation's in Hawi that will be fun to incorporate into jewelry designs.

The first one, a mungumbo seed is a small grey seed with a soft velvety texture. I first saw this seed in a bracelet that was being sold at the L. Zeidman Gallery in Hawi. My husband surprised me with the bracelet later that evening before we went out for dinner! I purchased ten of these seeds at the shop not knowing that my husband had went back to the gallery to buy the bracelet.

So now I will either make a necklace or earrings, or both, to match it!

The second find is a black and white kukui nut. I didn't have any ideas jump into my mind immediately upon seeing these, but they were so visually interesting that I had to purchase a few!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Inspired by Hawaii

My husband and I just returned from a vacation on Hawaii's Big Island. From lava rock landscapes, to rain forests, hiking into the crater of a volcano, swimming with sea turtles and looking down at the clouds from 13,796 feet above sea level. It was a very adventurous vacation. I was inspired by the abundant beauty that the island offered...

We stayed at the Waikoloa Resort-it was paradise! The view from our room.

One of the sea turtles that swam past us. Most amazing experience ever!

 One of the many birds that greeted us each morning.

Coffee plant at Greenwell Coffee Farms in Kona.

Beautiful coral that is meant to be seen and not harvested or touched!

Life starts new again inside the crevice of a volcano crater. 
No soil, just lava rock and nature working together.

Exploring the volcanic landscape that Pele, goddess of fire created; Kilauea Crater.

Beautiful plants in the rain forest.

Making our way up Mauna Kea summit.

Looking down at the clouds from 13,796 feet, atop Mauna Kea. Beautiful!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

HotFlash GlassWorks

Last weekend at the Arts and Music Festival in Annapolis, I had the honor of meeting a talented local lampwork artist named Patti Tolley Parrish of HotFlash GlassWorks.

Just look at these treasures! Prices of her beads range from $3-$20

Patti has been creating lampworked beads for two years. She works a full time job during the week, so she spends most nights and weekends creating gorgeous glass beads. Her favorite glass to work with is Dark Clio made by Double Helix GlassWorks. "Its loaded with silver and when layered with other colors and reduced, you can get some amazing hot pink and watermelon colors that are hard to come by in hot glass". She is also partial to Zimmerman Purple Rose (commonly known as Z-99 to the lampwork community). She loves using Pale Aqua transparent and and etches it to resemble sea glass. 

She also creates a number of items with her beads including earrings, bracelets, pendants, wine bottle stoppers, magnifying glasses, and antique skeleton keys with lampwork done directly on them.
Patti is working on filling her Etsy shop with her creations. To see more of her work or to contact her, check out HotFlash GlassWorks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arts and Music Festival

This past weekend, I had a booth at the Quiet Waters Arts and Music Festival in Annapolis, Maryland. The festival was set in the gardens that surround the visitor center. It is a really beautiful setting! The weather forecast stated rain and thunderstorms for the whole weekend-yikes! It rained, I mean poured, all day Friday and I prepared for a wet weekend. Well the craft show stars must have been in alignment, because the rain stopped just as the festival began Saturday morning! In fact, it didn't rain until later that evening and then stopped on Sunday morning, just as day two was starting!

This is the first large craft show that I have participated in, so I was not sure what to expect. My husband (he helped me on both days!) and I were planning on it being a slow weekend because of the weather forecast. Wow, were we ever wrong-both days were amazing! I had almost a non-stop flow of people visiting my booth. All of them had such wonderful things to say about both my jewelry and my displays. The majority of them commented that they liked my jewelry because it was unique and very different from other jewelry that they have seen! I could only dream of comments like that! To have people tell you that they love your art is such an amazing experience. I create pieces that I love and would wear, but to have others feel the same way is an absolute gift!

 My husband bought me an outdoor rug that really gives it a welcoming feel. He also helps me display the jewelry on the tables-he has a fantastic eye for it! I have given him the title of  "Creative Director"!

I created some necklace displays from fallen tree branches. They add a fun, natural touch. I also painted wooden letters to add a little "creativity" to the tables.

Before the show, I had searched for small pebbles to place on my plates. After not finding something I liked, I thought I would try dried peas and beans-worked beautifully. A lot of customers joked that I could make soup after the show was over!

This was the view from our booth! One of the beautiful sculpture gardens.

All in all it was a wonderful experience! The weather, while very humid, turned out to be quite nice. The event was well organized and volunteers of the festival stopped by everyone's booth throughout the two days to see if breaks were needed. I got to meet some amazing artisans (including a lampwork bead artists I will post about in a few days), spend two days in a beautiful park and had the wonderful opportunity to sell my jewelry to some of the nicest people I have ever met! Plus, I had set a sales goal for the weekend and nearly doubled it! I don't mean to brag, I am just amazed and super excited!

These are some of the different areas that had booths set up. I was so busy throughout both days that I didn't get a chance to take any photos of the festival, so I took some photos of the beautiful grounds after the event was over.

I have to give thanks to Lori Anderson for sharing her experience of craft shows with me as well as the excellent advice of having a lot of earrings to sell. She was spot on! Lori: my husband thought your suggestion was a really great idea! Thank you for being so generous with your information.

I also have to once again thank my ultra supportive husband. He helped me set up, ring up all transactions so I could take care of packaging, let me take several breaks, disassemble everything and carry all of the heavy stuff! He also made sure the jewelry was well organized and displayed nicely, filling in any empty spots after a piece had sold. He really is the best-I am very lucky!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Inspired By Creative Jewelry

Last Friday, FedEx delivered a long anticipated package...The 2011 issue of Creative Jewelry!! Equally as exciting as having this awesome magazine in my possession, is having my necklace titled Morning Glory published in it! This was my first time submitting my jewelry to Interweave. Last winter, I submitted four designs to Stringing (a publication of Interweave) and they requested that I mail them three. I was so excited and honored! They then contacted me a few months later to inform me that they wanted to publish my Morning Glory necklace in the 2011 issue of Creative Jewelry. I was floored! Still am.

The beautiful piece on the cover was designed by the ultra talented Erin Prais-Hintz. I have admired her work since I began designing a few years ago. The magazine is filled with stunning creations by a variety of amazing jewelry artists. I am truly honored to be part of this wonderful publication. If you don't already own a copy, I highly recommend purchasing one-you will be creatively inspired!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bead Soup Block Party 2011

This is my first year participating in the Bead Soup Block Party, hosted by Lori Anderson. I was paired up with Maria Clark of Sweet Willow Designs. Maria creates gorgeous beads from polymer clay. She sent me a beautiful two-sided pendant, three smaller focal beads and a clasp that she made. Along with her creations, she also sent some really cool dyed serpentinite jasper rondelles, copper beads with a turquoise splash, oxidized copper round beads and a variety of bone beads.

The colors are gorgeous and immediately made me thing of summer fading to autumn.

Summer Fading to Autumn...

I added:
  textured antiqued copper chain
 bronze colored freshwater pearls
 8mm antiqued copper round beads
 Parawire in 24 and 28 gauge
two toggle clasps
antiqued copper oval jump rings
antiqued copper earwires

The back of the pendant is textured in a really cool pattern that reminds me of tree bark.  I love that I can wear the necklace with either side of the pendant showing!

I played around with the beads Maria sent me, making some mental sketches. I had a few different options for both a necklace and bracelet. I kept going back to dangling the copper beads with turquoise splash from antiqued copper chain. Once I settled on my necklace design, I then realized that I had enough beads to create two bracelets and a pair of earrings.

The pieces I designed are not like anything I have created before. This was the first time I have worked with polymer clay beads or even beads with flowers on them. This bead soup definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but in a really wonderful way! It is also the most wire wrapping I have done to date, and I must say I really enjoyed adding that element to the design. The only problem I encountered was how to go about dangling the freshwater pearls from the chain. The head pins I used to attach the dyed jasper rondelles were too thick for the pearls. I then remembered a technique I had seen in Heather Power's Inspired by Nature book, wire tendrils. I used 28 gauge wire to create little tendrils on each end of the pearls and then attached them to the chain. It also added a really fun aspect to the pearls.

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the BSBP. From sending and receiving a bead soup to getting to know my way cool partner to designing outside of my comfort zone. Now I look forward to sitting back and admiring what the other participants have created!

To see what other party goers have created, just click on the link: 

Check out the map too, it is amazing!

Thank you Lori Anderson for hosting the Bead Soup Block Party. Your time and dedication is appreciated more than you know. You are an inspiration. You are beautiful. Thank you for all that you contribute to the beading world! The BSBP is a wonderful way to get to know people in the beading community, be inspired and make new friends. Hello new friends!