Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fairy Garden Creative Colour Challenge

For centuries, the world has been fascinated with the idea that 'wee folk' live among us and have the power to spread magic and mischief throughout our homes and gardens.  While concrete evidence of the existence of fairies is slim, adding fairy gardens to our own gardens is a way of participating in this centuries old tradition of trying to please the spirits and gain their favour. 

As inspiration for next months' challenge, see the picture below.....

Create a fun, whimsical or fantasy piece reflecting the hues and theme above.  The possibilities are endless!

Send me a photo of your piece, along with your Etsy shop, Facebook page and/or website.  I will post them all to my blog on May 26th.  Please pass this along to any other jewelry making friends you have.  The more, the merrier.

Dance among the fairies and have some fun with this one!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Springtime Challenge Entry

It's never too late to enter one of my challenges.  I love to highlight the work of anyone who takes the time design something from inspiration I've provided. 

Sonya Stille really loved the picture of the goldfinches on the fence among the flowers and was really challenged to come up with a design.  She purchased some czech flowers and a little charm with a bird on it but they just were not the right shades.  It was a little disappointing for her.  So, what she finally did was make some fun earrings using the yellow and green colours from the picture that really spoke to her from the start. 

SAS Jewelry Designs

To see the other entries, click here.  Thanks again to everyone who participated.  I love all your creations.  I can't wait to see what you come up with next time.  Details of the newest challenge will be announced in a day or two.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One-of-a-Kind Custom Logo Piece

Kate Mantello's work first came to my attention on Facebook when a friend posted a photo of a a custom piece that she was working on.   The pendant has a wise old Haida Guide on the left with a raven soaring to his right.  A rainbow bridge connects them with shells and turquoise surrounding. 

Each piece she creates is beautifully handcrafted from specially selected crystals, shells, wood & feathers.  When choosing materials, she is drawn to the unique, making every piece a one-of-a-kind creation. 

She believes deeply in the healing powers of crystals and tries to incorporate as much organic material as possible for natural energy flow.  Each piece is infused with positive healing energy and made with only the best intentions.

I contacted Kate, who was mere days away from giving birth to her second child, about creating a special pendant for me.  I wanted an artistic rendition of my company (Jasper Moon) logo, something that would attract attention and be a conversation starter at events.

Jasper Moon Logo

Here is the fabulous pendant she created for me.  As you can see, it is a representation of my logo, but not identical.  I'm very happy to have such a beautiful piece of wearable art.  Kate's work is incredible, isn't it?

A moonstone is set into the faerie's top wing and a speckled jasper in the lower wing.  There are a couple of twinkly crystals at the top.  She applied a patina to the steel crescent, so as to more evenly blend the shiny metal with the aged look of the clay.  There is still a lot of silver that comes through but it will continue to tarnish over time to get that genuinely 'aged' effect.

You can contact Kate for custom orders or to enquire about her crystal workshops...

Facebook Page: Enchanted Shaman Magical Creations

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Springtime Challenge Reveal

The inspiration for this creative colour challenge was this picture of goldfinches sitting on a fence surrounded by yellow flowers & greenery.  I apologize for being a day late in posting the reveal.

Neena Shilvock's entry is called Bohemian Rhapsody.  The puffy yellow flowers are made of polymer clay, edged with gold and wired to a copper wire woven twig.  The focal piece is attached to a 2 strand copper link necklace with a medley of gemstones - turquoise, lapis, glass, mother of pearl coins, citrine nuggets, ruby zoisite, wooden beads and copper ornamental spacers. 

One leftover flower was used to create a necklace with memory wire she named 'Bella'.  She paired it with a whimsical copper wire dragonfly.

Tracy Stillman was enticed by the vibrant green and yellow colour palette.  She chose to focus on the green and floral theme for this lovely set of earrings.

Tracy Stillman Designs

Manik Jawa made two kinds of jewelry for the challenge.  The first piece is a Bee Spring pin.  The tummy of bees are java beads using powder imported from New Zealand.  She was very excited to create lampwork glass beads using this powder. She combined the java bead with transparent acrylic (on the wings) and synthetic pearl (on the head & neck).

Next, she made a pigeon keychain with one of java beads.  She combined it with seed beads for the tail and the hanger.
Manik Jawa Inc.

Before I even announced the challenge, Kashmira Patel made an absolutely delightful pair of earrings which were a perfect fit for this!

Sadafulee...Always in Bloom
Etsy Shop:

Renetha made this necklace for the challenge with matte black rounds, and green Kazuri rounds.  The pendant is a Golem Studio pendant.  She purchased the pendant before the challenge was announced and knew she wanted to feature it in the challenge.

Christina Miles' entry came in late last night, so I wanted to be sure to add it to this post this morning.  I love how this necklace can be worn several different ways.  And I want to know how she made those beautiful roses!

Wings N Scales

What a wonderful collection of designs for the Springtime Creative Colour Challenge!  I love them all.  Thanks to all those who participated.  Keep watching my blog for the next challenge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stepping It Up A Level

Selling at shows is a lot of hard work and simply is not netting the income I had hoped for.  And it seems to be getting more difficult each year to make a profit at them.  Yes, we do enjoy the events, meeting interesting people, getting our name & products 'out there', learning new things, etc.  But geepers, I'd like to get a wee bit ahead of the expenses...products & materials, our time, entry fees, insurance, gasoline, advertising, plus more.  That sounds like a reasonable expectation, doesn't it? 

I think it's time to step up the game a little and move up the food chain to the next level.  What exactly does that next level look like and how do I get there?  As you can imagine (if you know me at all), I've put a lot of thought into this very question.

Where is the money to be made anyway?  There are a couple of avenues the immediately come to mind....selling wholesale to shops and online selling. 

First, I need to identify my core products.  That's easy!  There are two items that sell at most of the shows we handmade Tree of Life pendants and the pewter cloak clasps.  So they are obvious choices to promote with wholesale pricing to shops.  I think I'd like to showcase the pewter pendants also.

Next, I have to consider packaging options for my products.  There needs to be consistency across the board to establish the 'brand'.  Right now, I don't really have you can see below.

My current packaging and displays are a mish mash of experimental techniques that 'work' at the events we have been going to.  I think you'll agree though, that they won't work in a retail environment as effectively.

Time to come up with a new strategy.  I've taken some positive steps forward this week towards standardizing the packaging for my products.  Stay tuned to see what I've come up with.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vintage Jewelry Styles

Isn't it funny how one thing follows another and leads you down an unexpected path?  Let me try to explain.  Be advised, this is a long story.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1935
On the weekend, I purchased an incredible book on Lucy Maud Montgomery (the author of Anne of Green Gables) at an out-of-town thrift store.  I've always been interested in all things historical, most recently attracted to Canadian history, and this book is a fabulous collection of photos, letters and other recollections of Maud and her times (1874 - 1942).

As I was leafing through the pages when I got home, two old photographs fell out.  The first, slightly faded one is of a mother or grandmother with two smartly dressed young boys.  Judging from the clothing & hair styles, I'd probably date it to sometime in the 1950s.

The other photo is of four men, possibly a grandfather, father and two sons.  The younger men are both dressed in sailor uniforms.  There is a date on the back of this one, 1951, written in blue pen.

It's a little sad that the family has lost these precious momentos of days gone by and people who have likely passed on by now.  Unfortunately, there is no way to track down the person who originally donated the book to the thrift store.  So, I will honour their memory here by sharing these snippets of their lives with you.

These old photos got me thinking about vintage jewelry, specifically from the 50s and early 60s.  I did a bit of research to see what was popular at the time.  (You knew I'd eventually get to the point, right?)  What a walk down memory lane!  (Yes, I'm old enough to remember some of that stuff.)

Jewelry, like clothing, styles seem to keep coming back.  There certainly are new twists on the old themes but some things stay the same.  No outfit was complete without co-ordinating jewelry, and today is no different.  The right jewelry can take a plain, simple outfit and make it pop.

The 1950s were known for big, bold & distinct designs.  Sound familiar?  The use of flowers, leaves, shells, animals & birds became very popular.  Ditto for today.  Turquoise exploded onto the jewelry scene in the 50s and, of course, is a favourite among designers now.  Multi-stranded beaded necklaces were all the rage.  Seeing a pattern here?  And don't forget rhinestones, lots of glitter and glitz.

What was old, is new again.  I wonder what they will be saying 50 or more years from now about the pieces we are creating today?  And will all of our ideas be updated for a future time & place?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Friendship Through Online Communities

I have friends all over the world.  Most of them are people I have never met 'in person', yet our connection is very real.   We've come in contact through various social media sites via online targeted communities.  In my case, through doll, bead, jewelry & button groups, forums or e-mail lists. 

Some are people I've met only once or twice, usually at an event, and stayed in touch with afterwards because we had an affinity or common interest come to light during our brief encounter.  We maintain our relationship online through Facebook and e-mail.

By connecting with people whose experience & sphere of influence is different than my own, I have learned things that I might never have been exposed to any other way.  They've added value to my life and I cherish every single one of them.

No, it's not quite the same as having a friend close by who you can call on the phone (minus long distance charges), go to dinner with, get together for craft nights or to have sleep-over/gab sessions with.  BUT I still hurt when my online friends hurt, laugh when they laugh and celebrate milestones with them.

So, to all my online friends wherever you are....please know that you are important to me and that I am always available for a much needed chat.  I promise to listen with an open mind, offer my advice or perspective, and help in any other way when I am able.

Hugs to you all.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Torch-Fire Enamelling

The torch-fire enamel technique first came into my radar range with two of the entries to the Tangerine Tango Creative Colour Challenge last month.

Susan Kennedy used vintatge copper filigree beads with orange enamel in her design.

Lynnea Bennett used enamelled pennies and beads that she created as samples for a class in enamelling that she was going to be teaching.

Since then, I've been seeing enamelled beads everywhere.  I even received a few of these enamelled beads in a recent bead swap.  So many people seem to be into this technique.  Why is this the first time I'm hearing about it? 

Swap Beads From Courtney
As I always do when I want to find information about something, I went online to search for it.  On one of my Facebook groups, I learned about Painting With Fire, a forum devoted to torch-fire enamelling.  I immediately joined.

I've ordered a book called 'Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry: A Workshop In Painting With Fire' written by Barbara Lewis, the creator of the Painting With Fire forum.  She also offers eCourses, on-site courses, and there are a ton of tips, tutorials and videos to help the beginner.  She sells starter kits and other supplies too.

Another addition to my 'what I want to learn this year' to do list.  *smile*  The list is getting longer every day.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Vocal Focal - Bead Swap

The focal bead or pendant is the centre of a design. By centre I don’t mean literally centre (although in many cases it is) but rather the most important part of a piece.  Without a focal point, an observer will lose interest quickly because she does not know where to look and what part is the most interesting.  Every other part of a design builds from a focal....a vocal focal.

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to have a focal bead and/or pendant swap.  That's it, just one bead or pendant.  No co-ordinating beads, no stringing material, no clasp, no spacers, no findings...just one focal.

I will match up partners the old fashioned way, drawing names out of a hat.  Once you have your partner, you can decide together on a price limit.  $10 - $15 seems like a good middle ground but the two of you can go more or less if you choose.  You can get some really nice focals for under $10 and some that are much more than $15. 

There is no expectation for you to create a piece with your focal bead right away, although that would be great if you do.  All I ask is that you post a photo of what you receive to your blog, perhaps describe a design idea you have in mind for it, and definitely thank your partner for sending it.

To participate, please send your name, e-mail address and blog to me by Saturday, April 7th.  I will select partners and send the list of swap partners out on Sunday, April 8th.  The Vocal Focal reveal day will be May 5th.  Click here to join us for a fun swap!