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Friday, November 16, 2018

Designing Jewelry with Clothing in Mind

Since my background is costume design, I often think about how the jewelry I design will be worn.  Sometimes, when I afford myself the luxury of working with something special from my stash, I design in a way specific to the clothing to be worn with the piece.  I just spent a week of evenings, making myself something to wear for Thanksgiving.

I had 4 pieces of Owyhee Jasper from my favorite lapidary; a gigantic square, and three oval cabochons.  Owyhee is sometimes called Picture Jasper and often has landscape imagery.  I thought mine had warped imagery. like something you might see through a fisheye lens.  The phrase "The Sky is Falling" kept running through my mind as I bezeled it in one of my favorite Toho colors, #721, Oceanic Metallic. It has a cool blue silver, plus some earthy bronze and copper beads, and the mix seemed perfect for the stones. It was a monster bezel, with a base row of 124 beads, 31 Aikos on each side. Those of you familiar with my post on square bezels might appreciate that info! You might even check the math.  As usual with bezels, I worked the back first and then set in the stone and wrapped the sides, with reasonable ease, given the size.

As I worked on the bezels, I decided a long gray sweater dress (a gift from The Best Man Ever last Christmas) would be the perfect thing on which to display the stones, and got out a dress form and the sweater to start working on layout.  The sweater had some interrupted X cables, and I turned the large square sideways and added folded warped squares to each end to emulate the cable shapes.

I planned to create interruptions between X shapes in the jewelry, and hunted through my stash for some likely candidates for creating the breaks.  I also liked the long vertical line of cables at the center front of the sweater, so decided the featured part of the necklace would be a long fall, that included the largest cabochon.  I liked the gentle shock of the soft turquoise green Czech rounds to help with the break illusion, and placed the smallest oval at the bottom of the fall, also vertically arranged.  I put the largest oval at the top of the fall, and arranged it horizontally.

I always think that the best necklaces are sympathetic in shape to the garments they are worn with, and given the oval soft curve of the neckline, I wanted to emulate that curve in the yoke.  Using the largest oval as a junction between the long fall and the soft oval curve, I created what I think is the best part of the necklace,  I love the negative space in the conglomeration of connections there, and I am pleased that the beautiful shape is revealed against my skin.  I plan to work that idea further and use it for a Spring project tutorial.  It seems very floral in character, like three petals to me.

I liked the square cab at the edge of the sweater, half on and half off my skin.  I had only one medium sized oval left, and needed another couple to carry my idea of interrupted X shapes forward, so found two smaller oval Jasper beads and bezeled them.  You see those at either side of the base of the neck.  And since there was a landscape idea in the Owyhee, and the flowery central connection, I used some flower and leaf beads to create the interruptions in the yoke. I also added them as a triangular drop component at the bottom.  I may remove this bit.  It's not bad, but I am not in love with it either.  I do like the proportion it gives to the length of the drop. I am super pleased with the sympathy between the shape of the neck edge and the necklace yoke.

Finally, I used the last of the ovals as the center back element, with a dual clasp structure.

I do like the drop component here at the back, but I might flip the bezel the other end up, so the landscape is supported by the orientation.

So lucky me, I've got new jewelry to wear for the holiday!  And a good idea for a Spring project to boot!

When I was first making jewelry, and opened my Etsy shop, I spent some time trying to "make things I thought people would like to buy".  I quickly found that a better strategy was to make something I wanted to wear.  The sales followed.  I find the same thing to be true with designing for tutorials.  I find my best ideas in making things for myself, not in trying to create something I think someone else might like to make.  So sometimes, playing with beads specifically for my own use, produces the best design ideas.

As soon as all the leftovers are put away, I will get back to work with my stick pearls, and still plan to release that new project for you in either late December or January.

I hope you have lots to be thankful for while you eat your turkey next week, and good friends to share with.  Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Oh!  Did you notice my photos look different?  I have a new set of little studio lights and am learning to use them.  They are brighter and cooler than what I am used to, and I know my white balance is not what I want it to be yet.  I have a warm bias that is not quite satisfied.  Plus, I still have some shadows to soften, but I like the new setup.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Final Selection of Grapes

I hate to clog my blog with pictures of focals, but it's the easiest way for me to tell you about what is available in detail.  I have what I think will be my final set of Grape Caramel's Claws necklace and a few Caramel's Acorn Earrings kits releasing today, Friday the 9th of November.  I am calling this the final set, because I have used my very last silver melon beads for these kits, and they are getting very hard to find!  And the focal beads are a challenge too. 

So, without further ado, here are the last 8 focal beads for the Grape colorway.

 I love the diagonal lightning bolt inclusion in focal A.  
It has a crystalline structure almost like a geode.

 Focal B is a nicely mottled pattern with some dark and some light color.

Among the lighter focal beads, C is slim and flat, and will show off the bezel shape nicely.
 Focal D is dramatic, with some typical agate markings. 
Slightly out of oval, (slightly smaller on one side) but will sit nicely in the bezel.

 Focal E has nice dark color with a little rusty coloration, and some minor pitting.

Focal F has some nice pinky coloration and an interesting fracture line.

 G is the most simply patterned of the group, with deep rich purple color.
Just slightly smaller on one side than the other, but will work in the bezel.

Dramatic agate markings for Focal H, and deep purple color,
with some steely gray beneath the purple. Minor pitting.

So, there they are, the last of the grapes!

And outside my window, some serious inspiration for my winter project!  

And a sneak peak at some of the material I am working with...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Blue Sage Caramel's Claws

When I was at Dakota Stones shopping for focals, the Red Creek Jasper had a very different look than previously, with very little copper, ochre or olive, but I did find some nice pieces that work well with the Sage colorway.  I am sharing those focals here, because I can provide larger, clearer images than in my Etsy listings.

These particular stone beads are mostly usable on both sides and some are completely different on each side, a bonus for you.  You can choose your preference, based on your own wardrobe needs, or just fall in love with one side or the other.  I show you both sides of each piece below!  There are just 8 of these kits.

Here goes:

A lighter side (with a few silvery clouds in the sky) and a darker side!

In this case, both sides are very similar.
The first side mostly dark (nice bezel contrast), with a second side that has interesting landscape color and markings.
These two sides are totally different.  The first is similar in color to my sample, kind of khaki,
and the second side is deep teal and midnight dark.

Both sides have a little patterning, the first more, and the second a little less, It has a small, flat spot on the upper right edge at the back side, but im my experience, it would not affect the bezel shape.

Both sides have a little fiery patterning, and remind me of the sky above a forest fire at night.

Beautiful patterning on both sides of this bead, the first bold and the second more soft.

This final focal bead is soft and pale, very sky-like to me.  An almost perfect match for the bezel beads.
I really like the range of options here.  Choosing a dark or contrasting focal means the bezel is a featured bit in your composition. Selecting a lighter bead means the piece becomes more an organic whole.  Both can be lovely!

Available in my Etsy Shop on Saturday, October 13th, around noon CST.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Red Porcelain Jasper

I have had a quiet week after my South Dakota Black Hills vacation.  It really put me in mind of Autumn, seeing the beautiful colors and feeling the nip in the air.

I have had some requests for more Caramel's Claws kits, and bought some more of the oval beads that serve as the focal.  I found a Jasper suited to a Pomegranate colorway, and want to finish off the last bundles of acorn melon beads, so I made up a sample, and liked it.

The Pomegranate melon bead is translucent, very much like a pomegranate seed.  The Red Porcelain Jasper is sometimes brick, sometimes burgundy red.  The stone reminded me of a favorite pair of red suede boots that are so neutral I can manage to wear almost any red with them.

I chose the most brick-like color for my sample, as always, trying to save the very best focals for you. I cannot get the color to display quite exactly as it is, REDS ARE HARD FOR ME TO GET PHOTOGRAPHICALLY PERFECT! so let me just say these are redder than brown for sure.  Here is the new Pomegranate, (with it's brick focal) next to the original bronzy-brown Cinnamon colorway.

Taking all of the ovals into consideration, I designed a pretty neutral red frame and neckstrap. Some of them have quite a bit of creamy pattern, some are mostly red, and some, mostly porcelain, which I think would look spectacular displayed in this red frame on a winter white sweater.  So without further ado...

Dark with subtle shading

Smooth and deeply colored

A bit of landscape patterning.

Dark with a lighter marking.

This focal bead is Apple Jasper, a slightly more true red with woodgrain markings.  A thinner bead which will display a bit more of the bezel against the surface of the focal.

Interesting markings nicely placed.

I love the landscape rock look of this piece.

Reminds me of Picasso cubism.

Deep burgundy wine hints, and lots of creamy softness.

For some reason, this one reminds me of a calico cat!

Neutral beige with hints of grey and cream.  Reminds me of marble.

Love this one!  If no one claims it, I will make it up for myself! Porcelain indeed.

Having beads set aside for (or left over from) a kit project sitting around in my stash does no one any good.  So this week I am working on getting what I have into kits that you can use.  I know some of you already own more than one colorway of this design.  Please do not feel obligated to make a purchase.  Some of my clients are SO supportive, and I truly appreciate you all!  I''ll put these, and whatever else I manage to get kitted this week, in my Etsy shop on Saturday around noon CST.

I am working on a new icy, wintery piece featuring mother of pearl for you.  I have a final dancewear project to finish first, and the holidays to prepare for and enjoy, but please, know it's coming!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Vintage Jasper - Verdigris

Verdigris is a patina that forms on copper exposed to the elements.  It is usually bluish-green. Me trying to explain the chemistry of it would have to be pure plagiarism, but I did read somewhere that it was originally a French term, vert de Gris, which means " the green of Greece".  I love that idea! Since I am going for a vintage quality in this project, it seemed the perfect name for this set of cabochons, and their supporting beads. I hope you'll enjoy the GemDuos especially.  Without further ado...

And here is a photo of my sample for this colorway.

Now, I'm off to start writing listings and making sure I get them all right.  
Releasing Saturday, September 1st, noon, central time.