Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sweet & Simple Jewelry: Review

Aimee Ray's Sweet & Simple Jewelry: 17 Designers, 10 Techniques & 32 Projects to Make

When first opening a new book from Lark Craft, the very first thing that grabs my attention is any project using beads, fabric, or fiber.   I just can't help it.  It is my nature, and what I work with in my own work.  I appreciate wire and metals, but for me those big three always win out when I'm creating or searching books or the the web looking for new ideas.  I really enjoyed Aimee Ray's brand new book out from Lark Jewelry and Beading.  This book is absolutely bursting with darling projects from multiple artist.  

One project in particular really kept me thumbing back over again and again to look at the thoughtful and delightful project.  Dandelion Wish necklace by Alicia Henson and Jessica Berner just made me very happy looking at it.  I had purchased several of these glass vials from Gahanna Bead Shop filled with wishbones.  I want to use the wishbones in another project, but then what would I do with the bottles?  Then Dandelion Wish was there answering my questions.  The dandelion seeds sealed inside the corked bottle with the charm "wish" let the imagination of travel the winds where these fragile seeds float away on the breath of a wish.  It wasn't until I read the biography of the two designers of this project that I found out they are sisters.  They both came together to create Dandelion Wish in honor of their sister who had passed away.  The dandelion to each of them is a positive reminder of the world we wake to each day.  

Each of the we projects are described in simple enough language so that this would make a great gift to give to a younger person stepping onto the pathway of creative crafty life.  Some projects to indeed needs adult supervision, but wouldn't that be a great way to spend a rainy day with a young protegee.  But there are also enough projects to entice and inspire those wanting to find a project that could be completed in an hour or a day.  From working with floss, wire, felt, fabric, beads, resin or epoxy clay, so many fun filled hours could be spent making projects from Simple and Sweet.

Especially nicely offered is the two page exploration (pg 24-25) on how to make your very own unique cabochons and cameos by making your own personal mold using silicone molding putting.  Aimee's project Felted Terrarium Necklace is project where you can create your own personal world using needle felting techniques.  You can carry your own piece of heaven along with you every place your travel.

Natalka Pavlysh shares her project Braille Peach Pendent using scraps of linen and embroidery stitches to make a simple but stunning necklace. 

And Donni Webber shows how and adorable pendent can be made using acorn caps and wool to make the Felted Acorn Necklace.

 The best part is still to come as there are 28 more projects in Aimee May's Sweet and Simple Jewelry.  Promise yourself to add this title to you I have to have in my library.  Keep it close at hand when you having a few free moments but want to fill them with fun and adorable pieces of art to share and keep.

ATTN:  Lark has a giveway on Aimee May's book.  Click here to go to register.  Deadline for the giveaway is August nd.  Hurry!  You'll be happy

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I've been thinking about designing lately.  Probably because there is so much chatter out on the web what with the 2013 Battle of the Beadsmiths on Facebook.  It has been a pretty heated challenge with voting going fast and furious.  As of today, the judging is on the fourth round.  Fantastic pieces of jewelry from all over the globe.  Some of the pieces made me gasp with the beauty of the colorways and the designs.  Others just left me perplexed at how did the bead artist get all those small wee beads to cooperate into intricate designs.  I have my favorites which are still in the running, and I've seen so many disappointed people admitting defeat.  One blog post recently from Linda Roberts talked about her surprise at being pushed into the fourth round.  She was excited and a little surprised that her piece moved onto the next round of judging.  Could it be that her piece was better than all her opponents with color palette so pleasing?  Could it be that her piece had superior supplies?  Could it be that her piece was more intricately designed?  Or could it just be luck?  Makes you wonder about competitions and how one outstanding piece can be overlooked for another piece equally outstanding.  What makes one piece the winner?  I don't think we can really answer that one with some simple statement.  There is so much to consider when judging competition pieces that the mind is boggled.  But all this competition talking and viewing stunning pieces of jewelry has made me think about design.  I have to confess that I have never been a planner when making anything.  I've seen from other blog and Facebook postings that this is something that I'm going to have to learn to accept into my character if I wish to push my own art where it be jewelry making or doll making to the next level.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road redesigned with a more functional yoke that goes around the neck.  Also the yoke and clasp with this design is far more comfortable to wear for more than an hour.  It actually distributes the weight more evenly causing less irritation on the back of the neck.  Removing the fringe from the gives the piece a cleaner design and wears better around my own neck.

Original design with metal links as the yoke and clasp.  There was so much irritation around the back of the neck when worn for more than an hour and the weight of the main focal component with the piece being snug around the neck made the piece swing from side to side.  The fringe would then kink up and not lay flat. 

Warren Fields from Land of Odds has a Facebook discussion group about jewelry designing with has really opened my mind up with ideas on how just simple steps of preparation and understanding the concept of form and design can make a piece of jewelry a success or a big flop.  Then there was Jamie Cloud Eakin's blog post about designing which discusses again the concept of planning out design and function of a piece before actually sitting down and sew away.  All of these have really given me some things to think about.  I look at some of my earlier pieces which are nice, but now with a little understanding of design and form, I see how it could be made better.  Pieces that look good laying flat on a table don't necessarily look good on the torso form I use.  And pieces that look great hanging from the neck of my torso form doesn't necessarily mean it looks great hanging around my neck.  All this has made me think more about functional wear, and how planning how each component will fit together while looking attractive.  Plus, adding more is not necessarily better.  If the piece is designed poorly, adding a bunch of crystals won't necessarily make it look better. 

Looking at designs in Nature helps an artist look at form and function along with color pathways as a tool for jewelry.

Elaborate designs and color in Nature is a perfect tool for the budding designer.  Take a sketchbook and colored pencils out in your own back yard.  Looks at what has already been created to help you learn form and color in its perfection

Friday, July 12, 2013

Plain ole doll making

It has been a long time since I've wanted to sew.  Probably haven't even thought of pulling out fabric and sewing since AFICC.  But I had these lovely batik fabrics I'd gotten in a exchange which really wanted to become dolls.

For me one of the most exciting things while doll making is needle sculpting the face.  So much character comes out with a few stitches. 

During a rummage sale over at the Worthington Historical Society, I picked up 8 vintage doll making books for only a few dollars.  Most of these were from the late 30s early 50s.  I'd never heard of Edith Flack Ackley, but was delighted with her book on doll making.  I decided to learn how to make more traditional dolls using this book from 1939.
With Ackley's pattern and instructions, I constructed the doll baby pattern and the traditional costume doll.  She instructed to embroidery faces with silk floss on a flat face.  I decided that they needed a little needle sculpting instead of embroidery faces.  I still need to figure out eyes for all of them.

Then I took another current pattern and modified it a little bit and did a little needle sculpting to give each of them character.  After 7 of these cute little dolls, I decided one or two of them needed to be beaded.

I wanted to do a little recycling, and this doll had been sitting on my work table for three long years waiting for me to finish it. She was an experiment using three different beading techniques of a three dimensional form. They head is missing as it was the first thing to be taken apart.  I hated how I painted the hand and face on this doll gold, but I loved the organic look of the beads.  So out came the scissors and tip apart I started.  As you can see in the background, there is the doll sewn with all craft velour that was going to be the recipient of the recycled beads. 

This doll has no name.  Maybe someone will help me with that.  Most of the doll is beaded using my method of flat peyote and bead embroidery.  There is a little bit of netting on this doll.  The eyes are actually plastic ones that I'd gotten in my goodie bag at AFICC.  I definitely am going to have to find out where I can find more this size

The legs are wired so that they could be threaded through holes Chris drilled out for me on this recycled stand.

And here is the back of the doll carrying through with the flat peyote.  She looks very organic standing there looking out on my garden.  

So what is next?  Well, see the orange doll in the above picture?  I'm beading that one right now using traditional bead embroidery methods and a right angle weave caged cabs.  I'll post pictures of her when it is all done.  I'm having fun sewing and beading.  Did I name this plain old dollmaking...I think that is probably a misnomer.  Also, I'm going to start working on clothes!!!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review of Foxy Epoxy

Today amid the gray gloomy skies over Central Ohio, I decided to open up Kristal Wick's book Foxy Epoxy.  I needed something to take my mind off the numerous thunderstorms that have raced through out community for the past two weeks.  With serious bling in every page of Foxy Epoxy, the gray gloom seemed to disappear for the hours I spent thumbing through the pages admiring the 44 great projects from different artist.  Opening the first page, I was knocked out by the gorgeous Madonna pendent.  It was thrilling to turn each page and go on a journey of discovery with epoxy clay.  I'm familiar with the product having used it numerous times sculpting dolls, and my husband using Apoxie Sculpt all the time as the base for constructing his robots.  But I'd never even considering using epoxy clay for jewelry making until this book.  I've only used Apoxie Sculpt which dries in one color-grayish white.  It adheres to any clean surface which makes it the perfect product for big and small projects.  It was thrilling to find out that epoxy clay also comes in different colors.  How exciting.  Though non toxic, you should always be careful when first using these products.  It is recommended that you wear gloves or use hand lotion to protect your hands.  I've never had a reaction with this product, but it is always prudent to be proactive.  Also, you have to definitely remember to clean, clean, clean everything that comes in contact with epoxy clays as per its property it dries hard as a rock in 24 hours.  Nothing like getting it stuck on your sculpting tools or under your nails when it has dried hard.

Kristal Wick along with other fellow artist share the most delicious 44 projects to give your imagination a boost.   Here are projects to make rings, earrings, brooches, necklaces, and other items.  Add some crystals, beads, or anything hanging around your studio and watch this unique product change how you want to make jewelry.  Some of the projects introduce you into using resin with epoxy clay to add to your jewelry making joy.

On page 26, Kristal shares a project to add more bling to purchased rings using epoxy clay, crystals, and beads.  Each of these are tiny works of art.

I just love this Dragonfly brooch by Christina Orlikowski ( page 69) using chatons, crystal cup chain, and metal stampings.

Andrew Thornton's Crystal Cage ring (page 83) looks so organic that it is hard to believe that the ring is sculpted instead of chiseled out of stone.

And then Debbi Simon's Madonna necklace which was the first project that caught my attention uses epoxy clay and a unique way to do photo transfers onto an elegant pendent.

Plus there is even more from Lark Craft.  They have even more sneak peaks of Kristal Wick's Foxy Epoxy.  I think this a marvelous book for those looking to conquer other new products out that to create and inspire jewelry making to another level.

If you would like to read more about Epoxy clays please click here.  And purchase epoxy clay here.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.