Saturday, April 8, 2017
Inspired by the Sea and Made in my New Studio!
On our recent, brief trip to the Oregon coast I picked up these seaside-themed gifts for a new friend (and neighbor) in Eugene. I have been invited today to a gathering of six teachers, and this is my gift to the host of the party. It should be fun drinking wine and conversing with Oregon teachers.
* Earrings are made from embossed and painted recycled tin and glass. These are my FIRST pieces of jewelry made in my new (but still very disorganized) studio in Eugene.
Spring @ Sunflower Flats
Cindy Gardner, the owner of Sunflower Flats in Tillamook, Oregon, requested some new jewelry in a pink, lavender, and purple color palette for spring. Those aren't colors I usually work with, but I had great fun with these.
Vintage beads, glass, mother-of-pearl buttons, bone, silver
Trade beads, seaglass, recycled glass, blue lace agate, copper
Cindy's daughter, Natalie, sent me photos of the spring jewelry display case at the shop. She and Cindy always create such pretty and clever displays throughout the store. With the sunny warm weather yesterday and again today, it seems like spring has finally arrived, making winter a distant memory.
Thank you, Cindy and Natalie Rieger! Happy Spring!
On our recent trip to the beach, I packed up my entire jewelry studio from our old house. It was an overwhelming task to accomplish, but in the end we filled our car to the ceiling with 10 boxes and a zillion bead boxes. My jewelry room was seriously lacking storage, but a trip to a thrift store resulted in a $12 shelving unit and a lovely cabinet repurposed from an old Edison record player cabinet (if I didn't have all of that stuff piled on top, I'd take a photo of the Edison label inside the middle section lid). What a cool cabinet. Lots of useful, velvet-lined drawers!
My cat Missy is checking out the cheap shelves crammed with bead boxes and tools.
My friend Kirk Willis requested a keychain, so now I am making something entirely new. Life is not all about jewelry, I realize! He has opened my mind to non-jewelry applications for beads and leather . . . window hangings, napkin rings, wine glass charms, etc. I love new projects!
* Brown & cobalt blue suede, very old trade bead, recycled glass, shell, bone, wood, antiqued brass charm/chain/beads.
Anyone who knows Kirk, knows of his fondness for bears. When he specifically asked for a bear charm, I was fortunate to find one in a cool antique shop in the town of Coburg
I had some leftover black leather strap (I throw away nothing!) and these enameled number tags. All of the numbers on the tags are just random, which made me wonder if customers would buy them if the numbers had no special meaning for them. I figured that "17" could at least stand for the current year. :)
What are your thoughts about the randomness of these numbers? Do you think random numbers would appeal to customers?
* riveted leather strap, bone, shell, enameled number tag
Thursday, September 15, 2016
I love how life has those serindipitous moments that touch our hearts. Caroline Dewison's post for this Art Jewelry Elements Autumn Tree-Themed Challenge arrived in my blog feed just when I needed it.
My favorite images from Caroline's post are framed in this collage:
Trees and forests have always fascinated and comforted me, but they have lately become a great source of passion for me.
When I retired from teaching and moved to the Oregon coast, I believed that I would be living in a paradise by the sea. Those gorgeous hills of old-growth forests in a state famous for being green. We built our house so that our bedroom windows framed a beautiful, forested hill. One morning we awoke to the sound of beeping and crashing, a sound that has become far too common here . . . the sound of industrial timber turning a diverse ecosystem into another clearcut wasteland. It is impossible to travel along coastal Oregon and not be assaulted by vast swaths of clearcuts, yet another example of resource extraction for corporate profit. Seeing our diverse old-growth forests disappear at such an alarming rate breaks my heart. For example, the Homesteader Forest. Pictures tell the story.
The photos below show our community watershed. This is right behind my neighborhood.
This devastation has activated me to advocate for healthy forests by joining a coalition of citizen and non-profit groups that seek to educate Oregonians and push for legislative action to reform the Oregon Forest Practices Act that allows this kind of destruction. A short but powerful video shows this issue clearly: Oregon Forest Voices: Timber's Cover-Up.
Some of you are no doubt saying, "Enough already! Show us the jewelry." Here is THAT story.
Caroline Dewison of blueberribeads.co.uk randomly selected two winners to receive one of her lovely tree beads made from buff stoneware clay and decorated with underglazes and a china painted tree motif. How lucky I was to have won one of these beauties! (Connection: my great aunt painted beautiful china).
Exciting day when the package arrived from the UK!
The best part of a challenge such as this is anticipating what other designers will create with the exact same component. I spent much time gazing at this beautiful bead and imagining the possibilities for a context in which to highlight it. The more I pondered, the more clear it became that ALL the focus needed to be on this lovely component. The shape and weight of it shouted NECKLACE PENDANT with few competing adornments. I obliged.
Using brass wire, I created a spiral and strung an antiqued brass bead, a cap, and Caroline's pendant, and then I created a loop with a chunky wire wrap. Luckily, it was a sunny, warm day, allowing me to set up my oxidizing station on my deck.
The weight of the pendant called for an equally weighty stringing medium, so I chose soft, black deerskin leather accented with old padre trade beads and antiqued brass large-hole beads. I always like to make necklace length adjustable, so I deferred to my usual method - threading both ends of the leather through a trade bead (tight squeeze through that hole) and pulling the brass-beaded ends to shorten it.
Even though jewelry sets seldom sell as such for me, I couldn't resist a pair of earrings to go with this necklace. Wanting to stick with the oval shape in neutral colors, I wire wrapped an agate briolette and brass bead with dark, annealed steel wire to capture the black color of the pendant trees and trim. I embossed the brass hoops with a tree branch & leaf pattern, domed them, and oxidized them. To be honest, I put the hoops in the oxidizing solution and completely forgot about them for about an hour, which resulted in a very rustic, yet fitting, patina. They feel like they might have been lost for years in an old-growth Oregon forest. Finally, I used brass connectors in a complimentary oval shape, adorned with antiqued brass beads. The antiqued brass earwires are handmade.
So here is the finished set, which I plan to donate as a door-prize/raffle item for an upcoming event to support responsible forestry practices.
THANK YOU to Art Jewelry Elements for hosting these challenges and to Caroline Dewison for her giveaway of this lovely bead. Check out the links below for Caroline's shop and for the reveal of other talented designers' creations honoring the theme of trees.
Cindy Martin Shaw >>>>> You are here!
Allison L Norfleet Bruenger
Friday, July 1, 2016
Where has the time gone, and what I have I been doing with it? My last blog post and earring inspiration for We're All Ears was in October 2015!
Well, it has been a weird and busy 9 months. Brutal winter flooding. Escape vacations to bask in the wonderous Redwoods and see friends in Spokane, Washington. Lots of custom jewelry orders. The creation of an exclusive collection of feather-themed jewelry for Sunflower Flats, a lovely shop in Tillamook, Oregon. Some environmental activism related to deforestation and water quality here on the Oregon coast. Pet emergencies. The list continues . . . as does life.
But then, while scrolling through my news feed, this challenge caught my eye.
On the day I noticed the challenge inspiration on my newsfeed, I had just returned from the nursery with a new favorite perriniel - the balloon flower. What a coincidence! Balloons, it seems, were calling my name.
Keepin' it simple, I dove into my long-time hoarded, matched gemstone slabs, the balloon-shaped ones. I was inspired to use the yellows, oranges, and reds from the hot-air balloon photo. (As much as I wanted to use purple to represent my flowers, I had no purple-colored slabs.) I love working with these stones because keeping the focus on the stones forces me to keep the design minimal, a departure from my usual style.
Bumblebee jasper (from Intrinsic Trading), jet, resin, dark annealed steel wire
Cherry creek jasper (from Hampton's Rock Shop), turquoise, antiqued copper
Yea! These are actually right-side up, hot-air balloon orientation!
To see other designs by talented artists, visit this blog post: Earrings Everyday. Thanks, Erin, for your continued inspiration! This challenge got me back into the blogosphere and helped me get motivated to fullfil an order for 15 pairs of gemstone slab earrings for a local shop. Yea!
Thursday, February 18, 2016
While on vacation, I couldn't resist a stop at Heartsong Beads in Seal Rock, Oregon. (Honestly, I did TRY to pass by, but the temptation got the better of me. I mean, really, I had just made a haul at three other bead shops in California, and I already have tons of beads languishing in my studio already, unused and forgotten. I tell you, this bead addiction is a bugger to kick.)
Beautiful lampwork beads, sterling silver findings, art beads, enamel beauties . . . stop me, someone! Well, there were deals - her gorgeous lampwork beads were 40% off and this antiqued brass chain was cheap. Because the links are unsoldered, I wouldn't use this chain in heavy necklaces, but the oval links could be useful. In my shopping bag it went.
When I arrived home, it was this brass chain that inspired me to experiment. Now I had thousands of brass connecting links to use, so I decided to explore all possible configurations of earring designs using them.
Earring Designs From Simple to Complicated
Often, my earring designs are complicated and time-consuming, so it was refreshing to just make a simple and casual pair at a lower price point. A wrapped glass briolette and a beaded earwire.
A wrapped magnesite coin bead
A sparkly glass and brass dangle (I don't often do bling, but I love these purply faceted beads.)
An apatite and brass dangle and a blue quartz beaded and wire-wrapped earwire
A Picasso Czech glass dangle with Indonesian glass beaded and wire-wrapped earwire
Oh, and how about double links with acryllic flowers
A triple dangle of gemstones - magnesite and coral - and brass
Dreaming of Designs
Often, jewelry ideas float around in my head before I fall asleep. (I've lost a lot of sleep this way. I just have to get up and follow through with the idea.) Since the links were on my mind, it occurred to me that I could use these them as frames backed with pieces of tin. A little E-6000 did the trick. I'm glad I remembered to punch the hole before I glued the link to the tin. I don't usually create designs in a single color, but I didn't want to detract from the cool tin pattern. Now that I look at this, a light blue accent would have been nice.
Gotta Love Leather
Another one of those trying-to-get-to-sleep moments when link earring ideas flooded my brain. Use leather! I made a suede leather loop to hold the link. Not liking the exposed hole, I added a brass spacer to hide the hole. (These earrings were difficult to photograph, so I'll include one on an earring card to show how the hole is hidden.)