I know that this pendant is not cute and not elegant. The tumbled labradorite is not shiny and smooth and only shows some flashes of blue and yellow in some spots - more than in these pictures that I took at night, though - and it doesn't even have a regular shape.
Actually this lab was never meant to end up as a prominent focal. I had intended to use it as background for a wire wrapped tree.
I'm not sure what changed my mind after the wire knit bezel was finished. Often if I like a cab in its setting, I add stones or pearls to surround it in order to give it a vintage inspired or a romantic look. This cab however needed something more archaic.
This was the moment when I remembered the spikes.


A new technique - French flower beading

It has been a while since the Jewelry Artisans Community members came together not only for a challenge, but also a blog carnival. You know how it is, sometimes life gets in the way and everyone is busy, busy, busy.

With a new year beginning we decided that our challenge would be to learn something new. How often have I said I'd like to try this or that and never got around to it ... countless times! Now when I was determined to take on the task, I couldn't think of anything spontaneously. The month went by and I was almost sure I would have to drop out, but then I got inspired by a very talented artist, Lauren from Lauren's Creations on Zibbet.
I have seed beads, I have wire - even if it wasn't the perfect gauge - so I looked for some basic instructions and so I finally finished my first attempt at French beading.

What is French beading, though? It's a very old technique, but no one really knows when it started. Using beads and wire flowers were crafted for decoration, memorial wreaths, or wall hangings. If you want to know more, here's just one article about the subject.
There's another technique called Victorian flower beading which also uses seed beads and wire, but is done in a different way. I hadn't heard of that before. You can find a short comparison of the two here.

Do you want to see my first attempt now? Hey, I even used my bead spinner for the first time! The beads I used are a mix of a sky blue and a silver lined blue. I'll need thicker wire now to give it a serious try and then we will see where this will be leading me.

What have the other JAC members learned in this new year? Have a look! I'll add links as they come in or I'll just show you pictures!

Jewelry Art by Dawn


Being a Swabian or The thread

You don't know what a Swabian is? Swabians come from the Southwest of Germany. We have our own dialect and of course we have been stereotyped. We are stubborn and narrow-minded, we are thrifty to the extent of being stingy, and all we know is how to work.
What used to be a joke, often is praise today. We keep our money together, know how to work hard and have entrepreneurial qualities. I think that as always the truth is somewhere in between and of course changes over the years.
I am stubborn for example, but I'm not stingy.
And still ... I just can't that let that "thread on the other side of the loom" go to waste. I'm too stingy for that.
I don't own an adjustable loom. If I have a piece that is too wide for the small loom, but not really long enough for the wider loom, what am I supposed to do with that thread on the other side? So this is what I spontaneously came up with in the middle of one night using the thread on the loom and the beads already on hand. It didn't go as quickly as it may seem to you because I had to sew all the threads in, but I think it's an idea I can have some more fun with.
I have made another pendant since, but can't show that as it will be a gift. Let's just say I am working on refining this style a bit within the limits of such a small piece.

It's available in my Zibbet shop now and I am pretty sure it won't be the last.

P.S. If you want to know a bit more about Swabia, have a look here.


Interview with the artist - Ashley Mae from Make It Pink

Today I have something really special for you. Beaded dresses and more. No, even better, beaded miniature dresses and more.
Say hello to Ashley Mae and get ready to be blown away.

Miniature handcut metal and beaded shoes

Tell us a little about who you are and where you come from.

I'm originally from Northern California. We (Mom and my brother, Arthur) moved from there to Southern California when I was three, and then to Arizona where I live currently. I'm self-taught and self-motivated. Most of the patterns I use are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and so on, so I really have no idea what any of the text says. I can only work with the pictures to create things from them and so have adapted to working without written instructions for crafts. When it comes to text-based patterns, I find myself absurdly lost for even the most simplistic items. Of the four custom pattern I've created now they're almost entirely drawings with little arrows and stars rather than descriptive instructions because of this.

What's your craft and how did you get to do it in the first place?

My current craft that has most of my attention is beading! I started in about fifth grade doing the basic things kids do, like the lizards that hang off keychains or backpacks. Around eleventh grade I did some basic jewelry and in 2009 I created my very first mini beaded dress.

Beaded Halloween dress

I think this is one of the most asked questions - where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from the desire to create miniatures. Since I can't afford to buy a dollhouse and fill it with perfectly crafted to-scale goodies covered in crystal or handstitched cushions, I decided to start doing it myself. I've been addicted to miniatures since before we left Northern California, so you could say I'm doing exactly what I've always wanted to do. I also enjoy staring at dresses from the 1800s and early 1900s for inspiration, especially all the bustles and bows they covered everything back then.

Tell us a fun thing about yourself.

A fun thing about myself ... hmm ... well, I do consider myself to be a Trekkie! I started with the 2009 movie, then proceeded to watch every single series starting with the original all the way to Enterprise, including the cartoons and the movies, in order. Yes! From the original pilot to the newest Into Darkness movie I've seen it all. I have an original series communicator that says "He's dead, Jim." (I'm not a Trekkie myself, but that IS fun!!)

Do you do other crafts, if yes, what?

The other main craft I do is cross-stich. I run the "stitchingpirates" group on deviantART which as far as I'm aware is the largest cross-stitch community there is. It's much more time consuming than beading is normally, but it also provides me with a lot of relaxation. I have more patterns than I'd ever be able to stitch in a lifetime of stitching every day nonstop. Sometimes it makes me happy just to stare at my pattern collection rather than do any actual stitchwork with it.

Nine lives kitties (this is NOT a painting, it's stitched, so click through to see it in full!)

Which one of your pieces is your absolute favorite? Which one was the hardest to make and why?

My favorite piece is my most recent Christmas dress. I was really reluctant to put her up for sale since I adore her so much, but even when I was planning out her color placement, I knew she would be for someone else to love. Christmas is my very favorite day of the year. In the past I would start creating gifts in June for my friends and still barely make it in time. Glitter comes out of boxes from people who say they hate glitter, ribbons are everywhere, wrapping paper is perfectly layered to keep secrets ... it's just the perfect day every time.

Merry Christmas bead dress

The most difficult piece for me is a dress that hasn't had her final photoshoot yet. Her name is Eumelia and she's based off a drawing from a guy I met on deviantART. The original artwork can be found over here (please have a look, I don't want to post the picture here without his permission) He provided some additional sketches of her from the back and sides, so I could be as accurate as possible. I created the pattern from near scratch, and by that I mean I took several other dress patterns and started to mash them together while recreating entire sections of colorwork. I want to say that the most difficult part was the gradient in the skirt, but in truth it was creating those puff sleeves! The sleeves are an entirely custom pattern that I reverse-engineered, starting with the shoulder-armpit length, then the armwidth, then curving back up, then filling that in ... in the end the puffs are surprisingly stiff and durable, so nobody can walk by and crush them! All in all, from puffy sleeves to frilly skirt, I have over thirty hours of pattern creation clocked and about thirty-four hours of actual beading time. I'm super proud of her and intend to do lots of recolors.

Is there someone whom you admire and who inspires you?

Oh, surprisingly, yes! There's actually quite a few people that I admire who admire me back. You, for example, are one of them, Cat! (Aww, thank you! :-D) Of course any of my friends from deviantART I count among the people who admire me that I admire back. There's a handful of other people that I've met by bouncing around Facebook that are featured in magazines and everything with their beadwork, the kind of people that have beading for longer than I was even a thought in my Mom's mind! They say really kind things about my artwork and it encourages me to continue doing my best.

Miniature cowgirl boots

If you had free choice of just one supply you can use for your craft, what would you be dreaming of, no matter how expensive?

If I could pick any supply for my craft it would be the addition of Swarovski crystals! I dream of it already, without a doubt. You might think it silly, but it has less to do with the crystal sparkling amazingness that they are and more to do with the fact they come in 3 mm sizes. I've been unable to find 3 mm beads in glass, but I'll share my tips with you guys, fishing lure shops (of all things!!) do carry 3 mm plastic beads that I've been using. They come in all sorts of colors. Swarovski crystals would be absolutely perfect, they're just too expensive for me to buy the hundreds I'd need for dresses.

Do you sell online, if yes, where can we find you?

I have just started selling online this month! I was waiting to graduate college to begin since I didn't want to be distracted from schoolwork. That being said, I haven't made any sales yet, and there's only a few things listed right now while I get all my customization mock-ups finished and sample pieces done.
I can be found here through Etsy.
And announcements for it are found on my Facebook page

Beaded Western cowboy hat

Curious? You should be. And don't forget to go by Ashley Mae's deviantART page as well!
Thank you for this interview. I discovered pieces in your gallery I hadn't even know yet!!


Quote of the week

Although I have never been to Oxford myself - only to Cambridge - I have enjoyed watching two crimes series taking place there, the second series being a spinoff of the first one.

Today I'm going to cheat a bit. The quote is from one episode, yes, one of my favorite episodes in fact, but it's more than that. It's the oath that people who wanted to use the famous Bodleian Library had to take before being allowed to do so. External readers who are not attached to the University still have to recite this oath which of course used to be in Latin.
Being a librarian I couldn't but wonder if that would work here as well ...

"I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library."

Lewis, UK, 2007 - 2013

P.S. I just read there are rumors there will be a new season after all. I'm officially excited now!


Interview with the artist - Jen from Jen's Tangled Threads

I think the title says it all, we have a yarnie here today, to be exact, Jen whose shop motto says "The common thread to uncommon beauty". Let's see what she means by that, shall we?

Shades of Blue - baby afghan

Tell us a little about who you are and where you come from.

I am a single mother of a beautiful and talented young man. He is a dancer at our local dance studio. We live in Hastings, MN (a small suburb of St. Paul) with our 2 cats, Starsky and Huggy Bear.

What's your craft and how did you get to do it in the first place?

I am a crocheter and knitter. I also play with rhinestones and I can cross stitch. I started cross stitching as a way to keep my hands busy while watching TV. I can't sit still and just watch TV. I moved to crocheting because I didn't know enough about colors or designs to make my own cross stitch patterns. I started knitting last Christmas - I wanted to make a Dr. Who scarf for a friend's daughter.

Keynote scarf

I think this is one of the most asked questions - where does your inspiration come from?

Need. I started making and designing crochet slippers (Flip-Furs) because of the girls my son dances with. They would walk around these dance venues with very little on their feet, and sometimes go into the bathrooms in tights or half-ballet shoes. A lot of my pieces started because they were gifts for other people. Lately I've found yarn I really like and I look for a pattern so that I can use that yarn.

Tell us a fun thing about yourself.

I read a lot. And I watch way too much TV, so I have a lot of time to make stuff. I crochet during football, while I'm at the dance studio. I've even crocheted while at a movie theater - during the movie. I'm a bit of a workaholic. Oh, the index fingers on each hand curve towards my middle finger and my second toe on each foot curves towards the big toe.

Rag rug

Do you do other crafts, if yes, what?

I've dabbled in a number of things - except sewing and painting. Can't sew to save my life. I have no talent for painting. I have covered paper mache boxes with fabric to make a hat box for my son. I also rhinestone studio jackets for the girls my son dances with.

Which one of your pieces is your absolute favorite? Which one was the hardest to make and why?

I love making the name doilies. I like making something that can be passed down through the family. The hardest thing I ever had to make was a lace duster. I made it on a whim and the hardest part was sewing on the sleeves. Like I said - I don't sew very well.

Crocheted name doily

Is there someone whom you admire and who inspires you?

I admire my mom. She is where I get my crafting from, but strangely enough, we do opposite crafts. She's a wonderful sewer - she sews competition costumes at my son's studio. She doesn't do anything with yarn and doesn't rhinestone. But she was a single mom, too. She had 3 kids to take care of and somehow we always had gifts under the tree at Christmas and food on the table. My son inspires me every day. He will help me pick out yarn colors. A lot of my sales come from other dance moms.

If you had free choice of just one supply you can use for your craft, what would you be dreaming of, no matter how expensive?

Yarn, yarn and more yarn. My favorite yarn? At the moment, Vanna's Choice by Lionbrand.

Ruffle scarf

Do you sell online, if yes, where can we find you?

I sell on Zibbet. You can find me at Jen's Tangled Threads. I'm also on Facebook.

Is there anything you feel you need or want to tell the world outside now?

I love custom orders. If you find a picture of something, I can find a pattern for it. And I'm always up for a challenge.

Thank you for this interview, Jen! Now go have a look for those tangled threads, people! :-D


Quote of the week

I'm sorry for being late today, but it's not easy to resist a sleep in after a long trash horror movie night, is it?
Although I'm very tempted to give you a quote from the hilariously BAD movies - oh yes, in bold, bold letters - I'm going to contain myself.
So instead of sharks I'll give you drag queens today. So much more stylish, especially when they find the great 60s outfits in the attic of the store in the little village they got stranded in when their car broke down. Can you say mod? My Barbie collector heart is beating like crazy in this scene.

"Oh, Miss Clara, we're gonna make you look like Emma Peel!"

Not just Miss Clara ....

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, USA, 1995


Why HeatherCats are a bit different sometimes

Last time I told you the reason why HeatherCats have no whiskers and promised to tell you about Grouchycat's yellow bird and more next time.

If you have seen Heather's cat paintings, for example on Shadowness, you may wonder why I feel the need at all to change something. Believe me, I try to stay as close to her paintings because that's just the way I feel about it. Unfortunately the beads don't always agree, though.
I never tire to say that Heather knows about these changes. I am not just running wild with her creations.

Let's take a look at the Tinycat in a Box for example.

When Heather started the Tinycat series, this is what she wrote "I got a little book of watercolour card, it has 15 pages and I'm going to fill it with tiny cats".
A cuff is not tiny. It's long, and more often than not long into the wrong direction. It wouldn't have made sense to turn the cat and its box around, though. So I dragged the design out a bit by making the window bigger and moving it over. I also cut off part of the floor and added the box corner as an extension instead.

This is the Silhouette Cat. As you see at first glance, I cut it on both sides, I left out the dark circles and took one circle off the moon. Instead I added the dangling tail. Why?
I felt that a pendant with this image would be great, but not everyone likes big pendants. To do Heather's cats justice, I need a certain space to put them on. The more complicated the painting, the bigger the piece will have to be to transfer it into a "bead painting". If I can cut something off to make the rest of that "bead painting" look better, so be it ... although it sometimes hurts a bit to do so.
The good thing is, though, I'll always be able to make another variation, like an SLN or a cuff maybe!
Now why the tail? Ok, I admit it, I love to make extensions, they are that little extra. As a crazy cat lady, how could I leave the tail out here? ;-)

Changing a tabby into a tortie?? Now that's taking it a bit too far, isn't it? You have no idea how I have struggled to make this a wearable pendant with the tabby on it, but the details were just too much. Maybe you already noticed that I usually (not always) leave out the black outlines. They simply take up precious bead space. Now imagine this tabby without those outlines and keep in mind that beads don't make fine lines very well (remember the whiskers post). No matter how hard I tried, it looked like a two color blob with two small black blobs, so that's why I finally went for the tortie (or calico) look.
I want to try to even go farther with this kind of change, but that's for a different post.

The last one I want to talk about is my favorite so far, the Dark Cat.

Working with all these colors was just wow. I really wanted to keep as much of them as possible, but I still had to cut a bit off the sides. Again there are no black outlines, but I kept enough of the black to keep the idea.
In fact at first I thought - no, Heather and I thought - this design would look much wilder transferred into beads, and I guess we were both glad it was not!

Oh, and why is Grouchycat's annoying bird in my pendant yellow instead of purple? Very easy, the yellow made for better contrast!


Old to new

How do I wish I could do the "Old to new" thing with myself. A new ankle, a new shoulder ... I'm even going so far to nag my "alien" friend about new parts, but she keeps telling me there's a long line for that on her planet ;-)

So I have to stick to fields where I don't need alien help. It was not the first time I told myself to take new pictures for some pieces, but this time I'm doing better although I am far from done. What I also do is take one or the other piece that I'm not so sure about anymore and change it to make it better.
Today I worked on two pieces that have been waiting for their turn quite a long time, and as always when doing something like that, I am feeling so relieved afterwards. You keep looking at something, and it suddenly doesn't talk to you anymore or all it says is "Help me" ... ;-)

Both of these pendants had been made after a little summer trip to the Blautopf where I got the rocks. I had shown you pictures of the Blautopf before, but it's so beautiful, one more picture won't do any harm.

For this orthoceras - an extinct nautiloid cephalopod - I had crocheted a simple bezel from fine silver. That was not the problem, but I really wasn't happy with the bail. It looked as if I had stuck it on instead of integrating it into the design.
Today I added two rows of crochet to make sure the orthoceras really wouldn't escape, then I cut the bail off and put a new one on it which is partly hidden in the back, so it won't take attention off the stone.
Sometimes it's a bit difficult with slightly irregular shaped rocks. You never want to cover too much, and you think the setting is absolutely safe and maybe it is, but then you feel as if that one side pushes a bit too much. Better safe than sorry, right?

Orthoceras in fine silver wire

So that's what I did for the tourmalinated quartz, too. I added two rows of crochet in the back and cut the bail off which in this case looked a bit too messy for my taste.
I had more in mind for this rock, though. I figured a tree would look nice on the matte grey and black background. What do you think, did it work?

Pearl tree pendant

Both pendants are in my Zibbet shop, if you want to see more pictures, just click the links!


Mine, mine, mine!

I have been wanting to show you this piece for a while because it's so gorgeous and it's so me!
Don't start frowning, I'm not bragging because in fact this wasn't made by me, you know, but by my friend Eva whom you already know from this interview (if you don't, you should click through, also to her Zibbet shop).
I own more made by her than just this, there's the pomegranate and the agate and the citrine set, and I love them all, but I doubt that I have to explain why this is my favorite.
Although Eva made this to hold a scarf, no scarf will cover even one bit of it. I'll put it on a copper chain instead and proudly wear it like that.