Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Seed Pods

Another month, another design challenge from Art Elements.

The topic "seed pods" chosen by Jen who shared great pictures and stories for inspiration is quite fascinating, but you may remember I'm not a gardener. I knew about the snapdragon heads that can look like little skulls (the plant is called "lion mouth" here, by the way) when the flower is dying, but it would probably have been just a bit lazy to take some carved howlite skulls and hang them on some kind of stem (on the other hand let me jot that down for the future, it might be worth a second thought).

What other kind of seed pods were there I could use for an idea?
Well, actually I had been given an idea five years ago. Back then a friend called my attention to Chinese lanterns or physalis. She said she could imagine me knitting some with wire, and so I did my best to figure it out with a prototype first, ordered some agate beads and made three of them. I plastered the picture all over the net, then put them down and forgot about them. Every, now and then I found them and tried to come up with an idea to put them on something like a branch - sound familiar? - and put them out in the hallway as decoration. I already knew I couldn't trust Ponder with them, they were too much like balls, but the wire I had used was too thin to take that risk and also too thin to use them in jewelry.

Now the idea was back. A few years ago I got lucky on a surprise destash parcel. It was a wild mix of some silver findings, crystals, glass beads, small faceted stone beads, a sterling silver chain with a flower pendant, WIPs (one of the earrings made a really sweet focal part for a necklace just the other day that I donated for a good cause). And there were four orange glass beads which had the perfect size for the pod "filling" (also, if anyone has an idea where I put the three leftover agate beads from the first project, let me know - they are probably in a very safe place).
So I grabbed my crochet hook, knitted four Chinese lanterns in different sizes and oxidized the copper for a more natural look. For my first three I had used a coated non-tarnish copper wire,and they always seemed a bit too shiny to me. After all this filigree look means the pods have dried up. Those skeleton pods are not always that greyish then, by the way, I have also seem in a brownish hue. It definitely is a beautiful look. Mother Nature is a true artist.

Now what to do with them?
I had several ideas. One was a necklace with pods hanging from something like a branch :-P Yes, I know, still the same idea. But hey, that's what they do in nature, too.
Maybe one of my wire crochet ropes would work. Spoiler alert - it didn't. Yes, I put some of the pods together with one I made with orange seed beads hoping it would remind of a dried up, but not skeletized pod - which didn't really convince me 100%, though - on two pieces of rope of different lengths. The pods should then be attached to different spots, but no matter how I tried to bring it all together, the look just didn't appeal to me. Was the rope too thick, were just the rope ends too thick, were there too many pods, I just didn't know.
So it was time for a break from it in which I made a pair of earrings instead which I liked better.

The break took longer than I had imagined. Not only got the heat and my cold in the way, I also had WIP procrastination. It's a disease highly dangerous for artists and artisans that keeps you from going back to a WIP you may have already messed up.
Symptoms are lack of creativity, small tantrums, phases of despair when noticing the due date is creeping nearer which usually brings on even worse creativity blocks with bouts of hesitation to even touch or look at the WIP.
If you are lucky, you are strong enough to break the vicious circle, hold the piece for a while without throwing it into a corner, breathe, and maybe the solution will come to you then.
For a short that seemed to be a twisted wire torque design, but nope, another fail *insert another tantrum here* ;-)

I almost thought this was it for the necklace until it did come to me today. I cut the two already attached pods from the rope, very carefully of course because there's no telling what I would have done, had I cut a wrong wire.
Then I put them on a chain, as simple as that. It was the best decision for the moment. I would have missed my mind if it had been lost completely. The signs were already there.
Voilà, one necklace.

Thank you for following me into my small world of madness and drama ;-)
Please have a look at the other participants' posts, too. It's something to look forward to!

Tammy - Raven - Alysen - Anita - Cat (aka me) - Kimberly - Rozantia - Sarajo - Divya - Caroline - Catherine - Kathy - Norma - Jill 

AE Team Members

Claire - Caroline - Lesley - Niky - Laney - Susan - Marsha - Jenny - Cathy - Jen


Tackle that stash - The face

This piece hasn't started as a stash tackler. It started as a pair of lips, and I don't even know where that idea suddenly came from because my original plan had been to make another attempt on an olive wood disk (from one of my very first pendants ever that I cruelly ripped apart ;-)), and every time there was the one problem of the weaving not staying on the disk the way I wanted it to, and finally the disk was scratched and I started hating it and threw it out after scratching it some more to make sure I wouldn't get it out of the basket again to try an umpteenth time and ... yeah, sorry about that, I may have gone overboard a little ;-)
As you can tell lips were a very unusual design idea in that situation, but there they were, and they made me wonder if I could put a nose on them .... and eyebrows .... and how to make the eyes? .... and all that while some true crime documentaries were running in the background because I was being obsessed, so I couldn't stand up and pick a DVD.

You know how some things will be forever be connected with other things? I worked on the white bead loomed choker while watching the X-Files episode with the dogs and the 1960 Village of the Damned, my very first wire crochet piggy sculpture saw life on Christmas to the sounds of a Max Raabe concert, and this face may be reminding me of a French serial killer *eyeroll* I'll get over it.

Maybe you are wondering about the stash now.
I got these beautiful beads in March 2012. I know that so precisely because I found my old review. Melissa who made them stopped lampworking shortly after that which I still find very sad, that's why I am hanging on to the beads I still have from her. These were the only lentils I had, however, and they happened to fit in size. Otherwise I would have, no, I really don't know what I would have done. Order beads, think of something else, it's useless wondering because these were it, and they gave the face an interesting look.

No idea what I am going to do with it. If I find the right background, I may put it into a frame without the glass and hang it up out in the hallway to confuse the neighbors ;-)
The eyes make me think of a mask, probably because of Egyptian death masks, so maybe some kind of sand for the background? Of course it has to be light or dark enough to keep the contrast even when the copper starts getting a patina.
Let me know what you think!


Oldies but Goodies - Inspired by other cultures

Artists and artisans have always looked for inspiration in other cultures, sometimes deliberately, sometimes maybe not so much.
This week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge has so many very different entries that it was hard just to pick a few. Then I decided to highlight my favorites and invite you to click through to the rest. It's worth it because there's much more to see!

1 The Crafty Chimp
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 RioRita
4 Cat's Wire
5 MC Stoneworks


Tackle that stash - The mysterious stone

I was decluttering drawers when I found the stone. Jasper maybe? Fossilized coral? I have no idea, just like I have no idea where that stone came from in the first place. It was in a little tin box with bits and pieces of costume jewelry that I recognized, but the stone didn't look familiar to me at all.
Had it been a gift? I very rarely get drilled stones, and the ones I have usually were a gift to me. Or did I buy it myself? If yes, it must have been way before my jewelry making days because all the other pieces were so old, I got an 80s flashback. Maybe I bought it as a gift for someone?

Whatever the story is, the stone was pretty and asked for some wire weaving. So I wove ... and took it off ... tried another idea ... and ripped it apart ... the first time was not symmetrical enough for my taste, the second time I kind of liked the idea, but started it wrong and then decided I'd have to work on that idea a little longer.

Third time worked like a charm, though. Less weaving not to hide too much of the stone, a bigger bail with a pearl for accent, and three pearl dangles for movement.
A simple chain seemed to be not enough, so I crocheted a rope for the pendant and then oxidized all the copper.

And now I am happy with it. Maybe I'll have to declutter more drawers, so I can find more treasure ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - Unisex

Once again it has been a while.
I have been struggling with a mean head cold, the heat, Greebo's health, my muse, finishing pieces for challenges and life in general, but here I am now with a brand new Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge. And without my buttermilk that I left in the kitchen while fulfilling my lady's demand for a bit of condensed milk, so she wouldn't drop dead within the next two seconds. Gundel is a very determined cat lady. Just a moment. Okay, my buttermilk and I are back.

One of our earlier JAC challenges had making pieces for men as a topic and showed us that this was not necessarily something we members were very good at. The question was if we couldn't do it, if we simply didn't think of doing it or if we didn't want to it.
Today's topic - unisex - is kind of a sequel to that. It may be interesting to visit it again in the future to see if it has changed something.
For now, however, here's what we have to offer at the moment.

1 MC Stoneworks
2/5 The Crafty Chimp
3/6/7 Cat's Wire
4 RioRita