Light tents and cat hair and shadows and bright lamps ...

(... please sing to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music").
Only these are not necessarily my favorite things. The May/June blog carnival at the Jewelry Artisans Community has the topic "Photography". What is your photo setup, what backgrounds do you like, how do you edit your pictures, what camera do you use?

When I started out taking digital pictures - that was before I had an online shop - I had an HP camera. I don't remember the model, but I bought it used from another university employee. We met in the dark of the morning like agents on a bridge and exchanged the goods. Even digital compact cameras were still very expensive back then, even used ones.
Eventually my camera started turning all pictures a lovely purple where there was no purple. I'll never forget how a jewelry forum member told me I was trying to milk a dead dinosaur. I still had hopes that with my finding out the secrets of white balance and exposure I would find the magic cure and that it was my fault, but alas, that wasn't the problem. I had to say goodbye.
I got my Canon PowerShot SX100IS almost exactly 11 years ago and - knock on wood - I'm still quite happy with it. Of course it has one or the other problem, but those are usually things that I can deal with in photo editing.
I use an online editor called PicMonkey. I used to edit with Picnik, but they left me (and everyone else meaning they closed down to move on to other stuff). PicMonkey had a lot of features that were similar to Picnik, so I didn't have to learn everything all over again. I am completely clueless about for example Photoshop or Gimp or what else is out there, so I hope the Monkey will stay with me.

Now let's get to my photo setup which is almost as old as my camera and consists of a light tent, two daylight lamps, white cardboard, a smaller black acrylic glass stand and a bigger black acrylic glass disk (actually I have a smaller light tent as well which is staring down at me from top of the cabinet next to me, but I can't remember why I ever got it, so I'll pretend it's not there, shhh).
That should already tell you something about my favorite background. I like a black background although I took my first pictures on a white one (so my HP camera could turn that purple as well). The stand is already my second one. I used a lot of props when I had the first one, deco rocks and glasses and bowls, and I wasn't very careful with it, so it got scratches which I then had to edit out. Very annoying.
I wasn't that much better with the second one, also it was too small for some of my big necklaces, so it now serves the purpose of holding the black disk which doesn't completely fit into my tent as you can see.

Yes, my light tent IS sagging. I tend to store stuff on it like my fake grass that I use for critter pictures. In fact I cleared some stuff off to take this picture.
Maybe you are now surprised about those shadows and wonder how I deal with them when taking photos.

This is what I see when I sit in front of my light tent.
You can see the light coming through the fabric on the left and you see something darker in the middle and something on the right.
I said part of my setup is white cardboard. The tent came with some different fabric backgrounds, but we didn't get along. I also never got used to the fabric you could attach to the front. It had just a small space in the center for you to put your camera through. As you can see, I tried it out, that's why there's velcro along the opening which is only good for catching cat hair now.
Instead I put a bigger piece of cardboard inside which covers the back and the top of the tent and thus makes for a nicer reflection in the acrylic glass. I also have a smaller one on the right because the combination of reflection and light always manages to bring my stained glass windows into the game. By moving the cardboard pieces I can make the shadows look different and always get a diffuse light area on the left, but sometimes, depending on the size of the jewelry, I still have to deal with the "light slits" on the right. That's one occasion for PicMonkey's "Clone" and "Dodge" or "Burn" ... if my beloved "Wrinkle Remover" fails, that is.
I'm doing all of this quite intuitively as I'm absolutely no pro and will never be.

I also want you to meet my trusted friend, the microfiber cloth. Acrylic glass LOVES dust and cat hair. One nanosecond of distraction, and there is both, so I always have one of these cloths around to dust before I take a picture. It usually doesn't get rid of them all because the queue of volunteers is so long that they sometimes shove each other for the chance of getting on that black disk first.
That's where PicMonkey's "Shine Reduce" comes in which I can't find in the new version, though. If that doesn't do it, it's back to the features mentioned above.

I'm sorry if I robbed you of all illusions of my professionalism here ;-) but it's working for me, and that's what it's all about, right? I think these may be the strangest pictures I ever posted in my blog!

What have the other JAC members got to offer?
I'll add the links as soon as I get them.

Jewelry Art by Dawn


Sun ring - Tackle that Art Elements challenge

The latest Art Elements challenge had the topic "summer solstice". Art Elements changed the format for the challenge, it's not an official blog hop anymore, but is in its own Facebook group now. So this is an inofficial post so-to-speak ;-)
Actually I hadn't intended to participate at all this month. I was so busy with my big projects, the box, the doll outfit, and the tiara that I couldn't even work on ideas. It is mere coincidence that this ring fits.

Some years ago a jewelry forum friend of mine made a pair of silver wire macrame spiral earrings and they were beautiful. I'd like to show you, but I can't find a picture of them anymore. I kept going back to the pictures to admire them.
I never learned macrame when I was a kid or teenager although it was the 70s and wall hangings or pot hangers flooded the neighborhoods. I had a little macrame owl hanging from my tote because a friend of mine made them enthusiastically and very well, too. Later I had it hanging over one of my cabinet keys, but eventually the cord broke. I'm absolutely sure that the owl is still somewhere, but I couldn't find it or I would have taken a picture it.
Anyway, when I saw the earrings, I told myself that one day I would try that myself.

Hey, it only took ten years!
Of course I have just learned one knot so far, the square knot, and made one ring with help of this tutorial by CSL Designs. I struggled a lot with getting the knots regular and I messed up about six times having single knots that were a little bigger or smaller and that wouldn't do.
I didn't give up, however, and am quite happy with this try. Joining the ends was a little difficult. That part is not as pretty as I would have liked, so I thought I'd hide them with a bead. I tried some crystals first, but then I went through my stash - yes, that's the Friday stash tackler part in this! - and found this bead with a sun on it that a friend once gave to me.
That's when I thought I could make a little something for the Art Elements challenge after all.

See, sometimes things come to you even if they haven't been planned at all or even inspired by a topic which is the reason why I only have to offer this short blog post.
Time to show my little ring :-)


Oldies but Goodies - June Moon

I'm a June child which I usually blame for loving the moon so much.
June birthstones are the moonstone, the alexandrite and the pearl. I remember being very disappointed as a teenager because for me a pearl wasn't a stone. I would have preferred something sparkly and not so "old". The moonstone was okay, but not really exciting, either. I never even knew about the alexandrite then.
People grow older and learn things, and sometimes the tastes changes with the years, too. I can now appreciate the shimmer of a pearl and a moonstone. I don't know when I found out that moonstones can come in different colors, but I admit that my personal favorite is still the white one because it has such a magic look to me.

For this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge the topic was June moon which left the door wide open for different pieces as we are rather generous about the rules. No one had a June beetle to offer, though ;-)
Instead I present to you a variety of moon inspired pieces of jewelry. Are you game for a trip to the moon with us?

1 and 7 Cat's Wire
2 and 4 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 6 RioRita
5 and 8 My Bijou Life


Headband or tiara?

I think I mentioned it before, when I was a child, we had those plastic disks in several colors which reminded of flowers and which you could connect to each other and build all kinds of things. The most easiest thing to make was a tiara because the different colors were different gems for us.

When I found a metal headband blank in my stash, I didn't think of that, though. I thought of bead embroidery because I had just found another dichroic glass cab. It was a dark blue with green and I had all those bugles in ocean colors lying around and seed beads to go with them and I could add pearls (coins and Biwa) and crystals, oh and those two opalite cabs, too!
Once I had a few bugles on there, however, I didn't like the stripey look together with the rounded shapes of the cabs and beads, so I ripped all of them back out and picked different seed beads instead.

Embroidering took its time, but like bead looming it has a meditative effect on me, so that was okay.
Lately I have been trying to get away from strict symmetry, so this piece isn't symmetrical either as you can tell if you look closely.

Now came the hard part. How to get this piece onto the metal blank? I had a vague idea, but I wasn't sure. The ending of this video tutorial by Lidia Sapronova helped me confirm what I had to do.
First I glued a piece of thicker paper to the bead embroidery strip to strengthen it as the blank itself is very slim. Then I took my ultrasuede, measured and cut two little slits, one on each side a few centimeters from the edge through which I put the ends of the blank. Now I could glue the ultrasuede to the blank which sounds much easier than it was for someone who is as glue challenged as me and then the bead embroidery to the blank and ultrasuede which resulted in some minor cursing.
I just wasn't sure if the glue could really hold all of this together, so when it had dried, I decided that for safety I'd sew all those layers together not just at the edges, but also along the edges of the blank, so that it wouldn't be able to move around in there. Somehow I hadn't expected it to take so long, but I'm still glad I did it.
The last step was of course the edging for which I chose pearly white seed beads to enhance the ocean feeling, sea foam and all that, you know.

There are examples in which both the embroidery and the ultrasuede go all around the metal blank. In my case that means there would have been hair over it and would definitely get tangled in it, so I didn't chose that variation. Also I would have had to add a piece of ultrasuede as the pieces I have wouldn't have been long enough.
In other pieces in there was an extra piece of ultrasuede all around the metal ends, but I admit that I didn't think myself capable of sewing that on and make it look good, too. Don't forget, this was my first attempt at something like this in the first place.

There's no doubt about it, this is no lightweight.
That's not my personal problem with it, however. I have never been that good with those kinds of headbands because I don't like the feeling behind my ears. Also with my straight hair they always slipped down when I looked down. A friend said I should try to attach some combs. I'll have to look into that, but actually I think it looks much better worn as a tiara ...
I deserve a tiara, don't I? And funnily enough worn like that it doesn't slip down even if I curtsy before Mylady Gundel ;-) Seriously, I can look down and it will still stay in my hair.

Now my wardrobe is not exactly very regal, but we'll see. It was another challenge and I did it and am proud of it.

So this is what the finished tiara is looking like from all sides and worn by my model Jacqueline.


Oldies but Goodies - Beverages

Do you like your drinks hot or cold? Can't you live without coffee, tea, mineral water? Do you have discussions with your friends about the best way to make tea, the perfect lemonade or Gin Tonic? Do you prefer drinking cocoa to eating chocolate if you are sad?
This week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge has the topic beverages. What? Jewelry and beverages? Of course! It's amazing what you can see in a piece of jewelry with just a bit of fantasy.
Here's my "tray" with orange juice, coffee and cream, lemonade and latte - pick your drink!

1 My Bijou Life
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 Cat's Wire
4 RioRita


Evening gown Dawn - Part 3, The accessories

Thank you if you are back after reading part 1 - the doll and her history - and part 2 - the dress - of this beading project, if you haven't read them, let me explain that this is about a Dawn doll for whom I beaded a dress.
In this post I will describe the matching accessories that I have made for her.

I started out as a jewelry maker, so of course I had to make some jewelry for her. Given the size I didn't have too many possibilities (also because the holes of my 2mm gemstone beads won't play nicely with my needles) although I have to admit that I had contemplated adding some armbands for her upper arms. One is allowed to dream, but it probably would have been a bit much.
Instead I settled on a golden choker in the peyote technique and a two bead Herringbone spiral bangle in the same color. Yes, I did use the black thread on purpose to give the jewelry some contrast on her skin and a bit of an edge.

Next she needed something to wrap in for stepping outside during a break ... if she goes to the opera, theater or a ball. I was growing up with stoles myself and of course shawls are a huge hit even now.
For that open look that knit or crochet stoles have I chose the netting technique to make little bead stole. The beads weren't completely regular and so the stole depending on how I pull it, but that reminds me of the old days as well, so I'm okay with it. I hope so is Dawn.
This piece has black size 15 beads that are partially coated in blue. Not even Dawn manages to buy all her clothing in the same color, but at least the bigger beads in the net match the dress.
The hardest part is putting the stole on her without it hiding too much or sliding off.

Not everyone carries a big tote all the time like myself. Dawn prefers a tiny pouch which is probably just enough for maybe her pink lipstick, a comb and some money. Who ever knows what's in a lady's purse or pouch or clutch, right?
The pouch is worked in peyote technique and has a little golden strap, so she can hold it or let it hang from her wrist.

So far it was rather easy, but now I came to the last and ultimate challenge - the shoes. I don't have any doll shoes that would fit Dawn. Her feet are too small for Barbie or even Francie shoes.
Heels would have been difficult to do. Then I remembered a scene from the book "An Infamous Army" by Georgette Heyer about a lady in the early 19th century who wore open sandals with golden straps and color on her toe nails, ooooh, the scandal!
Sandals, there was an idea.

It sounded much easier than it actually was, though. The sole was easy enough to make, I used the same black beads as in the stole, in brick stitch technique. Now just a strap and we were good to go, right? Wrong. The sandal kept slipping off her feet.
If you have Barbie dolls, you are used to some shoes falling off feet all the time. Some of the more expensive ones you may not even put on to avoid shoe splits, you just put them next to the doll (yes, Barbie shoes can be expensive because children lost them all the time, I know what I'm talking about, I used to be one of those children). The feet may be a little too wide - on the old hard bodies - or a little too slim or too slippery - older shoes on soft vinyl feet - or or or ...
Of course Dawn will be in a glass cabinet and not walk around much (I hope because the thought is a little scary, also her dress isn't really made for walking! ;-)), but I wanted those sandals to sit right, anyway.

Another try. Two golden straps, one in front, one in the back. No joke, I broke single beads in the first four soles trying to attach the straps safely. I know there's not much room in a size 15 bead, but this was getting ridiculous. Did it work, though? No, the sandal still kept slipping off.
Dawn, you are not Cinderella and there's no prince around the corner, would you please not lose your shoe??
So I tried to make the sole with size 11s instead, and I added one strap in front and two in the back. The sole didn't look quite as nice, though, the attempt at a heel looked kind of cute, but wouldn't hold up the way I wanted it, and in the end ... guess what? The sandal slipped off. Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh.
New idea, new plan. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Try beads and wire. Nope.
The beads and wire brought me back to one of the early plans, though, with a little adjustment.
Tenth time lucky, right? (I know it's originally third time, but obviously that didn't work for me.)
Here you go, a small strap in front, a cross over strap going around the ankle and attached to the sole in the back finally did the trick.

I don't have pink nail polish, but I'm thinking about getting one that matches her lipstick.
So here's Dawn in her complete evening outfit now, ready to go out and have some fun ... at the opening of an exhibition of, erm, giant cat sculptures? ;-)
The last picture is to show you how small Dawn really is, compared to the step.


Oldies but Goodies - Love

I think I'll let this song speak today that one of our members posted for the new Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge. Actually I think the world would have needed more love for a long time, maybe then we wouldn't be where we are right now. Of course there are always things you can't avoid like a natural disaster, but even in these cases we are often enough guilty of messing things up extra big.

I hope you'll have some love in your life today.

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


Evening gown Dawn - Part 2, The dress

As promised in part 1 (for those who haven't seen part 1, it tells you a little more about the Dawn dolls that were produced from 1970 to 1973), I'll be telling you everything about Dawn's new dress now.

Like so many fashion dolls, especially in those days, Dawn is a curvy lady.
In my projects for Barbie and Christie I avoided that problem by making them Flappers, there would be no waist and that also meant I could bead loom the dresses. At the time I hardly did any off loom beading. Francie is not as curvy and beside that her hippie outfit was made up of a top and a skirt, but even so the skirt was a bit of a problem at the waist.

I didn't want to turn Dawn into another Flapper, but I wanted to let her show off her curves, at least a little. That's when I started the wedding dress that I mentioned in part 1. That dress had a rather tight bodice, but a wide skirt with a train. After I had decided to cut it off, I knew that I wanted to go a different path with the new dress.
For a minute I had a happy summer dress in mind, but the happy summer colors were all size 15 and this would be my first try at this. I didn't have to punish myself that much.

No, Dawn would get an evening gown instead inspired by one of my favorite Barbie dresses - #982 Solo in the Spotlight. Of course it wouldn't be black and it would not have ruffles at the bottom and it would probably have straps, but other than that it would totally be "Solo" ;-)

Picture from "Sarah Sink Eames: Barbie Fashion, Volume 1, 1959 - 1967"

Since I already messed up measurements for a bead loomed dress with a bodice before (no worries, Francie, I finally got plans for you, too!), Herringbone was the choice of technique this time.

The choice of beads was easy. I still had my gunmetal AB beads out from working on the box lid and the color would surely go beautifully with Dawn's blond hair. Also I wasn't sure how many beads I would need, but knew I definitely had enough of those. They would look lovely with the size 15 yellow gold beads I had spontaneously included in my last bead order, too.

As I would bead the dress directly onto the doll, I started at the waist. Being the slimmest point it helped me with the first rows without having them slide around too much. First I worked my way up for the bodice. Have I mentioned how curvy Dawn is? ;-) You can tell from this picture. Even though the bodice was not slipping, I chose the safe side and added some peyote straps.

Once the bodice was done, I worked from the waist downward. This time I had to deal with Dawn's hips and butt. Quite the hourglass figure as you can see. I didn't manage to do it right at the first shot or the the second ... in fact that's the area I had to rip out again a few times before I finally did her body justice.
A nice side effect was that, while the loose legs were not (yet?) in danger to fall off, they don't even have a chance now because the dress holds it all together.

So far it still resembled "Solo", but instead of a complete mermaid style I beaded a straight line all the way down meaning there were no golden stripes anymore.

I couldn't leave it at that, a striped area would have looked a little strange. Also I love fringe! I didn't have enough beads anymore to make the fringe all golden, so I made it in a mix of blue AB and golden instead.
Do you think Dawn is looking happy so far?

Next are the accessories. At the time that I'm writing this post, the shoes are still missing and while I have a few ideas, I'm not sure I found the perfect yet, so there will be a part 3 for the accessories later. Please bear with me!


Evening gown Dawn - Part 1, The doll and her story

I know I say that a lot, but I don't remember where Dawn came from. You must keep in mind that we went to a lot of fleamarkets, and sometimes things came home with us together with others. Maybe she tagged along with a Barbie doll or she was in a doll case.
Dawn had been lying in a box for many years. I simply didn't have anything for her to wear because she's so small, and I can't sew. I often thought about beading an outfit for her, especially after I made the Flapper and hippie outfits, but even that was more than five years ago, shame on me, after I messed up measuring a new Francie dress and I was frustrated. I never even cut it up, it's in a drawer - ugh, all those drawers!

A while ago, however, I started beading a dress for Dawn, a wedding dress. I got as far as the bodice and a skirt that was around her calves when I ran out of the white Delicas I had used. Even more, I didn't like the dress much anymore and thought seed beads would probably look better. So Dawn ended up not in a box in this time but in another one of my drawers. From time to time I took her out, but cutting up bead projects is so frustrating (see above), and the sorting of the beads - two kinds of white and two different sizes for one of the whites - can almost make you cry. Not that I finished that yet.

I completely forgot to introduce Dawn formally, though!
Who's Dawn?
Dawn and her friends were fashion dolls produced by Topper Toys from 1970 to 1973 when the company went bankrupt (there was a short lived comeback from 2000 to 2003 at Checkerboard Toys). On different sites I read that they were very popular, especially because Barbie started having problems at that time, and still are as collectors' items. They are rather inexpensive compared to other dolls, however, because they were produced in very large numbers.
I can't remember seeing them around at all, but then I was deeply in love with my Stacy doll and her outfits at the time and didn't have the need for a different doll. I like the Barbie doll faces better, for example the eyebrows, but for such a small face this is done really well. I like the little smirk Dawn seems to have.

When I looked into her history, I was quite amazed about how many outfits she had, but also furniture and cars, even her own fashion show stage. How could I have missed that for so long?
Not that I intend to start a new collection, but I noticed how much I missed researching aspects of a doll's life, too. This sounds so very wrong. What I'm trying to say is that I always enjoyed doing research. When we started out collecting, there was no internet. We bought books like encyclopedias, price guides, but also brochures and catalogs wherever we could get our hands on them, and we spent hours to learn the important facts - especially about Steiff and Barbie. Due to the internet I haven't done that in a long time, and if you show me a Barbie outfit now, I can't tell you the outfit number or sometimes even the name in a nanosecond anymore.
Seeing how much books about Dawn dolls cost, I won't get one although I'm sure it would be big fun, but I'm not getting drawn into this one, thank you very much. Instead I found my fun on several websites that I'll link to at the end.

Back to my Dawn. This little lady - because little she is indeed - is 6 1/2 inch. She has short blond hair, quite coarse and so far it has resisted all my attempts to make it sit a bit closer to her head. Neither washing nor brushing did the trick. I think it has to do with it being rooted thickly. So all I did was trimming her bangs and the back a bit.
At first I was confused and thought that she may be a Jessica because of the short hair, but the bangs and the markings on the back of her head, K11A standing for the head mold, tell me that it is a HTT Dawn. I love technical terms ;-) HTT means Head-to-Toe. They came with a short bubblecut hair style and several wigs. As you can tell from the picture above, Dawn has rooted eyelashes, very thick ones, too. I am a little jealous...
My Dawn had very swingy legs and also quite a swingy waist which would influence the making of her dress later.
Unfortunately she won't be able to take that dress off and I forgot to take a picture of her butt markings first. They say Topper Corp Hong Kong which helped me identify her in the first place.

Unlike many Dawn dolls she doesn't have the green knee problem which can be caused by the copper in the knee joints. Her legs won't hold a bend anymore, though.
Dawn's feet have square holes, so you could make her stand up on pegs.

Kudos to you if you have read this far, but I thought Dawn did need a little introduction, and the post would have become way too long if I included the outfit as well, so I'll get to that in part 2. I hope it will follow in a few days, I have to have an idea for the shoes first, everything else is done.

Thank you to these pages:
The Dawn Spot
Jennifer Chronicles
OverZone - Dawn Doll Archive
The Spruce Crafts 

Dawn was a registered trademark of the Topper Company. I am not affiliated with Topper in any way.


The Box

A few months ago a co-worker brought me a wooden box asking if I would like to have it. I don't know if it used to belong to a library, but it was a little battered, had a slightly rusty latch, and still all I thought was that maybe some day I would pick up bead embroidery, so I said yes.
Since then the box had been standing around openly in my hallway, so I was reminded of it every time I walked by. I guess that was the reason why I had bought the Stiff Stuff (a backing for bead embroidery) I recently found in a box on my stash drawers and also bunch of dichroic glass cabochons. I honestly don't remember.

So I gave this a try. First I did all the cabs, and from there I just winged it, determined to decimate my stash of bugles and seed beads, and after I improvised the "tentacles", I remembered having some shell pearls, so I threw them into the mix as well.
Had I decided on a background beforehand, I would probably have used more bright colors for the tentacles. I simply hadn't thought about how many seed beads I would need for it, and the only colors that I had in bigger amounts were black and gunmetal - I had already used both black and gunmetal bugles in the tentacles, so that was not a choice - and my beloved gunmetal AB. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms if I don't have enough seed beads and Delicas in that color in the house, it was the first one I fell in love with, and I love using the beads for night skies.
The background was good practice for embroidering curves.

When I had finished the piece which took me so many hours, I had another look at the box. The color of the wood seemed all wrong now. What now? A friend of mine advised me to consider chalk paint.
I had a look around and then ordered some because it sounded easy enough for even me to use. When it arrived, I was a little surprised because I had expected a darker color from the picture, but so what?
I gave the box a light sanding and then a few coats of paint, allowing each one to dry in between. The advantage of chalk paint is that it dries rather quickly (an advantage that really sold the idea to me ;-)). Afterwards I scrubbed it just lightly with the rough side of a kitchen sponge because I didn't want to go for the full shabby chic look, I just wanted the color not looking so uniform and boring.

I'm not a painter, and this is not perfect, but I didn't aim for perfection. I would have had to do a lot more with the box to make it perfect. It has dents here and there, there's the latch that was hesitant to lose all of its rust while I was hesitant to look for a new latch to put on, and so my brush strokes are not even, either. That rather fits me, though.

Next I glued on the embroidered piece. There we go. Or not.
I wasn't completely happy with the latch, so I decided to try painting part of it and randomly adding some beads. So far none has fallen off, but I don't think I'll let Gundel too close!
I didn't seal the paint because I don't intend to bring water near it, either (chalk paint is water-based). Now all I have to do is glue in a bead mat because the inside looks a little battered as well.
Of course I don't have an idea what to use the box for yet ... what would you do with it?


Tackle that stash - Bead embroidered brooch with blue lace agate

If you ask yourself now if I will ever show anything but bead embroidery again, the answer is no.
I'm just kidding! It's just that my latest wire and felting project got stuck somehow and the brooch I'm about to show you got finished.

The blue lace agate has been another one of my long term companions, so-to-speak. It's a very irregular stone that is drilled sideways at the top, and it has become another one of those seemingly eternal experiments. I won't tell you what it was once before because then you may have a hard time seeing anything else in it ... but maybe that was just me. Possibly someone else would have had the perfect idea from the start.

The only thing I actually planned for this piece was to glue the agate onto the backing and bead a bezel for it. The first problem came up when I tried to find a good way to deal with the inwards curve on one side.
From there the piece - I didn't know then if it would become a pendant or a brooch or a component for a necklace - took over. It demanded something to run across the stone and secure the bezel for good. Not that the stone was about to fall out, but the curve in the bezel just didn't look right. I wanted it to follow the stone better.
And I wanted to make said "something" look as if the stone were overgrown by the beads from the bezel. When I looked for beads to add to the edging, I came across a pair of earrings I had started ripping up because the seed beads in them had started losing their color just by lying in a drawer (just in these earrings, though, very strange). The royal blue crystals looked like the perfect match for the mostly icy colors I had already used, with a hint of blue added by the thread.

In the end I thought a brooch would be the best choice for this piece. The small asymmetrical fringe is right under the "growth" to emphasize the organic feeling.
I can tell I'm slowly getting more comfortable with making asymmetrical pieces. After all the stone didn't give me a choice, so it was easier to go with the flow.

This is what the brooch looks like worn. Sorry, the vintage dress my manikin is wearing is not the best background for it, but I didn't have anything better on hand so quickly.


Oldies but Goodies - Bollywood

The topic for this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was Bollywood. It was a little ironic that just last night the only TV channel showing Bollywood movies withdrew from the German market.
I'm not really that surprised. While I have watched my share of Indian movies (not just Bollywood) before that channel was even started, it does get annoying to be offered the same movies and soap operas over and over again, mixed up with a little cooking here and there. I would have loved to see documentaries as well, programs about the culture, the history ... I'm digressing, sorry.

Bollywood stands for dance, song and rich colors. I can't give you dance and song, but I do have colors for you.

1 and 4 The Crafty Chimp
2 Cat's Wire
3 RioRita
5 My Bijou Life



The moonstone in this pendant has been an old companion of mine. In fact it has been around almost from the very start of my jewelry making journey. There were originally two of them that I had made into wire crochet pendants - not easy with a cab that size - one sold, the other one got ripped eventually.

I love moonstones because I love the moon. I really think they deserve their name.
As small as this one is, it still has a lovely blue glow which made me choose some silver lined light blue seed beads with the clear beads and crystals. I mostly used a thread also in light blue to give the clear beads a touch of color as well, only the picot edging sitting on top of the crystal row is made with white thread. 

Including the bail the whole bead embroidered pendant is only an inch, so it needed a dainty chain as well. When I went on YouTube to look for something else, one of my recommendations was a two bead spiral Herringbone rope tutorial.
I wish the internet would get out of my head!
Nevertheless that was one recommendation that really worked for me - I still don't understand why YouTube seems to think I'm into crazy disclosure stories about English Royals just because I watch one channel about Victorian cooking! - because the dainty look was perfect for my pendant.
Also it's not hard at all to do, and with everything that has been and still is going on, both personal and in the world, and which occupies my mind, it felt good to get lost in a repetitive process for a while.
To enhance the icy look, I chose clear and silver lined clear seed beads for the rope and finished it off with a simple click clasp.

At the Jewelry Artisans Community we have some tiny challenges - tiny because not many people participate - six times a year, the latest one was to make a piece of jewelry with your own chain.
I have often made wire ropes to go along with my pendants, mostly crocheted or knitted, but I never make chains from wire links on my own. My plan was to tackle one of those, but I didn't feel I had the nerve for it at this time.
So it'll have to be this instead.