Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More New Fall Jewelry--Bracelets & More Bracelets!

After getting in my new shipments of beads, I just couldn't wait to get back to work on making jewelry!   Just in terms of quantities, I tend to produce jewelry in this order:
1.  pendants
2.  earrings
3.  bracelets

Recently, I've been turning things on their head and working on:
1. bracelets 
2. full necklaces
3. rings/earrings/pendants

While I've been working with minerals a lot this Fall, I ordered a wide variety of Czech glass beads online so you'll see more glass here than you've seen since Summer, and some bracelets with integrated materials.

Above you'll see a pile of some of my Fall bracelets.  I just finished putting crimp covers on and making clasps for the last of them today.  Below, you'll see a few more...

Three bracelets with petite beads, primarily Czech glass crystals, 
Czech Fire Polish glass beads, Yellow Honey Jade, and seed beads.  
On bottom row, Czech Cathedral glass beads in sapphire/gold.

One more for the mineral collection:
Carnelian and Jade Serpentine bead bracelet.

Czech Fire Polish glass and Czech Glass Druk Round beads.  
(The color is called "Montana"--a deep, rich, smokey grey.)

I have many more (non-bracelet) items I've been at work on, but I'll save some for future posts!


P.S.  I just updated my website, Sharyl's Jewelry,  to include more of the Fall line.   Now I have a whole new batch of jewelry!   Which just shows, you'll always see it here first!  


  ...to our new follower, Gayle!   She has already posted a few comments here, and I'm happy she's joined us.   You can read more about Gayle and her "Kit and Caboodle Shop" on Etsy.    Gayle also writes the blog, "This Artist's Journey."   Warm greetings to Gayle!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

New beads!

I normally do my shopping for beads, jewelry supplies and tools at locally-owned bead shops and locally-operated craft stores. Recently though, I found myself in need/want of new beads and couldn't leave the house.

While shopping for something else online, I saw beads pop up in my search.  I decided to purchase an assortment of beads and jewelry making supplies and check out the quality and variety.  

I found all items on Amazon.com, but they shipped through two different companies:  Beadaholique and *UnCommon Artistry*.  While they weren't included in the regular Amazon free shipping offer at $25 of qualifying purchases, each company had an offer where if you purchased a certain amount of their products (one $25, the other $20), you would get free shipping.   While the beads were fairly inexpensive, the shipping could add up when you purchased small quantities of many items, so I planned my purchases to exceed the minimum amount from each company to get free shipping and more beads for my money.

The first shipment arrived in just a couple of days.  I was expecting some beads to be larger in size.   (After 40 or so years, I still don't have a good intuitive sense about the metric system and I hadn't looked up the size with a ruler--my mistake--but I can use the smaller beads too.  I think I have it down now and will know better in the future!)  I ordered a couple of stones for pendants and they were of good size--even larger than expected. The color of the stones was very close to what was represented in the photographs.  

I was able to get quite a large variety of beads, which I prefer over very large packets or strings of one kind.  I ordered a number of sizes/colors of Czech Fire Polish Glass Beads, Yellow Honey Jade and Jade Serpentine round beads, Czech Glass Druk Round beads, Sterling silver chain, and copper earwires.  Overall, I'm very happy with the items from first shipment.  
The second shipment arrived just two days later, and I was also very pleased with these.   The size seemed more in line with the photos I had seen.  The minerals looked as good or better than they did in the photographs.  The quartz, carnelian, red-orange Aventurine, agate fan bead sets, faceted jasper, copper crimp beads, and other items were all of high quality. 
    I'm having much fun mixing and matching beads, and have been concentrating mostly on bracelets first, which usually get less of my attention than the necklaces and earrings.  

      The new beads provide a wide variety of combinations, and with the copper crimp covers and wire, I can do clasps and covers for bracelets in either copper or silver. 
        While I prefer shopping locally and believe it is important to do so, my overall experience with shopping for the beads through the Internet with these two companies was very good. The prices, quality, and speed at which the items arrived were very impressive and it was nice to have an option, when I needed it, of not leaving the house but having the items delivered to my door. 

        Ordering from a new source has also given me new materials to work with and has sparked my creativity once again!    My biggest regret is that I didn't buy a few more!  


        (To my friends at local bead stores, don't worry, I won't stay away for long!   Shopping close to home and socializing while I'm viewing the beads is way too much fun!)


        Image Credits:

        Wednesday, August 24, 2011

        Office/Workspace Re-do

        Sometimes looking at or experiencing something inspires my jewelry.   At others, a piece of jewelry inspires something else I'm doing.  The latter was the case in my recent "Office/Workspace Re-do."

        Finding Space:  What was once a small bedroom in our house functions as office and work space for the two small businesses I have.  One takes very little space actually, a laptop, Internet connection, cell phone, calendar-- the basics.  The jewelry work could use a whole lot more space! I've never been known as a "neat freak" when it comes to my desk, (anyone who knows me would call that a tremendous understatement!),... but otherwise prefer things somewhat orderly.  When I moved all my jewelry-making activities to the same area as my other business recently, I realized I barely had room to maneuver!   So it was time for an office/workspace overhaul!

        Organization:  The first thing I realized, and in a hurry, was that I need more shelving, and that I needed the units to go much higher than the 3 shelves each my former 2 cases had.   I looked everywhere for book cases, utility shelving, and other storage solutions, but couldn't find units that would fit my needs, budget, and space.  I didn't want particle board shelving because it chips and bends too easily under the weight of books and tools.  Solid wood cases seemed way out of my price range or were too small.  So I started hitting home improvement stores, garden centers, antique malls, and craft/hobby stores.  Utility shelving seemed an option, but without sides, I imagined things toppling off, and the shelves were too wide for the small space I had.

        I decided to purchase solid pine stair risers for shelves and use wood crates in several sizes and directions for the braces.   This gave support to the shelves without taking away space. The current shelves are 11" wide, 4 ' across, and have 5 shelves.   (Hopefully, they are arranged in a way that they will be sturdy and stay balanced.  I had planned to add another shelf , but changed my mind the higher I went.   As I've seen noted on other sites with open shelving using blocks, bricks, and other materials, this type of shelving is  not advised for use where children or others might attempt to use them to pull up or balance themselves.)   Finally, I placed baskets of similar color schemes between the crates to help tidy loose electrical equipment, tools, business and jewelry supplies. 

        Color:  I wanted something different in terms of color for my "new room."   I'm not sure it had a color scheme at all before!   A few items in the room (such as carpeting, my office chair, and other furniture had--or incorporated--some medium shade of blue, but that's about all one could say for it.  

        One of my favorite color schemes is the light greenish-blue of turquiose and aqua.  While brainstorming for ideas for the room,  I looked at the jewelry I was wearing (shown below), when I got the idea that turquoise and coral would be a refreshing change for that room. It's bright, cheerful, and energetic--yet can also be soothing, calm, and relaxing. 

        I didn't want to spend a large amount on the room though, just put a splash of color in it, primarily using items that I already had.   So I went looking about the house. 


        I found some turquoise/aqua and white cotton fabric that I used on cafe rods with silver hoops/clips for new curtains.   I draped a very long beaded necklace of the same color that was my mother's across one of the windows as a constant cheerful remembrance of her.   (She enjoyed her beads too!)

        Since this aqua shade is one of my favorites, I found other pieces of aqua and coral/orange I already had in this room and others I could pull together that otherwise had gone unnoticed. 

        Texture:  Because the carpet is primarily  blue, I moved a textile wall hanging from another room here that had both navy and aqua.     A desk lamp with a navy blue glass shade that was once my son's became mine.  

        Finally, the coral became a slightly more orange-like accent color, used sparingly in a vase of orange sunflowers in a dark navy glass vase.   Orange fabric covers a couple of lidless baskets.  A muted coral and blue are woven into pillow cases on the room's futon (see photo above).

        My walls contain a few pieces of graphic art my son has made (in the appropriate color-scheme, of course)! And I am surrounded by pegs and hangings with my necklaces on ribbons, ready for sale.

        It's not fancy, and I didn't spend a fortune, but it's a much more pleasant, colorful, and cheerful place in which to work and create.   (An added bonus is I can walk from the door to my desk chair without fear of tripping!)  


        See the jewelry Sharyl creates in her new room at Sharyl's Jewelry website.

        Friday, August 19, 2011

        Gift "Sea Bottle" with Beads & Wire

        A cousin of mine is always there for me and my family when we need her most.   In times of crisis, she provides food.  In times of sadness, she provides gifts from the heart and a listening ear.  And always, her gifts are thoughtful and bring joy.  
        The last couple of weeks have been difficult for my family health-wise, and as usual, my cousin sent prepared meals to our house twice to keep us going during that time.   I wanted to offer her some hand-made gift in return, but she's not really a wearer of jewelry.  So instead of designing her a necklace, bracelet, or earrings (as I often do for gifts), I decided to create what I'll call a "sea bottle" for her--a  bottle decorated with beads and wire for a room in her house that is done in an ocean theme in shades of blue and aqua.    

        Photo taken in Hawaii, 
        a place that inspires both of us in our design projects.

        Below, basic supplies needed for the Sea Bottle:
        1) glass bottle/jar, 2) wire, & 3) assorted coordinating beads.

        • First, I started with a light green glass bottle, then went through my collection and gathered up a variety of beads that were blue, green, aqua, or turquoise--with a few white and clear thrown in for contrast.   
        • Next, I mixed the beads in size, color, and shape and strung them on 22 gauge silver-plated Artistic wire.
        • I wrapped wire and beads around the neck of the bottle first, then started going around the bottle.  I could quickly tell how difficult it was going to be to keep the wire from slipping off the bottle and remaining where I wanted it, so I went back and redid the silver wire, adding loops and bends along the way as I wrapped the bottle.
        • Aqua-colored wire running vertically was added to connect the layers of silver wire running horizontally and keep everything in position.   By looping the aqua wire around beads and through the silver hoops, a firmer wrapping was created for the bottle.  
        • While I used one long strip of silver wire, I cut multiple shorter pieces of the aqua wire, which made the bending/wrapping easier and allowed me to add a few spirals and loops for decoration. 
        • Finally, I applied a twist of my pliers to any wires that were too loose.  This is a technique I often use when wrapping stones and crystals.  It adds an interesting curve to the wire that also forces it to tighten against the object wrapped--in this case, the glass bottle.

          The final product...

          'm thinking the bottle might be used to hold a few flowers 
          or scented fragrance sticks with oil.

          Various views of the completed 4-sided "Sea Bottle."
          The bottle is 13.5cm (5 1/4") tall and 
          6.5cm (2 1/2") wide on each side.

          It was fun to use jewelry-making skills for another purpose, and nice to have something to give my cousin that I made just for her.  I hope it will give her a bit of the joy she so freely shares with us and others.   


          For examples of beaded & twisted wire jewelry, please visit Sharyl's Jewelry.

          Tuesday, August 16, 2011

          Inspiration: Last of Summer's Fruit

          Growing up, the end of each summer was a bittersweet time for me.   
          • As a child, summer meant days with more chores, but more free time playing out of doors with neighbor friends too. Fall involved trading all that in for homework after school.   
          • The end of summer meant the closing of the swimming pool where my sister and I spent our days.   
          • It was an exciting back-to-school time of picking out new school supplies and some new clothing and shoes, meeting new teachers, and one last trip to the Dairy Joy with Mom to get a special soft-serve ice cream treat--usually a twist cone with one side chocolate and one side vanilla swirled high above the cone.    
          • And it meant it was about time to clean up the garden we worked in with Dad, the end of hoeing and weeding in the heat, but also the end of the home-grown fruits and vegetables.*
          In our garden we grew... vegetables (corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, green beans, onions, Japanese eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, beets, and more).   We also had fruit:  strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew vines; huckleberry bushes; and apple, peach and plum trees.   It was so good to have fresh food from the trees and garden, and it was fun (as well as hard work) to be a part of helping it grow.   
          Sadly, I admit I can get nothing to grow in my current soil except perennial flowers.   I enjoy these immensely, but buy my fruits and veggies elsewhere.   Still, I hate to see summer come to an end with all the good fruit!   (Soon, it will be apples, imported oranges and bananas for much of the winter.) 

          So here is a little last "hurrah!" for a few of my favorite summer fruits (...and a few pieces of jewelry that remind me of them, of course!)

          Sweet, juicy, slightly bumpy, red!

          Similar in taste, color, & texture to a peach, 
          but without the fuzzy skin!

          Green grapes:  a tasty tart alliteration!

          Watermelon slices -- with seeds or seedless, 
          delightful either way!

          Blueberries:  Seems like the larger ones are sweeter 
          & the smaller ones more tart...
          Great excuse to pop several in your mouth at once!

          Enjoy the end of Summer, while it lasts...  Enjoy the fruits, while they last...   And prepare to welcome Autumn soon!    

          Best wishes,


          *This entry is dedicated to my sister, who shares my childhood memories of gardening, swimming, back-to-school rituals, and summers with Mom and Dad.


          2) All other photographs & jewelry by Sharyl, 2011.