Studio Wednesday

Today I worked on and finished the beadwork on my faux jade charms fringy bracelet. I’ve ordered some brass and silver Chinese coin charms from Fire Mountain Gems and they should be arriving sometime this week. I want to make a clasp with one of the coins.

The fabric is a painted and stamped piece from an Art Day with friends in June. I really enjoyed transforming a white piece of muslin into colorful fabric.

Using Aleene’s Jewel-it, I glued some polymer clay pieces onto Pellon Peltex 70, an extra firm stabilizer I purchased at Joann Fabric’s. I’m hoping it’s not too stiff for the beadwork I’ll be adding around the pieces. I’ll also probably tone down the white color with some fabric paint. Has anyone ever used this for beadwork?

This first piece was created from a cane I made a long time ago at one of my guild meetings. My friend, Judy, showed us how to make this cane. I think it’s a variation of this scrap feather cane. I didn’t reduce the cane and stretched a slice over some scrap clay to make what looks to me like a cocoon. When I bead around it, I want to enhance its organic feel. It will probably turn into a pendant.

This polymer clay cabochon was created from the mokume gane stack I used to make these earrings. Another pendant, perhaps for a free-form necklace.

More pieces from that mokume gane stack. These will be made into earrings.

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Wedding Jewelry

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I’m amazed at how easily this jewelry set came together yesterday afternoon. I always tend to overthink things and try a million different ways of putting the beads together before a piece is finished. In other words, I doubt myself and my vision. Last night I was watching the movie “The Last Samurai” and there was a part where Tom Cruise’s character is learning hand to hand combat with the Samurai warriors in their village. He keeps getting defeated and then his friend says that he has “too much mind” and that he should have “no mind” in his approach. Well, of course it worked in the movie but there is much wisdom in that “no mind” philosophy, I think. Just get into the moment, let go of all of the thoughts that normally race through your head and just let it flow.

I created a 16″ necklace with matching bracelet and earrings using 4mm “Golden Shadow” Swarovski bicone crystal beads and cream freshwater pearls with tiny gold seed bead spacers. The pendant is an unusually cut “Golden Shadow” Swarovski crystal.

I made a simple loop bail using pearl and gold seed beads. The clasp on both the necklace and the bracelet is a gold lobster claw clasp. For these photos, I laid out the jewelry on my dress so you can see the material and how it matches (I hope!).

The wedding ceremony itself is being held outside. Thunderstorms swept through our area about 5 am this morning but it looks like it is clearing up now. Hopefully, the weather will be beautiful for their special day!

Four Things

My friend Lunes over at Bijoux & Banter has tagged me in a meme to reveal 4 things about myself.

Four jobs I’ve had

Geriatrics Aide at a nursing home

Sales clerk at Handy Dan hardware store

Community Outreach Coordinator at a Cable 8 TV station

Tea Packer

Four movies I could watch over & over

Somewhere in Time

Gladiator

any of the Harry Potter movies

The Sound of Music

Four tv shows I love

Lost

24

Grey’s Anatomy

Heroes

Four places I’ve vacationed

Ireland

Germany

Hawaii

Jersey Shore

Four of my favourite dishes

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Field Greens Salad

Sauteed veggies and pasta

Fruit cobbler

Four blogs I visit every day

Ornamental

Daily Art Muse

Musings from the Moonroom

Christine Kane

Four people to tag

Anyone can join in! Please do!

Saturday Morning Tea

What a marvelous day – warm, not too humid with brilliant sunshine. Here in New England this past week, we’ve had some wild weather, including a couple of tornadoes that touched down in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. We experienced vivid lightning, crashing thunder and torrential downpours like I saw when I traveled to the Hawaiian rainforest. On our walk last night, we collected quite a few branches that had been knocked down. They’ll make great kindling for our fireplace once they’re dried out and seasoned. With all of this fire energy flying about, I decided to try a new type of tea for me – a smoky tea. I know that there are a lot of Lapsang Souchong fans out there but, alas, I am not one of them. That said, this tea has always intrigued me and I keep searching for one that I will enjoy. At my company, it is one of our best selling types of tea. I’m not reviewing a Lapsang this morning. Not yet. I have one in mind for an August review. This morning I am sipping a Formosa Oolong called Heavy-Baked Tie-Guan-Yin.

The full leaf is first processed as a Jade Oolong which is a slightly oxidized leaf. Still considered an Oolong tea, it is much more green in character than other Oolongs. This is because the leaf is allowed to oxidize only a little bit, approximately 10%, give or take. Some other Oolongs are oxidized 40-50%, giving them a much darker flavor and fuller body. I looked back on my tea archives and was surprised to discover that I haven’t reviewed a Jade Oolong yet. I’ll do that in August, too. I did review a Spring Dragon Oolong, another “greener” Oolong.

Once this tea is processed as a Jade Oolong, it is then roasted to give it a much different flavor. As you can see, the leaf is so very dark. In the processing, the leaf rolls up into little bundles which then release their shape a little during the steeping. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 190 degree F filtered water.

The liquor is a deep reddish brown with a smoky aroma that has hints of tobacco. The taste is sweet and smoky but not overly so. For me, the smokiness is at just the right level. The full-bodied taste would probably stand up well to milk and sweetener. I am enjoying it plain.

Today is the perfect day for enjoying my tea out on our backyard deck. So, I will go sit and relax and work on a jewelry project. I have to set all of my other projects aside for the day and work on creating some jewelry to match a white and gold dress I have because tomorrow…………

My youngest son is getting married!

Studio Wednesday

It worked! Here are the earrings that I used the epoxy on. After setting for 24 hours, the wire is holding solidly in the polymer clay. Sometimes I think that I have the tendency to get too complicated with my designs so I didn’t add any beads to these earrings. I just wanted a simple design of mokume gane and silver wire. I experimented with just a simple loop and a free-form wrapped loop.

Which do you like better?

I also picked up my May beaded journal page today and started beading again. I’ve been involved in working on other projects lately and, after a year of working on my pages, I feel that I am also reluctant to let the project go and be finished. So, I put it aside for awhile but it’s now time to get it finished and put together. I have set a goal to at least be finished with all of my pages by the time the 2008-09 BJP starts September 1st. Once my pages are complete, the next step is to put them all together into a wall hanging. I would like to sew 4 pages to a backing, the pages lined up one on top of another with some sort of strapping sandwiched between the pages and the backing. Then I will hang the 3 separate pieces of 4 pages from a dowel. By having the 3 separate pieces not sewed to one another, this will give me the freedom to rearrange them according to my mood or the season.

Saturday Morning Tea

The air is completely still this morning with hardly a whisper of a breeze. Temperatures are supposed to soar well into the 90s this weekend with the humidity level just as high. It’s a good day to be inside with the AC or next to a fan, relaxing with a good book and a cup of tea.

This morning’s tea is a unique white Assam from the Mothola estate. Usually when one thinks of an Assam tea, it is of a hearty, rich black tea. That is what most Assam teas are. This tea, however, is a unique production, entirely handcrafted which shows in the gorgeous full leaf covered in tiny white hairs.

The tea plant is called camellia sinensis, named by the father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linneaus, a Swedish botanist from the 1700s. There are several different variations of the tea plant. Assam teas, grown in the lowland district of Assam in northeastern India, are harvested from the Camellia Sinensis assamica variation. I have read that this particular variation has a higher caffeine level than the Camellia Sinensis sinensis or Chinese varietal. Perhaps this is why many folks enjoy Assams for breakfast . The name Sinensis actually means Chinese in Latin.

I know that it is such an artist cliche to say “I love color” but I truly, truly do, ever since I was very young. In fact, my favorite childhood book called “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown, was all about colors and mixing them to create other colors. The words and images of this book filled my little person world well before I learned to read. From that time on, color spoke directly to my soul on a very deep level. I talk about that here. Anyway, I was captivated by the color of the liquor of this tea. A gorgeous dark honey, its aroma is sweet and malty. The flavor is also sweet and light but full of flavor that fills your mouth with a hint of nuttiness.

This is definitely one of my favorite teas!

Studio Wednesday

Every Wednesday I work at home in my studio. As I only have one day a week in my studio, one of my goals is to be more disciplined with my time so I can get the most amount of work done in the time I have. The first step towards this goal is to create a task list for myself on what I’d like to accomplish in the studio that day. I’ll make my task list up every Tuesday night. Another step in my goal process is to establish a weekly blog post entitled “Studio Wednesday” where I will share what I’ve been creating in my studio lately. A big thank you to my friend Amy who has been a big inspiration to me in setting this goal for myself.

The photos are of some of the jewelry I created with the faux jade polymer clay I found in my studio when I was cleaning. The pendant above contains the Kanji character for “Beauty”. This was the word I chose for 2008.

Today I worked on my fringy bracelet and completed the first pass. On the second pass, I might add a couple more beads here and there but it will mainly be about reinforcing all of the heavier beads in the bracelet.

I also discovered that the sterling silver wires that I had super glued in the mokume gane polymer clay earring components weren’t staying put. When I opened the loop to add the earwires on some of them, the wire started to move. So, after some internet research to find out what type of glue would work better, I went up to Lowe’s and found an epoxy that works well on plastic which is basically what polymer clay is, namely polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Fine particles of PVC are suspended in a liquid plasticizer to create polymer clay. The epoxy has 2 separate tubes that are set side by side with a plunger that dispenses equal amounts of material for mixing. It is the mixing of these 2 materials that creates the strong bond. You can read more about how it works here. It will be fully cured in 24 hours so, hopefully, this will work to keep the wire in place in the polymer clay.