Studio Wednesday

swirlpendantnecklace104109

This week I finished the crochet chain necklace and attached my polyclay swirl pendant to it. I fashioned a hook and eye clasp from 18 gauge sterling wire. A little liver of sulfur dip made it a cool bronzy color to match the bronze crocheted wire.

swirlpendantnecklace304109

I crocheted 6 chain segments in all, 3 for each side, and left long tails for wrapping. I threaded the tails through the pendant and then wrapped around the chain on the other side to secure them in place.

swirlpendantnecklace204109

I am so enjoying bringing my love of crochet into my jewelry creations. I recently purchased a skein of Berroco Seduce yarn, a simply luscious blend of silk, linen, rayon and nylon. I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head of crocheted bracelets using this yarn and some polyclay beads.

Who knows what women can be when they are finally free

to become themselves?

~Betty Friedan

Advertisements

Studio Wednesday

swirlpendantno1031809

In the time I have between my physical therapy treatment and my favorite tv show “LOST”, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been working on this week.

With the limited range of motion in my frozen right shoulder, I haven’t been able to do a creative activity that I absolutely love: mixing colors in polymer clay. Cranking the pasta machine is torture on my shoulder. I solved that problem by treating myself to a motor and foot pedal for my P.M. What a difference! This has opened up a whole new world for me.

I love my new motor.

My first color mixing project was to mix up some muted neutral colors for a cane I wanted to try out from the new Donna Kato book I picked up from the library. It’s called “The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiore Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework”.

canes4earrings031809

There’s a lot of cool cane ideas in this great book. Now that I’ve returned it to the library, I’m even considering adding it to my library permanently. The cane slices above were created with a rolled Skinner Blend plug, wrapped and squished and rearranged. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into creating canes because I like a more organic look to my work instead of geometric precision. That being said, there are some fun organic cane patterns to play with.

canes4earringsno2031809

I had some fun with the cane ends I sliced off and rolled around. Here’s a scrap cane that ended up looking like crescent moons from another world.

swirlpendantno2031809

Ever since I received a small piece of plexiglas in a goody bag from the first Klay Karma retreat 4 years ago, I love making swirly lentil beads with cane scraps. The larger one with the cane slice bail will be used as a pendant in a necklace. The smaller one could be used for a freeform bracelet. That would be fun to incorporate some polymer clay beads in my freeform work.

wirecrocheting031809

I thought that I’d do something different for the swirly pendant necklace. Using a very thin gauge black wire and some bronze colored size 11 seed beads, I made several lengths of chain stitch. The wire was a bit tricky to work with at first because there is no “give” as there is with fiber. It takes time to figure out how much wire to wrap around your crochet hook to allow you to be able to pull the wire through the loop. I found that working looser rather than tighter is best.

wirecrochet031809

I made some more chain stitch lengths using bronze wire and black seed beads.

This weekend I’ll work on putting my necklace together.

“Once there were two color kittens with green eyes, Brush and Hush. They liked to mix and make colors by splashing one color into another. They had buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets of color to splash around with., Out of these colors they would make all the colors in the world.”

~from “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown

Studio Wednesday on Thursday

grownecklace1

Last weekend I nourished my creative spirit as much as possible as I adjusted to my new schedule. I dedicated myself to creating and finishing a necklace for my “Grow” polymer clay pendant. With the help of my brand new mini bead spinner, I threaded a bead soup of pale blue, green, yellow, ivory and crystal seed beads onto my hand dyed silk cord. It was a little tricky at first to slide into the rhythm of needle and spinning bowl but I finally got the hang of it and then the beads literally jumped onto my needle like eager participants in play. As I eased myself into the flow of the spinning beads, I was reminded of my early school days when I loved jumping Double Dutch. You really couldn’t think about it, you just had to close your eyes and navigate by your inner compass and spacial instinct. In other words, jump in!  Once my cord was saturated with tiny beads, I started crocheting a simple chain stitch, catching one bead in each chain. I made 3 strands like this and tied the ends together.

grownecklace2

My next step was to create small bead caps/cones by weaving the beads in a herringbone stitch. I covered the knotted  silk cord ends with my beaded caps.

grownecklace4

I found a small textured silver toggle clasp in my stash and attached it to the silver loops coming out of the bead caps. I’m still deciding whether I like this clasp for this necklace. It is very easy to put on and take off the necklace so that’s a big plus. And it’s small size goes well with the delicate feel of  the necklace. I’ll have to wear it a couple of times to see how it works.

grownecklace3

Using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, I created a curled spiral bail for my pendant and threaded the strands through the curls.

Curls of soft misty colors. Silvery rebirth spirals. Crystal drops of rain.

Spring is here.

Studio Wednesday

knittedsock021809

I finished my first sock! I have to say though that I found this very challenging despite my many years of knitting experience.I think that there was a typo in the directions when it said to knit one round with “waste” yarn. When it came time to remove the waste yarn and place the stitches on my needles, I ended up with the sock being split into two pieces. When I read the directions and saw that I was supposed to have a lot less stitches than I actually had, I knew there was an error somewhere. So, having just learned the Kitchener stitch to weave the toe stitches together, I wove part of the 2 pieces together (the sock “front”) until I was left with the correct amount of stitches to make the heel. Then I continued with the directions as they were written. Whew! Now that I have started my second sock, I know what to do about the waste yarn knitting round. I think… I do like the yarn but it’s very thin and would work better with another pattern and smaller needles.

glazedheartpendant021809

For my glazed heart pendant, I created some copper wire components, antiqued them and then glued them into the pendant with epoxy. I have a whole pile of antiqued wire pieces to be cleaned with steel wool first and then I can start assembling the necklace.

crochetedsilk021109

I’ve also returned to my bead crocheting, this time with some gorgeous Montano hand dyed silk cord. I was concerned about whether the silk cord would be a good choice for bead crochet so I wrote to Lydia over at the Beadwrangler website. She was kind enough to write back, telling me that I could use any kind of cord I wanted as long as it worked for my project. She went on to say that she has experimented with many different kinds of cords, including silk, and encouraged me to do the same. Thanks so much Lydia! With a “bead soup” of coordinating colors and this silk cord, I want to create a multi-strand chain stitch necklace for my “Grow” pendant.

It is with great sadness in my heart to tell you that in a couple of weeks I will no longer be in my studio on Wednesdays. My life circumstances have changed and I find myself having to move again into my own place. So, I will need to work full-time again. That being said, however, I will still be working in my studio in the evenings and on the weekends and will be glad to share whatever projects I’m working on at the time. Even though I won’t technically be in the studio on that day, I will still be exploring the Artful Life and I invite you to join me in my explorations to be shared with you in my Studio posts.

A dear friend recently shared this poem with me. Called Love After Love by Derek Walcott, it really resonated with me at this time. Enjoy!

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,


and say, sit here.  Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit.  Feast on your life.



Studio Wednesday

freeformpalette120308

It felt good to be back for a full day in my studio today! My last full studio day was 3 weeks ago because of busyness with my jewelry show preparations and the holiday last week.

I’m thrilled to have recently received a commission to create a freeform peyote bracelet in a green, brown, gold, russet and salmon palette. Here are the seed beads and pearls I’ve chosen so far. This bracelet will be smaller in width than the last one.

freeformstart120308

I have some other projects in the works, like finishing my beaded turquoise cab necklace and creating a fringey bracelet with my citrus cane slices. I’m also working on some crocheted and knitted holiday gifts. I can post photos closer to Christmas so I don’t give any secrets away right now.

I’ve been thinking about what kinds of new projects I’d like to play with after the holidays. I find myself captivated by the book, “Wrap, Stitch, Fold and Rivet” by Mary Hettmansperger. Mary’s approach to manipulating metal and wire to create stunning pieces of jewelry resonates with my preference for creating in a freeform way. Her background in weaving and basketry brings a unique voice to these materials. I would like to try some of the projects in the book and see what I can create. Also calling to me are crocheting with wire, arashi shibori and making my own polymer clay beads for bead crocheting. I have many ideas floating around in my head and I’m looking forward to manifesting them in the New Year. Oh yes, I just got the book, “Masters: Art Quilts” out of the library and I am absolutely in love with the work of Cher Cartwright and her fabulous dyed fabric quilts. Grab a cup of tea and visit her website for an eye candy feast. Very inspiring!

An Autumn Bead Crochet Bracelet

autumnbeadcrochetbracelet.jpg

More bead crochet exploring. This time I used Perle Cotton 8 thread with size 6 glass beads. The black stripes on orange remind me of autumn and Halloween so I created a polymer clay pumpkin bead for the clasp.

So far, I like this thread the best in feel and ease of crocheting. The black color of the thread was a little tricky to find the stitch to go into but my hook slid into the stitch a lot easier than the C-lon cord. That was too stiff for my beginning skill level. This thread also gives a slinky supple feel to the finished bracelet which is a wonderful feeling on my wrist.

The loop for the clasp is a single crochet with the same thread. I then sewed terra cotta colored seed beads around the loop.

What I really loved in creating this bracelet is that it combined 3 techniques – polymer clay sculpture, bead weaving and bead crocheting.

I chose the blue graduated background because it reminds me of a clear autumn sky and it accentuates the orange beads. I love looking to nature for inspiration even in something simple like choosing a background for photography.

Another Bead Crochet Experiment

turqbeadcrochet.jpg

Another bead crochet experiment, this time with C-lon cord and a hank of variegated turquoise and brown size 8 beads I purchased during my trip to Michigan last month. I don’t think you’re supposed to see that much of the cord but I loosened my crocheting up because it was getting so tight that I could hardly get the hook (size 2.25mm) in the stitch. Do any of you bead crocheters experience that? I think it’s going to be a matter of practice to get the right tension. This cord is pretty stiff so maybe that was part of the challenge for me, too. This piece is a little over 4 inches long so too short for a bracelet but I could use it for part of a necklace.

I have a color challenge for myself based on a post I read at Morwyn’s AnotherCountry Beadworks blog. She invited her readers to pick 3 or 4 numbers between 1-50. Then you click on a link to a list of numbers that had a color associated with each number. I love lists and anything to do with color so I had a lot of fun doing this. My colors are turquoise, fuschia, Paynes gray and copper. Paynes gray is a dark bluish gray.

What a great exercise to get beyond your usual color choices. So, today I am gathering components to make a necklace with these colors. Thanks for the inspiration, Morwyn!