Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August COM Winners!

A huge thank you to everyone who entered the August COM giveaway!  And the winners are...
Rustic stoneware coin pendant

Samantha Wescott
Cindy Martin-Shaw

Congratulations!  I shall email you shortly to get your addresses!  Looking forward to seeing your creations!

~Diana P.

Monday, August 3, 2015

PIB - Partners in Beads

Do you have a friend that completely understands, fosters, and challenges your creative endeavors?  I am lucky enough to have a Partner in Beads - my buddy Kelly.  We met online, in a facebook bead group several years ago.  After chatting a few times, we realized that we lived only an hour and a half from each other...and that she hadn't been to the bead store I worked at yet.  A few weeks later she made the drive down and brought a selection of her work to show off at the store - what a way to meet your PiB:
A sampling of Kelly's earlier work.  Can you tell she liked epic collars?
I had brought a basket of work to show her too, and we spent over an hour looking at and talking about beadwork.  We're both close to the same age, and have been beading for about the same amount of time - it was awesome for both of us to meet another beader with similar tastes and at the same skill level.
Left, Kelly's early netted amulet bags, right Lindsay's early brickstitch amulet bags.  
We have so many similarities about our beadwork history - look at these amulet bags!  These were some of the first projects we each made, and all of our female relatives have at least one or two.  We are both self taught - learning our basic techniques and projects from magazines and books.  For Kelly, it started when she saw a project in a magazine that she wanted to wear, so she decided to learn how to bead in order to make her own jewelry.  I had been casually beading for several years, when I saw an epic freeform necklace on the cover of a magazine - and wanted to learn how to bead in order to make pieces like that.  In talking about this, we realized that we bead for completely different reasons...  Product vs. Process - Kelly achieves zen-like satisfaction when she finishes a piece...and I find my meditative state in the middle of the creative process.  It's not that I don't want the end product...but as soon as I finish a piece, I start the next one.
This black, white and red Venetian glass bead was a gift to me from Kelly, issued as a challenge to get out of my typical color comfort zone.  Still a WIP, someday she will have a flamenco skirt...
Even with our completely different approaches we have a great time working together.   We talk about our creative struggles - we ask for criticism and ideas when we are stuck.  It is so incredibly valuable to have a friend that understands what we're doing on every level.  We bounce ideas off each other all the time - we each understand that the idea may not be used in its entirety, and it may not be accepted at all...but any idea given has the potential to get the other person's creative juices flowing in a new direction.  I love asking "why isn't this working" or "what is this missing"...sometimes it's color or texture, sometimes it's an unrelated material, and sometimes it's just another rummage through the boxes to find a different accent bead...but I wouldn't be able to come up with the solution as easily without my PiB.  
Kelly also makes some really cool copper jewelry in collaboration with her mom.
We each have different struggles.  Kelly tends to get too caught up in thinking about how to make things work, and gets frustrated when they don't.  I have a tendency to get morose or caught up in "life" and loose my muse.  Each time we get together or Skype we are both so inspired by the conversation that we are ready to create again.  We have different styles - hers more symmetrical and geometric, mine more organic and conceptual.  We have different tastes in color, different preferences in techniques, different preferences in materials, and similar but different core inspirations.
A selection of jewelry Kelly has made since we met...see any changes in her work?
Our work has grown so much since our first meeting.  Kelly was just starting to really define her own personal style and come up with her own designs.  She has become much more experimental with color and material choices, as well as moving towards some more asymmetrical work.  Coaching her through this growth has been incredibly helpful for me - I've grown much more confident in my articulation of design and technique.  Both of us have opened creative doors for the other - to using new materials and techniques, we challenge each other's color preferences, and we are constantly mailing beads back and forth to share the beadlove.
A selection of our collaboration WIP's.  
We each end up with plenty of UFO's and WIP because of our individual working styles.  Kelly will often get frustrated in the middle of a piece and never finish a project.  I have a tendency to float around from project to project experimenting until something works...then all of the pieces that didn't work out go into my UFO box.  The best thing we do as PiB's is to swap components with the other person.  These could be anything from pieces of a project that never progressed to completion, or little snippets of experimental stitching.  We then combine our own components with the other person's and assemble jewelry from the pieces.  After a piece is completed, it gets mailed back to the person who made the original components.
Collaborative Vines neckpiece - Kelly had originally made all of the ropes and other components with other projects in mind, but never finished those ideas.  I combined all of these separate pieces into one epic junglescape.  Collaboration is fun!
Do you have a PiB?  How do you help each other create?  Have you appreciated your best bead buddy today?  I have!  If you would like to see more of Kelly's work, you can check out her Facebook page.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Component of the Month Giveaway!

It's time for the August Component of the Month Giveaway!
Rustic stoneware coin pendants
Up for grabs this month is one of my rustic stoneware coin pendants!  Each piece is made to look like an ancient finding just dug up from the depths of the earth!

Want to play along? Here are the rules…

  • I will giveaway 1 stoneware coin pendant (chosen at random) to each of the 2 winners selected randomly from those who leave a comment below this post. Your comment MUST include your EMAIL AND BLOG address so we can contact you should you win.
  • Please — only leave a comment if you can commit to creating a finished piece and blogging about it on the reveal date.
  • The names of the 2 winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 4, 2015.
  • This giveaway is open to US and international countries, but please be aware that these will be posted from the US and international addresses will have longer postage times… sometimes up to 3 weeks.
  • The blog reveal will take place on Sunday, August 30, 2015.

Good luck!

~Diana P.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Change is Coming

Dear AJE Readers,

For the last couple years we have posted a blog post nearly every single day. However, many of us are experiencing big changes, burn-out, health issues, etc and we collectively decided something needed to change.

In just a few short weeks, I will be back in school again, but this time I am taking 12 credit hours, which is technically full time, my daughter starts high school, my son will be starting his senior year and we still have university visits to do, and my husband has decided to do a masters program. I cannot continue to serve the community in this capacity AND maintain my sanity.

When I announced to the team that I could not continue writing, and my role as leader would need to be reduced, we had a very honest discussion about the future of the team, the blog, and where we see this going. While the tone of this sounds somewhat down, it is actually quite the opposite. In order to continue to provide you with the quality content you expect and deserve, we are implementing some incremental changes.

The first change going into effect immediately is a temporary change in the posting schedule to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Giveaways, challenges, etc will be posted on the empty days. For example, Diana is hosting the component of the month challenge for August. Her post to introduce her component giveaway will be published tomorrow (Sunday Aug 2) because it's close to the beginning of the month, and not a Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

In addition, this provides extra opportunities for guest bloggers. In the book, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, he says "write the story you want to read." Is there a blog post you would like to read here on AJE? Write a good quality post, provide photos, email me, and we'll publish it here with your byline and links.

In the meantime, we are going to be working on some BIG changes to our format and location. I am not sure how long this will take to formulate the specifics and make it happen, but I am hopeful we can roll it out by the beginning of 2016. I am super excited about the possibilities! So while I am already exhausted by my new schedule before it even begins, I am also extremely fired up for the future.

Thanks for reading,

Jen Cameron

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Component of the Month reveal!

July was my first go at hosting a Component of the Month and it has completely flown by as summer always dose!

What I always love seeing with the Component of the Month is how one piece can be used in so many different ways to create something truly unique to the maker and because of this I am so excited to see what everyone has crafted using my little coins! 
Now won't you join me with a cup of coffee and more then likely a bar of chocolate while I go and see the treasures that these talented lot have come up with.....

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tutorial - Beaded Spiral Wire Bangle

Today I'm sharing with you another design featuring one of my favourite fusions - macrame and wire work which combine to create this lovely rigid beaded Bangle. You can adapt this to your own style with your choice of beads and can also change the weight of the piece by using a heavier gauge wire

2mm copper wire
0.60mm copper wire
Focal bead, accent beads and spacers
Copper head pin
10mm heavy gauge closed jump ring
Cutters round nose pliers
Bench vice

Note: This bangle measures 6 1/2 inches (2 1/3 inches diameter). You will need to adjust your wire requirements for the finished size you require and to take into account the size of the beads you use.

Step 1
Cut an 8 ½ inch length of 2mm copper wire. Add the focal beads, centre on the wire and mark the position with a sharpie. Remove the beads and secure one end of the wire in a bench vice.

Step 2
Cut 2 3ft lengths of 0.60mm copper wire. With one length and working from a mark out towards the end of the core work a macrame half square knot spiral pattern until 1 ½ inches of the core wire remains. Use 2 pairs of pliers to pull the wire taught. Instruction for a macrame half square  knot can be found here.

Step 3
Remove from the vice, wrap one of the wire tails around the core 3 times and trim. wrap the second tail it over the first and trim. 

Step 4
Add the central beads for the central section, return the core wire to the vice and repeat steps 2 & 3 on the other side,

Step 5
Add a bead to each end of the core wire and turn a simple loop.

Step 6
Take a 10mm copper jump ring and place it over the close tips of a pair of round noses pliers. Open the pliers to make an oval jump ring.

Step 7
Gently shape the bangle over a mandrel then open the loops one at a time, attach the jump ring and close the loops.

Step 8
Make a beaded dangle and wire wrap to attach to the oval jump ring.

Step 9
Use Liver of sulphur to patinate, polish back to your preferred finish and tumble if desired.
And there you have your completed bangle...

Heart  bead by Josephine Wadman Designs
Mini melon beads by Pebble Dreams

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you give it a go don't forget to share your makes with us on the AJE Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tutorial Review - Gwenbeads

I haven't done a tutorial review in quite a while and I just had to tell you about this one.

I love when beadwork excites me.  I have to be honest I have not been on a tutorial buying mood in a long time.  Mostly because I went nuts when I first started beading and bought all I could.  Also sometimes I just do not have the beads on hand to complete the project.  This one was different.  Gwen of Gwenbeads uses beads most of us have on hand when writing her tutorials which is spectacular in my opinion.

 In this tutorial by Gwen has taken stitches I love so much Right Angle Weave and Cubic Right Angle weave and combined them in a fun new stitch path that has me buzzing.  It is called a Honeycomb weave.
This was not only a fun stitch to learn it has actually gone fairly quickly during the time I have to bead.  Gwen's instructions, diagrams and pictures are spot on and really give you the confidence to continue stitching.  She is also one of those extremely supportive designers that will be there if you have questions or problems while stitching.

I was hoping to have my first bracelet done for you today but plans did not work out so here is a picture of what I have completed so far.

I am also going to explore not only this tutorial with new beads and different sizes I plan to take this one so much further.  Thank you Gwen for inspiring me and getting me excited.