Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week Thirteen…Halfway to Completion

This week marks the halfway point of my six month challenge.  It is hard to believe that is the case because it has flown by.  I am so thankful for and excited about all that I have accomplished in this time.  It has been quite a journey so far and to know it is only halfway done makes me excited to see where it will end up.  I have plans where it will end up, but things always end up looking at least a little different from the planned outcome…sometimes it looks completely different and you wonder why you wasted all that time planning in the first place.

I am definitely a planner and a perfectionist to boot and I have always been proud of those things because I have been a person to get stuff done.  Over the last few years though, I have become aware of the weaknesses that come along with those strengths and that has been hard.  I have been reading a book called Taming The To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer and this week one of the chapters was on perfectionism and it really hit home with the weaknesses of it.  Something that is mentioned is two ways how perfectionism makes us not accomplish things…one by starting, but not finishing and two by never starting to begin with.  Another thing it talks about is difference between excellence and perfectionism…”Excellence pushes us to do our best; perfectionism pushes us to be the best.  Perfectionism is the enemy of learning and growing and enjoying areas of life where we haven’t achieved mastery.”  Boy, that really hit home with me.  I always wanted to do the best I could, but when I examined my motivation it really was to be the best…not because I think I am great, but because I wanted others to think I have value and in some round about way that would help me feel like I have value.  Now there are all kinds of other issues going on there and since this isn’t a counselling blog, let me make my point in all this as it relates to my journey in jewelry.

There have been many projects over the past couple of years that I have wanted to do and even bought a tutorial for, but never started because I didn’t think I could do it perfectly and so I didn’t want to waste my time on something less than perfect…man I sound like a snob, but really I am just insecure with really high personal standards that I can’t achieve.  I had gotten to the point that I wasn’t really making jewelry unless I needed a gift because I was getting so bogged down with fear and feelings of failure because I wasn’t creating.

Late in May I reach a point at which I was sick of being paralyzed by this fear and wanted to do something about it, so after some thinking and praying I came up with a challenge for myself…and here we are about seventeen weeks later.  I have seen the Lord help me grow in so many ways.  I am making jewelry on a regular basis, more confident in creating jewelry, excited about trying new things, and willing to open up and share about my journey as I grow.  I am even thinking about trying to sell some of my jewelry…which is a something I want to do, but is a bit scary.

Now for this week’s creation…:)  I made the Nestled Charm Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  There was a lot of weaving involved which can be fun, but challenging.  It is harder to get a neat weave at the beginning of a new weaving section when you are holding a curved piece of wire versus straight, but I have found that if I take it slow and work with each wrap of wire it is possible.

Here is the finished piece…

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Completed Nestled Charm Pendant

There were two things that I ran into with this pendant that gave me some trouble.  The first is how all of the weaving on the left spread out a lot more than it did in the tutorial.  It was something that happened in the early stages of the tutorial, but I didn’t become aware of it until much later.  I was able to change the spacing a little just by molding the weaves closer together.  I am happy with the final product, but I will also be more conscientious about the earlier steps and figure out how they affect the piece later on.

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Side View Completed Nestled Charm Pendant
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The Other Side View of Completed Nested Charm Pendant

The other thing that gave me trouble was I ran out of wire for the final part which is the bare wire on the right side.  Now this really surprised me because I always add at least six centimeters to each measurement of the base wires of a tutorial so I don’t run into that problem.  I tried to make the little nub I had left work, but it got really kinked, so I ended up trimming that piece and grafting in another small section of wire so I could get a nice curve that wasn’t kinked.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Here are some pictures that show where I am talking about…

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Front view of the bare wire I grafted in…on the right
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Back view of the bare wire I grafted in…on the left

I am always so much more satisfied with my finished product when I take my time and make it nice even though it takes longer.  I have to remember that feeling when I am impatient and just want to finish a piece.

As I continue on my jewelry making journey I need to remember that I want my pieces to be excellent…not perfect.  As the book (Taming the To-Do List) said, “Sometimes done is better than perfect.”   Hopefully I will continue to grow and aim for excellence since that is attainable.

Before I say goodbye for this week, here are some pictures of the pieces that I oxidized this week…

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Oxidized Pavilion Pendant from Week Twelve
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Oxidized Spring Leaf Pendant from Week Twelve
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Oxidized Elven Pendant from Week Eleven
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Oxidized Close Up View of Elven Pendant from Week Eleven
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Oxidized Biker Chain Chic Ring from Week Ten
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Oxidized Biker Chain Chic Ring from Week Ten
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Week Twelve…Life and Jewelry Making

It has been an interesting week.  I didn’t have any time Monday or Tuesday to start this weeks project…or even figure out what this weeks project was going to be.  It was a couple of days where you wake up and have stuff back to back to back to…well you get the idea. 🙂  Usually, I don’t have many of those days because they wear me out and it takes a long time to recover, but somehow I ended up with two in a row.

During the rushing around, I really missed making jewelry and want to make something which is so encouraging, because for so long I may have wanted to make something, but I was too busy to even miss it or think about it.  For me jewelry making is in the “fun” category and that is what always gets cut first.  Part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge is to change that awful habit of cutting jewelry making out of my life.  It challenges me in ways that nothing else does and so part of cutting it was a form of procrastination due to fear.  It is so much easier to not do something and avoid it than to sit down, deal with the issues, and move into the unknown.

By Wednesday I was more than ready to start making jewelry!  I had decided to do a couple of the new tutorials I had purchased.  I ended up choosing the Pavilion Pendant Tutorial and the Spring Leaf Pendant Tutorial both by Nicole Hanna.

I really enjoyed working on the Pavilion Pendant.  I don’t do many things without beads, but I love the way this turned out!  Something else interesting about working on this pendant is that for the first time I saw a way to add my own spin on the tutorial and make a different project using this tutorial.  So many people make their own spin on tutorials which is great for them, but that isn’t something that I have been able to do.  My mind tends to be very logical and a bit legalistic when it comes to making things from tutorials, so this is a really big deal for me.  I have wanted to grow in that area, but I know it isn’t something that I can force.

Here are finished pictures of the Pavilion Pendant…

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Completed Pavilion Pendant
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Completed Pavilion Pendant
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Completed Pavilion Pendant

The other tutorial I completed was the Spring Leaf Pendant.  There was a small amount of intimidation for me when I chose this tutorial because I really liked the lengthy look of it and a pendant I tried in the past that I liked for the same reason turned out more squatty than lengthy in appearance. I just took my time and things went well.  There was some confusion near the end of the tutorial, but I was able to work through it and complete the project.

Here are the finished Spring Leaf Pendant pictures…

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Completed Spring Leaf Pendant
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Completed Spring Leaf Pendant
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Completed Spring Leaf Pendant

It has been a fun and successful week in jewelry making and in life.  I have been working on decluttering my home and had a yard sale yesterday.  There was a lot of stress and work leading up to it, but it all worked out and was successful.  The best part is that in the midst of all the busyness I was able to make two beautiful pendants and it was fun!

It gives me hope for next week because I will be painting our deck.  It will be a big project, but I look forward to “sneaking” in moments to make more jewelry from some of my new tutorials.  After that it might be time to get back into the “harder” tutorials which will challenge me and teach me something new.  For now though, I am enjoying the fun in creating while I am doing challenging projects in other areas of my life.  I am so thankful to my Creator for the progress of incorporating my jewelry making into my journey of living life.  I hope you are able to have fun and create as you live your journey and may you see the Creator in your life as well.

Week Eleven…A Race Against Time

I have been so busy this week that I wasn’t sure I would finish. I started out the week needing to finish the ring and earrings from last week.  I thought about not trying another tutorial or picking a really simple one like a charm, but instead I did what my friend calls “putting on your big girl panties” and dove into a pendant that I have been a little hesitant to create…I mean this is a challenge after all. 🙂

The tutorial that I chose was the Elven Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  Now some may wonder what the big deal is about it that had me quaking in my boots just a little…well it is the mirror image that is needed in the wrapping process.  I know it may not sound like a big deal, but trying to create a mirror image in anything drives the perfectionist in me to distraction and crazy to boot!

Speaking of mirror imaging in wire wrapping…remember these from Week Seven…

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Elf Ear Cuffs from Week Seven

Yes, that is a lot of mirror imaging in wire and it took me several tries to get them right, but the important thing was I didn’t quit and I actually made them.  With the ear cuffs under my belt I felt more confident in creating the Elven Pendant, and that confidence made this weeks project fun instead of stressful.

Before I began making the pedant I wanted to finish the ring and earrings from last week.  Here are the finished pictures of the Biker Chain Chic Ring by Perri Jackson and the Mini Evil Eye Earrings tutorial by Nicole Hanna.

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Completed Biker Chain Chic Ring
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Completed Biker Chain Chic Ring
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Completed Mini Evil Eye Earrings
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Completed Mini Evil Eye Earring

They are not perfect and I can tell how my struggles from last week showed up in the wire work, but I am pleased with how both of these projects finished up.  It was a great lesson in perseverance, finishing well and growing in my jewelry making abilities and those are big parts of what this challenge is about.

Now onto my Elven Pendant…

I usually try to have my piece of jewelry finished by Friday, so my husband can take pictures on Saturday and then I blog about it on Sunday.  That isn’t what happened this week.  It was Wednesday before I even started on this week’s project and I just finished tonight.

I worked on it each evening, but it seemed like it was time for bed right after I got going.  It felt like time was slipping away and there wasn’t much progress to show for the couple of hours I had spent working and normally that makes me feel like a failure or incompetent, but not this week.  The difference this week is that I wasn’t getting caught up in the comparison trap I usually fall into.  I see many people posting beautiful pictures of the thirty intricate wire weaving pieces they created that day…well okay maybe one or two…and it is hard to hold my head high because I think I should be able to create things fast too.  The problem is for me fast usually means messy and a lot of mistakes and me not being satisfied in my end product.

This week I found myself relaxing with what I was doing and enjoying the process of creating and doing a good job as I did it.  It wasn’t a frustration free project, but there was a whole lot of fun and a great sense of satisfaction when I saw the finished piece.

Here is the finished pendant…

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Completed Elven Pendant
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Completed Elven Pendant
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Bottom part of the Elven Pendant.  I am still working on my wrapped briolettes.

I am so thankful that I could do it at my own pace without self condemnation.  There really isn’t a race going on, but sometimes it feels like that.  I know that I shouldn’t compare my creative journey to anyone else’s, but that is a hard thing to stop and I fail at it most of the time.  However, this week I am grateful for the freedom to just do my work at my own pace and enjoy the process…which is apart of enjoying my journey a I learn to live my life.

Week Ten…Hormones + Perfectionism + Soft Beads = A Big Mess

This week has been a challenge in general and in jewelry making.  I don’t like living the messy parts of life and I don’t like sharing them, but I will because we all have them.  We all have those moments when we are trying our hardest at something and we just end up feeling more and more frustrated.  It is kind of like a car stuck in the mud and you are spinning tires trying to get out, but you only sink deeper into the mud…which is making negative progress.

My project this week was the Biker Chain Chic Ring by Perri Jackson.  It is a beautiful ring and I started out excited to try it.  I have many different tutorials by Perri Jackson, but I have always been hesitant to try them because of how complicated they looked.  There are several included in my list for me to do in this jewelry challenge.  I chose one that looked pretty straight forward…or so I thought.

I will say that the tutorial is well written in general and I think if I wasn’t such a perfectionist it would be great.  There are so many helpful hints and options on how to modify the pattern throughout the tutorial that make it more than a simple ring tutorial, but I found them frustrating as I was trying to make the ring.  I had scanned the tutorial fully before I began, but it took me a while to realize there were all the hidden gems included in the tutorial and that threw me off as I was trying to make the basic ring.  For me it would have been helpful to have the basic ring tutorial and then all the extras, but I am sure many people love the format it is written in.  I guess I was too focused on the individual steps that it took me too long to see the bigger picture.  That is one of the weaknesses of being a detail oriented person…sometimes you are just too close.

Something else working against me this week was the new beads I ordered especially for this ring.  They were 2 mm and 3 mm copper beads.  I don’t recommend copper beads…they are way too soft.  I was working on the beginning of the ring and I was supposed to use a beading awl to lock the beads in a square pattern by molding the weaving wire to the top part of the bead hole.  It didn’t work…the awl went straight through the bead…that is how I figured out they were too soft. I babied them after this discovery. 🙂

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Split copper bead the awl went through
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Another picture of the bead the awl went through

The beads were a concern and some did end up naturally separating, but I still wanted to try the project.  Another concern I had was the 26 gauge wire hardening and breaking as I made the ring.  It never did break, but I did kink it a couple of times.

All of these things added up to a rough jewelry making experience this week.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the hormones that made all of these things so much bigger in my mind than they were in reality this week.  I am always an emotional person, but most of the time I am also a logical person…except for that certain time that visits and then there is only illogical thought and irrational emotions.   It can be a scary time to be sure…like a stranger has taken residence in your body, but enough about that. 🙂

Now I should say all of these things together found me crying over a silly project ready to give it all up.  Sigh, it was not one of my better moments to say the least.  I went to sleep and hoped the next day would be better.  I also thought it might be helpful to work on something different…you know something quick and easy! 🙂  So I picked out another tutorial to make thinking it would be pretty straight forward.  I chose the Mini Evil Eye Earrings tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  It started out fine, but was taking me a lot longer that I thought it would.  I also didn’t plan on the mirror imagining that needs done in earrings.  Guess what the end result of this evening endeavor was…you guessed it…crying and ready to quit.  It is never fun to be in that place…especially when you chose to do the activity that leads to it.

Well the end result of all this mess is that I needed some space.  I took a break from making anything and let my mind clear and the hormones go back to normal.  Then I looked at the tutorials again.  I am pretty confident that I will be able to finish them without too much trouble at this point.  Yes, I said finish…I have two unfinished projects this week.  I plan to finish them this week along with working on something new and I will post the finished products with next week’s entry.  For now though here is what I have completed so far…

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In progress Biker Chain Chic Ring
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Another view of the Biker Chain Chic Ring in progress
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In progress Mini Evil Eye Earrings (the left one is the back view and the right is the front view

Some things I learned this week are…

~Take a step back from the details to gain the bigger picture.

~Don’t compare my progress with others.

~Just because I am not fast doesn’t mean I can’t make jewelry.

~Not finishing isn’t the end…giving up is.

~Time away and sleep can give much needed perspective.

~Learning is hard and not always fun, but I still want to learn.