All posts by fleurdesoliel

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #8…Fast Pace Living, Perspective and Finale

It’s hard to believe that Week #8 is already here and March is soon to begin.  I think it is a good thing.  I was doing some reflecting this week and realized how busy my life has become the past couple of months.  My husband started a new job in January and that has increased the speed of our life greatly.  We used to have time for lazy days and sloppy living because we had an abundance of time.  The funny thing is we didn’t see it at the time.  It always felt that life was busy and there was never enough time, but looking back I can see the abundance.  I am realizing that my perception of things can change depending upon where I am at.  In the moment things can seem awful, but after a few hours or a few days things improve.  It is through new information and insight that my perception changes…it just takes time.  Remembering this helps me on the really busy days that seem overwhelming.  I have realized that most of the busyness that can feel overwhelming at the time is actually a blessing.  If I can shift my thinking from all that needs done to gratitude that I have stuff to do then I don’t feel as stressed.  Instead I feel a little more prepared to get to work and be productive.  Now that might make me sound like I am an optimist or just a positive person, but that is very far from the truth.  I actually tend to be a sarcastic cynic in general that has to fight big battles for every silver lining that I find.  However, I am finding the battles are worth fighting.

I know this fast pace living is only a season and won’t last forever.  I also know that when I look back on this time I want to see that I learned how to be content and excel in those circumstances instead of being miserable, stressed, and overwhelmed all the time.  It will take work, but it will be worth it.  It already has been, I just need to give myself grace and remember I am learning and living as I go.

For my final piece of this challenge I picked the Vintage Candles Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  This tutorial isn’t in the style I normally enjoy, but I thought it would be a good one to expand my skills with undrilled beads or cabochons.  I have made a lot of tutorials that involve mirroring in this challenge and I felt like I needed a break from it, so this was a great piece to try.

Here are some pictures of the final piece…

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Vintage Candles Pendant
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Vintage Candles Pendant (Top View)
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Vintage Candles Pendant (Bottom View)

While I wasn’t sure I would like the pendant when I bought the tutorial I actually had a lot of fun making it and am really pleased with how it turned out.  When I was making the swirls in this piece I was surprised at how nice they turned out and I was also pleased with how the curves in the wire were developing.  The tutorials with all the swirls and curls I did in Week #4 are really paying off!

When I started my first challenge in July 2015 I was such a perfectionist that I had no option but make the piece to match the tutorial perfectly.  If it didn’t match the picture of the tutorial, then I had failed.  The thing is I was really great at creating an almost perfect replica each time so I thought I was doing a good job.  Over the course of the last couple of years I have become less of a perfectionist and more of a grace giver to myself.  As a result I began creating pieces from tutorials that I had a lot more fun making, but I couldn’t make them match the picture even though that was my aim.  I thought I had lost the ability to make a piece that matched the original artist’s picture in the tutorial until this piece where I actually got pretty close with only a couple of small differences.  It is nice to see that I haven’t lost that ability and that I was able to do it and have fun while doing it.

I am thankful for the growth and progress I see the Lord working in me…through jewelry making and life in general.

Before I wrap up this challenge I want to share two of the pendants from Week #4 that I oxidized and my husband was able to photograph this week.

Here are the pictures…

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Curious and Curled Pendant #2 (Week #4)
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Curious and Curled Pendant #2 (Week#4, Top View)

 

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Curious and Curled Pendant #3 (Week #4)

 

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Curious and Curled Pendant #3 (Week #4, Bottom View)

Well, that is all for my Winter 2017 Jewelry Challenge!  I plan to take at least two months off from challenges in general so my posting won’t be as regular as it has been.  However I will still be making jewelry and I will post periodically, so I don’t think I will go completely silent…just taking a break from the time schedule a challenge sets for me. 🙂  I hope you have a blessed week!

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #7…Brave Enough

Last week I began the daring adventure of wrapping a beautiful ocean lampwork bead made by Molly Cooley and this week I finished it up.  It has been a rewarding process overall and I am glad I took on the challenge.  I realize it may not seem like a big deal in the scope of life to wrap a bead, but it is more of what is going on inside me that is the big deal.  Being brave enough to take on fear of any kind is a big deal whether you are running into a burning building to save people or asking a friend for help.  It is easy to compare your seemingly minuscule feats to others larger than life heroics, but comparison is never a good idea.  We are all different with different sets of life experiences that turn us into the person we are.  We each have a different set of struggles that won’t look anything like the person next to us.  For me is it so easy to beat myself up over my struggles because I know of others that have harder things to deal with, but that is a wrong and hurtful attitude for me to have.  I constantly need to remind myself that my value isn’t dependent upon my successes or failures, but something outside myself entirely…the value God placed in me when He created me.  When I am able to remember this and operate out of that frame of mind I find myself much more willing to be brave and try new things.

In making jewelry I find many opportunities to be brave and try new things, but there is also the temptation to compare.  If I start looking at others work in comparison to mine I fall into a critical place either of other’s work or my own and that judgement has never led me to a good place.  Instead I have found that I excel when I focus on my own journey and progress without thinking abut how I measure up or fall short.  Now this doesn’t mean I don’t challenge myself to grow…if anything I fall on the side of trying to grow too much and not being content with the progress I make.  We all must challenge ourselves but comparisons don’t usually lead us to a place of growth…just hurt or pride depending upon where you fall in comparison.  Because of this I try to focus on my journey, run my race, and be brave where I can.

Last week when I decided I was ready to be brave and wrap my first ocean lampwork bead I had an idea in my mind, but I was unsure of how to bring it about.  I wanted to use woven wire to mimic the rolling flow of ocean waves to match the bead.  I am not good at drawing out ideas so I just make things and see how they turn out.  I wove a length of wire and swirled it to match what I thought I wanted, but the idea morphed until I had a frame for the bead.

Here is a picture of the frame I created to mimic the waves…

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This piece stretched my skills in constructing a pendant because the frame wasn’t attached anywhere and I wanted it to look like a natural part of the piece instead of an afterthought.  I did run into a couple of problems including some wires that snapped while I was trying to anchor the piece, but I was able to recover and create a beautiful piece.

Here are some picture of my finished piece…

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Portal Into the Night Necklace
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Portal Into the Night Necklace (Top View)
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Portal Into the Night Necklace (Left Side View)
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Portal Into the Night Necklace (Right Side View)
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Portal Into the Night Necklace (Bottom View)
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Portal Into the Night Necklace (Back View)

When I finished the piece I was worried that I might have covered the beautiful bead too much, but then I realized that it was exactly how I wanted it to be.  The overall effect is like a portal looking our into the ocean at night which I really like.  It reminds me of standing on the balcony at night looking out into the ocean through moonlight in Destin, Florida.  Remembering that creates such joy and rest in my mind and I am glad I was able to capture a piece of that in this necklace.  I don’t normally name my pieces but this one seemed to supply its own…Portal Into the Night.

It’s a bit of an odd thing for me when my creativity takes me places I wasn’t trying to go.  I like to plan and know where I am heading in general, but being creative with wire gives me a safe place to explore the unknown and delight in the journey as well as the destination.  I am grateful that I get to do something that I really enjoy and grow along the way.

It is about time to wrap up this post, but before I do I wanted to share some pictures of a couple of the necklaces that I oxidized and my husband photographed this week.

Here are the pictures…

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Oxidized Fern Weave Pendant with Labradorite (Week #3)

 

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Oxidized Fern Weave Pendant with Labradorite (Week #3)

 

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Oxidized Curious and Curled Pendant (Week #4)
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Oxidized Curious and Curled Pendant (Week #4)

I still have two more oxidized pendants from Week #4 to share and I plan to do that next week along with my final project for this challenge.  I hope that you have a great week and will be able to find some way to be brave in your journey this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life, Konmari Update, and Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #6…Worth the Time

In January 2016 I began a journey of going through my home using the Konmari Method by Marie Kondo.  In July 2016 I had completed the discarding part of the process…which is where I went through everything (yes everything) and figured out which items sparked joy for me then got rid of everything that didn’t.  The second part of the process is finding a home for all of the objects that bring me joy.  I would love to say that I was so motivated by finishing the process that I just zipped through that stage and was the perfect example for the Konmari method.  However if you have read my blog, you know that isn’t true.  The truth is I finished the discarding process out of pure discipline and perseverance.  As a reward for finishing this part of the process I decided to turn my craft room into a personal haven instead of a storage room for all of my crafts and other junk.  I began this project the last week of July.  I thought creating a special space and finding a home for everything in there first would really jump start the second phase of my Konmari journey with joy.

Well things were progressing okay until the final week of August when my sister passed away unexpectedly.  That pretty much blew everything up as far as goals and progress.  I was still in the midst of painting my room and I was so grateful to have something to keep me busy that didn’t require a lot of thought.  It took me a good three months before I had my room finished and everything had a home.  I found myself really struggling with trying to decide where stuff would go because I didn’t feel much joy at all and grieving makes decision making almost impossible.  I gave myself time and space to grieve and on the days I could figure some things out I would.  Most days though all I could do was remind myself of the truth…I hadn’t failed in my big goal I was just knocked down for a time.

It was hard when January 2017 rolled around and I realized it had been a year since I started the process.  However I kept reminding myself of the truth and continued working as I could.  In January I started taking pictures of items I plan to sell online.  The process was drawing out quite a bit and I thought it might be due to some grief, but I realized it was because I was bored.  It was nice to see that grief wasn’t keeping me from progressing, but a normal thing was.  After a week of this I decided it was time to set some goals and reasonable deadlines for my Konmari journey.  It was great to get things out on paper that I need to finish up.  When it came to setting the deadlines I was a little nervous, but I knew I needed an ending point in mind instead of “whenever I get it done”.  Today was my first deadline and after working really hard this week I was able to finish my project last night!  It was such a wonderful feeling to say the least.  I hope to continue meeting my deadlines and be finished with my Konmari journey as a whole by July 1, 2017.  We shall see what happens, but that is my goal.

Besides working hard at completing some Konmari tasks this week I have also been working on a new pendant.  I have spent most of my time this year working with tutorials and I have felt the desire growing in me to create one of my own pieces.  Also after last week I really wanted to be able to spend my time with some slow wire wrapping to remind myself that I do quality work.  So I decided to be really brave and wrap one of the ocean lampwork beads by Molly Cooley that I have been hoarding.  The particular bead I chose to wrap this week was the first bead I ever bought from her.  I realized that I have been hoarding…I mean admiring it for a little over a year.  When I first came across Molly’s beads I couldn’t believe that a bead could be so beautiful.  The night time ocean scenes are my absolute favorite.  Over the last year I have bought several of her beads.  I have gotten brave enough to to wrap two lovely tree beads and one ocean heart bead.  I haven’t been brave enough to wrap the round ocean beads until this week.

Here are some pictures of the beads I mentioned above that I have wrapped and helped me to gain confidence in my skills…

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When I began gathering my wire and other supplies for my pendant this week I would glance at the bead and get a little nervous and ask myself if I was really going to do this. Finally I came to the point of telling myself that if I wrapped the bead and wasn’t happy with the results then I could cut the bead out, toss the wire, and begin again.  That was a freeing thing to realize.  It is one of the things I appreciate about wire wrapping…second chances.

Last week when I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed, I came across a new weave that I really liked and wanted to try.  I decided to try it on this week’s piece.  It wasn’t too hard to do overall since the basic pattern is part of a weave I use in most of my pieces.  It did require me to pay attention to each wrap though because there was a new order.  It also was a little challenging because my six base wires were 60 cm long.  That is a lot of wire to keep straight, but  I had a lot of fun taking my time to create the large section of weave that began my piece.

Here is a picture of the new weave I learned…

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One of the neat things about wire weaving is how the pattern looks different on each side.  Sometimes it can look like a mess, but sometimes there is a new pattern waiting to be discovered.  In this case I found the back to be very pretty and I decided to incorporate the pattern of it in another part of my pendant.  It was a little more tricky to figure out than the first one, but I got it without too much drama.

Here is a picture of the weaving pattern I found on the back of the other new weave…

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Those two sections of weaving actually took up most of my time that I set aside for jewelry making this week.  This week my Konmari task took up most of my time in general and because my husband and I have set aside this weekend for some “us” time I didn’t finish my piece.  Normally I would be disappointed that I didn’t finish the piece, but I am not.  I am glad that I didn’t rush it just to finish.  I want my wire work to match the beauty of the ocean bead and that will take some planning and patience.  It will most definitely be a worth while endeavor.

Here is a picture of my overall progress so far…

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I have attempted to mimic some ocean waves with wire that I plan to implement into my pendant.  I look forward to sharing the finished piece with you next week.  I also hope that I will have time to photograph the oxidized pieces from the past several weeks.  We shall see how it all works out.  I hope that you have a blessed week!

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #5…When I Don’t Go With My Gut

Last week I really enjoyed making three pendants and the speed in which I accomplished them in.  This week I wanted to continue that speed and see if I might be able to make more than one piece, but sadly it didn’t work out the way I had anticipated.

I chose the La Petite Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna for my main project this week.  Since I have been trying to work on improving my skills in working with undrilled stones and beads I thought this tutorial would be another great step.  I was correct that it would help me grow in that area, but it ended up being in what I don’t want to repeat rather than what I succeeded in.

In the beginning things were going okay.  There were some parts of the tutorial I wasn’t very confident on, but I figured they would work out eventually because they usually do.  A little way into the pendant frame I ended up with some wires that were too tight and ended up bunching up.  I used my flat nose pliers to flatten the area out, which is something I normally do.  What I didn’t realize was that I had flattened it too much and created a hole in the back side.  The hole wasn’t merely a separation in the wire, but a place where the wire had been flattened almost as if I had hammered it.

Here is a picture with the hole in the section of wire I mentioned…

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The hole is near the bottom part of the wrapped column of wire.

I knew there wasn’t a way to repair it and I thought I should restart the project since I wasn’t too far into it.  However I didn’t go with my gut at this point and I continued on.  I didn’t want to lose the time I had already invested and I thought it would mean I wouldn’t get to another project this week if I chose to begin anew.

Several years ago when I started making wire jewelry I used the wire that I found at my local  craft store which was colored coated copper and silver plated wire.  The problem I found with these wires was the marks that marred the coating no matter how careful I was.  I eventually found a special coating for my pliers, but that didn’t always help.  It is so discouraging to finish a piece, but mar the coating during the final small adjustments that it needs.  One of the reasons I love working with raw copper wire is because of its forgiving nature.  If I get tool marks on it I can file and polish them out and it looks like new wire.  I am no longer afraid to make mistakes with my wire and that has made making jewelry much more fun.

One thing I found out on this piece is that even though my wire can take the filing my beads can’t.  Now I do know that, but I wasn’t paying attention to the bead, so I accidentally ended up sanding off some of the coating on my swarovski rivioli bead.  I didn’t realize that the coating on the back is what gives it the beautiful colors reflected through the front.  Lesson learned…and I needed to pick a new bead since I learned it the hard way.

Here is a picture of the pretty rivioli I planned to used…

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The white/clear part in the very center is where I sanded the color off.

 

Normally at this point in a project I would walk away and take a break because I don’t do my best work when irritated or frustrated.  However once again I ignored what I thought best so I could finish the piece and move on to something else.  Well my assumptions that things would just work out if I kept going really didn’t work out so well.  I ended up with a finished piece that I really didn’t like and one I don’t plan to sell because I am not satisfied in the quality of the piece.

Here are some pictures of the finished necklace…

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La Petite Pendant (Right View)
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La Petite Pendant (Left View)

 

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La Petite Pendant (Front View)

I am not sure if you can really tell in the pictures that the green rivioli focal bead actually comes to a point in the center.  That means the point should be facing the front and as you can see in the “Front View” picture it is actually a little to the left.  Sadly this throws the whole piece off visually for me since it is meant to be a symmetrical pendant.  That is one of several things that makes me unhappy with the finished product.  I tried to see if I could correct the issue, but I guess it was made early on in the process so I couldn’t straighten it without doing significant damage to the piece.  It will be something to pay closer attention to in the future.

There were many lessons I learned from this pendant, so while I didn’t like the finished product, it was a worthwhile journey and opportunity for growth.

Here are some of the lessons I learned/remembered…

~Trust my gut!

~It is better to walk away for a short time and return to success than push forward to failure.

~Don’t assume everything will work out…make plans and choices so it does.

~Be present in the moment…even in creating.

~Finishing something is important, but it isn’t always the most important.

~There is a difference in the speed gained by being in a “groove” of wire wrapping and the speed I try to attain by rushing my progress…the difference is the quality of my work.

~I am happiest with quality over quantity.

While I did finish this piece early in the week I found that it messed with my jewelry making the rest of the week.  I had planned to make some viking knit end caps for a necklace I already made, but it turned out to be really stressful so I decided to wait on making them.  It is a personal item, so I have all the time I need.  I am just thankful I learned my lesson and decided to wait instead of pushing through.  I also had planned to have all of my necklaces of the past couple of weeks oxidized and share pictures of them this week.  I did get them all oxidized, but not polished or photographed.  Instead I plan to work on them this coming week.

Here is a preview picture of them…

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Pendants that are oxidized, but not polished

 

Well, that is it for this week.  I look forward to a fresh week and new pieces of jewelry to create!  I am getting the itch to create something without a tutorial again, so I will probably do another of my pieces in the coming weeks.  I hope you have a blessed week!

“Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.” ~John C. Maxwell

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #4…Swirls, Flying and Fun

This week I have absolutely loved making jewelry.  Last Sunday I decided to work on swirls for this week’s challenge and the pendants from Nicole Hanna’s Curious and Curled Pendant Tutorial Pack were great for this.  The tutorial has three pendants in it and I thought I knew which one I wanted to make but the more I looked at them the more I wanted to try to make them all.  My challenge is to make one piece and honestly there are some weeks that I cannot even get one piece finished, but I decided to aim pretty high this week.  I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get started on these pendants so last Sunday night I cut wire and gathered the needed supplies for all three pendants.  I also got started on the pendant I wanted to make sure I finished.  In the past I have struggled with how long it takes me to make things, but with this pendant I was flying and not compromising the quality I strive for in the process.  It was an amazing thing to experience and it lasted most of the week.  As a result I was able to actually finish all THREE pendants!  Truly an amazing and exciting thing for me.

Here is a picture of all three pendants…

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Curious and Curled Trio of Pendants

Didn’t they turn out lovely!  I am also excited about how unique yet cohesive they look as a group.

Here are some more detailed pictures of the one I wanted to make sure I got finished…

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Swirl Pendant with Cat’s Eye Bead
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Swirl Pendant with Cat’s Eye Bead (Top View)
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Swirl Pendant with Cat’s Eye Bead (Bottom View)

I was uncertain how I would do with all of the tight swirls, since that technique has been a struggle in the past.  Once I got into it thought, I really had a lot of fun.  They were not as hard as I thought and I found myself a lot more relaxed in making them.  I think being relaxed and having fun making them really helped me make more consistent swirls.  In the pendant above I had to add a few swirls and coils to make it work because my spacing worked out a little different than the tutorial.  I noticed the swirl that I added looks a little less round than the others and I found that to be interesting because it was the only thing that “wasn’t” supposed to be there per the tutorial.  Now I have long since graduated from needing to follow a tutorial perfectly, but the perfectionist in me still rebels at the idea sometimes.  I see this slight variation of shape as evidence of that, but I also see it as great growth.  In the past I would have felt like such a failure when the piece didn’t turn out just as the tutorial said…now I am excited over my ability to adapt when the tutorial goes awry and add elements from the tutorial to finish the piece to make it look natural.

Here are some pictures of the second pendant I made this week…

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Swirled Pendant with Swarovski Crystal Bead
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Swirled Pendant with Swarovski Crystal Bead (Top View)
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Swirled Pendant with Swarovski Crystal Bead (Bottom View)

I found this pendant to be a lot of fun to work on as well.  I also added some extra elements that were present in the tutorial as I went along for a couple of reasons.  One reason is to make this piece pleasing to my eye and the other is to satisfy my need for balance.

Here are pictures of my third and final pendant for this week…

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Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead
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Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead (Top View)
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Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead (Bottom View)

This was my least favorite pendant to work on and it took most of my time.  I found myself getting bogged down in it on Friday, but I was determined to finish it.  I think what made this one not as fun was all of the little fiddly points where you had to anchor the wire and weave in tight spots.  It is challenging and I tend to injure myself with my tools while doing it.  There was also a point with this pendant where I had finally got my weave anchored and then my weaving wire snapped.  Sigh, so I had to undo it and then add in the weaving wire once again.  Oh well, it had to be done and I wasn’t going to leave it undone.  Things in my life are like that at times.  I may not want to do something, but I know it has to be done.  I find it is tempting to procrastinate, but it is always better when I just push through and get it done.  This pendant was no different.  I pushed through it and I was so glad I did.  It helped me reach my goal of getting three pendants done this week.

Some things I learned/remembered this week are…

~Jewelry making is so fun!

~When I am having fun and enjoying myself in the process I can go a lot faster.

~When things aren’t fun it is okay to press through just to get to the other side…that may be where the fun is.

~A broken wire doesn’t mean the piece will never be done and the same is true of me…I may be broken, but God isn’t done with me.

~Things that may seem hard or unreachable are still worth aiming for because there are times when you achieve that which seems impossible.

~Things that don’t go according to the plan can still be beautiful.

I am not sure what I will be working on this week, but I will be oxidizing a lot of pieces from the past couple of weeks.  I will try to have those pictures in my post next week.

As a little side note, my husband is teaching me his process of taking pictures and this is the first week I set up the shots.  He is such a good teacher…so patient with me. 🙂  It has been interesting learning the basics of all that goes into what he does.  I look forward to learning more and putting it into practice here.

I hope you have a blessed week that is full of fun and life!

 

 

 

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #3…When There Is No Story

Most of the time when I make something there is an experience or story to share with it.  That hasn’t been my experience this week.  I have tried to think of something and I realized that I don’t need to come up with something just to write about it, so this entry will be pretty straight forward as was the piece I made.

I chose to create a pendant using the Fern Weave Tutorial by Julie Hulick.  It was another opportunity to work with a cabochon and expand my skills in that area.  It was a pretty quick piece to make overall.  I did find the back of it took the most time, but I am learning that capturing a cabochon can be tricky especially if you are not used to it.  They don’t like to stay put.

Here are some pictures of my finished piece…

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Fern Weave Pendant (Front View)

 

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Fern Weave Pendant (Back View)

 

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Fern Weave Pendant (Top View)
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Fern Weave Pendant (Side View)

 

Some things learned or remembered…

~Cabochons are slippery and like to pop out of their frames so keep a proper grasp on them or else they might go flying.

~People have different ways of creating wire jewelry and it won’t be comfortable for me to use new methods at first but I will adapt.

~Labradorite is my favorite gemstone.

~Just because a project looks simple doesn’t mean it is okay to assume it won’t take time to make.

~It is good to try new things to learn and grow, but it is also good to be content and confident in my current skills.

~I really like the bail in this pendant and look forward to incorporating it into future pieces.

~Good enough is good enough.

That is all for this week.  I am excited about what I have chosen to make next week.  I also have some other things I am wanting to make for my personal jewelry, but we will see how much I get to make.  I hope that you have a great week!

Winter 2017 Jewelry Challenge Week #2…The Art of Finishing

Last week I didn’t finish my piece.  It wasn’t a great way to start the challenge for me, but I decided to accept where I was and move forward with grace instead of getting caught up in the disappointment.  This week I wanted to finish the piece from last week and then finish another pendant that I had started last month instead of beginning something new.

In general, I try not to start too many projects without finishing them because it is so easy to end up with a pile of things half done. I notice this to be the case in all aspects of my life not just in jewelry making.  This is especially a problem in organizing and cleaning because when looking around there are just piles of stuff and it is hard to see the progress.  There is something about being able to see progress that energizes me to keep going and ultimately finish.

I have noticed in the past several months I have had a harder time finishing things due to the grief of losing my sister.  Grief is a funny thing that affects us all in so many different ways, most of which we don’t realize.  I tend to analyze things that go on and how they affect me because I like to understand what is going on in and around me.  I noticed that one of the reasons I was having such a hard time finishing things was due to my decision making ability being hindered.  I didn’t realize how much grief can affect your ability to decide things, but it makes a lot of sense because of all the emotions rolling through you at that time.  Realizing this made me so thankful that I had already finished the first part of my konmari journey – where I went through everything I owned and decided what sparked joy and got rid of the rest.  I was in the second part where I decided on a home for each item and that is where I got side tracked due to my loss.  Things may not have a home, but at least I am not looking at a bunch of stuff that I don’t like. 🙂

Jewelry making can require a lot of decisions if you are not following a tutorial.  You may not even recognize that decisions are being made, I know I didn’t at first.  I starting having trouble finishing my pieces and I couldn’t figure out why, but I recognized how many decisions I was trying to make and the problem became clear.  As a result I have let a few unfinished pieces build up this past fall.  I decided I needed the freedom to create without the pressure of creating a finished product.

This week I was able to finish two pieces and it felt great to push through each decision I needed to make and continue on.

Here are some pictures of the Amphora Vessel Pendant (Nicole Hanna tutorial) from last

week that I finished…

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Amphora Vessel Pendant
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Amphora Vessel Pendant

It was an interesting piece to complete.  Normally I would not have had much fun with the challenges of the mirroring and the cabochon, but I really did.  I think the biggest challenges were having a larger stone to work with and needing to adjust the tutorial accordingly.  Normally that isn’t a big problem, but because I haven’t worked with many cabochons I don’t have a solid grasp on the construction for a piece made with an undrilled stone.  Last week when I was making the first part of the pendant I was wishing for a drilled stone that would stay in place instead of a slippery cabochon that kept popping out while I was trying to capture it.

I really enjoyed working with the labradorite.  All of the different hidden facets that were brought out with light made it fun to explore.  I look forward to working with more of this type of stone in the future.

Here are some pictures with the labradorite doing a couple different things based in the lighting…

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The other piece that I finished this week was created with a glass lampwork bead made by Molly Cooley.  My normal habit is to make pieces with beads I have had on hand for a while, but when I received this bead I couldn’t wait to wrap it.  I got the general design worked out in December, but I got to all of the little finishing details and got a little overwhelmed.  This week I was determined to focus and figure out those little details and make all of those little decisions.  It was a lot easier than I expected and I am thankful for that.

Here are some pictures of the completed pendant…

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Right Side View
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Left Side View
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Bottom View

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to wrap this bead at first.  I knew that I didn’t want to cover the bead at all because it is so lovely.  It was a challenge to make something that fit my style, but didn’t cover or overshadow the bead, but I am pleased with the results.

I didn’t use a tutorial for this pendant, but I did borrow a technique from a tutorial that  I have been wanting to play around with.  The smaller wire weave going over the bail is a technique from the Fern Weave Pendant tutorial by Julie Hulick.  That is a tutorial that I hope to work with in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to incorporate that part of it into my pendant this week.

Here is a picture of the bail with the technique mentioned…

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Top View

This week has been a good reminder of how great it feels to finish things.  I know I enjoy making jewelry, but it is nice to feel that joy in the process of making and finishing different pieces.  I look forward to beginning a new piece tomorrow for Week #3!  I hope that you have a blessed week!

Winter 2017 Jewelry Challenge Week #1…Embracing My Humanity, Something a Bit More Personal

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that a new year has begun again.  It is an exciting time full of hope, possibilities, and plans for most.  I am one who loves to set goals and resolutions for the new year.  I enjoy the process of figuring things out and working through step by step how to reach my goals.  In the past there was no doubt in my mind that I would actually accomplish what I set out to achieve.  I am sad to say that it made me prideful and not very compassionate to others who were struggling to meet their own goals.  I didn’t realize it wasn’t a  normal thing to set my mind to something and simply do it.  For me success wasn’t an option, but a requirement.   I didn’t understand that life can get in the way and stop even the best laid plans.

Things have happened over the last five or six years that have changed this in me.  I have come to learn that there are days that it is hard to get out of bed due to a body that can barely function and the inability to move forward because of panic and and paralyzing fear.  I have learned that life getting in the way is a real thing…and I usually resent it.  I am not very fond of my humanity and it’s weaknesses…I mean after all the perfectionist in me is demanding perfection and my humanity cannot give it.  Looking back over my journey and struggles these past few years is kind of amusing to me now.  I see that it is not logical  to resist the very thing I am…a flawed human.  I know my expectations are unrealistic, but it isn’t very easy to see something when you are so close to it.  One of the driving factors to this resistance to my humanity was my need for people’s approval.  Good behavior, productivity, and dependability are praised.  In my mind receiving approval meant I was loved and had value…so I kept working towards it because we all want to be loved and have value.  What I didn’t realize as I was driving myself into the ground to gain this love and worth was I already had it.  It was something that God had already lavished upon me in Christ.  Grace is something else I have that I forget to rely on when I mess up in my humanness (which is often).  It is hard to get that to register, but I am trying to remind myself of that as I walk out each day.

You may ask what in the world does any of this have to do with a jewelry challenge?  Well, I have needed to walk in the grace I have been given.  My humanity has been in full swing this week as my best laid plans went awry.

The piece I chose to work on this week is the  Amphora Vessel Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I was tempted to pick a simpler tutorial to begin my challenge…one I was sure I could finish.  However in the spirit of aiming higher this year I chose this one for the challenge.  It is a tutorial that uses a cabochon as the focal and I have only made one piece with a cabochon before this.  It wasn’t a happy experience for me because the cabochon kept popping out as I was trying to wrap it.  One thing I did know is that I wanted to keep wrapping cabochons until I was comfortable with the process.

I am sad to say that I didn’t get this piece finished.  That has been a battle and it feels like a lame beginning to my challenge, but I am choosing to give myself grace.  I  will not give into the feelings that I have failed, but will instead continue making this piece until it is finished.  I will see this piece for what it is, the beginning of something great…not as a failed attempt.  It would only be a failed attempt if I quit and that is simply not something I do.

Here is a picture of my progress so far…

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Not too shabby.  The cabochon in this piece is labradorite and this is my first time working with it.  It is such a beautiful and fun stone.  The reason is because of the hidden properties of it.  When light is applied to it there are different colored flashes that come out of it.

Here is a picture to show what I mean…

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Isn’t it beautiful and so unexpected!  It is a good reminder to me on those days when I am feeling gray that I might need to shine some light on things in order to see the beauty that was there all long.

I hope that as you go through your week you find encouragement in your own struggles and dark places.  Not that the struggles or dark places themselves are beautiful, but that out of them we can become more beautiful and sometimes we get grace to see some beauty while in them.  Just remember that it won’t last forever…no matter how long the night may seem!

Some of the beauty that has come out of my struggle to embrace my humanity is I am a much more compassionate and gracious person.  While I am still working on learning to give myself grace, I can more freely give it to others.  I don’t depend on others to fill me up with love and value…I know I already have them in Christ…I just keep reminding myself of that.  This allows me to love others without needing something from them in return.  It isn’t an easy thing to do and I still fall into old patterns, but I redirect my thinking when I become aware of it.

Well, it is time to say goodbye for now.  No matter how your new year has started, I hope that you won’t quit looking for the beauty in each day.  May you find encouragement and hope for those hard places!

Wrapping Up 2016

It is hard to believe that 2017 is almost here.  With the loss of my sister at the end of August I feel like I have lost the second half of 2016.  The concept of time was has been suspended and so have most of my normal activities.  Due to this inactivity, I felt like I had failed in the goals I had set out to accomplish this year.  My konmari journey has come to a stand still, my dreams of getting into shape slipped away, and my jewelry making has been almost non existent all leaving me with feelings of failure and defeat.  However after some thought I realized that none of these things are failures if I continue my journey and don’t give up no matter how beat down I may feel.

If you have read many of my past posts you may realize that I struggle with wanting things to be perfect and not messy.  The whole purpose of this blog is to share my journey of learning to accept life in all of it’s messy and imperfect beauty.  Most of that journey is shared through my jewelry making, but there are bits of my other projects and goals thrown in along with life in general.  So as 2016 wraps up, I am going to chose to embrace the hard lessons of this year and in all of the mess I will seek and find the beauty through God’s grace.

I haven’t made many pieces over the last few months, but I want to share what I have made and my journey in making them.

Shortly after my sister passed away I ended up making a pendant.  It turned into a way of expressing my grief.  I had never expressed such emotion in a creative outlet before and it turned into a very personal piece.

Here are some pictures my pendant…

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My Shrouded Heart Pendant
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My Shrouded Heart Pendant

The main focal bead I used was a heart shaped lampwork bead made by Jacqueline Parks which you can’t really tell from looking at the finished piece.  At first I was concerned that I had hidden away the pretty bead, but when I analyzed the piece I realized it was on purpose.  This pendant had become a representation of my grief over losing my sister and that is when this piece started to make a little more sense to me.  The heart bead represented my heart and I didn’t want to show it…I wanted to shroud and protect it.

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My Shrouded Heart Pendant-Top View

The bail seemed too large at first, but then I realized that the extra weaves on either side was a picture of my need for extra support during this time.

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My Shrouded Heart Pendant-Side View

The tightly woven layers were the protection that my broken heart needed to keep it from shattering in response to the pain.

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My Shrouded Heart Pendant-Bottom View

And this spiraled weave was representative on how bound up and confused I felt.

There has been a lot of processing this grief the past four months.  It has not been an easy road and it isn’t over, but I am having more good days than bad for which I am so thankful!

I also created my first two custom orders during this time.  My first custom piece was an arm cuff based off the design of a bracelet that I made using a tutorial from Sarah Thompson.

Here is a picture of the Wave Bracelet that the arm cuff was based on…

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Wave Bracelet

This was a great challenge for me in several ways.  First, I had never made an arm cuff before so I had to figure out the construction techniques of it.

Second, I wasn’t sure that it was possible to turn this bracelet into an arm cuff due to the construction of the bracelet.  From what I could tell most arm cuffs are created with the stabilizing point being in the band part of the cuff and then the ends are usually decorative.  The Wave Bracelet is the reverse of that.  The band is loose and flowing and the stabilizing point is around the hinge of the clasp.  It was a challenge to wrap my mind around it so I could create an arm cuff with the band loose and flowing with natural looking ends instead of a faux clasp end.

Third,  I had to take someone else’s  general criteria and turn them into a piece of jewelry.  This was an interesting and some what nerve wracking process because I didn’t know the person.  However, by the end of it I think it stretched me in good ways and helped expand my own perspective and ideas.

Finally, my patience was challenged in the wrapping and constructive process.  When dealing with multiple half-hard base wires that are 18 inches long there is a great need for patience…unless you just want to wad it all up. 🙂

Here are some pictures of the finished arm cuff…

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Arm Cuff
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Arm Cuff Ends
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Arm Cuff Ends
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Arm Cuff Band

This arm cuff was one of the most difficult things I have made so far and I am so glad I accepted the challenge.  I am pleased with the results and so is my customer which makes it all the more exciting and worth it.

My second custom order was for a shawl pin, which is something else I had not made before.  After completing the arm cuff this project was a lot easier due to the simplicity of the piece.  My customer gave me a general idea of what was wanted, but gave me creative freedom.  I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to create, but my first two attempts failed.  I was unsatisfied with the sturdiness of the designs I was trying to create, so I went back to the drawing board for a third time and finally had a successful design.

Here are some pictures of the finished shawl pin…

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Shawl Pin
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Shawl Pin Base
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Shawl Pin Base-Close Up View
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Shawl Pin Stick-Close Up View
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Shawl Pin Stick

I had a lot of fun making this piece and my customer was really happy with the results. This shawl pin is the first piece of jewelry I have made that is functional.  Most of the pieces I make only have the job of being pretty, but this one also needed to be productive as well.  So while I try to make all of my pieces sturdy, this one required a higher level of sturdiness and it expanded my construction skills.

That wraps up all I have made over the past few months.  I look forward to making more jewelry in the coming months.  I have some big goals for 2017 and I look forward to seeing how many I can accomplish.  I am also planning a new jewelry challenge for January and February.  It will be like some of my past jewelry challenges where I make a piece a week and then write a blog post about my experience in making it.  I think that will be a great way to get back into the habit of regularly making things and sharing about them here.  If you are interested in joining me in any of my jewelry challenges there is a Facebook group where you can do that.  Here is a link to that group…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/495846887292459/

Well, I guess this is goodbye to 2016 and tomorrow will be hello to 2017.  I hope you have a blessed New Year!

October 2016 Jewelry Challenge Week #4…Something New

This is the final week for my October 2016 Jewelry Challenge!  I know a month isn’t too long, but it has gone by even quicker than I thought it would!  Tuesday will start November and that means Thanksgiving will be here before you know it followed closely by Christmas…but we won’t talk about that right now to avoid too much stress. 🙂

The theme for this week was “something new”.  There were a few “new” things for me this week, the main one being I have been working on an arm cuff.  I haven’t made one before and so far it has been an interesting challenge.  I say so far because I actually haven’t finished it.  The arm cuff I am working on is a custom order and I felt the need to take my time and make sure I capture what my customer wanted.  Due to the lack of uncertainty that can come with new things and all of the weaving that needs done up front I decided to just focus on the majority of the weaving this week and then I will be able to focus on ending the arm cuffs which is where designing and lots of critical thinking will come into play.  This week I have just had fun focusing on the weaving.

Here is a picture of the different weaves I have been working on and will be incorporating into the arm cuff…

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Weaving for Arm Cuff Band

There has been lots of  weaving because I am working on having 10 inches of each weave for my starting point in the band section of the cuff.  Something else that is new for me is working with half hard base wires.  It will help add to the structural integrity of the cuff which is needed, but I am really missing my 22 gauge dead soft wire.  I am learning more patience as I do all of this weaving while working with 18 inches of 18 gauge half hard wire.

I didn’t want to end my challenge with an unfinished project, but I know the right decision is to take the needed time and do it right.  I am not disappointed about this and that is something else new.  In the past, an unfinished project would have been a failure to me, but I am thankful to say I can see past today to the end of the project and it looks so much brighter at the thought of taking the necessary time.

I plan to share the finished piece once I do complete it, but it may be a week or two.  It will be a great learning experience for me!

Well, I guess that is it for this challenge.  I plan to take November and December off from any challenges so I can enjoy the holiday season.  I will continue to make jewelry, but it will be at a different pace.  We will see what the new year holds in the way of new challenges.

I hope you all have a blessed week!