Category Archives: Life

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!

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 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 #2…Fun with Swirls

This has been one of those hard weeks where it seems like very little is going right.  It wasn’t so much big things that were going wrong, but all the little things that we can take for granted.  An example would be that opening my cold coffee would result in an open container of coffee…not coffee all over me, the counter, and under the refrigerator.  Or when trying a new recipe for dinner it would actually be edible if not tasty…however when you add baking soda to cut the acidity and it reacts with the vinegar in the dish, dinner looks more like a science experiment rather than something to eat.  By the way, I don’t recommend using baking soda to cut the acidity in any dish…unless you enjoy the flavor of baking soda that is. 🙂  So since normal life seemed to be going haywire for no apparent reason other than to widdle away at my sanity, I was a little concerned about working with wire this week.  Emotions play a big part in my jewelry making process and if I am upset things generally don’t turn out very neat and tidy…and let’s face it I LOVE neat and tidy work.

There is something about working with wire that is usually calming and sparks great joy.  This week was one of those times when I was working with wire and things just seemed right. I love that feeling and I am thankful when the Lord provides those moments when all seems well.  I want to grab a hold of them and be able to relive them all the time, but it isn’t possible.  I am learning to just be present in those moments and not worry about how long they will last so I don’t miss the gift of that moment.  Is there something that helps you feel moments of “all is well”?  It is a great thing to have in this world when so much seems to be chaotic and full of pain.

Before I run too far away on a tangent, let’s get back to my jewelry project for the week.  The theme for this week was  “swirls”.  I haven’t included many swirls in my pieces mostly because I have been uncertain with twisting the wire weaves and I can struggle with making neat swirls with bare wire.  I wanted to make a pendant with swirls made out of a section of woven wire.  I was uncertain how I would go about it, but once I got started it was actually really fun.  I decided to do a full strand of the swirls and use it in place of the woven beaded strand that I really like using in my pieces.

Here are some picture of the final results…

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Swirl Pendant
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Swirl Pendant
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Swirl Pendant-Right Side View
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Swirl Pendant-Left Side View

I think it turned out really cute.  It is a smaller piece than I tend to make which I actually prefer when choosing something to wear.  However I find when I am making a piece I really love weaving and sometimes it is hard to stop. 🙂  I am finding balance in this.

I can tell that my confidence has really grown in my jewelry making skills along with my actual abilities.  When I did my six month challenge last year I would fret over whether I could make a piece of jewelry a week and I would spend time each day on the piece and eventually finish it up, but it could be a stressful thing.  Now I am making pieces without tutorials and I am not concerned about finishing.  I have learned that I will most likely be able to finish things up relatively quickly and that is such a great feeling.  I am so thankful for the growth in this area and it makes jewelry making a much more enjoyable experience.  I have several projects that I am working on at present and it keeps me from making jewelry full time, but I am looking forward to the time when I can.

This is the halfway point of my October challenge.  I am enjoying experimenting with different kinds of techniques or categorizes rather than just trying to make a piece a week.  It has been a new learning experience and I am thankful for it.  Well, I guess this is good bye for now.  I hope you have a blessed week that is full of good moments even if life seems to be hitting really hard in general.

October 2016 Jewelry Challenge Week #1…Facing My Nemesis

I have decided to do a Jewelry Challenge for the month of October.  It is a little different than my previous challenges in which the goal was to work on the habit of regularly creating jewelry.  This challenge will have a different category each week.  If you would like to participate in this jewelry challenge with me, join my Facebook group where I am hosting it… https://www.facebook.com/groups/495846887292459/.  I will announce the theme for each week on Monday and then have the whole week to complete the challenge and post a picture to share it.

The theme for the first week was “your nemesis”.  It is something that you know how to do in wire work, but struggle with doing or avoid doing.  My nemesis is mirroring and by default earrings.  It is incredibly frustrating to my brain to try and figure out how to do the reverse of what I have just done.  I know that I can do it, but I don’t feel like I can do it very well, and if you have read my blog at all you probably know that is a big problem for me.  I like my wire work to be impeccably neat and tidy.  Seeing things neat and orderly sparks great joy for me and when I see things in my own work that don’t flow in that way I start to struggle.  I think it shows my humanity too much…which may sound strange, but I haven’t been very comfortable with my humanity in general.  As a perfectionist in general I don’t like mistakes and I don’t like messy, but the Lord has really been helping me in this and I have grown a lot in becoming okay with being human and it showing in my work.

I chose to make a pair of earrings this week in order to face my nemesis.  I thought I would do fine and while it would be hard, I didn’t doubt I could do it.  Well that is nice in theory, but when life comes in and dumps a bunch of messy emotions and hard things on you that theory falls through.  I know I have grit and I am capable, but sometimes life throws you such a curve ball that you are left reeling from the pain and wonder when you will recover.  That has been true for me for the six weeks.  I mentioned in my last blog post that my sister passed away on August 26th.  Well yesterday would have been her 32nd birthday.  It was a hard day, but it has been a hard week emotionally knowing that her birthday was coming.  Given all of this I found my resolve really weak…especially since I was working on something I would rather not do.  I might have questioned my sanity in picking such a hard category in starting off the challenge, but I have never been one to do things the easy way.

The earrings I chose to make were the Rolling Seas Earrings which is a tutorial created by Nicole Hanna.  I like all of the weaving that went into making these earrings, but the mirroring was a challenge.  I don’t think it was as big of a deal this time because my heart wasn’t really in making them.  I am finding the connection between my emotions and my wire work interesting.  I am not quite as worried about getting everything perfect right now.  I am more interested in just getting something done rather than obsessing over all the little details.  I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, for right now it just is.  We shall see how it plays out in the long term.  I know that I don’t want to produce sloppy work, but neither do I want to be so obsessed with perfection that I can’t enjoy the process of making something.

Anyway, after some serious procrastination I did actually finish the earrings.  Something did go wrong in the process though and I had to alter them a little.

Here is a picture where the tutorial ended…

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Rolling Seas Earrings (where the tutorial ended)

Houston, we have a problem!  After thinking about it I know where I went wrong.  There is a point in the tutorial that mentioned making a slight U shape.  Well I usually over do things so I was trying to emphasize the slight part of the U and as a result I got the above finished product. 🙂  Now I have done enough tutorials to know that the early shaping in a tutorial is usually something that you can’t recover from if you do it wrong, and you usually won’t realize there is something wrong until much later in the tutorial…usually near the end.  Having that knowledge has saved me from messing up a lot of pieces, but sadly I fell into that hole with this one.  In the past I would have felt like such a failure and not known how to finish the project.  The difference this time around is my determination to finish and I have gained the knowledge of how to fix it, so I tried to make the best of the circumstances.

Here are some picture of my finished earrings…

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Rolling Seas Earrings
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Rolling Seas Earring
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Rolling Seas Earring

They didn’t turn out too bad, but they are not my favorite thing I have made.  I will probably like them more in the future as I distance myself from the making of them. 🙂  Oh mirroring…will there ever be a time when you are not my nemesis?!  I am not sure, but I do know that I sure felt great when I finished them!  I think when something is a real challenge there is such a genuine satisfaction in the completion of it.

Some of the things I have learned or remembered from this experience are…

~Remember to pay attention in the early parts of shaping in a tutorial because it can greatly effect the shape of your whole piece.

~Trying something again, especially something you dislike is a good growth experience.

~I am gaining really good problem solving abilities in my wire work.

~Even when things seem too hard and life seems too much, I can go on with the Lord’s help.

~My heart doesn’t have to be in something for me to do it and do it well.

~Being vulnerable can be hard, but it is helpful to others…to let them know they are not alone in their struggles and in the end it reminds me I am not alone in my struggles.

I have completed another piece that I am calling my “grief pendant”.  I am not sure when I will actually get around to sharing it, but I hope it will be this month.  Well, I think that is it for this week.  I hope you all have a blessed week!

Summer Jewelry Challenge Week #10…Finding the Groove

Last week I tried a few new things in wire wrapping and had fun, but one thing I really missed was the weaving.  My favorite thing about working with wire is the weaving part.  I love to make thick weaves with many base wires and I also love including a variety of different weaves in my pieces.  The only downside to weaving with many base wires is it can take a while, but it is worth it in the end.  Because I really missed weaving last week, I was pretty sure I wanted to make another piece of my own as this week’s project so I could weave like a crazy woman. 🙂

I decided to use a dyed (what I think is agate) bead that I bought a strand of last year at a bead show as my focal bead.  The stones were dyed an aqua blue color and some of them have a crackle look inside that reminds me of the ocean.

When I was gathering my supplies to begin my project I came across a section of weaving that I had created several weeks ago.  I had been seeing a weaving stitch that I found interesting and wanted to give it a try and so I did.  At the time I had planned to use it with a cabochon, but when I came across it this week I thought it would make a great focal weave in my pendant.

Here is a picture of the weave I am talking about…

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The new weave I tried is the outermost weave

When I first started this week’s project I noticed how laid back I felt about it.  There weren’t any doubts in my mind that I could create my own piece and that was a great realization!  I just started making my own pieces without tutorials in January of this year and I can remember how scared I was at the thought of even trying something without a tutorial.  The funny thing is once I started I really enjoyed seeing where the wire went without a plan to follow, and that wasn’t something I was expecting.  Now, creating my own pieces is quickly becoming my favorite way to make jewelry.  I am so thankful for the growth and progress the Lord has brought about in this area of my life.  I am amazed at the way He uses wire working to refine me and help me conquer things that I wouldn’t think possible.  Probably one of the funniest ways He has used wire working is to develop patience in me.  I have always said I am not a patient person and I hate to wait and sit still, then one day I realized that I sit for hours weaving wire…the irony was not lost on me. 😀

I got off to a pretty good start with my pendant, but things got sidetracked and I lost my groove.  There is a place that I reach in creating a project where my speed increases and the ideas are flowing.  It is a happy place and I call it my “groove”.  It is the place where I am not really thinking about what I am doing, but the wire work just flows out of me.  After the first day I realized that I was having trouble finding that sweet spot and when I would work on it the flow wasn’t there.  I found myself procrastinating because I was too tired or some other lame excuse.  I finally realized that I was getting so caught up in another project I am doing that I didn’t have the resources I needed to make the pendant.  As a side note…I recently realized that when I begin a new project I tend to lose myself in it by inadvertently giving up my identity and control to it.  It isn’t something I was aware of, I only knew that projects got really stressful and I couldn’t wait to finish them and get back to my normal routine.  Being aware of this fact, I wanted to make sure I held on to my identity and control as I began a big painting and a small renovation project in my craft room.  This is why I didn’t have my usual amount of mental and emotional resources…that and female hormones which I won’t go into detail about. 🙂  It can be draining trying to make sure your thoughts are going down the right path…especially when the path is a new one.

Anyway, it was Saturday before I finally found my groove.  My husband and I went to a local coffee shop and I was able to focus on and finish up my pendant there.

Here are some pictures of it…

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Complete View

 

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Complete View
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Right Side View
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Bottom View
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Side View

I am pleased with how it turned out overall.  I did notice that after I cleaned and oxidized the pendant two things changed.  The drilled hole in the focal bead cleaned out and my copper wire shows through.  I don’t think it is a huge deal, but I would prefer it to be hidden.  The other thing I noticed is the beads I used in the strand on the right side changed color.  They were originally a pale grayish purple color, but after oxidizing them they were more clear.  The good thing is their sparkly luster is still there.  It would have been very sad to have a strand of clear dull beads there.  I thought they were Swarovski crystal beads, but I was mistaken…oh well, lesson learned.

Here are a couple of picture of the small purple beads before and after oxidizing…

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Small Purple Beads Before Oxidizing
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Small Purple Beads After Oxidizing

I think next week I am going to try my hand at the Finish It tutorial for the contest Nicole Hanna is having on her webpage.  I haven’t entered a contest before with my jewelry and I am not sure I will enter my piece, but we shall see how it turns out. Well, I think that is it for this week, I hope you all have a blessed week!

 

 

Summer Challenge Week #7…A Great Week of Finishes and a First

In the past month I have sold four pieces of my jewelry.  It was something that was unexpected, but I am so thankful and humbled by it.  The reason it was a surprise is because I haven’t been actively seeking customers through marketing.  I have an Etsy store where I have listed some of my early pieces, but I have close to 20 pieces that I have finished but haven’t listed.  My focus has been on other areas in my life in order to complete some short term projects and that hasn’t left me with the time to invest in my jewelry business yet.  The biggest project I have been working on was finished this week and I am super excited about it.  I have spent the last 6+ months going through literally everything I own and determining if it sparks joy for me or not.  I have gotten rid of everything that didn’t spark joy.  This is the konmari tidying event that I have mentioned in a few previous posts.  Now all I need to do is find a home for the things I have decided to keep…this will be the fun part in my opinion.  I am really looking forward to taking inventory this week and coming up with a plan to get everything where I want it.  I like plans and lists in general in case you haven’t noticed. 🙂  Something else I have finished this week is my six week 0 to 5k walking plan.  I actually walked almost 4 miles which is more than a 5k. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.  I have been unable to do much exercise due to other health issues, so the fact that my body was able to do this is a big deal and I am so thankful for it!

Well that raps up my “finishes”, now it is time for the “first” that I mentioned in my title.  One of the pieces of jewelry that I sold was a custom order and it was my first time to make a custom order.  Custom orders have always seemed like a big deal to me because I know how hard I can be to please and how much I would want to please others in what I make for them.  It just seemed like way too much stress to try and work out, but I have to say that wasn’t my experience in this case.  I had a previously made piece that my customer liked and I was able to create a customized piece based on it.  That really helped things go well because I had a general idea of where I was going and all I had to do was customize it.

I ended up using the basics from the Sunset Cloud Pendant tutorial from Nicole Hanna and added the colors that my customer wanted.  I also needed to adjust the tutorial for three beads instead of four.  In my first piece I used 6 mm beads and they blended in well with the wire work, but this time I wanted to use 8 mm beads to make them more prominent because I was making a “family” necklace, which is like a mother’s ring but this was for a child to remember the parents by using their birthstone colors instead of a mother remembering her children by their birthstones.  I also needed to alter the wire weaving because I was eliminating one bead and I needed to make sure I would still end up with a circle like piece that flowed well and had good spacing.

Here is a picture of the necklace that I made following the Sunset Clouds Pendant Tutorial several weeks ago…

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Sunset Clouds Pendant Tutorial

Here are some pictures of the one I customized this week…

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Customized Family Pendant
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Customized Family Pendant
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Close Up of the Customized Family Pendant

I am so pleased with how it turned out and that my alterations were successful in the end.  I hope my customer will be pleased with the results as well.  It was a fun piece to make and I liked the challenge of altering the tutorial for a different number of beads because it showed me that I have gained good knowledge on the construction techniques in wire work in general.  It is so great to see the growth in my journey because I can remember a time when I would have been too overwhelmed to even try because the though of altering a tutorial would have been too much.  I thank the Lord that my fear of the unknown and trying new things is shrinking and I am taking on new challenges.

Well, that is all for this week.  I hope that you have a great week that is full of love encouragement, adventure, and growth!