Category Archives: Summer Jewelry Making Challenge

A Quick Update

I wanted to write a quick update for those of you that actually read my blog.  I haven’t posted anything lately due to the sudden passing of my sister on August 26th.  My Summer Jewelry Challenge has ended and I won’t be posting anything for the last two weeks of it because I didn’t finish the project for Week #13 and I never made anything for Week #14.  It has been a very hard and emotionally draining week and a half.  There is a lot to grieve and process with this and I will need time to do that.  I don’t know how much I will be posting in September.  I do plan another small jewelry challenge for the month of October, so I should be back then.  This isn’t how I wanted the challenge to end, but we never want the hard things of life to enter into our carefully laid out plans.

I will say good bye for now.  I hope September is a good month for you and a healing month for my family and myself!

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Summer Jewelry Challenge Week #12…The Magical Word

I shared last week that I would not be entering the “Finish It” contest that Nicole Hanna is hosting due to the lack of supplies and the lack of desire to purchase new supplies just for the contest.  This week I saw an entry pop up in my Facebook news feed and it only had one bead.  I was confused because there were two beads mentioned in the materials list, so I decided to read the rules and instructions again.  I am so glad I did!  I found a magical word that allowed me to create an entry for the contest after all and I didn’t need to purchase any new supplies to do it!  The magical word was OMIT…meaning that since the second bead was not mentioned in the partial instructions given in the tutorial we could omit it.  The only thing I had to use was the supplies mentioned in the partial tutorial directions.

I gathered my supplies so I could see what I had available to work with.  It felt like slim pickens compared to what I normally work with on my pieces, but I knew that would be part of the challenge.

Here is a picture of my supplies that I could use including tools…

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Tools and materials available for use in the challenge

The first thing I did was complete the tutorial portion of the pendant.  Here is a picture to show how far that took me…

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Tutorial part of the pendant

At this point I was able to have free creative reign…but with only the wire I had here.  As a part of the contest I was able to alter one thing in the materials list and I would have liked to have been able to alter the length of the weaving wire, but I had to alter the shape of the bead because I didn’t have an oval bead.  Being able to have more weaving wire would have given me a bit of a comfort zone in this challenge, but it wasn’t meant to be and in the end I think that was a good thing.  Participating in this challenge has shown me how far I have come in my skills and creative abilities.  It has also shown me how much I have grown away from the negative side of perfectionism I used to struggle with.  A year ago I would have looked at this contest, identified the fact that it wasn’t a guaranteed success, and I would not have even attempted it.  Instead I wanted to do it and in the end was able to.

Working on this piece wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t easy either.  I think the biggest challenge was in my mind…overcoming the questions about whether I could actually do this or not.  I have settled into my own “style” as it were and it involves a lot of weaving and copper beads.  I found myself really missing my unlimited weaving wire and copper beads.  I think the copper beads add that little extra texture needed for interest in my pieces and I was wondering how I was going to compensate for not having them and still create a piece that fits my style.  Another challenge was thinking through each step before I did it due to the limited wire because I didn’t want to kink or break anything.  Normally I have several weaves in progress at one time because I may not be sure where I want things to end up, but I had to complete each section as I went because I only had one weaving wire.  The final challenge of this pendant was the limited tools available.  I don’t use a ton of tools in general, but I do use flat nose pliers and a beading awl to help me get all of my pieces neat and tidy.  It was a good test of my skills to see if I could use the needle nose pliers to do it.  I think trying to create a hole in the weave to anchor the weaves was the most challenging aspect of limited tools, but I was able to work it out.

Here are some pictures of my finished piece for the contest…

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Completed Pendant
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Right Angle View
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Left Angle View
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Close Up of Top
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Close Up of Right Side
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Close Up of Left Side
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Close Up of Bottom View

I am so pleased with what I was able to accomplish using the supplies given.  This challenge has definitely made me appreciate the free reign of supplies I normally have, however it was a great learning experience that stretched me even further in my jewelry making journey.  I am so thankful for the growth that the Lord is working in me through jewelry.  As I mentioned earlier, a year ago I wouldn’t have even tried to enter this contest because success wasn’t guaranteed.  I have been tempted to enter a couple of smaller contests, but I haven’t taken the plunge until now.  I don’t expect to win the contest, but I have already won many battles in my own journey of jewelry making and life through this process.

Well, now it is time to actually enter my piece into the contest and put a little piece of me out there in this way for the first time.  I might be a little nervous, but I am not going to let that stop me when I have come this far.  So here is to taking a risk and going on a daring adventure into the unknown.

I hope that you all have a blessed week that is full of daring adventures.  I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes…

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”  ~Helen Keller

Summer Jewelry Challenge Week #11…Plans Change

Last week I mentioned I thought about entering the “Finish It” contest which is being hosted by Nicole Hanna.  Well, I planned to make that my project for this week and I was ready for the challenge.  I wasn’t sure if I would actually enter the contest or just make the piece.  However, I wanted to create with entering the piece in my mind.  It was Tuesday before I was ready to start on the project and the first thing I did was sit down and look at all of the rules of the contest and the tutorial I would be using.  I didn’t want to be disqualified because I didn’t know the parameters I was to work within.  I ran into a snag because one of the requirements was that I can only use what the tutorial lists as my materials with only one exception.  I needed some clarification on what “one exception” meant, but I realized that if I wanted to complete this project I would need to purchase a couple of new beads to complete it.

It used to be that I would jump at the chance to purchase something new in general, but that isn’t the case anymore.  After I spent the first six months of this year going through everything that I owned and discarding everything that didn’t spark joy (Konmari method), I don’t really like buying things just to buy them anymore.  I also have a boatload of beads that spark joy and I want to try using most of them up before buying more…so I can cut the bead hoarding habit.  I have learned that buying things or holding onto things out of fear that I won’t have them doesn’t spark joy in me.  At one time buying things and having a lot of stuff felt like a safety net, but it became a burden that I felt guilty for.  All of this to say, that buying any extra beads this week didn’t spark joy so I decided to not do the contest and create something that would spark joy and use up stuff I already had.

I decided that I wanted a bit of a challenge so I chose a ring tutorial.  Rings are something I don’t normally make because I can’t get the sizing right and the construction is more complicated in general…at least in my mind.  I followed the Victorian Ring Tutorial by Nicole Hanna to complete my piece.

Honestly I didn’t know what to expect.  It didn’t look like a hard tutorial, but I know how to complicate simple really well. 🙂  I actually had fun in creating this ring and found myself really relaxed while creating it in general.  That may sound like something odd to say, but I am usually pretty intense and sometimes stressed when I am making jewelry.  I think it is just another sign of becoming more comfortable with creating and learning to not be afraid of messing up.  My mind is also really focused on remodeling my craft room, so I didn’t have as much focus to spare for creating jewelry this week…I just needed to make it, not stress over it. 🙂

Here are some pictures of the finished ring…

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Victorian Ring
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Victorian Ring-Right Side View
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Victorian Ring-Left Side View
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Victorian Ring-Close Up View
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Victorian Ring-Next to a quarter for size comparison

This was a fun ring to make and I am pleased with how it turned out.  The main thing I was uncertain of was the use of a 8mm undrilled cabochon (something tiny and without a hole to secure it).  I didn’t have any problems with it at all and that was very encouraging, especially after my first experience with an undrilled cabochon made me unsure I wanted to try to use another one.  I will probably make more of these rings in the future.

Some things I realized in creating this ring…

~Rings aren’t as scary to make as I thought.

~I would like to continue growing in my skills of using undrilled cabochons.

~While thinking about things is good, there is a point of overthinking that creates unnecessary stress.

~I am getting faster in making jewelry.

~Choice is a powerful thing.

~Knowing what sparks joy in myself makes life a lot less complicated.

Well, I will say good bye for now.  I am not sure what my next piece of jewelry will be but I do know it will most likely be challenging and hopefully fun.  I look forward to priming the walls of my craft room this week!  And I hope that whatever you do it goes well for you!

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 Jewelry Challenge Week #9…New Techniques and Fun

This has been a very productive week for me in jewelry making.  I have four necklaces and the beginnings of a bracelet to share this week.

First I want to share the Wave Cross Pendant that I made last week.  I oxidized and polished it so it is ready to go.

Here are some pictures of the Wave Cross Pendant…

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Oxidized Wave Cross Pendant
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Oxidized Wave Cross Pendant

The second necklace I want to share is a cabochon pendant that I started several weeks ago but finished up this week.  This was my first attempt at wrapping an undrilled gemstone cabochon.  I usually work with drilled beads and most of them are made of glass so this was quite a change.  I used a video from Oxana Crafts on youtube.com to get the basic construction design and then I tried to make the details my own.  I was pleased with how it was going and thought I would try something more fancy with the top half of the design.  I twisted the wire, but found I had a hard time getting it to match up or look as smooth as I wanted it to.  Honestly, I am not crazy about that part of it, but I wasn’t sure what else to do with it so I tried to make the best of it.  The most challenging part of this pendant was finishing the back because it is an undrilled stone that I was trying to encapsulate with the wire instead of building around it with wire like I usually do.  The cabochon kept popping out of the back and it was quite frustrating, but I finished it and then set it aside for several weeks.  This week I finished up the top part of it and then oxidized it.  I am still unsure if I like working with cabochons, but I will wait to make the final call until I have done a few more.  I do know that I really enjoy looking at cabochons, especially labradorite!

Here are some pictures of my cabochon necklace…

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Cabochon Pendant
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Cabochon Pendant
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Back View of Cabochon Pendant

The last three things I have to share are what I made this week.  I have really been wanting to try some new techniques so I dove into them this week.

The first technique I tried was making swirls with my wire instead of weaving it.  The first pendant I made using this technique was using the Swirly Twirly Lampwork Bead Pendant from Oxana Crafts (youtube).  The lampwork bead I used in this pendant was made by Katerina Sojkova.  I found this technique to be quite fun and easy to use.  I was able to be relaxed about making the piece and didn’t feel like it had to be a certain way and that is the kind of mindset this technique needs.

Here are some pictures…

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Swirly Twirly Pendant
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Swirly Twirly Pendant
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Swirly Twirly Pendant

Isn’t it so cute!  I included the picture with a quarter to show how small it is.  One of the best things about this technique is that it can be done pretty quickly which gives me options to make a simple and more economical necklace.

The other tutorial by Oxana Crafts (youtube) that I used is called Swirly Bead Pendant.  I incorporate the swirl technique and wire weaving in the same pendant.  I found myself really wanting to make something else this week and this pendant was it.  It was a fun pendant to make and again didn’t take as long as some of my other pieces.

Here are some pictures…

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Swirly Bead Pendant
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Swirly Bead Pendant

Didn’t it turn out pretty!  I was surprised at how much I liked this pendant because normally I like symmetry, not organic designs.  It just goes to show that I am becoming more and more relaxed in my perfectionist tendencies…enough to see beauty where there isn’t a lot of order.

The final piece I have to share this week isn’t anywhere near finished, but it showcased the other technique I learned this week.  It is braiding with five strands of wire.  I used the 5 Strand Braid Wire Wrapped Cabochon video tutorial by CSL Designs (youtube) to learn this technique.  I may try it with a cabochon one day, but I wanted to create a bracelet with it this week.  The technique was easy to learn and wouldn’t normally be challenging to apply, but I have a knack for complicating things.  Since I was making a bracelet and I wanted it to be sturdy I decided to use 14 gauge wire to braid.  That is the thickest gauge I have worked with personally.  Most of my work is made using 22 and 28 gauge wire, so the 14 gauge was a bit of a shock to my hands.  I eventually got the braid to work out okay and did a section large enough for a bracelet.  Then I added some half round wire to hold it together and shaped it around my bracelet mandrel.  That is how far I made it before I decided to save it for another day.

Here is a picture of the progress so far…

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5 Strand Braided Bracelet

It is definitely rough around the edges, and I almost tossed it, but I saw its potential and decided to save it for another day.

Whew!  That was a lot to share for one week.  I hope you enjoyed what I made because I know I enjoyed learning the new techniques and making them.  I hope you have a great week to come!

Summer Challenge Week #8…Challenges and Stress

The project I completed this week was the Wave Cross Pendant which is a tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  This tutorial has been on my “want to make” list for a while now, but there have been other things I have wanted to make more, so it usually got pushed back to the bottom of that list.  I think part of me that was a little nervous to make it because there are some mirroring techniques involved.  Mirroring is usually pretty frustrating for me, so I usually avoid it if I can just to save myself the stress.  However this week I wanted to tackle this piece and I dove right in.  I found the overall experience of creating this piece wasn’t too bad, but in the moments when I was making it there was plenty of stress and frustration to be had.  Nothing drags out the perfectionist in me like mirroring…so naturally she made an appearance this week.  The good news though is she didn’t stick around for too long.  I quickly realized that if I was going to make this tutorial and not drive myself crazy I would need to give myself grace and aim for doing my best rather than aiming for perfection.

In my six month Jewelry Making Challenge from last year I was so uptight in my creating process that I never strayed from the tutorial.  Honestly I thought I wouldn’t be doing the tutorial any justice if I did and quite frankly I didn’t know how to because I was so rigid in my thinking and in jewelry making in general.  After that challenge I found myself wanting to break free from the constrains of a tutorial and see what I could create with just wire and beads.  I spent the first part of the year exploring that.  I was pleased with my results.  I still created with tutorials, but branching out in this new way gave me freedom and permission to explore.  After a while I started adding my own small touches to the tutorial pieces I would make.  At first it felt a little awkward and I wasn’t completely sure that it was okay, but I continued on my journey anyway.  Now here I am over two thirds of the way through my Summer Jewelry Challenge and I don’t think a single tutorial has been completed without some alteration due to my personal preference.  That is a lot of growth in a short time.  I am so thankful and humbled by the confidence and freedom that I am finding in my jewelry making journey.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have challenging times where I need to walk away from a project, but they are few and far between.  I have also learned that though I struggle I don’t quit.  I keep struggling until I have a solution and can learn what I need to in order to accomplish my goal.

This week’s tutorial received some of those personal tweaks. 🙂  The biggest difference is I chose a different weave for the main body of my cross pendant.  I really like the full look of the Modified Soumak Weave (my favorite weave), so I decided to us it instead.

Here are some pictures of the finished result…

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Wave Cross Pendant
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Wave Cross Pendant
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Wave Cross Pendant-Top View
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Wave Cross Pendant-Bottom View

I like how it turned out.  There are a few other minor things I changed, but the most noticeable is the jump ring.  I had a small closed jump ring around the top coiled wire like the tutorial called for, but when I was looking at it after I was done I really didn’t like the way it hung.  I decided to see how it would look with a larger jump ring.  It fit my preferences more and so I went with it.

Here is a close up of the top part to show you where I am talking about…

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Wave Cross Pendant-Jump Ring View

I mentioned earlier that as a whole this pendant wasn’t too bad to make, but there were lots of little stresses throughout the process.  One of these stresses was the fact that there weren’t many places to anchor and tuck wire ends.  It is a dainty piece that is pretty, but unforgiving in finishing.  I ended up with so many tool marks on the back of it because I was trying to anchor and tuck the ends without distorting the shape of the cross.  I had to get creative in order to finish it, but I was able to rise to the challenge.

Here is a picture of the back with tool marks…

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Wave Cross Pendant-Back View

There were moments of challenge and stress, but it was definitely worth it to push through to the finish line!  Well that is it for this project.  I hope you all have a great week and can push through the hard things to breakthrough into the beautiful!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Challenge Week #6…A More Simple Original

This is the halfway point of the challenge and the halfway point of summer.  Time escapes so quickly and my habits in the past have been to try and capture a moment so I will always have the memory of it.  However, I have become aware over the past year and a half that I am tired of trying to “capture” the perfect moment in order to recreate it in the future because it is causing me to miss all of the wonderful moments in the present…that place where life really happens.  When you have a picture in your head that you are trying to match it is so easy to dismiss all the things that don’t add up and I have thrown away a lot of good things in my search for perfection.

I have battled this same tendency in my jewelry.  I have certain people who I think make the most gorgeous wire jewelry and my mind transferred that to thinking if mine didn’t look like theirs then it wasn’t good.  That thought seems so ludicrous as I type it, but at the time it was a very real belief that I judged my own work by.  All I saw were the flaws and mistakes instead of the hard work and growth.  Obviously when I first began making wire jewelry I didn’t know how to fix or avoid many of the common mistakes that people in wire work make, but that didn’t stop me from beating myself up at what a failure I was and how I would never be good at making jewelry so I shouldn’t even try.  Well I am so thankful that I didn’t quit at those times and I certainly have grown past many of the more common mistakes, but I do still make mistakes in my pieces…I have just learned how to fix them or use them in my designs.  I have also realized that I was too harsh with myself and that beating myself up wasn’t helpful in any way, but instead hindered me in getting to where I wanted to go.  How do you talk to yourself?  I know my self-talk isn’t always kind, but I have grown much in this area.  My husband started asking me how I would talk to my dear friends if they were in that situation.  At first I scoffed at the idea, but as I began to practice thinking in that manner I began to see change.  With the Lord’s help I began to actively combat the harsh manner in which I related to myself and have had success in this area.  Part of this journey has also been discovering my value to be in Jesus and not tied up in my own successes or failures.   In discovering these things I have slowly been able to set aside my need for perfection and accept myself where I am at.  This doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying to improve or grow.  I have just become more like a coach trying to encourage and spur myself forward instead of a harsh task master that is never satisfied.

You may wonder what this has to do with my journey in jewelry making, but it has everything to do with where I am today.  I have found such freedom in these changes and in turn wanted to take risks and try new things…things that I wouldn’t try in the past because I knew there wasn’t “certain success”.  As a result I have challenged myself in new ways and explored new wire working concepts until I have reached the point where I am ready to try to make something without following instructions.  I have made several pieces now without having a tutorial to follow and it has been a fun experience.  I love to pick a bead, cut wire, and see where it all leads.  That is something I never thought I would do because I am a planner at heart.  I enjoy the fun and freedom that comes from simply weaving the wire and figuring out what will look nice with the focal bead.

This week I wanted to challenge myself in a new way.  I have started developing my own style and it involves a lot of different weaves and is complex.  I was wondering if I could make something in that style, but make it more simple.  I honestly didn’t know if I could but I wanted to try, so that is what I worked on this week.

Here are the pictures of the finished piece…

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Green Heart Pendant
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Green Heart Pendant
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Green Heart Pendant

I am pleased with how it turned out and how I was able to have a more simple piece and still have it fit my style.  Because the bead was smaller it didn’t take me as long to make this pendant as it has some of my other pieces.  It is so exciting to see where things have come to in my jewelry journey and I am curious to see where it will take me next.  I know for now I will be finishing up my Summer Challenge, but after that I am not sure.

Before I say goodbye for this week I wanted to share the earrings from last week that I oxidized.

Here are some pictures…

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Butterfly Pendulum Earrings
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Butterfly Pendulum Earrings

I hope that you will have a blessed week that is filled with many wonderful moments that you can live to the full.  I also hope that you will be kind to yourself in those moments when you fail and that you will not be afraid to try something unknown!  Well goodbye for now!

Summer Challenge Week #5…Finishing Up

This has been an unusual week in jewelry making for me.  On Monday I picked my project, but didn’t get to start it, but I thought I would start on it Tuesday.  Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, but no jewelry project had been started.  This week has been incredibly full of things going on in my tidying up event (konmari) and I haven’t had much time or energy to spare for jewelry.  When Thursday rolled around I thought I might be in trouble.    I thought about taking a break this week, but then I realized I am doing this challenge for this very reason.  This year has been devoted to my tidying event and jewelry making had been pushed to the back burner but I wanted to bring it to a more prominent place.

So on Thursday I ended up pulling out a project that I had started several weeks ago, but didn’t finish.  It was something that I was trying to get creative with a tutorial, but in the process I ended up frustrating myself to the point of needing to walk away for a while.  Have you ever been so mad at a project that you had to walk away for a time?  It doesn’t happen too frequently, but I have a couple of things like this.  Usually I can go right back to the piece and finish it within a week.  I have three projects that I started several weeks ago with the intention of challenging myself with something new, but I ended up getting mad in the process.  It sounds a little juvenile to walk away from a project because it makes you mad, however the truth is I don’t want to make a piece of jewelry while I am angry with the process of making it because the piece would be a reminder of how I felt when I was making it.  Of course not all of the times that I have been frustrated in trying something new have been a bad thing.  Sometimes it can be really hard in the moment, but when I stick with it I can end up growing in my confidence because I was able to accomplish something really hard for me and the piece of jewelry reminds me of that victory.  An example of this would be the bangle I made in Week #2 of this challenge.  I actually made that my personal bracelet to remind me of that battle and the victory won in the end.  I hate walking away from things, but I am learning to give myself grace and see this as a small retreat in order to win the war instead of the defeat that it feels like.  The tricks are to know when to walk away, know how long to stay away, and always return to finish the job.

The piece I decided to return to and finish up is a pair of earrings I made using the Butterfly Pendulum Pendant tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I didn’t care for the pendulum look and wanted to shorten it.  It also looked like a good tutorial that I could use to make earrings because there isn’t mirroring that would need to be done in the opposite way like there are with most earrings.  Things started out fine and I was doing each step on each earring to help them look as similar as possible, but somewhere along the way the frustration built to a point of walking away.  I do know that this project was the one where I realized that earrings aren’t something I really enjoy making.  My perfectionist tendencies really drive me crazy with trying to get a pair to look exactly the same.  Maybe one day I will be at a point of being more relaxed about the natural inconsistencies that come with my human work.  Sometimes I can forget that I am human and not a machine and my work will reflect that and it is a beautiful thing in all the messiness and imperfections.

Here are some pictures of the earrings…

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Butterfly Pendulum Earrings
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Butterfly Pendulum Earring
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Butterfly Pendulum Earring

I am pleased with how they turned out and can’t wait to see them oxidized.  Usually I don’t like to dig out my oxidizing stuff for just one piece, so I usually do it every two or three pieces.

It is always a good feeling to finish something I start and I am thankful I finished these earrings. Do you have an “unfinished” project box?  Pull some of them out and see what new inspiration strikes…or in my case see if the frustration has passed and it might be time to accomplish something that was looking pretty sketchy.

Well goodbye for now and I hope you have a week filled with love, fun, and creativity!

Summer Challenge Week #4…My Own Creation

A month has passed and with it one third of the Summer Jewelry Challenge.  Time certainly does go by quickly theses days and it is only getting faster.  That realization is part of what makes me determined to live each moment to the full and be present in the moment…even the hard ones I would normally rather escape from.  Time is a precious thing and so often in the past I would have a bad day and just think to myself that tomorrow will be better so it was okay to write the day off as a bad one.  Well, there are some genuinely bad days, but I want to learn from them and see if shifting my perspective might redeem the day or some part of it.  I read an article by Rachel Stafford not too long ago that had the idea of “looking for the flowers among the weeds”.  The “flowers” represent the good things or moments in each day.  So when I have a bad day full of “weeds” I try my best to look closer and gather a bouquet of “flowers” out of them.  It isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but I am retraining my mind and with the Lord’s help I am seeing improvement in my ability to find the good things (flowers).

Well onto what I created this week!  I have been talking about wanting to make another piece of my own without following a tutorial.  Confession time…I can talk about something that I want to do for a while sometimes and if I feel like I won’t succeed then I will continue to talk about it and never do anything about it.  Ideas are a safe thing in general…it is the action that is scary. 🙂

I am pleased to share that I did actually follow through on making my own piece without a tutorial.  It was a good experience for me.  I never know how things will turn out, but I picked a bead, cut the wire, and started weaving.  The bead I chose is a lampwork ocean bead made by Molly Cooley.  She makes the most beautiful beads and her night time ocean beads are my favorite.  I picked up several of them shortly after Christmas, but I have been afraid to wrap them because they are so lovely and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do them justice.  I have gained a lot of confidence in my wire wrapping so I took a chance and tried it.  I was not disappointed in the results either.

Here are pictures of the completed pendant…

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Ocean Heart Bead Pendant
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Ocean Heart Bead Pendant-Framed “Window” View
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Ocean Heart Bead Pendant-Side View
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Ocean Heart Bead Pendant-Bottom View
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Ocean Heart Bead Pendant-Top View

Didn’t it turn out lovely!  I am so surprised at how well it turned out without following a plan.  I was wondering if I ended up adding too much wire work and overshadowed the bead, but my husband said the effect of my wire weaving is like you are looking through a window and I liked that idea. 🙂

Some of the differences that I noticed in the process of making my own creations versus following a tutorial were interesting.

Following a tutorial…

~things stay neat and orderly

~materials and amounts of them are already figured out

~there is a clear plan and steps to follow

~not much thinking is require

~time it takes to finish a piece is considerably less

Creating my own…

~things are a mess and wire is everywhere, sometimes with several kumihimo bobbins with weaving wire sticking off multiple half finished wraps

~not sure of materials so I cut my base wires extra long and usually put about 30+feet of weaving wire on my kumihimo bobbin

~no plan and usually no idea where a project is heading

~lots of thinking is required and sometimes trial and error also

~lots of time involved because I like making pieces with lots of wire weaving

I am enjoying learning how to take all the things I have learned to create my own designs.  I have a long way to go and one day I might come up with something that is really unique, but for now I will just enjoy the journey I am on without feeling like I should be somewhere else.

Last week I didn’t have time to oxidize my necklace, but I did this week.  Here are some pictures of it oxidized…

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Oxidized Crawling Vine Pendant
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Oxidized Crawling Vine Pendant-Top View
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Oxidized Crawling Vine Pendant-Bottom View

That is all for this week.  I hope that you have a blessed week, but if it turns out to be a hard week I hope you can locate the flowers among the weeds!