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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Here are some pictures of the finished necklace…

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

 

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La Petite Pendant (Front View)

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

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

Here are some of the lessons I learned/remembered…

~Trust my gut!

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

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

~Be present in the moment…even in creating.

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

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

~I am happiest with quality over quantity.

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

Here is a preview picture of them…

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Pendants that are oxidized, but not polished

 

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

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

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

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

Here is a picture of all three pendants…

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Curious and Curled Trio of Pendants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some things I learned/remembered this week are…

~Jewelry making is so fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Winter 2017 Jewelry 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!

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 #3…Something Simple

The theme for this week’s challenge was “simple”.  It can mean many things depending upon the person.  To some it could mean minimalist and to others it might just mean less.  My definition for simple in jewelry making would be less and quick.  I love to weave wire and if I am making my own pieces I can find it hard to get a good stopping point without weaving and weaving until I end up with a “statement” necklace.  I want to be able to make a variety of pieces from really fancy and intricate to simple and elegant and still make it fit my style.  I know it is possible, but it isn’t something I will accomplish overnight.  It will take trial and error which means I need to be okay with things that doing turn out the first time…which means I need to give myself patience and grace.  It is a good challenge to grow these parts of me to say the least. 🙂

I started my week with an idea in mind and began work on a “simple” pendant.  Well as the week went on I found that pendant really wasn’t falling into the challenge theme, so on Friday I decided I needed to actually make a simple piece.  I had a quick idea in mind so I quickly went and cut a few pieces of wire that were a whole lot shorter than normal.  I picked out some beads and I began my weaving.  I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the pendant, I just kept making it.  It took a little longer than anticipated, but it was so much quicker than one of my normal pieces.

Here are picture of the results…

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Simple Pendant
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Simple Pendant (Top View)
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Simple Pendant (Bottom View)

I think my favorite part of the piece is the tiny bail.  I love making my bails that way in my other pieces, but it looks so cute in miniature on this pendant.  I look forward to playing with new designs in the future that are simple.  I guess the key for me to remember when I do want something simple is to not think too much.  I need to have a general idea and just go with it…moving forward confidently!  It is so funny to me when I realize,”oh yeah, I can do this”.  Why is it so hard to remember those things that are encouraging and true?  I never seem to have trouble hanging onto the negative things in my mind, but I have to work really hard to hang onto the good and encouraging.  I guess that is why we are encouraged to “think on whatever is true, noble, right, lovely pure, and admirable”.  It is a thing to do in the present, something constant…not something we do once and then it is always done.  It is good to remember this, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice.  Especially when the hard things of life hit, but I have found that is when it is needed the most.

Well, we only have one more week in our challenge!  I am looking forward to creating my project for next week!  Stay tuned to see what it will be.  In the mean time, I hope you have a blessed week and will remember those good and encouraging things in your life!

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 #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!