Tag Archives: #swarovski crystals

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

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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 #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!

 

Summer Challenge Week #3…Learning to Fly

This has been a bit of a hectic week for me and I have been scrambling to get my piece finished so I could post today instead of on Sunday like usual since tomorrow is Father’s Day and I have a packed day of visiting with loved ones.  I did get it made, but didn’t have time to oxidize it.  So you will see the raw copper piece this week, but I will post the oxidized piece next week. 🙂

The piece I made this week was the Crawling Vine Pendant using the tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  It was an interesting piece to construct because of it being an elongated pendant.  It was my first time in making something like this.  I am glad for the new experience it provided, but it was a little out of my comfort zone.

I tried to follow the tutorial, but the more I got into it I found I needed to make some changes so I would like the piece I was creating.  The piece I ended up with looked incomplete so I added a little bit more wire to it.  This isn’t a problem and I am so thankful that my basic wire weaving skills have developed to to the place that I don’t have to be told how to fix a problem or make something look nice, but I was a little frustrated that I didn’t match the tutorial piece because that is what I had planned to do.   In my first challenge I became quite adept at matching what the creator of the tutorial did.  In this challenge, I have found myself struggling to match the original work and wondering if I would be able to make a piece look just like the creator of the tutorial had made like I used to.  The funny thing is this was registering as a problem, but then I realized it isn’t…I am branching out on my own and like a baby bird learning to fly I am spreading my wings.  It is a bit scary, but it is a great thing!  I just have to make sure my perspective is correct and I am seeing what I make from that side and not from the negative side of “mine doesn’t look like theirs and since that was my goal I failed”.  I have been feeling that desire to spread my wings even more; to cut some wire, pick a bead and see where it leads without any tutorials.   It is something that I plan to do in the coming weeks, but we shall see when it comes to fruition.

Here are some pictures of my completed pendant…

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

I think it turned out nice, but it isn’t one of my favorite pieces.  I am interested to see how oxidizing will change that.  I am always amazed at how much more detail stands out in a piece once it has been oxidized and I usually like it more.

Well, that is it for this week!  I hope that you have a great week and a blessed Father’s Day.  If it is a hard time for you then I pray that God will comfort you and heal your hurts.  If it is a good time for you then I pray you will have great joy in celebrating.

 

Sumer Challenge Week #2…Gaining a New Perspective

I decided to make a bracelet this week and I used the Little Bit Wicked Bangle Bracelet tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I have made several bracelets so far, but this is my first bangle and I was excited.  I worked through picking out the bead I wanted to use, figuring out how much wire I would need, cutting the wire, and then I began.  I was feeling a little unsure of working with half round, which I had only used once before, but I watched a quick tip video by Nicole Hanna to help me and I felt a little more prepared.

Shortly after I started I ran into a problem.  I was making the band with the half round wire, applying the techniques I learned from the video, but there were a lot of tool marks that were showing up on the wire and I noticed spaces showing up at different points.  I tried to be more gentle with my pliers and continued on.  However the longer I went the more frustrated I got.  In a couple of places I tried using my beading awl to straighten up the wires that I couldn’t seem to get straight with my pliers and that ended up being a mistake because the awl ended up jumping out of the part I was straightening and scratching several wires in the process.  I had to walk away from it for the night.  I was upset and fully convinced that this project was going to turn out horrible.  It also felt like half round wire was the bane of my existence…no wonder I had only worked with it once before.

I tried working on it the next day, but after a few rounds it was clear I didn’t want to do it.  I was confused at how something that started out so fun quickly became frustrating.  At this point I did what any good perfectionist that feels like they can’t succeed does…procrastinate and stress about it. 🙂  I am sad to say that I did this for a couple of days and found myself wondering if I was really going to wait until the last minute to finish.  I knew I would finish it because I have a group of people that are joining me in this summer challenge and it would have been really lame for me (the one who created the challenge) to not have a finished piece because I didn’t “feel” like completing it.  (I feel the need to clarify that hormones were a factor in this weeks craziness…I am not completely crazy after all. 🙂 )

Thursday rolled around and I knew it was time to get serious and stop procrastinating.  I worked on it for a good while and got through most of the half round wire part.  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t totally finished, but hey I had made great progress.  I had also accepted that this project wasn’t going to be perfect or even that neat.  I would file away what tool marks I could and just accept the rest.  This was major progress in my thinking because in the past if I wasn’t sure something would turn out I would not complete the project.  I knew that wasn’t an option for this bangle.  I needed a finished project and I wanted it to be this bracelet.

Friday morning I woke up ready to complete it.  The bangle was my priority for that day.  It didn’t take me long to finish the half round part and move on to my favorite part of any wire project…weaving.  There was great fun in finishing this bracelet.  After I finished it I decided to oxidize it because I needed to see the finished product to make a final judgement call on how the half round wire part turned out.

Here are some pictures of the finished bangle…

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Completed Little Bit Wicked Bangle

 

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Little Bit Wicked Bangle-Focal View
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Little Bit Wicked Bangle-Focal View
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Half Round Wire Band
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Half Round Wire Band

I was shocked and pleased at how nice it actually turned out.  I don’t really notice the little imperfections of it and that is so surprising to me because when I was making it I was certain it would be awful.

This bangle has taught me several things about perspective and finishing hard things.  Here are a few…

~Just because something is hard, scary, or stressful doesn’t mean it should be avoided.

~Feelings of fear and insecurity are normal when you are trying something new or something you are not experienced at.

~Pressing through feelings of stress and anxiety will make you stronger on the other side and amazed that you were able to complete something that seemed impossible in the moment.

~Sometimes you just need a little time and space to reframe your perspective and move forward.

~Even thought something may seem like it won’t turn out, it may in the end and if it doesn’t seem worth it at the time it usually is in the long run.

~Half round wire isn’t the bane of my existence.  I just need to be patient with myself and practice with it to become more comfortable with it and proficient in using it.

I am thankful for these lessons.  I came across a couple of things in a book I am reading and it really helped put my experience with this project in perspective.  Here are a couple of quotes from it…

“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

“If we choose to make our lives a daring adventure—to step out of our comfort zone; to grow, explore, and face our challenges—then we will feel what people feel on daring adventures. Our hearts will race; our bodies will sweat; our stomachs will churn. Fear will show up in all its different varieties: from anxiety to insecurity, from stress to self-doubt, from “pumped” to panic. And at times our minds will yell at us: “Heeeeeellllp. Let me off. I wanna go back. It’s all too hard. I can’t handle it. I’m not good enough.”” (Harris, Russ. The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt (pp. 247-248). Trumpeter. Kindle Edition.)

As I start this next week, I want to know that fear is normal and live my life as a daring adventure anyway.  The thing about daring adventures is they don’t have to be great or large, sometimes they are as simple as living your life to the full while you go about the normal and sometimes mundane things of life.   I am ready to go live one!  How about you?  What daring adventures will you go on this week?  I hope you have many blessed ones and a great week!