Tag Archives: #tutorials

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

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

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

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

Here are some pictures of the final piece…

_mg_7903
Vintage Candles Pendant
_a_mg_7933_stack
Vintage Candles Pendant (Top View)
_a_mg_7905_edit
Vintage Candles Pendant (Bottom View)

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

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

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

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

Here are the pictures…

_mg_7822-2
Curious and Curled Pendant #2 (Week #4)
_mg_7887_fixed
Curious and Curled Pendant #2 (Week#4, Top View)

 

_mg_7902-2
Curious and Curled Pendant #3 (Week #4)

 

_aa_7827_stack_fixed
Curious and Curled Pendant #3 (Week #4, Bottom View)

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

Winter 2017 Jewelry Making Challenge Week #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…

_mg_6770
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…

_mg_6776
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…

_mg_6774
La Petite Pendant (Right View)
_mg_6772
La Petite Pendant (Left View)

 

_mg_6768
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…

img_20170204_123002
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…

three-swirly-pendant-stacked
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…

_mg_6728-1
Swirl Pendant with Cat’s Eye Bead
_mg_6740
Swirl Pendant with Cat’s Eye Bead (Top View)
_mg_6731
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…

_mg_6737
Swirled Pendant with Swarovski Crystal Bead
_mg_6739
Swirled Pendant with Swarovski Crystal Bead (Top View)
_mg_6738
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…

_mg_6752
Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead
_mg_6741
Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead (Top View)
_mg_6745
Swirled Pendant with Ceramic Bead (Bottom View)

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

Some things I learned/remembered this week are…

~Jewelry making is so fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Here are some pictures of my finished piece…

img_20170121_194459
Fern Weave Pendant (Front View)

 

img_20170121_200402
Fern Weave Pendant (Back View)

 

img_20170121_200908
Fern Weave Pendant (Top View)
img_20170121_202249
Fern Weave Pendant (Side View)

 

Some things learned or remembered…

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

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

~Labradorite is my favorite gemstone.

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

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

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

~Good enough is good enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

week that I finished…

_mg_6114
Amphora Vessel Pendant
stonepiece001
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…

img_20170108_115106

img_20170108_114827

_mg_6109

_mg_6134

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…

_mg_6126

purpletreestack001

_mg_6131
Right Side View
_mg_6129
Left Side View
_mg_6128
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…

_mg_6127
Top View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a picture of my progress so far…

img_20170108_115106

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

Here is a picture to show what I mean…

img_20170108_114827

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

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

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

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

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…

img_20161008_125136
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…

img_5088
Rolling Seas Earrings
img_5089
Rolling Seas Earring
img_5091
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…

img_20160816_140132
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…

IMG_20160817_222641
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…

handfrontstack
Completed Pendant
slantrightstack
Right Angle View
slantleftstack
Left Angle View
closeuptopstack
Close Up of Top
closeuprightstack
Close Up of Right Side
closeupleftstack
Close Up of Left Side
closeupbottomstack
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…

img_2371repair
Victorian Ring
img_2378
Victorian Ring-Right Side View
img_2373repair
Victorian Ring-Left Side View
img_2373
Victorian Ring-Close Up View
img_2368
Victorian Ring-Next to a quarter for size comparison

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

Some things I realized in creating this ring…

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

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

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

~I am getting faster in making jewelry.

~Choice is a powerful thing.

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

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

Summer Jewelry Challenge Week #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…

img_2133
Oxidized Wave Cross Pendant
img_2147
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…

img_2148
Cabochon Pendant
img_2134
Cabochon Pendant
img_2135
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…

img_2150
Swirly Twirly Pendant
img_2138
Swirly Twirly Pendant
quarterstack
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…

img_2149
Swirly Bead Pendant
img_2136
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…

img_2128
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!