Saturday, September 28, 2019

Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Foliage

Here I am publishing something on my poor neglected blog for the first time in nearly two years!  I've been wanting to get it going again and I can thank my dear friend, Cat of Cat's Wire for suggesting that I participate in this month's Art Elements "Foliage" Design Challenge and gently prodding me until I actually made a commitment to do so.  Thanks, Cat!

I'm very excited that the Art Elements Design Challenge will be the catalyst for reviving my blog and I'm very excited to be part of a challenge and blog hop that includes so many creative and talented people. I'll warn you all ahead of time that this is a very photo heavy post; in my excitement, I just couldn't narrow it down anymore than I have.  Please forgive me for going overboard, but the floodgates have been opened!

Leaves, leaves, leaves!  This month's foliage theme is right up my alley as I have been on a creative journey for the last few years making leaf jewelry.  I seem to be obsessed with leaves, and unlike many of my past obsessions, this one has really taken hold. A part of my mind is always thinking about leaves even when I am doing things that have nothing to do with leaves.

The fascination with leaves and jewelry making began when I made leaves out of copper sheet using form folding techniques.  I was and am intrigued by form folding (which involves heating metal, forming it into a shape, reheating when it gets too hard to work, more shaping, etc.).  Leaves were a fairly simple shape to make when learning this technique:

My next experiment with leaf jewelry involved carving tiny leaves into small pieces of cork, dipping them into acrylic paint and using them as stamps.  The cork stamps were used to stamp leaves onto this piece of leaf shaped metal which was then coated with resin to protect the paint:

Next came wire leaves which were made with the help of a wonderful Birch Leaf Tutorial by Albina Manning at

A couple of years ago, I decided to experiment with preserving real leaves in resin and fell in love. I read all I could about it, but there wasn't much out there.  I was pretty much on my own.  After a lot of trial and error, I feel like I am starting to get it.

Throughout the year, I gather leaves, but when fall arrives it is an especially exciting time for me as the leaves begin to change color.  During the months of October and November, I pick up hundreds of leaves and press them between books to dry in preparation for the creative journey to come.

Once they are ready, I go to work.  While learning how to preserve the leaves, many leaves and much resin has been wasted, but I eventually started to get it.  I suppose the materials weren't truly wasted as they helped me get to where I am now.  These are some of my early results:

I'm not working with these types of leaves as much lately because I've found the points to be fragile and easily damaged.  This issue is something I'm going to try to resolve, but at this time leaves with rounded tips are much more sturdy for my work.

As I learned and became better at preserving leaves, the quality of my work improved and became more intricate.  These leaves are from a Western Red Bud which is found on the west coast of the United States.

Pear leaves from the tree in my yard:

What you see in the necklace posted below are not leaves but seed pods from the Lunaria plant which is also known as the money plant or silver dollar plant due to the silvery color of the pods as well as their size and shape which resembles coins.  The pod is really quite unremarkable, just a plain drab brown, but rub it between the thumbs and fingers and the brown husks peel away to reveal the shimmery pods inside.  They make beautiful arrangements either alone or paired with flowers:

The Lunaria pods are quite delicate and fragile, but they are much easier to handle and wear once they've been preserved in resin:

Copper sheet was cut to the shape of this pear leaf and became a bezel into which the leaf was attached:

This past year, the leaf journey has evolved into cutting leaves to fit vintage bezels.  I have really enjoyed the entire creative process of this technique and I have also been quite pleased with the end results.

Some leaves are too big to be made into jewelry, but too pretty to cut up or throw away.  They are just perfect for making into magnets!

Now that I've given you all this background, you must be wondering if I will EVER get to the actual Foliage Challenge.  Fear not, we have arrived at our destination.

This is the first of three pieces I made for this challenge.  Consisting of an orange leaf and painted wood beads (I did not paint the beads), it is not an elaborate or complicated piece, but it's interesting to look at due to the brilliant colors and subtle patterns of the leaf and even the bezel itself:


 Scrap booking paper sealed in resin was used to complete the back of this pendant:

 While I plan to continue to work with leaves using all of the various techniques shown above, for the past few months I've had this thought about making little scenes or pictures using leaves as well as dried flowers and other materials.  When I became aware of the foliage challenge, I thought it would be the perfect time to get busy.

Both of these were completed just this weekend and just in time for the challenge.  I'm feeling good about having made something that looked like the ideas I had in my head, but a little nervous about showing it to others.  But, that's what art is all about - experimenting, learning, trying new things, challenging our skills and putting ourselves and our work out there.

The background is an autumn leaf.  Small dried flowers and a butterfly make up the foreground.  The butterfly was constructed out of a real butterfly wing I found on the ground and cut to size.  The body is a seed and the antennae are a couple of tiny "hairs" that grow on a type of grass in the area where I live.

Scrap booking paper was used for the back of the pendant:

This one is more elaborate with a leaf background, smaller plants and flowers in the front and a small metal bird flying over to survey the scene.  It is also a WIP and has not yet been made into a necklace.  I simply strung it on black cord for this challenge, although it may very well end up on a simple cord to balance out all the other stuff that is going on here:

For the back, I used one of my own photos which is something I would like to do  more often as I feel that it gives the pendant a more personal touch:

 While I was typing this, it occurred to me that fall has arrived and it is time, once again, to gather fall leaves for future projects.  I never tire of the leaves; maybe it's because each fall brings wonderful colors and unique patterns.  It seems the leaves are similar to snowflakes, no two are ever the same.

Thank you so much for having me in this month's Art Element challenge; I promise that future posts will show more self control when it comes to posting photos!

To see what the other participants of the September Art Elements "Foliage" Challenge have to say about this theme, please click on the links below:

 Arts Elements Team:



Dawn (me)
Beth and Evie

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December, 2017 Blog Carnival - When You Can't Make Jewelry

After taking a break, the Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival is back to finish up the year.  Our topic for the month of December is "When You Can't Make Jewelry"

It just so happens that I've been living this situation the last few months so I feel qualified to write about it.  The first seven months of 2017 were going along great; I was in a creative groove learning new things,  just full of ideas and making new jewelry designs on a daily basis .  I couldn't wait to enter my studio each day.


Heck, I was so creative and my mind so busy that I even made refrigerator magnets out of real fall leaves!

 Then along came August.  While learning how to operate a dirt bike, I crashed and badly sprained my knee.  It later turned out that the tip of my tibia was actually fractured.  This affected jewelry making because the studio is downstairs and I wasn't able to navigate the stairs.  After stewing about this turn of events for a week, I managed to hobble down the stairs one day, grab my tools and some wire and hobble back up the stairs where I parked myself in the recliner with ice on my knee and fiddled with wire.  It wasn't really making jewelry, but it satisfied the need to create.

As my knee healed, I was able to go downstairs again, but by then it was time to leave on a long planned vacation to Sweden and Poland.  Seeing so much history, meeting wonderfully friendly people, eating incredible food and having experiences we'll never forget made the trip a dream come true.  There were moments I longed to be in the studio, but I didn't really have time to think about it because we were having so much fun while on vacation.

Once home, I couldn't wait get back to work making jewelry, but it wasn't to be.  Shortly after returning home, my sister came to visit for two weeks.  Between catching up and showing her the sights, there was no time for the studio.  I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the time with my sister.

And, now we're about to leave for Thailand and Vietnam; it will be April when we return.  This will be our third trip to SE Asia and I am really looking forward to going and seeing the friends we have made there as well as enjoying warm weather while it's snowing at home.  And, let's not forget eating authentic Thai and Vietnamese food every day!  There has been very little studio time because we're doing all the things that have to be done to prepare for a trip of this length including winterizing our home.  This will be the longest I've even been away from my studio.

Whine, whine, whine, whine...!

At this point, my frustration about no time to make jewelry and my desire to be in my studio have given way to acceptance.  It's not the time for jewelry and I am not going to fight it.  Just as the bloggers from JAC needed a break from the monthly blog carnival, I am going to look at this as a break that will refuel my creative soul and re-charge my artistic battery.  Sometimes we get so intensely involved in being creative that we forget to savor the process and the journey and focus instead the end result.  There is also that trap artists get caught in of feeling they have to be productive and constantly coming up with new things.  Taking time to step back can be just what is needed to look at it through fresh eyes.

I am going to go to Thailand and take a side trip to Vietnam and thoroughly enjoy our time there.  Thai and Vietnamese food awaits!  Warm weather!  Exotic (to me) sights are waiting to be experienced.  My camera will get a workout and I will be inspired by all that I see, hear, smell and taste.  When we come back, the studio will be waiting to welcome me home.  But, I still plan to take some wire and tools with me - just in case the creative bug strikes...

To see what the other members of the JAC blog carnival have to say on this topic, please click on the links below:

Cat's Wire

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Blog Carnival - Tutorials

Where the heck did May go?  Can't believe it's time again for the Jewelry Artisans Community monthly blog carnival!  This month we are talking about tutorials.

I'm one of those people who likes to figure out things on my own.  Which means that I have come up with some cool designs, made some bonehead mistakes, learned from my successes and failures and used up miles of copper wire doing what I call "fiddling".

But, there are times when a tutorial is in order and I'm grateful to the people who have shared their skills in books, on blogs and on YouTube.   They have saved me hours of time, material and frustration while also teaching me new skills.  To those generous folks out there, I say a heartfelt Thank You!

Here are a few of my favorites:

If you're into leaves and want to make wire wrapped leaf jewelry, this tutorial is easy to follow and will result in realistic looking leaves.  It's also really fun to see the leaves form!   

Wire Birch Leaves

If you're like me and know nothing about macrame, but want to use cord in your designs, this is another super helpful and well written tutorial.  It's very easy to follow and the results are beautiful.  I used it to make a charm bracelet retirement gift for one of my best friends:

Pom Pom Bracelet

I had long wanted to learn how to make netted wire pendants and this tutorial from beadaholique that shows how to net around a bottle did the trick.  Wire netting is another fun technique and once you "get it" will find yourself applying it to all kinds of designs.

Wire Netted Bottle

I'll leave you with a little tutorial I wrote recently about how to make headpins on your kitchen stove (if you have gas or propane - electric doesn't get hot enough.  At least, I don't think it does as I didn't try it!

Making Balled Headpins

To see what the other Jewelry Artisan Community blog carnival participants have to say about tutorials, please click on the links below:

Violetmoon's Corner

Cat's Wire

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 2017 Blog Carnival - My Other Arts

It's blog carnival time at the Jewelry Artisans Community and the topic for April is other crafts and arts we pursue besides designing and creating jewelry.

I'm downright incompetent when it comes to things like sewing, knitting, crochet, pottery and sculpture and pretty much everything else I've tried.  But, I seem to have a knack for cooking.  My grandmother and mother were both wonderful cooks and I remember that when I was young, I liked to sit at the kitchen table and watch.  Sometimes they even let me help!

As a young, just married adult, I avidly pursued my interest in preparing beautiful meals, but as the years went on and my career became more and more demanding, cooking fell by the wayside.  It became more sustenance than any kind of creative endeavor.  When I retired nearly three years ago, I found my interest in food rekindled and now find myself really enjoying creating with food once again:

Scrambled eggs with mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach, sausage and cheese

Chicken Salad on Lettuce Cups

Blackberry Fruit Leather

Frozen Fruit Pops - Clockwise from top - Peach, Blackberry/Yogurt, Blackberry, Yogurt and Strawberry, Blackberry and Cream Cheese, Watermelon, Mixed Fruit and Yogurt.

Grilled Red Onion, Kielbasa, Yellow Peppers and Green Apple Kabobs

Clover Rolls

Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry

It was rather by accident that I discovered how much I enjoy taking photographs.  About the same time I retired, I bought a Canon Powershot for photographing the jewelry that I make.  It wasn't long before I started taking the camera with me pretty much every where I go in order to take photos of things I might want to paint later on.  You just never know when a photo opportunity will present itself.  I just love that little camera and the fact that it's red is a bonus!

I've learned and continue to learn that there is a lot more to photography than snapping a picture.  A good photographer can get fantastic photos with a little point and shoot camera while an unskilled photographer will take mediocre photos with the best and most expensive camera equipment available.  So much depends on the the photographer's eye for composition and lighting and what makes an interesting photograph as well as the editing that's done after the pictures have been taken.  Just the act of cropping a photo can make the difference between a boring photo and a great shot.

I feel that my skills have improved over time and have actually been thinking about listing some of my photos to test the waters.  I have no idea if anyone would actually be interested in purchasing any of them, but there is only one way to find out.

In no particular order, here are some of my efforts with the camera - be aware, this is very photo bloated:

I found it interesting that photographing the same subject from different angles created entirely different moods in the resulting photos:

I hope that you have enjoyed sharing my pursuits of food and photos with me.  To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community has to say on the subject, please click on the links below:

Violetmoon's Corner

Cat's Wire