Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year End Reflections - December Blog Carnival

It's time for the monthly blog carnival at the Jewelry Artisans Community.  "Year End Reflections" has been chosen as the December topic.   I like reflecting better than thinking about resolutions that I won't keep. 

2014 was year of major change due to my retirement from my job of 19 years as an elementary school secretary.  What so many people told me prior to retiring has turned out to be true...how did I ever find time to work?  There are still not enough hours in the day, but now the hours are filled with activities I haven't had the time or energy to pursue for several years.

On the domestic front I have found, to my surprise, that I really enjoy taking care of our home.  In the past, it was a disaster during the week and I'd spend all weekend cleaning, doing laundry and running errands. The sense of peace and order that comes from tidy surroundings is priceless.

Cooking gourmet meals has become a priority again!  Oh, how I used to love to prepare meals from scratch starting with shopping for the freshest ingredients I could find.  I'd forgotten how hubby and I used to cook side by side and how that treasured activity slowly gave way to whatever was easy.

Another dream we finally have time to pursue is traveling.  Since retiring in June, my husband and I have taken several trips including a three week drive down the length of the California coast.  As I type this we are into week number four of a six week vacation in Bangkok.  I am loving this life!

As far as my fledgling jewelry business goes, I haven't become consumed with making it a success which is what I thought would happen once I retired.  Instead, there is more time to do what I like best which is fiddling with new designs and learning new techniques.  I want to carry this momentum forward into 2015 by re-visiting designs like this that I never quite got the way I wanted.

It's been three years since I've painted any pendants and I want to get back to that including experimenting with resin to give them a protective glossy finish instead of the time consuming method I currently use.

One thing that would really help the success of my Etsy and Artfire shops would be for me to do a lot more with social media and self promotion.  Unfortunately, I really don't like this aspect of on-line selling and I've decided I'm ok with that.  I started this blog in October 2014 and have found that I really enjoy it.  In the new year, I plan to continue blogging, to build a following and to be content accepting that this may be my one and only method of promoting myself online.

Lastly, after desperately wanting it, I've realized that it's no longer a priority to me for my Etsy and Artfire shops to become wildly successful.  A sale or two a month would make me perfectly happy.  At this stage in my life I want balance, which for me means taking care of my husband and home, preparing gourmet meals, seeing the world, and creating jewelry art. 

To read what the other participants in the Jewelry Artisans Communityblog calendar have to say on this topic, please click on the links below:

Cat's Wire

Bead Sophisticate

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Challenge - Found Item

Each month members of the Jewelry Artisans Community participate in a monthly challenge in order to, well, challenge ourselves and our skills.  Taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and working in unfamiliar areas makes us better craftspeople and artists.  It also opens our minds to new techniques and ideas that we can put to use in future jewelry designs.  Plus, it's fun!

The November challenge was to use found, recycled or upcycled item(s) in a jewelry design. The item(s) could not be anything normally associated with jewelry such as beads, cabachons or charms. Those types of materials were allowed to be used in the designs, but the main focal component had to be found, recycled or upcycled.

Kevin of rockinwow submitted this design made up of old chain from a broken necklace, tagua nut buttons, mother of pearl buttons, two decorative metal balls (one textured), the smooth one was a fake button on a stuffed bear, Czech Glass, filigree from an old trivet and lastly old shoe buckles.  Isn't it wonderfully creative?

From Cat of Cat's Wire we were treated to this fabulous netted metal curtain ring and tiny shells pendant that is hanging on black cord:

Cat may soon find her windows curtainless as she is now looking at these metal curtain rings in a new light!

My entry was centered around this little flower I found on the side of the road while out walking. I'm not sure what it's made of; it's kind of like fabric and kind of like rubber and a little bit like plastic.  I attached it to wire woven copper leaves I made of oxidized copper wire and suspended it from copper chain:

Carina, of Violetmoon's Corner found a very cool way to upcycle a pair of broken eyeglasses with these fantastic pendants which she has turned into necklaces.  These are great!

It shouldn't surprise me, yet the originality and creativity of the entries in these monthly challenges never fails to amaze me. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jewelry by the Decades

This month's Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival topic is "Decades of Jewelry".  I thought long and hard about how to write about this subject and after rejecting several ideas, decided upon an approach.  I'm not a fashion expert and I don't follow trends, which leaves me rather unqualified to talk about jewelry fashions throughout the decades.  But, I do have a jewelry collection that takes me back through the decades and it made me realize how jewelry can create memories, allow us to express our individual selves and mark the important events in our lives.

It's not a large collection, but I would like to share it with you.

My grandmother's wedding ring is an example of the style of the late 1920's - early 1930's.  New technology included machines that could cut faceted gemstones which contributed to making gemstone jewelry affordable to the middle class:

Aluminum jewelry came on the scene in the 1940's due to precious metals such as gold and silver being scarce during WWII.  It's light weight made it possible to design large, chunky jewelry and also made it a status symbol.  Usually silver colored, it was also often gold plated.

I remember my mother wearing this choker when I was a small child in the early 1960's.  The blue rhinestones gave it a touch of glamor reminiscent of the Hollywood stars of that era:

Damascene is the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold by engraving patterned cuts into steel, placing gold foil into the cuts and hammering until the gold penetrates the engraving .  Originating in the in the Middle Ages from artisan work done in Damascus, Syria, it has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries.  The "Arabesque" style consists of geometric designs while the "Renaissance" style features variations of birds, flowers and other objects  Each piece is oxidzed to create the black background. Toledo is the world's largest center of production of Damascene or "Damasquino".  Dating from the 1950s, this charm bracelet was one of my mother's favorites.

Another example of Damascene, these earrings belonged to a friend's grandmother:

With the arrival of the 1960's, macrame and hand formed beads strung on materials such as hemp came on the scene.  I wore this necklace as a young pre-teen/teen:

1970's styles include this elaborate necklace given to my grandmother by my aunt who brought it back from a trip to Europe:

This simple, yet elegant opal ring was a high school graduation gift from my grandmother in 1976:

 Long dangly earrings on French ear wires were wildly popular in the 1970's.  I still wear this pair!

 By the 1980's, studs or post earrings were in.  Big, bold and colorful were popular choices:

So were tiny and dainty:

My own jewelry designs contain features from many of the past decades from long dangly earrings to detailed beaded necklaces to creations that consist of wire, gemstones and often found or recycled/upcycled items:

 Whatever the decade, humans have had the need and desire to create beautiful things to adorn their bodies and their surroundings since the earliest recorded history.  It's an endlessly interesting and fascinating topic and I hope readers have enjoyed this glimpse into my personal jewelry history through the decades.

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say on this topic, please click on the links below:

The Crafty Chimp

Cat's Wire

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration is a hot topic with artists.  We talk about lack of inspiration, what inspires us, how to get out of a dry spell and being inspired by other artists.

These daisies that grow in my yard always make me smile.  They're so cheerful.  Looking at them one day I was struck with the thought that they looked like they were dancing.  From that came this piece which I call Dancing Daisies:


These little black and white butterflies often visit the daisies and were what inspired me to paint this butterly pendant.  Taking a little artistic license, I set the scene in twilight:


Common household items can be sources of inspiration too.  For instance, this hurricane lamp is the first thing I see when I wake up each morning and I'd often thought a pair of earrings in this shape would be cool.  This is the result:



The headboard on my bed has some scroll work I've been eyeballing lately and there's this lamp in my living room...hmmmmmm.

What I've found is that inspiration is all around us; one just has to look at things in a new light.  Next time you're feeling at a loss creativity wise, take a stroll through your home or yard and view the things you see every day like you're seeing them for the first time.  You might be surprised at the inspiration you find.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to the debut post of my new blog, Jewelry Art by Dawn!  As I learn my way around this format, I expect things to look more polished.  Meanwhile, please sit back and enjoy my (mostly jewelry related) musings.

Tis the season for ghost, goblins and witches.  Yes, Halloween is here and it's the topic for this month's Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival.

Here in the United States, Halloween is a huge holiday eagerly anticipated with excitement by children and adults alike.  Some say it is close to passing Christmas as America's most popular holiday.

For children, it's a day for costumes and going around the neighborhood trick or treating.  Many communities hold Halloween Carnivals in a central location for the kids.  Adults also look forward to donning their store bought or home made get ups at costumes parties.  Neighborhoods and houses are decked out in lights and decorations with a Halloween and/or Autumn theme.

It is a day of fun and to scare yourself silly.  Boo!

Halloween wouldn't be complete without accessories to celebrate the holiday.  For those of us who make and design jewelry, it's impossible to resist creating Halloween themed jewelry, such as the these items that I entered in a recent Halloween Design Challenge.

Made of etched black onyx which reminded me of spider webs and orange cat's eye, these capture the Halloween theme without being too kitschy:

For fun, this bat pendant made of copper wire oxidized to almost black is the ticket:

These leather and paper bead earrings weren't part of the Halloween challenge, but they have the right vibe for the holiday:

I hope that this Halloween finds you celebrating in style, whether it's taking the kiddos around the neighborhood, staying home to hand out treats or attending a costume party with your friends.  Too bad it's only once a year!

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisan Community have to say about Halloween, click on the links below.  We even have a black cat who blogs - how cool is that?

Cat's Wire

Ponder the Cat

The Crafty Chimp