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.