Saturday, April 25, 2015

April Blog Carnival - Comfort Zones

It's blog carnival time at the Jewelry Artisans Community again!  This month we are writing about comfort zones.

When I think of comfort zones, what comes to my mind is trying something new to stretch my wings and grow as an artist and/or as a person.  It may make me uncomfortable to step outside of my comfort zone, but doing so benefits me in ways too numerous to count by building confidence, developing new skills and boosting self esteem.

I paint miniature paintings and turn them into pendants for my jewelry designs.  Part of this includes a long involved process to seal the paintings in order to protect them and to achieve a beautiful, smooth shiny finish that feels like running one's fingers over glass.  It's extremely time consuming and labor intensive.

For quite some time, I've been trying to come up with a more efficient way to finish my pendants and one day thought about using resin.  Resin is a liquid material that once poured over the surface of the object being sealed dries to a clear, glossy, hard finish that stands up well to hard use and is cured in a few days.  There are downsides to it as well.  It must be measured and mixed correctly in order to harden properly, bubbles can form in the finish and it must not be disturbed while drying. 

While researching resin, I thought things like "don't want to mix", "bubbles could ruin my paintings", "too much to learn", "too hard", "too much trouble" and so on.  All very self defeating thoughts.  But, then I thought why not give it a try.  If other people have learned how to use resin, I could too.  After finally deciding to go ahead, I purchased some resin and practiced with items I didn't care about ruining.

The first few attempts were pretty bad.  Really bad, actually.  But, I could see the potential.  Now instead of thinking up reasons why this was a bad idea, I was excited about the possibilities and learning how to make it work.  After a few sessions, I finally achieved results that I was really proud of.  I have so many ideas right now that I'm pretty sure they won't all be accomplished in this lifetime, but I am so enjoying the journey and I'm so glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone!

"Owl Eyes"

"Elephant Walk"

Another example of stepping outside my comfort zone came just a few weeks ago.  My husband was on a business trip in San Diego and invited me to join him.  Great!  Except he was busy during the day and I was on my own.  I'm not familiar with San Diego and realized I had two choices:  stay in the hotel room all day or get out and explore.  So, I got a map, did some internet research about local attractions, rented a car and off I went.  I'll admit I was nervous at first, but the more I did the more comfortable I became.

I started out driving around the area where we were staying and didn't stray more than a few blocks at first.  It wasn't long before I'd shopped at every thrift store within 20 miles, hit the malls, driven over the Coronado Bridge to Coronado Island, taken the ferry to Coronado Island, gone to the beach and toured the Maritime Museum. 

Coronado Bridge

Coronado Island Ferry

I also walked for miles along the shore taking photos of wildlife and pretty much anything that caught my interest.  Some of these photos will be used to paint future pendants.


As I successfully accomplished each adventure, another layer of confidence was achieved and it felt good.  Driving on the freeway and across the Coronado Bridge without mishap made my day.  Finding the dock where the ferry launches and learning how it all worked made me stand a bit taller.  Ordering a delicious lunch and an ice cold locally made artisan beer  while enjoying the view of the bay was a wonderful experience.  My solo exploration of San Diego left me feeling so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone!

Getting outside of our comfort zones is probably one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.  It doesn't matter what it is as long as it's something we've wanted to try, but have hesitated to do for some reason.  It's such a good feeling to take that first step and realize just how capable we really are which encourages us to try more new things.  It doesn't have to be huge - it could be something as simple as trying a new food or attending a ballet, as brave as public speaking or as exhilarating as skydiving.  Perhaps fear of dealing with the public could be overcome by selling jewelry at a craft fair or opening on online store.  The possibilities are endless.

Take one small step to move outside your comfort zone; you'll be glad you did!  Even if it's not a total success, just knowing that you tried will bring a great deal of satisfaction and the desire to try again.

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say about comfort zones, please click on the links below.

Echoes of Ella

Ponder the Cat

Cat's Wire

Friday, April 10, 2015

JAC March Challenge - Top O the Morning!

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!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, JAC members were challenged to make something associated with this holiday and/or the Irish. It could be something green, involve shamrocks, leprechauns, a pot of gold or a rainbow - anything that symbolized St. Patrick's Day or Ireland.

As usual, our members did not disappoint.

From Caroline of The Crafty Chimp we had this beaded bracelet that is not only green, but that also has a Celtic feel.  Simply lovely!

Caroline also shared this absolutely stunning beaded/ decoupage box -  is there no end to this girl's talents?

Carina of Violetmoon's Corner entered this fabulous necklace and earrings set.  Carina used a bezel paint called Pebeo Prisma Fantasy to achieve the color and texture in her focals and I have to say that I love the look.

From Cat of Cat's Wire, we were treated to these charming, whimsical beaded shamrock earrings.  Perfect for St. Patrick's Day!  I always look forward to Cat's entries.

Michele of MC Stoneworks created these green crystal and silver shamrock earrings.  They are so elegant and sophisticated - the crystals were a perfect touch.

My own entry from Jewelry Art by Dawn was this odd shaped dalmation stone that has been dyed green and wrapped in oxidized copper wire.  It was then suspended from a hand made copper chain.

Another successful monthly challenge has been completed and a great job was done by all!