Into the Big Leagues…

Okay.  Maybe not quite.  However over the last year, my creative process has undergone a dramatic shift.  While I am not necessarily designing differently, I am using different materials.  A lot of them.

Back in the beginning, I used a lot of Czech glass and crystal from Michael’s and other craft stores.  Acquiring the materials was (relatively) cheap and easy.  If I broke something (which I often did) then it was no big deal.  I could just spend a few more dollars and go buy more.

Eventually, I moved into resin work, along with hand-cut copper, mixed media and a whole host of other things.  Just like when I was in television, I still believe that expanding my skill set makes me better at my job – and as a person.  If I don’t try new things, I don’t grow as an artist.

Abstract

Eventually, after a few trips to BeadFest, the semi-precious stones began catching my eye.  As I felt the need to keep testing my skills, I also felt the need to keep pushing my boundaries with materials.  So?  I started small.  I picked up a few pricier strands and played around with them.  While I was well beyond the point of breaking things, my finishing skills weren’t quite what I wanted (or needed) them to be.

Peruvian Pink Opal on 14K gold

Fast forward to May of 2017.  While attending a gem show in Virginia, I had the opportunity to purchase some gorgeous Herkimer “diamond.”  While not true diamonds, the Herkimers are water- clear quartz found only in upstate New York and sparkle much like a diamond would.  And per strand?  They are expensive!  So what is a growing jewelry designer to do?

Actually, I’m not really certain.  What I ended up doing was taking a deep breath, spending the money on 100% sterling silver findings, including the beading wire (Thanks, Beadalon!) and adding wire guardians for a polished look.  Then I closed my eyes, made a wish, and hoped for the best.

I labored over the piece for an entire day, but when I was finished?  I had produced what (in my humble opinion) is one of my finest pieces to date.

Diamonds Are Forever

Emboldened, I moved on to that ancient Roman glass I had been saving, as well as the natural, untreated Citrine from Morocco.  And I, as an artist, feel as if I’m moving on as well.

I’ll never forget my “glass” roots, but now?  Well, as they say, once you go “diamonds,” you never go back!  Or something like that, anyway.

 

 

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Moving into fall…

So life has been a little busy lately and I haven’t updated this page the way that I should.  So if you’re looking for my fall show schedule as well as my new designs, hop on over to my Facebook page where things are a little more consistent.

As soon as I can, I’ll get back here to update again.  However, until them – and if you want to see where I’ll be – Facebook is the place to check.  I’ll even give you the link.

Easily Distracted Designs on Face book:

https://www.facebook.com/easilydistracteddesigns/

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The Creative Process

I’m a creative person, or at least I think I am.  I always have been, which was partly why my first chosen field was television.  Well, that and “professional daydreamer” was not really a viable – or profitable – career choice.  And sometimes, my creative process gets away from me a little bit.  I get so caught up in what I am creating – whether it’s jewelry or writing one of my romance novels – that I forget the practical.  Like updating my website, among other things.  Just ask my husband.  It’s not uncommon for him to ask me something when I’m deep in my writing process, only to have me look up and blink at him a few times until I remember who he is and that I’m not really in 1820s London.

Which is why it has been so long since I’ve updated my page.  Bad of me, I know, but between writing and jewelry design, I’ve been caught up in the creative process this summer.  Not a bad thing, I know, but unless you have a business manager to handle things like finances and getting new stock tagged and into stores (and I confess that I don’t, much as I wish I did) then sometimes, the creativity has to stop for a bit while the practical is dealt with.  Which is what I’m doing today.

Here’s a peek at a few of the pieces that I’ve designed over the last few months, starting with earrings.

Midnight Moon Ocean Blue

Brunch in Naples

And some bracelets…

Faded Fall

Rusted Rubies

Jungle Wild

And finally some necklaces…

Lantern Lights

Forest Watch

Desire

The point is, sometimes, I get so caught up in what I’m creating that I forget to do the more practical things.  I’m trying to be better, but I don’t think I’m succeeding.  So if you really want to see what I’m up to (and what shows I’ll be attending) on a daily basis, check out my Facebook page.  It’s a little more interactive than this page and I update it far more frequently.  And until then?  If you need something, drop me a line via email or Facebook messenger and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  As soon as I put down these beads.

Earring trio made with recycled elements

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Metal Stamping – it’s hot! And occasionally painful…

For the last few years, the metal stamping trend has been on the rise.  Companies like ImpressArt that started out small now offer an entire line of different fonts, blanks and just about any sort of tool you can imagine.  So, of course, being easily distracted, I had to try it too.

Actually, I had tried it once before with little success.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not get anything (and I mean anything) to stamp correctly.  If one side was nice and deep, the other side was barely stamped or even visible.  I used Sharpie markers to darken in my stampings, as most blogs suggested, but the results were mixed and I was extremely unhappy with the jewelry I was making.  And forget about any kind of complicated design.  They looked awful.  So I stopped doing it.  Because I won’t sell anything if I’m not happy with the way it looks.  I was also tired of crushing my thumb with a heavy hammer.  After all, a poor, mangled digit can only be expected to endure so much.

Then, at BeadFest Spring 2016, I had a chance to watch part of a demo given by ImpressArt.  They were debuting a new, single-strike hammer.  Perfectly weighted and designed, the hammer was supposed to provide good results each and every time.  I didn’t think that was possible, but, like the sucker I am, I went home, got my Hobby Lobby coupon and bought one of these hammers, determined to give it a try.  And then I didn’t.

The truth is, I was intimidated.  I really didn’t think it would work.  I also hated the idea of spending a fortune in blanks just to ruin them if they didn’t turn out.  Because blanks, even aluminum ones, are not cheap.  Then, for Christmas 2016, I received gift cards to Michael’s.  Now, I’ll be honest.  I don’t shop there much any longer for a number of reasons, but my local store was now carrying a small part of the ImpressArt line, and, with nothing better to spend the gift cards on, investing in the rest of what I would need for metal stamping didn’t seem like a bad idea.  If it worked?  Great.  If not?  Well, at least I hadn’t lost my own money and there really wasn’t anything better to spend those cards on.

So right after Christmas, I got my supplies, pulled out the old stamp sets, my bench block, and that hammer I had never used.  I opened up a shiny, new pack of aluminum blanks and got to work.  You know what?  It worked!  Not only was I making nice, deep stamps, I was making them consistently.  Each piece, every time.  And for that, I can only give credit to the single strike hammer because nothing else changed.  I still hit the same way, I use the same stamps and the same bench block.  The only difference is that hammer.

Emboldened, I started looking at online videos, trying to find a new way and better of darkening my stamps, too.  And I did – with Vintaj’s metal patinas.  I have the full collection so why I never thought of this before is beyond me.  Maybe because I use patinas with the idea that that won’t come off?  In any case, using the patinas gave me the deep, dark, consistent color I had been longing for without the “overflow” I always had with Sharpies or other methods.

As I grew more confident, I also started experimenting with more difficult stamps, ones with more detail that were, at least according to online blogs, harder to work with.  That included ImpressArt’s “Hootie” stamp, which has been pretty popular around here.

And this weekend?  My first batch of stamped bracelets goes into stores for sale.  It’s a point I never thought I would reach, especially the day I wanted to just toss my hammer out the window.  Now?  I’m glad I tried again.