Tuesday, December 6, 2011

From There to Here

So I was just reading a blog from my friend Marie over at Skye Jewels, and she was reminiscing about designs from last Christmas and revisiting some of those, and it got me thinking about my stuff from Christmas last year. While hers are absolutely gorgeous, mine are quite different. Not that I didn't make pretty jewelry then, but my designs were so much more simple, because it was before I discovered Vintaj Natural brass and all the techniques of filigree wrapping, altering metals, wire work, or anything really. If you look at the stuff I was making then compared to what I do now, the change is astounding.
Here are some items I made prior to Christmas last year...notice my earrings are all simple, one headpin style beaded things (although still pretty beads!) and all my necklaces are just beaded. No hard wire, no filigree, no metal other than the clasp. While they are pretty beaded things, they are a little one note compared to what I do now. These are all things I made for my mom.

Which brings me from there to here. Talking about designs, I was brainstorming ideas for Christmas presents yesterday, and I realized that I actually design much better if I have an outline. I don't mean necessarily a drawing, but at least a concept and idea, especially if I am wanting to use certain colors and components. All of the above necklaces were made organically. Meaning I just started beading, and would remove and add new beads, etc. until I found a pattern I liked. Most of these I probably restrung several times before I was satisfied. I should have invested in a bead board to save myself the trouble of having to restring, but I didn't, and I still don't have one! I work in the same way sometimes when linking beads, but I tend to think things through a little more now prior to starting.
So here are photos of some of my favorite designs that I made this year...see the change and see how I've used my imagination to go beyond stringing beads...

January 2011 - First necklace I sold this year, went for $100 sold via facebook.
This is before I got my first vintaj order. It is all glued with E6000. I have another filigree like the one used in the background, and I started trying to do another one like this using rivets instead of glue, but it didn't come together quite as perfectly as this one did. It is hard to see in this photo, but all the little teeth on at least one gear on every section actually lock together like a working clock's gears would. I also really love the right side. I created that faux toggle and have the double chain, one of my favorite designs that I came up with during creative play. This whole necklace was just a creative work of art for me, one of the first times I ever experimented with E6000 glue. It was also after discovering Vintage Jewelry Supplies, which my mother introduced me to as she had gone to school with Susan Street, an accomplished jewelry designer who owns the supply business. She also has a great techniques page that was a huge key in unlocking this change in me.

February 2011 - Starry Night Necklace for Vintaj Challenge (It was my first contest and I won, talk about a boost to my ego, lol)
This thing literally took me weeks to make. The first thing I did was paint the large round blank. I painted it with acrylic paint and covered it in diamond glaze, then repeated that layered process several times to give it more dimension. The glaze would break up the paint slightly as it hardened, and it just has this really neat effect, but you have to see it up close as it doesn't really come through in the photo. I then wrapped it in the filigree and sectioned together the hand painted compass and star and filigree. By they way, the compass is painted on the back and filled with diamond glaze as well, and there are crystals on the backside of the larger filigree and the little one as well. Basically its really pretty from the back as well. Ok so then I had thought so much about it, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of 3 dimensional thing with beads, and that just took some experimenting to figure out. I used half hard wire on the upper 3 beads and soft flex for the 2 tail sections, so they have more flexibility. The other little drops are all made with wire. The original design was WAY over the top! I had multi spirals and one huge spiral on the left. Luckily, I edited last minute. I had stayed up ALL night working on this the night before submissions were due, and had photographed it and everything and was ready to send it at 9am. Submissions were due by noon, and at 9 am I decided to edit and removed the large section on the left side and replaced with the simple 2 drops. That was a very good decision, as the large section made the whole thing a little too conceptual instead of being just awesome lol. I ended up submitting it, literally, at like 11:55 am. I can't tell you how elated I was when I won. I practically cried, you would have thought I just won an oscar or something.  My friend Meg wore this for me during Pumpkintown and it looked amazing on her. This is currently at the local Arts Council Art market for sale, but I may submit it to a magazine at some point.

May 2011 - Nautical Path Bracelet
I made this for my trip to the beach. I was especially fond of that hand painted compass, because it really had this look of having been sunken at sea or something, but my favorite part of this design is the little arched tube bead that I encased in bubbly shaped crimp covers, beads, and the nautical sand dollar charm. The bead combo was nice too, with gorgeous lapis lazuli, round window beads, and very cool glass beads that reminded me of sea glass. I used wire to make dangles out of little capri blue teardrop beads, which was a favorite of the lady who purchased it at the trunk show in November. I really loved this one, going to have to make myself another one to keep. : )

November 2011 - Green Earth Bracelet

I made this one and immediately had to make 3 more that were similar but with different color schemes, beads, and embellishments. Then I sold two and left the other one at the Arts Council. It was a purple one.I kept the green one and wear it often, but it is on my etsy site and I may take it to a local gallery store here in town. It was just a fun design concept using a lot of crystal drops with brass and hand painted components, and it utilizes the vintaj leaf blank really well. This will definitely be a repeated design concept, although no two will ever really be the same. 

Overall, I feel like this year has been very productive for me. I took what was a hobby and made new years goals to use every spare minute I had to work on designing and to be creative somehow every single day. I have worked hard to stick to those goals as much as possible. I have gone from beading on a strand to winning a contest, being editor's pick in another contest, being a featured designer on the Vintaj Blog, doing my first 3 local craft shows, including the trunk show at the arts council where I was top seller, approaching my first gallery and getting accepted, getting approached by owners of other galleries, and landing 2 magazine entries (the only 2 months I actually submitted, I was chosen, so cool. Look for my jewelry in Feb and April Bead Trends next year, and hopefully more after that, need to submit some more items.) WHEW!!!  For a part time thing that I'm doing from my livingroom coffee table, not too bad, right?  Sometimes when you work really hard, it really does pay off, and if you'd asked me this time last year what my goals would be in my jewelry, I wouldn't have been able to tell you any of those things, because this time last year I didn't even know it was possible. I have accomplished things I didn't know I should dream for myself, so here's hoping next year I can have more targeted dreams and actually make some money too, because at the end of the day, none of that successful and exciting stuff matters if you have no money! I haven't gone over figures yet, but I'm certain I did not have a profit this year. I had to invest a lot in my supplies and tools to even get started, and I haven't produced and sold enough to make all of that back yet. Now that I have a better sense of my design style and a better grasp of the techniques I enjoy implementing, I think my time will be better managed and my supply purchases more purposeful, instead of just buying a lot of everything with the hope of stumbling on something cool. Here's hoping I can find the time to do all of the things I need to do in order to reach my goals next year! 

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