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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Newest Work as a CCC Ambassador

Blog Entry 082312

Since I became one of five Cousin Corporation of America's Creative Circle Ambassadors, I have been busy making the month's assignment, which was to be a piece inspired by Florida. I visited Miami Beach several times and was always inspired by the colors in the water and in the sunsets. With that in mind, I designed the necklace below, which was in my last blog post. I am in the midst of writing and publishing the pattern for this.


This piece, which I called Florida Inspiration, had to be made of all Cousin components. The turquoise-colored beads are separated with crystal rondelles that twinkle with light the way the sun did on the water, and the orange beads in the multi-strand fade to light pink, just as the colors in the sunset did.

The clasp is also crystal to match the rondelles, and is silver-plated.

Clasp on Florida Inspiration

I then went on to design a matching pair of earrings.

I went on to make more jewelry with the supplies sent by Cousin Corporation of America (below). Using Cousin Trinkettes® beads, the first piece represents my first try at Viking Knit.

Viking Knit Earrings

I made another design with SilverSilk, still using the Cousin Trinkette beads:

SilverSilk Earrings

And, finally, using the leftover beads and the ribbon from the packaging used in Cousin Trinkettes®, I made a bookmark:

Bookmark

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Florida Inspiration


On Monday, August 6, 2012, Cousin Corporation of America announced the five bead artists chosen to be their Creative Circle Ambassadors. I am honored to announce that I was one of them.

This piece is made of Cousin components in response to our first defined project that was to reflect the inspiration Florida gives us. For me, the blue water, and the wonderful sunsets at Miami Beach when I was a child on vacation with my family gave me the idea for this necklace. The turquoise-colored beads are separated with crystal rondelles that twinkle with light the way the sun did on the water, and the orange beads fade to light pink in the eight strands between the blue beads. The clasp is also crystal to match the rondelles, and is silver-plated.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gail Becomes A Creative Circle Ambassador!


Gail Devoid Becomes a Creative Circle Ambassador
You can imagine how excited I am about this!

COUSIN CORPORATION OF AMERICA ANNOUNCES CREATIVE CIRCLE AMBASSADORS

Five Passionate Jewelry Makers Will Spread the Word about Cousin and the Craft of Jewelry Making
LARGO, Fl., August 6, 2012 – Cousin Corporation of America, a premier manufacturer of jewelry making components, has chosen a select group of jewelry makers for its inaugural Creative Circle ambassador program for the 2012-13 year.

Cousin received an overwhelming amount of applications for the coveted slots and the vetting process took five weeks in order to review all of the submissions. The ambassadors were chosen by the selection committee based on their unique contributions to the program, commitment to jewelry making and social media and networking savvy.

The 2012-2013 Creative Circle™ ambassadors are: Suzette Bentley, Lisa Crone, Dr. Gail Devoid, Ph.D., Shelly Owen and Patty Squillante. The five ambassadors will have a platform to share ideas with the product development team, receive Cousin products to incorporate into their work, preview upcoming programs and provide feedback about products before they go to market.

 “We are excited to launch our inaugural Ambassador program with these highly talented jewelry makers,” said Jeff Cousin, President.  “Cousin is an industry leader with a strong reputation for providing quality products and unique inspiration. Together with our ambassadors we look forward to growing the Cousin brand and keeping the craft of jewelry making relevant, enjoyable and innovative.”
The ambassadors were officially welcomed by the Creative Circle™ team on August 2nd and are currently highlighted on Cousin’s website, www.cousin.com and their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/#!/CousinCorp.

About Cousin
Cousin Corporation of America is a family owned company founded in 1970 as Enterprise Art, a retail craft store in Largo, Florida. Today Cousin is a premier wholesaler of jewelry making supplies. Their focus is to design, manufacture and provide quality jewelry making products at an exceptional value to customers who are inspired by the craft of jewelry making. For more information about Cousin Corporation of America, please visit www.cousin.com.



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Birthstone Earrings (Or, How I Found My Muse!)

Earring Inspiration
It happens to all of us. We finish a project, and then clean up our workspace (well, at least I do!). We start looking around for ideas for our next endeavor and find that we have no inspiration whatsoever! Bead long enough and creative block will occur.
The few times this has happened to me, I went through my beads, hoping they would inspire me. When that did not work well, I went through old beading magazines. Still nothing moved me.
The way I found a path out of my funk was to go back to the early days when my skills were not as developed. I picked something easy to make, like earrings, and then a theme. When this happened to me, I chose a theme for birthday earrings and pulled out my stones, crystals in the gemstone colors, and two bags of earring findings, one in silver and one in gold. I set to work after I little more preparation.
First, I researched the traditional birthday stones on the Internet. I printed out the following list:
  • January - Garnet
  • February - Amethyst
  • March - Aquamarine
  • April - Diamond
  • May - Emerald
  • June - Pearl or Alexandrite
  • July - Ruby
  • August - Peridot
  • September - Sapphire
  • October - Opal or Tourmaline
  • November - Topaz or Citrine
  • December - Tanzanite, Zircon, or Turquoise
I also brought out a bag of pearls so that I could have more than one type of gem in the earrings. Putting everything in front of me, I started with January's birthstone: garnet.
Garnet Earrnings
A little bit of chain, a bit of wire work, and the January birthstone combined with a few pearls got my creative juices going. It was time to move onto February. Sticking with the gold findings I came up with a very simple design, but one that highlighted the high quality of the amethyst stones that I had.
Amethyst Earrings
On to March! For this pair of earrings I decided to switch to silver components as the color of that metal is cooler and in keeping with the watercolor of aquamarine.
Aquamarine Earrings
Although not a gemstone per se, the aquamarine Swarovski crystals are just as pretty and are more economical.
Diamonds are for April, and they come in a range of colors. However, clear quartz crystal can be a suitable substitute, as can be clear Swarovski crystals. Leaving that month behind, I went on to May, but not before deciding to look into herkimer diamonds or the costs of black diamonds. Herkimer diamond is the generic name for a double-terminated quartz crystal. I think these would work well for an April birthstone earring.
Emeralds, the stone for May, can be just as expensive or more expensive than diamonds. I remember that I made a pin with opal, emeralds, and tanzanite, (see below), but I knew I had a few leftover emeralds in my stash. I decided to make a pair of bead crochet earrings in which I randomly placed emeralds amongst the seed pearls.
Emerald and pearl earrings
Emerald, tanzanite, and opal pin
Now that I have looked at my chart of birthstones, I noticed that the pin has three birthstones its design: not only emerald for May, but also opal for October and tanzanite for December. This is a pin that I could wear with several of my birthstone earrings!
You would think that I was born in June for all the pairs of pearl earrings that I have. Here's just a few of some of my designs:
pearl earrings
Notice that the micro-mail background for these pearls is a peridot color? This pair of earrings could also be considered a pair of birthstone earrings for August! This makes the point that colored wire can also help us design towards a theme.
Another pair of earrings I had made previously took some time, but several colors of pearls were used in the design. Lucky are those born in June as they have several colors of pearls from which to choose!
pearl earrings
So far, techniques have gone from wire working to chain maille, beading around a cabochon, to stringing fringe. What a great way to practice your skills!
July is ruby, another expensive gemstone. For this month I would probably use Swarovski crystals, and put them in a design like the one below, which used sapphire crystals.
sapphire earrings
We've already seen a pair of earrings that uses peridot colored craft wire with pearls, but we could also use peridot Swarovski crystals with the design such as the one above for the month of August's birthstone earrings.
For September, using sapphire gemstones does not have to be as expensive as you would think. I found these sapphire stones for a reasonable price, and decided to show them off with the wire wrapping technique known as herringbone.
sapphire earrings
We've already seen the opal that most of us are familiar with used in the pin design shown in this article, but there are several type of opals: fire opals, Australian opals, Peruvian opals, and Ethiopian opals to name a few. Like pearls, the choice amongst opals are many. For October, here's an example of a pair of earrings made using Peruvian opals.
Peruvian Opal earrings
The same type of opals also come in pink:
Peruvian Pink Opal earrings
Tourmalines come in a variety of colors from pink, green, to black, so the options there are also just as numerous.
November's stones are warm colors, with topaz and citrines being yellowish orange. Simple studs can be beautiful if using stones, but all the designs open up if you use crystals in this color range.
And December is similiar in that dyed howlite can take the place of turquoise, or if you want earrings with natural stones, turquoise goes from yellow to blue to green. Here's a pair of earrings made with Sleeping Beauty blue turquoise:
Turquoise earrings
By choosing a theme, several design ideas can present themselves. By going back to easier work, you can revive your interest in beading and have your muse whispering new ideas in no time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

More on Knotting

Polymer Clay Knotted Necklace
So you have some favorite beads that you want to put in a necklace together, but there's one problem: Beads with different size holes. This presents a problem when a knot is big enough for one bead but not big enough for another. The knot will slipped into the bigger hole.

I faced this problem when I wanted to string some polymer clay beads that Bette Abdu had made and that I had won in a Yankee swap at the Bead Society of New Hampshire Holiday Party. The holes in the polymer clay beads were much bigger than the holes in the pearls that I wanted to use, ones that matched so perfectly. Betty had strung the polymer clay beads with spacers. However, the spacers also had holes that were too big.

I knew there had to be a way to get around this problem. One thing that I was taught during a knotting demonstration was that knots do not have to be on either side of every bead to make a knotted necklace. So, what I did was look for beads, small ones, that would not go through the holes in the clay beads or the spacers, but had holes themselves that were about the same size as the pearls. Then the design process started.

Getting my bead board, I laid out all of the beads, and checked to make sure that there would be enough knots in the necklace to keep the drape supple. What I wanted for the necklace was a string of pearls in the back, so that the necklace would be comfortable to wear, and then the other larger beads in the front, to showcase them.

I had planned to finish this necklace with silver findings, so what I chose for beads that would control the knotting were tiny silver round beads. This not only would incorporate silver into the necklace, but would match the findings.

I have done a lot of knotting lately, and have learned that one of the best things I can do before starting to string the beads is to check the silk thread or the silk cording that I'm using on a few test beads to make sure that when I knot the bead, the knot will hold and not slip through the bead.
After testing a few different options, I decided that FFF silk thread, doubled, would work the best. The silk cord that I had was too thin. So, confident that I had the right thread for the beads I was going to use, I started stringing the beads in the order that I had laid out on my bead board.
With all the testing done and the design completed even before I started, once the beads were strung all that was left was to knot the beads and attach the findings.

Here are the results:
Closeup of Knotted Jade Necklace
Another picture shows a closeup of the knotting:
Jade Necklace
Notice the knots on either side of the pearls. Also notice how the silver beads fit slightly into the larger holes of the polymer clay spacers. The necklace has a wonderful drape despite the fact that some of the knots are about an inch to an inch and a quarter apart.
Jade Necklace

Even though I could have knotted just the pearls, I put a tiny silver bead in between to continue the design of the necklace itself. By using design techniques such as this, I ended up with the necklace that is a true memento of my friendship with Betty Abdu and a piece that will go into my personal collection.
If you have beads that you want to knot and face this problem, consider using this technique. You may find that you can make the knotted necklace you want. Have fun making it, then wear it, and enjoy!

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