Thursday, June 13, 2013


The Gruffalo and I are at the age when the adult children of friends are starting to get married. We recently attended a lovely wedding in Portland, Oregon for our friends' daughter.

The dress that I wore to the ceremony and the reception was short and somewhat flapperish. I spent some time before we traveled out of state to make jewelry to go with the dress.

Here are the two necklaces and earrings that I made:

The 'pearls' are actually glass. They are knotted on a length of cord. On the jewelry form for this photograph I doubled the pearl strand. For the party, I wore it full length. The choker is a separate piece. I also made a bracelet that looks like the choker, but without the dangles.

Here is a closer shot:

The round elements are actually beaded beads. They are made up of several bead sizes & shapes stitched together to form an element that dimensional and identical on both sides. The components that make up the beaded beads are two-hole (twin) beads, 4 mm crystal bicones and seed beads.

I enjoy the whole roaring twenties, Great Gatsby-like look. It is fun to take elements of a period style and incorporate them into modern-day clothing. I would never dress head to toe in flapper style (unless I was going to a costume party), but this jewelry, worn with a short, drop-waist dress, made me feel very elegant.

Despite my love of the art and style of this period, I have not (and will not) see the new film adaptation of Gatsby. Sometimes a favorite novel should be left in the realm of literature. (Major exception: the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird.) And I do love Fitzgerald's best-known novel in spite of the controversy over his writing methods.

Oh, and congratulations to the newly-weds. We had a lovely time and were so happy to share your big day with you. This wedding, I must say, was the first time that I have seen bridesmaid dresses that would actually work in a non-wedding setting.

Friday, June 7, 2013


When I stopped working at my day job, I was certain that I would be able to write a new blog post at least once a week. As it turns out, I have been having way too much fun doing not much of anything to keep up with that sort of schedule.

But doing nothing gets old fast for me, so I started re-arranging one of the bedrooms (the one we call The Girls' Room) into a studio. I have a way to go yet, because there are remnants from previous occupants (The Girls) that need to be stored, but I do have a good work space carved out. The last couple of weeks have been filled with jewelry making and offline writing. Time to share some of the former...

Last year I took a class from guest instructor Lisa Pavelka at my local bead shop. Lisa is an amazing artist who works in many different media--the class that I took was all about using resin to make jewelry. Lisa has developed a one-step resin that cures in a few minutes under UV light. It is a wonderful product. It spreads out evenly over flat surfaces and domes naturally as it spreads. It has high surface tension so, unless you flood the surface with resin, it will not overflow the edge of the underlying substrate. Lisa showed us how to layer thin coats of resin, curing under UV light between each coat, to create dimensional pieces.

Because Lisa and her team are entirely awesome, they provided Magic Glos (TM) along with round acrylic blanks, tiny metal components, little flowers, glitter, rub-on foil, clear transfers and other items to make our pieces. Under her guidance, this is the very first resin piece that I ever made:

This piece contains several layers of resin on top of a round acrylic blank. There are small metal pieces (a key, a flower shape and clock cogs) as well as glitter, a dried flower and black transfers incorporated into the resin. The two silver wheels on the sides are partially embedded in resin to provide a way to attach a chain or other necklace. I am not sure what sort of jewelry piece I will make using this. Perhaps I will keep it as is to remind me of how I started out with this medium. Using resin is a fun process and, because each layer cures in 3 - 5 minutes, you can create a finished piece very quickly.

(Note: As further evidence of Lisa's awesomeness, all of the students received a package from her a week or so after the class. This package contained even more items from Lisa's line to encourage us to experiment with our newly acquired resin-working skills. I sent a thank you note at the time but wanted to give a public shout-out to Ms Pavelka for her ability to merge artistic talent with graceful, generous customer service.)

Bead weaving with a single needle is still my first love when it comes to jewelry making, but I enjoy having lots of other techniques at my disposal. Resin has been my medium of choice for the past couple of weeks.

My birthstone is ruby, so I decided to make myself a ruby necklace & earrings. I started with three pieces of silver filigree from my hoard. I mixed up a tiny bit of resin with red & silver glitter. This was the first layer on my homemade gems. After curing the glitter layer, I added a few layers of resin to create domed jewels. Once everything was cured I glued red crystals onto the necklace filigree and added the findings to make this necklace:

Here is a side view which shows how the beautifully this resin domes across the top:

This doming acts as a lens so that items added in previous layers are magnified. It is really cool to watch a piece develop.

These are the earrings that go with the necklace:

This is a ring that I made out of clear and red crystals. No resin in this piece. The crystals are on wire-wrapped head pins and attached to a ring form with jump rings:

There is a lot of movement to the ring, which I like. It is also free-form as opposed to the necklace & earrings, which are more structured. When I design pieces to go together, I like to have some aspects that are not completely matchy-matchy across all of the pieces.

When this process stops resin-ating (sorry!) with me, I will move on to another technique. For the foreseeable future, though, I'm having a blast dropping little tiny shiny things into Magic Glos (TM).