May 30, 2012

Celebrating Beads of Color: Pantone Summer Color Bead Swap

Tangerine Tango? A color study. Oil on canvas by artist Christiane Nault, circa 1990.
Celebrating Beads of Color! 

As jewelry designers, understanding the art of using color in design can be tremendously beneficial, if not imperative, to creating outstanding work. The complexities of color in design can be challenging to master without a formal art education, yet color-ways are an integral part of creating handcrafted jewelry. Understanding and using color well is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon, even informally. Purposely focusing on and expanding your use of color in jewelry design is as important to your craft as perfecting a technique or defining a personal style.

Lori Anderson’s Pantone Summer 2012 Bead Swap was an excellent way for jewelry artisans to focus on creating color-ways. Anderson paired interested artists from her Facebook group, “Bead Soup Café”, and the nationally and internationally paired artisans swapped beads using the Pantone Summer 2012 Colors as a guide. As a simple swap, it was up to each pair of artisans to decide what colors and how many beads to trade, with no further requirement to create jewelry with the swapped beads or participate in a blog hop later. Here are the Spring/Summer 2012 Colors, including Pantone’s color of the year, Tangerine Tango! 

Pantone's Ten Colors for Spring/ Summer 2012 (women).
I swapped beads with clay expert instructor and artist extraordinaire Tina Holden of Beadcomber. Holden is a certified instructor for Donna Kato, and currently has an intermediate level class on Kato's CraftArtEdu, "Textured Flower and Wire Pendants" using her own original Origami color gradient blend and a Wire Basket Weaving technique to assemble the pedals. Donna Kato's CraftArtEdu instructors are considered world class, and as I explored Holden's art I began to realize the great honor I had in swapping beads with Holden! (I'd actually asked Holden if she was comfortable with wire wrap or perhaps wanted beads only! lol...I'm so embarrassed now, but she graciously named the many jewelry techniques she is a master of, and was full of kindness and patience with me. I realized Jewel School desperately is missing a Kato clay artist and information on the clay arts!) Holden has invented clay arts techniques. She is a contributor to Step by Step and PolymerCAFE magazines, and her art is simply stunning. We decided to swap all ten colors, laughing when our bead swap became BIG! But our swap was as much fun as it was BIG, and although I was more than a little nervous to create ten beautiful bead soups for an artist like Holden, I think I met the task. Here's what I sent:

Tangerine Tango
Polymer clay focal by Second Surf, panda beads, Mexican fire opal rondelles, pearls, carnelian, agate focals, Japanese 12-2 flowers in copper & orange, MOP resin beads, quartz, Mop diamonds, silk tube beads.
Polymer clay focal by Second Surf, panda beads, Mexican fire opal rondelles, pearls, carnelian, agate focals, Japanese 12-2 flowers in copper & orange, MOP resin beads, quartz, Mop diamonds, silk tube beads.
Tangerine Tango Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Solar Power
Yellow chalcedony, "Summer Breeze" flowers (design by Lauren Andersen), pearls, yellow quartz, faceted lemon quartz, MOP coins, gold-tone Austrian crystal rondelles, lemon beads, gold panda beads, carved yellow jade beads.
Solar Power Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

                                                    Lapis rectangles, rounds & pears, Himalayan Kyanite, blue coral rounds, panda beads, banded agate focal and tube beads, "captured" lapis chainmaille beads, blue goldstone carved flower beads and faceted elongated pears, squares & rounds, blue glass squares, AB rondelles, MOP diamonds.
Sodalite Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Sugilite rondelles, charoite beads, Mojave purple turq- jasper marquis beads, amethyst, purple aventurine, carved jasper focal beads, faceted crystal quartz, purple faceted rondelles, carved glass roses, chainmaille "Summer Breezes" flowers (design by Lauren Andersen), MOP discs, Ice-flake quartz.
 Bellflower Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Crazy lace agate focals, silk beads, Japanese 12-2 flowers, drusy focal, pearls, Swarovski bicones, agate focal
Cabaret Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Amazonite faceted rounds, rondelles and pears, crackle quartz coins, rondelles, banded agate, crazy lace agate focal, MOP focals, silvertone rondelles with Australian crystals, pearls, Japanese 12-2 flowers and diamonds
Cockatoo Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Jade ombre focal, ombre agate, Czech two-tone glass, glass foil focal & bead, tourmalinated prasiolite, panda beads, green chalcedony, pearls, green and white jasper, green glass, ice flake quartz coins
Margarita Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Abalone & bone focal, abalone & shiva eye focal, faceted rainbow glass, faceted labradorite rondelles, panda beads, abalone diamonds, black lip shell, gunmetal rondelles with Austrian crystals, rainbow hematite
Driftwood Colorway: Light, Mid & Dark palette

Half-Persian 3-1 autumn jasper focal, gold sandstone carved & round beads, shells, ocean japer pears, MOP stars, shiva eye shells, tiger eye elongated pears, champagne AB glass, bronze glass, brown lip shell focal, blister pearl focal, pearls
Starfish Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

Sweet Lilac
Opalite leaves, diamonds, rondelles, "Summer Breeze" flowers with Swarovski, wonder beads, pearls, morganite nuggets, faceted AB rondelles, Ausrtrian crystal watch component/ focal, panda beads, light amethyst beads
Sweet Lilac Colorway: Light, Mid, & Dark Palette

 Because I wanted to include handcrafted elements with my bead swap mixes, I decided to create a few silk  beads, chainmaille captures, and several types of chain maille Japanese flowers using wire for color:

Japenese 12-2 flowers, captures, diamonds & Lauren Andersen's "Summer Breeze" flowers, available in an e-book from STEP BY STEP WIRE JEWELRY, "Ten Wire and Crystal Projects"

I learned the importance and challenge of color in jewelry design from this bead swap. By simply exploring colors of beads, I thought of jewelry design in a way I hadn't before: with color as an inspiration for and  basis of a design. Creating jewelry with beads of color is a new approach for me, and there is so much to learn! Shades of purple are complex, for example, as Pantone's "Bellflower" is more a periwinkle blue, like Tanzanite, and "Sweet Lilac" is a more red based lavender. As always, Lori Anderson is ingenious and generous, sharing her time and wisdom with the jewelry arts community with empowering events like the Pantone Summer Bead Swap. How fortunate we are that she creates all the time in so many ways: with bead swaps, blog hops, literary art and of course, her jewelry art!

Celebrate beads of color. Try new colorways. Upload a photo or two or just one color to the CSS DRIVE and see what color-ways await your jewelry designs. Let color be your inspiration, and let color move you  to express and create and re-create. Let color tell your story.

Color can represent identity, community, and personal taste. Color-ways can represent one’s culture, or express admiration for artists like Monet, Andersen, Kato or Kahlo. Color can reflect the personal, such as being drawn to warm shades of copper or cool grays of silver in jewelry metalwork --  yet just as strongly reflects popular culture too, such as rich shades of gunmetal.  Color in jewelry design can even celebrate the handcrafted community -- honoring, for example, the amazing range of color clay artisans are able to create in soft, beautiful shades, much like the gorgeous bead soup mixes Holden sent me and posted on her blog, "Polymer Clay Bites!"

Color interconnects us and lets us express our individuality; it defines us yet unites us. Celebrate beads of color, and try some of the Pantone Summer colorways this summer. Enjoy!

May 6, 2012

Dale "Cougar" Armstrong: Internationally Acclaimed & Award Winning Wire Jewelry Artist, Author, & Instructor

Photo © Dale Armstrong. All rights reserved.

International wire jewelry artist, author, and instructor Dale "Cougar" Armstrong will be the Jewel School guest expert Sunday, May 6 and Monday, May 7, 2012. If you are new to Jewel School, you can check for a channel in your area on the JTV website, or you can simply watch LIVE right on Facebook . Ms. Armstrong will present excellent choices in Eurotools and an exciting opportunity to pre-order her new Jewel School wire arts dvds, "Wearable Wire Art Bracelet Basics"and "Wearable Wire Art Pendant And Earring Basics" (scheduled to ship around May 16).

Original tutorial dvds will be updated
Dale Cougar Armstrong is known as the "Picasso of Wire Jewelry Arts" with over forty years combined experience in creating award winning classic wire art designs. She not only was the very first Jewel School expert, she was instrumental in the very creation of Jewel School on JTv with her original DVD series on wire jewelry arts, "Beads and Wire" and " Wire Wrap One Step Further" in stock now.  Armstrong is also the  Education Consultant for Wire-Sculpture, offering a series of highly acclaimed instructional DVDs and products there as well. 

Beadalon's kit made just for Armstrong
As member of the Beadalon Design Team Armstrong has had several German style wire kits made in her honor and available on Jewel School.  Her best selling book "Wirework: An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Wire Wrapping" now includes an accompanying tutorial DVD. The popular book and DVD set is available at many retailers, and is available as an immediate download for your computer at the Interweave Store for Beading Daily.

Armstrong is an inspirational wire jewelry artist, teaching classic techniques so that her students may create their own unique wire jewelry art designs. She will be teaching two classes at the new Jewel School Institute facility during the summer workshop, June 21-23, along with other Jewel School /Beadalon designers Fernando Dasilva, Julianna Hudgins, Sandra Younger, Carole Crye, and Patti Bullard. The cost for all three days is $600, or $250 per day. Participants receive a $75 discount on all three days if workshop is purchased before  May 15, 2012. For information on how to register, send your name and daytime phone number to, or call 1-888-515-0202. 

Designs will be taught at the Jewel School Institute this summer.
Designs © Dale Armstrong. All rights reserved.

 Armstrong's class "Double Trouble"  will teach two designs, a heart pendant and swirling earrings. Students will create a beautiful pendant using a puffed heart, and in doing so, will learn the techniques and formulas for making virtually anything into a pendant. Students will also create mirror image earrings with an "orbital" design using gemstones or crystals. The "Double Trouble" designs will be created using traditional wire methods for all skill levels, including beginners. Armstrong writes in the summer workshop registration, "Both projects are fun to make, best sellers, and make great gifts!"

Designs © Dale Armstrong. All rights reserved.

Additionally, Dale Cougar Armstrong is offering the course "Crystal Chaos" for intermediate level students. The class will use traditional wire methods to create freeform prongs for  Swarovski Rivoli crystal pendants. Students will learn the techniques and formulas for calculating the length of prongs, choosing the appropriate wire gauges, executing bails to the front of pendants, and how to set prongs without chipping or damaging your focal. As  Dale "Cougar" Armstrong says in the summer workshop registration, students will create this "stunning pendant" as they learn important techniques that can be utilized later in many designs of their own.

Labradorite Cab from Dale "Cougar" Armstrong
 Dale Cougar Armstrong is a rockhound, an international artist, and a technique instructor, rather than simply a project instructor. She teaches wire art techniques and formulas so students aren't just copying her designs, but are able to utilize those formulas and traditional wire techniques to create original jewelry of their own. That said, you may want to explore some of Armstrong's publications in order to  practice the art of wire technique. You can purchase the 2006 Step By Step Wire Jewelry DVD collection that includes Armstrong's projects “Festooned Cabochon Necklace” -- “Touch of Class” -- “Classic Elegance”, and Pearl Chandelier Earrings  or the 2007 Step by Step Wire Jewelry DVD Collection including Armstrong's instructional article “Icy Blues”, which uses snap settings to "create a sparkling neck-piece." Or how about Armstrong's wonderful article “'Pet Panache' Springtime Sparkles for your pet featuring collars by Dale 'Cougar' Armstrong" published in "Bead Unique"?   

Drusy and beads from Jewel School for VOD
You'll find two video tutorials for free on Jewel School's weekly project VOD page. One project,"Artistic Wirewrap" is taught by former Jewel School host Sheree Henry using drusy cabs and beads, and the other project, "Margot and Dale: Wire Pendant"  is taught by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong and features a free form technique of wire wrapping focal beads. Most importantly, treat yourself and explore the amazing wire jewelry art of Dale "Cougar" Armstrong in her gallery "Cougar's Creations" ! You'll see why she is known as the "Picasso of Wire Art" and why we are incredibly fortunate to have Dale "Cougar" Armstrong as an instructor, guest expert, and inspirational artist at Jewel School. 

May 4, 2012

Pretty Things: My First Published Article (and a give away with AD/Adornments!)!

Stringing. Wyatt White said its coming back & coming back BIG. And personally, as a jewelry artisan I find stringing the most challenging of all techniques. Stringing is true art. In stringing it is color, shape, texture, pattern, form, and rhythm that is design. No fancy technique to lean on in order to create a sense of awe. No practiced skill to carry the jewelry. Stringing is either good or not, either works or does not. It takes courage to string. Yet, ironically, stringing is often overlooked as a jewelry art. We often associate more success and give more credit to a fancy technique than we do stunningly beautiful strung jewelry. We may even overlook strung jewelry completely in contests and in challenges.

Lori Anderson not only addresses stringing as art in her first published article, she blows any doubt into oblivion with examples of stringing work that will convince you to never think of stringing as anything less than true art ever again. She has long been on the very top of my list of jewelry designers, and I can look at her work, read her literary art, and enjoy the Bead Soup community endlessly with great joy, inspiration, interest and appreciation. Check out the sneak peak of her article and find out how Anderson makes stringing art. You're jewelry design will be so much the richer!

Pretty Things: My First Published Article (and a give away with AD/Adornments!)!

May 3, 2012

LEXI ERICKSON Workshop Dvd on Hand Finishing Metalwork

Interweave Store Jewelry Making Daily Workshops

The amazing Lexi Erickson has a new DVD Workshop: Hand Finishing Jewelry. Enter a new era in your ART CLAY or metal clay jewelry designs as you:

    Get a flawless finish with filing and sanding techniques made easy.
    Uncover expert advice on how to add a glint of sparkle with a burnisher.
    Incorporate timeless techniques to give your pieces soul, spirit, and unique flavor.
    Create intricate patterns and effects with the addition or removal of patinas.
    Learn hand finishing must-knows like putting scratches in to take scratches out.
    Discover the right tools and materials to achieve the look you desire.
    And much, much more!

 Lexi Erickson is an established, award winning expert in metalwork for Lapidary Journal & more, and I'm so pleased I  recently discovered her work when the infamous Jim Lawson photographed her jewelry in his new amazing, essential dvd How to Photograph Your Jewelry ($15 for immediate download & omg, so GOOD -- buy it!! Just buy it!!). Both Jim Lawson (just start looking at who photographs the jewelry for just about every jewelry magazine out there) & Lexi Erickson are the best! And I love the idea of knowing what to do with my metal work after I have soldered, pickled, and rinsed . . . and am thinking, "ok, now what?" LOL.. (btw, there is also a link for a DVD workshop on using machines to finish metalwork on the same page if you prefer machine finishing, such as using a flex shaft).