Jun 21, 2012

The 52 Pairs of Earrings In A Year Challenge

My Frida Kahlo Chainmaille Earrings: Lucite, bone, copper & Swarovski

52 Earrings in a Year is an amazing jewelry making challenge on Flickr, designed by artist Anke Humpert. Artisans can join at any time of the year, as long as they agree to do their best to create earrings each week and share in discussions. There is an emphasis on polymer clay arts, but it is not required of your earring designs. 

The Flickr group pool for the challenge is a rich, beautiful collection of over 1,300 design contributions! Occasionally, there are themes for the weekly challenges, such as the Frida Kahlo theme for week #23, my first week in the challenge. 

This is an empowering, motivating jewelry challenge that will not only give you a reason to create earrings consistently, it's as lovely as it is fun. Here's Anke Humpert's information on joining the group and the challenge:

"About 52 pairs of earrings a year : In 2012 I will challenge myself: I will make more art - regularily! To stick to it, I will make a pair of earrings each week (mostly polymer clay, but not exclusivly!). So 2012 is going to be a year of 52 pairs of earrings for me....! Earrings are relatively small and who does not like to have more earrings, right?Like to join the challenge?? Just come in and show what you have made each week! Is it too late to join now ? ....of course not!!! You can jump in any time you like! You do not have to start the first week of the year! Your week one will not be the same as my week one, but that does not really matter. The important thing about this project is to be inspired and to work consitently..... so please come join us! Please only post earrings you made for the 52 earrings project....;-))"

Anke Humpert's Flickr Group Challenge

Jun 19, 2012

The Forecast Calls For ... Give-a-Ways!

The current forecast calls for Nimbus clouds -- the perfect weather for jewelry photography! And predictions for July look like summer fun is on the way as Jewel School Friends explores the ins and outs of creating online jewelry businesses, with helpful give-a-ways for Christmas in July! Photography domes, business software, and earring stands are all in store for the blue skies of summer.

Now through June 22, the Nimbus photography dome is available at a special "kickstarter" cost of $60 with free shipping, $19 less than the retail price. Brought to the market by the makers of the Cloud Dome, the Nimbus is a compact dome designed to work with smart phones in order to make jewelry photography a breeze. 

Check out the Nimbus dome in action as two jewelry artists take 50 pictures each in under 15 minutes, with great results:

The Cloud Dome

Previously an exclusive product of Rio Grande, the "Cloud Dome" is now available at Jewel School for artisans looking to create fine quality photos of their handcrafted jewelry for publication, sales, and contests. Both the Cloud dome and the Nimbus dome create ambient light for macro photography, similar to the natural light of an overcast day, producing soft shadows and ideal lighting, even at night. 

The Cloud Dome Earring Stand

Additionally, the makers of the Cloud Dome have created an easy, professional way to take excellent photos of the most challenging type of jewelry to photograph: earrings. The product uses the reflection of free hanging earrings for the perfect shot. The Cloud Dome earring stand works with the Cloud dome, or your tripod and camera, for an awesome price of $40 at the Facebook shopping mall

Smilde's real Nimbus clouds in empty gallery spaces in Amsterdam
I'm delighted to offer this sneak peek into the current Nimbus dome special pricing and look at the forecast for fun during July's upcoming events and hot prizes. Like artist Berndnaut Smilde, you may find you control the weather -- with a Nimbus cloud in your living room! ;)

Jun 18, 2012

What's In A Name Blog Hop

 Shelly Graham Turner of the "Fabric of My Life"  invited jewelry artisans to celebrate her birthday by sharing their stories in a special literary blog hop on July 17th. What's in a name, she asks, pondering the details that make jewelry blog artists inspired: "the story behind your jewelry business or blog name, why you chose your font, color palette and logo. How did it all evolve?"

If you'd like to join in, visit her blog to RSVP. Then enjoy hopping on Shelly's birthday!
I met Shelly and her wonderful  blog when we both participated in the "Toolbox Challenge" blog hop hosted by Sandra McGriff of Creative Chaos , where I was very lucky to meet many creative, motivating and beautifully gifted artisans! Networking, supporting and sharing are the qualities that make the handcrafted jewelry community unique and very special --  more so than any other art community I've ever experienced -- and I'm honored to be a part of Shelly's birthday party blog hop also today!

So here's my jewelry artisan, Facebook page, Flickr & blog story. 

I first had the opportunity to think of a name to represent myself when I became a reviewer at JTV. I had tons of their gorgeous jewelry, and as I considered how I loved giving jewelry, I came up with "GemFairy" (a little like the birthday fairy or the tooth fairy ;) and later, when we reviewers wanted a way to connect and share, I started the "JTV Friends" on Facebook and came up with "GemFairy's Jewels" for the blog and for Flickr to describe the amazing jewelry treasures and friends I connected with because of JTV and gems!

"Toltec Jewels" was a name I thought of years before, after reading about the ancient Toltec culture in a magazine and being moved by the idea that thoughts and attitudes play a much more powerful role in creating our lives than we really imagine. As I practiced looking for good and appreciating, I felt empowered. My spouse at the time was working as a gourmet sous chef, and we often threw around the idea of opening a restaurant complete with attached jewelry store, Toltec Jewels.
Ten years later, I began to make my own handcrafted jewelry and the name fit :)And as the JTV online community grew, JTV Friends on Facebook became "Jewel School Friends" as more and more customers learned the art of jewelry making thanks to "Jewel School."

I had discovered the amazing world of jewelry artisans, handcrafted components, and all the richness of the jewelry arts. Artists like Margot Potter, Lilian Chen, Dale Cougar Armstrong, Lauren Andersen, Fernando Dasilva and Lori Anderson blew me away with their cool work. 

I was inspired and absolutely thrilled to learn and share in such a  beautiful craft! I began to purchase handcrafted jewelry, and first purchase was Margot Potter's "Magnoliophyta" from NEW DIMENSIONS IN BEAD & WIRE JEWELRY. Her pieces are exquisite! Each is perfectly made, with extraordinary compositions, colors and designs.

As a reviewer, my love of photography grew as I practiced and photographed with my silly but beloved JVC camcorder (finally, a "camera" with depth of field), and the world of macro photography and gem photography opened up.

I was delighted to photograph jewelry for reviews,  like these pictures I took of Margot Potter's Original "Zigzagged" necklace for my review of her book, BEAD & WIRE JEWELRY EXPOSED
Now it seems enchanting that a big part of creating handcrafted jewelry are the photos that go along with it!

Today, the names "GemFairy's Jewels" and "Toltec Jewels" are celebrations of the jewelry arts and the incredible community that creates that art. Nothing makes me happier than featuring the work of jewelry artists, special gemstones, and treasured gifts like this amazing labradorite cabochon from by Dale Cougar Armstrong.

And this awesome agate from Christiane Ross! You'll see it during Christiane Ross' upcoming guest appearance teaching chainmaille bezels on "Beads, Baubles, and Jewels" Season 16. She and the agate are the star jewels!

And this gorgeous heart gem from artist Ann Kelly and her  lovely mom, also a jewelry artist, who both made me feel like a part of the Jewel School workshop 2011with their kind package full of rose quartz, cool gemstrands, hearts and even the workshop program!!

So its the gems and jewels, the handcrafted beauty, and the friendships that for me answer the question:What's In A Name? 
The names I choose, the fonts I use, the background images I like all reflect my appreciation for gemstones, beads, and handcrafted treasures -- as well

as the amazing people who live artfully, giving of themselves and creating beauty. Artists like  Shelly Graham Turner, who made her birthday a blog hop party for all! Who is interested and affirming  and generous -- the very best gifts we can give friends.

Happy Birthday Shelly! May all you share return to you and fill your day with beauty, joy and treasures beyond measure. May you have a great birthday, a year full of wishes coming true, and much to celebrate and love!

Jun 16, 2012

Toolbox Challenge & Blog Hop

Jewelry artist Skye of Creative Chaos had a great jewelry making challenge in honor of Father's Day:  look for treasures in "his" toolbox to use in jewelry, finding items "in 'his world' to use in yours ;)" she suggested. 

The jewelry challenge is a quick one for me. Much like the very fitst Jewel School challenges, I had one day -- well, one afternoon really -- to come up with a jewely design, create it, and post pictures! 

There were more goodies than I expected in the toolbox, and I enjoyed this fast paced, fun jewelry challenge and blog hop!

My toolbox treasures

I'm proud to say I actually completed the Toolbox Challenge! Although I'd like to add some earrings to match (and have the toolbox treasures, panda beads, sparkling spacers, and gunmetal findings ready to go) I did complete a necklace using a dark, not quite gunmetal, not quite black 6-sided nut and large piece of chain found in our toolbox. I have additional washers for the earrings, and I'm surprised to say, I like how it all turned out! 

So, here is my Toolbox Challenge jewelry. I used black mother of pearl discs, black chain, jasper, rainbow calsilica, a black bolt, a large piece of toolbox chain, a glass focal bead, and Swarovski crystal.

A great challenge! I can't wait to add the washer & panda bead earrings ;)

The nut and chain were great starting points!

I like the bright blue jump ring and crystals against the gunmetals.

And now to hop! Here are the other participants in the TOOLBOX CHALLENGE & HOP. Enjoy! :) 

and of course, our host

Jun 9, 2012

Going Virtual at Bead & Button

I'm going to Bead & Button  -- virtually!

As an artist whose disability can limit me at times from socializing, being left out of community art events & classes can feel pretty alienating. But the jewelry arts community is awesome, and more often than not, I find the coolest events & learning courses are shared online, and going virtual is a great way to participate in the community. So if you, like me, aren't off to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the largest consumer bead show in the world, that's OK. I'd love for you to come with me! 

Lauren Andersen
First, there's the unexpected. 

I've discovered the answer to the legendary chainmaille bikini that Lauren Andersen said is rumored to exist -- it does exist!  

And it's at Bead & Button! 
Now through June 9th, you can vote for it (or your favorite design) to be in the annual Bead & Button show gallery, Bead Dreams.

"Burlesque Bikini"

 The chainmaille bikini, entitled "Burlesque Bikini" is a People's Choice entry in the Bead Dreams contest. It's one of many stunning entries -- the finalist designs are some the most exclusive and beautiful work I've ever seen! The catagories are diverse: objects or accessories, lampwork/glass, metal clay, finished jewelry, seed bead jewelry, polymer clay, crystal jewelry, wirework, and of course, handmade beads & buttons. But for the People's Choice Award, only one finalist from all catagories will be chosen by the most votes.

"Viking Knit: Beyond the Vortex Garden"
And so, there's the beautiful. 

Bead & Button wanted to make sure everyone could vote, whether attending the show in person or not, and the People's Choice design finalists can be viewed online. You'll discover some of the finest jewelry designs in the world, like this beautiful design by Stephanie Eddy, "Viking Knit: Beyond the Vortex Garden" to inspire you! The winner will be chosen by those attending the show and by us. So check out the finalists and cast your vote. The winner will be announced on Sunday, the last day of the show. 

And then, of course, there's the fun and funny. How about some souvenirs?

Key Lime v-neck nightshirt

 We could pick up a soft and comfy "Knot Tonight: I'm beading" nightshirt for giggles.  Or, how about a Bead & Button polka dot canvas rolling carry bag? 

Craftician bag w/ Polka Dots 

Or a purple craftician bag with green & yellow polka dots for organizing our tools and beads?  

This year the Bead & Button mascot, Keishi, reminds all to "string your dreams" as she graces the back of the kelly green commemorative t-shirt.

Photo of Keishi from Bead & Button Show on FB. I like it;)

"String your Dreams" 2012 B&B Show t-shirt

Souvenirs for 2012 are available at the B&B store, or contact B&B by emailing customerservice@beadandbutton.com after the show ends. You'll also find a treasure of retro Bead & Button souvenirs at the Kalmbachstore, including mugs and caps, Keishi t-shirts from '10 and '11 shows, commemorative beads, and "Knot tonight" sleepshirts in additional colors.

Together, we can "Bead it Forward" too.

Although submissions for bead squares ended on March 1 of this year, we can still support cancer research with the "Bead It Forward Quilt Project" and create many of the beautiful patterns.

The 2011-12 theme is "Birds" and artists have generously shared their patterns for pink flamingos, cardinals, and  parrots with Bead & Button online. 

© Chris Franchetti Michaels
We birds of a feather can even make "Two Owls Bead it Forward" peyote stitch square donated to the quilt by "About.com Beadwork's"

 And we can donate year round to "Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer" with $5, $10 or $20 donations through the Bead & Button Show online. 

 So let's celebrate beads!

"Hanabi" Bead

This year, Bead & Button commissioned artist Michael Barley, a co-instructor for the Glass Master Class 201, to create the commemorative 
bead. Barley is reminded of fireworks in the blue & green star burst pattern of his bead, calling it "Hanabi" meaning fireworks or literally, "fire flower" in Japanese. 

"If Courage Was A Bead" (Photograph Toltec Jewels)
It's just one of the many special beads that will be found and treasured by beadcombers at the Bead and Button marketplace. 

Yet even if we aren't browsing the floor, we can still find special and unique beads to treasure, like this bead entitled "If Courage Was A Bead" designed by Danielle Samsury, Beads of Courage member at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and created by Bead Artist Maureen McRorie, of Flame Tree Glass

"Courage" is one of ten beads designed by members of the Beads of Courage Program in a design challenge, and created by glass artists. Each bead costs $25, and just one bead supports a child through their healing journey. Beads of Courage are beads that help children cope with serious illnesses.

Every bead tells a story of strength, honor, and hope.

And so as we come together as a community of jewelry artisans, beaders, and bead artists -- whether we are with each other literally at the world's largest bead show or whether we are together as  virtual friends -- let's celebrate the beads we love and those we love, cherishing all we share.

Thanks for coming along ! 

If you are a jewelry artisan who like to become more involved with Beads of Courage, please join us in the June 2012 Beads of Courage jewelry making challenge at Jewel School Friends on Facebook.

Jun 3, 2012

The Jewel School Institute June Workshop: Instructors, Projects & Class Schedule

Jewel School really rocks!
In December of 2007, the world's largest gemstone retailer, JTV, launched the DVD "Jewel School Basic Wire Wrapping" featuring Dale Cougar Armstrong. The DVD was a Holiday special, offered by host Dawn Tesh (who became a host ten years ago, about the same time I started watching, when JTV had only 40 employees! :) who had the idea of finding a wire-wrap instructor for a DVD that could be sold on JTV's gem-side to customers who might be interested in learning wire-wrap arts for all the amazing stones they purchased. "Jewel School Basic Wire Wrapping" was aired for free on Christmas day as a gift to customers, and a wire wrapping kit was created to kick off the New Year, chock full of gold-filled and sterling silver wire galore and a hand-full of too small cabs ;). It was the beginning of something great as JTV, with the continued expertise of Dale Cougar Armstrong, produced two more instructional Jewel School Armstrong DVDs and added, per customer request, gemstrands of beads and small jewelry making kits to their online inventory.

The original Jewel School DVD series with Dale Cougar Armstrong
As Armstrong's Jewel School DVDs were praised by customers, Jewel School grew to become popular with both jewelry-side and gem-side customers alike, and Jewel School alumni - men and women like "Lizzie Lee" "Moonglade" and top reviewer "Share" - cheered Jewel School into a show, and later, an entire program of jewelry arts with the hiring of Margot Potter as Jewel School  Education and Creative Coordinator in 2010.

Margot Potter explores High Fashion Inspired Jewelry Design
While there had been an instructional DVD on General Beading by Diane Norman produced in 2008 for those interested in beading the new gemstrands and kits available online, Potter's talent brought Jewel School completely full circle. Potter created three  Jewel School DVDs exploring "The Art of Making Earrings, Bracelets, & Necklaces" -- as well as a special DVD on "High Fashion Designs" (which might be credited with starting, or at least predicting, the current trend of feather jewelry that would soon follow!)

Margot Potter's DVD series for Jewel School.
Jewel School now offered a variety of jewelry making resources focusing on various  techniques, and all the products needed to create handcrafted jewelry galore. Gifted with Margot Potter's presence, Jewel school opened the doors of possibility. As Margot Potter shared her experience, networking, and expertise with customers, she made Jewel School cool. By 2012, the show "Jewel School" was broadcast four mornings a week.

One of the first Jewel School products, the wirework mousepad!

Today, Jewel School has the amazing "guru of Jewel School" Christiane Ross and the beloved, encouraging host Kim Prentiss leading the way. Guest experts and new talent frequent the weekly shows, and Jewel school's new  position as a sponser of PBS' popular "Beads Baubles & Jewels" makes Jewel School accessible to anyone interested in learning jewelry arts, while offering the products needed to begin creating. Jewel School viewers learn the best and the latest in handcrafted jewelry techniques and styles, and have access to the best and latest jewelry products too.  

The first jeweler's tools sold on JTV work well 8 years later!

As one of the Jewel School original alumni who shared in the beginning of something great in 2007 as Dawn Tesh brought us Dale Cougar Armstrong and the first Jewel school instructional DVDs (as well as two new Armstrong DVDs just released), I'm delighted to once again share in the beginning of something great: THE JEWEL SCHOOL INSTITUTE.

Jewel School has evolved to include a learning center! The Jewel School Institute is open for classes this summer, offering its very first workshop series, "Metal, Glass, Wire and Knots" June 21-23, 2012 at Knoxville, Tennessee.

The cost for the entire 3 day workshop is $600, or $250 per day. Each day, students will be able to choose two classes, with a morning class and afternoon class to attend. (Lampworking, however, is the exception: it is an 11 hour class on Friday & Saturday open to 12 people. See contact info below for cost and further information) Each class creates one jewelry project. Thus, students may purchase one day of the workshop, or two classes, or a maximum of six classes in three days. Here's the class schedule:

Below are the instructors and their classes for the "Metal, Glass, Wire and Knots" series as listed in the JSI catalog:  

Classes offered by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong:
"Double Trouble"
Skill level: Beginning/All * Technique: traditional wire*Class size:20*Class length:4 hours*Room: 09
"Crystal Chaos"
Skill level: Intermediate* Technique: traditional wire*Class size: 20*Class length: 4 hours*Room: 09

 Classes offered by Patti Bullard:
"Silver in Motion - Spinner Ring"
Skill level: All* Technique: soldering and metalworking*Class size: 12*Class length: 3hours*Room: 05

"Spring Blossoms Argentium Silver Pendant & Earrings"
Skill level: All* Technique: Fusing & soldering Argentium silver & wireworking*Class size: 12*Class length: 3hours*Room: 05

Class by Carole Crye
"Beginning Lampworking"
Skill level: Beginner* Technique:Lampworking*Class length: 11 hours (Fri/Sat)*Room:8A Studio

Classes offered by Fernando Dasilva:
Skill level: Beginner* Technique: Stringing, crimping, looping & hands free wire wrapping*Class length: 3 hours*     Class size: 20*Room: see above
"Spray deco Necklace"
Skill level: Beginner* Technique: Stringing, crimping, looping & hands free wire wrapping*Class length: 3 hours*     Class size: 20*Room: see above

Classes offered by Julianna Hudgins:
"Wire Infused Cuffed Goddess Bracelet" 
Skill level: All* Technique: Shape & flatten heavier Artistic wire using a chasing hammer & bench block; work with copper, beads, & wire shapes; make a wire clasp*Class length: 3 hours*Class size: 25* Room: 12
"Harlequin Medallion Necklace"
Skill level: Beginner* Technique:Working with thin & heavier Artistic wire & creating a finished clasp                           Class length: 3 hours*Class size: 25 *Room: 12

Classes offered by  Sandra Younger:
"Sophisticated Macrame Wrap Bracelet"
Skill level: All* Technique:Knotting using the Knotty Do It All*Class length: 3 hours*Class size: 20*Room: see above
"Over-hand Knotted Bracelet with Secrets"
Skill level: All* Technique:Knotting using the Knotty Do It All*Class length: 3 hours*Class size: 20*Room: see above

To see if classes that interest you still have openings available, or to register for the workshop, call 1-888-515-0202. You may pay by either credit card or e-check.

The JSI Summer Workshop Series