September 6, 2016

A Necklace Fit For a Mermaid: the 'Caribbean Sea' Necklace Gets an Update

I wear my handmade jewelry fairly regularly. But, sometimes I do find that certain pieces receive less love than others, or become forgotten altogether. When that happens, I usually either take the old piece apart to create new jewelry, or try to revamp it somehow to make it more appealing to my current style. That was the case with the necklace above!


If you've followed this blog for awhile you might remember my 'Caribbean Sea' Necklace (pictured above) from the spring of 2015. I created this necklace when I had just started experimenting with wire-wrapped focal elements, and while I did still wear it occasionally, I knew that my jewelry design style has evolved in a slightly more detail-oriented direction since then. It was a prime candidate for a revival!

I knew I wanted to embellish the wire focal frames, and I wanted more depth of color. Adding in some purples fit right into the ocean-theme that had inspired the original necklace, and I also decided to add some iridescent beads and some tiny sparkling crystals to give it a slightly glam feeling. With so many layers of beads and chain I knew it would either have to go the gaudy or glam route. I tried to go more for glam, but I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder!

I also realized as I was revamping this necklace that the new color scheme fit perfectly with Halcraft's August Pretty Palettes Challenge. While the sea-theme is a little far from the challenge's blueberry-inspired theme, at least both took their cues from nature, right?

If you compare the updated necklace (directly above) with the original necklace (the second photo shown in this post) you can see there are two new strands of purple beads--the top strand, which is a series of purple faceted amethyst beads interchanged with crystal-embellished handmade copper wire chainlinks, and the bottom strand of purple quartzite beads, which hangs just above the silver wire focal elements. The wire focal elements have been embellished with a slew of tiny beads in shades of purple (amethyst), blue (aventurine), turquoise (agate), and green (aventurine), as well as some lustrous, iridescent coated faceted round beads and some smaller crystals. All of the beads are Halcraft beads from Michaels, except for the faceted amethyst and turquoise agate (Hobby Lobby) and the glass pearls (from Michaels, but not Halcraft).

All-in-all I'm pretty happy with how this update turned out. It's a bit bulkier than the original version, and while I can definitely tell I'm wearing a necklace when I have it on, it certainly doesn't feel heavy. The color palette is so much more well rounded, and the small bits of sparkle and luster really make it feel more feels more reminiscent of a mermaid to me now, then simply a Caribbean sea!

What do you think of this color palette? Should I add more some more sparkle? I'd love to know your thoughts!


Linking up with:
Halcraft Pretty Palette Challenge

August 2, 2016

Update: Queen Anne's Lace Bracelet and Earrings

Back in February I participated in the Halcraft Pretty Palette Challenge and created the Queen Anne's Lace necklace and earrings set below:

I was quite happy with how the necklace turned out, but (as I mentioned in the original post) I wasn't really satisfied with the earrings--they were just too big to be easily wearable, and I knew I wanted to remake them. I thought perhaps I could create new, smaller earrings and instead use the large wire-wrapped frames from the original earrings to create a bracelet. And I finally did!

I took the two original earring frames and remade them into one central focal element (an exact replica of the focal components in the matching necklace) for the bracelet, and then added several chains of glass pearls on each side to connect to a handmade toggle clasp.

I created a pair of earrings to match the set, although they do not directly mimic the focal elements of the necklace and bracelet. They are much more wearable--lighter and smaller--though I'm not sure I feel that their design meshes with the necklace and bracelet well enough. I really don't want to remake them AGAIN though, so this is how they'll stay.

The wire components are all handmade with German style copper wire, and the beads are a mix of quartzite, shell, agate, crystal, freshwater pearls, and glass pearls.

I think my favorite part is the freshwater-pearl-and-jewel-encrusted toggle clasp on the bracelet! It's the finishing details that can really make a piece special, like handmade clasps and artistic earwires. Overall, I think these new pieces will create a really beautiful set when paired with the original necklace:

A set perfect for a bride with a pink-themed wedding, or maybe the honoree at a sweet quinceanera celebration. Until then, I will happily find every occasion to wear these fancy pieces in everyday life for no reason at all.

Do you enjoy wearing matching jewelry sets? What do you think about the earrings not perfectly mimicking the necklace? I'd love to know.


Possibly linking up with:

Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes

August 1, 2016

'Carnivale' Wire Statement Necklace: Halcraft Pretty Palette Challenge

During the month of July I finished my second piece for Halcraft's monthly Pretty Palette Challenge. This month the inspiration for the challenge was a beautiful photo of a star-filled twilight sky fading from blue to purple to orange over a forest of treetops.

I had completed the wire-wrapped silver focal elements several months ago and then reached a mental block--I just couldn't find the motivation to put them into a necklace, so I put them aside until this challenge kicked my bum into gear.

I chose to try to translate the actual image itself into the design of the necklace, rather than use the colors or nighttime sky imagery simply as inspiration for an abstract piece. I'm boring like that architecture-trained brain finds it easier (and often more aesthetically appealing to me) to directly translate pictures into shapes and color schemes rather than try to design a completely abstract creation inspired by suggestions or ideas. I think these silver wire focal elements are evocative of both trees and stars with their conical end shapes and many points. In weaving the strands of beads between them I hoped to convey the feeling of both stars in a fading twilight sky and the sky growing dark through a forest of treetops.

I love, love, LOVE the ombre twilight color scheme and was super excited to finally have a reason to pair these colors together in a necklace. If you know me you know I don't shy away from bold color in my jewelry. But can I just tell you how difficult it is to find translucent cobalt colored beads in 10mm - 12mm sizes?? I finally found these beautiful 10mm blue glass beads at Michaels as a great substitute for the semi-precious stone beads I usually prefer to use in my jewelry, since I couldn't find ANYTHING similar elsewhere with the right color. I almost never use glass beads in my jewelry (the exception being glass pearls) as most of the inexpensive glass beads I come across these days are clear glass beads with a colored coating on top, rather than being actual colored glass all the way through. And unfortunately, the colored coating seems to often contains small amounts of latex. I am allergic to latex, folks. I suffered for this necklace. But it was worth it (if that doesn't prove my devotion to the art of jewelry making, I don't know what does. Ha ha!).

As usual, all of the wire-wrapped components are handmade, including the focal elements, side connectors and the toggle clasp, and were created using silver-tone German style wire in 20-, 24-, and 26-gauges. The focal elements and toggle were created using the same processes as the focals and toggle clasp I made for my Queen Anne's Lace necklace.

The beads consist of a mix of agate, dyed jade, quartzite, aventurine, and glass, and all of the silver-tone beads are silver-plated. All of the beads (excepting the orange beads and tiny blue beads) are Halcraft brand and were purchased at Michaels. The embellished chain links around the back of the necklace are also handmade with German style wire.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite necklaces I've ever made! The funny thing is that, while it was inspired by the image of the evening twilight sky, now that it's finished it makes me hear samba music in my head and think of wild Carnivale nights in Rio. Hence my titling it the 'Carnivale' necklace.

Do you enjoy bold colors in your jewelry? How do you translate imagery into inspiration? Do you know of a good source for translucent (non-opaque) bright blue beads??? I'd love to know!


Possibly linking up with:

Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims

February 21, 2016

Halcraft Pretty Pallette Challenge: 'Queen Anne's Lace' Necklace and Earrings Set

You might have noticed a major lack of blog posts over the last few months. I confess: I've been in a major creative slump. About four months ago my husband and I moved from New Mexico to Southern California, and it took awhile for the moving chaos to die down and my jewelry supplies to be unpacked. And if you happen to be a long-time reader of this blog, you might remember that I struggle with autoimmune disease, and major stress events (i.e. an interstate move) are a huge trigger for me. When my autoimmune issues flare up I feel pretty awful, and the last thing I want to do with my very limited energy is be creative when I have a million other necessary things that need to be done. That said, I'm finally feeling back to my old self, and when I saw that the theme of Halcraft's February Pretty Palette Challenge was 'lace', I was really inspired.

I often compare the wire focal elements that I create to lacy designs, so I figured this challenge would fit perfectly with my style. I'm not generally a huge pink person--at least not the pale pink this challenge included--but with Valentine's Day being a prominent holiday this month I decided to take the plunge. Of course I added in some brighter and darker pinks because, well, me.

I used a variety of beads in shades of pink including agate, quartzite, and bamboo coral, as well as glass crystals and glass pearls. All of the beads I used excepting the glass peals are Bead Gallery beads (Halcraft) from Michaels. The glass pearls (shown above on the upper right) are Crystazzi brand, also from Michaels. I used glass pearls in 6mm and 8mm sizes in the necklace, and in 4mm size in the earrings. I also used tiny freshwater pearls (Bead Gallery/Halcraft) on the toggle clasp, which are not pictured above. I forewent my usual mixed metal signature style and stuck with all copper wire for this project, as I felt the rosy copper color really paired nicely with all of the shades of pink and kept the whole piece feeling very feminine and rosy.

These are the lace images that I took my design ideas from:



I liked the idea of swirling shapes connected  by simple geometric lines, and thought it would translate nicely to wire. In an ode to Valentine's Day I incorporated a heart shape in the design of the wire focal elements, a shape I generally don't gravitate toward but thought added a sweet touch. 

I created my wire focals the same way I always do (you can find the tutorial here), hammering and wrapping them for stability.

For these focals it was easiest and most efficient to create smaller wire shapes and then wrap them together (like a mirror image), rather than to create one large shape. 

Once I had my three large focal elements and each side connector created I laid them out and played around with the color scheme and beads I wanted to use.

(This was my original design, although you'll  notice a few changes in the final product.)

(You can find the tutorial for how I embellish my wire focals with beads here.) I was pleased with how these large focals turned out. I don't usually work on such a large scale because it's difficult to keep symmetry of shape, but I think these turned out pretty well. (You can see another large focal element made of multiple wire shapes wrapped together much as I love that older piece, I think these turned out much better!)

Once the focals were finished it was fairly smooth sailing--just wrapping together the strands of pearls and fussing over how many to use in each strand to get the focals to drape just right. The photos above were my original version, but I didn't like where the pearls were positioned or the heavy feeling of the coral beads on the sides. On a side note, isn't it amazing how different the colors look on a white background vs. a black background? I find this often since I use a lot of translucent beads, but the drastic difference still always amazes me. It's like getting two necklaces in one!

This is the final product, and I think I made the right choice in switching the placement of the pearl strands and switching out the coral beads. This one feels just right! It turned out feeling quite a bit more lavish and extravagant than my usual creations, so I decided some big, bold, extravagant matching earrings were in order.

These actually turned out quite large, although not heavy at all. The only element of any weight is the coral stone bead dangle in the center, so the earrings do not really weigh down the lobes much. 

I first started out with a traditional chandelier (above left), but it felt sort of boring to me compared to the necklace. So, I flipped it upside down (above right) and added another layer of draped pearls to better echo the design of the necklace. I really like this funkier version but these are definitely big, even for me (again, if you're a longtime blog follower than you also know I have great love for big earrings). These are the sort of earrings you'd wear for a really lavish event, like a fancy wedding or a fact, I'm thinking that if I decide to list this set in my Etsy shop, then to make the set a little more appealing I'll likely turn these earrings into a cuff bracelet, and create a slightly smaller set of earrings to match (but still with the same design).

At this point there was still one detail left...

If you've read through many of my other jewelry posts you'll know my one store-bought concession for my necklaces is usually a toggle clasp. There are so many beautiful, pre-fab toggles out there, and while creating my own toggle clasps has been on my to-do list for a LONG time, I always feel like anything I might come up with couldn't be as pretty as the gorgeous, machine sculpted toggles I can buy. However, this necklace was made entirely of bright copper wire, and the only copper toggles I had on hand were patinaed and very industrial looking, and this piece was just too ornate for that--it would have been a total mismatch. So--you guessed it--I finally decided to try my hand at creating a toggle. If you look closely at the photos above you'll see that there are two different toggle bars pictured...I had to make a couple of attempts before I got it somewhat right.

After making the toggle's frames I hammered and wrapped them to reflect a style similar to the necklace's focal elements.

This is the final product. Definitely more ornate than I'd create for everyday jewelry, but I figured this necklace was already over the top, so why not just keep going?? I'm pretty happy with how the clasp turned out, and now I have a basic strategy for making simple toggles for my less fancy jewelry. (Now I can say my pieces are completely, entirely handmade, and not 'all handmade except for the clasp'!)

Below are some more detailed shots of the pieces.

I also took a couple of photos of the pieces in action, so you can get a better feel for their size and scale. (Please forgive the tacky bra lines!)

I think these pieces would make a really fabulous bridal or quinceanera set! Bold yet delicate, lavish-looking yet still simple in materials, feminine yet contemporary--such a perfect way to showcase a bride or birthday girl on her big day! (Especially if I create a matching bracelet!)

Where would you wear jewelry this bold or extravagant? Do you love big earrings too? Have you ever made your own clasps? I'd love to know.


Linking up with:

The Creative Corner at Curly Crafty Mom
Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Worthwhile Wednesday at Crafty Allie
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Idea Box - Thursday Link Party at Mila's Little Things
Friday Finds at Minted Strawberry
Link Party Palooza at Tatertots and Jello

Halcraft Blog Pretty Palettes Reveal