Saturday, August 31, 2013

2nd Annual Challenge of Travel

The wonderful Miss Erin is at it again.  Last year's Challenge of Travel was wonderful and we were all able to visit other places from the comfort of our own computers.  (You can see my entry here.)

This year, Erin changed it up on us.  She asked us to vacation at home.  Instead of researching a new city or country, we were to find new and exciting things in our own back yards.

Now, I live in the midwest -- in Kansas.  I have yet to meet someone who likes Kansas enough to vacation there.

I do, however, live in a suburb of Kansas City, which is a much bigger and more interesting town.

Most people think of barbecue when they think of Kansas City.  It's true -- visitors have their choice of amazing barbecue here.  You can sample GatesArthur Bryant'sOklahoma Joe's or Jack Stack and debate with the locals about which is better.

(For the record, my husband prefers Jack Stack while I am an Oklahoma Joe's girl.)

People don't know about the theater in Kansas City.  You can find the Lyric Opera, the Music Hall, the Unicorn Theater, the Starlight Theater, the American Heartland Theater, and the Kansas City Rep (that shows a great version of A Christmas Carol every year).

My favorite, though, is the Quality Hill Playhouse.  Quality Hill is a small theater.  The shows are musicals, generally featuring a wide variety of well known and little known music fitting a specific theme.  The host, J. Kent Barnhart is a wonderful talent in his own right and his one man biographical show is still one of the best I've seen.

Now that we have the kiddo, we have been attending the children's Coterie Theater a bit more.  :)

After the kiddo was born, we took advantage of the kid friendly sites of Kansas city.  We visited the Kansas City Zoo several times a month.

We walked around the Overland Park Arboretum and Powell Gardens.  (Most of the non-jewelry photos on this blog are taken on one of these two places.)

During the winter, we visited Science City in Union Station.

For this challenge, I tried to find a new aspect of Kansas City.

Did you know that Kansas City was the City of Fountains?  I kind of did, but had no idea the scope.  There are fountains all over the city and in many of the surrounding area.  I couldn't visit all of them, but decided to take a walking tour around the Plaza.

When I first moved here, I spent a great deal of time on the Plaza, but I never noticed the architecture or the abundance of fountains.  It was fun to spend time "getting to know" the Plaza a little better.

The first fountain you will see upon entering the Plaza is the JC Nichols Memorial fountain.

It is even more impressive at night.

Here is a close up of one of the horses and his rider.

Neptune is my favorite.

This organ grinder is not a fountain, but I still thought the statue was cute.

After my walking tour, I decided to create something inspired by fountains.

I started with this pendant from Nancy Schindler of Round Rabbit. It looked so much like the scrolling detail on a fountain that I just "had" to use it.

I wanted to create a weathered chain.  Using the Persian Variations instructions from Blue Buddha, I created two chains of a rippled half persian 4-in-1.  Then, I left the the chains in an ammonia patina for a few days.


(If you are interested in chain maille, Blue Buddha is a great place to start.  I loved the Persian Variations instructions and would recommend it.  You do need to know how to do the basic Persian and half Persian weaves, though, before starting these.)

I then created a peyote spiral piece to link the chins together.

I used larger jumprings to join the pieces together and decorated them with stray seed beads.

Here is the finished product.  I really like it, but after completing it, I wondered if the pendant was too much.

Here it is without the pendant.  What do you think?

While the chains were soaking in their ammonia bath, I decided to create a bracelet.  I bounced between a few patterns and then remembered this pattern by Heather Collin.

Heather's "Crossing Over" bracelet was perfect because the strands of beads were moving in and out and over and under, like water in a fountain.

To mirror the stone base of a fountain, I used tan and off white beads for the base of the bracelet.  The blue beads shoot out from the base like water moving up from the fountain.

Heather's designs are a joy to bead and always produce something beautiful.  You can find more of Heather's designs in her etsy shop.

I was really pleased with the final product -- it looks so lush and opulent.

Erin, thank you for another wonderful challenge.  It was fun and I loved trying a few new things.

Please take a few minutes (or hours) to visit Erin's blog and learn about the home towns of the other participants.  You may even get the hankerin' to visit some of them.  :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lorelei's second Michaels challenge

Lorelei Eurto has a knack for finding, and having a vision for, beads that I would normally pass over.  Case in point:  her first Michaels challenge.  I would have not looked twice at those resin sliders, but wow, am I glad that Lorelei did.

This time around, Lorelei found several different types of beads and asked her readers to show her what we could do with them.

I dove into the challenge without really having a plan.

However, the brown disc beads were calling my name.  I remembered a design from Cindy Holsclaw and decided to try it with the disc beads.  Cindy's Squared Circles Beaded Bead was perfect.

Cindy has more wonderful patterns for sale on her website, Bead Origami.  You can also see her newest designs on her blog.

I had my focal beads, but needed to put them together with the other beads.  After a bit of experimentation (okay, quite a bit of experimentation), I came up with this.

I found a few rectangle beads in my stash (also from Michaels) and thought they matched the rustic nature of the beaded beads.  I wanted to use a bit of leather, so I added a few embellishments to mirror the design on the rectangle beads.

I really like this necklace.  I would never have put these beads together, but I really like how they look.  I am a bit sad that I didn't use the white beads, but I'll save those for the next challenge.

The first time I wore this necklace, I received so many compliments.  Everyone especially loved the owl button, something I would never have added on my own.  Thank you, Lorelei.

Please take a few minutes to visit Lorelei's blog to see what the other participants did with these beads.  I know you won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Focusing on Life - 34 of 52

This week, Sally asked us to "add something" to our photos.  She wanted us to use editing programs to add filters or effects to our photos.

It took a while for me to find a picture to play with, but when I came across this sunflower, I knew it would be perfect.

It is a little over exposed, so I decided  to add a bit of vibrance.

Then I decided to subtract some saturation.

Finally, I decided to add a bit of the yellow back in.

Please take a look at Sally's blog to see what the other participants added to their photos.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Focusing on Life - 33 of 52

This week, Sally asked us to find something in season.

Luckily, I had the perfect subjects --

this purple pepper

and this gorgeous plum.

Sally is still having technical difficulty with her blog.  You can check what the other participants found below.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sale over at Sharyl's Jewelry

My friend Sharyl, from Sharyl's Jewelry, is a wonderful jewelry designer, wireworker, metal smith and more.

She creates fun and unique pieces using artbeads from her favorite artists.

She also participates in the monthly Art Bead Scene challenges.  This piece, titled Sleeping Beauty in Snow is from the December 2012 challenge.

The necklace, for sale in Sharyl's artfire store, features beads from Natalie Pappas.  (You can find more of Natalie's beads in her etsy shop.)

You can see Sharyl's most recent challenge piece here on her blog.  Because I love it so much, though, I will give you a sneak peek.  This features beads from Natalie and from Serena Thomas.

Because I can't resist, I will also show you these Jellyfish Teal Glass earrings, also in Sharyl's shop.

These earrings build on lampwork beads from Russ Powers of Javabead.

In addition to jewelry, Sharyl also sells handmade (by her) components in her shop.

I love these copper dangles.

Sharyl added a patina to these copper circles which gives them an "earthy" feel.

I saved the best news for last.  Sharyl is having a sale in her artfire store.  Hop over and receive 20% off with the code SCHOOL20.  I know you will find a few things you can't live without.

If you would like to see more of Sharyl's work, you can follow her blog or like her on facebook.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Focusing on Life - 32 of 52

This week, Sally asked us to look where we stand.

This was a hard one for me.  Then, today, I took the kiddo for her second "real" pedicure and she insisted that I take a picture of her cute little toes.

Where I stand?

It's a great place to be.  :)

Sally is having a bit of technical difficulty this week, but she sent all of us the linkz code.  Please visit the other participants, below, to see where they stood this week.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Focusing on Life - 31 of 52

For week 31, Sally asked us to look for the color blue.

The kiddo was gracious enough to let me borrow her crayons.

She loved finding blue crayons for me and insisted that the glitter crayons (in front) were the best.

I can't resist adding this photo from our Chicago vacation, taken at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

I was excited to get a nice photo of this little blue bird.

Please check Sally's blog to see the hues of blue the other participants found.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Focusing on Life - 30 of 52

I'm not sure if you noticed, but I'm a few weeks behind and will be playing catch up this week.

For week 30, Sally asked us to find the sun.

That week, we took a family vacation to Chicago and, oh boy, did we find the sun!  It was very hot the first few days, but that didn't stop us.

The first day, I took the kiddo on the biggest ferris wheel I had ever seen.

The kiddo's reaction to the ride:  "it was boring."  This girl was born for roller coasters.

We visited the Lincoln Park Zoo and found this guy basking in the warm sun.

I took this picture outside of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

It seemed the perfect "sunny" photo.

Please check Sally's blog to see what the other participants found in the sunlight.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Update on my Bead and Button Challenges

In June, I mentioned that I took on a few challenges during the Bead and Button show.

First was the Swarovski challenge.  Beaders gathered Swarovski crystals from different vendors and then combined the disparate beads into a piece of jewelry.

The winner of the challenge was Laura Luepke, from The Verdant Edge.  I had the good fortune to meet Laura during one of my classes and see her beadwork first hand.  She does amazing work.  Her etsy shop is full of gorgeous pieces (and she even has an earring tutorial available.)

You can see Laura's bracelet (and some in progress pictures) here on her blog.  Seriously, go take a look.  The bracelet is gorgeous and definitely deserved to win.

Swarovski sent her $500 of crystals beads and components.  If you want to see the entire lot, Laura posted a photo on her facebook page.

Swarovski was generous to the rest of the participants, also, and sent each of us a small gift bag -- all the way from Austria!

The bag contained crystals, makings for a few pendants and a Swarovski color chart.

Thank you, Swarovski!

My next challenge was the Bead and Button Bead Soup, sponsored by Kalmbach Publishing.  Each beader brought a "soup" consisting of a focal, clasp and coordinating beads.  The soups were mixed in a big crock pot and each beader picked a soup.

This was a really fun event and all the beaders were beyond thrilled with their soups.  Here's hoping this could be an annual event (hint, hint).

First place went to Marcia Balonis.  I have been a fan of Marcia for years.  I love her designs and have several of her patterns.  You can find her patterns on her website or in her etsy shop.

Marcia's necklace was a beautiful piece that used wire crochet to blend her soup beautifully.  You can see Marcia's necklace, all the soups and the participants' creations on Kalmbach's facebook page.

As excited as I was to see Marcia's name in first place, I was beyond thrilled to see that I had won second place (and a gift certificate to the Kalmbach store)!

Thank you Kalmbach!