Art Bead Scene’s current Art Journey (number six!) features designs by the great British artist and craftsman William Morris, whose designs form one of the pillars of the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain. Featuring nature at its most abundant, his company Morris & Co, produced intricate designs perfect for textiles, ceramics, wallpaper and more, that are still hugely popular today.
While the Art Bead Scene crew has chosen a couple of Morris patterns as inspiration, I chose to use some faux tin pieces from Heather Powers featuring a Morris image — a trapezoid-shaped pendant and a pair of earring charms in a lovely forest-y pattern of leaves and flowers.
The pendant came with holes in all four corners, giving me a little design challenge. I used a small loop of wire with seed beads and Czech glass leaves, and dangled an antique copper bird from it (part of Vintaj‘s new Artisan Market collection, which includes a number of charms and pendants based on designs by Heather and rendered in metal rather than her usual polymer clay — I was lucky enough to get my hands on this one thanks to the lovely Erin Prais-Hintz!). I added the pendant to some copper chain, but I think I might end up inserting a few wire-wrapped beads into the chain as I feel like it might need something more. The earrings are simple, with just a small flower bud dangling from the faux tin charms.
Thanks for the fantastic inspiration Art Bead Scene!
One of the guys at work asked me if I could make an iron necklace for his wife as an anniversary present. He’d seen a few designs on Etsy with two interlinked rings and wondered if I could do something similar. Sure, I said, I think I can come up with something. Thankfully he is a graphic designer and understands that to get something right takes time, because it took me a while to figure out everything I needed to do to successfully create the piece! It was an excellent challenge for me though, forced me right out of my very small comfort zone!
First of all, what kind of steel did I need to use? My customer wanted “iron”, so it needed to be blackened steel. I finally found dark annealed steel at our local big box hardware store — here it’s known as tie wire, but is more usually galvanised, not dark annealed. Thankfully it was 1.57mm diameter, not too hefty but also thick enough to be useful.
As it was already annealed, it was easy enough to form coils of wire around two marker pens of different diameters and saw through the wire to make jump rings. The ends were filed smooth and wiggled together so that they touched. My plan was to use one bigger ring and one smaller ring to represent my tall customer and his petite wife.
The next challenge was soldering the steel — I wasn’t sure whether I could use the normal silver solder I use for soldering sterling silver. And what flux should I use, what pickle? I found a tutorial on the Facet jewellery making website that used hard silver solder wire, and suggested that white paste flux might work, so I gave it a go. That was my first failure. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the solder to join the ends of the steel. The rings would look joined but when I tested the join it’d pop right open.
A bit more research said I needed flux that took a higher temperature. Off to the hardware store again to buy some black flux, rather nasty looking stuff! This worked OK, but the hard solder meant that I had to heat the steel for quite a while to get it to melt. And the flux left a rather crusty finish on the steel and pickling it (in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar) didn’t seem to move it. Plus the solder was a bit lumpy-looking and, well, it just didn’t look great.
Still, I was able to take it to my customer to make sure he was happy with the concept, so that was a win. I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a good enough finish on the rings.
So I went back to the internet to do a bit more research. And hallelujah, I found a fantastic Facebook video by Brenda Schweder that used solder paste with no extra flux required. So I made up a bunch more rings and got busy with the torch. Finally I had a method that worked, with minimal solder used and not too much heat needed. This last point was important, as the longer the steel was hot, the more the metal surface seemed to suffer.
On to the next challenge: how to clean up the rings and then darken the steel again. After a quick pickle, I sanded the rings with 400/800/1000 grit emery paper. This of course took the steel back to its natural colour — see the picture above. Once again the internet came to the rescue! Searching for methods I saw a video in which a large steel piece was heated and then coated with beewax while hot. The beeswax was then buffed off. Adapting this, I quickly heated up the steel rings with my torch, picked them up and dropped them onto my block of beeswax, then pulled out the rings using some tweezers and buffed the wax away with a soft cloth. This darkened them nicely (and pretty much instantaneously), phew! I also played around with using some black gilders paste to cover up the silver solder seam but that didn’t work really well. Finally I used Renaissance wax to seal the rings so that hopefully they won’t rust. It also gives the metal a nice finish.
The final step in the process was to add a sterling chain. The necklace is short so the rings sit right at the collarbone.
I think it turned out rather well, and I learned an awful lot about the steel-soldering process! Happily I’ve heard that the recipient loves it! I’m thinking that it might be fun to make a few more of the steel rings, and maybe use them for earrings, perhaps even solder earring posts onto them. I don’t think it will be my first choice of metal to use, but hey, now I know I can do it! A very big thanks to Brenda Schweder and her wonderful video!
After missing Art Journey Three due to family events, it’s lovely to get back to creating with art beads. Art Bead Scene’s Art Journey Four features the art of Odilon Redon:
Bertrand-Jean Redon was commonly known as Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916). His nickname was derived from his mother’s name, Odile. He was a Symbolist painter and printmaker, born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France. Redon is one of the most important and original of all the Symbolist artists. Symbolists relied on dreams, emotions, ideas and feelings. They valued the artist’s reveal of their own personal truth. Redon’s work was visionary and focused on the world of his own personal dreams, imagination and fantasy. Redon believed that art could transcend the everyday and open onto a marvelous world of the mind.
— Art Bead Scene Studio
The ABS team chose three of his works as our inspiration for this journey, and from these I was most drawn to the painting “Bouquet of Flowers”. I love the variety of different blooms all randomly gathered together in the vase — it’s my kind of bouquet — and the palette and dreamy style evokes the beauty of the flowers.
Around the same time that this Art Journey began, Gaea Cannaday released a series of floral pendants featuring wildflowers, and they really remind me of this painting. I was lucky enough to score a few of them and used two to make necklaces.
The first necklace features flowers spilling out of a vessel, a bowl or vase. I added a chain of Czech glass flowers in different shapes, colours and sizes, knotted onto waxed linen and finished off with a bit of chain around the neck. Note the little bird bead on one side and ceramic round on the other side, which came with the pendant — Gaea makes delightful little bead/pendant sets for her Facebook group sales.
The second necklace uses a pendant made of dark brown, almost black clay, with flowers reaching up like wildflowers in a field. I added two-holed Czech glass flower beads with seed bead spacers and a dragonfly clasp. I wasn’t sure if the flower beads would work the way I wanted them to but it looks amazing! I think I might end up keeping this one for me.
I really enjoyed making these two necklaces, so thank you Art Bead Scene for the inspiration! I’m looking forward to the next Art Journey!
Art Bead Scene’s Art Journey Two is about to end, and I’ve just managed to slide in under the wire! This Journey has focused on the illustrations of Virginia Frances Sterrett, an American artist whose short career illustrating fairy tales flourished during 1920s. Sadly she died of tuberculosis in 1931.
Art Bead Scene selected three of her fairy tale illustrations as starting points for this challenge, and I chose Proserpina and the Sea Nymphs, an illustration in the book Tanglewood Tales (1921), as my inspiration for this necklace.
The focal is one of Jenny Davies-Reazor‘s amulets, a polymer clay shadow box containing a pearly shell much like the shell held aloft by one of the sea nymphs in the illustration. The pale aqua and teal colours of the illustration, which darken to an inky blue almost perfectly match the colours of Jenny’s amulet. I added a small length of English cut Czech glass beads in frosty aquas, and finished it off with a length of bright copper chain, which provides a lovely contrast to the blues much like the coppery colours of the kelp in Sterrett’s artwork.
I do wish I had time to make some more pieces based on these illustrations, they are so rich with pattern and colours, very inspiring! Thanks again Art Bead Scene! I’m looking forward to Art Journey Three!
It’s reveal day for the Art Elements February challenge and this month’s theme, chosen by Cathy Spivey Mendola, is Birds of Prey. My bird of prey of choice is the owl, although my owl is definitely on the cute side rather than the formidable side!
I picked out a small owl pendant by Erin Prais-Hintz from my stash, and knotted it up with a selection of Czech glass beads on orange waxed linen, finishing it off with a little brass chain around the back of the neck. It’s a simple piece, but with the blue and orange colour scheme quite striking. The back of the owl is stamped “hoot hoot”, hence the name of the piece.
And at the very last minute while I was putting things away, I found a pair of earring charms from Humblebeads in her faux tin style, with owls (I had been looking for them but they were in a place I didn’t expect to find them!). I love making earrings, they come together so quickly.
Thanks for the theme Cathy, owls are a favourite around here, and even the cute ones are predators. This is a blog hop, so please have a look to see what others have been inspired by the theme to make:
I love drawing things that nurture the soul, relish in the simple life and celebrate the every day.
I created this piece to represent the light within each of us, our ability to be kind, loving and uplifting and how that will attract beauty to us.
I decided to focus on Heather’s moth and butterfly theme for this piece, rather than the colour palette, and pulled out a cute set of beads from Gaea Cannaday to use in a necklace. The colours aren’t quite the same as those in the illustrations, I went for a slightly brighter, summery palette. I also took inspiration from some of Heather’s simple, sweet necklaces, making a tassel using some chiffon ribbon and stringing the pendant I made from the tassel and beads on natural leather.
Thanks for the inspiration Heather, can’t wait for the next Art Journey!
It is such a long time since I last blogged, I think I posted just once last year. I’m hoping to get more into it this year, but we’ll see if that happens. There are a number of regular challenges I hope to take part in.
A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Soul Trilogy, a series about a witch and a vampire, two of three “creature” races that live amongst us. Diana, a historian and reluctant witch who refuses to knowingly use her magical powers, inadvertently calls up a long-lost alchemical manuscript from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, which promises answers to the origins of the supernatural races, witches, vampires and daemons. Scared by it, she sends it back and it disappears again, but not before it has been noticed. Pursued by other creatures who want the book, she runs straight into the arms of Matthew, a 1500 year old vampire and the two fall in love, which is, of course, forbidden between the races. The series is about their hunt for the manuscript, and for its meaning for creatures. It has also recently been made into a TV series.
So how does this relate to the moon? At one point in the book, Diana calls on her namesake, the goddess Diana, who makes an appearance in later volumes as well. Diana is the Roman Goddess of the Hunt and is also strongly associated with the moon.
The moon gave me a way to do both challenges at once. These earrings have a beautiful pair of enamelled charms from Anne Gardanne, featuring a silvery crescent moon on a deep blue background. I’ve paired them with a couple of silver owl beads, that just seemed to want to go with the moons. I’m quite pleased with them, they are simple but rather pretty (and I’ve just realised that one of the owls is upside down — oopsy! Good thing these are for me!).
I made another moon necklace last year that I was rather pleased with, that I don’t think I have posted on this blog, It features a Gaea Cannaday resin and copper pendant showcasing one of her gorgeous moon paintings. And even though it wasn’t made specifically for this challenge, I think it’s quite fitting that I show it off here.
If you’d like to see what other people made for the Inspired by Reading challenge, check out the Facebook group. And to see the other Art Elements Moon creations, please check out the blogs of the other participants below: