Summer at the Beach 2015

Serving SpoonsHere in the sunny south it seems as if summer is winding down. The pools are closing during the week. The kids are going back to school. The temperatures are a scorching 90 plus degrees. Oh, wait. There are still a couple of months of the season left. Because of this sweltering hot weather, I still dream of a beach vacation with the sand and the salty surf and vivid sunsets.

Alas (does anyone still say that?), my beach vacation is not to be this year, but I can still enjoy a bit of the beach life in my own home.

I have a new challenge from Znet Shows.  This summer’s challenge was to use their wonderful cultured Sea Glass to make non-jewelry items.  My first instinct was to make something that (while not jewelry) was similar in nature, but I like to stretch.  I have been playing a bit with wire wrapping and a year ago I had seen someone wrap serving spoons using wire and some small gemstones.  I had wanted to try this ever since.  That gave me the idea to create my own table decor using the cultured beach glass as my theme.

Table setting 1

I went to a discount store to find high quality (and highly discounted) serving spoons.  I chose a pattern that was plain and reasonably flat.  From the Znet Shows website, I chose cultured glass items that resembled shells, starfish, fish, and some irregular pieces that look like sea glass anyone might find.  I love the color choices, so I had to show real restraint to avoid selecting the whole rainbow, instead choosing warm colors for my beach table.

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The next items for my table were votive candle holders.  A table at the beach is not complete without a little candlelight.  I lucked out in this area.  My friend was in a local dollar store and found two glass holders that sort of resemble tiny hurricane lamps for a dollar each!  This project was coming together.

Votives (view of both)

The next element is napkin rings.  Even a beach table can be elegant and refined.  Some of the best hosts I know always cloth napkins on their tables.  I don’t entertain very much but I knew I wanted this to be part of my decor.

Napkin Rings

I had one more item that I attempted.  I will bring it up now, because someone else may be tempted to try a centerpiece.  Hopefully you can avoid my mistakes.  I bought a large glass vase with the idea that I would use it to hold a pillar candle and sand.  In the sand I was going to decorate along the vase with the cultured glass pieces. I was envisioning an underwater tableau in a glass “aquarium”.  I had everything I needed, but as soon as I added the sand the glass pieces became buried treasure.  It didn’t matter how I fixed the pieces, the sand filled all the available space and covered the beads.  I wanted the beads to be the star not the candle or the vase or the sand! so I ditched this idea.

For the votives and the spoons I took a rather simple approach.  I used a small gauge wire (22g) using a non-tarnish silver wire.  I did NOT use sterling or argentium because of the trial and error aspect of my beginner efforts and, frankly, I didn’t want the added expense if it wasn’t needed.  I used the small gauge because the wire had to fit through the holes of the beads, although I did use a larger gauge (16 g) around the votive to provide a base to wrap the wire around.  I did not try to match each piece exactly.  If I had to change anything I would have used flat wire on the spoons so that the wire would get a better grip on the handle, but I only had round wire in a fine gauge.  The photos also showed some wire ends that I thought I had tucked completely, but this is easily fixed.

The napkin rings were my favorite project for this round.  I found a small cylinder for a base and 16 g wire and created the basic napkin ring.  This took a few attempts to get something that would work.  After a little careful hammering to work harden the wire in strategic places so the circular shape wouldn’t bend too much and I was ready to wrap the sea glass pieces.  A larger gauge wire, 14 g or 12 g, might have been a better choice for the base, but 16 g is readily available at most craft and bead stores.

Overall, this challenge has been one of my favorites.  The cultured sea glass from Znet Shows is inexpensive and easy to to use.  The variety of shapes and colors was another plus, even though I kept my palette relatively small–green, gold and tangerine.  I am also a beginner at the wire wrapping and I didn’t find this to be too challenging.  I am sure the more skilled artisans could give this a more professional flair, but I was happy with the results.

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Now all I have to do is set the table and light the candles.   Ahhhh….can you hear the surf?

Please take a look at the Summer 2015 edition of the online magazine Creative Spark.  I’m on page 104! My work is featured as well as many other artists who took on various challenges using the cultured sea glass from ZNet Shows.  A quick note about Creative Spark, if you are using Mozilla Firefox, you will have to allow Adobe Flash and for that reason you cannot view on most mobile devices.  Also check out the website for ZNet Shows.  They have a great selection of beads including gemstones and Chinese crystal.

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Summer Days and Nights

Summer days drifting away

to, uh oh, those su-ummer nights….

If you ever saw Grease you know you’re singing along with me now.  Hopefully YOU are in tune!

It’s time for another ZNetShows challenge and this one was possibly the best yet.  This time around designers got to choose a couple of colors from the array of cultured sea glass in the ZNetShows catalog.  Take a look at all the different choices and you will understand why I had such difficult time selecting only two!  Red, amber, black, green….  I finally focused on the other part of the challenge– to create two different summery looks, one for day and one for evening and finally narrowed my choice down to tangerine and a lovely shade of pacific blue. And I waited to see what kinds of surprises were in store for me.

Here’s a peak at the treasures I got.

Summer challenge Before

I could not wait to get started.  I have so many lovely beads with which to play!

 

In this challenge I had four looks to create, two for day and two for night.  The purple barrels were a natural choice for me for an evening look, but I wanted to see what I could do first with the tangerine and the blue.

Summer Days

Digging into my stash of beads, I found some turquoise colored African glass seed beads and some seed beads in complementary colors.  My beading buddy, Susan, had given me a lovely, large jasper pendant stone in shades of blues and oranges and  a round orange agate.  From the ZNetShows beads I used the tangerine bottle-lip beads and some of the rondelles.  This necklace almost made itself.

Day look Tangerine Full view

This necklace has an island feel to me.  I could just see this done in bone and shell, but using the tangerine glass (instead of teeth! lol) creates a cute look perfect to be worn with jeans and a t-shirt or even with dressier office wear.  The clasp is a simple hook, made by me, but this piece is long enough to go over your head without unhooking it.  This was my favorite look until….

I picked up the blue beads I got from ZNetShows.  I started playing with some of the beads that are free-form.  I noticed that some were drilled at the top and the bottom and some were just drilled at the top.  I started wiring them together and created a focal for my next daytime look.  I made a necklace using the barrel beads and bone spacers.  As usual I made my own clasp.  Go ahead.  Take a look.  See why it’s my favorite.

Day Set Pacific Blue and Turquoise Bay

The matching earrings use the squares hung vertically.  The picture hides a twist in the wire to give it a little extra interest.

Summer Nights

After I finished the necklace and earrings in the Pacific Blue colors I was almost out of blue beads–not enough to create a full evening look so those purple barrels kept drawing my eye.

I once again searched through my bead stash and found some lovely champagne and amethyst colored crystal faceted rondelles.  This was a sea-glass challenge but ZNetShows has some Chinese crystals in gorgeous colors, too, including champagne!  I made a bar style focal mixing the purple barrels, a couple of vintage amethyst rounds and a rough cut natural crystal in that same shade of gold.

For me, an evening look requires a little sparkle–okay, a LOT of sparkle. Adding the crystals to the matte purple barrels elevated the piece into something perfect for an elegant soiree.  Does anyone have Angelina Jolie’s number?

Evening Look Amethyst

 

The evening look in tangerine was probably the most difficult to make.  I knew I wanted to add crystals to the pebbles to add glamor and glitz, but I couldn’t find a focal that did those beads justice.  I had some large Chinese crystal nuggets and hexagons so I started playing with combinations before settling on making another bar-shaped focal.  For the necklace I used the pebbles like pearls, finishing out with tangerine rondelles.  This look demands that little black dress where the necklace makes the statement!  Here in the South during summer you will often hear the question “Is it hot enough for you?”  Take a look at my Tangerine Dream  and answer that question!

Evening Look Tangerine

 

What a fun challenge this turned out to be.  I cannot wait for the next one!  Please let me know in the comments which piece was your favorite.

MORE FUN!

Please check out the summer edition of Creative Spark, the online magazine that features the creations of all the members of the ZNetShows Design Team.  (I’m on page 42!)  There are some gorgeous creations in this magazine that have already “sparked” my imagination.

Links

ZNetShows :  http://znetshows.com

Creative Spark Summer Edition 2014:  http://joom.ag/55CB

Contact me at swash01@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conch Shells!

I love sea glass.

Unfortunately I do not live at the beach.  I’ve never seen real honest to goodness sea glass on any of the beaches I have visited.  Where is that wonderful treasure hiding.

For me–the wonderful people at ZNETShows offered me the opportunity to play with some of their cultured sea glass conch shells.  (Say that 3 times fast– I dare you!)

This is what they sent me:Conch Shells

The picture doesn’t do justice to the colors.  They are so vibrant and rich.

I made earrings with three pairs of the shells, but one pair is still in the “I don’t know if I like it” stage.  I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with the rest.  I think I’ll use fiber.

For the black I practiced my wire skills. I used German beading wire, a nice alternative to sterling silver.  The metal pieces are borrowed from another challenge from ZNETShows.

black conch earrings

The next pair is I added a bit of Byzantine chainmaille to accent the Emerald-colored Cultured Sea Glass.  I think this is my favorite pair.

green conch earrings

If you like the the Cultured Sea Glass, follow ZNETShows on facebook.  They have so many amazing items!  Wait until you see what’s next!