Weekly Jewelry Design Challenge: Earth Element

Rustic Sunflowers necklace
I am participating in the monthly and weekly themed jewelry design challenges on the Self Representing Artists in Jewelry Design blog. The theme for April is “elements” and the first weekly challenge was “earth.”

I immediately thought “green” for this theme, because when I think of the earth element I imagine lush green plants and blooms. (I’m getting to the yellow beads part, I promise.) I have made many green beaded jewelry designs, but the point of the challenge is to create something new, and more than that, to challenge your own limits. 

So rather than using any of the many (many) green glass and gemstone beads in my stash, I created some “green” beads from polymer clay. I used my matcha (green tea) recipe to create the base beads, and then distressed them with blues and oranges according to the techniques in The Rustic Beads and Components tutorial by The Blue Bottle Tree.  Because what could be earthier than green tea and rustic sunflowers?

Here’s the yellow bead part of the challenge. I needed some beads to string between the sunflowers. I had a handful (seven, to be exact) of golden yellow frosted glass beads that were just the size and color I wanted. And a few smaller rondelles in the same color, but not frosted.  And not nearly enough to make  a complete necklace.

What to do? Make more beads? Nope, not enough time before the submission deadline. Use chain to make up the difference? Sadly, not enough chain in the right color or size. Re-design the necklace, using wire-wrapped links? No, I don’t want that. (I have a vision!) Go shopping for beads (or chain? or both?) Now there’s a splendid idea! But wait …this is supposed to be a challenge. Granted, no one said it had to be a “use what you’ve got” kind of challenge. But why not make it that for myself?

So, back to my bead stash I went. I found some small honey-colored Czech glass rounds, that were a pretty close match to the larger frosted amber beads. (I didn’t notice them earlier because they were stored with my brown-ish beads. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure it made perfect sense at the time.) But there were not enough to turn this string of sunflowers into a necklace. I also had a small string of lemon-ish yellow faceted rondelles. Just enough when paired with the rest of the beads, a floral toggle clasp, and a little remnant of chain, to get me to a desired necklace length. Hey, look …green tea, lemon, and honey.  (I cracked myself up.)

Rustic Sunflowers necklace and earrings

Rustic sunflower polymer clay necklace with glass bead and copper accents.

There’s the final necklace design, complete with coordinating earrings. (Yes, I know I could have made the necklace longer by sacrificing the earrings. Just you nevermind.) It isn’t my initial vision, but I am happy with the overall final effect. Those lemon and honey beads? They’re at the back of the necklace where they won’t be seen. Which is kind of sad, because they do look sort of nice together. (I know, I’m perverse.) Anyway, here are the groups’ submissions for “earth” – lots of great and varied interpretations by many talented jewelry designers.

Now to get busy on this week’s element:  water. I have made quite a few water-themed designs in my time. Just browse my Etsy shop and you’ll see jewelry in assorted blues, sea foam greens, aqua, complete with starfish, sea shells, octopus, etc. My plan is try something a little different, hopefully with more handmade-by-me beads. Fingers crossed.  Stay tuned here (You can follow this blog by email, RSS feed, etc.  See the options in the right side bar below my photo.) and follow me on Facebook or find me on Google+ to find out what happens next.