Art Jewelry Elements Challenge: Trees

Three leaf pendant necklacesI’m kicking off fall with the Art Jewelry Elements design challenge.  Their theme is “trees” and they shared many inspiration images and ideas on their blog.  I had some grand plans, as usual. And, as often happens, I didn’t get around to most of them. 

I did, however, finally come up with designs for some of the leaf focals I made last fall. About this time last year I collected fallen leaves from trees in my neighborhood.  They had amazing fall colors ranging from golden amber with hints of green to rich reds with brown undertones.  We haven’t had much rain since May this year so the only colors the leaves are turning right now are brown and browner.

After I made all those leaf focals last year, I found myself stumped for jewelry designs.  I put them aside and moved on to making …what was it? Fish ornaments, I think.   Anyhoo, this challenge was a perfect opportunity to give the leaves another look.  And this time, they spoke to me and I made jewelry until I ran out beads.  (Full disclosure:  I did not completely run out of beads of any kind, just the particular colors I wanted to use.)

I started with earrings. I could make earrings all day.  They are a perfect way for me to wake up my muse.  Especially when I focus on keeping the design simple.  Which is a genuine challenge for me, but easier to do when using focals I made myself.  I have this weird feeling that I must make over the top designs to earn “it,” whatever “it” is, when using beads or components readily available to everyone else.   That’s probably a therapy session for another day. Back to the jewelry.

Yellow maple leaf earrings

The first pair of earrings I designed used some golden yellow maple leaf focals. They’re made from polymer clay and have the veining of real leaves impressed into them. I paired them with brown goldstone and antiqued brass to keep it all warm and earthy.

Red maple leaf earrings

The red maple leaf focals on this second pair of earrings are nearly a perfect color match to the rich reddish brown of the goldstone beads. As with the first pair, I also used antiqued brass bead caps and wire to complete the design.

Many of the leaf focals I made were quite large, as they were shaped from actual leaves from rather old oak and maple trees.  Some might end up as ornaments rather than pendants.  I chose a few of the medium-sized leaves for some necklaces.  In a departure from my recent trend to make beaded chain necklaces, I decided to string these with unakite and brown goldstone beads and antiqued brass accents.

Red maple leaf necklace

I’m not a botanist, but I think the leaf this pendant was modeled after was from a sugar maple. I also found lots of maple samara (the seed pods) near these leaves. The neckline is a strand of mottled red-green unakite jasper beads with brown goldstone beads, antiqued brass bead caps and brass beads. There’s a little bit of antiqued brass (Vintaj) chain to make the length adjustable.

Oak leaf pendant necklace

This necklace features an oak leaf pendant that’s turning from green to golden orange. It has the same unakite, goldstone, and brass beaded neckline pattern as the maple leaf necklace. Why mess with a good thing?

Yellow maple leaf pendant necklace

The neckline for this golden yellow maple leaf necklace has a different beaded pattern than the first two. After making the first two necklaces, I was all out of the 8mm unakite beads, but I still had a strand of 6mm.  I used larger goldstone beads, more brass beads, and some Czech glass owls to complete the length. I think I might like it better with larger beads overall, but I worked with what I had.  There’s a brass chain extender at the back, same as with the others.

Here’s a group photo of the maple and oak leaf jewelry.  You can get a better idea of the relative sizes of the pendants on the necklaces compared to the earring focals.  I have a handfull of focals that are even larger than the center leaf.  What was I thinking?  Who would wear a leaf pendant the size of their palm?  If I had been thinking ahead, I would have made some of them as brooches.  Too late now, they all have holes drilled in them.  So, as I said, ornaments probably.

Leaf jewelry collection

Once I ran out of unakite beads to pair with my fall leaves, I rummaged through my stash for more fall color beads and just wasn’t happy with what I found.  Probably because I was looking for an excuse to go buy more unakite, and whatever other beads might call to me once I was in the local bead store.  I resisted the urge to shop and switched to a less fall, but still tree-inspired color palette.

Green ginkgo leaf earrings

I collected ginkgo leaves on the same walk that I got the maple and oak leaves. They were just beginning to turn from vibrant green to golden yellow. I paired these focals with Czech glass beads and dark oxidized copper wires.

Bronze patina ginkgo leaf earrings

The ginkgo leaves on these earrings were coated with bronze metal (Swellegant) and given a verdigris patina. They’re paired with Czech glass beads and dark annealed steel wire.

That’s the end of my tree-inspired jewelry for today.  Many thanks to the team at Art Jewelry Elements for the inspiration and the opportunity to join in the challenge.  This challenge is also a blog hop so be sure to visit the other artists and designers to see many more amazing tree-themed creations.

AJE Team
Jennifer Stout Cameron
Lesley Watt
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Laney Mead
Niky Sayers
Cooky Schock
Cathy Spivey Mendola
Caroline Dewison

Brooke Bock
Karin Grosset Grange
Merja Sundström
Cindy Martin Shaw
Allison L Norfleet Bruenger
Melissa Trudinger
Kathy Lindemer
Gloria Allen
Shai Williams
Tammy Adams <– You are here!
Mona Arnott
Terri Del Signore

13 thoughts on “Art Jewelry Elements Challenge: Trees

  1. Caroline

    Fabulous designs Tammy, you’ve captured fall leaves perfectly… the colours are beautiful! Love the little gingko earrings too. Thanks for joining us in the challenge!

  2. Kathy Lindemer

    I love the colors and beads you used for your fall leaves earrings. The leaves that you made are so realistic. Well done!

  3. niky sayers

    Wow what amazing pieces you created Tammy! They are all lovely but those last earring are my favourite I just love the colours!

  4. Jenny

    OK – I love the autumn leaves – they are glorious colors and almost look like leather with the matte finish. But the Swellegant ginkos! Gorgeous.

  5. Shay Williams

    Stunning as always! Those focals are utterly incredible and you are to lucky to have the talent to make them.

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