We’re All Ears Design Challenge: Patchwork Earrings

Fat Quarters earringsEach month Erin Prais-Hintz chooses a theme and challenges us to design earrings inspired by it.  The theme for this month’s We’re All Ears earring design challenge was “patchwork.”  I’ve noticed a bit of patchwork showing up in clothing fashion lately and had been pondering how to create some earrings in that style.  The images Erin shared for this design challenge were exactly the push my muse needed.

I’ve watched a few videos for a polymer clay technique using scrap clay to mimic bargello.  In quilting, bargello is a technique that uses strips of fabric in assorted colors, sewn together to create movement in precision geometric patterns.  I didn’t quite manage a bargello effect with my strips of clay (more on why in a minute), but I did get a nice patchwork effect.

Why didn’t I get the bargello effect with my clay?  I didn’t like how my first attempt turned out (and I’m sorry I didn’t take photos) so I re-mixed my clay scraps to try again. In the process, I blended the scraps a bit too much and lost the wider bands of color separation needed to mimic bargello.  Fortunately, one of the great things about polymer clay is that even when you mess up Plan A, very often Plan B turns out just as well.

cherry blossom patchwork earrings

For these “Cherry Blossom” inspired patchwork earrings, I chose scraps of clay in pinks and reds, mixed with a hint of greens. The polymer clay focals are accented with pink Czech glass beads on sterling silver wires.

Although it’s barely mid-February, there are already abundant signs of spring here.  We’ve had an unusually mild (i.e., warm) winter and the ground never froze.  So, bulbs are blooming and trees are budding weeks ahead of schedule.  Those spring colors were the inspiration for my patchwork color palette.

Springtime patchwork earrings

The mix of blues and greens in these “Water Lilies” patchwork earrings reminded me of the backgrounds in Monet paintings.   The clay dangles are accented with speckled blue Czech glass beads on sterling silver wires.

Initially, I wasn’t going to add a backing to the strips of clay I was patching together.  But then I got nervous that no matter how well I thought I had smushed the edges together, they would come apart with pressure.  Not that expect my customers to try to break my jewelry, but better safe than sorry.  And besides, every quilt has a backing.  So, my patchwork earrings have solid backs in coordinating colors.

Water lilies patchwork earrings

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to hang the focals with the stripes on the diagonal until I made this last pair. I quite like the effect.  I don’t have a name for this pair.  I actually don’t often name my jewelry. When a poetic name doesn’t come to me,  I name them functionally so I can keep track of the digital files.  These are “pink-blue patchwork.”

I used a hexagonal shaped cutter for most of my focals.  It seems like a shape you would see in a patchwork quilt. I also made one pair using a square cutter, with ric-rac edges.

faded denim patchwork earrings

These “Faded Denim” earrings were the first pair I made after scrapping the original bargello attempt. The more times I balled up the scraps and sheeted them, the more blended the colors become. These earrings are accented with blue Czech glass melon beads on sterling silver wires.

I plan to try the bargello technique again some day.  I know what I did wrong with the original sheeting of the clay scraps so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the desired results next time.

Pink Blue patchwork earrings

I’m calling this pair of earrings “Fat Quarters” after the name used for those pre-cut bundles of quilting fabric I always find so irresistible in the fabric store even though I don’t quilt.

As always, I had a lot of fun designing earrings for this challenge.  The patchwork theme inspired me to try a new technique and I made some fun earrings.  Many thanks to Erin for the inspiration.  Be sure to visit the Earrings Every Day blog to see what she did with this theme.

5 thoughts on “We’re All Ears Design Challenge: Patchwork Earrings

  1. Erin Prais-Hintz

    I always like to see where your curiosity will lead you! I love the idea of the Bargello. I am fascinated by that technique as well. I do like your Plan B earrings…the hex shape is perfect for mimicing quilters blocks. And I do love that last blue pair. Reminds me of ripples on water! Thanks for joining in the We’re All Ears challenge. Enjoy the day!

  2. Sarajo Wentling

    What a fun and interesting idea you came up with! I think my favorite is the one you used the square cutter for… love the edges!

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