Friday, November 20, 2015

Making Connections

This has been a busy week! Yesterday I received my contributor's copy of Belle Armoire Jewely. This is a particularly beautiful issue, with lots of varied and wonderful work. I have one article in there this time, entitled "All About Color." I always feel so fortunate when they choose my work for Belle Armoire Jewelry. Here are my earrings from this issue:

All About Color Earrings

I taught a class at The Artist's Clubhouse in Conway last Saturday. We made two different kinds of ornaments, using bullet and shotgun shell casings. These are my friend Tracy's ornaments from my class:

Tracy's Ornaments

Last week was about making new things using the forms I like to use... pushing the envelope. This week has been about making wire links and connections. After teaching my class, I spent the rest of the week concentrating on making chains and links. I made four simple sets, each with a different color theme. I made some of the links that are featured in Cindy Wimmer's wonderful book "The Missing Link." The others are just variations of the links and connections I've learned to make over the years. 

While I was going through some unsorted beads, I found a handful of handmade charms, mostly made by me. At first I thought they would look nice on a bracelet, but as I laid them out on the table I decided they would make a nice charm necklace instead.

Charm Necklace

The central chain is from the book "The Missing Link." The soft leather cord is attached to the rings with simple lark's head knots, and then I wire-wrapped the ends and attached a handmade wire clasp. I made all of the charms with the exception of the two enameled sticks. Those were make by Kim from Numinosity Beads. Kim makes wonderful beads.

Here are the sets I made over the course of the week:

Copper Wire Set In Blue

Copper Wire Bracelet

Copper Wire Set In Green

Copper Wire Necklace - Detail

Copper Wire Bracelet In Green

Copper Wire Set In Purple

Copper Wire Necklace - Detail

Copper Wire Bracelet In Purple

Silver Plated Wire Necklace Set - Beach Themed

I used some of those shells I drilled last week. I actually crocheted all of the little white strands, using very fine crochet thread.

Detail - Crocheted Thread And Silver-plated Wire Links

Silver Plated Wire Necklace - Detail

Silver Plated Wire Bracelet

Silver-plated Wire Beach-themed Earrings

My entire week was spent making wire connections, all different kinds. I always want my work to be improving. I find that if I concentrate on one single specific task over the course of an entire week, my skills build, and then I am able to bring those skills forward into the following week. There is always so much to learn.

Next post is going to be all about using vintage filigree in all different ways.

Until next time!

Leaving you with this quote:

"Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." - Charles Eames

Friday, November 13, 2015

Variations On A Theme

Happy Friday the 13th! It has been 10 days since my last blog post. I finished up last week by making one more Christmas house to add to my nostalgic lineup. This one is orange. I made tape transfers for the windows, so they all have little images in them.

Orange Christmas House

Then I made this necklace:

Ancestors Necklace

Accestors Necklace - focal

The focal on the piece above is a sterling silver earring made by the incomparable Tabra. It was a gift from my friend Jamie. The strange and wonderful bamboo bead on the left side of the chain was a gift from my friend Sue, and the rest of the beads on the chain were also gifts, with the exception of the bone piece at the bottom, which came from Ethiopia, via etsy.

After an entire week of all things "Jaxed and waxed," (with Jax Pewter Black and Dorland's Wax) I thought it was time to lighten things up a bit this week. I made a series of pieces in silver-plated copper, with clear, beachy colors. The first piece in the series is this "Beach Walk" necklace:

Beach Walk Necklace

Beach Walk Necklace - Detail

One of the strands in this two-strand necklace a is crocheted cotton twine. The other is a 3mm silver-plated copper rolo chain from Sun and Moon Craft Kits. The focal is made from a shell, and the beads are glass, stone, and ceramic, all in cool shades of blues and greens. The necklace is very long, as you can tell by the photo of it being modeled by the lovely Lulu. I love obscenely long necklaces. This one reminds me of the years I spent in Florida. Sometimes my sister and I would wake up early in the morning and go beach combing. I ran across a small tin of shells from one of our walks last week. I drilled holes in them yesterday. I'll be using them as focals next week!

Next I made this necklace:

Metal Flower Necklace, modeled by the lovely Lulu

 Metal Flower Necklace - detail

Then I made four bracelets. I love making bracelets, especially these "bits and pieces" braclets. I think they are my favorite things to make.

Harmony bracelet, in turquoise

Milagro Bracelet in silver

Flower Bracelet in green

Milagro Bracelet in blue

...and finally these three necklaces, modeled by the lovely Gertie. She is a small table top mannequin by the way. The necklaces are not particularly big. Gertie is  a handmade reproduction, and I bought her at Shabby Town USA. I love Gloria's props. 

Honey Bee Happy

Silver Belles

The End Of Summer

Making these suede cord necklaces was an exercise in form for me. I wanted to see if I could pare down my usual forms to lighter, more clear and airy ones, while still maintaining the shapes that I love to use. It's hard for me to make cleaner pieces like this. I always want to add beads and dangly bits. I know less is supposed to be more, but for me, more is more! I can't help myself.

So that's it for this week. In retrospect, it was all about variations on a theme... using the same forms in different ways. I like doing that, because I find repetition can lead to discovery. Next week is going to be all about making chains and connections, and also using some of those shells I drilled. 

Until next time!

Leaving you with this quote:

"In skating there is always another jump or another spin variation or another thing to learn, and that's what I liked about it." - Gracie Gold

The same thing is definitely true about making jewelry, and for me, learning is the fun part!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Entire Ocean In A Drop

A few days ago I received my contributor's copy of GreenCraft magazine. The lovely, sweet editor, Devon Warren, included a number of my projects in this issue, including this necklace:

Falling Leaves Collar By Melinda Barnett - Featured In GreenCraft Magazine

My garden hearts were in there as well:

Garden Art Hearts by Melinda Barnett, Featured In GreenCraft Magazine

I really love Stampington magazines, and I feel so honored every time they include my work in one of them. This time I have five projects featured in GreenCraft, so it's like honored times five. My friends Brooke Bock, Frances Peets, and Ella Wilson have work in there too. I'm in such good company! 

I've been busy since the last time I blogged. It's amazing that it has only been 10 days. First of all, I made those little houses I was talking about last time. I started with a little red one. Am I too old to have a favorite color? I do have one. It's red. 

Little Red House Made From A Cracker Box

I made the template from a vintage one. Super easy. Then I cut the pieces out of a cracker box, hot-glued them together, added sandpaper to the roofs, and painted them with acrylic craft paints. A little Mod Podge, fake snow, and glitter, and they were finished. 

I made the tiny trees by taking some hemp rope and cutting it into 1-inch pieces. I twisted green coated 24 GA florists' wire around the pieces(with a little white glue,) dyed them with Ranger peeling paint-colored green distress ink, and trimmed them with scissors. I used a bead cap and some E6000 jewelry glue to make the base and stick it to the platform. The bottle brush tree on the right came with the vintage houses that I used for the pattern, but it didn't have a stand. I used the drill press to make a hole in a game piece, and glued the stem into the new base. 

I made a bunch more of them. My Mom would have loved the blue one. Blue was her favorite color. 

More Little Houses Made From Cracker Boxes

The One on the left is covered with paper from a book. It has an overgrown moss yard and a yellow Popsicle stick fence. You know. Every neighborhood has a crazy house like this. If it weren't for Mr. Bees, I might be that crazy neighbor, but he keeps our yard looking lovely, makes sure that the Christmas lights come down, all that good stuff that good husbands do. 

Cracker box House With Craft Stick Fence

(Janet Loomis from Anvil Artifacts gave me the tree on the left. Thank you again Janet!)

So now I have a whole lineup of little houses, just like my Mom did when I was little!

My Lineup Of Handmade Glitter Houses

Ah, but most of the week was not about making Christmas decorations. Most of the week was about making jewelry. This week I was doing a bit of a study in opposites: the hard and the soft, the new and the old, the masculine and the feminine.

Here are the pieces I made. I'm just going to start with this one because it's my favorite. I call it "Sancta Camisa." The actual Sancta Camisa is a relic, a garment in the cathedral at Chartres. 

Sancta Camisa Necklace

Sancta Camisa Detail Of Focal Piece

Sancta Camisa Detail Of Chain

I loved making this series because it was truly a study of opposites... the pale, delicate beads with the blackened chain (Jax Pewter Black,) and for some of the other pieces, rough, unfinished beads sit alongside refined, faceted ones. 

Sancta Camisa Bracelet

The Sancta Camisa followed the form of most of my "bits and pieces" bracelets, but I used softer colors and then Jaxed it. Something a little different. 

Sancta Camisa Earrings

I inherited the white stone beads from my brother's vast collection. I'm finally feeling ready to use some of them. Maybe getting a little bit of my old self back. I keep saying that, but it becomes more and more true all the time. Anyway, I've made earrings in this form before, but this time it was a fun study in contrast... rhinestones, crystal and marble beads meet Jax. Fun stuff. 


I can't tell you how much I messed around with this one. Finally it seemed that making it more simple was the way to go. I had a bunch more stuff hanging off the bottom at first, but it kept feeling wrong to me, so I eliminated the other drops from the dangle. Simplicity. I made the focal bead and the rectangular unfinished clay one in my kiln. The bottom piece is from Scorched Earth. I love Petra and her beads. 

I made a couple of more rustic bracelets too. I took some of those inexpensive silver bracelets that you can get on eBay, took them apart, and Jaxed them, sealed them with Dorland's Wax. It's a great way to spruce up pre-made focals. I made the unglazed tube-shaped bead. The others are either from thrift store finds that I dismantled, or from my brother's stash. The green cloth is waxed rayon. I used Dorland's Wax from Jacquard. I got the idea from Marina Rios of Fanciful Devices. Marina has such clever ideas. It worked really well. 


Here's another bracelet in the same form, but with more color. I like color. The coral-colored piece is from another one of those inexpensive sterling bracelets that I dismantled. The yellow piece is an African trade bead. I made the unglazed rectangular bead. The colorful silk is sari silk remnant ribbon. 


Mr. Bees showed me how to shrink images down, using my Microsoft works word processor program! Woo hoo! There's no stopping me now. I can shrink anything. I shrank these images down small enough to fit onto Scrabble tiles! I have a whole giant jar of them. Until now I hadn't figured out anything to do with them. Now look what I can do!

Madonna De La Mer

To make the bezels, I cut pieces of tin. Then I used the drill press to pierce only the metal parts. I used teeny Tim Holtz eye screws to hold the whole thing together. The beads are wooden. I painted them on one side with Swellegant Iron Paint, and the other with Martha Stewart metallic gold. Yep, that.s right... M. Diddy Gold! Originally I had two sea urchin spines, but I broke one of them off when I was trying to drill a hole in the top. I had some vintage mussel shell charms, so I used those on the other side, to keep the sea theme consistent. I like asymmetry. 

Finally for the jewelry, I made two last pairs of earrings. A few years ago I made a series of goddess pieces for my friend Gayle's art show. I liked the forms, so I brought them back with these:

Ex-Voto Suscepto

I used Jax on the milagros, and they turned from silver to a really pretty dark copper color. Sometimes plated metal will do that when the Jax hits it. It was such a nice surprise! The bee on this pair of earrings did the same thing:

Kama Earrings

Again, a juxtaposition of the hard and the soft. Something new for me... most of my pieces are either one or the other. 

Finally, I made 5 stamped brass bookmarks with fragments of Rumi poems on them. 

People who know me well, know that I don't cry easily. It normally takes a lot to move me to tears. About 10 years ago I met a wonderful woman named Moni Mungin. I was working at Amaryllis, and Moni was staying in the hotel upstairs. We had a lovely conversation. Later that day she came down with a book of Rumi poetry. She said, "I bought this, and I have a feeling that I bought it for you." I was touched, but it took awhile for me to realize that her instincts were dead-on. Upon receiving it, I glanced through the book appreciatively. A few months later, I found myself awake one night (not unusual for me.) I picked up the book and went into the laundry room with it, because our entire house is very open and I didn't want the light to bother Mr. Bees. I started reading the words on those pages and I began to sob uncontrollably, sitting on top of my dryer. Centuries later, Rumi's words were still capable of reaching my soul. So these bookmarks remind me of Moni's great kindness. I'm submitting them to Somerset Life next week. 

Right now, in this moment, more than anything else, I feel grateful. Grateful to Devon Warren and Stampington for being so wonderful. Grateful to my husband, my friends, and those talented individuals who, by sharing their work with the world, inspire me every day. Thank you. 

Until next time...

Leaving you with this Rumi quote (because you probably can't read the bookmark)

"You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop."