Saturday, September 1, 2012

Challenge of Travel Blog Hop!

When Erin Prais-Hintz, with the assistance of Marcie Abney Carroll, came up with this Challenge of Travel, I knew I had to join!  The outlined criteria involved choosing a region and nation outside of where you live.  We were then instructed to learn about this country, and share what inspires us – pictures of the country, its history and culture, landmarks, architecture, its flag, etc.  Once an inspiration was found, we were to create an accessory that evokes the nation. 
Chosen Country - The Netherlands
So…why did I choose The Netherlands?  Well, my last name is VANDERBLOEMEN…which is Dutch.  Loosely translated, it means “Land of the Blooming Flowers”.  Even though I have had to spell “Vanderbloemen” multiple times to everyone I have ever met -- and I mean Everyone – I am very fond of my surname and wear it proudly. 

Other reasons for choosing The Netherlands as my Destination of Choice is that my late father’s favorite flower is The Tulip, which in turn happens to be my favorite flower.  And when I think of tulips, I think of The Netherlands.
My favorite – and I mean FAVORITE – television show is The Golden Girls.  I know….the show is 25+ years old.  But I still laugh at the "repeats" as if I have seen it for the first time.  But, in one of the first shows, Dorothy, describing how her ex-husband Stan always gave her flowers when they fought, said that by the last year of her marriage, her house looked like “Easter at Rotterdam”.  And, well, Rotterdam is in The Netherlands.
The Search for Inspiration
So I began my search of inspiration photos.  First, I looked up the Coat of Arms and The Flag of The Netherlands.  Quite frankly, the Coat of Arms required explanation, or at least interpretation and I wanted the picture to "speak to me". 

While I have absolutely nothing against the colors of the flag, let's face it,  they are Red, White, and Blue and simply reminded me too much of my country’s colors (again – nothing is wrong with that!).  But, since I did not want my pieces to reflect America’s Birthday, I searched for more inspiration.
Ah, of course I had to put in an iconic picture of a windmill…I mean, who does not think of a windmill when referencing The Netherlands?  But it was actually the water that first caught my eye in this picture.  Windmills fascinate me – they have been in existence since the first century AD, and are, in my mind’s eye, a brilliant scientific experiment gone right that has remained virtually unchanged in over 2000 years, because frankly, the original version still works!  Its basic concept converts the energy of wind into rotational energy used for milling grain for food production, pumping water, and generating electricity.  A marvel I say!  But as beautiful as that picture is, I was simply not inspired to create a piece of jewelry to match the feeling.

Vincent van Gogh photo credits - Wikipedia
I could not let the Challenge of Travel hop go by without mentioning Vincent van Gogh, could I? No! I have one of his art books sitting on my coffee table.  I find his life story to be so very sad – excessive drinking and smoking, unsuccessful relationships – both family and otherwise, health issues, mental health issues, etc.  He died too young at age 37 - suicide, though claims he was shot by someone still exist.  There are so many famous paintings to choose – too many, such as The Starry Night, or Stilllife: Vase with 12 Sunflowers illustrated above. 
But if I were to choose a painting by Vincent van Gogh as inspiration, it would be The Night Café (the last photo on the right in the collage above).  Van Gogh said of this painting,  “I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime”…  Oh the possibilities of what could happen here, so perfectly depicted through his eyes!

My Final Inspiration
But, as inspiring as van Gogh’s paintings and drawings are, I went back to my initial inspiration – tulips.   Did I mention my name means Land of the Blooming Flowers???? After perusing what felt like hundreds of pictures of field upon field of flowers, I selected the very first picture I clicked on, because it simply spoke to me.  To me, the tulip evokes strength and beauty – it stands tall and sturdy, regal, and its color possibilities are endless.  Daddy would approve of my picture choice, for sure.    

Now, I tried to create a piece of jewelry with leaves, petals, etc….  I even purchased gorgeous lampwork flower bud beads, but I just could not come up with a pleasing design.  So I focused on the colors of the beautiful tulips. 
Click on the pictures for a larger view

Tulip Photo Credit:
I was gifted this most beautiful, handmade clasp by Mary Harding – she was one of my partners in the Art Bead Earring Hop, hosted by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Beads.  The toggle is awash with different tones of green and deep red-oranges. I knew I wanted to use this clasp, and this clasp was too beautiful to hide in the back of the neck, unless I made a necklace where the toggle was the focal.  But, I have been on a bracelet-making kick this summer, so my efforts to make a necklace proved futile.  So, a bracelet was in the making.

Once I decided on the clasp, I moved on to my shamefully overflowing bead stash and found two deep orange – almost red - barrel-shaped beads by Marti Conrad.  I hammered out some copper bead caps to top Marti’s beads.   I then found a large, orange-red porcelain bead by Miss Diana P. and three green stoneware beads by Tina Francis.  I wanted the bracelet to feel substantial, so I used 14 gauge solid-copper wire.  The bracelet took a bath in liver of sulfur, suffered through my endless buffing, and then rattled around in my tumbler for a good two hours.  I finished it off with a coat of Renaissance Wax to preserve its warm patina.  I’m pleased with how it turned out!


In going through my bead stash to find beads to match Mary’s toggle, I came across these copper charms made by the talented Kristi Bowman (love her components…love!) and was now in the mood to make earrings.  I wrapped these sweet red lampwork beads (Radiant Mind) with copper wire to Kristi’s copper components.  I have been playing around with my torch and copper lately, and I love the red color the copper wire takes on when the ends have been balled and then quickly quenched in water.  So I balled both ends of a piece of heavy gauge copper wire.  I was trying to figure out how to use these “double-balled head pins” to mimic a flower stamen, but that idea went straight out the window.  So, instead I twisted and wrapped this “headpin of sorts” around the lampwork beads.  I added a pair of hand forged sterling silver ear wires to complete the earrings.  Certainly not “flower earrings”…but the colors are right!


Thank you, Erin for hosting this adventure!  I have always wanted to travel to my “homeland” and have now pushed this destination up a few notches on my bucket list!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Please be sure to visit all of the blog participants, listed below.
Jenny Davies-Reazor,
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson,
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca,
Patti Vanderbloemen, <-You are here!
Ine Vande Cappelle,


Friday, August 31, 2012

A Jewelry Bag - and More Donated Bracelets

My mother is a seamstress.  She will vehemently refute that statement ... but she is.  When she relocated from her home in Florida and moved in with me almost two years ago, I happily moved what I call my jewelry studio that was located in a spare bedroom to my basement and together we created for her an awesome sewing room.  And this is where she spends most of her time.
Although she can sew most anything, she prefers to quilt and create craft items.  Most recently, she was surfing the net and found a "pattern of sorts" for a hanging jewelry bag.  Well, two of my nieces serve as my jewelry guinea pigs and therefore have acquired LOTS of jewelry.  They both have very large, very nice jewelry boxes.  And they are overflowing!  So this is what Grandma made for them:
Click on all pictures for larger view
I have seen these in magazines - they are awesome!  The two-sided jewelry bag has tons of pockets, which she created with a heavy plastic - see through!  She tailored the pattern so that one side (on the right of the picture above) has a place at the top to attach necklaces, which hang from a self-made tab and "fall" into the pocket below - and the finished product has different size pockets to accommodate various sized jewelry.  This hangs from a heavy, wooden hanger in the closet.  I just thought this was the coolest thing ever and had to share!
The rest of this post contains more images of the some of the 75 bracelets that I have made and donated to the Global Genes/Rare Project Organization for their Gala to be held next month.
Beautiful, softly swirled lampwork beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads
Lampwork Beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads - the flecks of color are amazing!  I combined these beads with two enameled beads by Sally Russick
Lampwork Beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads - this is actually one of my favorite bracelets - love these beads!
Lampwork Beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads - these have beautiful color variations, including pops of yellow!
Lampwork Beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads, and one man-made sea glass bead, and handmade clasp.
Lampwork beads by Donna Millard, and sterling silver
Two different sets of lampwork beads by Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads
Lesley Watt sent me a link to this Etsy seller - Rob Johnson of Pebble Dreams - these lampwork beads - tiny spacer beads -  worked perfectly for this design - thank you Lesley!!
Man-made sea glass beads, Czech glass, and sterling silver
Many thanks to the artisans - especially my main lampwork supplier, Sue Kennedy - for creating these gorgeous beads!  Please visit the Global Genes Organization for more information about this very worthy cause!

And, thank  you for stopping by!  Your comments are truly appreciated!  :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Donated Bracelets!

My photo editing and collage-creating continues....Here are some more pictures of the bracelets I made and donated for the Global Genes / Rare Project Organization's Gala, to be held in September...
Click on the pictures for a larger view

LOVE it when Sue Kennedy sent me Sugared Beads!  These have great texture!
These blue beads by Sue Kennedy are the coolest color!
Blue AND Purple beads (my favorite color combo)  by Sue Kennedy combined with man-made sea glass.  The clear, transparent glass, with the swirled colors is so pretty!
Baby blue!  I combined these swirled, baby blue lampwork beads by Sue Kennedy with 3 enameled beads from Sally Russick that I had in my stash
Pretty swirled lampwork beads - with just the right amount of purple - by Sue Kennedy, combined with man-made sea glass beads in sweet teal

These blue beads by Sue Kennedy have a pop of yellow - love these!
I combined Sue Kennedy's pale green eggs with a larger egg bead by Kelly Wenzel, which I had in my stash.  Kelly has not been making beads lately, as she has been focusing her attention on her other love, photography.  I am lucky I saved this beauty! I added a tiny, disc bead in the same color as the large egg as part of the charm.
Lovely transparent blue beads by Donna Millard - the swirls of black really make these beads pop.
All of these beads are hand-made sea glass
Same bead color - different shapes, by Sue Kennedy.  I really, really love these beads!  I combined these with a Bali silver lentil.  No matter how hard I try, the silver lentil picks up a red tone in pictures only...ah, the joy of picture taking!

So far, in three consecutive blog posts, I have shown 25 bracelets...which means I have 50 left to "reveal".  I hope you are not bored! 

I want to thank Sue again for making such lovely beads, which made my bracelet-making endeavor effortless! :)  If you have not done so already, please click on the link below to find out how you can donate a bracelet to this wonderful cause!

I love to read comments, so please leave one if you are so inclined!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

75 Donated Bracelets....Continued!

Short post today - more like a picture show-  as I have to take my Mom to some doctor and dentist appointments.  But, I wanted to share a few more pictures of the bracelets that I have donated for the September 27th Gala to be held by the Global Genes / Rare Project Organization....

Click on pictures for a larger view
These gorgeous beads are from Maryse Fritzch-Thillens of Glass Bead Art.
This set of beads from Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads have the most beautiful hues of blue!
I love it when I can combine beads of the same palette from different artists!  This bracelet has beads from Sue Kennedy / Sue Beads and Maryse Fritzch-Thillens of Glass Bead Art
Pale blue lampwork rounds by Sue Kennedy - they look like they have been dredged in fairy dust, don't they?  I love these beads!
Sue Kennedy introduced a new bead style that she calls "Cameo Beads" - aren't they fantastic!  I paired them with some snow white lampwork beads by Maryse Fritzch-Thillens of Glass Bead Art
Blue/Black lampwork by Sue Kennedy of Sue Beads , Black Lampwork by Beads of Passion, with a brass headpin by Lesley Watt / THEAtoo
I altered a Brass Bracelet from Donna Millard, by adding a length of chain to make this bracelet adjustable - then I wrapped tons of turquoise, and added a HOPE charm to a Lesley Watt / THEAtoo Brass headpin.
Please visit the link below to find out more about the 7000 Bracelets for Hope Campaign, or to donate a bracelet of your own.  And also, please visit the shops of these wonderful artisans!!!
Thank you for stopping by today!