Beau Dangles

Handcrafted Jewelry — Designed to be Different


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Art in the Park

Summer time and art venues are popping up like new grass. It’s wonderful!

Artist Denise Collins is running Art in the Park, an event that appeals to me. It’s happening in the Village of Cremona, AB. Starting Sunday June 7, it will run every second Sunday at the Nature Trail Park on Main Street, from 1 to 4 pm.

She’s inviting artists in all mediums to join her. There is no charge to set up your display and sell your work. Bring your own table, chair, tent — whatever you need. You may also want to do demonstrations — always a good way of connecting with potential buyers.

“If you feel more comfortable with a tent, please feel free to bring one,” says Denise. “The event typically will not run if it’s raining, as people tend to avoid the park on rainy days. But if you would like one for shade, I ask that you bring your own.

“We are currently in the process of building a gazebo for the park, which should be finished in the next couple weeks. That will be open for artists to put their tables in as well once it’s completed.”

Art in the Park

Denise says Art in the Park is pretty relaxed. You can set up at 1 pm but slightly before is preferable. As far as take down, it’s preferable if you can stay until 4 but if you have to leave early that is just fine.

If you’d like to take part, let Denise know so she can include you in the advertising. (Click on poster for details.) She’ll be set up on each of those Sundays doing drawing demonstrations.

“There should be info on the Village of Cremona’s website. And on the Cremona Buy and Sell FB page. Depending on how this year goes, I will consider starting up a website for next year.

“You don’t have to attend all the dates either. It runs into August and you can attend as many or as few days as you like. The village and all the people who stopped last year were thrilled with the event!”

Tarnished ear wires


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Tinfoil. Who knew?

Sterling silver jewelry is beautiful. It can also be kinda yucky when tarnish sets in, as it will eventually.

Some people like the dark patina. In fact you can actually use certain chemicals to speed up the tarnish.

But what if you want that shiny look?

You can buy special polishing cloths that do a pretty good job of bringing back the sparkle — but if you’re dealing with something small, like ear wires, those cloths don’t work quite as well.

I needed to clean up several pairs of heavily tarnished ear wires. I looked online for answers and found one that used tinfoil and baking soda.

Huh?

It sounded weird but several people swore it worked. I gave it a try.

  • In a heat-proof bowl (I used glass), place a piece of tinfoil.
    (One recipe said to crinkle it in the bottom. Another said place it flat. I tried it both ways.)
  • Place the ear wires on the tinfoil.
  • Sprinkle them with 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
    (I used enough to cover the pieces with a bit to spare.)
  • Gently pour in boiling water, enough to cover the ear wires and tinfoil.
  • Wait 5 or 6 minutes — water the plants, play with your dog or make a cuppa.
  • Rinse the wires in cool clean water. Dry.

You know the saying: When something seems to good to be true, it usually is. 

Not this time.

This stuff works. Really. This little chemistry lesson in a bowl gave me back a pair of shiny ear wires. Wow.

As for using crinkled or flat tinfoil, I couldn’t see the difference. Wait time? You can see the reaction take place so when things are shiny, take them out. Lightly tarnished pieces will be ready sooner than ones with a heavy layer.

Magic aside, I wanted to know why this worked. If you’re curious about the answer check out this explanation.

Spoiler Alert: If you have sterling silver jewelry with gemstones, pearls or beads you’ll need to do further research before trying this technique.

Bead & pin


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Easy Earring Display

I’m teaching a new class on earring making and needed a way to display samples so that prospective students could see firsthand what they might make.

I tried several ideas but none of them showed the earrings off to advantage — they looked crammed together and uninviting.

Styrofoam to the rescue!

I have several pieces of styrofoam that I use under display cloth at my show booth. Also in my stash of why-did-I-ever-buy-these things were some pins I’d bought years ago and never used.

I covered the styrofoam with a large sheet of white paper. I did a neat, taped down fold to finish it off so that I could pin earring samples to all 4 sides.

Sytrofoam block

The tricky part was getting the display to stand upright without falling over. I thought about making a base around the foam but didn’t have time.

Instead I made foldover loops of masking tape, stuck them on the bottom of the foam and then stuck that into the bottom of a pretty glass plate. I filled the plate with dried beans to add more support and to finish off the display.

This turned out to be a quick and easy display and it didn’t cost me anything (always a nice benefit).

While I’ve used it to show off individual earrings, it could be used to display earring pairs. Although I put most of my earrings on individual cards, I also have some discounted and sale earrings that sit in a small basket. This upright display would show them all at a glance.

Since these forms are easy to make you could create a nice tiered effect by adding 1 or 2 more of different heights. When earrings sell and you want to add another pair, use the same pinholes to keep it looking neat.

Earring Class


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Earring Bling Class

Earrings are fun to wear — and even more so when you’ve made them yourself. If you’d like create your own earrings you might want to sign up for my new class Earring Bling! 

The class is designed for beginners (more experienced jewelry makers are also welcome). I’ll take you step by step through the process from idea to finished piece. At the end of the evening you’ll have 3 pairs of lovely earrings.

I bring all the supplies — beads, crystals, pearls, charms and more — and the tools. I’ll have earring samples you can use for inspiration or you can create your own designs. If you have beads or charms at home you’d like use, be sure to bring them along.

The class runs Wednesday June 10 at the Sundre Library. Registration is limited to 8 people. Please call the Library to register (403) 638-4000.

Earth Mom


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The Possibilities of Less

Do you ever long for a bigger stash of beads? More wire? Better tools? Do you dream of all the things you could create if only …  ?

I do.

But something weird happened lately that changed my mind.

My first show of the season was quickly approaching when a dreadful truth hit: I don’t have enough new pieces. 

But that wasn’t the worst part.

I had only a skimpy supply of materials with me: wire, a few pieces of old jewelry, some glass beads, and a couple of Swarovski pearls. A gloomy prospect.

Why, oh why, I whined, hadn’t I brought more stuff? 

Like Mother Hubbard, I gazed at my almost-empty cupboard. Impending doom settled on me.

I needed new work. And I needed it now.

Out came the hammers and pliers and wire cutters. I hammered and texturized. I twisted and bent. I strung beads and coiled wire.

It took awhile, but after several mistakes I got into a creative vibe. Where I’d seen limitations I began to see designs. Lots of them. It was like someone sprinkled magic dust in the air.

By the time I finished I had 10 different pairs of earrings. Amazing. Who’da thunk all those pieces could have come from so little?

Best of all? At the show last weekend those earrings got the most attention — and brought the most sales.

Go figure.  Sometimes less really is more.   :-)

IMG_0182


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Water Valley Art Show 2015

If it’s April, it must be time for the Chinook Creative Arts Foundation’s annual show and sale in Water Valley, Alberta. The show runs Saturday April 25 from 10 to 4 pm.

This show is one of my favourite events. The small rural community is a strong supporter of the arts. The show features numerous regional artists working in various media and attracts an audience from several nearby towns and cities including Cochrane and Calgary.

There will be artists and artisans, local musicians and, of course, the famous homemade soups and pies.

I’ll have beadwork along with some of the wire and metal pieces I’ve been working on this past winter.


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Hamster Brain

Scientists tell us we have three brains — the lizard brain (lust and anger), the dog brain (love and loyalty) and the human brain (thinking). Overly simplistic but it conveys the basic idea: different parts of the brain handle different functions.

Somewhere along the way those folks in the lab coats missed the hamster brain. If you have one, you know whereof I speak. You start to make a decision and suddenly you can’t. It’s not even a hard decision or one of those things you really should sleep on (or a least take a nap) before you commit yourself.

No, hamster brains make you fumble and stumble around on decisions that a normal 3-brained person would have dealt with last week (or yesterday). Yet here you (and I) are mentally spinning round and round on that wheel like a deranged rodent.

My hamster brain took over this morning. I was trying to describe where I make my jewelry. How hard could that be? Hard, apparently. My hamster brain ran amok.

Studio? No, no, no. Far too pretentious. It sounds like you’re much better than you are. How about work bench? Doesn’t that sound more like you’re repairing cars? Or building cabinets? Okay, what about table? I sometimes bead at a table. Are you using veggies in your work? What’s wrong with you? This is so simple. Be creative! Think outside the box!

By the time I’m a few minutes into this inane conversation the hamster brain has won. I’m indecisive, undecided and hoping my dog brain will eat the little rat for lunch.

All this nattering did have one good outcome: I’m heading to my studio/work shop/shed/table/work bench/whatever to make something pretty.

Having fun with the beads


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Taking Time Out

I met a wonderful group of women earlier this week when they showed up to take my Crystal Bracelet beading class, part of the fall events offered by the Springbank Ladies Time Out.

Each of the seven women chose a different colour from the kits I’d prepared, so every bracelet was unique. Although several had done some beading before two of them had never dipped their toes into the beading pool.

It was fun watching the bracelets come together. The women all knew each other so there was lively conversation as they worked on their projects.

The best part? Everyone finished their bracelets and left wearing beautiful handmade creations.

If you’d like to know more about other classes offered by Springbank LTO, check out their calendar.

"Dark Magic" is one of my favourite upcycled pieces. The focal was an earring I found in southern Arizona. I added a glass diamond-shaped bead and several Preciosa crystals.  (Sold)


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Deck Your Neck

Here are several of the necklaces I’ve made recently. Three of them include repurposed pieces from older jewelry. It’s always fun finding ways to incorporate unwanted or abandoned bits into new work.

IMG_9258


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Water Valley Art Market

Last Saturday about 10 artists convened at the recently renovated Water Valley Church Events Centre for the first “How Great Thou Art” show and sale. (Love the play on words.)

Once a Catholic Church, the building had been decommissioned in 2001 and was slowly falling into disrepair. A local couple bought it and began to lovingly restore it.

Kristine Sarsons, an artist and one of the owners, organized the art show. She also arranged for several local musicians to entertain during the event. There was a potluck lunch for the artists and the music makers — a welcome break during a busy day.

The art show coincided with the annual Water Valley Days — complete with a pancake breakfast, a parade, chili cookoff, a BBQ and lots of family activities.

Berry Delight  (Sold)


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A Change of Mind

Sometimes, well, sometimes a good idea really ain’t.

Last year I found a small bag of brightly coloured beads in the back of my drawer. They’d been there so long I forgot where they’d come from. I thought they’d make a great bracelet. So that’s what I did. Added a handmade red clasp. Put it up for sale. Nada. Nope. No one expressed interest in it.

And I had to agree. I wasn’t that keen on it either. It wasn’t a bad piece, it just wasn’t a great piece. For one thing, the wire clasp wasn’t as strong as it could have been. To my eye (and maybe to others) it didn’t look substantial enough for the design.

A few weeks ago I was about to take it apart when I had an aha! moment — what if I turned it into a necklace?

I added some extra chain and a swivel lobster clasp. Much better. Put it up for sale at our local farmers’ market.

A woman came by, admired my work, looked at the necklace and said, “I bet that would look good against black.”

“Let’s see,” I said, placing it on one of my black displays. It looked great. I couldn’t believe the difference.

I thanked her for the idea. She wandered off to other booths. I made a note to photograph the piece on a black display when I got home. But I didn’t have time.

When I looked up a few moments later, the woman was back. “I want to buy that necklace.” She smiled. I smiled. The piece was paid for, wrapped up and the deal was done. Happy times. :-)

White & Red


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Same Design, Different Colours

I bought some two-hole beads last winter, just because. Because they’ve been around for ages and I’ve never worked with them. That seemed a good enough reason.

I began with a complicated pattern. Not the best idea as I kept getting lost. So I reverted to a simple design and varied the colour of the accent beads.

Here’s the same design with red two-hole beads.

I look at these four pieces and see the same pattern. In chatting with visitors at the farmers’ market last weekend, however, most of them saw totally different pieces — they only saw the similarities when I pointed them out. Seeing is deceiving … :-)

Briolettes (Sold)


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A Six Pack of Earrings

One of the reasons I like making earrings is the oh-so-quick results. Well, “quick” compared to the hours and sometimes days it often takes me to design and finish a necklace.

I’ve been working on some bigger pieces lately, hit a bump in the process, so decided earrings would ease the frustration.

Yahoo (Sold)


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Choosing a Backdrop for Your Jewelry

Photographing jewelry is an art. Great photographs can sell the work even though the buyer has never seen the real piece.

I’ve taken a lot of blah shots so taking better photos is one of my goals.

One aspect I’ve begun paying more attention to is the background. Too often I choose whatever is handy or what I’ve used in the past. But not all pieces work well with the same backdrop.

Here’s an example. The earrings in these photos are identical, only the background has changed. Which do you prefer?

On wood  (Sold)

On seashell  (Sold)

The lefthand photo isn’t bad but it’s too cool and monochromatic for my taste. It looks posed. If the earrings don’t look natural in the photo, would someone still buy them?

In the righthand photo the wood adds warmth and colour. It also creates a casual feel, saying these are something you could wear to the farmers’ market, a rodeo or a get-together with pals.

Since we don’t always meet our buyers face to face, photos must do much of the selling for us. I’m aiming to take better pictures in the future. :-)

Made of Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads


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Silent Auction at the Empty Bowls Arts Festival

This Saturday I’ll be at the Arts Festival in Airdrie, AB from 11 to 5 pm. This annual event is a fundraiser for the Airdrie Food Bank, and a good cause in support of ending hunger.

Each artist appearing in the show has donated a piece of work for the silent auction. This is the necklace I’ve submitted.

Made of Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads

This three dimensional piece features blue zircon Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads, and closes with a vintage button clasp.

You’ll find more about the Arts festival here.

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