Ladies and gents, this is a very special edition of the 365-Day Make n' Tell Challenge, because I have been chosen to be part of a blogging team for the spectacular one-stop bead website, Artbeads.com!
I'm really excited about this particular Make n' Tell, because I have, in my hot little hands, some lovely Swarovski crystal pieces I've chosen from the vast catalogue available on Artbeads.com. As soon as Nick told me at work that they'd arrived in the mail, my hands were itching for the rest of the day!
Since being chosen to be part of the blogging team, I had poured over the pages and dabbled over a few design ideas, sketching them out. I was always hesitant to work with Swarovski crystals, hearing of their 'high-maintenance care', associating their brilliance to gaudy costume jewelry. I could never get away from that image of Dallas-like jewelry that was just too flashy, too gaudy, and tooooo big ... at least for my taste. I like character in my jewelry, but I had consciously tried to stay away from anything that had a literal 'sparkle'. With that in mind, and the desire to 'expand my vision', I was really, really careful in what I picked, wanting to mix these beads with 'natural elements', like rough cut gemstones, shells and wood beads. (Well, that was the idea at first. You'll see what I mean later.) I was so happy to find a rainbow and beyond of colours available, in all shapes and sizes! It sent the little girl inside me skipping through a fantasyland of glittery trees, and sparkly flowers in windowsill, and gorgeous butterflies sparkling in a mellow yellow jonquil sun with their amethyst wings and olivine eyes fluttering through a sapphire sky ... that was fun! You get what I mean ... but you should really see it for yourself!
What I really appreciated about Artbeads.com's commitment to their knowledge of their product is the diagrams of the faceted cuts for their Swarovski products. Seeing how the crystal is cut actually helped me out with placement of the beads when I started working with them, so that I could showcase them in the piece appropriately. (They can even help out with photographing the crystals; knowing what angles to shoot from to help bring out the lustre!) Take a look below at an example, with one of Artbeads.com's newest Crystallized Elements products (and now certainly one of my favourites - a future purchase!), the Swarovski crystal Pegasus pendant in Amber Opal Mosaic.
Artbeads.com also features the history of the Daniel Swarovski's business and how he started in the crystal manufacturing and cutting business, beginning his legacy in 1895. When you work with these pieces, you know you are receiving the finest of quality, and you can discover more ways you can take advantage of these qualities in their Swarovski Resources page.
With seeing more and more versatile ways that these little beauties could be used, my mind started to open, but it's a danger in my mind when the flood gates come crashing down - overload! As much as 'glitterati' can scare me off, I've always secretly wanted a little bit of sparkle in my jewelry. I really wanted to take my time with my choices, knowing that once I get them in my hands I'll most likely change what I planned to do originally.
I did pretty well, in comparison to my first ideas. I don't have a scanner, but here are some pictures of my first sketches.
Once my camera batteries charge up, they'll magically appear!
Instead of making pieces that ultimately focused on the Swarovski 'bling' itself, I wanted to present it as a necessary element to complete these pieces. Compared to what I first thought of, especially with the 'Bermuda Triangle necklace' idea, I did pretty well for myself.
So, without furthur ado, let me present to you the fantastic Artbeads.com 'glitterati' - Design by Cassandra style!
Yacht Rock necklace, no. 1
I love nautical. Who doesn't? It never goes out of style, because the serenity of travel by water is always, and will always be enjoyable. It's a lifestyle that brings about a completely different culture, with new destinations on the whim everyday, becoming the worldly traveller while enjoying the comforts of home. The 'upper crust lifestyle' was always associated with this kind of - well, what's characterized as a 'free living' lifestye, along with the wardrobe, which was always present with expensive and showy jewelry. I wanted to give the feeling of the carefree lifestyle of the 'rich and famous on the seven seas' in this piece - without going overboard! (See what I did there?!) The Swarovski crystal seashell pendant was the heaviest element, and the most beautiful, especially with the cuts down the shell's broad side. It deserved to be front-and-centre. On one side is an anchor recycled from a pair of mismatched earrings (the other earring was a steering ship wheel, recycled to be used in this necklace!), and the other side featured a small faceted black onyx bead, a cloudy lucite briollette, and the most stunning piece of faux coral you'll ever see while your eyes still have vision. The Crystallized Swarovski Elements beads and components are a new line of products from the reknown crystal company, with new inspirations derived from natural elements. Once I saw these coral pendants, available with 2-sprigs or 3-sprigs, I was in love. I also like to include an off-centre accent whenever there is a pendant centrepiece, just to jazz up the action and keep the eyes bouncing. The red coral piece couldn't be more perfect. The vintage filigree silver-plated beads are hollow, so they kept the necklace light, as well as allowing light to pass through to give the Swarovski crystal elements more attention.
I'm gonna wear this necklace to work very soon, and we'll see what kind of attention it gets!
Bermuda Triangle bracelet, no. 1
This bracelet was simply to stick to my guns, because I was really fascinated with the Swarovski Bermuda Blue crystal triangle component and its faceted colours. Green, blue and turquoise are my 'power colours', and it found itself close to the first on my list. The irony of the name of the colour and the shape of the component was the obvious inspiration for the name and theme! The Swarovski crystal fish pendants and starfish pendants were originally intended for asymmetrical earrings for my original necklace idea, but they found a very suitable home here on this bracelet, keeping with the 'deep sea' theme. The turquoise chips I had purchased from Agnes on Etsy.com were a great match (I had just enough left over after using them in lots of other projects!), and added those with the Swarovski crystal peridot rondelles that give a little mysterious green glitter, like the Bermuda waters themselves. The Swarovski Galactic crystal rhinestones along the chain were originally listed as 'sew-on components', but they found themselves another use here! The shape they take along this bracelet remind me of the foam atop the waves when they hit a shore ... perhaps a deserted island in the Bermuda Triangle? A piece of rock quartz caged in sterling silver dangles at the end of the extender chain, a great fit to keep this bracelet 'down to earth' ... waaaaay down below it!
And now for something completely different ...
The TWILIGHT Collection - The Cullen Insignia necklace, no. 1
While choosing my bead selection, Nick had suggested finding elements to complete my Twilight-inspired collection, that I could make a necklace for the Volturi, the royalty-ruling class of the vampires in Stephenie Meyer's universe. I had thrown in a few small Swarovski crystal rondelle beads in jet and light siam red. It didn't quite end up in the Volturi's court, but I am rather happy with this result.
Being my name is Cassandra, I seem to have a few monogram pendants around only of the letter 'c'. It's rather fortunate that Ms. Meyer chose the surname Cullen for the vampire family in her saga, so that I was able to make this necklace with the materials around me! The letter pendant with the embedded rhinestones was a great fit, since using Swarovski crystals was the theme! I had also included a vintage coat-of-arms charm with a red background (not the same as the Cullen coat-of-arms featured in the movie - could only be so lucky!) Two Swarovski crystal rondelle beads in light siam sit atop the monogram pendant - an homage to the 'ultimate sacrifice' Bella would pay to become a member of the Cullen family. Along the necklace are a few Swarovski crystal rondelles in jet, as well as two small tigers eye beads, representing the colour of the Cullen's eyes when they're 'well fed', and considered an endearing characteristic about Edward to Bella. Everything about the necklace is lovely and subtle, with enough sparkle to match the diamond vampire skin in sunlight.
I think I'm gonna keep this one.
The TWILIGHT Collection - Sacrifice earrings
These Swarovski Galactic crystal sew-on rhinestones, the same as what's used above in the Bermuda Triangle bracelet, found itself a third placement - turned lengthwise, they reminded me of fangs. Hmmm. I say 'third placement', because they were originally on the Cullen Insignia necklace. I had removed them because I couldn't resist not making these earrings.
When it's a literal representation, there's really no need for crazy embellishment. These earrings are meant to be vampire fangs piercing skin, with small drops of blood surfacing. The design execution could not be done with anything else but with the brilliance of colour and intriguing facets of these Swarovski components. The cuts in the Galactic crystal sew-on rhinestones, especially the elongated ones on the broad sides, give a gleam in certain lights like the blade of a sharp edge, which in part inspired me to make these earrings. What versatility these crystals have!
I absolutely love these earrings, and will most likely be keeping these for myself ... well, for a while, anyway.
And these earrings will be a Christmas present to a special someone ... but I think she reads this blog, so I can't say. She'll just have to wait. (Dad - don't say anything, like last Christmas!)
Grapes of Joy earrings, no. 1
There was no doubt in my mind that I had to get something in the 'amethyst' family. There's one person I know that appreciates jewlery, and her birthstone is amethyst. Well, the other reason is because I really do like jewel tones in purple. There's something about a rich purple that makes you feel a little bit warmer inside. Amethyst is also known as a healing stone in some cultures, which could explain that 'warm, fuzzy' feeling.
Keeping with the 'everyday bling' that I know this particular person in mind would wear, I mixed adventurine chips in purple hues with these Swarovski crystal rondelles in amethyst. The bars were leftovers from a previous vintage necklace I had upcycled and thought it would give a little modern twist to such delicate colours. (I almost want to keep these, too.)
Last but not least ...
Found Art earrings, no. 2
You may remember these beauties from a previous Make n' Tell, waaay back in the old days. I had worn the previous form of these earrings quite often to work, and found one day that one was lost to me. I was slightly devastated, only because I couldn't really think of anything to do with just one leaf, now that I'd lost the other. Sure, I'd traced my steps, but with close scrutiny, and lots of eyes, we still couldn't find its lost mate. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Of course, Brent, our guitar technician at work, (whom you'll remember from great moments as being 'Jimmy Brent' for a night, and giving us an intimate moment with his favourite axe!) found the missing mate underneath his workbench. I was so relieved! It was time to be reborn, for a phoenix to rise from the ashes!
I had a few leftover Swarovski crystal rondelles in jet left over from using them in the Cullen Insignia necklace above, and thought I'd add them into my personal jewelry collection. They sit close to the earwires (fixed with a close latch backing, so I definitely won't lose these!) for some sparkle close to eye level, and replaced the agate stones dangling from the bottom of the leaves in its previous life with tigers eye chips to match the beads used above the leaves. (Actually, the same ones used above in the Cullen Insignia necklace, to represent the vampires' eyes!)
After all of this, I still have four Swarovski crystal rondelle beads in light siam left! I have an idea, surely, but I can't quite do it yet - this may require a visit to Artbeads.com's Jewelry Supplies section!
I'd like to give a big thank you to Duchess Erikson from Artbeads.com for giving me this opportunity and opening my eyes to new possibilities in new materials, and especially to share it with all of you!
Visit Artbeads.com today and check out the Crystallized Swarovski Elements section to explore new ways to give your unique designs a little more of the 'glitterati' treatment!
*Disclaimer: I had received these products free of charge from Artbeads.com and I am making an honest review of the products and have not been paid for this endorsement as it pertains to the products received.
Photography credit: Cassandra Watsham
Product pictures courtesy of Artbeads.com.