New Jewelry Displays

A few weeks back, I happened to go into the Hallmark store down the street -for thank you cards. Found out they were closing up shop and they were selling everything.

Did I get the thank you cards -no. Did I snag a good deal on some displays -oh yeah!

Picked up two white wire displays, perfect for petite earrings and key chains. I find creating petite earrings is addictive. As a result, I tend to make (and have in stock) quite a few pairs. But on the rare occasion I do a show, there is never enough table space to really put them all out. Now, I can pop them into some small zip lock bags and hang them on the display.

The three-tier bracelet display -finally!

I've been wanting one of these for a while now. From research I do know I saved a few bucks (and shipping), so it's all good.

In the last few days, I've been (mentally) cataloging my unfinished projects both in the house and for Crystal Allure.

And as if my project list isn't long enough, I can now add these:

The wooden platforms with the metal heart -well, it was unique and I know I can figure something out for it. Although, I will have to paint the wood -most especially since the "precious moments" logo is still on them. :-)

Of course since I use black tablecloths I was thinking of white paint, but hey, you never know. Will try to remember to post the 'newly painted' pictures of this project once it gets finished. I'm sure if this project could talk, it would be asking where is the end of the line....it's no where in sight.

Emma's Custom Crystal Prom Earrings

Back in May a woman emailed me and said that one of her co-workers told her about Crystal Allure. She said, "he told me by order of marriage he was obligated to mention his wife's jewelry business, Crystal Allure". Yes, that was my husband. He's a funny guy. :-)

Emma's Salmon Colored Mermaid Prom Dress with Beading DetailAmy contacted me about designing a custom pair of crystal earrings for her daughter's prom. We communicated the whole custom order through email. I provided her some direction on earring styles based on the style of the dress and asked her to send me some pictures of the dress.

Her daughter, Emma, had chosen a lovely mermaid style dress in a pinkish-salmon color with a silver and gold overlay. It was definately a beautiful dress!

Custom Handmade Crystal Prom Earrings Options by Crystal Allure Beaded JewelrySince the dress was patterned, I suggested a simple crystal earring style, possibly a drop of some sort. So I sent off to Amy a sample picture of crystal colors and four possible earring styles. Although it would be difficult to match the pinkish-salmon color in the dress, I did show a light rose crystal style, for comparison purposes.

Emma's Custom Crystal Drop Prom Earrings (E257)I offered my thoughts on the design and suggested since the dress was so beautiful and elegant, I would chose Style #1 for the style but I would choose Style #2 for the color. What you can't see in the pictures are the many gold-toned beads on the straps of the dress. By going with the golden shadow crystal, it also would not compete with the dress for attention.

Emma did choose exactly this design option and the earrings turned out stunning! Emma was kind enough to send some pictures after her prom and you can see the lovely Emma's Custom Crystal Drop Prom Earrings (E257) and her handsome date below.

Emma wearing her Custom Handmade Crystal Prom Earrings by Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry
Emma's Custom Crystal Drop Prom Earrings (E257)
Emma and her date for Prom 2010 | Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry

Emma had this to say about her custom earrings:

Hey Stephanie,
This is a little late, but I wanted to thank you SO MUCH for my prom
earrings! I've just sent a card along with my mom, so hopefully that gets
to you soon. Again, I loved them so so much and I cannot thank you enough.
Hopefully I'll have some more Crystal Allure earrings in my future :)
Emma


Awww! You're very welcome Emma! So glad you loved your earrings and it was my pleasure to design them just for you! Enjoy!

PS: Don't forget, crystal earrings are very versatile and can be worn for more than just special occasions! Pair them with a beaded top, jeans and viola' -instant style!

Happy Customer Shares Her Thoughts

Our daily lives can be so busy sometimes. But when a customer takes the time to write a thank you email or letter, it gives me great pride to share it with all of you.

Hello,
Just wanted to let you know that I received my order today in the mail and I
just love the bracelet and matching earrings. I like the story behind the
bracelet about a butterfly and taking a new breath. I am on a list for a
double-lung transplant and I am going to wear this jewelry proudly!

Thank you so much for thinking of us transplant individuals.

Beverly (Iowa)


You are very welcome Beverly! It is my pleasure to design beautiful awareness jewelry for such beautiful people! And good wishes are sent your way on your journey to transplant.

Sparkling Garden Friends

It is true, I love all things sparkly. And so why shouldn't my garden sparkle too? Right?!

I found both the frog and snail at a local store and just recently purchased the mushroom from an artisan at a local craft show (Fairport Canal Days). She had some fabulous items and it was hard to decide. But I knew the colors would go perfectly in our butterfly garden.Of course, I took the pictures at night...so they don't really sparkle in the pictures like they do during the day. But I just had to share with you.

When I'm not beading, I'm in the garden. In fact, we recently cut down the tree next to our porch so that will be the next garden challenge..to landscape there so that it shows off our wrap around porch. I figure by the time I get around to finishing it and liking how it looks, it'll be fall. :-)

There are some fabulous new summer jewelry designs coming, I just need to get better pictures and get some complementary pieces finished before I do the official announcement. So, gotta run...busy, busy, busy...

Lampwork Bead Winner

A special thank you to Dawn (Lavender Dawn Handmade Lampwork Beads) for offering such beautiful beads for the contest. The lucky winner is ROBIN!! I've made contact with her and she should get her beads any day now. Can't wait to hear back from her.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by, read the introduction and left a comment. I love giveaways and I'm happy to see so many fellow artisans participate.

Don't forget to sign up to Behind the Designs Studio Blog, by either feed or email (located in the upper, far right column). That way, you'll never miss a post or a giveaway!

Thank you everyone!

Guest Post: Lavender Dawn Handmade Lampwork Beads

I had the unique opportunity to be introduced to Dawn M. Lombard of Lavender Dawn Handmade Lampwork Beads. I've always been fascinated by the artistic craft of blown glass and lampwork bead making. In fact, I took a class myself and let me tell you, it's not easy. I'm sure, as with anything, over time you get used to the technique and the need to keep turning the bead while it's in the flame. But for now, I think I'll continue to admire the works of art of other designers.

Read below for a fantastic interview with Dawn and at the end of the interview, you'll find a contest to win a beautiful set of handmade lampwork beads, made exclusively by Dawn, for you!

How did you get started in lampworking?
I love telling this story. My sister Sara begged me to go with her and my mom to an introductory lampwork class. First off, I had never even heard of lampworking and second, I have no patience whatsoever – so the thought of me sitting at a torch and melting glass had absolutely NO appeal to me. But I reluctantly agree. Within the first hour, my life changed.

Prior to this class, did you have an artistic or craft history?
Ironically, I wanted to be a graphic designer when I started college and majored in studio art. At that time, hand-rendered graphics were still being done. My dad gave me the best tip in the world and explained that computers would take over the entire process. I trusted his judgment and changed my major to business administration (Marketing). My artistic side went dormant for many, many years.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
I never expected the process to be so meditative. I find molten glass extremely soothing and, after a long week of crunching the corporate numbers, I easily get lost in the fluidity of the glass. I also am fascinated by the chemical reactions that occur when you blend certain colors and use metal with the glass.

What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
At my studio, I use a Carlisle Mini CC with tanked O2 and propane. My boyfriend build me a kiln out of a large metal mailbox (it works fabulously and we love it – heats up very quick and was easy to make). At my boyfriend’s studio, we use a Hellcat and a Bluebird annealer. I don’t care for the Bluebird so much since it really takes a long time to get those firebricks up to temperature. I actually travel to his house with my homemade mailbox kiln.

What type of glass do you use?
I use both Moretti and Borosiliciate. I am very comfortable with soft glass and am still struggling with the boroscilicate -they both work very differently.

Do you have any favorite colors or combinations of glass rod to work with?
I absolutely love dark ivory soft glass with silver leaf overlay. The chemical reaction produces the most amazing blues and greens – very unique and organic looking.

Do you have a favorite product? (i.e., bead release, glass, etc.)
I am a die-hard fan of Fusion bead release. There is something very different about their mixture – it has more of a sand-like quality and I have never had it break on my while working a bead and all of my beads slide effortlessly off the mandrel.

Do you have a favorite technique?
The quickest way to make a dazzling bead that looks like it took a long time to make – simply buy a jar of Raku frit. The color it produces is amazing and applied over light opaque colors is just stunning. Just don’t cook it too long or it will burn.

Are you a “sets” person or a “focal bead” person?
Totally a focal person – I like to let the glass take over when I am at the torch. To make matching spacer beads is a mundane, repetitive chore to me – I do it but I sure don’t like it. It is a necessary evil if you want to make a stunning piece of jewelry though.

Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours?
Yes, it is the ‘Volcano’ bead – a cone-shaped bead with wisps of color. I just love making them.

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
I am still struggling with shaping borosilicate – you really need to ensure your footprint of glass evenly placed before you encase it in clear or it looks wobbly – I have a lot of those in my reject jar.

What remains a challenge for you in hot glass bead making?
Hard center-lined bicones are truly a challenge for me – it is the edge that I cannot get crisp – there must be a secret to getting that fine line.

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Of course I do – I still wear the very first one I made in that intro class 4 years ago. It is the ugliest bead I have ever seen but I wired it up and slipped it on a chain and wear it very proudly. I really helps to put things into perspective when I am especially hard of myself when I don’t have a ‘perfect’ beading session.

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Absolutely, I have moved away from bright color contrasts and moved to more subdued colors – I feel that provides me with a better expression of my vision of the beads – I love an organic, earthy feel and color creates that feeling.

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
When I didn’t understand the ‘tempering’ step of glass – warm the glass slowly or it shatters. Well, on a cold December night a rod of glass shattered and a piece stuck to my face. Very terrifying and so thankful it didn’t leave a scar.

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
During a live demonstration at one of my art shows, I could not stop the rod from shattering. It was a windy and cold October outdoor show and I was chasing the flame. Every time I caught the flame, the glass would shatter. It was so embarrassing and the folks who were watching didn’t believe I actually MADE the beads (because I couldn’t show them). Quite funny in hindsight.

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working?
Patience – I recently came to understand that working further away from the flame will let you work metals longer without burning. I was always going for that quick result (working too hot) and getting mud in the end. Stringer control is also all about heat control – it has gotten so much easier now that I work cooler.

Do you have a technique, method or tip to share?
Really clean those beads – even the smallest amount of bead release left on a bead can be seen and can leave ‘chalk’ marks on some necklace materials.

Another tip: an oil paint spatula is great for creating a flat end on beads!

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?
Patience!!!!!!!!! Don’t give up on the glass – PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE – one day it will all just come together. No great artist was a great artist from day one. It takes time and if you want it from deep down in your soul, it will come together.

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WIN THESE BEAUTIFUL LAMPWORK BEADS!

How to enter: Just leave a comment below noting one of your favorite beads from the Lavender Dawn shop.

1 winner will be chosen randomly June 21st and notified by email. Good luck!

About the contest beads: The two end beads are 11mm wide, the three middle are 12mm wide, all five are approximately 1mm tall.

The beads were made with Italian Moretti glass (otherwise known as 'soft glass' or 'soda lime' glass). Dawn used a light ivory on the 2 smaller beads and ivory on the three others. Once the beads were shaped, she decorated them with a frit (broken pieces of glass) called Raku. Raku produces pretty shades of blue, brown and specs of red.

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Thank you to Dawn for a fantastic interview, glimpse into lampwork glass bead making and for offering such lovely lampwork beads for the blog contest.

Contests & Giveaways

We're just weeks away from summer officially starting, so let the fun begin! I'm just getting back from vacation and trying to get back into the swing of things...what better way than with a contest AND a giveaway?!

Organ Transplant Awareness Ribbons Bracelet (B105)
For the first time eva, Crystal Allure is offering its most popular Organ Transplant Awareness Ribbons Bracelet (B105) in a contest being held by Lauren over at Shooting Stars Mag Blog. Wrap yourself in HOPE with this sparkling crystal organ transplant bracelet finished with a beautiful butterfly charm!

Thank you to Lauren for hosting the giveaway, the write up and kind comments!

Bali Star Organ Transplant Awareness Earrings (E239) with Tree Agate GemstoneAnd, to keep true to the awareness and cause jewelry theme, receive a free pair of matching Swarovski Crystal earrings with every Awareness Jewelry purchase, made at Crystal Allure, during the month of June!

The free pair of earrings will be sterling silver and will be designed to complement the awareness bracelet you purchase.

Good luck to everyone and although today is overcast and rainy (where I am) I hope you're having a funshine day!