Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reaching for Stars, Showering Blessings

The Story Behind the Charm / Clasp / Bead Exchange - Counting Your Blessings

This is a fairly long post, with lots of photos and links to the wonderful folks who made the 'Counting Your Blessings' exchange swap such a success and so much fun from start to finish.
I also talk about this exchange in my Studio Saturday post over at the Art Bead Scene, with more photos there, too. I've started creating a necklace and a bracelet using the charms, when I finish I'll share how they turned out.

An outstretched hand, showering the blessings, with a shiny star over an inverted heart on the front of the little cotton amulet bags that bulged with their contents. This was my last image of the charm swap goodies as they headed to their new places before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Since then, I've waited to unveil all the details so every member of the swap could get their package first - not to spoil the surprise.

One definite benefit of hosting the exchange was that I was able to see every charm sent, to think about the receivers and try to assemble a group of charms that they would all enjoy. It was a form of extended friendship, long distance but still very real.

The first to arrive for the swap were these lovely heart charms from Gaea Cannaday, with a beautiful crackle under the glaze that made them very rustic and yet smooth to the touch and luminous.

I love ceramic beads, and have quite a few of Gaea's beads to use in jewelry designs. Her focal pendants are timeless and beautiful, too.

Lorelei Eurto sent a marvelous little charm, a found object skeleton key on a stamped copper sheet with the word 'Home' on it. And lovely gemstone beads as a dangle on each one.

Every key seems different, and I could tell they were authentically old keys. As she knows, I'm very fond of antiques. One of the hard things about hosting an exchange is having to part with all but one of all the beautiful things you receive!

Lorelei is very good at combining things in her designs that are unusual but have an unerring sense of belonging to each other after she works them together.

I thought I started to see a common thread running through the charms when these beautiful ceramic leaves were sent by Erin Siegel at Every Heart Crafts.

We are all thankful for the changing of the seasons, the warmth of our homes and being close to our loved ones.

These little leaf charms spoke to me of the unique quality in each person, the individuality we all contain and should cherish. A symbol of passing time, the natural world moving through the seasons.

New spring buds of leaves on the trees when the spring is arriving, the long shadows cast in mid-summer to cool us during the heat of the day. The brilliant changes of color in the autumn as the leaves begin to fall. And the wispy trunks of the trees in the winter, lightly coated with snow.

This little house charm, with its heart design and tiny doggie charm dangle, was created by Lisa Harrington.

The reverse side has the quaint old saying, 'Home is Where the Heart is' - which is so true.

It may look like there was a coordinated effort in making the charms match up well with each other, but it just happened that way. As the charms arrived, there was a story forming in the unity and uniqueness of each person's creations.

Mary Harding has a special way with clay, in making her lovely ceramic glazed toggle clasps. I thought she might send those, since the exchange was for beads / clasps / charms.

To my everlasting surprise and delight, she created and sent along a group of pendants and charms.

She sent me an extra little charm for hosting the exchange, so I have a cute little bird and a pretty flower drop bead. Aren't they wonderful?

She told me that being in the swap encouraged her into a new direction with her clay beads.

I think that's super! and I just love the little bird and flower beads, as well as all the other lovely pendants she sent to share with the swap group.

Cristi Clother is known also as 2ifbySea, and she was very generous in her swap items, including a lot of extras!

There were copper charms, links and a clasp, as well as colorful round number charms and a blue stick drop bead with the words 'Be Blessed' - a bonanza!

I plan to use all the components on a charm bracelet with more copper links and some twisted wire links, combined with some of the other pieces from the group's charms.

Right now they are spread out on my desk in a row, to plan out the order and arrangement that may work best together. I fiddle with them, moving them here and there.

Along with the lovely goodies, these creative superstars sent me little letters and notes that were beautifully designed. I'm putting them into a scrapbook to commemorate the exchange, and the nice sentiments that came along with them.

One of those was a card made by Heather Powers at Humblebeads, with the words 'Wisdom is the Beginning of all Blessings. Wear This Little Owl as a Reminder' - such a nice thought, with a wise little white owl in the photograph on the card.

Each owl charm had a different little pendant, I kept one for myself that had a copper disk and a leaf dangle. It will look great with the copper components for the charm bracelet.

I always pictured the owl charms that Heather makes as larger, this is such a teensy little bird! and the round disk bead that came with it has all my favorite colors in it.

I may make a necklace with just the disk bead and some chain, all on it's own and simple. Heather is so creative and very sharing of her knowlege and experience.

I owe Heather a great deal, she encouraged me last spring to go ahead and offer my bead creations to be sold on their own without being in a finished piece of jewelry, and she included me in the Art Bead Scene editors, first as guest editor and now as one of the regulars.

Of course, I do have a few photos of my charms to share, too.

I created some glass vials of gold flakes, putting the flakes into the vials and covering them with resin.

Let me say that if you are going to do this you should put some resin in each bottle right away because the resin starts to thicken up! The resin resists going into the opening in the vial if it's too thick.

I made eight of them and almost waited a bit too long. I created the translucent labels for the bottles and applied them to the glass when the resin had set up, popping the tiny cork into them and wrapping with brass wire for the hanger.

I found a source for more of the small glass vials, I want to make some more. They are so fun!

I must confess that a few of them were puns - 'GOOD' and 'LEAF'. Good As Gold - get it?
Gold Leaf?

I know, not such great play on word puns but they tickled me anyway. I love word games and puns, so I kept the one that says 'LEAF' myself and have plans to use it on my charm necklace.

I made a heart connector bead with two wire loops, and star or leaf charm drops from fused glass.

And a round brass connector bead with the numbers '1' and '2' stamped on them. Like the rhyming counting song, 'One, Two, Buckle My Shoe' from childhood memories.

A little word charm stick that said either 'HOPE' or 'LOVE' also went to the charm group.

Do you see the repeating designs that I noticed, icons of things that symbolise blessings to all of us in the charm group?

Leaves. Hearts. Houses. Keys. Numbers. Words. Birds.

Isn't that amazing?

That's what I was thinking to myself as I tucked them all into the little cotton quilted amulet bag, gave them a final pat and sent them to the others.

I hope you enjoyed following along on this charm exchange experience. If you have a chance to participate in one sometime, be sure to do it!

A big 'THANK YOU' to everyone who went along on this journey with me. You are all very loving and extremely talented people - I'm so happy I know you.


Lorelei Eurto said...

Excellent post Lynn! Thank you for being the catalyst of this most excellent adventure!

Lucid Moon Studio said...

Very nice write up about our swap! You always write in such a captivating way! Thanks again for coordinating the swap and all that you have done to make it a great experience :)


Cristi Baxter Clothier said...

Lynn, thanks for a wonderful post. I'd like to organizing some type of swap soon as well. Any ideas are welcomed...

Amanda said...

I can't wait to see what comes out of these swaps!

I adore the sort of frosted look that is behind the lettering on the gold leaf bottles!

Mary Harding said...

What a wonderful write up of our Blessings swap. I was so interested to read about all of the participants. I am glad that I was able to be part of this. thank you again for making it happen.

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

I am so anxious to see what all of you make with the results of the swap! I've made one necklace using several of the pieces and I know you all are super creative - can't wait!

Erin Siegel said...

Beautiful write up on the swap, Lynn! Both here and at the Art Bead Scene. I think you captured the essence of the charms in your writing as well as the person who made them. It is pretty amazing that the charms go so well together both in color and in the themes! Just goes to show you we are all connected! Thank you for making this such a delightful and special experience for all of us!

Gaea said...

Wow! Thank you! A treasure trove of inspiration and knowledge. A blessing indeed!