Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Most Challenging Week

Are you the kind of person who avoids a challenge like the plague, or who can’t resist the gauntlet when it’s thrown down?  In case you hadn’t guessed, I happen to fall into the latter category.  I love a good challenge – nothing seems to get my creative juices flowing quite like a bit of sport.  It doesn’t seem to matter if there are valuable prizes offered, or merely the bragging rights, you can usually count me in.

This week I’ve been working on jewelry designs for two challenges:  Lorelei Eurto’s Michaels Challenge and my own Dollar Store Challenge.

In case you’re just tuning in, Lorelei issued a fun challenge a couple of weeks ago.  She went to her local Michaels and chose 6 strands of beads (that were on sale) plus a length of chain.  She then challenged her blog readers to do the same and design a necklace using the materials from Michaels plus two others.  After you’ve finished enjoying today’s amazing blog entry, click on the next blog in the list at the bottom of this post for the Michaels Challenge Blog Hop.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t find one of the beads at Michaels (the white cinnabar coins).  You didn’t think that would slow me down, did you?  To the challenge supplies I added an assortment of brass beads and findings and some gorgeous blue-green Czech glass squares.

I love the way the brass emphasizes the feminine palette of “Elephant Rides.”  I gotta tell ya, though, that this necklace was a challenge in more than one way.  I am a very logical, step-by-step thinker, and it’s very difficult for me to wrap my brain around an asymmetrical design.  Yet I think the results are worth the struggle, and hope you agree.

A closeup of the focal of Elephant Rides
Simple danglies
This week has been somewhat stressful, and I can’t think of a better stress-reliever than hammering on metal.  I’ve been eager to see where the metal gift card holder that I found at Dollar Tree would take me.

Remember this gift card box?
I began by using shears to cut off the rim of the box lid, resulting in a flat sheet of metal.  I hope you’ll bear with me – I’m new to metalworking and don’t own a jeweler’s saw yet.  It’s on my wish list, but meanwhile I’m making do.  I was amazed at how well I was able to make do with these shears I bought from Kim St. Jean.

To envision where I wanted to end up, I laid out the beads I had purchased with this project in mind.  I definitely had polka dots on the brain!

Note:  I don’t recommend using a Sharpie for this next step!  I then traced circles onto the front of the sheet metal with a Sharpie, fully expecting that I could remove the ink later with nail polish remover.  Unfortunately, some ink residue is left behind on the enamel, so use a wax pencil or other non-permanent writing implement.

Don't use a Sharpie!
 My shears worked quite well for cutting out these discs, although they did scratch the enamel in a few places (thankfully not inside the circles).  After cutting them out, I sanded the edges of the discs and use my dapping block set to create a gently convex surface.  Note to self:  hammering on dapping punches relieves almost as much stress as pounding on metal does.
Before using the dapping set
 All that was left was assembly.  I punched two holes in each polka dot dome so they could be used as links.  I then made additional links with brightly colored mother of pearl coins and silver-plated wire.  I ended up fashioning a clasp, and I’m not terribly pleased with the way it turned out.  (Note:  the bracelet is at the bottom of the photo below.)

Completed bracelet is at bottom of photo
 I played around with quite a few variations for earrings.  These are my two faves – which do you like better?

So what have you made recently with your dollar store bargains?

Michaels Challenge Blog Hop list:

Lorelei's Blog
Mary Harding
Hilary of Fryestyle
For My Sweet Daughter
My Life Under the Bus
Kristie of DreamSomeDesigns
Linda's Bead Blog & Meanderings
Copper Diem

Andrew Thornton
Raida of HavanaBeads
Erin of Treasuresfound
Molly of BeautifullyBrokenMe
Beading by Malin de Koning

Deborah M Purdy
Spirited Earth

Erin Siegel Jewelry
beads by breul
Beads for Busy Gals
Cynths Blog
Nayas Organized Chaos
Crafty Hope
2 catch a hummingbird

Rosebud For the Love of Beads
Jamberry Song
Peacock Fairy
Elysian Studio Art
Designs by Debi
sweet girl design

Silver Rose Designs
Tropic Beads (you are here)
Imaginative Jewelry
Magnolia Attic


  1. Your challenge piece turned out great! That little elephant focal is the sweetest!! Thanks for playing along!

  2. I too love the little elephant! I also found great fun in the challenge, Enjoy your blog hopping : )

  3. Love that little elephant! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I like how you incorporated the white chain, so simple. . . Good work!!

  5. As I read Loris Blog Im coming to your page. I think your necklace Challenge came out really Lovely so sweet and intresting! I think youve done a really Nice job!

  6. Lisa, your necklace is beautiful. I love it!

    I have not been able to get to the nearest dollar store to participate in your challenge. I hope to get there next week.

  7. I like the charm focal in your Micheal's Challenge piece. The beads are well balanced in your asymmetrical design! Love the chain on the side, too! The matching earrings are really cute!

  8. love the necklace! you have some great tips on your blog!

  9. Great piece! Really elegant. The asymmetrical elements really bring out the textures and subtle palette of the components. Nicely done. Thanks also for the additional Dollar Store challenge. There are lots of fun components that can be found right under your nose.

  10. Working on something asymmetrical can be really difficult, I agree! But the end is so worth it. Your necklace is beautiful, I love that elephant! And what a great challenge, the Dollar Store, who'da thunk? ;)

  11. The challenge piece is lovely! I'm really enjoying the focal and clasp and they were great choices to go with these colors. You made it a cool, African-looking piece; it evokes the coolness of a tree's shade on the Serengeti. Beautiful piece. :)

  12. P.S. Am loving your fun tutorial, too!

  13. wow, so much creativity. i love the bits you added in, they went perfectly.

  14. I love your Michael's challenge piece, and I really enjoyed your dollar store challenge too - what a great idea using tins!

  15. Lovely necklace. I esp. like the way you used the white chain with another chain. Also your focal cluster with the elephant is great. And I love your explanation of your Dollar Tree necklace. What fun.

  16. Well I think you pulled off asymmetrical just fine!

    Love the tin box bracelet!

  17. love the asymmetrical design and the monkey and the elephant and and and. I would love to wear this. I also love how you used the white chain. Very clever.

  18. What a beautiful necklace! The Czech glass beads look fantastic with the rest of the components, and I love the way you incorporated the chain - great job!

  19. THANK YOU, everyone, for your generous comments!!! And thank you, especially, to Lorelei for sponsoring this challenge. It was a blast, wasn't it? I'm still hopping my way through everyone's blogs, and am loving all the eclectic designs made from the same assortment of beads!

  20. Lovely necklace!! Your asymmetrical design looks great - love your focal & dangles!


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