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Art Elements Component of the Month

I just love the team over at Art Elements!! Since joining I have been inspired to produce WAY more work than I would ever have created 'alone'. It really does take a village for me to get creative and work in my studio!
Every month there is a theme or a component of the month challenge at Art Elements.
Sugar skulls were the component of the month for October and was hosted by Jennifer Cameron. Jen creates beautiful lampwork glass beads and headpins. Fittingly, for October she created glass sugar skulls and distributed them amongst the group.  I also received the wonderful antique key with the glass bead on the end:-)
As soon as my sugar skull arrived I knew exactly what I wanted to create. (haha)
I happened to be working on the caged trinkets tutorial for the AE blog when the skull came so I had wire weaving on my mind. I cut some pieces of wire, flattened the ends into paddle shapes and twined thinner wire around the padddles. I ended up with a flat woven piece that fanned out at the top. Like the photo below.

I then wired the sugar skull onto the woven piece and HATED it! It did nothing to enhance Jen's work.
As I was taking the skull off the woven wire thingy I saw a piece of copper that I had cut and shaped a while back to be a loose bezel round a cab (which never came to fruition). When I put the sugar skull in the copper shroud I loved it-until I began to create the necklace for it.
Here's that version below.

The wire it was hanging from was just way too long and the ceramic spike from Scorched Earth that I hung from the bottom was just way tooo much. I could've shortened the wire it was hanging from and switched out the spike dangle but I didn't. I decided that I would just do a complete turn-around. And I was really determined to use that blue spike dangle! I thought the color blue of the spike blended so well with the 'eye' glass bead on the key as well as matched the eyes of the sugar skull.
Sooooo, then I decided to try my hand at some micro macrame. I did a LOT of macrame back in the 70's and have done a few very simple knotted necklaces but after seeing fellow AE member Cooky Schock's lovely work, I thought why not give it a try.
Here is that version.

Meh. Note to self: practice your half hitches before attempting to create something pleasing to the eye. It's not completely horrible but then again it's just not working for me. I wanted to enhance Jen's sugar skull and the macrame wasn't highlighting anything other than my need to work on my knots.
Sooooo.... I left it on the work table for a week, mulled it over at 4 am when I couldn't sleep and decided to revisit the copper shroud and make the sugar skull into a grim reaper'ish looking fella.
 Reluctantly, I changed out the blue spike and used a glass headpin from Nikki Thornburg. The black/white of the glass headpin leads your eye up to the mouth of the skull quite well I think. Plus the headpin isn't as long as the spike was and the blue of the spike was such an 'attention hog' that the black/white combo looks so much better. What do you think?
Besides, I had already planned to repeat the blue of the glass bead on the key and the skull eyes in the necklace with sodalite beads. I definitely have enough blue going on without the spike.
As you can see in the photo above,  I used copper that I hammered into bone-shaped paddles and used the blue sodalite beads between the 'bones'.
I had a bit of a dilemma with the sugar skull pendant sliding all around the key and also the copper wired loops holding the necklace also slipping. So I wrapped enough copper wire around the key between the pendant and the wire loops to keep them all pretty stable.
Here's a better look at that magnificent glass bead on the key & the sugar skull. Awesome work Jen!!!
Hopefully, after so many incarnations I have done justice to these beautiful glass pieces. I don't think I have ever re-made anything that many times.

The necklaces below aren't part of the sugar skull challenge but I wanted to share them since Halloween/Day of the Dead/All Hallows Eve/Samhain is almost upon us.
I've already worn the above necklace a few times. The raku pod came from Marianne Kasparian and the little skull came from Nikki Thornburg.
The one below is also a skull from Nikki Thornburg. She ended up looking rather queenly don't you think?
I am looking forward to seeing what all the other paticipants have created with Jen's sugar skulls.
Here's a list of everyone who decided to join the fun.

Guest Designers
Staci Louise Smith
Karin Grosset Grange
Solange Collin
Art Elements Team
Caroline Dewison
Susan Kennedy
Laney Mead
Claire Fabian
Diana Ptaszynski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Lindsay Starr
Niky Sayers
Lesley Watt
Cooky Schock
Jen Cameron

 Thanks for stopping by!


Anita said…
The grim reaper shroud for the skull is very original! <3 Reading about all that you tried to bring out the components of the necklace makes me appreciate it all the more.
Love the beadwork on the other pieces as well!
Niky Sayers said…
First of all I completely adore this post! I love how you showed the idea's that did not work and your thought process behind what you were doing. I am utterly in love with all of the necklaces that you created the attention to detail and balance is wonderful and just Wow!
Lindsay said…
I love the metamorphasis you went through Cathy - so glad you were able to document the whole process. I often have the same issues, but never remember to pick up the camera! It definitely worked out in the end, and now I need to look up Nikki Thornburg because your other pieces are fantastic too!
Laney said…
Love that shroud idea that is brilliant and really enhances the skull. Loved all your designs but the shroud really really works :)
Saraccino said…
I really loved how you took us with you through the creation process! I love your end result and to be honest.. when you switched from the copper bezel to the macrame I was like.... NO!!! The lose wrapping of the dark copper around the brigh skull gives such a beautiful contrast and manages to give a darker vibe (that I am personally drawn too ;) and aesthetic while still being so colourful!
Very beautiful post. I love all your designs but the piece with bone - shaped paddle and sodalite is my favorite. :)
Jenny said…
That copper shroud is delightfully spooky. I think its great symbolism paired with the key... and very Dia de los Metros/Samhain. The bones are a nice chains well. You really have been prolific! I of course, love it ALL>
OMG! I love the shroud around your skull, perfect! I also love that you took us through the process of your design. It makes me feel like I got a peek into your studio and thought process...priceless!
Lori in Blue Ridge, GA
Diana P. said…
Love that you shared all your trials with us. The finished piece is fantastic and VERY cool!
Caroline said…
Loved reading through your post, each design is fantastic... I really like the copper shroud, I"m glad you came back to that one!
Lesley said…
Cathy your copper shroud is just inspired - it adds a whole different dimension to Jen's bead. I think all you iterations have their strong points but I really do love your final piece so worth going through the process.
Karin G said…
This is so cool! Your piece is fabulous and I loved reading about your creative process.
Thank you thank you thank you for sharing all the different versions you went through to arrive at that truly inspired final version. It's amazing and that copper shroud is SO COOL! Love the final piece and the blog post.
stacilouise said…
I like going on the journey of your process. I like how it turned out, the copper chain you made ties in with the copper around the skull.
SueBeads said…
I was in Texas for two weeks, so I finally get to leave comments. I enjoyed seeing your process, I love the copper fold forming you did, and I love your other necklaces, especially the last one!

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