Month: June 2011


A Beaducation: The ABS Muffin Tin Challenge | Elysian Studios

A Beaducation: The ABS Muffin Tin Challenge

Categories: Artists at Play, blog hop, Elysian Studios, jewelry

5877845010_aa89fd0038_z-5887374 Once again, Heather Powers of Humblebeads has inspired the Art Bead Scene community to get creating! The Challenge was simple: take a 12 cup muffin tin and fill it with all the components you would need for twelve different jewelry projects.  The goal: complete them in one week! 

This proved to be quite challenging for me, but I am so happy I dove in and gave it a try! Let me share a few things I learned along the way:

1. Stringing magazine is an invaluable resource.  With a task of twelve pieces in front of me, and a short deadline, I chose to break out my magazines and try some of the gorgeous designs I had been swooning over.  The process forced me to use a variety of new techniques and materials. (I have credited the original design inspiration below each photo)

2. Just because you pick out a design and all of the components in a brilliant color scheme, doesn’t mean they will actually work.  Bead hole sizes and stringing material thickness are a consideration not to be overlooked!

3. The bead reamer can be your friend (for the above problem), but you better be patient and bring plenty to drink. (You have to keep the bead and the reamer constantly wet…but wine helps take the edge off your frustration!)

4. Dyed beads and gemstones may not be colorfast. I started with some blue-dyed quartz, but the color all rinsed off when I was reaming the holes!

5. I love some wirework! Stock your jewelry with all gauges of copper, sterling silver and silver plated wire.  Be sure to keep each variety of wire in its own plastic baggie labeled with the material and gauge. It’s very easy to get in a creative frenzy and get your wire mixed up!

6. Making your own wire components (clasps and earring wires) is actually quite simple! It is cost effective, and allows you more creative freedom.

7. Liver of Sulfur really isn’t that hard to use to patina the metal in your jewelry, but whew! does it stink!

8.  Art Beads and handmade components make all the difference in your jewelry, and are worth the added expense! I have credited any handmade components below the photos.

9. Be flexible when you’re making jewelry.  You may have to adapt your design due to unforeseen problems, or you may have to edit out some of the materials you thought you’d use. However, this may allow you to stretch your supplies to make a few extra pieces!

10. The “Muffin Tin Method’ can be applied to a lot of creative endeavors, and is a great way to push yourself to create a collection of work.

Without further ado…
here are my twelve new pieces of jewelry!

Inspired by Patti Gustafson in 2011 Bead Buyer’s Guide, Brown Ceramic beads hadmade by MaryAnn Carroll

Inspired by Erin Siegel in Stringing Spring 2011

Inspired by Lisa Petrillo in Stringing Summer 2011

Inspired by Gaea Cannaday in Stringing Summer 2011, Polymer Clay Key Focal handmade by Erin Fickert-Rowland

Polymer clay rounds handmade by Humblebeads

Inspired by Denise Yezbak Moore in Stringing Summer 2011, Ceramic focal and coordinating rounds by MaryAnn Carroll,
Polymer Clay toggle clasp and Silk ribbon handmade by Erin Fickert-Rowland

Ceramic Rounds handmade by MaryAnn Carroll

Inspired by Cynthia Dies in 2011 Bead Buyer’s Guide

Inspired by Erin Strother in Stringing Summer 2011

Inspired by Cynthia Thornton in Enchanted Adornments, Pewter Heart focal handmade by Green Girl Studios


Clasp inspired by my friend Shannon of For My Sweet Daughter

On another note, many of you have inquired about where all of my original work is available.  I am working on building a new online shop and hope to have it up and running soon!

Art Bead Scene has posted a list of the Muffin Tin Challenge participants.  Stop by to see what other jewelry artists have created!

Spread The Love, Share Our Article

  • icon-mini-delicious-4203078
  • icon-mini-digg-3448305
  • icon-mini-stumbleupon-1219365
  • icon-mini-technorati-2207437
  • icon-mini-twitter-5093697

Summer Reads: The Gardner Heist | Elysian Studios

Summer Reads: The Gardner Heist

Categories: Art History, Art Tours, Book Reviews

gardnerheist-8533619 The Gardner Heist is a thrilling recount of the world’s largest unsolved art theft, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA.   On March 18, 1990, two men broke into the museum and stole a dozen masterpieces worth over $500 million dollars.  Historically significant works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas, along with other precious artifacts, slipped into the dark underbelly of crime.  

“Storm on the Sea Galilee” by Rembrandt

Ulrich Boser joins a growing list of investigators who become obsessed with this crime and work countless hours for years on end to try to return these masterpieces to humanity.  There’s hair raising accounts of various criminals, gangsters and art thieves that all have some sort of connection to the Gardner Theft. 

Boser also takes time to elegantly depict the lost paintings and their significance.  “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” was the only seascape painted by Rembrandt, and “The Concert” by Vermeer is considered the most valuable painting currently stolen, with an estimated value of over $200,000,000.  You are compelled to weep when you read the horrific acts committed against these treasures of human achievement.

“The Concert” by Vermeer

One of the most beautiful elements of “The Gardner Heist” is the compelling stories of the good people involved in the search for the missing art.  Detectives, FBI agents, Art Historians, Restorers and Conservationists, as well as the loyal patrons and employees of the Gardner Museum all lovingly work to return the art to its rightful home. 

Because the case is unsolved, you end the book with a sense of disappointment, but the knowledge you gain about Art’s value, Art Museum practices, and  Art theft, investigation, and recovery makes this a fascinating read!

Up Next….


What are you reading this summer? 

Spread The Love, Share Our Article

  • icon-mini-delicious-4203078
  • icon-mini-digg-3448305
  • icon-mini-stumbleupon-1219365
  • icon-mini-technorati-2207437
  • icon-mini-twitter-5093697

Unblock Your Creativity: Using Morning Pages | Elysian Studios


Photo by Christopher s. Penn via Flickr

Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” includes the daily practice of “Morning Pages” as an essential tool in the path to unblocking one’s creativity.  Morning Pages is simply a daily ritual of writing three pages of “stream of consciousness” writing.  This must be done first thing in the morning, as the purpose is to get your creative brain flowing, thereby releasing any “gunk” in your mind.  Similar to the first morning stretches, or eating breakfast, to awaken your body and get your metabolism working, these pages are to become essential in awakening your mind each day. There is no right or wrong content or method, the key is to just do it, and do it daily.

Photo by jjpacres via Flickr

This writing is not meant for an audience.  You may not even want to revisit what you have written.  It is merely a personal daily exercise to connect with your inner creativity, and to release the thoughts and fears that inhibit your performance each day.  I have just started my practice, and plan to continue it for many years to come.

Since I will be collecting a lot of notebooks, I’d love something beautiful to write in, and consistency of the notebook collection would be nice.  Writing in something that feels more special than just a utilitarian notebook creates motivation to pursue your practice. 

Coincidentally, my children have just brought home a collection of scarcely filled composition books from school.  I’ve claimed these mismatched notebooks for myself and transformed them into beautiful fabric covered journals with ribbon bookmarks for writing my Morning Pages. You can easily do this too!

Make Your Own Fabric Covered Journals


You will need:

Composition notebooks

Fabric (heavy enough to hide pattern/writing of notebook)
Ribbon (grosgrain will not fray)
Spray Adhesive, plus extra white glue to secure corners


Lay the book flat, with the exterior facing up.  Place the notebook on a work surface, like a cardboard box or craft paper.  Spray adhesive liberally over the notebook cover.


Press ribbon down along the spine of the notebook.  Position the end of the ribbon so it is about one inch above the edge of the notebook.


Flip the notebook over on top of the wrong side of your fabric. Press down.


Flip the book and fabric over and smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles.


Fold the notebook closed so that the fabric is sufficient to cover all the way around the notebook.  If the notebook doesn’t close properly, you can pull up the fabric, respray the adhesive in the problematic area and re-smooth.


Open the notebook, and using scissors, trim the excess fabric from the edges.

 5813755548_ba4a2ed688_z-1664262 Trim the ribbon into an attractive diagonal or dovetail end for your bookmark.  If your ribbon begins to fray, add a little Fray Check or white glue to stabilize the end. 5813184403_04374b204d_z-7076659

You now have a pretty notebook, with a handy bookmark, in which you may unleash your inspired writing!


Have you ever written Morning Pages? Do you have a regular writing routine? Would you like to start this habit with me? I’d love to hear about how you unblock your creativity and get your ideas flowing!