Monday, January 31, 2011

Business Woman - Jewelry Artist - MOM

Today's feature is Karen Snyder, Owner of OSebastian Chainmaille Creations.

In her Bio on Artfire, Karen states that she has been an 'avid crafter' for most of her life.  In reality, Karen is much more.  A former Corporate Sales executive, she brings her strong ability to move people together with her designer aesthetic to create a successful entrepreneurial venture, all the while being a stay at home mom to her energetic 4 year old son, Seb, and 2 year old daughter, Piper.

Nexus, one of Karen's signature designs, is available in a number of her pieces.  This weave is somewhat reminiscent of Japanese weave but there are parts that look a bit like Celtic Visions as well.  This is a lovely meandering configuration with lots of visual movement. 

Sterling Silver Nexus Necklace

Shown right is the Nexus Necklace.  Karen fashioned this design to sit just on the collar bone, sometimes called Opera length.

Below, the Nexus Pendant.  Karen suspends it from a chain she calls O's with a unique pendant holder.

O's Necklace & Nexus Pendant

Nexus Bracelet

The Nexus Bracelet, a natural match to the Nexus Necklace or Pendant.  Karen uses a double locking clasp on this one, which I love and do myself on more involved pieces.

Perhaps with a little persuasion we can get Karen to include earrings in her Nexus Collection.  :-)

Karen does lots of different earrings.  A large proportion of them are chainmaille based and the balance are either wire techniques or combinations of both the wrapped and twisted wires with chainmaille.  Karen even encourages her children to grow and develop their creativity by including them in some of the beadwork decisions.  This is especially true of her son, Seb.

Sterling Silver Wrapped Love Earrings

 First off we have a simply beautiful example of form and function.  Elegant and delicate, these are wonderfully understated while still being detailed enough for any gal to love.  Karen calls these Wrapped Love and I have a feeling these will be a big seller for the upcoming Valentine's Day gift boxes.

Color Explosion Earrings
Round Maille Flower Buds

Left, Color Explosion.  They sure are!!

Right, Round Maille Flower Buds are one of the many drop earrings that Karen does so well.  The entire length and overall balance of the earring makes it wearable by almost anyone.

Descending Loops
Contemporary and casual, Descending Loops are wonderfully structural and add a fantastic pop of color.  Imagine these with a favorite pair of jeans and a silk blouse for that day out with the girls or to add a pop of color to that little black dress for date night.

Left, yet another version of these in a wonderful ambery tone.

Karen does an amazing job of juggling the full time job of raising her children and also honoring her creative calling.  Her full body of work includes rings, earrings, bracelets, as well as chainmaille bags and small purses.  She also offers custom orders, for those who are interested.  It is well worth the time and effort to take a look at all Karen's OSebastion Chainmaille Creations has to offer.  I guarantee you will find something you love.

Find Karen at any of these places:

On Artfire:

On her own site:

On Facebook:

Stop by and take a look at all OSebastian's has to offer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Featured: Venus in Chains

Today's featured artists is Victoria Percy from Venus in Chains.

Victoria is someone with whom I am familiar with through the Artfire Guild system.  We are both members of the Artfire Chainmaille Guild and we both have a penchant for adding unique elements to chainmaille in order to make it more feminine and jewelry like.  

Japanese Chain Maille Bikini in Black Diamond and Red Crystal
 As you can probably see from the above image, this is NOT your local armourers chainmaille.  Victoria takes the concept of chainmaille and drags it kicking and screaming into the world of femininity with her innovative use of rose montees (also called mounted chatons).  The crystals add sparkle and glamor as well as structure to the pieces Victoria makes.  This particular item was the first thing I saw of Victoria's and when I saw it my first thought was to hang up my pliers but after a moment I thought, "How cool!  There is someone else who understands wanting to add set stones and sparkle to chainmaille.  To make it pretty."

Like so many of us who make jewelry, Victoria has added her special stamp to bracelets.   Combinations of rose montees and silver-plated wire make them all unique and absolutely fabulous.  Her bracelets offer the wearer and a great feminine look while still being edgy.

Swarovski Crystal Brick Bracelet in Padparadscha

This wonderful bracelet features the montees and rings arranged in a wonderful openwork 'brick' pattern.  The overall effect is light and lacy with tons of feminine charm. 

Girls Best Friend Bracelet in Sapphire Blue Crystal

Japanese maille weave is typically arranged in just a few geometric variations.  This one, the diamond variation, is adorned with Sapphire Blue montees.

The gem encrusted look is great for adding extra pizazz to evening wear or a stunning pop of color to everyday duds.

Diamond Meadows Cuff Bracelet
Red n Black Diamond Crystal

Two of my favorites from Victoria's bracelet collection, these feature the same basic construction.  The red and black, left, is a more traditionally sized piece.

The peridot green, right, bracelet is a stunning cuff that makes the statement "Here I am!"  The bracelet also won first place in the 2009 Fire Mountain Gems Competition in the findings category.

Crystal Flower Bracelet in Jet
Art Nouveau Bracelet in Light Rose

Slave Bracelet in Dark Blue

The pieces above are still more examples of the wonderful bracelets that Victoria makes with montees and rings.  The large image is a 'flower' configuration of the Japanese weave and has a classic look yet is all the while fun and modern.  In the smaller images are fabulous pieces that combine wavy and multi-strand jewelry components with the montees.  Each piece is more beautiful than the next.

Victoria describes her work this way:  "I am proud to say 'Crystal Chainmaille'(sic) is my trademark. The chainmaille pattern is completely unique and original. Growing up, I always loved chainmaille, and I studied multiple patterns, but I never found one that had the proper balance of beauty and power. I set out to find that balance in creating this pattern. It took years of research just to find the right materials: crystals with settings that I could ring in a pattern, just the right size jump rings to provide strength and support while allowing the piece to lay properly, and the right gauge chain. After all that work and research, I have developed a design that is feminine and beautiful yet strong and powerful, just like its wearer!"  I think we can all agree that her work definitely does find a harmony between beauty and power.

Many of the Necklaces that Victoria does match her bracelets and would work well in sets.  All of them are great as stand alone 'statement' pieces as well. 
 This necklace features the perfect balance between the crystal flowers and delicate bits of cable chain.  This is pretty enough to work as a fabulous wedding necklace but is not so elaborate that it would not work for a summery sundress at an afternoon picnic.

Crystal Flower Necklace In Amethyst

Crystal Flower Necklace in Sapphire
Girls Best Friend Necklace in Red

Left, The Crystal Flower necklace gives the wearer a sparkling underline to her pretty face.

Right, the Girls Best Friend Necklace adds sparkle and a bit of geometric fun to the elegant chain of diamonds.

Japanese Chainmaille Rope Necklace in Pink

 Bold!  Thick and Strong!  Unmistakably Venus in Chains!

The Japanese Rope is a masterpiece of design that would fit in with any attire.  Great for the executive who wants a splash of color to add to her corporate wardrobe or a fun loving soccer mom who wants something easy to wear that will light up her face, this piece fits the bill.  Though it looks like it would be heavy, the nature of the weaving makes it relatively light to wear and quite comfortable.

Unique earrings are also among the pieces you will find in Victoria's shop.

Red n Black Crystal Flower Drop Earrings
Japanese Chainmaille Rope Earrings in Pink

Left, a variation on the Crystal Flower design and right, small bits of the Japanese Rope suspended from simple ear wires.

Chainmaille Ribbon Earrings

Among the newer of Victoria's designs, these pretty Ribbons are a great look.  They are suspended from a simple earwire.


A less common piece among jeweler's but very common to maillers are the fabulous headpieces that were worn by maidens during Medieval and Renaissance times.  These gossamer head covers can be seen at Renaissance Faires all over the country.  These are among the prettiest I have seen.

Crystal Chainmaille Flower Headdress

This Headdress is an absolute vision and if I were to choose, I would call this one of my favorite of all Victoria's pieces.  It would be great for a bride and could be worn over or instead of a veil.  During Medieval times these were indeed used in that manner.

Fabulously lacy and delicate, this complicated looking piece is built from the Crystal Flowers that are a trademark of Venus in Chains (Victoria) and carefully measured pieces of cable chain. 

Crystal Flower Chainmaille in Peridot


Left is another style of headdress, also built from the Crystal Flower units that Victoria uses so liberally in her work.  It is called a circlet by Renaissance folks and is a reminder of the head jewelry that princesses and lesser noble women would wear during those by-gone times.  Those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans might recognize this style from the coronation scene when the King (Viggo Mortensen) sees Arwen (Liv Tyler)

Though I am not completely sure this is how bras came into fashion, these 'bikini' style tops look great as sparkling accessories for the somewhat daring among us.  Venus in Chains makes these lace pieces with the same flair and montee and ring construction that Victoria uses in all her designs.  When she lists these, the description states: "Great for Renaissance Festivals, Clubbing, belly dancing, and Concerts (looks great over your favourite band's T). Believe it or not, it is comfortable over a shirt or by itself; perhaps a bit cold though :)"   So here is my question:  Do you Dare?

Rock N Roll Chainmaille and Crystal Bra

The name of this one says it all.  Rock N Roll!!  The little dangles shimmer and glint with each movement adding even more appeal to this attention getting piece.  Almost makes a gal want to take up belly dancing just so she can wear something so gorgeous!  Sigh!

Red Crystal Chainmaille Bikini Top

Right you can see another style of bikini top.  Still just as lacy and shimmering but with the crystals held in place instead of dangling.  I love the chain that hangs below.

I wanted to close this feature with one of the most amazing pieces of work I have seen ever.  This is another of Victoria's award winners and was showcased in the Fire Mountain Gems Catalog.  She calls it her Celebration Lariat and I think it is just that... A Celebration of all the is possible when a talented designer takes up the challenge of making chainmaille jewelry while still maintaining their personal style.  

A Celebration Lariat

 If you are interested in taking a closer look at any of Victoria's work, the links beneath the images all work.  You can also access her shops at the following addresses:

Etsy:   This shop has lots of new pieces as well as some of the tutorials that Victoria has written for anyone who is interested in trying her techniques.

Artfire:   This shop features many of Victoria's peices but does not currently carry the tutorials.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Featured: Bobbi Maw

Today's Featured Artist is Bobbi Maw of My Wired Imagination Jewelry.

Bobbi is a wonderfully sweet and compassionate woman who specializes in wire based jewelry.  Her work is an inspiration for many of us who make jewelry and she is both an in-person teacher as well as fantastic tutorial writer.  On her Artfire blog she mentions coming to wire based jewelry after a car accident ended her career as a graphic designer, but you can see a lot of the artistic elements of that work in her jewelry.

Known to many of us as the Ring Queen, Bobbi does fantastic rings as well as tutorials so those of us who want to avail ourselves of "learning from the best" can.

Wire Wrapped Mosaic Opal Ring

Opal, a favorite of Bobbi features prominently in her work and this ring is an example of that.  A vibrant Mosaic Opal is expertly set in 14Kt Gold Filled. 
Crystal Waters Sterling Silver Ring

Among Bobbi's newest of designs, this is a version of her Marcella Ring.  Named after Bobbi's mom, this ring is a wonderful piece that she sells as finished work, tutorials for those who want to make their own and in kits, with all the necessary supplies included.  This one is called Crystals Waters
Fancy Prong Set CZ Ring

This is one example of Bobbi's Fancy Prong Ring for which she holds the Registered Copyright.  Though the tutorial shows a more basic version of the ring, this piece is still based on the same sound design priciples.  She lists the stone as a CZ and the wire is fabulous Gold Filled.

Handmade Knot Ring In Fine Silver

 This is Bobbi's Knot Ring.  This is a wonderful example of using traditional knotting techniques and moving them into the world of jewelry.  Bobbi sells finished rings as well as tutorials for this fabulous design.  In the listing for the tutorial, Bobbi states, "The design is loosely based on a combination of the Josephine Knot and Carrick Bend Knot, and inspired by Loren Damewood - ‘the Knot King’☺"

Bobbi's repertoire of designs is quite long and someone only needs to take a look at her Tutorial sites to see just how many wonderful designs she is responsible for.  From bracelets to pendants to earrings, Bobbi's creativity spans the gamut.  The tutorials are filled with extensive explanations for each step.  The images are clear and numerous making them easy to follow.  Bobbi's utmost concern is making sure her students have the best possible experience making their jewelry.  She strives to develop the love of creation in her students.

Amazing by itself, The Wire Wrapped Swarovski Bracelet, above, is the jumping off point for her Crystal Hoop Earrings, shown right, and the Marcella Ring, shown left.  All three tutorials highlight Bobbi's experience and design prowess and are great for beginners to more advances students to work with.

 Bobbi's 2 Hinged Cages are an amazing and unique way of keeping special things close to your heart without having to worry about holes for pendant bails or damaging your precious keepsakes.  These cages are also a great way to show off a fabulous stone specimen.  They can be decorated and personalized in any way someone would like.  Bobbi's designs all give the student tons of options for making the pieces their own while still keeping the instructions very thorough.

The Ornate Double Terminated Focal Clasp is another example of genius.  The piece can be made/used as either a focal for a bracelet or pendant OR it can work as a clasp with a perfectly hidden closure that adds a lot of characer to any design it is incorporated into.

I invite you all to go and take a look at Bobbi's finished work in her Artfire Shop or any of the tutorials she has on offer at her Etsy Shop.  Bobbi also sells complete kits to make the pieces she sells instructions for.

Please enter your thoughts and comments.  I would love to hear about your experiences with Bobbi's work.