Oh, oh, oh! What a delightful package was waiting for me when I returned from vacation yesterday. (You didn't even know I was gone, did you?!) Ruth Rae and Kelly Snelling's incredible collaborative book "A Charming Exchange" is here! I love this book so much. Yes, I'm honored to have a few pieces of jewelry published in it but, even if that wasn't the case, I would love this book. It's beautifully written (mostly by me dear friend Kelly) and beautifully executed. The photos are lovely but, even more important, the projects are absolutely fabulous...really unique. There are many step-by-step projects, but this book is not your average how-to. This book is all about sharing and collaboration between artists. Most of the projects are of a collaborative nature and the results are inspiring. So, let me dispense with the excited blabbering and show you a little preview!
"Gothic Romance" necklace by Catherine Witherell
When I joined Ruth's charm swap group, way back in the summer of 2006, I never dreamed we would have such wonderful camaraderie or that so much creative energy would be shared. One of the projects the group did for the book was a round robin style piece of jewelry. The originating artist made the basic piece then passed it on to four other artists who then added their magical touches. Catherine's stunning piece (above) was from this swap and is one of my favorites. Catherine is one of the most creative and original jewelry artists I know. She cleverly created a felted heart and precious metal clay cross as her centerpiece. She made every one of those fabulous, round links by hand. You can see my contribution in the vintage chandelier crystal and rosary wrapped, red pearls.
"History Lesson" necklace by Crystal Neubauer
contributing artists: Ruth Rae, Catherine Witherell, Jessica Moreau-Berry and Deryn Mentock
I fell in love with Crystal's piece for the round robin immediately when I saw it. What's not to love? Crystal is so talented at bringing together bits and pieces of everyday life and creating something meaningful. Her camera lens focal piece is gorgeous! Jess made the precious watch charm.
When I got this piece, the focal was a bit loose on it's hammered wire bar so I added some vintage bark cloth wrapped in wire. I also added a wrapped quartz crystal and some very special charms to the chain:
My mom's neighbor, knowing my penchant for unusual items, gave her some puppy teeth which my mother then passed on to me. You know, those sharp little teeth your puppy looses when he gets his big dog teeth? They just seemed like the perfect element to add to Crystal's necklace.
"One Wild Thought" necklace by Kelly Snelling
One of the group's favorite themes was "found objects". This piece, by the sweet and gifted Kelly, shows how creative and talented artists can elevate ordinary materials to extraordinary heights.
I think this bracelet was a favorite of everyone in the group. It's just so danged adorable! Holly Stinnett used her vintage paper dolls to make charms for this whimsical piece. Polymer clay artist Michael Johansson contributed the amazingly detailed "cupcakes" and "cookies" and Ruth Rae brought it all together with her amazing jewelry making skills.
Now I'll show you something that is my pride and joy. I hope that's not too conceited to say but...I really love this next piece...the meaning behind it. It's hard to believe I made it over a year ago in May of 2007!
"Shepherd's Amulet Bag" necklace by Deryn Mentock
One of the things our little jewelry group did was to make special talisman pieces. My girl Sally Turlington made a fantastically clever piece that I won't show here (much as I'd like to, I can't show everything in the book!). My piece is this one, "Shepherd's Amulet Bag." You might recall a sneak peek of it from this post.
Long, long ago and far away, my mom and I found this sweet, tiny, leather coin purse on one of our junking trips. I picked it up, knowing it would make a great jewelry element some day. I wasn't even going to join in on the talisman project but, when Ruth asked me about it, this little purse popped into my head and the idea for this piece came to me fully formed. It was truly inspired...not by me but by the Shepherd. The image on the purse is one from my collection of vintage prayer cards. In the book, you'll find step by step instructions on how to apply the image.
The Shepherd’s Amulet Bag was inspired by one of my favorite passages in the Bible from John 10. This passage tells the story of the Good Shepherd and his flock. Christ is, of course, the Good Shepherd and we are His flock. Verses 27 and 28 speak to the Shepherd’s dedication to His flock: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” The devotion offered to the sheep and the protection provided by the Shepherd is deeply moving to me.
I added a tourmaline stone with a vintage brass cross; representative of the Shepherd’s sacrifice. Inside the bag is the Shepherd’s “guidebook”. It consists of pages from John (of course!) compiled into a tiny book. It’s bound with vintage brass trim, green garnet beads, vintage rosary beads and a vintage religious medal that carries a stamping of the Shepherd Himself.
The chain of the necklace contains some very special elements. On one side is a piece of petrified wood dug from the riverbank of the Shoshone river between Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone; two of my favorite places on earth. The petrified wood represents the Shepherd’s staff.
On the other side of the chain is a stone heart given to me by my younger son who is always on the lookout for things to give me for my artwork. The stone heart represents the heart the Shepherd has for His flock: The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep” (Jn. 10:11). The chain also contains hammered links made with wire and green garnets. The bright green color of the garnet beads represents the green fields the flocks pasture in. The rest of the chain is composed of vintage chain, twisted wire jump rings, wrapped links made with tourmaline beads and a twisted wire clasp.
All the parts of this piece were hand made; twisted, hammered and bent into shape with these scriptures and verses in mind. Although I’m not superstitious, and don’t believe in the power of objects, this amulet necklace reminds me where the real power in my life lies…with the Good Shepherd.
"Animal Crackers" necklace by Jennifer Rowland
"Animal Crackers" necklace by Jennifer Rowland
So, that's my review of "A Charming Exchange". In a word...it's fabulous. There are over 25 projects, at least 35 pair of earrings and tons of step-by-step instructions. If you're at all interested in mixed media jewelry, this is the book for you!
Collaborative earrings by Maija Lepore, Kelly Snelling and Deryn Mentock
Did I mention earrings? We did the most fabulous collaborative earring round robin. There were three of us in each group. The first artist started the earrings then passed them on for the other two to work on. My earring group included the extremely talented (and fun!) Maija Lepore and Kelly Snelling. If you like these, you should see what the other artists did! Oh...I almost forgot...Ruth and Kelly have set up a separate blog just for this project. It's called, what else, A Charming Exchange. If you want the latest info on the book or group or want to ask a question about one of the projects, take a look at the blog.