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Shaking off the winter doldrums with Pantone Spring Colors

Where does your inspiration come from?
6_picking colors

A funny thing happened when I moved to Milwaukee and became an editor who writes about jewelry. I stopped actually making jewelry. 

Now, I'm not a master jeweler, not even close -- it's just a hobby for me. Beading, especially the kind of fine detail work that my wonderful coworkers at Bead&Button magazine are so skilled at, is WAY beyond my capacity (and my eyesight!).

kk work

But my work is pretty good, and more importantly, working on jewelry components makes me happy, and gives me a creative outlet that I need. l Iove to work with metal, and metal clay, and resin, and especially enamel. But somehow, over the winter, I lost my mojo. 

I realized that I was in a rut, so I tried a few things to get me started again: I read a few jewelry-making books, bought a nice new magazine (or three), pored over Pinterest, and went to several craft fairs looking for inspiration. These things were all great, and soon my notebook was bursting with some new ideas. But I really needed to get my hands dirty before things came back together for me. 


I went off to hang out with my dear friend and mentor, Leslie Perrino, who is an amazing metalsmith and taught me everything I know about enameling. Leslie is the very best kind of teacher, the kind who gives you the basics and then turns you loose and encourages you to grow and explore.

Leslie had a postcard sitting around with the new Pantone Spring Colors, and I mentioned that I needed to write something for the website about the new colors. That was when the fun really began. 

enamel selection

Now, beaders have bead stashes, enamelists have jars of enamel. Rooting through Leslie's awesome stash was the most fun I'd had in quite a while. We took the card of Pantone colors and started pulling out jars, to see how close of a match we could get.  *NOTE: this is where having sample pieces really helps, since the color of enamel can change radically from color of the powder in the jar to the color of the final fired piece.

I am a big "experimenter," and enamel lends itself well to that. What will happen if I use this color? Don't know, let's throw it in the kiln and see! What happens if I take these vintage waterslide decals and fire them on top of a coat of Robin's Egg Blue enamel? Hey, look that worked! That's the way I usually work. No pattern, no ultimate plan, just test and try and see what happens. There are successes and there are failures but ultimately, it's the process that I enjoy.


So we played around with different options and choices, and in the end, used three lovely shades of blue that came together to form a great pendant with a cool mid-century vibe; you can see the step-by-step instructions here.

Just like that, the winter doldrums were over, and spring was here! 

So today, on the First Day of Spring, I want to share with you my Top Five Ways to shake off the winter doldrums and get your jewelry-making mojo back. Choose what works for you!

1. SORT THROUGH YOUR STASH.  Every time that you bought something and added it to your stash, you had the beginning of an idea forming. Maybe if you hold that piece in your hand again, the inspiration will come flooding back. It was only when I began picking out jars and laying different colors next to each other that I finally felt something click.

2. CHECK OUT OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK. Read magazines, browse Pinterest, go to craft fairs or art galleries or local shops. Don't just look at jewelry that is exactly like yours; look at everything! One of my favorite pieces was inspired by a design on a cake, of all things, that I saw pictured on the blog Cake Wrecks. Look at fashion blogs or museum exhibits or go for a walk through the mall and see what's selling (or not selling!).

3. GO HANG OUT WITH OTHER CRAFTY TYPES. I'm lucky to have an awesome group of people around me who make jewelry. I know I can drop into a studio or send a Facebook message or wander across to a coworker's office to get a little advice or pep talk when I need it. If you don't know anyone in your geographic area who shares your interests, take a class, or find a Facebook group. They're amazing. 

4. BE BRAVE AND SHARE YOUR WORK. Post it on Facebook or Instagram, enter it into a Design Challenge, show it to your friends and family. A little positive reinforcement or constructive criticism can really send your work to another level. And may just get your work in front of the eyes of a potential client!  

5. MAKE SOMETHING. I don't care what. Just sit down at your workspace and WORK. Follow a pattern, experiment, just make something. Paraphrasing a piece of advice that Stephen King often gives aspiring writes: make it for yourself, don't worry about pleasing anyone else.

The biggest thing thing that really got me motivated again was to get into the studio and actually MAKE something. Working with a friend and using a brand-new Spring color palette kickstarted me creatively and got me interested in my own jewelry again. You may see the results here on this website in the near future!


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