Monday, April 18, 2016

April 2016 “Pompeii” Challenge Results

For the second month running the first three placings of the team and public votes are the same! 

Congratulations to Sabina Jewel for winning both the team and public vote!


1st place:
River of Lava onto Roman Greatness - SabinaJewel - 29 votes (43%) 
2nd place:
Lava Neck Piece - RebelSoulEK - 14 votes (21%) 
3rd place:
Colors of Pompeii Cuff Bracelet - BetsysBeadworks - 7 votes (10%) 


1st place:
River of Lava onto Roman Greatness - SabinaJewel - 64 votes (35%)
2nd place:
Lava Neck Piece - RebelSoulEK - 53 votes (29%)
3rd place:
Colors of Pompeii Cuff Bracelet - BetsysBeadworks - 16 votes (9%)

Well done to the winners and all who participated and thanks to everyone who voted!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Jewelry Design History Flash: Ancient Italian Jewelry and the Etruscan Civilization

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (,_tombe_des_l%C3%A9opards.jpg)

While researching jewelry styles of antiquity for the Pompeii April 2016 Challenge, I came across the wealth of knowledge that will forever impact my perspectives into jewelry design. Countless works of art, their ancient wearers by now returned to dust, sit still perfectly whole in museums around the world, reflecting the beauty and fashions of ages passed. Let’s return to the past for innovation and inspiration in the modern world. I promise this won’t bore you!

What makes ancient Italian jewelry so unique starts with the Etruscan Civilization and their ability to manipulate gold. The people of Etruria, who began their work around 800 B.C., had a particular intuition for beauty and proportion. Being at the center of the Mediterranean was ideal for sea trade as well as mining, and their economic success allowed the jewelry making domain to strive. We can recognize the success of jewelry makers at the time based on the pieces that were left or ornate the tombs of the dead. Etruscans of the 6th century had the means to both live and die luxuriously. 

The Etruscans had an advanced approach to metal working, using a technique called “granulation”. This time consuming process used small gold beads and soldered them on a surface which was later decorated with gemstones and pearls. Amber was especially popular; it was set in silver, or sometimes tinted with gold to become a special meterial named “electrum”. Later influenced by the Greek styles, fashions began to shift towards the use of cameos and coins, and the baule earring became quickly popular. 
A baule earring featuring the head of a bull, an important Etruscan symbol
Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons)

The 5th century was a bit difficult for Etruria and it is clear archeologically that less people could afford jewelry. The Roman civilization took interest in Etruscan jewelry, and captured artisans who would serve them in jewelry making instead. In Rome, hairstyles were at the top of the trend, and the introduction of hairpins and headdresses of Etruscan design spread quickly, inspiring of revival of Etruscan styles at the turn of the 4th century. People loved jewelry so much in ancient Rome that laws had to be passed to limit the amount of jewelry that could be worn while occupying official positions. While the centers of the Etruscan civilization held their own against other growing and aggressive civilizations, artisans developed new designs and innovated techniques that would inspire many styles that are still popular today. Sadly, this formidable civilization eventually lost it's main sources of influence, and was assimilated by Rome around 500 B.C. 
This Pendant was constructed with the unique “electrum” technique. 
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ( ... 2169-9.jpg)
Incarnating the designs of Etruscan goldsmiths in the modern era honors their ingenuity. Ancient jewelry makers created the pillars behind design techniques used to this day; recycling their concepts and drawing inspiration from their work immortalizes the unique Etruscan aesthetic, swallowed by the passing of time.

Enjoyed this history flash? What are your favorite eras in jewelry design history?
Comment or email me!

"Etruscan Art." Etruscan Art., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. ( ... ln/t11.htm)
Radeke, Mrs. Gustav. "Italian Jewelry." A Jewelry History. Ed. Museum Of Art Rhode Island School of Design. Guyot Brothers Company Inc., 2016. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. ( ... -page9.htm)
Gaultier, Fran├žoise, Catherine Metzger, Katerina Chatziefremidou, and Florence Specque. "In-Depth Studies : Jewelry from the Campana Collection." (n.d.): n. pag. Louvre Museum, 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. ( ... ampana.pdf)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Entries for April's "Pompeii" Challenge

Here are the entries for this month's "Pompeii" challenge!  VOTING WILL BE OPEN FROM APRIL 9TH UNTIL APRIL 15.  Please choose your favorite entry from the images or links below, then select your choice in the blog poll that will appear on the right sidebar during the days that voting is open.

Click on the image mosaic or links below to learn more about each entry and see larger, detailed images of each piece. 


  Image Map

Sunday, April 3, 2016

First Shop Feature and Interview! Angel Mcllwain of Painted Tree Studio

Meet Angel Mcllwain, a self-taught beadwork artist and owner of
“Painted Tree Studio” since 2010, an Etsy shop specializing in jewelry from the heart. 

Visit PaintedTreeStudio on Etsy!

Angel, a former art director for TIME magazine in New York City, left the hustle and bustle of city life and moved to the middle of nowhere in the Appalachian region of Ohio. The beauty and serenity of her natural surroundings are part of the inspiration for her jewelry designs.
She initially sold paper goods, but began beading in 2011 during her treatments for a devastating cancer diagnosis. Angel, who has a background in painting and is an avid bead collector, did not have the energy to paint in her studio (which sits in the front of her 5 acre yard) during her cancer treatments. She did, however, have an appreciation for the beauty of nature, a need to express her creativity and a message to share.

Featured in Angel's Shop!
Geometry Handwoven Bracelet Peyote

The outside of Angel's gorgeous studio

The story behind your “Heart and Hope of Courage Brooches” touched my heart. I’m very sorry you have to experience this terrible disease. How has beading helped you mentally or spiritually in your fight against Breast Cancer?

I started beading because of cancer. Creative types have a difficult time being still. I didn’t have the energy for my studio but I was itching to create (sitting and resting is so dreadfully boring) that I took up beading. I have had a passion for beads all of my life and I have lugged four large boxes of beads that I collected when I was a child with me to everyplace I’ve lived including college. I made the hearts because I don’t much care for the Korman group and because I hate the word survivor, I won’t survive this disease and many of my friends have already died. I like the idea of wearing a heart instead. It represent love, and love surpasses death. 

 Heart of Courage Brooch

How are you able to juggle maintaining your Etsy Shop and the demands of your personal life?
Not so well, during the school year I substitute teach and tutor. Things get a little hairy sometimes. My 14 year old boy has track and he practices every day. I also tutor after school. I want to devote myself to working on my Etsy shops and blogs. I’m hoping to do my creative work full-time. It’s a difficult transition made harder by cancer and single parenthood, but
every day is a fresh chance and here I am making my start at moving forward.

Many of your pieces have beautiful earthy tones, what inspires the color palettes you use, and what materials do you favor?

I live in the woods and the fresh air of the outdoors inspire me. When the weather warms, we all but move outside. We have beautiful flower gardens and lovely shade trees. We also have a large 10x20 canopy with tables and chairs under it. I like to mix up my materials but I love to use beads that have a patina on them, or unusual objects.

A new bracelet full of texture
How would you describe the type of jewelry you make and are you currently working on a new piece?

My friend says that my mom and I make pretty jewelry. I can’t say that I have developed a particular style other than to say that I love nature and I’m fascinated by patterns. I acquired some beautiful pieces of sea polished abalone this summer that I am excited to get to work on, also I love making rings because I love to wear rings.

 A monochromatic bracelet with a beautiful earthy tone

How did you come up with the name “Painted Tree Studio” for your Etsy shop?

I have two shops at the moment, PaintedTreeStudio and BlueSkiesandBirdSong.
The latter is clearly inspired by my home. The former is inspired by a house post I found in an old cabin painted white. They used a tree with a natural v shape as a support for a low ceiling. I use it as an outdoor shelf in front of my studio. The photo of my studio was taken before my find.

Angel texturized this ring with a double beading technique!
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting a handmade business, and what has been the most difficult?

I simply like to produce things of beauty but I am terrible at marketing. I’m reading several books at an attempt to correct the error of my ways. If I can conquer that issue, there will be no stopping me.

Angel played with different bead sizes

Angel is proof that when one door closes another one opens, and that inspiration surrounds us if we just slow down and take time to notice. If you would like to know more about Angel and her beautiful designs please visit the links below: ... 965537484/ 

Patrice Thomas is an interviewer part of the EBW blog team! (
Want your chance to be interviewed? Message Elyse T. or email her Here to be added to the Shop Feature Poll! (