Monday, June 27, 2011

A Beaducation: The ABS Muffin Tin Challenge

MuffinTinTitle copy

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!

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

UrbanPrairieGemstoneChipsComp copy
Inspired by Erin Siegel in Stringing Spring 2011

Inspired by Lisa Petrillo in Stringing Summer 2011

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

Boho Beach-Humbleearringsweb
Polymer clay rounds handmade by Humblebeads

BohoBeachCeramicComp copy
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

AmethystGardenCeramicLeatherComp copy
Inspired by Cynthia Dies in 2011 Bead Buyer's Guide

Inspired by Erin Strother in Stringing Summer 2011

AmethystGardenHeartComp copy
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!


  1. So cool! I am so glad to see you were inspired by it. That Heather is a marvel, isn't she? I love that you credited your original inspiraion, yet you made those pieces your own. I am going to continue my muffin tin for as long as there are beads in my studio!!! That is a long time!
    Enjoy the day!

  2. I loved this challenge and I am so touched that not only did my bracelet inspire you but that you consider me your friend. That touched my heart.
    I am having tons of fun with this challenge and using up beads from my stash so I am looking forward to giving myself this challenge every month :-) Every week it a bit daunting lol

  3. Great Blog Post and I love how to presented your photos.Great work!

  4. This challenge honestly changed the way I will work in the studio from now on. My muffin tin will never return to the kitchen! Thanks ladies for your nice comments- I'll be swinging by to say "hi" on your blogs too!

  5. You did such a great job!!! I felt so jumbled and rushed - I love your key focal necklace,
    that Cynthia Dies inspired necklace and the Green Girl inspired necklace - you did an amazing job!!!

  6. Love, love, love what you've done. And your tips, genius. I tried to come up with my own list of tips, but they all started to sound the same. Your list includes a lot of what I was trying to say. I think I cut it so close to the wire my brain was fried.
    I especially like your necklace with your key focal and the knotting. Very nicely done. It screams summer at the beach to me. Beautiful.
    Thanks for your lovely words on my own reveal. Now on to the next challenge. . .putting this routine into practice.

  7. What beautiful jewelry Erin.. Such detail in each piece. I love the polymer clay toggle clasp with silk ribbon necklace. Great photos!!

  8. Your jewelry turned out so beautifully. I felt so rushed and only had time to do earrings.

  9. Your pieces are wonderful. I'm especially fond of the ones with the leather cord and the ceramic beads. So stylish and fresh.

  10. Oh dear, your stuff is (as usual) just so gorgeous and inspiring! And of your pieces, I have no clue which is my favorite, they're all lovely! I too, loved your tips - those are things that are so true, and while alot are put into practice, having them actually written down is a great idea. Magazines are an incredible resource, aren't they? Oh, and I also ramped it up for this challenge too, and completed 11 pieces...wasn't it a fun challenge?

  11. Looks to me as if you had an awful lot of fun with this challenge! And the pieces that resulted are just beautiful. Well done you!

    FYI - I love using muffin pan for holding beads while I craft. I use the little mini pans and right now they are filled with beads for sparkly snowflakes.

  12. Such a wonderful set of pretties! I love how you ran with the challenge- it can be so hard to get started and the muffin tin proved to be a great way to organize each piece.

    Great job, Erin!

  13. I can't pick a favorite! ACK! I love it all!! We really got to figure out a beady date soon!!

  14. Wasn't this fun? You created some really fun pieces!

  15. I love the necklace with all the purple discs, but they are all terrific!!!

  16. You ladies always amaze me with your talent and kindness! I am so happy that Art Bead Scene rounded us up in a post, so I can visit more blogs to see what everyone was inspired to make!

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Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to join in the conversation!