Albuquerque Sky

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In the fall of 2010, I traveled to Albuquerque, NM to visit my son and his family a week after my precious grandson, Landon, was born. Landie had surgery when he was only one day old so it was a challenging time for our family but it was also a celebratory time as his healing was going very well. He came home from the NICU the day after I arrived there. I spent a wonderful week getting to know my courageous little grandson and also having loads of fun with my beautiful granddaughter, Ella, then 2 years old. Her exuberance and excitement infused my life with a breath of fresh air. It still does!

One evening, my son and I went out to pick up dinner at a traditional New Mexican style restaurant. I wish I could remember the name of the place because the food was excellent. Anyway, as we turned west onto a main thoroughfare, I looked up and I distinctly remember that my jaw literally fell open as I beheld the sunset. The whole immensity of the western sky was ablaze in brushstrokes of fiery orange, shimmering gold and twilight purple. We have great sunsets here in New England but with our hilly terrain and lots of trees, you see a much smaller portion of the sky. Here in the flat desert landscape of New Mexico, the sky was a huge expanse, saturated with color.

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That experience inspired me to create this necklace, which I have named “Albuquerque Sky”. I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one being Barbara McGuire’s Shimmering Gold technique using gold leaf, translucent clay and alcohol inks. Even the name is perfect. Yummy.

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Starting with the sunset image that had been emblazoned in my imagination on that fall day, I chose my seed bead color palette with the aid of Beverly Ash Gilbert’s “Eye for Color” color wheels. They’re a wonderful artist tool for creating “bead soup”, as Beverly calls it. I’ve created bead soup before and wrote about it here and here.

I was also inspired by her netting technique for beading necklaces. For my freeform beaded pieces, I usually use a one-bead peyote stitch and sometimes use multiple beads in one stitch or to create “bridges” within my work. Beverly’s technique uses 3 beads in one stitch, which I found worked up much faster. That said, this necklace took many hours to complete. I don’t mind. I love the process and find it meditative and soothing.

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I bead embroidered around the focal and then improvised a netted frame around it. Instead of fashioning a clasp from beads or wire as I usually do, I sewed on 2 dressmaker’s snaps, which are hidden when the necklace is closed. Another inspiration from Beverly, thank you!

This necklace is the manifestation of a treasured memory, one I will always hold dear in my heart. As always, thanks for stopping by my little corner and allowing me to share my work with you!

“Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”  ~Oscar Wilde

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14 comments on “Albuquerque Sky

  1. Snap says:

    Karen, Stunning piece and it does remind me of Albuquerque sunsets!

  2. Judy Shea says:

    Talk about jaw dropping… this is one of those, Karen. I am amazed, for lack of a more exciting word. Can I share this on FB?

  3. nwwuwotea says:

    Yes! This is lovely and captures the color gradations of the gorgeous Sandia mountains! I used to live near there and miss the lovely sunset.

    • artandtea says:

      Thanks Steph! I just love the combination of the flat desert and then the rise of the majestic mountains in that area. It must have been a feast for the eyes to live there!

  4. Alex says:

    i live in Albuquerque NM for 11 years. I miss the food and the beautiful scenery . The Sandia Mountain show a beautiful sunrise and sunset.

  5. sparkledaysstudio says:

    Amazing piece and beautiful story. Pal Judy Shea sent us here. xox

  6. acrawley63 says:

    What a beautiful, stunning necklace Karen. I love the source of your inspiration and how it manifested in this show-stopper. I, too, remember how stunning the sky is in New Mexico. All the colors in the environment felt more intense. Congratulations on capturing a wonderful memory in your art.

  7. […] probably noticed that some of my jewelry pieces are named after a nature experience – “Albuquerque Sky” or “A Winter Walk in the Woods under a Full Moon“, for example.  Those are the […]

  8. […] as I had done with my Albuquerque Sky necklace, I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one […]

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