Summer Earrings

Or more aptly titled – what I made during my summer time off… I found these fabulous glass chili pepper  beads at a bead show a couple of years ago and scooped them right up. Combined with some copper wirework and teal beaded rings, they’re very swingy.

These earrings were created during a fun color mixing session with polymer clay. The discs were made from a sheet using the Stroppel cane, Alice Stroppel’s wonderful technique using cane scraps. The oblong cane slices remind me of pills from a Mario Bros. video game my kids used to play when they were young. Very colorful!

Marbled drops created during another polymer clay playtime session. The agate rounds I found at Munro’s in Michigan last spring and complement the drops very nicely, I think.

More polyclay drops, these ones I created from extrusions. The bead caps were made with my new disc cutter and a tiny spiral stamp. A bit wonky looking but ok with the primitive tribal feel. The copper washers were textured from a brass plate.

These earring components were created from a polymer clay sheet that was painted with alcohol ink, sprinkled with mica powder and then run through my pasta machine when everything dried. They remind me of raku pottery. A glass blossom dangles from a delicate sterling chain.

These polyclay components were created using Randee Ketzel’s Snowflake Jade cane tutorial. I just love the depth achieved from layering with translucent clay. Swarovski crystal raindrops dangle from the delicate sterling chain.

More Snowflake Jade components paired with Swarovski opaque white crystal beads and sterling silver wire.

These earrings were created to go with my “Spacetime” necklace I have yet to introduce to you.

I recently purchased some of Christi Friesen’s Swellegant metal patinas and colorants and started my experimentation with some 16-gauge copper wire spirals. The next 4 earring pairs were created with those spiral dangles.

I think the blue-green patina looks so yummy on the copper! Here we have African opal and turquoise heishi.

Some Czech glass beads and turquoise heishi.

Some gorgeous enameled copper spiral shell beads by Maryann Carroll along with turquoise heishi.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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It’s all about sharing

I recently came across this on Donna Downey’s blog, Simply Me. It just resonated with me so deeply that I thought I would share it with you.

As I browsed through Donna’s blog, I thought about how this amazing mixed media artist personifies the word sharing. Her posts are filled with tutorials and videos sharing her love and passion for her art with others. Wow.

I started making jewelry back in the early 90s. At that time, there was no internet, no bookstores in my small town, no jewelry classes, no artists’ groups. As you can imagine, I knew what I wanted to do but I just didn’t know where to start. So, I traveled to a craft show about 45 minutes from my home, hoping to meet some artists, namely jewelry artists, who could give me some advice on where to start. I had an experience there that I will never forget for as long as I live.  I wandered around the show and finally found the table of someone who made jewelry. As I was admiring her work, I asked her how she got started and where she purchased her beads and components. She literally hissed at me, “I worked hard to come by that information and I”m certainly not giving away any of my secrets to you!” I was stunned and left the show in tears, thinking I had done something really wrong.

Over the years, I’ve thought about that experience and discovered what a great teaching it’s been to me. In the years to come, whenever I was asked that very same question at a show where I sold my jewelry, I freely shared all of my “secrets”, where I bought my beads and components, often writing down the information about the bead shows I attended every year. Yes, I did have to work hard to obtain all of that information but I wanted to share it with an open heart with as many beginning jewelry artists as I could.

It’s amazing how a negative experience like that will stay with you and shape your future. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Beading in Spacetime

I’m a big Star Trek fan. I mean big time. I watched the original series in the 60s with my parents. Then came the Next Generation in the 80s. Voyager in the 90s. Deep Space Nine in the 90s. Enterprise from 2001-2005. When the J.J. Abrams movie came out 3 years ago, I went on opening night. So, you get the picture.

Anyway, they’re always talking about the Spacetime Continuum. You can read the technical definition here but it basically refers to an event as it relates to a point in space and time, with the 3 dimensions of length, width and height (space) and the 1 dimension of time.

A moment in time and where it is located.

I’ve been reading some interesting theories about the concept of time, in particular, the work of John William Dunne, an Irish aeronautical engineer who conducted some experiments with his precognitive dreams and then wrote a book about it in 1927, An Experiment with Time. Dunne posits that past, present and future are all happening simultaneously. We can only “see” the present time because that is what our human consciousness is meant to see. However, when we are unconscious in a dreamstate, our human consciousness is unrestricted and we are able to traverse all of time.

For this Star Trek fan, this is all quite fascinating stuff.

As my mind has been mulling over these ideas about time and spacetime, my imagination has been inspired to manifest this bracelet which I have aptly named “Spacetime”. Created in the shape of a watch, the “face” shows a 3-color pattern representing past, present and future instead of a fixed moment in time as a “normal” watch does.

The “face” is a polymer clay lentil bead with a crushed ikat cane pattern. I believe that Donna Kato is the originator of this cane. I learned how to create this cane from a demo at one of my polymer clay guild meetings. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s created, I found this tutorial by Mia Rox.

I beaded a bezel around the lentil bead using size 11 and 15 seed beads. The “strap” is brick stitch. I puzzled over what to do for the clasp for several weeks. One evening I happened to pick up my copy of Kate McKinnon’s “The Jewelry Architect” and there it was. Kate calls it the “Ram’s Horn Clasp”. It is positively brilliant! Thank you for your inspiration, Kate. I tweaked mine a bit from the original design. The spiral is a universal symbol found in nature and art and I have always been fascinated with its non-linear shape. Perhaps it also speaks of the abstractness of time?

So here I am, still beading and contemplating the nature of the universe…

As always, thanks for visiting!

More Ribbon Bracelets

I just love beading these bracelets. They’re a great way to play with color palettes inspired by the different buttons I use for the clasps. I first wrote about my love affair with these herringbone stitch bracelets here.

These wonderful porcelain buttons were created by Maryann Carroll of Artisan Beads Plus. The delicate, muted colors remind me of the awakening spring world outside.

Here’s another view. Maryann describes her bead/component process as follows:

– Individually hand-crafted
– Dried and then smoothed with a sponge
– Bisque fired to about 1850 degrees F (1000 C)
– Glazed with about 3 coats of glaze
– Fired again to about to 2200 degrees F (1240 C)

Amazing, beautiful work.

This color palette reminds me of sea and sand. I just love the texture on these buttons.

Herringbone stitch gets its name from the way the beads sit next to each other in a v-shaped pattern. The beads in my bracelets are woven in 2 at a time except for the single row of larger beads running down the middle of the bracelet. This stitch creates a bead fabric that feels silky and sinuous against the skin. Almost like a second skin. The button and loop clasp make for a super easy on and off that my “getting older” fingers are grateful for.

For this bracelet, I chose a vibrant color palette to match this beautiful vintage style button I purchased years ago at a Whole Bead show in Providence, RI.

For the center row of larger beads, I chose triangle shaped seed beads that interlock together perfectly. The majority of beads in these bracelets are a size 11.

Interestingly enough, I shared my ribbon bracelets last year right before a spring trip out to Michigan and here I am leaving tomorrow for a trip out there. I’ll be sure to visit my favorite bead store in Frankenmuth, Bead Haven, as well as a stop by Munro Crafts in Berkley. Stay tuned for treasure sharing!

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a most wonderful week.

Dragon Bangle

In anticipation of the second season of my beloved Game of Thrones series starting this Sunday, I thought I’d share with you a bangle of “dragon scales” I wove last year.

Years ago, when I was just learning all of the different beadweaving techniques, I was a faithful reader of bead magazines. I think that they’re a wonderful resource for learning and inspiration.  After awhile though I found myself drawn to create my own designs so I stopped buying the magazines and started following my own voice. A good thing, too, because at that point, the magazines were taking over my studio floor!

That said, about a year ago, I was browsing around our local bookstore, cup of Chai tea in hand, when I spied the latest issue of Super Beadwork magazine. The cover featured this bangle created by Nancy Jones of Tiny Dog Seed Beads in Houston, TX. She was using a kind of bead that I had never seen before – a 4x7mm long magatama bead. To me, each individual bead looks like a tiny shoe but when woven side by side like this, they look just like dragon scales. Or what I imagine dragon scales would look like. I was quite entranced with the design so I purchased the magazine and went to work creating my own bangle.

I used a matte metallic color, antique bronze AB, for the “scales” and the inside beads are a size 8 seed bead called “Green Tea”, one of my favorite colors and the name oh so appropriate for me. I purchased the beads at my LBS but I saw several online sources for them when I googled.

The bangle is created using brick stitch for the length and peyote stitch to zip up the strip into a tube shape. If you’re familiar with these bead stitches, it works up quite easily. The problem I ran into was in the sizing. I made it way too big for my wrist. The challenge with a bangle like this is to make it big enough to fit over your hand yet not be too big for your wrist. I achieved the first challenge yet failed on the second. Oh well, now that the bangle is done, I wonder how I can make it smaller without it being a big production. Any ideas?

The link I found for this issue indicated that they were all sold out of it but I bet if you contacted Nancy Jones directly, you might be able to purchase the pattern from her.

As always, thanks for visiting and happy beadweaving!

City Lights

A couple of years ago, I was experimenting with translucent polymer clay and silver leaf to create a button for my Winter Woods Vest. Besides the button, I also created a cabochon and a long, thin focal bead from that design sheet.

Using a dab of E-6000 glue, I affixed the cab to some Lacy’s Stiff Stuff backing and it sat there on my work table for a year as various designs percolated in my mind. That’s the way I like to work. I create a component that I’d like to bead and/or use in a jewelry design and then I just let it sit there in my studio where I can gaze on it periodically. The component image imprints on my brain and in my imagination and, as I go through my day-to-day experiences, it changes shape and grows.

My first inclination was to orient the cab as a vertical pendant. I knew that I wanted to use silver beads and grey pearls and played around with several designs but nothing felt quite right to me. At this point, I had added the silver beading around the cab. I liked the way the sparkly silver seed beads set off the silver leaf peeking out from under the translucent clay. Around that time period, I was driving into Boston a lot and images of reflections on the city streets, wet from newly fallen snow, joined the beaded cab image in my mind.

One day my intuition told me to turn the cab to a horizontal orientation and, at that moment, something clicked inside of me and the design started to fall into place as I peyote stitched the silver tubes. I think that the clean lines of the long thin tubes contribute a quiet, reflective, zen feeling to the piece. Underneath that hushed quiet glows the heart of the city.

Now that this piece is finished, my thoughts turn to the long, thin focal bead for another piece. I think I just might go with the same horizontal orientation. What do you think?

A Lizard Tail Goddess

First of all, I’d like to extend a big thank you to Julie Picarello for all of her inspiration in creating this necklace. And her inspiration continues with the arrival of her eagerly anticipated book in my mailbox this week. More about that later…

A little over a year ago, I was excited and honored to attend a weekend workshop with Julie, one of my polymer clay/color heroes. The first word that comes to my mind whenever I look at her work is…..yummy. Her use of color, design and texture all flow together in such an amazingly vibrant way. As part of her workshop, we made these nifty little polyclay pieces that Julie calls “lizard tails”. As much as I love Julie’s work, I didn’t want to duplicate her jewelry pieces but put my own artistic voice into my piece. So, being true to my style, my “lizard tail” became the body of a bead embroidered Goddess.

Many moons ago before I started creating jewelry and beadwork, I loved to embroider. I remember my Hungarian grandmother teaching me how to carefully lay stitches down on a tablecloth when I was very young even before I started going to school.  I continued embroidering on into my teen years, creating colorful designs on t-shirts, denim shirts and pairs of denim jeans so ripped up that I transformed them into purses. Ah, happy memories! I loved taking an everyday object and embellish it with colorful stitches. Years later when I discovered that I could sew with my beloved beads, well, oh my, I was in heaven.

This beautifully serene, bone face cabochon was purchased years ago at a bead show in Providence and has sat patiently in my studio stash waiting to be included in its own unique piece of jewelry. I beaded the face and body separately on Lacy’s Stiff Stuff and then sewed them together before adding a final beaded edge to the whole pendant. I thought about adding some fringe or a bead drop but decided finally to just keep this piece as simple as possible with no embellishment.

The choker is beaded in my favorite beading weave, herringbone stitch, with tiny size 15 beads. In seed beads as with wire gauge, the larger the number, the smaller the bead (or wire). I then beaded small gold caps to finish the choker ends and added a gold-filled filigree box clasp. Despite its long pendant, this necklace is so lightweight and such a pleasure to wear. It is backed with soft Ultrasuede.

I thought it wonderfully synchronistic that I finished this piece the same week that I received my copy of Julie’s new book, “Patterns in Polymer: Imprint and Accent Bead Techniques“. If you’ve never had the opportunity to take a workshop with Julie, this is the next best thing and is filled with eye candy inspiration and instruction on creating your own unique mokume gane pieces.

Next up on my beading table is another component made in Julie’s workshop, my “lazy river” pendant. Stay tuned, dear friends…