Ripe Berries Necklace

As it happens with a lot of my creations, I start out by playing with a technique or a concept and then it evolves into something entirely different. Such it was with my Ripe Berries necklace.

About 4 years ago, I was experimenting with creating a beaded tube using herringbone stitch, one of my favorite beading stitches. You can read my thoughts about that stitch here. I beaded a 6-inch length of tube, played with some ideas, none of which inspired me and then that tube sat in my studio until a couple of months ago when I picked it up again. Does that ever happen with your creative process?

As I played around with the tube and some gemstone beads, I began to think of how much I enjoy taking a palette of beads and creating one of my fringy bracelets, which I have been making for over 10 years now. You can see one of my bracelets here. I start off by stringing a length of size 8 seed beads and then I add a beaded fringe in between each bead. It’s a wonderful way to bring together an eclectic mix of beads and you can make the fringe as thick or thin as you want.

Anyway, how about if I added fringe to the tube, with the gemstone beads I had gathered? And that’s just what I did! However, instead of adding longer fringe as I usually do, I just added one bead at a time for a tighter, encrusted look. If any of you have seen Laura McCabe’s beautiful beadwork, that was definitely an inspiration for me.

It took many hours to add all of the beads but I am quite happy with how it turned out! A strand of amethyst rondelles along with a sterling silver box clasp finishes the necklace.

This necklace is one featured on the homepage of my new portfolio website created in the website design class I’ve been taking with the fabulous Susan Lomuto. I invite you to take a look at Karen Park Studio and welcome any feedback.

As always, thanks so much for visiting and sharing in my artwork!

More Excavations

Back in the spring, I wrote about my creative adventures in digging into baked polymer clay with a carving tool. You can read that post here. At the time, I constructed a bracelet of my carved components. Recently, I created a necklace using a pendant from that series of components. I went on an archeological dig peeking into colored layers of polymer clay.

At first, I thought that a simple buna or leather cord necklace would let the pendant shine on its own. But then I did some more digging… Using some of the colors from the pendant, I rolled each color into a “snake” and covered it with a thin layer of black. I fashioned individual round beads and textured them with a nifty hardware tool I received in Julie Picarello’s workshop 2 years ago. Once the beads were baked, more digging commenced. The beads were strung with cobalt-colored seed beads and small copper jumprings I made with a knitting needle and a pair of sharp snips.

This necklace is all about texture and color, two of my very favorite art expressions.

The copper wire clasp is one I had forged in Deryn Mentock’s “The Art of Closure” class. It’s an online class I took last spring. I have one of those Chinese food containers that I cleaned out and filled with clasps I made in that class. As I finish a piece, I like to look in my clasp treasure box to see if one of them will look good with my creation. I thought this clasp worked out very nicely.

Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share my creation with you!

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!

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!