The Light Within

TheLightWithinCuff1051515

The last year of my life has been a journey through the darkness of grief back to light, or more specifically, connecting with the light inside myself again. In the spring of 2014, I lost someone I love dearly to a most dreaded disease. He faced every moment of his journey courageously, right up until his last breath. It has been a very hard and lonely year without my best friend, and I still find it difficult to speak of the reality of his passing.

TheLightWithinCuff3051515

Just as I created this freeform cuff bracelet one bead at a time, so I got through this last year by taking one step at a time, even when it was the hardest thing to do.

TheLightWithinCuff2051515

My beads have always been a place of deep healing for me. Sorting them, touching them, weaving them together to create a story. Here is a story of my light within.

TheLightWithinCuff5051515

Just as I had done with my Albuquerque Sky necklace, 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.

TheLightWithinCuff7051515

Layering the translucent polymer clay with gold leaf is a lovely technique that gives an inner light shimmer to the focal piece.

TheLightWithinCuff6051515

The colors of a watery realm reflect deep feelings and the undulating paths of the beadwork represent the ups and downs of my grieving path.

TheLightWithinCuff4051515

When the beadwork was complete, I found that I didn’t like the feel of the wide cuff directly on my skin so I lined it with teal-colored ultrasuede and then finished the piece with four sew-on snaps. It feels like a hug on my arm.

TheLightWithinCuff8051515

I still have my sad days, days when I miss my friend with such an achingly hollow feeling in my heart. Then there are my not so sad days, days when it’s easier to see and acknowledge all of the abundance in my life. On those days, I grab on to hope and my gratitude pulls me back to a more positive place.

I’m glad to be sharing my beadwork with you once again.

Advertisements

Albuquerque Sky

AlburquerqueSkyFull2031013

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.

AlburquerqueSkyFull031013

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.

AlburquerqueSkyCloseup03101

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.

AlburquerqueSkyFull3031013

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

Creating more bead soups

As we near the end of September here in southern New England, most of the leaves are still green, however, a faint blush has bloomed, spreading more and more with each passing day. One of my newest bead soup mixes, aptly called Fall Foliage, is inspired by October’s glorious colors, just beginning to manifest.

The flaming colors of Sunset.

I recently received a lovely note from one of my readers, interested in creating her own free-form bracelets. Daunted by the prospect of purchasing all of the beads needed to create a bead soup such as the ones in my photos, she asked for my advice. One of my favorite parts of creating a free-form piece is going through my extensive bead stash and choosing a pleasing palette of various size beads. I offered to create some bead soup mixes for her and I’m happy to report that she was delighted with my offer.

The many colors of the Sea.

I started to give this more thought. Based on how many different kinds of beads, along with crystals, pearls and stone beads that I use for my free-form pieces, one would need to spend between $100-$150 on beads to create the depth and variety of beads in these mixes. Wow. I never really thought about that before.

A walk in Winter Woods under a full moon.

So, here’s my idea. As I love, love, love color and beads, how about if I combine those 2 loves to create unique bead mixes for sale? What do you think?

From bead soups to a free-form bracelet

A winter walk in the woods under a full moon.

As I wrote these words today I thought how appropriate to post this on the day of the full moon even though winter has now blossomed into spring.

My first bead soups have come together with needle and thread to create a story.  Unlike my other free-form bracelets with woven patches of color, this bracelet gradates from lights to darks with beaded cabochons woven into its fabric.

I love trying out new techniques and expressing them in my own voice.

3 moonstone beads finish my bracelet in a button and loop clasp.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

~John Muir

Saturday Morning Tea

I must admit that I chose this morning’s tea just for the name alone – Water Fairy Oolong, also known as Shui Xian. Grown in the Fujian province of China, the huge, dark chocolate brown leaves are hand-rolled to resemble a frog’s leg.

Of course, there’s a story about how this tea got its ethereal name. I love tea stories so gather round, my friends, teacups in hand…

About 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor was traveling with his entourage to southern China to inspect a tea garden. It was a hot summer’s day and everyone soon became very thirsty. They searched high and low for water but could find none. One of the scouts spotted a bush with bright green leaves and his extreme thirst led him to place one of the brightly colored leaves in his mouth. The leaf was very juicy and he found that it quenched his thirst as he chewed it. Soon, everyone was chewing the leaves of this magical plant. Of course, it was the tea plant that produced Shui Xian tea. So, the emperor named the tea “Water Fairy” for its magical thirst quenching powers.

The leaves do look thirst quenching, don’t they?

I steeped them for 4 minutes in 190 degree F water. Even though the leaves look very dark, they are still not oxidized as much as a black tea is so it’s best to use a water temp below boiling point.

This tea is well known for its “narcissus” fragrance. The light amber liquor is silky smooth on my tongue with a lingering honey sweetness felt in the back of my mouth for a long time after sipping. Notes of chestnut and delicate peach round out the flavor.

Today is a day to relax at home and work on some art projects – making a polymer button for my finished Winter Woods vest and starting my winter palette free-form bracelet.

What tea are you enjoying today?

Whatever special nests we make – leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stones – we all dwell in a house of one room – the world with the firmament for its roof – and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. ~John Muir

Making Bead Soup

As I write this, I’m watching rivers of raindrops slide down my window, silvering the world outside. I imagine the raindrops soaking deep into the gradually thawing earth, awakening the roots, seeds and bulbs that silently wait there ready to burst into their spring growth. Creation energy is whispering in the air…

That gently awakening energy has inspired me to create my own beady concoctions here in my studio. Taking direction on bead color mixing from Beverly Ash Gilbert’s Beaded Colorways book, I’ve experimented with some bead soup of my own in a neutral, winter-inspired palette.  I originally wrote about my color inspiration here.

The small moonstone cabochons I found in my stash are encircled with some beads from each soup I mixed.

I’ve added some pearls and gemstones in similar hues to round out the soups.

Another free-form bracelet is cooking…

Color Inspiration

In my continuous quest to find and connect with other artists who drench their lives in color and beads, I have discovered a beady kindred spirit, Beverly Ash Gilbert.

Wandering around the web, I stumbled upon a blurb about the release of Beverly’s new book, Beaded Colorways: Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes.

A rich title full of words I love: color, freeform, beads, palettes.

After excitedly purchasing her book, I went on an internet journey to find out all I could about this artist who loves color and freeform beadwork as much as I.

Inspired by the colors of nature in her northwest home, Beverly creates what she calls “bead soups”, mixes of seed beads, gemstones and pearls in variations of a hue. Mmmmmm, just the combination of those 2 words evokes yummy and juicy to me so I know that I’m on the right path, the path of rich becoming. Beverly goes on to create art jewelry pieces using these “bead soups”, transitioning from one “soup” to another in a beautiful flow of color. Take a look at the gorgeous pieces in her gallery.

In my own freeform approach, I choose a color palette inspired by nature.

a sunrise

an autumn walk in the woods

and then create patches of color (from that palette) that weave over and around each other.

Beverly has inspired me to expand how I look at my color choices and enhance my work with my own “bead soups”. Even though her clear writing and instruction speaks to all levels of beading experience, I find that it is ideal for someone like me who already has a fairly large bead stash for mixing and blending.

A New England winter palette threads its way through the fiber of my being these days, evidenced by my latest knitting creations.

and the beads I chose on my birthday bead store excursion.

Hmmmm, yes, winter….but look….peeks of spring here and there.

I think it’s time for another freeform bracelet.

What inspires you at this cold, muted color time of year?

The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Ward Elliot Hour