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!

Saturday Morning Tea

Oh joyous day! In celebration of the arrival of spring, I have a very special treat for you today. Here’s a hint for those of you who have been reading my tea posts for awhile? What do I look forward to with great joy and anticipation every spring???

If you guessed a first flush Darjeeling, you are absolutely right! This particular selection is an early first flush offering from the Tindharia estate. It was just picked this month. Look at that gorgeous variegated leaf with white tips, green bits and brown leaf.

The Tindharia tea garden is a bio-organic estate, located in the South Kurseong area of Darjeeling district. I’ve read that the town of Kurseong, whose name means “Land of the White Orchids”, is a quiet hill station. A hill station is “a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent, popular as a holiday resort during the hot season.” At elevations of 400-1000 meters, it sounds like a great destination for cooling off during the hot summer months.

Despite its leaf appearance, this tea has been processed as a black tea. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in water just under the boiling point (212F). The first thing I noticed as I removed the infuser basket from my glass teapot was the incredibly fresh aroma with just a delicate hint of flowers.

The tea liquor is a pale glowing amber. As I take my first sip, the fresh flavor fills my mouth with its freshness and hints of green grapes and flowers. It is surprisingly smooth for a first flush tea but there is a bright tang that lingers in my mouth. I could drink this tea all day long.

This special treat has succeeded in lifting my spirits today. I was heartbroken to learn just this past week that my polymer clay guild has been dissolved. While the friendships will still remain, I am feeling so sad that my days of creating side by side with these ladies is at an end. I’ve lost my tribe, creatively speaking. So, I will look for another local artistic group to connect and create with. Any ideas on where to start?

Happy Spring, my dear tea friends!

“Is the spring coming”? he said. “What is it like?”…

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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?

Saturday Morning Tea

Even though I reviewed a Yunnan black tea very recently, I just couldn’t resist this morning’s tea. Just enjoy gazing upon that gorgeous leaf filled with warm golden tips, named quite fittingly Golden Tip Yunnan.

As evidenced by the intact tip, this tea is plucked and processed meticulously by hand. It shows that very special care.

In steeping the leaf, I used boiling point water (212F) for 5 minutes.

Ah, there are those little swords again except this time in a black tea. I know I’ve said it many times before but it constantly amazes me how many different kinds of tea can come from one kind of plant.

In Yunnan province, ancient tea plants have grown into large trees producing enormous sized leaves. These leaves are traditionally used to produce Pu-erh tea. I imagine a grove of venerable old trees having seen many changes around them over the centuries.

The tea liquor glows like a sunset in my glass teapot. An aroma of sweet peach nectar arises as I pour my first cup. My first sip is like ambrosia on my tongue with notes of peach and spice. Full-bodied and complex, the rich flavor lingers on my tongue like a fine wine.

It has now been one year since the earthquake in Japan and I honor them by enjoying my tea in one of my Japanese mugs. The cherry blossoms symbolize new growth and hope for continued healing in their country. I have heard positive reports for the 2012 tea harvest over there and hope that I will have the opportunity to review some new Japanese teas here soon.

Time to go pour another cup! Enjoy your week, dear friends.

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.  I do not judge the universe.”  ~Dalai Lama