The Light Within

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Spacetime Necklace

A fusion of an earthy past with an abstract future in the spacetime continuum, this necklace is completely out of the box for me. None of the “out of the box “steps came easily, in fact, one could even use the word “struggle.” I had an image in my mind that I didn’t quite know how to go about manifesting, especially the way I wanted the lentil beads to hang with the stone jasper spears.

The polymer clay lentil beads were formed from a caned sheet I had made after a demo at a polymer clay guild meeting a couple of years ago. I used one of those beads in my “Spacetime” bracelet, posted about here.

Instead of drilling a hole through the beads themselves, I attached a piece of clay to the back and wired through that so the spears would appear a bit recessed from the lentils.

The hand-forged copper chain was inspired by 2 of my favorite wire artists, Cindy Wimmer and Kerry Bogert. The copper clasp came out of my clasp treasure box, created earlier this year in Deryn Mentock’s online class, “The Art of Closure.”

As always, thanks for visiting  and sharing in my creations!

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!

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.

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?