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…

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“Meditation on Spring” Beaded Cuff

Spring colors are blooming on my very first bracelet cuff creation!

Forsythia yellow, willow green, azalea pink, rhododendron rose, cream and baby pink magnolia. Colors so fresh and light, rebirthing the world in their embrace. Ah, I just love this time of year!

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote this post about stitching a 2-drop peyote band from a bead soup mix that was left over from this freeform bracelet. That band has sat, well, for 2 years now, on a bead mat in my studio, patiently waiting for me to transform it into a piece of jewelry.

I created the face cabochon from polymer clay using the same glazing technique I used for these faces, rubbing on mica powder and mixing alcohol ink with liquid polymer clay.

After I beaded around the face cabochon, I attached her to my peyote band. As I held it in my hand, I felt that the weight of the cabochon was just too heavy for the lightness of the band so I pondered and pondered on what I could do next. Hmmmm…

Aha! What if I sewed the peyote stitched band to a piece of ultrasuede and then glued that to a brass cuff? That would give it the weight and counterbalance it needed! So, I did just that and then glued another piece of ultrasuede to the back of the cuff. I stitched a beaded edge, thus joining the 2 pieces of ultrasuede together at their edges, giving the cuff a finished look.

I found a great resource on the web for ultrasuede. Field’s Fabrics is located in Michigan, has over 160 colors of ultrasuede in stock and charges only a flat rate $6.00 for shipping. You can buy scrap variety packs or as little as 1/8 yard per color. I used a pale spring green called limade for this project.

Even though it took me several years to figure out how to bring all of the components together in harmony, I’m so happy with my new creation. Now that’s it’s complete, I’m thinking of another bead embroidered bracelet, this one softer without the brass cuff, possibly beaded on a piece of batik fabric in yummy colors.

Ah, the possibilities…

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” 

~Albert Einstein

Unless otherwise noted, all text and photos are the property of Karen Park Art and Tea, copyright 2007-2011. Please do not “lift” any of my photographs or blog posts for use on your blog or website. Thank you so much for your respect and kind attention.

My Towers and Turrets pendant necklace

Last August I signed up for an online class called “Of Towers and Turrets”, a wonderful melding of mixed media collage with metalwork and resin, taught by Sharon Tomlinson and Deryn Mentock. I wrote about the first step here, creating my collage.

Once my collage was created, I started work on my metal Towers pendant, which taught me about cutting metal shapes, soldering filigree and bezel wire as well as riveting, all new techniques that I was quite excited to add to my jewelry making repertoire.

Once the pendant was crafted, I chose a part of my collage to display. As this was the first face I’ve ever painted, the choice was easy! Once she was cut out and gently placed in my bezel, I carefully covered her with Ice resin, a product I’ve never used before and absolutely love now. It’s tricky mixing it up, adding just the right amount to the bezel and then getting rid of all of the tiny bubbles but the results are so worth it. A desk lamp placed right over my pendant got rid of all of the bubbles very nicely. The heat of the light bulb draws up the bubbles so they can pop.

Once the pendant was complete, I decided to create a necklace using deep purples, reds and blues to bring out the colors in my pendant image. My goal was to create a richly colored necklace full of facets and sparkle.

A queenly necklace.

I chose amethyst, iolite, garnet, pearl, crystal, moonstone and 2 raku beads. I wire wrapped each bead, adding them on one at a time. Creating a necklace in this fashion is very tedious and time consuming but gave me just the look I wanted.

The S-clasp was crafted from a thicker wire and then wrapped with a thinner wire coil and an iolite bead.

It took me 5 months to complete this process but it was an amazing journey that taught me so much about myself.

“The eyes of my eyes are opened.” ~e.e. cummings

Playing with Towers and Turrets

A few weeks ago, I started an exciting online class that combines mixed media collage with metalwork and resin. Called Of Towers and Turrets, it’s taught by the artistic dynamic duo of Sharon Tomlinson and Deryn Mentock.

In this first step, I’ve created a painted collage with stamps, words, images, gel pens and, of course, paint. I was a bit nervous to paint a face as I’ve never done that before but once I got started, I absolutely loved it!!! I used the Golden brand of paints, both the heavy body and the liquid acrylic. Love, love, loooove these yummy paints! And my 30% off A.C. Moore coupon helped fuel this new addiction.

Stay tuned for some unique jewelry creations like nothing I’ve ever created before…

My “Klimt” bracelets

I’ve gone off in a fun new direction with my jewelry lately and it’s all my dear friend Judy’s fault! I say this with great affection and admiration for an artist I consider to be THE mixed media queen extraordinaire. She has inspired me more than words can say.

A couple of months ago, Judy introduced me to painting on polymer clay and a whole new world opened up to me. That day, we made some ATCs but I got a notion to go in a different direction and make a pendant. And then I went home and started making trays of little components for earrings and bracelets and…..one thing led to another….and my “Klimt” bracelets were born. The rubber stamp I used reminds me of the shapes from the paintings of Gustav Klimt, especially his well known painting called “The Kiss”.

I am having the grandest time with my paintbrush and new hoard of Golden fluid acrylic paints! So many gorgeous colors. Yum.

I used ecru colored polymer clay as my base and cut out some square components from my stamped sheet. Then many joyful painting sessions ensued!

Knowing that bracelets have the tendency to twirl around as you’re wearing them, I wanted a clasp component that would incorporate seamlessly into the design.

I was a little nervous because I’ve never made a toggle clasp before and wasn’t quite sure how what was in my head would manifest into a physical clasp.

I’m happy to report that it works!

Stay tuned for my earring creations…

“The world is but a canvas to our imaginations.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Return to the Guild and ATCs

A couple of Saturdays ago I was delighted to attend a meeting of the Rhode Island Polymer Clay Guild, or RIPCG, for short. I had become a member back in the fall of 2002 and happily went to the monthly meetings until around 2008-2009 when I had to turn all of my focus onto my unsettled personal life. Now that I’m all settled in my new place (6 months now!) and am feeling more grounded and balanced in my life again, I can bring art group fun back into my life. Yay!

My dear friend, Judy, mixed media queen extraordinaire, showed us how to create and embellish ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), using polymer clay, rubber stamps, paints, markers and a fabulous little invention called Stickles, better known as glitter glue. Oh, be still my heart! You can see Judy’s tutorial here. She’s an amazing teacher, so patient and inspiring. If you’re in the E. Bridgewater, MA area, she gives classes at the Scrapbook Cupboard. Her next class is in Sept. on how to make polymer clay buttons. Check it out!

Lookie, lookie, what we made.

Aren’t they fabulous?!!

The ladies put together a delicious pot luck lunch and we ate and chatted and then ate some more.

Words can’t describe my joy at being back with this gifted, creative group of artists who all inspire me so much. Their talents are many, including Chinese brush painting, Zentangles, acrylic painting, beading, pottery, quilting and knitting. And, of course, polymer clay!

As I painted my little pieces, I felt my heart sing. There’s something about painting that really gets my creative juices flowing.

I started envisioning how I could bring this fun into some jewelry pieces. Starting with my clown pendant pictured at the beginning of this post, I am expanding that vision into components for bracelets, necklaces and earrings. What do you think?

Stay tuned for how this idea shapes and evolves…

“As we give fully, unafraid to let others know the truth about ourselves, we receive unexpected rewards from unexpected sources.”

~Helene Lerner-Robbins, writer