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!

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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?

Excavations

I’ve always been drawn to digging. When I was a kid, I made several attempts to dig to China, much to my mother’s chagrin. I didn’t get too far though, probably about a foot down into the earth. Obviously, I didn’t make it to China but I did find all sorts of neat things buried in our backyard – earthworms, old rusted bottlecaps, sticks and stones and roots. I think that’s when my love of gardening was born. I loved the feel of plunging my hands into the dirt and smelling its rich, earthy scent. Finding what was below the surface of things resonated with me then as it does with me now.

Many years later, my love of digging led me to pick up my carving tool and start experimenting with digging into multi-colored layers of polymer clay. I gouged through the layers both before and after baking the clay to reveal what’s hidden below the surface. The gouge marks leave jagged edges which I don’t smooth by sanding. I leave the clay rough which speaks to me of the organic process of a spiritual journey and digging into/peeling away the layers of the psyche to discover your inner core. The process can be sharp-edged and painful at times but what is ultimately revealed has a beauty all its own, rich and colorful and unique.

To create my bracelet, I chose a color palette that made me happy and then mixed my colors in polymer clay. I always like to mix my own colors as I feel it lends a uniqueness to my piece. Plus I just loooove mixing colors! I made a sheet out of each one of my mixed colors and then cut some circles out of each sheet. I randomly stacked the circles and then loaded the “log of circles” into my clay extruder. I extruded the clay using a round die and then cut the resulting snake into equal pieces which I lined up horizontally on a sheet of polymer clay. I apologize that I don’t know who originally invented this extrusion technique. It has become quite popular in creating canes. When you cut the snake into equal size pieces and then bunch the snakes up, the cut ends reveal bulls eyes in color variations of your chosen color palette. What I was interested in here, however, was not the cut ends but gouging into the length of the snake.

An unexpected and delightful surprise occurred when I cut the tall thin rectangles for my bracelet components. I discovered that there were small gaps where the snakes abutted on the clay backing, perfect for stringing a cord through. To finish the bracelet, I did a little beadwork over the silver crimps and attached a multi-strand tube clasp. The silver clasp was so bright that I immersed it in liver of sulfur to darken it. It’s still not dark enough for my taste so I’ll repeat that again very soon.

I created other components from my excavation work that day. I’m working on a necklace right now and will happily share my results once it’s finished. I’m so happy to be sharing my artwork with you once again! As always, thanks for stopping by.

Ribbon Bracelets

Throughout all of my years of playing with seed beads, one of my most favorite off loom stitches is herringbone weave. Also known as Ndebele stitch, it is the traditional beading stitch of the South African Ndebele tribe. They create the most amazing beadwork in colorful, geometric patterns which they also paint onto their houses. I imagine a beautiful village full of vibrant color and pattern where women sit in a circle and bead together.

With this stitch, pairs of beads are woven in such a way that they stand in a v-shape next to each other, creating a very strong fabric of beads. I just love the feel of this bead “fabric”.

In my playtime with this weave, I created these bracelets that remind me so much of colorful ribbon. They feel wonderful encircling my wrist and are a great way to showcase a special bead or button as part of the clasp.

For my bracelets’ clasps (in the order above), I used a beaded Swarovski rivoli, a stamped and gilded polyclay button and my version of polyclay faux turquoise. For my faux turquoise version, I used Tory Hughes’ faux amber technique (from her book “Polymer, The Chameleon Clay“) and just used turquoise-colored clay instead. A simple peyote stitch loop completes the clasp.

I used size 11 seed beads woven with 6 lb. “smoke” Fireline thread and to create interest, I inserted size 6 beads down the middle length. I love the idea of embedding beads with this stitch and would love to explore this idea further by placing the embedded beads in a random pattern. Does anyone know how to do free-form herringbone? That’s another idea I’d like to play with.

Tomorrow morning I travel to Michigan to visit my family so there won’t be a Saturday Morning Tea post this weekend. I will rejoin you the following Saturday to share a cup of tea once again. During my time in MI, I’m looking forward to another trip to Beadhaven in Frankenmuth. Their seed bead selection is beyond fabulous! Oh joy!

Have a wonderful week, dear friends.

Live, Laugh, Love

I recently finished 2 bracelets that were commissioned as a gift for a couple to celebrate their recent marriage.

I found it a great challenge to create something for someone whom I’ve never met and don’t know at all. That said, I was given some great info and background on the couple, including one of their favorite phrases.

I stamped the phrase onto 2 copper charms I cut out, to create a link between the 2 bracelets. As you can see, I also used similar beads to further link the two.

Can you tell which one is for her and which one is for him?

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