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?

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Creating outside of the box

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. A wondrous experience for me, a person who has often been referred to as a “Rule Keeper”. A person who feels most comfortable with order and organization. A person who likes everything in its place. (except don’t look in my studio right now, lol)

When I first started making jewelry, everything had to be symmetrical. 2 beads over here, ok, so then the same 2 beads over there and so on and so forth.

My, how things change…

I found the mother of pearl circles and the rainbow “dotty” beads at Michael’s and knew immediately that they were destined for each other in a necklace. So, I sat down in my studio one day and started pulling out all sorts of lovingly stashed things from long ago, including this gorgeous Raku donut and beads purchased at a bead show in Watertown, MA.

I challenged myself to make a free-form style, asymmetrical necklace with neither a right side or a left side. Something with a light summery, watery feeling to it. I transformed the focal Raku donut into a toggle clasp by making a bar from 16-gauge copper wire. I’ve been wearing the donut focal off center when I wear this necklace and I just love that.

What do you think?

A Bead Hug

There’s something about encircling an object with beads that makes my heart smile.

Here, let me hug you with beads, beautiful piece of turquoise.

And you, fun piece of extruded scrap clay cabochon.

In my early days of making jewelry, I used to get so involved in a piece to the point of making it much more complex than I actually wanted it to be. I didn’t know when to stop. These days, almost 20 years later, I’m much more into simplicity and creating a piece I can wear everyday.

A bead hug placed on a cable choker or a simple strand of beads that will enhance and not compete with the pendant.

Tomorrow I’m attending my monthly guild meeting so my Saturday Morning Tea will be on Sunday this week.

Enjoy your Saturday!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~ Walt Disney

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

The month of December blew in this week with a tropical rainstorm. Wait a minute, this is New England, right? The following morning, the wind hurried the clouds along to reveal a brilliant blue sky and temps soaring up towards 70. Hmmm, New England? Today snow is in the forecast. Ah yes, New England.

This morning I am sipping from a cup of green tea grown in the Northern Highlands of Vietnam. The tea is called Shan Tuyet Snow Green.

As Vietnam borders Yunnan province at the north, tea trees have been growing wild there, as in Yunnan province, for thousands of years. More formal tea cultivation started in Vietnam at the beginning of the 20th century. You can read more about the history of Vietnamese tea growing here and here.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. As I lifted my teapot lid, a rich floral aroma wafted up from the leaves. The liquor is a warm, buttery hue with a hint of fruit and malt in the flavor. I didn’t detect any vegetal quality at all, unusual for a green tea. The cup is quite smooth with an interesting pungency which appears and then lingers in the finish.

The dry leaf is highly twisted, only opening slightly when steeped. The wet leaf above is clinging to one of my Picasso marble stones. I love their striations.

The liquor is crystal clear and quite pleasant as it cools.

I am really enjoying my first experience with a Vietnamese green tea. Time for another cup!

Something opens our wings

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear

Someone fills the cup in front of us

We taste only sacredness

~Rumi

Studio Wednesday

fauxjadewordpendants

Last weekend I made some sterling silver eyepins and epoxied them into my faux jade polymer clay word charms. In my studio today, I finished each charm with a dangle and placed each one onto a stainless steel cable choker. These chokers are great. Finished with a magnet clasp, I am amazed at how easy they are to put on and take off. I tested the strength of the magnet by giving the choker a tug and it stayed in place.

From left to right above, the dangles are fancy jasper, turquoise, red tiger’s eye, pearl and a glass leaf.

I made the dangles with headpins I created myself with 20 gauge sterling silver wire and my micro torch. I have a confession to make. I’ve had this torch for years and today was the first time I ever used it. I’ve always had a fear of flames and torches. That’s probably why I don’t do more metalwork. When I took a metalsmithing class several summers ago, my heart would practically thump out of my chest every time it was my turn to solder. I always made sure my teacher was close by but I was still very nervous.

studiotorchsetup

I’m happy to share that today I pushed past my torch fear and put my micro torch to work. After going over the directions quite a number of times (ok, probably 10 times), I went out on the back deck and filled the torch with butane. I was so elated when I turned it on and it worked. I kept telling myself that it was a big lighter and that helped ease my anxiety a bit. I rested the torch on the firebrick and turned it on. Then, with my other hand, I grasped a 2 1/2 inch length of silver wire with a pair of old pliers and lowered the end of the wire into the flame just beyond the blue cone. The best way to do this is to hold the wire vertically, not tilting it to either side but straight up and down. A ball formed on the end of the wire very nicely and I removed the wire from the flame. After resting the wire on the brick, I made the next headpin and so on until all pieces of wire had a ball on the end.

balledheadpins

The balls were all black from the fire but they cleaned up rather nicely with some steel wool and a polishing cloth.

jackinstudio

While I worked, Jack kept a close watch for bunnies and squirrels…

Studio Wednesday

Today was not the usual full day in my studio as I was organizing and packing for my trip to Texas tomorrow. I was able to string the necklace for my turquoise cabochon. Originally, I wanted to have each strand directly attached to the beadwork framing the cabochon but the beads didn’t lay right when I tried it. Then I tried adding a bead in between a couple of the caramel picot beads on top. As I did that, I realized that I could peyote stitch a piece coming out of the top. Furthermore, that piece could be built up 3 rows, one for each of my necklace strands. The small oval turquoise beads were purchased at the Whole Bead show a couple of weekends ago. I brought the cab with me to the show so I could match the color of the turquoise. It’s amazing how many different colors turquoise beads can be! I’m still mulling over what to do with the clasp.

I also got a little time in on my September journal bracelet. The turquoise beads on either side of the tree spirit face were also purchased at the Whole Bead show. I love the crackle pattern in them.

I looked on the Weather.com website and saw that it will be 87 degrees down in Texas. It’s a good thing I hadn’t put my summer clothes away just yet. Be back on Sunday!