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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Learning to create polymer clay bookmarks

Look at these gorgeous bookmarks. So colorful and rich looking.

If you live in the Westford, MA area, you can take a workshop at Ink About It this Friday, October 1st, with my dear friend, Amy, who will teach you how to create them.

Read more about this mixed media workshop here. What fun!

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…

New polymer clay earrings

With both sets of my polymer clay earring components created in Julie Picarello’s workshop – the round discs and the long “lizard tails” – I drilled a small center hole approximately 1/8″ from the top of each piece. That is where the similarity in the embellishment process ends.

Using gold-filled wire threaded through the drilled hole, I made a wrapped “hanger” for each of the round discs and then attached a handmade gold-filled ear wire. I then created some crystal bead dangles using the same gold-filled wire and attached them to each ear wire with a small jumpring.

Using Silamide thread (my favorite for beading) and size 15 seed beads, I used the drilled hole to secure a ring of beads around the top of each “tail”. From that base ring, I worked peyote stitch first up around the top of the piece and then on the bottom of the ring, decreasing when needed to form fit the beads around the “tail”. I added a small pearl for embellishment and then a loop at the top so that the pieces could hang comfortably from ear wires.

Next up…..the pendants…

What I created in Julie Picarello’s workshop

To inspire my color palette that day, I purposefully wore my Come Spring vest to the first day of Julie’s workshop. You can read my post about knitting that vest here.

When presented with a choice of metal foil to add to my mokume stack, I chose gold because these cool colors have an underlying warm tone to them.

I created 2 pendants and 2 pairs of earring components from my stack. Instead of adding metal embellishments to the components to create jewelry as Julie does, I want to put my own artistic mark on my creations with some seed beadwork.

The “river’ running through the middle of my pendant will have flowing seed beads. You can see from my photo that I’ve started to drill small holes in the “river” so I can couch the strands of flowing beads. As I was working out this idea, I got another one about a beach scene done with half polyclay and half seed bead embroidery!

Coming up soon…how I turned these components into jewelry…

Julie Picarello Workshop

This post is long overdue! In March,  I had the wonderful opportunity to take a workshop with the talented polymer clay artist, Julie Picarello. Here is one of her fabulous creations destined to adorn some lucky person.

More of her amazing work to inspire and delight!

Julie has explored and perfected her own faux mokume gane technique using layers of colored clay, metal leaf and all sorts of nifty texture tools. From this layered and textured clay, she creates colorful, unique jewelry pieces.

Color inspiration can come from many sources.

A yummy color palette.

The first thing that struck me about Julie upon first meeting her is her warm smile and twinkling eyes. In a new place and new experience, she made me feel very welcome and right at home. She is kind, generous and very patient, perfect qualities for a teacher to possess, allowing your students to relax and open up to the creative process.

Besides learning a new approach to one of my favorite polymer clay techniques, this fun workshop also taught me to open up to new color inspiration and that you can find fabulous texture tools just about anywhere.

Soon I’ll share with you what I created at the workshop!

My Taos Wrap

Inspired by the rich colors and textural landscape of Taos, NM, I started this wrap at the Jane Thornley knitting retreat I attended there last September. If you’d like to read about my journey there, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Fully intending to complete my creation once I returned home to New England, I found that life kept pulling me away from this particular set of circular needles. It was only after I moved into my new home permanently and life settled around me that I could wrap myself into this project once again.

Worked from wrist to wrist with a series of increases and then decreases, I felt like I was climbing a mountain – up, up, up, resting for a bit on the peak and enjoying the view, and then down the other side. In my case, I made the descent side of the “mountain” symmetrical yarn-wise to the ascent. Where I started out intuitively reaching for the next ball of yarn, I retraced those color choices for the second half of the wrap, a balance of right brain and then left brain thinking. After completing my descent and binding off, I sewed small sleeves starting at each wrist.

As you can see, my wrap can be worn quite long. Alternately, I can always bunch it up for a shorter, bulkier wrap. I prefer wearing it in its full length glory. And with a flower sprouting from my head!

In wearing it a couple of times already, I have discovered that a shawl pin would help it stay on my shoulders more securely. I’m still considering whether I’d like to make one of polymer clay or bead embroidery. What do you think?

I’ve already started another free-range knitting project – a Winter Woods vest, inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide and my Sunday hikes in a nearby wood. Here’s a peek at what’s on my needles.

There’s something so magical about blending colors with yarn. Mmmm…

What project are you working on?

Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.

~Maya Angelou