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.

Studio Wednesday

Recently, a colleague of Dave’s (my S.O.) came back from a trip to New Mexico with a wonderful bead and cabochon stash that she generously shared with me. I couldn’t resist this gorgeous turquoise cabochon. With all of the variegated tan and brown swirls in it, it reminds me of a satellite view of Earth. I was pleased to dig through my own seed bead stash to find a hank of size 11 gold luster caramel colored beads I purchased in Frankenmuth, Michigan last year. I think they frame the cab very nicely.

Originally, I wanted to use this cab for my first journal bracelet but it’s too large for a bracelet. Instead, I chose a glazed porcelain face I purchased at a bead show last spring. In honor of the Fall Equinox this month, I want to create a bracelet of many leaves framing the face cab. I also want to honor the majestic oak and maple trees we had taken down 2 days ago. Unfortunately, they were getting too dangerously close to the house. Even though we will use the wood to warm our house next winter, I still felt very sad to see them come down. My bracelet will remind me of these wonderful tree beings.

I also worked on my freeform peyote bracelet today. I’ll post on my progress tomorrow…

Studio Wednesday

Today was devoted to finishing my beaded mokume gane cabochon necklace.

This necklace evolved one step at a time without any sketches or set plan. First, I created the polymer clay cabochon with slices from a mokume gane stack. Then I glued the cabochon to a piece of heavyweight Pellon Peltex 70 and beaded around it. I sat with the pendant for awhile meditating on what kind of necklace would feature it best. I decided on a multi-strand seed bead necklace.

After creating the 6-strand seed bead necklace, I added a beaded bail at the top of the cabochon. The open cones at the end of the strands are made from polymer clay with a copper mica powder rubbed in before baking. I also textured the cone with a piece of coral before rubbing in the powder. My intent with the cones is to make it look like the beads are spilling out of them. A cascade of beads. 16-gauge sterling silver was used to form the hook clasp with jumpring chain extender. I dipped the silver wire in a liver of sulfur solution until the wire was coppery brown.

I spent most of the day in my studio. I was so intent on my work that I never got a chance to go outside and enjoy the beautiful day. Now it’s time for a nice long walk!

12 months of beading

I am happy to present a year’s worth of beaded journal pages!

The first row (at the top, l to r) is June – September 2007, the second row October 2007- January 2008 and the third row February – May 2008.

When I finished my last page, I was so excited. When I look at this group shot, I am beyond excited and into jumping up and down ecstatic and really amazed that I actually did this.

I want to send a huge thank you and hug to my beady hero and mentor, the creator of the Beaded Journal Project, Robin Atkins. Her vision and inspiration has changed the lives of many artists through this amazing and wonderful project. I feel like my life has changed in an enormous way as I have learned much about myself through my beadwork and also to my commitment to stick with this project.

To all of my fellow BJP participants, bravo to one and all!

My last beaded journal page is done

Well, talk about getting down to the wire! With the 2008-09 Beaded Journal Project poised to begin tomorrow, I have completed my last page of the 2007-08 year, my November 2007 page. With my annual jewelry show in November, that whole month is dedicated to preparing for my show. Instead of creating my November page in December then, I was inspired to jump right into my December page at that time. So, November never got done until now. However, I always had what I wanted to create, a tribute page to my greyhound Buddy, in my mind. It was just a matter of getting the fabric paper to put in my printer, updating my printer cartridges and getting started on it.

I’m so glad to be finished with all of my pages. I feel a great sense of accomplishment even though I finished late. Now it is time to turn my sights to the new year and start on my first bracelet!

Studio Wednesday

In my studio today, I worked on my last 2007 beaded journal page, my November page. Well, truth be told, it was such a gorgeous day weather-wise that I brought my beadwork out on my deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the fresh air. This is a photo of my greyhound, Buddy, who passed away in August 2001. We adopted him from Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to rescue greyhounds, take care of them and find forever homes for them. Also, to spread the word about them and their plight.

Greyhounds are such amazing dogs, enduring the hard and challenging life of racing at the track. They are usually “retired” after a couple of years of racing because it is so strenuous on their body. Very sadly, most of them are destroyed after they can’t race anymore. In ancient times, greyhounds were the revered pets and hunting dogs in Greece, Italy and Egypt, not used for how much money they could make for their owner.

Buddy, whose racing name was “Paris Boy”, was retired at age 2 1/2 and soon after came to live with my family. The first week he lived with us, we discovered that he had absolutely no idea what stairs were. We lived in a ranch house and it wasn’t until we visited my in-laws down the street and he got excited and walked up their deck stairs to greet them that we discovered he didn’t know how to get back down. My SIL got his front and I got his back and together we lifted him gently down the stairs. Poor guy was petrified. He also was afraid of rubber balls which we found out when we tried to play catch with him and he ran away in the opposite direction of the ball. One thing that he greatly enjoyed was to go into my daughter’s room and methodically take all of the stuffed animals off her bed back to his “nest” of blankets in the living room. We discovered this upon returning to the house one day to find him in a pile of stuffed animals. He was very happy that day.

I’m not really planning my beadwork ahead of time with this page. I was just going with the flow of the beads in the moment and found myself creating a pair of wings for Buddy’s heart. Well, they’re supposed to be wings. There’s some white space at the top and bottom of the photo so I’ll fill that in with some beads. I’m hoping to be finished with this page in the next day or two as the 2008-2009 BJP starts on September 1st.

For this new BJP year, I’ve decided to create journal bracelets, probably 1-1 1/2 inches wide x 6 inches long. With an ultrasuede backing, I’ll secure each one over a metal bracelet blank. I haven’t chosen a theme other than to make each one into a bracelet. My intention is to create a piece based on whatever I’m feeling at the moment. I’ll sew on one bead at a time and see where it takes me.