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?

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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.

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

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!

Studio Wednesday

I had to go in to my day job for 3 hours right in the middle of the day so, unfortunately, I didn’t get too much work done in my studio today. I was able to get a little beadwork done around this cabochon though. It’s one of my mokume gane polymer clay pieces. The background is one of 6 different fabulous fall color batiked fabrics I purchased on sale at Joann Fabric’s last week. I wanted to get a start with my 2008 beaded journal pages by purchasing some fabric for them. However, after giving some thought about the shape and size of the pages, I’ve decided to do something entirely different from this past year’s format and make either bead embroidered cuff bracelets or some small dolls. If I decide to go ahead with the bracelets, I won’t need the fabric but I’m sure I’ll find something fun to do with them. Right now I’m getting really inspired by just looking at them!

I’ve decided to keep the beading very simple for this cabochon pendant. For the necklace, I’m thinking of multiple strands of seed beads. I love the color of the framing row of seed beads. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s an opaque pale green. There’s something about a very pale green that I find so beautiful and yummy.

On the way home from work, I stopped at Staples to get new printer cartridges. When I did a test print of Buddy’s picture the other day, I discovered that I was almost out of ink. Boy, ink cartridges are super expensive! It’s been awhile since I purchased some. Now that I have them, I’m trying to think of what else I can print and create. When I got home, I printed Buddy’s picture on a sheet of Jacquard Inkjet cotton fabric. I’m thrilled at how clear the photo printed and am so excited to finally get started on my final page for the 2007 BJP.