A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Meet Roberta. She is my new friend, who keeps me company at work. She also happens to be a real live faerie--an Anxiety Faerie.

"What is an Anxiety Faerie?" you may ask. But better you should ask, "What can an Anxiety Faerie do for me?"

According to Di, at snotnormal (the portal through which Anxiety Faeries enter our world):
"Anxiety Faeries will absorb all angst and dread from an anxious person. They come from a mythical land far, far away, where people have piles of ugly, tedious paperwork and cars with dead batteries, and bosses from Uranus. A land with things called global warming, Fukushima, and WalMart, and root canals, and Miley Cyrus . . . and where are all the bees going, anyway?"
"Well, how does one avail oneself of the powers of an Anxiety Faerie?", you ask. Excellent question.

Again, Di explains:
"When agitated, simply clutch your Anxiety Faerie to your breast, with both arms. Then rant your heart out. Don’t hold back. Your Faerie can take it." 
Well I tell ya, Di don't lie--Roberta is, so far, impressive. I confess I have clutched her to my breast a couple dozen times since she arrived. Because of lack of privacy, however, I have so far only muttered and not ranted, and yet still felt considerable relief. It is also effective to simply look at her. She normally sits just to the left of my computer screen so I need only slew my eyes slightly to the left to see her startled but comforting visage.

Sometimes it is just enough to be together, without saying a thing--that's how you recognize true friendship. Those comfortable silences. Roberta often likes to look out the window at the distant mountain peaks while I work.
As you might imagine, the life of service to which an Anxiety Faerie is dedicated can be a tiring one, and sometimes you just need some down time. Roberta is, like me, an introvert, and sometimes after a hectic day of being desperately clutched to my breast 10-12 times she just needs to be alone. If I see her in the jade, I know to just leave her be for a while.
A Leafy Retreat
On occasion I have inadvertently woken her from a well-deserved nap:
Wakey Wakey!
But for the most part, we make a great team. Roberta is definitely a believer in "Tough Love," and if I'm freaking out and not taking the time I need to release my anxious emotions, she just gets right in my face and doesn't let up until I do what I need to do, even though that means she's going to be crushed. She's a brave and generous soul.
Not taking "No" for an answer, young lady
And don't let the firm set of her jaw fool you--she loves her some silly fun, and no one can play hide-and-seek like Roberta:
Very clever, but maybe still struggling with the concept of transparency
By now I am sure you are asking, "How do I get my own Anxiety Faerie?"

Well, I'll tell you, it's really quite simple. If you are 1) pure of heart, and 2) wicked anxious, simply click here --> SNOTNORMAL <-- and follow the instructions of the incomparable Di: "Poke around and pick something out." You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Self-Discipline. Of a sort.

Bird on Some Wire (Sold)
I am still working my way through my pendant stash. This necklace started with a bird element in raku by Duane Collins of Elements Pottery. I suspended it from a large brass ring I soldered myself (yay!), and surrounded it with recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads, lava, moss agate, more brass, and more artisan elements--a clay pottery bead by JJPotteryBeads and a "belly" dangle by Petra Carpreau of ScorchedEarthonEtsy.

Where does the "self-discipline" come in, you say? Well, lately, after finishing a necklace, I have been marching right back to my pendant bin to choose another pendant, which I then put on my workbench, and there it stays until it becomes a full-blown necklace. And they haven't been staying there for months, as has been the case in the past, but just a week or two. I do not put it back in the bin if I'm temporarily stymied; I keep laboring stubbornly away at it. In fact, I reworked the pendant portion on the bird necklace above like seven times. (I feel less inhibited about doing that when I'm using waxed linen and I have entire spools of it--it's not like cutting up sterling silver wire.)
The next item I pulled out of my pendant bin was a stunning geometric pendant in raku-glazed porcelain from SpinningStarStudio. I even had raku spacers from the same shop. I started right away with the big dotted lampwork focal, and added this and that. It sat on the ottoman for a week, and every night when I got home from work I would stare at it and change around the beads. This is like the umpteenth "dry fit" version of this before I knotted it. Then I reworked the pendant portion a few times as well (AFTER it was knotted together), literally cutting it up and changing it.
High Priestess of Something-or-Other
The lampwork bead, believe it or not, is from Michael's (it was one of three items in the bead section that were not atrocious--the Michael's franchise did NOT score a win with our new local store). The other turquoise stones are genuine turquoise (a local bead shop bought them in bulk and I loaded up on several strands), two earthy bulls-eye donuts from Jana of HappyFishWithHeart attached back to back, sand-hued seed beads from Happy Mango Beads, a little silver and a little copper, a few square raku spacers also from SpinningStarStudio, and some altered bone spacers (I sanded, scored, and antiqued them to coordinate with Jana's donuts). I knotted it all onto black waxed linen cording, and finished it off with some Greek leather and copper chain. It is long. Priestess-long. I'm into that lately....It is actually NOT sold, and is available HERE.

I picture it layered with other necklaces. The way a Priestess of Something-or-Other might do.
With a long tunic. Or a floor length Priestess dress.
I got a little carried away.

I also thought I might make a bracelet to go with my Annie Oakley necklace (see my previous post). I rather like the bracelet more than the necklace! In fact it may upstage the necklace a bit.
Annie Oakley's Wrist (SOLD)
I picture it on her slender wrist as she lines up her shot....
(I am thrilled to be finally achieving my half-hearted goal of using my hoard of drilled beach stones from StoneStudiosToo. So hard to let them go...Gorgeous mother of pearl buttons from OritDotan.)

Right now I have a sweet little round pendant by Mary Welsh Hubbard of White Clover Kiln sitting on my work table, with a half-formed idea in my head for it. I WILL PREVAIL!!! And after that I really gotta make some earrings.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Annie Oakley and the Na'vi

The Wild, Wild West
I created the Victorian-styled "shard" escutcheon focal above LAST January (as in 2014), with good intentions regarding doing an Art Jewelry Elements New Year-themed challenge (involving the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus, after whom our month January is named; Janus was often symbolized by images of gates, doors, doorways, etc., hence my idea of a key and keyhole pendant.) I did not get very far. Well, this is how far I got:

Well, lately my "pendant" bin (where the escutcheon resided--what a wonderful word, "escutcheon") has been bulging at the seams, so rather than start pendant bin no. 2, I decided to systematically start using items from the pendant bin until I could easily snap the lid down again. And then after that I could return to my usual indolent and slothful ways.
I began this piece with the escutcheon element and a wonderful vintage skeleton key my Mom found for me (I have a little handful of some absolutely gorgeous little keys from Mom, all with a rich sable-colored patina on them--she is a brilliant treasure hunter), and a strand of small silver leaf jasper rondelles. It was feeling Victorian to me, and I initially assumed it would be "Posh-Victorian," but when I added the mother of pearl button (I really wanted some kind of shiny large translucent gray or cream tablet-type bead under it, but alas I had nothing like that), it struck me more as "Poverty-Stricken Victorian"; and then when (seized by some mysterious urge) I changed gears and went with dark cording and leather lace, it struck me as "Poverty-Stricken Victorian Wild West."
Well, once I strung the buttons on (that's a black agate nugget underneath them) the image of a woman sprang to my mind: a solitary, unconventional woman of the dusty Old West, who lives by her wits and her womanly wiles; but alas has no money with which to buy gems and jewels to adorn herself, so she makes her own from whatever she can find in her pockets, discarded by others, and offered by nature. Or maybe she doesn't live near a Tiffany's. Maybe someone like Annie Oakley, although I don't know whether she was poverty-stricken. Certainly not after Buffalo Bill hired her to shoot things for his Wild West show. But he probably paid her less than he paid the men, because that's just how it always is, so maybe she was poor...Did you know Annie Oakley was so lovely? Here she is:
She is one of the few famous Wild West ladies who did not look like a dude. (The outlaw Belle Starr was a dead ringer for James Mason, and Eleanor Dumont was appropriately referred to as "Madame Mustache.") I'm sure Buffalo Bill felt like he was sitting on a gold mine.

"Well, what does Annie Oakley have to do with the Na'vi?" you ask. Why, absolutely nothing.

Previous to the piece above, I made the pendant below with a glazed stoneware leaf element by Karen Totten, which was also residing in the overfilled pendant bin. The finished pendant immediately made me think of the movie Avatar ("Ah, there's the Annie Oakley-Na'vi link. It's in her MIND.")
I think the brown cording makes me think of twigs and tree bark, and then of course there's the leaf, and it must be the blue beads that took it from merely "tree" to "Avatar", because the Na'vi are a lovely shade of blue, not unlike these recycled glass disc and tulip beads from Happy Mango Beads and Afrobeadia.
The terra cotta-colored stoneware bead just above Karen's leaf is from jjpotterybeads on Etsy; the tiny multicolored sead beads are Czech Picasso seed beads from beadsandbabble on Etsy; the yummy butterscotch-colored beads are Indonesian glass from Happy Mango Beads; there is a green opal bead from I don't remember where; and the crusty-looking rosy bead is lava. Drilled beach stone from stonestudiostoo at the end of the chain.
I created some interesting-looking cuff-and-anchor elements to cover the knots that fasten the lower portion to the connector rings--I like to use a metal cuff, or cut tube to cover knots sometimes, but I find if there is not a bead under it to hold it in place, the tube won't stay put and it slides down off the knot. On the right side of this pendant, where it is knotted to the ring, there is a beadless section immediately underneath; I needed a way to anchor the cuff to the ring so it would stay put, so I used a double-headed headpin like a little trouser suspender, turning the ends up to hold up the tubes. I thought it actually looked kind of cool. I will probably do it again, but I just remembered this other thing I used to do for hiding knots that is way slicker so maybe not for a while.

Today I hope to get another pendant mostly finished, also using an item from the pendant bin. So I better get busy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Some New Pendants

Well, I was having a hard time getting the lid to close on my "artisan ceramics" and "pendants" containers, so I decided I'd better get busy. I had been thinking of this pendant for a long time-- a graceful rectangular polymer clay pendant by Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati, from her "Forest Finery" series called "Simply Oak":
I wanted to match the gunmetal color on the pendant frame, so I fished out some pewter-colored buttons I've had in my stash forever, and knotted them together with dark brown waxed linen cording.
Miraculously I had glass seed beads from Fusion Beads in a matte, metallic denim color that EXACTLY matched the subtly varying blues in the pendant, and some sweet little carnelian nuggets.
I finished it off with some no-nonsense silver-plated steel chain.

Next, I dipped into my hoard of Karen Totten ceramic components, and plucked out this little gem:

I circled it for a day, trying it with this bead and that bead, this cording and that, arranging and rearranging. I came back to it the next day, and this was what I eventually arrived at as it grew dark outside:
Recycled glass beads from Ghana via Happy Mango Beads; two more little glazed lozenge beads by Karen; lovely matte glass seed beads in sand hues also from Happy Mango; ceramic discs in coffee glaze from somewhere like Michael's, I don't remember; sterling silver wire and tiny sterling silver beads; waxed linen cording and leather; and a little drilled beach stone at the end, just for fun.
I started out with way more beads than I ended up with--I kept paring down, paring down, and the sterling wire and beads were a last-minute addition related to covering up some knots. I rather like the extra interest the little silver "bubbles" added here and there. I used double-ended 18 gauge fine silver headpins to fasten the leather into loops, and tossed in some of my embossed beadcaps.
I am especially fond of the nekkid sections of cording--I guess that would be "negative space," jewelry-style!

I have more Karen Totten in my container and I'm not afraid to use it. Anymore. This exotic little "Forest Fossil Ring" was next:
I held it in my hand for an evening, scrutinizing it under a full spectrum bulb, trying to tease out the colors. I eventually decided to combine it with both lighter and darker greens, antiqued copper, and brownish-rose colors, and follow the same basic design scheme as for the previous necklace. Here is the final product, completed on New Year's Day:
Stones include prehnite nuggets and irregular heishi, red lava, and dragon's blood jasper (the little green barrels). I knotted them onto Irish waxed linen cording in forest green and antique rose, and finished the back with dark reddish-brown leather cording.
I used one of my petaled beadcaps to add interest to the base of the focal, and linked everything together with my embossed copper rings.
I actually think I might be liking this one even more than the other one. I am in love with these lava beads.
I like the visual rhythm the prehnite disc beads give to it. I found these at a bead show, and also got strands of bronzite and Botswana agate in the same cut at that show. I love them. I am hatching a plan for the Botswana agate that might involve Karen Totten again. I'm on a Starry Road bender!

Friday, October 31, 2014

African Recycled Glass Discs

My Newest Obsession
I've had a couple colors of these African recycled glass discs in my stash for quite a while but only recently became obsessed with them--it was when I saw them in a bunch more colors! And then I had to start working on having them all (my Mom is so lucky I missed the Pokemon craze). This is the color assortment I currently have, from Happy Mango Beads and Afrobeadia. They are also available in clear, dark green, pale brown, purple, cerulean, clear with gold speckles, orange, and black (and sometimes maroon). Ima need 'em all.

What I like about them is 1) they are the perfect size for anything, not too big, not too small, 2) They are lightweight, so, great for earrings, 3) The holes are plenty big so you can get lots of cording or wire through there to create sturdy links (and if you have to ream them bigger, the reamer goes through like buttah), 4) The holes are smooth so not likely to cut through your cording, and 5) They have a rustic texture, somewhat like a stone, but translucent. What's not to love?

The first thing I used them in was a bracelet (I've posted this one before):

And then I wanted to use them in earrings. Some of them had slightly smaller holes, so I had to ream them a bit to make room for the wire I wanted to use. I was pretty sure I could make it work. So I went to town and this is what I came up with:

This pair has azure discs, as well as Indonesian striped beads (this color is my absolute favorite) and blue glass rondelles, all from Happy Mango Beads. I used a little silver, and a little copper--plenty of room in the hole, after reaming a little, for a hammered 20-gauge headpin at the bottom, and two courses of 22-gauge wire at the top.
Carny Girl
This pair is all about autumn (also featured at Earrings Everyday today)--light green discs from Afrobeadia, amber glass lampwork rondelles from Happy Mango, and sterling silver torpedo beads from Monsterslayer.
Autumn Turning
This is a real southern belle pair of earrings! The colors make me think of sunny French Country decor, and the stacked tulip beads make me think of petticoats! Yellow discs from Afrobeadia, ice blue tulip beads from Happy Mango, and little turquoise glass seed beads also from Happy Mango (these little turquoise seed beads harmonize perfectly with turquoise stones, I love them). (My secondary obsession is these little African recycled glass tulip beads, also available at Happy Mango and Afrobeadia, in multiple colors--azure! purple! (oh wait, I have purple) olive green! brown! gold! orange! white! black! maroon! red! yellow! Ima need all those too.)
Alabama Petticoats
With this pair I went all earthy. I was determined to use the smoky glass discs (they remind me of smoky quartz, or even labradorate without the flash--Hey, heads up, glass disc people in Africa--AB finish on these, 'kay? They'll go like hotcakes!), and I wanted to contrast them with a warmer color, so I put them with peachy pink lampwork from The Spacer Bead Shop and copper torpedoes from Monsterslayer. These discs really make me think of sea glass, which I love.

This pair I got kind of crazy with--they're very long, like 4". I used "Mali Blue" discs (a teal blue) from Afrobeadia, carved black horn feathers, amber rondelles again from Happy Mango, and big Unicorn "Chocolate Luster" lampwork rondelles with an amber center from Stinky Dog Beads.
I'm sure I will be doing more! As well as some multicolor knotted bracelets, constructed like the one above, so stay tuned!

(Sorry, all the stuff above is sold, so I didn't include any Etsy links.)

Happy weekend to you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mixed Metal Craziness

The last couple of months I seem seized by the compulsion to--GULP--mix my metals (I'm sure I would have been put to death for this in Biblical times--I'm such a rebel). I recently acquired some absolutely fabulous handcrafted African beads in brass and copper from Afrobeadia on Etsy, and they cried out to be together, so I obeyed. I was feeling all rustic and rudimentary so I dispensed with any color other than the metal, and the dark cocoa brown of my leather and linen cording:
I've been playing with making charms from wire--that's my heart charm at the bottom of the picture. I have also fallen in love with Mykonos cast charms--you can see a tiny little heart at the top hiding under the toggle bar--I've been getting Mykonos from Stinky Dog Beads. I love the heft of it and the lovely, antiqued finishes.

I've also been soldering toggle rings and connector rings lately, and embossing them on both sides with my metal texture sheet/hammer technique (bashing the crap out of them with a hammer hides my messy amateur soldering!)--you can see them above. The trick is to sandwich your metal element between two texture sheets, and hammer the texture into both sides at the same time. I've been making my own texture sheets, etching nickel sheet with my favorite patterns.

I adore these brass beads below (also from Afrobeadia)--they're sort of like a cut-tube, but slightly rounded, and lightly soldered on the side. They have a light texture on them, that I think just came from the fabrication process. I dropped them in a strong liver of sulfur solution to really bring up the gold tones, and then tumbled them for a couple hours and they came out simply glorious (the lighting yesterday just didn't do them justice).
I got a whole spool of this lovely deertan leather lacing at Blue Peacock Beads on Etsy...
And a whole spool of solid, raw copper ball chain from Rings & Things--because it's raw, it's super easy to antique as you wish. I do a little bit at a time in the liver of sulfur, and tumble it until it's a rich, shiny chestnut, and then I seal it with ClearGuard before I incorporate it in my jewelry.

I went kind of crazy for these "torpedo" beads a while back--I got a bunch of them in copper and sterling from Monsterslayer. I hammered them lightly to give them a bit of texture (they are a seamed bead, so you have to do this carefully to avoid deforming them). These are more of those Mykonos heart charms from Stinky Dog Beads, you can see them lots better here--one in "bronze" (which is actually a very nice copper color) and one in brass.
This bracelet also includes some brass "cocoon" beads I made using a tutorial by Kharisma Sommers of Popnicute jewelry. Sometimes they add just the right texture.

I went back to my favorite brass beads for this one below, and did some variations on my wire heart charm--I made this one with 12 gauge wire. Whew! I must have annealed it 6 times while I worked on it. I love the heavy chunkiness of it--12 gauge wire from now on for these! Unless they're necklace-sized, and then they'll have to be 10 gauge wire. I better start doing some upper body work at the gym!
I also did some different connectors for the clasp section of this bracelet, and the one above--with strips of textured sheet instead of just jump rings. (I get bored so fast...)

So then I got all excited and ordered a pile more of brass beads from Fire Mountain Gems because I didn't have enough different kinds--just in time for my obsession with color to reassert itself, so I made this yesterday:
The discs are recycled glass beads from Happy Mango Beads (and they're all out of my favorite coke bottle blue-green color--DAMN!); the oval bead at bottom left is some delicious aqua chalcedony; and the carved flower at the top is green aventurine. I did a hook and eye clasp on this one, made from a strip of 22 gauge copper sheet, textured on both sides. I used big-hole copper rondelle spacers from RioGrande in between the discs--perfect if you've got thick, or multiple strands of cording.

After I did this last bracelet, I ordered more of these glass discs in a bunch of different colors, and they will arrive just in time for me to get obsessed with something else. Why can't I ever get obsessed with stuff I already have?