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).

Saturday, April 9, 2016

It Lives

Labradorite, Indonesian Glass and Other Stuff (sold)
Well, you were all probably wondering if I was in jail or something, or on an extended spiritual retreat in a remote Himalayan monastery. Or maybe dead. Alas, it is none of the above. Just some burnout and a creative side trip into high fashion (spectating only). I'm mostly over the high fashion now, and feel a little bit more like making jewelry. I've mostly been making it behind your backs (sorry). Actually at the moment I am doing this blog post to avoid making jewelry.

This bracelet is one of my more recent creations. (Items in this post will appear in more or less reverse chronological order.) I did it when it was all murky outside--Hey, GRAY!! I thought. So out came the uber-cool striped Indonesian glass in gray-straw-slate tones (from Happy Mango Beads) and the labradorite. The wan, winter sun did peek through a bit so I drew out the gold flash in the labs with some soft yellows--tiny glass seed beads in chardonnay tones and larger seed beads in a spectrum of sand hues, a drilled beach stone with a tawny she-lion-fur vibe, a citrine with a barely-there hint of lemon, and a big Botswana agate heishi in (I'm getting to the end of my yellow synonym collection here) pale butterscotch. (Mykonos cast heart charm in copper finish from Stinky Dog Beads.) I wanted to warm it up a bit with copper (instead of cold, cold silver) so I did that, including a strand of my rustic oval chain links. (My house looks like a gypsy caravan, a Bollywood wedding and Mardi Gras all exploded inside it and nobody ever cleaned it up, but heaven help me I'm perversely addicted to neutrals.)
I Can't Help It I Love Those Almost-But-Not-Quite Colors--What Does That Mean?
I already had the beach stones out so I threw this together (I love those soft colors):
Before that, away back in March, I was determined to use some of these agate slabs I got from Happy Mango Beads forever ago. I noodled with some wire and this came forth:

Earlier in March, I was thinking that I was sitting on an awful lot of metal components that I had made but never used. I decided to use one of them that's been haunting me ("Uuuuuuuse meeeee...uuuuuuse meeeeeee..." EERIE.) The lid on my bin of turquoise beads hasn't wanted to close so I thought I should use some of those. Went a little crazy (lid still won't close):
With moonstone and leather, and a pair of my tulip caps (sold)
Now hopping in my time machine and turning the clock back to February, I made this:
Southwest State of Mind (Not Sold! For Ages and Ages)
I'm so disappointed I can't find these little pewter flower charms ANYWHERE anymore. I'm guessing sterling silver is cheaper than pewter now, so they threw in the towel on it and now we can all buy Hill Tribes without going broke. Good thing I hoarded so many.

This little number is made from a wire heart charm I made like almost two years ago. Didn't know what to do with it. Then I thought, "When in doubt, ADD MORE STUFF." I put on a couple more charms in pewter from Happy Mango Beads and Presto. Close enough for gummint work.
Bird's eye view:
Before that I went through a minor seed bead obsession, wherein I was determined to use glazed ceramic heart charms from my stash as pendants. This one is my favorite (sand dollar charm from Happy Mango Beads, as well as a bunch of pewter spacers; also some pewter spacers from Monsterslayer):
This is my second favorite:
Whiskey and Denim (Not Sold! Been Sitting Around in My Shop Like Forever)
Third favorite (actually, just this moment, I decided to probably take it apart--so if you want it you better hurry):
Probably Getting Re-Assimilated
And then, a big black creative hole until December. This was my last creative triumph in 2015, thanks to Jana Bližňáková of Happy Fish with Heart and Happy Fish Things on Etsy and her stellar little poppy pendants. I have two more left! (You can see a hint of my future seed bead obsession here. These Czech glass seed beads are like a Gateway Drug into the larger world of Japanese Seed Beads--although I think I actually like the Czech ones best.)
Aaaaand now we're caught up. And that means I have to make something. Dammit. I mean, Yay!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Artisan Jewelry Times

Hey everybody, guess what?? I've been featured by a very impressive online jewelry magazine, Artisan Jewelry Times! Yay!! Be sure to click on the link and check out this great publication--it is chock full of great tutorials, gorgeous photographs, and informative articles. Many thanks to Tracey for sharing my story and one of my favorite pieces of jewelry--"Art Deco Surprise"--which is built around a fabulous Mykonos verdigris openwork panel from Stinky Dog Beads. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Stinky Dog Beads Black Friday Sale

Stinky Dog Beads, One of my favorite online jewelry supply stores is having a Black Friday sale, from Friday November 27 through Wednesday December 2--20% off of already great prices!! You MUST check it out--use code BLACKFRI20.

Here are some items I made this fall from Stinky Dog's offerings:

These earrings are made with Mykonos glazed ceramic cubes, in a soft turquoise with a wonderful copper raku spatter effect. The little verdigris flower beads at the bottom are also Mykonos, as are the Czech glass beads adorning the chain and on the earwires--all from Stinky Dog Beads! ("SDB", to us insiders.)

These two pair of earrings are made with Unicorne lampwork glass teardrops (usually available at SDB but currently out of stock), and two different styles of "sea glass" beads, from SDB. The first pair is a little spicy...
And the second pair is a little sweet!
Here's another SDB teaser...
I made these using some of my favorite Mykonos elements--big chunky brass stars! I threw in some metallic matte Czech glass spacers and Czech glass English cut beads in champagne for a mixed metal party look:
For this pair I went all Aegean, with Mykonos seahorses, cherry red sea glass nuggets, striped Czech glass Picasso beads, translucent aqua Czech glass beads, and little pewter shell charms (ADORE those):
But wait, there's more! These I made with some wonderful antique finish red round leather cord (very supple too, for a colored Greek leather), big Czech Picasso beads, pewter flower crimp connectors, and little Czech glass rondelles in vivid aqua (on the earwires). This was a really fun design to do! (Of course all of these parts and pieces--not including the earwires, which I made myself--are from SDB.)
Then I made this little matched set of necklace + earrings from some of my favorite Mykonos items in the verdigris finish:

My Art Deco Surprise necklace (because I was surprised it turned out Art Deco). That wonderful cut-work panel in verdigris is another Mykonos element, from SDB (not available just yet). The rest of the elements I pulled from here and there.
I made this pair of earrings to go with it--and was floored/thrilled when they were actually purchased together! That NEVER happens. You might recognize those little Mykonos flower beads from the first pair above. Love them!! And little Czech beauties in azure are on the earwires.
If I quit my job and had all the time in the world, and had piles of money anyway (like a highly unlikely lottery scenario) I would buy Stinky Dog clean out. If you've not shopped with The Dog yet, it might be time!

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I designed this piece around a pewter sun totem from Happy Mango Beads. These are my favorite totems at HMB! They make me happy. I made another bead frame for it (think I'm done with the bead frames for a while, just wanted to experiment a little), and ended up going with a kind of classic Southwest palette. (I originally was going to try a kind of autumn palette--olive green, goldenrod and brick red--combined with turquoise but it just wasn't working for me.)
I combined the turquoise with a wonderful etched red agate cylinder from a local bead store, some little yellow jasper rice-shaped beads, and a twisted oval of red agate. I added some wrapped silver bars, lacing I cut from a big swatch of saffron-colored, luxuriously-napped suede, and some burly sterling silver rolo chain.
I guess there's a reason this color scheme is a classic--it plays very nicely together! It feels good to use some of my silver, and break into new beads and other supplies. I am LOVING my Gentec mixed fuel (MAPP and oxygen) torch (now that I'm no longer afraid of it and have gotten all the connections together without leaks). What a difference having the right flame makes! (I am also excited to have gotten a fume extractor--my fan-aimed-toward-the-open-door approach wasn't working very well.)
Turkey and mashed potatoes are calling my name so I have to go (no, you didn't miss Thanksgiving.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
When I recently pulled out my stash of pewter totems from Happy Mango Beads with the intent of using them in necklaces, when I saw the owl totems I immediately thought of Snowy Owls, and sublime Botswana agate in its subdued, wintry colors--like owl feathers.
Here I've created a frame for the totem in Argentium silver wire, and combined it with wonderful Botswana agate pebbles from DayBeads at Etsy. (I loved the first strand I got so much, I had to go back and get two more.)
I went with an asymmetrical design incorporating more pebbles, finishing it off in warm brown Greek leather, sterling silver donut beads, and a short length of sterling silver rolo extender chain.
 As is my wont, I added another little bead at the end of the chain, oohing an aahing to myself over the wonderful chevron pattern.

I love this stone! (And this pretty girl below.)
Snowy Owl From Wikimedia Commons
User Connormah

Sunday, September 13, 2015


The Warrior
It's been a while since I made any necklaces, so I thought I would get back to it (it took me several weeks but I did it). I have a lovely collection of pewter Northwest Tribes-inspired totem pendants from Happy Mango Beads, so I thought I would start with those. I've also bought a lot of silver wire lately, taking advantage of the dip in price, and I thought I should use it! My plan is to make a necklace from each of the totems I have. These are the first three from my little stash.

This pendant is "The Warrior." I've combined it with lapis, turquoise, clear quartz, recycled glass in cobalt, leather and sterling silver (both Argentium and traditional sterling.) (Click on the links provided to see the item in my Etsy shop.) (Clear quartz wheel beads and recycled glass disc also from Happy Mango Beads.)

The next necklace I made features a "greeting" totem. I combined it with turquoise, a recycled glass disc in root beer brown, and a little frosty clear glass rondelle (glass beads again from Happy Mango Beads). I decided to keep it simple, and suspended it from some buttery soft suede deertan lace.
Hello, Friend
I just can't seem to get away from this caramel-turquoise combination--the veining in this turquoise is a lovely amber color.

The third pendant is one of my favorites--the Orca totem. I made a necklace with one of these eons ago, and decided to stick with the same color palette--indigo and smoked glass.
Whenever I think of Orcas I think of the Pacific Northwest and the sea and sky on a cloudy day--slate blue and steely gray waters dotted with whitecaps.

I am looking forward to making more necklaces with the totems I have left--owls, suns, salmon, ravens and eagles!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Crazy for Bracelets

Flower of the Southwest
Short-sleeve weather always makes me think of bracelets, so I've gone a little crazy making bracelets. I have this hoard of bracelet bars from Captured Moments on Etsy, and I've always adored the embossing and glaze on these "copper brown" ones--just like tooled leather! I thought, well, tooled leather--has to be Southwest. So I hauled out my bin of turquoise, and my small stash of Hill Tribes silver paraphernalia, my silver wire, sheet, and torch and got to work. This is what transpired! I tossed in a little Red Creek Jasper, Wood Jasper, and Tiger Eye to repeat the coffee/caramel browns, as well as a sprinkling of sterling silver freeform nuggets that I cannibalized years ago from a Coldwater Creek bracelet I had bought.

I have been really into knotting lately, and my remaining stash (which is generous) of drilled beach stones seemed made for waxed linen cording, so I went for an all-neutrals palette with this bracelet below, and what is more neutral than Botswana agate? I love the grays, and taupes, and creams, and almost-pinks.
I love love LOVE the striping on the agate, and I was doubly thrilled to have a chance to use some more of my Silverleaf Jasper rondelles. I love these sweet little beads. I found several strands of "donut heishi" Botswana agate that were perfect for covering up termination points at clasp areas--it's like a little stone bouquet!

For the next four bracelets, I decided to go back to a style I used to use a lot--a curved focal piece, with either a beaded strap, some chain, or a solid metal "underbar" that fastens with a toggle closure. This bracelet was designed around some delicious "wing dings" by Geneal Crivello-Knabe of Genea Beads. I LOVE these colors.
Sweet Tarts
I did them up in copper, as I thought it would compliment the fall colors, and accented them with lampwork spacers in pale apple green and olive from The Spacer Bead Shop (Etsy), and lampwork rondelles in amber from Happy Mango Beads. I couldn't help dangling a few things from it--A little pale carnelian donut, a Picasso Czech glass teardrop in variegated olive from Stinky dog Beads, and a funky copper bead from Jewelry Supply. I made the toggle closure from a couple of my embossed copper rings, and one of my hand-forged wrapped toggle bars.

Then I dipped into my stash of recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads. Creature of habit that I am, I couldn't stay away from the sea green and azure beads. The bracelet below was built around some tulip-shaped recycled glass beads--the first time I have used these. Perfect size for the focal on a simple bracelet.
Art Deco Tulip
I got all clever and added a couple triangular copper beads to echo the shape of the glass bead. The chain is one of my favorites from Lima Beads. I love the Art Deco shape to these glass beads--this stylized lotus/tulip shape is so iconic to that era.

For this bracelet, I harkened back to the hinged bangle bracelets I used to make with lampwork--this one sports a rectangle of recycled glass flanked by two donut shapes, with one of my wrapped "underbars." I love the rustic feel of these beads! I like how they look with glossy, burnished copper.
I love how this semi-matte glass glows--there's nothing more luminous than etched glass! Except maybe a light bulb.

This bracelet was constructed around some recycled glass tablets from Happy Mango--one in transparent azure, one in solid teal, and another in a lovely robin's egg blue. I went dual-metal with this one--sterling/fine silver and copper. The underbar is heavy-gauge copper wrapped with 22 gauge fine silver wire, and the focal section is also wrapped with fine silver wire (its pliability is so nice for wrapping).
Caribbean Dreams
I love how the light comes through that glass! I adore the bubbles and flaws in it--just more things for the light to reflect off of.

Well that's all I got for now! Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday evening.