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, August 6, 2016

The Glory of Summer

I designed this necklace--believe it or not--around the little blue multi-striped beads around the bail. I had made a bracelet with them, and loved using them so much, I wanted to use them again in a necklace. Aren't they darling? (And of course they are from Happy Mango Beads, my go-to bead store--and they have more!! Just click the link above, or below the picture below.)
Indonesian Glass
So off I went to excavate all my blue, yellow and orange beads to find the elements for my necklace. I knew it was meant to be when I found this spectacular enamel butterfly in my stash, from Gardanne Beads.
The lady has a way with enamel, no?

I went with copper, because I love the warm/cool contrast, and chose a little of this and that to go with my beads and my butterfly--a cultured sea glass nugget from Stinky Dog Beads in cornflower blue, a spotted, etched lampwork spacer in a similar shade (it worked great as part of my bail!) from Julie Miller Glass, blue kyanite ovals from Lima Beads, recycled glass tulips in vivid yellow from Afrobeadia, seed beads from here and there, and tiny copper torpedo beads from Monsterslayer.

I wanted to really make a statement with that butterfly, so rather than simply using the holes for stringing, I created a couple of yoke type contraptions from heavy copper wire, and attached them to the butterfly with copper headpins. I attached my beaded necklace portion (strung on Softflex) through a lampwork spacer--they have nice big holes, and the beading wire goes right through there. I was thrilled that it worked! I wanted to echo the yokes a bit in the chain portion, so I made some bar chain links, just by hammering more heavy copper wire, and making holes with my trusty Beadsmith hole punch pliers. I added a simple second strand of delicate copper chain, with another kyanite oval.

(I don't mean to brag, but the blue in that butterfly is the color of the clear skies up here in Montana--shocking, nearly cobalt blue overhead when you're out hiking.)

I don't usually use these colors--bright blue or bright yellow--but it was fun!
Happy rest-of-the-Summer to you!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Red Planet 2.0

Red Planet 2.0
I liked a good friend's suggestion to add some turquoise to my "Red Planet" bracelet (see previous post), and so tossed some in--love it! I loved it so much, I couldn't help but create a necklace with the same feel and most of the same materials.

For the focal, I used a ring of copper I made several months ago as an experiment, and a heart-shaped raku bead from Spinning Star Studio. The raku bead has a hole in the upper left, but I felt when it was hanging sideways that way, it didn't resemble a heart so much as a mystery polygon. I decided to fill the hole with some turquoise on a headpin, and then created a bail for it with some wire. I like it this way much better!

Here is the revised "Red Planet" bracelet with a dash of turquoise added in:

I liked it before, but I think I like it better now.

Ta for now! Off to the gym. Yuck.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Picasso Bender

Yes, I've been binge beading. Look:
Mad. MAD, I say, for that Czech Glass
I have the most fabulous stash of Czech Picasso finish glass beads from Stinky Dog Beads. They look like stone. A stone formed in heaven. By Czech angels. And wouldn't you know, they go with all the other Picasso finish glass beads? It all works together, regardless of color. (Those cursed Czechs and their infernal bead sorcery!!! I am enslaved.) This bracelet is formed almost entirely of Czech glass beads, and a whole whack of those are from Stinky Dog Beads--the dangling lentils (LOVE those), the big faceted turquoise rondelles, the seed beads, the little aqua three-cut rondelles, the funky little dark red baroque bicones, and the little turquoise birdie. The fat little copper spacers are from Afrobeadia on Etsy, and the toggle clasp is one of my own hand-forged elements.
I decided to make a coordinating necklace from some tiny Czech Picasso bugle beads I'd had for a while--the pendant is green magnesite and the little oval stone at the end is red creek jasper. Peaceful, no?
Serenity Now
And some earrings with a tassel technique I just learned (the beadcaps are mine, and the lampwork is from one of my favorite Etsy stores, which is now closed--BOOOO!!!!!!):
Shake Your Rustic Groove Thang
I also made these (also on a secondary bracelet binge, which I think I'm over). The first one is designed around some happy and fun striped Indonesian glass beads from Happy Mango Beads, seed beads and kyanite ovals from I don't know where, a sea glass nugget from Stinky Dog Beads, and a little yellow tulip from Afrobeadia (and one of my clasps again):
Summer Fun
This one has a gypsy flair to me. Again I started with Indonesian striped glass (these ones are very earthy and subdued) from Happy Mango, fashioned them into a rolo-type chain, and riffed off the colors in the beads for the remainder of my elements:
This one began with dark brick red Indonesian glass (yes, from Happy Mango), and I built off of those adding some translucent amber Czech glass, smoked glass seed beads, brown lip shell, and bronze and red pearls (my clasp again):
Red Planet
(I'm actually thinking of adding a tiny dollop of turquoise to it--a good friend suggested that and I thought it would be spectacular.)

I also made another bracelet but I have grown to hate it so much (I only hated it a little when I first made it so I decided to take the high road and let it live), I think I am going to take it apart. It is an abomination of the Strawberry Shortcake variety (the worst kind). I can't even bear to show you.

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.)