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).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Brief, Dizzying, Barely Controlled Fall Into the Terrifying World of Multi-Color

I decided to take a page from the design sensibility of the fabulous Lorelei Eurto, and take a small, wavering step away from my beloved Woobie, Monochrome/Duochrome. Just for the day.

It was terrifying.

This is what issued from my fevered brain during my descent into madness, into the topsy-turvy world of More Than Two Colors.

The bracelet above features, from upper right, denim blue coral, little Czech rounds in Montana blue, striped lampwork from Blue Seraphim, some weird seed-like bead I got from Ben Franklin (the store, not the man), green magnesite, lampwork from Kelley Wenzel, wood, a pewter Celtic charm, lampwork from Being Beads, more Montana blue Czech glass and wood, and lastly another lampwork Bead from Kelley Wenzel. Rolo chain from Lima Beads. As you can see I cheated just a little and kept everything pretty much in muted, earthy tones, even the (gulp) blue.

I stepped out just a tad further on this one, with the brighter blue of the little sodalite rounds, but I still had one hand on the Woobie. The beads are (deep breath) first, a lovely lampwork bead at center by Kelley Wenzel, yellow turquoise (which would be green in this case), golden jade, carnelian, sodalite, blue aventurine, chrysanthemum stone, brecciated jasper, Czech pressed and fire-polished glass, striped Javanese glass beads, mahogany obsidian, and green magnesite. This is going to be a FPITA to price out. Perhaps one of the reasons I avoid using a lot of different kinds of beads in something. Oh, and that's annealed steel wire. I formed and hammered every one of those little rat bastard spirals.

This one technically has more than two colors--brown, cream, and green, but one could argue that the brown/cream distinction is mere semantics and I cheated. So sue me. The stones/beads starting from the big barrel bead in the middle are an etched agate barrel (from my recent goodie bag from Kelley Wenzel) which looks amazingly like an ancient African clay bead, a half-dome "shell cap", more yellow (a/k/a green) turquoise, a commercial lampwork bead (I think) from Bead Outlet, a fabulous ceramic bead from Macarrol, lampwork from Kelley Wenzel (right next to the clasp), wood, and lampwork from Blue Seraphim.

I started to feel panicky after this however so I retreated back to the safety of Just Two Colors, and made these. The first one is just basically pink and green. Unless you count copper as a color. Large lampwork bead from Bebes Glass Beads (it's actually a nice olive green, can't see it here), pink jasper nuggets, commercial lampwork from Bead Outlet, yellow (i.e., green) turquoise, another nubby green "seed" bead, and dangling cherry quartz, moukaite, apple green howlite, green magnesite and pearls. Rolo chain from Ornamentea. (I don't really care for any of the pictures I took today--I was all happy because there was bright overcast light but it just looked like fake light. Going to have to redo them all one day.)

I don't like this one. I don't really like yellow and green together all by themselves but I felt constrained by the verdite. I don't want to take it apart because of all the silver I used. If anybody has any suggestions for making it less putrid, I'd be thrilled. I'm not going to list it until it's less putrid.

I have other bead combinations lying around that involve more than two colors but I ran out of time and energy to make them into anything. I'm soooo slow. However, I think I had best come off the color highwire for awhile and do some monochrome. I miss my Woobie.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On the Mend

Well, I finally feel like I probably don't have swine flu. Sore throat finally went away, and the party has now moved to my Eustachian tubes. What's that you say? What? What?? WHAT???? THEY SHOULD START MAKING SOUNDPROOF ROOMS OUT OF SNOT BECAUSE IT HAS AMAZING DAMPENING PROPERTIES! LIKE, I CAN'T HEAR YOU AT ALL!!! WHAT?? I'M WHAT??? SELLING??? HECK YEAH!!! WHAT--OH, YELLING???

fine i'll whisper. here's what i made today. don't worry, i made it inside one of those biohazard safety cabinets--you know, it looks like an incubator and you stick your hands into these built-in gloves and there's negative air pressure and all that. sort of looks exactly like this.

really hard to pick up head pins with the gloves on. i was a little frustrated. i used up the rest of the "barbed wire" earring hoops i had made. a looonng time ago i had said something about pink ones--well here they are.

and grass green ones, in honor of the first day of spring, which was yesterday. apparently. somewhere.

and lastly, moody "black diamond" ones, for the goth in all of us.

well, as soon as i can hear again i'll have to unload the biological safety cabinet on ebay so i can buy a dremel and a house. i think it would be great as a diaper changing station.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Santa Came Early!

Or maybe it was the Easter Bunny. I can't tell because it came in the mail and it was from Karen Hardy. If it had come in a basket or a stocking I would know for sure but it came in bubble wrap. Or if it had said "From Santa." I suppose Karen could have been acting on her own, with no direction from either Santa or the Easter Bunny, but it just FEELS so much like Christmas, or Easter morning, that I'm just not sure. However, since all the evidence is subjective (it feeling like Christmas), and there being no OBjective evidence that Karen was acting under the direction of a powerful and influential person (like the Easter Bunny), I'm willing to believe (for now) that it was a thank you gift. A SERIOUSLY ROCKIN' thank you gift. A KICK-ASS thank you gift. A gift from the QUEEN of ROCKIN' thank you gifts. No, the GODDESS of ROCKIN' thank you gifts. (Goddesses are higher than queens, right?) These are like WAY better than an Easter egg. Or even a Cadbury egg. Or Peeps. Better than Peeps. Blows Peeps out of the water. Peeps just don't stand up to prolonged fondling. Look at these BEADS!!!! It's like she saw my letter to Santa!!! (Hmm, that makes me think that it WAS Santa). And all I had to do was turn her on to Happy Mango Beads. I admit I was pretty happy myself when I found that site, but I stumbled across it myself out of sheer dumb luck.

Karen says she is now inspired to photograph and list the "oodles" of beads she has apparently been hiding from us. There could be a potential explosion of new beads in her Etsy shop, which I encourage you to visit regularly until beads begin appearing. If beads do not appear in the immediate future, I encourage you to convo her repeatedly until they do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Industrial Brain

OK, the lizard didn't last long. I've now switched to the melancholy but strangely romantic turn-of-the-century urban factory scene. It must be my fevered brain. I'm sick today. I'm like the Nyquil poster child. The scratchy (throat, mind you)/achy thing. But it's boring here. I thought I would use those precious moments of post-prandial low-grade energy to show you what I made yesterday. So here it is.

More of that Ornamentea chain. Has a nice urban feel. I love the toggle clasp, looks like it was made from machine parts. Forget where I got it. That seems to be a problem lately.

You can see the blue/green flashes in the labradorite in this pic:

This is how it looks on. If you have no head. I can only guess it would look better with a head.

That's all I got. Heading back to the couch.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Reptilian Brain

I think I was a lizard in a former life. I must have been in the middle of a past life regression when I made this bracelet because it's all about the desert. I have desert on the brain.

Kelley Wenzel of Kelley's Beads has been counting down the days until her trip to Phoenix and all I can think about now is sun, sand, cacti, those creepy cow skulls, rocks, heat and lizards. And I like it. I grew up in central California, where you have all the joys of heat and crackling dry air without the charm of the actual desert. I would like to go to the desert. Did I already say that?

Picture jasper, my new favorite stone, is the star in this bracelet. It's like the desert's very aesthetic was captured in little spheres and sold to me for my personal enjoyment. I love love love it. Just looking at it makes me feel tan and warm. Or in my case freckled and warm. More little picture jasper rounds shake their groove thang (sorry, it's late at the end of the week) on a length of antique-silver plated rollo chain (which I have been trying desperately and unsuccessfully all day to long to remember where I got it), with some wood, a couple tiger eye rounds, and a little silver-plated sun/moon charm (which you can't see in either of these pictures--the important thing is that I know it's there). Hand forged nickel bead caps, and hand-forged toggle clasp. I did all the sterling ball head pins myself with my new badass propane torch. HOT DAMN!!!! Those suckers melt in a flash. Next thing you know I'll be a one woman sweat shop flooding the market with sterling ball head pins. Right on.

For more information on this item, or to purchase, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Getting it Out of My System

Apparently I'm harboring some purple in my psyche that needs exorcising. I had this laid out alongside my Easter blossoms necklace and finally put it together the other night. Found these big pietersite barrels at a bead show last year, and loved the colors so much i bought them on impulse. There was so much lilac in this strand, and some of the beads (not the ones I used here) had broad bands of what looks exactly like tiger eye in them. I combined them here with lilac stone, tiger eye, Czech druk beads and freshwater pearls, and of course more of my bead caps (wish I had a metal punch that punched out flower shapes or something. I'm betting Harbor Freight doesn't have anything like that.)

I'm hoping that I'm also harboring lots and lots of blue that is going to be exorcised soon, because I have lots and lots of blue beads now. And a lampworker named Karen Hardy contacted me, asking me where I got my bonefish pendant, and as a thank you for pointing her to Happy Mango Beads she's sending me some of her beads. Blue beads! It's fate I tell you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Early Summer" Pendant with Summers Studio Lentil Focal

Inspiration FINALLY struck for one of Leann Weih's gorgeous porcelain lentil beads. I've been hoarding this, and another similar one, since last September. (You can visit Leann's Etsy shop HERE). I had some ideas knocking around in my head, but none of them felt right. I was absently pawing through my pendant collection again on Saturday, and opened Leann's package again. I had an idea, grabbed some aqua terra jasper beads, and decided that's what I would combine it with. I started on it this morning, and I had already wrapped one jasper bead when I thought it was missing something. I wanted to include some blue in the piece, to bring out the subtle washed denim hue in the focal. But gee, what did I have in that color? Gosh, how about that big fat ziplock bag of denim blue coral roundels? Oh yeah, those! Well, I laid those out together and I liked it. And then the aqua terra jasper didn't work anymore, but it still needed a little green. So I grabbed a couple of the matte finish Chinese jade I picked up locally--the color matched the green glaze exactly, and I threw in some green button pearls I tarted up with tiny antiqued copper bead caps. I had a couple of these floral copper toggle clasps I bought ages ago because they were on sale, never really thinking I would use them, but they were perfect for this piece--the flower is even kind of similar to the flower on the lentil focal. A teensy bit of antiqued copper rolo from Ornamentea, and it was done.

The bead caps on the blue coral and Chinese jade are more of mine (looks like I'll be spending another lunch hour at the office with my metal punch). The necklace measures a little shy of 18" long, but because the wonderful rolo chain from Ornamentea has open links, it's easy to change the length of it without having to cut any links. Oh, and by the way, fired up the propane torch--the little button-like thing at the base of Leann's bead is a hammered ball of copper I made myself with my torch!! I can't believe I waited so long to fire it up. It was easier than opening a bag of chips. Unscrew the top, pop on the head, turn up the dial, click the starter. Voila. Fire. The copper melted beautifully. I'm looking forward to melting all of the copper I have.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Signs of Spring

I was determined this weekend to use some more of Kelley Wenzel's beads. I had bought some of her "raku egg" beads earlier this year, and had been incubating ideas in my head. I wanted to draw out the lilac in them, so that was my starting point. It actually came together rather quickly, for a change. One of the gratifying things about Kelley's beads is you don't have to work very hard to make them look spectacular in a piece of jewelry! Less is more, and keeping it simple is best so they can really have the spotlight.

I love the colors in these beads--lots of soft amber, a little pale green, and surprising swirls of lilac. The larger bead was actually among the set that Kelley initially surprised me with, and I was thrilled to see how perfectly it complemented the raku beads. The little egg beads are mostly transparent, with the swirls of color in them, and the larger bead is opaque. It reminds me of Jupiter in its Easter bonnet. They are perfect together. I combined them with some simple Czech druk rounds in lilac, a couple of rustic Chinese jade rounds (I felt it needed a little bit of matte finish in there somewhere to turn down the frou-frou factor a notch), and a couple lilac pearls just for fun. I had done the brass spirals several months ago, without any idea what I would do with them, and I liked how they echoed the shape of the beads. The bead caps are my own.

The egg beads are, as their name implies, egg shaped, and the holes are nearer the "top" of each egg, so that if strung, there would be a "dancing" effect, like top drilled pearls. When I wired them onto the bead caps, it created this (in my opinion) utterly charming crocus effect. They look to me like crocus just starting to open. Perfect for an Easter necklace!

I'm really pleased with how this turned out. I think it's my new favorite thing I ever did. Thanks for making it easy, Kelley! Can't wait to do more!

P.S. I think I finally have some inspiration for one of Leann Weih's (Summers Studio) blue-green lentil focals that might almost be worthy of it. Hope to do that tomorrow, along with a little more PURPLE!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sea Dragon

I bought two strands of these gorgeous teal-dyed quartz rounds at a local beadshop when they were on sale--I had no idea what I was going to do with them but they were irresistible. (I don't know why I have this lust for teal, but I have an aversion to actual blue. I mean, are they really that different?) I had multiple scenarios for using these beads, none of which resembled the pictures below. First I was going to get teal ribbon and knot it and dangle them in between. But can you find teal ribbon to match? No. I even inquired about a custom order but was so frustrated by the seller's garbled non-response I said screw it. Tried some sea green silk cord--gah, NOT. Tried teal blue satin cord--again, GAH! OK, black then. Maybe Greek leather. No, too stiff. Black silk then. Huh, the dangling thing isn't going to work. (Where have I heard THAT before.) Which also would probably conceptually disqualify black satin cord. Finally decided to just wire wrap the damn thing. And I nearly fell out of my chair when some of my new boro beads actually coordinate nicely with the quartz. Well, I guess good things DO happen to bad people.

Et voila! Some handmade nickel bead caps pounded flat to fit the boro beads, a little amazonite roundel to finish off one side, and some antique silver-plated rolo chain from Ornamentea.

The two larger boro beads are from LAJewelry on Etsy, and the smaller is from BeingBeads on Etsy (my local supplier). Unbelievable how close they match! The holes on the boro beads are pretty big and I had to drop a few 8/0 seed beads in there to pick up the slack with my 20 gauge wire. Seemed to work fine.

The pewter dragon pendant is from Happy Mango Beads. They have an awesome selection of ethnic-inspired pewter, free shipping, and they ship fast. They also recently started carrying a selection of gorgeous pewter beads. I'm sure you'll be seeing them on here pretty soon.

In other news, I got my Fusion Beads order with my vast assortment of blue and purple seed beads, so I am theoretically prepared to start my project with Pat's blue beads (see below). I should have that wrapped up in about a month. If I don't get sidetracked. Or if I don't decide I don't like it. If we win the lottery it'll be longer because I'll be in the desert playing golf. The watered part.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Boro Beads from Pat!

Pat stopped by yesterday to bring me the beads she made for me for my special project. Here they are!

Aren't they lovely? Even though I suck at photographing boro beads? The lighter set is in a more denim/cornflower blue, with hints of plum and light sage, and splashes of rich cerulean blue. The darker set has a deep midnight blue ground, with varying shades of cerulean blue and cobalt, with hint of deep red plum and soft green. My photos just don't capture all the color variations. Just what I had asked her for! I'm super excited because there's a bunch of other gemstone beads I can combine them with, beyond my "special" project ("special" meaning I didn't have any of the items necessary to make it and had to go out and buy them all. It's a compulsion, like becoming unbearably thirsty as soon as the plumber turns the water off. I keep getting fab ideas involving materials I do not possess.)

Pat Redinger of BeingBeads on Etsy makes really lovely boro beads--really eye catching patterns and wonderful combinations of colors (see my previous post). She also sells them singly! How great is that? Sometimes you don't need a whole set, or you might want to mix and match. Check out her shop!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I needed to indulge my hardware fixation, just a little. Hardware like from the hardware store. I have a brilliant collection of assorted steel and bronze washers, and some really killer machine bushings. I don't know what machine bushings are. Some of them are charcoal gray and the ultimate in urban industrial chic. Or so I say. I'm really hooked on this gunmetal/dark silver palette, and I keep returning to it again and again. Maybe because it's been sunny lately, I needed a dose of neutral monochrome.

The pendant below includes steel washers in two different sizes, lightly hammered, freshwater pearls, silver accent beads and spacers, and some fabulous antique silver-plated rolo chain from Ornamentea.

I made the chain ultra long--I felt the pendant and coin pearls were substantial enough for it to be worn at a generous Druid-priestess length, about 28". Perfect with your [urban neo-Druid] priestess garb, or your favorite vinyl Matrix outfit. (Everybody has one of those, right? Good Lord, could they be any squeakier? They must have edited out the squeaks in the movie.) The silver pearls have an oil slick effect, glowing alternately pink, blue and purple depending on the angle at which they're viewed.

I have just the outfit to wear this with, but unfortunately it would involve tights and heels and that's just not going to happen. It's going to have to wait for the right neo-Druid urban priestess.