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 25, 2012


Autumn Dragonfly
I dropped by to chat with my financial adviser the other day. I had a little savings, and wondered if I should be using it for something instead of just letting it sit (like maybe paying off my car). We chatted for a bit ("Cash is king," she said--meaning hang onto it if you got it), and we talked about my jewelry, i.e., my jewelry supply collection. I explained that making jewelry was really just an excuse to collect jewelry-making supplies, and that there was not one single aspect of my jewelry-making that could be construed as a "business." Especially the "income" part. She paused a moment, and asked: "Well, why don't you try running it as a business?"


Well I have been reeling ever since. What. A novel. Idea. Like a business.

So I have been playing a little game with myself called "Use What You Have." The rules are that I am not allowed, for the foreseeable future (I haven't yet defined the time period further), to execute any jewelry ideas that involve supplies or tools I do not yet have. The challenge, if you will, is to create something from the colossal pile of crap I already have. It's actually been really fun, like a puzzle, and I love puzzles. Kind of like MacGyver. ("Your challenge, should you accept it, is to create a pair of earrings using only elements from this ginormous basket of assorted gauges of wire of all kinds, these storage units full of tools half of which you don't even know the purpose of, and these 20 containers of beads.") The earrings above were one of the first pair I did as part of my new "game." I've had the amber forever, the dragonflies almost as long, but I confess I recently acquired (before the commencement of my game) the Czech glass (along with about 20 other colors of Czech glass). The items below are also part of my game:

The Raven
I've had these carved horn feathers forever, and this is the first time I've ever used them. Ditto for the lampwork spacers, and I think I used two of the little striped glass beads in another pair of earrings. I've been too phobic to use my sterling silver because of the cost (I always choke because I'm trying to be too careful), but I decided it won't have cost me any less (money's already gone) just sitting there so I might as well use it, and if I have to waste a little pretending it's copper (so that I don't choke) then so be it--better than letting it sit there. So I'm getting all extravagant with my hoard of sterling silver. And I'm not allowed to buy more (according to the game rules) when I run out. I'll just have to use copper and brass.

Half and Half
I've been hoarding these wonderful two-tone tablets by Kelley Wenzel forever, waiting for just the right design. Then my game began, and I thought, "Screw that, I'm usin' 'em." Et voila. AND sterling silver--am I a daredevil or what? I love how these turned out (with more Czech glass from my pre-game splurge--I'm determined to use as many of those glittery little babies as possible. I like them on earwires.).

Robins' Eggs. But Sort of Flattened.
I've had these nifty ceramic beads since my first (and so far, last) visit to Hobby Lobby. (It's like 8 hours away, which might be a big reason we're not on food stamps.) I used them in earrings once before, and really liked them, so I used some more. (I'm really getting the hang of this frugal, ascetic thing.) I used them with yet more of my new Czech glass beads stash, and some little papyrus charms I have also had forever, since buying them for some mysterious future purpose.

Verdigris Medallion Lariat
These are more of my stash of brass leaf medallions (had them forever) from Happy Mango Beads, treated with a traditional verdigris patina. I've attached them to some deerskin lace in cocoa, with both nickel and sterling silver accents, and blue sky jasper (had it forever), ebony wood (had it forever), and spruce tint lampwork (had it forever). I'm so proud of myself. (This is a lariat, which I've been wanting to do--you just tie it loosely.) Went hog wild with the sterling silver wire again--but holy crap, fourteen 3" long 20-gauge ball headpins really adds up.)

And of course I had grown instantly bored with my button pieces as soon as I had gotten the hang of them (and had amassed quite an impressive collection of disc beads.) But then THE GAME began, and I was obliged to start using my stash of disc beads. The turquoise ones seem quite popular, so I did this little variation, that has a second strand with a little gingko charm:

Southwest Gingko
I have a couple ideas for tomorrow, for using more "stuff I've had forever." I also have sort of a loose goal to try to make one thing a day. Not sure how long that will last. Tomorrow I will try to post about the pearl hoard I got with my Bead Trends gift certificate.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Verdigris Leaf Medallion

Verdigris Medallion
I've had a strand of these Ghanaian brass leaf medallions from Happy Mango Beads forever. I've used them here and there in their natural finish. When I started using patina solutions, it occurred to me to try some of them on these medallions. They took the patina beautifully--every color I've tried, the medallions just soaked it up and looked great. I used a traditional verdigris solution on this from Miss Fickle Media, and sealed it with Vintaj Glaze and a layer of Renaissance Wax. It's very durable.

I combined it with round 2mm leather cording in antique brown from Leather Cord USA, little African jade roundels, recycled glass barrels in sea green (also from Happy Mango Beads), a Czech glass wheel in blue-green, and one of my round coin-impressed charms.

I have two more of these medallions in this color that I am working into a lariat-style necklace. I hope to have that done in the next few days!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jungle Love

Jungle Love
In a fit of patina experimentation, I ended up making 16 patina coin focals like this one, in several different colors. They were the coins from my collection that weren't interesting enough to use for textures on my metal, and basically ugly as-is. So I covered them up with crazy colors! They will become bracelets, pendants, and clasps for necklaces. This one was all in kelly green and teal--the perfect occasion to use some of my "jungle green" recycled sari silk ribbon from Mudhound Studios.

I had made up some textured copper tube beads a while back (I haven't had much luck finding large hole copper tube beads for sale, and they're usually plated anyway and the finish doesn't match my handmade copper components), and added those to the silk, in between knots. Then I added some teardrops of emerald green aventurine between the tube beads. I needed some more length so I thought about it awhile and decided to add some wrapped bars accented with etched lampwork spacers in kelly green by The Spacer Shop. I added more petite lampwork beads to the bottom of the focal for a longer profile--variegated teal nugget by Kelley Wenzel, etched aqua spacer by Pinocean, and transparent emerald green spacer by The Spacer Shop. I used Swellegant patinas from B'Sue Boutiques on the riveted focal.

Serendipitously (or subconsciously) my new focals match all the sari ribbon I had purchased from Mudhound Studios. So I think you will see a big crop of stuff like this coming out of my shop until I use all that up. And by then, hopefully I will have begun soldering and you'll start seeing something completely different! (I found a local jewelry artist to come over and walk me through my mixed-fuel-torch-phobia--and then of course I discovered I needed a couple more parts so I have to wait a few more days before I fire it up.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bead Trends Designer Highlight September 2012

The September issue of Bead Trends is out in digital format, and I'm the featured designer! Five of my favorite pieces are featured:
Forest Floor
This piece above is one I've not shared much before--I finished it just as I was compiling my collection to send along to Bead Trends, and so wasn't able to share the photographs until the magazine came out. I'm keeping this one for myself! It includes a fabulous lampwork flower from Natali Rabin (rhnatali) on Etsy (I have these in lime too!), and a scrumptious little lampwork mushroom by Bubby & McGurk beads with a coordinating dotted spacer (I think it was that sweet little 'shroom that convinced me to keep this one for myself. I can't let it go.) It's one of the first truly mixed metal pieces I've created. I love silver and copper together!

I had to give you another view, because I love it so much :-) !!
Pink Champagne
This necklace includes lampwork spacers by Kelley Wenzel (the little cream-colored encased ones), and clear and opaque lampwork spacers by Michelle Bryant of The Spacer Shop (Etsy) in shades of coral pink.  The focal is pink fire agate.
Riding my Chestnut Horse with my Heart on My Sleeve and a Dove on My Arm
This bracelet is all about dove gray and chestnut--I love these colors together! Two-toned lampwork spacers by Pat Redinger, with a big bugbog seed in soft gray, and lots of pewter hearts and heavy gauge sterling silver wire.

I just love this bracelet. There's lots of Indonesian glass from Happy Mango Beads in here (the striped and pumpkin-colored ones), little turquoise lampwork spacers from Meital (Etsy), some Dzi-style etched red agate beads, a little carnelian, and another fabulous cinnamon flower from Natali Rabin. Big silver color button from Lyanwood (Etsy)--super fun metal buttons and great service!

Bead Trends also featured a pair of my textured nickel flower earrings with sterling silver rosettes, but I forgot to take a picture of them before I sent them! I've shared a similar pair in copper before on Earrings Everyday.

All but the first piece will be back in my Etsy shop soon, when my jewelry babies return!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Copper Cone Challenge Reveal

Head on over to Lorelei's blog to see the Copper Cone Challenge Reveal, featuring my copper cones!

Check out what Lorelei did!!! I'm knocked out! I never thought to use them this way, and these trumpet flowers are amazing!