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, December 3, 2016

Pendants with Happy Fish Things!

I have embarked on a mission to use up my two bins (ahem) of ceramic artist components--first up, Jana Bližňáková of Happy Fish Things and Happy Fish with Heart! I decided to knot them--I find knotting so meditative! Needed a little of that.

This was the first one I made, with one of a pair of Jana's feather/wing-like elements (with their size and lightness, you could use them for fabulous earrings too, but I wanted to make them go farther, and I thought they'd be great in a more petite necklace). I just love the fine black tracery in the glaze. Sublime! I combined it with a pewter heart connector from Happy Mango Beads, Indonesian glass beads in variegated turquoise (also from Happy Mango--aren't they fabulous? I love how obviously handmade they are), blackstone nuggets, transparent straw-hued Delicas, sterling silver, black Greek leather and waxed linen cording.
Heart Takes Flight
Here is the second one--I had these wonderful Czech glass leaves in autumn tones hanging out in my workspace (where did I get those???...) and when I saw them together, I had to do it! I went back to my Happy Mango turquoise seed beads for a splash of matchy-matchy, added a little Red Creek jasper and a couple of carved black horn feathers, and finished the stringing with glossy black 1 mm leather cord and 11/0 matte black seed beads. I anchored the ends to a pair of my hand-textured silver connector rings, adding some nut brown 2 mm Greek leather with my coil ends, and a short length of sterling silver connector chain terminating in one of my hand-forged sterling hook and eye clasps. Sterling silver accent beads.
Autumn on the Wing
I also had two of these fantastically delicate cherry-blossom-style pieces of Jana's left in my ceramics bin (I had only used one so far). The glaze on this one was a bit lighter than the other--a soft teal fading into a diaphanous sea green. It reminded me so much of the sea, I thought some recycled glass rounds with their sea-glass feel would be a nice addition, and I had some in a lovely celadon that went nicely with the glaze. I decided to stay with lighter colors, knotting it all together with Irish waxed linen cording in ivory, and adding Czech Picasso 3-cut glass seed beads in sea green and cobalt blue from Stinky Dog Beads. For a second it was a tossup between teal Greek leather and this lovely mint -- the mint seemed to make the whole thing pop more so I went with that. It's finished the same as the pieces above, with connector rings, coil ends, and extender chain. (That's a dollop of kyanite on the clasp ring.)
Serenity Now! Right Here Under My Beach Umbrella
The other cherry blossom was in slightly more saturated, vivid hues of turquoise and teal, so I used bolder colors. I'm obsessed with these Czech "wampum" beads from Stinky Dog Beads (they make the most wonderfully mellow clacking sound as they move together). I love the Southwest palette! I added black accents to ground it--black Indonesian glass nuggets from Happy Mango (I love the soft sheen on them), more of my 11/0 matte black Japanese seed beads from Fusion Beads, black Irish waxed linen cording, and black Greek leather--and of course sterling silver (I love that little star jasmine charm--it makes me think of a marshal's badge!). The sweet little Czech glass bird bead is also from Stinky Dog Beads.
Marshal Miss Kitty
I had two of these lovely crackle-glaze medallions in teal and turquoise tones--I love Jana's muted flower pattern, it makes me think of a batik. I thought the vibrant glaze could hold its own against some genuine turquoise, so I went to my favorite blocky turquoise heishi and paired them with garnets--I adore turquoise and garnets together! It's sort of a twist on the traditional Southwest palette, I guess. I love the juxtaposition of the opaque, matte turquoise with the translucent glossy garnets. To bring in some lightness, I teamed them up with vintage Ghanaian glass seed beads in ivory from Afrobeadia, sterling silver, matte black 11/0 seed beads, black waxed linen cord and black Greek leather.
Star Power
This is the other medallion. I wanted to go warm with it, so I pawed through my enormous bin of Indonesian glass beads from Happy Mango until I found my favorite ones, in cocoa brown with stripes of pumpkin, saffron and ivory. To echo the teal in the medallion, I added large and small Indonesian glass beads in translucent teal (from Happy Mango Beads) and 11/0 Japanese seed beads in a similar color; and riffing off the colors in the brown striped beads I added more 11/0 seed beads in a warm maize color, Ghanaian seed beads in ivory, a few 8/10 seeds in root beer brown here and there, and deertan lace in a golden buff color. I added a pewter Celtic knot bead from Happy Mango, and finished it off as I did the others, with sterling silver rings, coils, chain and hook-and-eye clasp. (That little Czech glass flower in teal on the clasp is from Stinky Dog Beads.)
The Warm and Cool of It
I have more awesome stuff of Jana's left--this is what's on my worktable now:

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I recently learned how to make beaded tassel earrings (a year ago--what can I say? I'm slow), thanks to Bianca at All About Beads and  her Fabby YouTube channel. HERE is the tut if you're interested.

Well, as you can see, I went a little crazy--my wrapping my head around this technique coincided with a delivery of some rather delectable Czech glass beads from Stinky Dog Beads. I'm crazy for the "wampum" tube beads, as you can see below. As well as the Picasso beads of every other shape and color--like the 3-cut seed beads and faceted rondelles in transparent sea green, and the red Picasso spacers below.

Southwest Bonanza

These began with a gorgeous set of enameled beadcaps from Anne Gardanne--these aged Picasso seed beads from Beads and Babble seemed perfect with them, as well as the short Czech Picasso barrels in mint green from Stinky Dog Beads, and again with the sea green 3-cut seeds--LOVE those.
How Green Was My Lawn

This pair of earrings began as 10 lovely Czech Picasso glass teardrops in azure and a couple of faceted sky blue rondelles from (yes, you guessed it) Stinky Dog Beads, which eventually joined ranks with more seed beads from Beads and Babble, big aqua glass spacers, my own embossed copper beadcaps, and Indonesian glass beads in turquoise from Happy Mango Beads (on the earwires).
Island Paradise

Well here is a little Cinco de Mayo for you at the end of August. I started with the little scarlet Czech flowers (need I say it? from Stinky Dog Beads--or just "The Dog," as it is known at my house), determined to use them in a tassel earring. I finally settled on some other beads to go with them--variegated turquoise seed beads, pale yellow seed beads, Indonesian glass seed beads in coral red and transparent teal (those are the larger ones right on top of the flowers) from Happy Mango Beads, my own embossed copper beadcaps, a couple of faceted Czech rondelles in azure from The Dog, and two carnelian rondelles from my ancient bead stash. I picture Frida Kahlo in these.
Cinco de Mayo RIGHT NOW

For these I started out with Czech Picasso seed beads from Beads and Babble (I believe they are the same ones as above in Island Paradise and How Green Was My Lawn, except not etched). I used some heavily Picassoed sea green 3-cuts in the tassels, as well as a pair of jade green faceted Czech rondelles, sea green wampum tubes in metallic-accented sea green, all courtesy of The Dog, my own embossed beadcaps topped with a pair of Tierra Cast caps, and some old glass tile beads in amber from Fire Mountain (which they of course no longer carry because they were too fabulous.)
Green and Gold

And lastly, this is the first design I attempted when I finally sucked up the courage to try Bianca's tutorial. I started with a pair of Gardanne beadcaps, and went from there. I used a mix of both Japanese and Indonesian seed beads in turquoise (the latter from Happy Mango), rose-gold faceted Czech rondelles from BobbiThisnThat, and sultry black-finish rhinestone spacers from The Dog. And then lots of pewter and sterling silver. (I think the silver heishi are from Fusion Beads, and the little daisies are probably from Monsterslayer.) GIRLY!!! You could blow the lid off a My Little Pony party with this kind of ear candy.
Girl Power

Well, frankly, I'm exhausted after all that. Time for a nap.

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!