Friday, August 29, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Yes, it's that time of the week again (TGIF!). I'm afraid this isn't a great photo (I had trouble getting the whole thing in frame). The Short One's grandmother made this for the SO (you will see that he added his own personal touch in red along the bottom) when she was here earlier this summer. She meant it to be a play mat for his fleet of origami boats. The SO wasn't interested at all in pirates or the high seas when she drew it, but boy is he ever now. He goes around the house snarling "Arrr!" in an appropriately menacing (but inevitably cute) way.

Anyway, all of this has caused me some panic, as I was not intending to make him a pirate's costume for Halloween. This may all change, now, if I can figure out how to manage it within two months, knitting only in the wee hours of the night. Or perhaps I'll just give up and buy one. I don't know. That just seems like cheating, especially when the costumee (is that a word?) in question is not clamoring for a store-bought costume (actually, he's not clamoring for a costume at all, but I'm sure he'll enjoy it once the holiday comes around).

On other fronts, the Husband is taking some vacation days next week, so I'll be on a blogging break. I'll return on Tuesday, September 9th. I hope everyone in the U.S. who reads this has a great Labor Day. In the meantime, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links to get you through the holiday weekend:

Art Bead Scene
Thinking about selling your jewelry and craft items? Get the scoop on opening an Etsy Shop.

BeadStyle goes back to school
Check out BeadStyle's new Beading Parties, free projects, and links to friends

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi uses ribbon to really embellish resin pendants.

Jewelry & Beading
A spiraling peyote stitch tube using beads of different sizes creates a beautiful centerpiece.

Katie's Beading Blog
Take a peek at the latest additions to Katie's bead stash, including: "vegetable ivory," Venetian glass, raku pottery and more!

Strands of Beads
Melissa finds Very Useful Items at American Science & Surplus

Take care!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ornament Thursday - Academia

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! I'm not participating this month, alas. I had really good intentions, and the perfect charms for this month's theme from Earthenwood Studio, but I simply ran out of time. Argh. (Do you think the Husband will be surprised when I tell him that I want another five hours in my day for Christmas?) Anyway, the theme for this month is Academia. Please visit these OT members to see their fabulous projects:

Art Bead Scene & The Golden Rule
The Art Bead Scene editor shares a few words of wisdom for jewelry designers.

Back to School-Make your own Pencils
School is back in session, everyone needs new pencils. Why not glass?

BeadStyle goes back to school
Lindsay Haedt's on her way to the classroom, but not before Linda shares one of her recent designs

Beading Help Web Wires Up Academia
Lynn Kvigne to read! While you can easily use a scrap of paper or an old magazine subscription card for a bookmark, why not whip up a stylish book mark instead?

Check out the "homework" project from Joolz by Lisa
A collab effort works out great when you plan ahead

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy's learned how to Mail!

Michelle's Edumacation
Michelle has yet another go at decorating Helen's workstation, this month, less scary than last but oh, so funky

Swelldesigner goes crazy over school supplies!
Alexa shows you how to turn pencil grips into ultra funky accessories

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping Opportunities: American Science & Surplus

Before I start, I have to issue a disclaimer. These geodes are not from American Science & Surplus. They are from the handful that my friend Carolyn and I cracked (see my post here about them) - they come from Illinois. (These are some of Carolyn's geodes. She gave them to me when we met for lunch, since they are all sized nicely for jewelry. Where was I? Oh, yes:) However, after writing that post, I thought it would be nice if I could find an on-line source for geodes, and, lo and behold, one of my favorite stores happens to sell them.

If you live in Illinois and know an engineer, chances are, you already know about this store. I kind of think of this as a rummage store or emporium for engineers. (Possibly, I am biased, as I was introduced to the place by the Husband, who is an engineer, when we were dating.) The taglines to the store says "Incredible Stuff! Unbelievable Prices!" and "Unlike Any Place On Earth!", and it's pretty much true. It has the oddest inventory you are likely to find in any retail store - everything from parts for electronics buffs, to miniature build-your-own-volcano sets for kids, to Pyrex beakers, to yarn in psychadelic colors, to, well, geodes (imported from Mexico). And, in the bricks and mortar store, you are likely to find the yarn placed next to, say, automotive parts and fishing tackle, which makes the whole experience even more surreal.

Well, yes, Melissa, but what does all of this have to do with beads, you ask (apart from the geodes)? Well, due to the unconventional inventory, if you do a little digging, you are likely to come across some Very Useful Items disguised as seconds or technical junk (if you'll pardon the term). How about a set of dentals tools that are "slight seconds" and not usable for teeth, but could be good for other things, like working with clay (of different types)? Forceps in a variety of sizes meant for medical purposes that could be astoundingly good for working with cabochons? Triple-magnifier visors that frankly, I, being of a certain age, would be able to use pretty handily when doing detail work? All of which are offered at pretty reasonable prices? Sound good? Then I suggest checking out this store. They have three bricks and mortar store locations - two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin (addresses are on the website), but the website itself has a comprehensive catalog of goodies and is worth exploring. (Actually, it's worth exploring just for the descriptions of some of the items for sale.)

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

O Mistress Mine

Here's a new necklace I finished last week. The quote is from the song "O Mistress Mine" which appears in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". Here's the full song:

O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love's coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.

What is love? 'Tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies not plenty;
Then, come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure.

Thus, "Present mirth hath present laughter" has a similar meaning to "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" or "carpe diem" or even "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." Needless to say, I like this iteration the best. (It's also where Noel Coward got the title of his play "Present Laughter", by the way.)

You may recall last month, that I tore my stash apart trying to find one bead. Well, that bead was actually the heart bead appearing above. I felt it would be perfect for this necklace, as it is actually double-sided. Here's the other side of the bead:

Pretty appropriate, don't you think? All of the wonderful lampworked beads are by Michele Goldstein. I kind of took apart some of her wheelie bead combinations and reassembled them for this piece, but I think the end result looks pretty good.

Actually, I've been wearing this necklace a lot since I made it, which is unusual for me. I wanted to create a piece using a long bar quote - I thought it might be an interesting challenge to balance it. I was quite surprised by how wearable this turned out to be (although I think anything longer might have been a problem). It looks good with a collared shirt and great with a square neckline. I'm quite thrilled with it, actually (she said, modestly) and have plans to create at least one or two more of the same type (but with different quotes and beads).

On other fronts, my necklace "Pacific Dragon" arrived home today, and I'm happy to have it home. It came with this:

Part of me feels that it's quite crass of me to be showing this to you, especially since I didn't actually win. However, I'm sort of so naively happy to have made the finals, I'm ridiculously pleased, so I hope you will excuse me.

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pushing Up Daisies

Well, I'm back with another shameless plug. I just received my advance copies of the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of Step by Step Beadsyesterday. My necklace, "Pushing Up Daisies", appears as a project in this issue. Although this is not the first of my projects to see publication, it was the first one that was accepted for publication back in January, so I am quite excited to see it.

I have to say, the photography in this issue is out of this world. As far as my project goes, it's a bit of a humorous but gothic piece (if you are thinking "????", you will just have to find a copy of the magazine, eh?) that incorporates beads from two of my favorite beadmakers, Melanie Brooks Lukacs and Joan Miller. It also incorporates a sterling silver toggle clasp by Robert Jennick that I love.

Speaking of Melanie, check out the absolutely gorgeous cover necklace above, which is hers and which uses her fantastic Steampunk beads. Carter Seibels, of Divali Glass Jewelry, whose lampworked beads are completely drool-worthy (seriously, check out her website now, if you are not already familiar with her work), also has a cool project in the magazine.

On other fronts, we had beautiful, sunny mid-70s weather here today, so we took the Short One on a day trip which involved a new children's museum, lunch at an outdoor cafe and the SO's very first ride on a merry-go-round (this was a rather beautiful example of a carousel, too - he rode an elaborately painted tiger). A fine time was had by all. I hope you had an equally nice weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pacific Dragon

I can at long last show you this piece that I designed in March of this year, entitled "Pacific Dragon". This necklace was a finalist in the 2008 Fire Mountain Gems Beading Contest. Winners have now been announced and, alas, I did not place. However, given that this was my first time entering the contest and only the second design contest I have ever entered, I am extremely happy to have reached the finals. I intend to enter again next year. In the meantime, congratulations to all of the winners, including Cyndi Lavin!

The curved bar in this pendant was inspired by the lines found in Japanese shrine architecture, including the torii gates. I dangled one of my dragon eye pendants from this and created additional links and beads to suggest the claws and tail(s) of a dragon. I also converted my dragon heart pendant into a clasp. This was a really fun piece to create. I ended up running out of time (this was my big lesson in entering contests - START EARLIER), and, as a result, there are maybe one or two things I would have liked to change. Overall, though, I'm happy with it.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Recently Michelle Mach, editor of Beading Daily, asked me to discuss why I enjoy working with leather cord. Her lovely article, "6 Ideas for Using Cord, Ribbon, and Other Stringing Materials", was published today (you have to be a member of Beading Daily to read it, but registration is free), including my quote and a link to this blog. Of course, it's occurred to me, ironically, that I haven't posted a photo of anything using leather cord recently, so I thought I'd run this photo of my simple koi necklace again. Out of all of the necklaces I've designed in the past year, this is one of the 2-3 I actually wear myself. (I dress completely like a soccer mom these days, and this necklace works as well with a tee shirt and jeans as it does with anything dressier.) Anyway, thank you, Michelle, for including me in your - as always! - informative article.

Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links to help you get through your weekend: Jewelry Making
Art shows and sites like Ebay and Etsy are packed full of jewelry makers. When is enough enough or too much? Are there too many of us?

Art Bead Scene
The Art Bead Scene editors are a busy bunch! Read what they've been up to.

Art Jewelry Magazine
Robert Dancik's work is featured in the September 2008 issue of Art Jewelry magazine. Check out his project in the magazine, then watch the video on the Art Jewelry web site.

Barbe Saint John
Barbe talks about the new Naughty Secretary Club book.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi turns an embroidered hankerchief into a bracelet.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter shares some of the inspiration behind her creativity, and invites you to do the same.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer's been felting for fun, see what she came up with

Jewelry & Beading
Whip up a simple square stitch bail for that stone donut you want to wear. In fact, whip up a whole batch of them!

Naughty Secretary Club
Take a tour of the Naughty Secretary Club studios to see where the magic happens.

Strands of Beads
Melissa reviews Tammy Powley's new book, Picture Yourself Creating Metal Clay Jewelry

Have a great weekend!

ps. I feel kind of bad for pre-empting the Short One's artwork this week but rest assured that his masterpieces will be back next week. (In case you were wondering.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Thanks for your patience. We managed to swing by the Apple Store finally to procure a new power cord. Our computer is not brand new and is no longer under warranty, so we expected to have to shell out $80+ for a new cord. However, when I approached the sales associate to make sure I'd picked up the cord for the right model computer, he checked the information (noting the melted and ruptured area in the cord I handed to him), asked me how old the computer was, opened a factory sealed box, handed me the new cord, stuffed the damaged one in the box and said, "You're all set." Have I mentioned how much I like Apple?

Here's what I've been doing in my Internet-less state. I've been wanting to add more color to my pendants for a while now. However, I've been leery of purchasing any enamel powder. It just seems too easy for that stuff to become inadvertently airborne and, with the Short One around, I don't want to risk any accidents (for the uninitiated, the powder is NOT healthy to inhale). So, I decided to try colored resin, instead (which has its own safety issues, but in my opinion, these are a little easier to control than loose powder). I must say, I'm pretty pleased with the results. I did learn the hard way that working with opaque resin is tricky in that you won't necessarily see the air bubbles in the resin before it cures, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a heap of them floating around in it. Argh. Anyway, I'm a big fan of black and white checks, so I thought that would be an easy way to start - with a little heart thrown in for good measure. I wasn't exactly thinking of the Queen of Hearts in Alice In Wonderland when I made this piece, but of course it does remind me of her now.

I hope everyone has been having a good week. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Just a quick note from me to let you know that I may be absent for the next couple days. Even though I had it plugged into the outlet, my computer ran out of juice this evening. When I investigated, I discovered a mess of half melted wire and ruptured connections at the base of the power cord. On the whole, I think we're fairly lucky that we did not have a fire today. It may take me a couple days to replace the cord, so I won't have reliable access to the Internet in the interim (ack).

(In case you're wondering, I've snuck onto my husband's laptop - that he happened to bring home from work tonight - and am drafting this from my Flickr account (no photos of jewelry on H's hard drive, sadly)). He'll never know, shhhh...

Take care. I'll see you in a couple days, if not sooner.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carolyn's Koi

The Short One and I had lunch with our friends Carolyn and Amy last week (C & A - thanks again! It was wonderful to see you!). Carolyn is my beading buddy - we usually attend shows together - and is also the nice person who gave me the geodes I cracked recently. (Actually, I have more to report on the geodes, but that's for another day.)

Anyway, Carolyn surprised me by wearing this lovely necklace that she fashioned using one of my koi pendants. Amy happened to have her camera with her, so we took this shot on the table at the restaurant. Don't you think she did a beautiful job? I love seeing what people do with my beads.

I actually made some new beads this weekend. I think it's the first time in over a month that I've had time to sit down and play with PMC for a little while. I'm hoping to have new work to show off by mid-week. We'll see how it goes. I'm finding that, as the SO gets even more active, the amount of time I have to devote to beads shrinks commensurately. Either that, or I'm just too tired at the end of the evening to think about doing anything but trudging up to bed.

On the other hand, it's been a real joy watching the SO's big personality get even bigger and more flamboyant, so it's not as if I can complain. A case in point - I took a shower this evening (it was a hot, sweaty day here). The SO was not pleased to lose my lap right at that point, and didn't hesitate to make his feelings known, so I invited him to join me. Now, the SO usually has a nice, warm bath. I think it fair to say that he was completely unprepared for the technological advance of the shower head. When I put him under it, his eyes became like saucers and he turned to me and said "Raining!"

Have a great day!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

These abstract pieces of, er, paper art are the Short One's very first attempts to make his own origami toys. He thinks they make great play moustaches and eyebrows (unibrows, that is, like Bert from Sesame Street). I think they make dashing hair ribbons and bowties. Call me a doting Mommy, but I think he shows great promise in this arena.

Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links to help get you through the weekend: Jewelry Making
Tammy gives you some tips and jewelry project ideas for designing and making jewelry you can wear to work, even if your job's atmosphere is super up-tight.

Art Bead Scene
Let your jewelry do the talking! Enter the Art Bead Scene's creative challenge!

BeadStyle Magazine

The staff shows off some of their favorite jewelry from the pages of BeadStyle magazine.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter ponders the organization of beads in the Bead Trust booth, and shares some new projects!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Make Jennifer's Long, Dangle-y, and Jangle-y Earring Project

Jewelry & Beading
Make a cigar box handbag...featuring beads, of course!

Katie's Beading Blog
Download one of Katie's projects over at Beading Daily. It's an icy confection of dichroic glass and matte seed beads.

Naughty Secretary Club
The Naughty Secretary Club book is finally here. If you love your jewelry kitschy proceed immediately to Jen's blog.

Salt Shaker Bead
Carmi turns an odd collectible into something wearable.

Strands of Beads
Melissa finds that it's still easy to be green in August

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Review: Picture Yourself Creating Metal Clay Jewelry

Well, I've decided to start something new on the blog. It occurred to me that, although I talk about my favorite poets and inspiration from literature, I hardly ever discuss the craft books I read and own. I am both a voracious reader and a packrat. This basically means that we have books (and magazines) piled up in free corners of our house, because I keep running out of space on the bookshelves to store them. (The Husband and I have some disagreement on what I feel is the simplest solution to this problem - buy more bookcases, of course. The fact that we have to have them attached to the wall with straps designed for earthquakes to avoid accidents with the Short One may have something to do with his reluctance to admit that I am right, but I'm not absolutely sure.) Anyway, I've decided to try my hand at simple (if not downright simple-minded) reviews of some of the useful books in my library.

I haven't yet discussed Tammy Powley's new book on metal clay, Picture Yourself Creating Metal Clay Jewelry, so I'm going to start with that today. Now, I have to be up front, here - I have two necklaces in the Gallery section of this book, and Tammy also used photos of my (messy) workspace and (messier) kiln in the set-up chapter of the book. So, some may think that I'm predisposed to like this book (which is probably true). But, goodness, what's not to like?

I have said before that, when I decided to try using metal clay initially, I bought one instructional book and one DVD. They were both very good: I do (and have) recommended them elsewhere. I have to say, though, I really wish I had also had this book when I started out. You can tell that Tammy is a teacher at heart. She is very good at putting herself in a beginner's shoes - she gives a tremendous amount of information on all aspects of setting up to work with metal clay, and everything is very clearly set out. Her introductory chapters on tools, supplies and set-up are extensive - probably the most extensive I've ever read (and while I haven't read every single metal clay book currently in publication, I have read quite a lot of them).

Her projects are also very simple, well-designed, and well thought out for the beginner. (I should note, here, that the projects are geared for the beginner equipped with low-fire metal clay and a torch or hot pot.) I particularly like the one entitled "Star Attraction" - a fun bracelet filled with dangly little metal clay star charms. You can see a teenie photo of the finished bracelet on the cover shot, above. This is a nice, five-finger exercise in working with metal clay, a project that will allow a beginner to practice basic skills and get a feel for working with the clay and some of the tools (here, the star-shaped punch, for example). At the same time, the design is solid. I, personally, find the charm bracelet really cute and would wear it with the blue cotton sundress I own that, alas, it's almost too late in the year to wear now.

But why rely on my opinion alone? Tammy has a free project from the book up on her weblog, "The Crafty Princess Diaries". I encourage you to check it out and judge for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Music of What Happens

There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

(from "Song" by Seamus Heaney)

For some reason, my reflection on gardens earlier this week made me think of Seamus Heaney, and I've been spending a little time enjoying his poetry this evening. (One of my favorite poems is "Digging". This is the only possible connection I can come up with, and it's tenable, at best - my subconscious is pretty tricky at times.)

Despite the fact that my mind spends about 70% of its higher brain function these days in Early Modern England, I am a huge, huge Heaney fan. I had the good fortune to hear him read at a small church in New Hampshire when I was a high school student, and I have been hooked on his work since that moment. If you like Heaney's poetry (or even just the stanza above) but have never heard him speak, you must go here. He is one of those poets whose work is at its best when recited by the author himself. The link will take you to a poetry website sponsored by the University of North Carolina Press and North Carolina Arts Council. The full poem "Song" is available there. Click on the button marked "listen" to hear him recite the poem in its entirety. Believe me, it is well worth it. Go now - I'll wait.


I'm not sure exactly, yet, how this will translate into a new design, but I certainly feel inspired by this poem.

I took the photo above on the same evening as the ones for the previous post. Since it didn't fit the "green" theme as well, I didn't use it yesterday. However, I still quite like it, so I thought I'd show it to you, anyway.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great night.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Huzzah! Congratulations, Sarah! I'm pretty sure I do not have your current mailing address, so please do contact me.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in my giveaway and thank you so much for all of the kind comments. (Amanda, I'm going to have to look up that "Geek Love" book - it does sound right up my alley!) This has been a great year of blogging for me, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks to everyone for continuing to visit.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Here are some new bead and jewelry links to enjoy: Jewelry Making
Tammy's collected a load of links featuring jewelry related news and events around the web.

BeadStyle Magazine
New video interview at Meet Melissa Cable whose necklace is featured in the September 2008 issue.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Who says the grass is always greener on the other side? Stop by Carter's blog for a sneak peek at her green and grassy new bead display.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer shows off her very loved tools

Jewelry & Beading
Wendy Van Camp has written a wonderful tutorial for J&B on how to make adorable earrings!

Katie's Beading Blog
Back to school already? Make summer last a little longer with this fun, jangly necklace from the August issue of Simply Beads.

Strands of Beads
Melissa cracks some geodes to add to her jewelry making stash.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Psssst - Spread the Word

Monkees have been sighted in the blogosphere again. For anyone who is a fan of monkees but who hasn't yet heard, Monkee Maker is back from her three month hiatus, and she has a new website. As we house two foreign exchange monkees in our own house, we are all quite excited by this new development. (It does seem as if the plan for world domination is proceeding apace, too.)

For anyone who has not yet discovered MM and her Monkees Made of Knit (and hasn't the faintest idea what I'm talking about), I highly recommend a visit not only to the new website but also to her old blog archives, which can be found here. A more charming group of knit primates are not to be found anywhere.

On the beading front, I have this new strand for show-and-tell:

I agonized for about a week before I finally bit the bullet and purchased it. This is a strand of petrified opal - green and common opal that has formed within petrified wood. I've never seen anything quite like this (I'd be interested if anyone else has experience with this stone). These rondelles are huge - about 31 mm in diameter, the size of a silver dollar. I'd love to string them all together for a simple necklace, but I don't think I (or anyone else) would be able to lift my (or their) head from the floor after putting it on. I find it quite hard to buy stone like this from the Internet - there's really no comparison to being able to see and touch it in person. Ultimately, I took a risk and purchased it, anyway, and am very glad to add it to my stash. I'm sure individual stones will be popping up in my jewelry design pretty soon.

Thanks for visiting!

ps. The SO will pick a winner out of his hat for the Giveaway tonight before being hauled up, complaining, to bed. I'll try to post the winner's name tonight, but latest tomorrow. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Try, Try Again

With fall approaching (at the risk of sounding like a broken record - how can it be August already? How?), I've started thinking about my favorite holiday for themed jewelry - Halloween. I think you'll be seeing new pieces incorporating these guys pretty soon. (I've also been thinking that I'd better start knitting the Short One's costume soon, if I have any hope of being ready for the holiday this year - I think I've knit about ten lines of anything in the past several months. Shameful.)

The SO has decided that he no longer needs to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. He's on what his pediatrician calls "the white diet" right now - rice, pasta and dairy (well, and juice, which is key, actually). In an effort to get him to ingest some fresh fruit, I've resorted to a little sleight of hand. For the past couple days I've been making the SO fresh fruit "smoothies", by trying out different combinations of ice, fruit and a little juice. The results have been somewhat hit or miss, but I happened upon a really popular combination today:

the SO's super-special "blueberry juice"

1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1/3 ripe banana
1/4 cup strawberry/orange/banana juice
1 cup crushed ice
(all mixed together in the food processor)

The result is refreshing without being syrupy sweet. Not only did the SO drink the whole thing up, he asked for seconds. (I may have done a little happy Snoopy dance in the kitchen, when he wasn't looking.) Oh, the lengths we go to, to try and ensure a balanced diet in the smaller members of our family. After a little covert self-congratulation, the Husband and I hauled the SO to the grocery tonight to buy more fresh fruit and some fresh veggies (why stop with just fruit juice?). We tried to be nonchalant about it, as we would hate for the SO to suspect that we're trying to pull something over on him. I can only hope this trend continues (or that he decides to start eating his fruits and veggies again at the dinner table, sigh).

Thanks for visiting!

ps. It's the last day to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway. Please go here for details. I will have the Short One pick a winner tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Found Objects - Dragon's Eggs

I'm not sure if I've ever discussed this before, but I really like jewelry made from found objects. There seem to be an increasing number of projects out there incorporating found materials, and they pretty much all make me drool. (Having said that, I have to admit that I do favor jangly bracelets made with Cracker Jack charms and other small plastic charms from vending machines, personally - I anticipate having a lot of these in the house to work with as the Short One grows older, yay!) With this in mind, I thought I'd show you some recently acquired "found" materials that are on my list to use.

I've borrowed the term dragon's eggs from Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios. She had a wonderful post last year on her blog describing how she and her sister used to collect dragon's eggs as children, cracked them and used them to decorate their forts (she may have used a different word for their private play space). I love the idea that geodes are actually dragon's eggs. I went back and looked at her archives today and, unfortunately, was not able to find that specific post. However, if you do not already read her blog, I highly recommend paying her a visit, as her writings are full of such wonderful stories.

My friend Carolyn gave me these geodes a while back. I believe her brother had collected a bunch of them downstate several years ago during a family trip and unearthed a few while cleaning his garage. Anyway, Carolyn, who is my beading buddy, generously shared them with me, with the idea that we might be able to make jewelry out of the pieces, if the geodes actually contained crystals. Like so many other projects, they've been malingering around the house, looking like innocuous ping pong balls (the smaller one, at least, is about the size of a ping pong ball). The Husband and I had carefully set aside some metal wedges that we thought would work to crack them open without pulverizing them - and then we promptly forgot where we put them (if you've been reading my blog recently, you'll know that this is becoming a bit of a theme at our house).

Anyway, happily, H. found them when he got out the power drill this weekend for a garden box project (who knows why we put them there at all), and we snuck out while the Short One was having this nap on Sunday to see if there was any treasure inside. (Carolyn had already informed me that hers contained nice blue crystals, so we were pretty optimistic about finding something.) Lo and behold, this is what we discovered when we cracked them:

Okay, I have to say, these are terrible photos. The geodes are actually full of very delicate and nicely sparkly white crystals (I'm presuming quartz), and I had a very hard time trying to capture the sparkliness here. If you click on the photos, you'll get a close-up of the images, which will give you a better sense of what they're like in person. The big, smooth pieces will probably end up in the SO's collection of shiny things, but I think that these three, small pieces will probably work for necklace pendants:

Here's a close up of the top piece, which is my favorite (in real life, it is a little over an inch across):

Now, the place where these geodes were collected is evidently just a few hours drive from where I live, so, when the SO is old enough, I anticipate that the family will toodle off there to do a little prospecting of our own. In the meantime, I have plans for my newly acquired crystal (thanks, Carolyn!). At least one of these pieces will be destined for use in a metal clay bezel (in some fashion - details are still a bit hazy), and I may create a wire-wrapped "cage" for another one of the pieces. Really, I feel that there is a lot that can be done with these small, shiny pieces. (For an example of a beautiful finished beaded necklace incorporating a cut geode, please visit Cyndi Lavin's Jewelry and Beading blog. She has a wonderful tutorial there on how to create a freeform beaded setting for a small geode.)

If you are interested in cracking your own dragon's eggs but do not live in or near an area of the country where they can be found, I recommend your local gem and rock shop, which will likely have geodes of various sizes for sale that you can crack yourself at home. If you'd prefer not to have to go through the whole hunt for crystals (not all geodes will contain crystals) or would prefer cleaner-looking pieces, your local rock shop will also likely have a nice selection of geode pieces for sale that have already been neatly sliced, cleaned, polished and, sometimes, drilled.

If anyone else has incorporated geodes in their jewelry design, I'd love to hear from you - please do leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting!

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

The Short One and his Grandma had fun making beautiful art together last week (You can probably tell which bits were done by which artist). The SO had his first trip to a large zoo earlier this summer (we had previously only taken him to the Central Park Zoo when we were visiting New York) and ever since then he's been wild about giraffes, monkeys, zebras, etc., etc.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Here are this week's bead and jewelry links for your enjoyment: Jewelry Making
Back to the de-stashing jewelry supply topic - Selling your supplies is not the only option for de-stashing. Don't forget the many charity groups out there.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene throws away the key!

BeadStyle Magazine
Check out the notebook pages in the latest issue of BeadStyle magazine; subscribers can get extra pages online.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter shares her full bead box, new marketing efforts, and a visual taste of blueberry ice cream cake!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
A look ahead.

Jewelry & Beading
Cinch a stone using right angle weave!

Snap out of it Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean interviews designer Sharyn Wolf.

Strands of Beads
Melissa and her son share their passion for beads

See you Monday!

ps. I forgot to mention - there's still time to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway! Please scroll down or go here for details.

pps. Pssst, I just found out that there's a sale going on over at Tammy Powley's Crafty Princess Shop. I love sales!