Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some People are So Hard to Please

Here's a new pendant design from me - a floating box within a box. I actually made this for my mother, to put a photo of the Short One in the center. When she sort of indicated to me, "Why would I wear something like that?", I tried filling it with sea glass instead. I kind of like it this way - what do you think?

However, on a whim, I cut out a teenie photo of the SO and stuck it in the box to see how it looked (very cute) - and Mom was so smitten with it that I guess it's going home with her after all. Tsk. Mothers.

The next time I make one of these (and there will be a next time - I like the way this came out), I think I'm going to make it reversible, with a square frame on the back for a slightly larger photo. Then I'll fill the front with the sea glass...

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stringing Magazine - Shameless Self-Promotion

I have a new necklace project in the Fall 2009 issue of Stringing Magazine, using my Autumn Tree Pendant. It's available on newsstands October 6th.

On other fronts, while the Short One was at pre-school, I spent some time cleaning out my workspace in the garage (I have annexed about 60% of H's bench space over the past couple years - I am aiming for 80%, but don't tell him that), for the first time in about a year. Definitely painful. However, I can now see the (fireproof) surface of the counter. Hip-hip-hooray, as the SO would say.

Okay, I started writing this post around 3pm and it is now 8pm - and I've written maybe half a sentence in the past 2 hours. I think it's time to surrender. I have new work, a goodie bag from Rings & Things and Friendly Plastic in cool colors (there's a great design challenge going on for that material) in my pile of interesting stuff, but right now I think I have to obey the laws of physics and be hauled off by the little hand that's been tugging at my sleeve for the past ten minutes. Good night all. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Hi, there. I hope everyone had a great weekend. We had an action-packed two days in our neck of the woods, visiting the Kohl's Children's Museum (our favorite children's museum out of all of the ones we frequent - the exhibits are great and they have plenty of staff on hand to ensure the exhibits are all tidy and in working order for the kids). The Short One ended up getting drenched in the water room by an older boy who created a huge wave in the sailboat pool, which was a little demoralizing for him, but it wasn't anything a grilled cheese sandwich, pickle and cookie couldn't fix afterward.

The Short One's grandmother, who is visiting, offered to babysit Saturday night, so H. and I ended up getting tickets to the Lifeline Theater's production of "Treasure Island". For the record, we love Lifeline productions.

A friend introduced us to the company back in the late 90's when they were doing the Lord of the Rings trilogy (before the movies came out) - we saw productions of "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" there. The adaptations were completely brilliant, making creative use of marionettes and miniatures (for the big battle scenes). The best part was probably the Matrix-esque fight sequences that used cast members in black costumes as sort of springboards off of which the actual members involved in the fight performed their acrobatics (it's difficult to describe - sort of like Japanese puppet theater, where the puppet masters perform in full sight of the audience but wearing black clothes to become "invisible").

Anyway, "Treasure Island" was entertaining, although bloodier and more amoral than I was expecting (I don't recall every reading the story as a child). (One scene where the doctor "bleeds" a patient made H. mutter about modern medical practices.) It did make me want to sing sea shanties and growl "arrr, ye swab" all evening.

We finished up the weekend with a trip to the Botanic Garden (why do I always forget to take my camera when we go there?). The roses were still in bloom in the rose garden and, even though I thought it would be too late in the year, we saw the most spectacular lotus blossoms in the reflecting pools.

On the bead front, I have a load of silver ready for the kiln and will actually have a few new items to show for it this week. After that, I'm down to my last 10g of metal clay, though, until the new shipment arrives.

Here are your bead and jewelry links for the week:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
The pace is picking up for Andrew and his BIG SALE. Check out where he'll be next and celebrate his birthday with a special 15% off promotional code!

About.com Jewelry Making
Tammy is already thinking about and making Halloween jewelry so she can wear it next month. What about you?

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
29 Days of Giving starts with a Japanese book giveaway.

Art Bead Scene
Keep misplacing your ruler? Get one for free!

A Bead A Day
If you are "mousing" all day and still want to wear a bracelet, memory wire rubber tubing is a simple and comfortable option.

Beading Arts
So, what to do with all those left over seed beads...?

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Check out the beads and goodies Lorelei bought on her recent trip to London, England

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi discovers Free Trade Kazuri beads from Kenya.

Cindy Gimbrone
Cindy imagines a movie and writes a script.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done.
Jean reviews Big and Bold, a really pretty book of jewelry designs culled from BeadStyle Magazine

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie congratulates Jean Cambell and shares the beautiful piece she made for Beadwork Magazine using an Earthenwood face stone

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done.
Jean reviews Big and Bold, a really pretty book of jewelry designs culled from BeadStyle Magazine

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off her new "Twilight" choker made with Swarovski crystal from Artbeads.com

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

News to Smile About

(Okay, okay - I realize the title of this post is not grammatically correct - but I couldn't figure out a better way to put it. Now on to the good stuff:)

Anyone who has read this blog for any appreciable amount of time (whatever that is) will know that I am a big fan of Sarah Moran's work. I love substantial beads, bold colors and cool, geometric designs - and her work has all of that and more. Her Smooch! bead has always been a favorite of mine. One of the first necklaces I ever made, "Charmed Kiss", incorporated a Smooch! into the focal:

(You can tell this is an older piece due to the terrible, lo-res photo - one of these days I will re-photograph this piece...) Did I mention that her vibrant colors just knock me out?

(Note the super-cute fish-tail toggle in this gorgeous pile.) What you may not know is that Sarah has been writing interesting, amusing and sometimes entertainingly acerbic updates through her website for several years. Due to what may laughingly be called the march of progress (also sometimes known as technology run amok - I can hear S. snorting while she reads this), Sarah has decided to abandon this format and start a blog. How fabulous. How wonderful. (How completely unexpected!)

It's brand new, but I already know that it will be something to watch (and read). I highly recommend that you pay a visit by going here. What are you waiting for? Go! Go now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Finally, new work! A while ago, I was invited by the good folks at Artbeads.com to sample some of their extensive collection of Swarovski crystal beads. While I was highly tempted to try one of the gorgeous Swarovski crystal pendants (I am a big fan of the coral-shaped pendants), I decided it was time to dust off an idea I had jotted down in my book a couple years ago - a necklace made from the vibrant colors of a sunset.

Artbeads.com has such a beautiful assortment of colors to choose from - it made putting this part of the design together quite easy. For this choker, I used Hyacinth, Light Siam, Siam, Cobalt Blue, Dark Sapphire, Dark Indigo and Purple Velvet 4mm bicones.

I originally envisioned a simple double-stranded necklace of graduated sunset colored crystal combined with simple onyx beads - no swag, no ornamentation, just very, very plain. However, once I finished wire-wrapping these beads and put them together with the onyx, the whole effect was just too dark. I tried garnet next, but the dark red shade of my beads didn't make the crystal pop very effectively. I was a little surprised to discover that these copper rose potato pearls worked quite well (in my opinion, at least) with the range of orange, red, blue and purple crystal beads. I created a simple swag out of my crystal chain, added two mocca round Swarovski crystals to "cap" the pearls, and then I did finish my choker with faceted onyx and one of Robert Jennick's simple sterling clasps.

It's certainly satisfying to get an idea that has been languishing in my notebook into the real world. I think this color combination is very versatile and could make, for example, beautiful waterfall-style earrings or a very pretty cocktail ring. I am extremely happy with the way this necklace turned out and highly recommend checking out Artbeads.com selection of Swarovski crystal.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Inspiration Everywhere

Over this past weekend, I found both design inspiration and practical instruction in an unexpected place. This happy circumstance was all due to the fact that we were low on rice, sesame oil and a few other essentials (in this household, at least) and ended up visiting Mitsuwa Marketplace. If you are fortunate enough to live near a Mitsuwa (I believe there are four in the U.S. - two in California, one in New Jersey and one in Illinois) but have never visited it, I highly recommend a trip. It's sort of a mini-mall - a really nice Japanese grocery with bakery, a food court serving various types of Japanese food (ours used to also offer Korean but now offers Chinese instead) and various small businesses - ours currently has a Japanese ceramics shop, a sweets shop, a travel agency specializing in Asia, a video store (which ditto) and a bookstore.

Despite my inability to read Japanese (I can pick out a short word here and there but that's about it), the lure of books is always irresistible to me. While the Short One was distracted by a cone of soft serve green tea ice cream, I ended up sneaking around the corner after lunch to Books Sanseido. I decided to check out the craft section of the store in a fit of optimism. Because I am not a beadweaver, I wasn't actually expecting to find much that I could use, but surprise, surprise - I ended up walking out with the above purchases. The larger booklet is pretty self-explanatory - it's a nice little exposition on ring-making with PMC3 with very clear photographs.

The smaller book is the one I find terribly interesting. It's part of a "Traditional Japanese Patterns" series. There were four volumes available in the store, all filled with renderings of some of the gorgeous embroidered designs found in Japanese textiles. These are truly lovely books. I looked through all four and ended up purchasing volume 2. Here are a couple examples of patterns in the one I brought home:

Beautiful, no?

In addition to the Japanese text in the book, there is an introduction to the book written in English placed at what would be the beginning of a Western book (and the end of a Japanese book) which is quite handy and suggests, of course, that the book was published in part for Western consumption. However, I seriously doubt you would be able to find these volumes on the shelf of an American bookstore.

So our little shopping trip this weekend was a reminder to me - and a suggestion to you - that investigating places such as foreign language bookstores can yield unexpected benefits. I am not well-educated in such traditional Japanese designs, but I have always loved the ones I have encountered from time to time. I am extremely happy to be able to add this collection of motifs to my small - but growing - design library.

Oh, and, by the way, if you are interested in this particular series of books, the collection was created by the textile company Kurenai-kai and published by Seigensha Art Publishing, Inc.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Robin Hood Hat, anyone?

It's getting to be that time of year again... Of the many projects I pushed aside last week that I urgently have to get back to, designing my son's Halloween costume is near the top of the list. I've vowed to continue knitting his costumes until he finds homemade costumes embarrassing (I'm sure that day will come - I'm just not sure when). I try to make them as functional as possible, so he can wear them after the event. Here's the one of a certain favorite monster I made two years ago that was quite successful. After Halloween, he was able to wear the hat all winter, and I simply changed out the cookie buttons on the sweater to nice leather ones, and that lasted all winter, too.

This year, he's announced that he wants to be Robin Hood. This will entail an (easy and) nice green vest and, if I have time, a quiver of arrows with a little satchel for gold coins, but I'm tearing my hair out trying to design a nice hat for the costume. Anyone know of any knitting patterns for Robin Hood hats? If not, I guess I'll have no choice but to (grumble, grumble) get out the graph paper... I was so hoping he'd want to be a Viking this year (I want to knit horns! I want to knit horns!), but I don't think he quite yet grasps what a Viking is...

For once, I'm timely on my beady links. Enjoy, everyone:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew announces his BIG SALE! Check out all the goodies!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe goes crazy over Mixed Metals book

Jewelry & Beading
Why wouldn't we talk about fashion on a jewelry and beadwork blog?

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmis creates a necklace using canvas and leather.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene shows off her top art bead picks for this month's Kandinsky Challenge.

A Bead A Day
Bead-wiring vs. bead-weaving...which do you prefer?

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares her uncertainty about a new dragonfly pendant design.

About.com Jewelry Making
Loving some filigree, check out these new filigree jewelry projects.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy makes more Through the Looking Glass Nuggets Charms that match perfectly with Frost Links.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Bead cones can be used in more way than one and Lorelei shows an example!

Thanks for stopping by!

Stone and Shore

I guess when you get right down to it, although I feel that my style has evolved over the past couple years working with metal clay, I just fundamentally like the idea of small boxes filled with bits of...stuff.  As everyone in my family will tell you, I am a collector by nature, so perhaps the boxes are just an expression of this aspect of my personality.   

Anyway, here's another iteration of a treasure box pendant.  This one is pretty simple - I turned one of my Sea Change pendants into a small box - here's the reverse side of the above photo:

Actually, I am completely out of epoxy right now - and the place I usually buy it from is closed for Rosh Hashanah - so I haven't set the tiny pebbles in the top photo.  (It's just as well - I think I'm going to remove the bit of sea glass - the color just seems a little too jarring next to all of those nice earthy tones.)  They are part of the mass of stones that the Short One and I happily collected on the shores of Lake Michigan this summer.  The pendant is reasonably small (for me, at least) at approximately 1.25" x 1.5", including bail.  I think it will make a nice reversible piece once it's finished.  I suspect the stones will look good strung with either wooden or coconut shell beads (or both).

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Falling Off the Face of the Earth

Hello, there. How have you been? When we arrived back home from our Labor Day weekend vacation, it became very clear to me that I would not be able to finish a project I've been working on for the past several months by my deadline if I didn't drop everything else I had on my plate immediately. Which I did. And, operating as I do firmly under Murphy's Law, I still just barely finished. If it hadn't been for my mother, who came back with us and helped me take care of the Short One, I never would have made it. One of these days I will transform into an organized person who can plan ahead effectively, but it's uphill going, working against the tendency toward entropy that I have perfected over the past four decades.

While I work through my hugey backpile of stuff (it's amazing how much accumulates if you look the other way for a few days, eh?), I have two things to share today. First, here's a drop-dead gorgeous strand of rough-cut rose quartz and smoky quartz wheels I picked up at the Intergem show in Chicago last month. Not only was the strand a nice find, the couple who sold it to me, TJ and Gloria, were lovely people - which is always a plus, in my books. Does anyone else attend Intergem (in one or another of its iterations throughout the country)? I don't attend every show (I believe it visits Chicago about five times a year), but I try to go at least twice a year.

Second, in case you have not already heard, Andrew Thornton is holding a Big Sale with tons of treasure to be added over the next couple weeks, including this beautiful bauble constructed from PMC and fine silver wire, with a classic inside-out boro dot bead by artist Shannon Hill:

Go here to join the hunt.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


We spent an extended Labor Day weekend at my folks' house. It was the first time we'd visited in a couple years, so to it was basically a brand-new experience for the Short One. I'm happy to report that the SO quite satisfactorily ran his grandparents into a state of complete exhaustion while I got in some quality nap-time (unfortunately, like an idiot, I failed to bring enough head pins with me to complete my project and was unable to obtain more while there).

For myself, there are a few objects from my youth that my parents are still hanging onto for me, including the above. As a child, I was never a girly-girl, but I did love unicorns and had quite a collection of them. My Dad found this one at a gallery on Bourbon Street in New Orleans back in the 1970s and brought it home for me. It's made of some kind of very light wood. I don't dare have it in my house now, as I think it would be broken into tiny pieces by the little tornado that lives here, but it was nice seeing it. I've been vaguely thinking that I should find a gryffon or lion or something to keep it company.

I hope everyone else had a good weekend. Here are my ever-late links for the week:

Jean Campbell
Jean's got a cool job--check out what she's been working on!

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi shares another CopprClay project, which includes making your own mold!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
While in Philadelphia for Bead Fest, Lorelei met up with Andrew Thornton and he gave her some presents!

A Bead A Day
Do you have some favorite beads that bring you joy? Lisa is using "inspirational sliders" to make gifts for friends and would love to hear about your joyful beads!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy brings some color to her new bronze floral medallions.

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Tool talk-this time its hole punching pliers & wire cutters

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi shows off her unexpected bead finds from a store in Little Portugal.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew and Diana Ptaszynski of Vintage Blue Studio have a throw down! See how Andrew uses Heather Powers of Humble Beads' Polymer Bird-Head Pendant!

Art Bead Scene
Wondering how big 20mm really is? Here's a handy size chart to keep by your computer. It'll help you out!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews Contemporary Copper Jewelry by the wonderful Sharilyn Miller

About.com Jewelry Making
What's in a name, the name of your jewelry pieces that is? Here are a few tips to consider when naming jewelry you sell through the web.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Progress (And Lack Thereof)

I had so hoped to finish this piece before Labor Day weekend, and it's so very clear to me now that it's just not going to get done. Argh. Artbeads.com has such a beautiful selection of colors in Swarovski crystal. I thought I'd at least show off what I acquired and what I'm working on before I head off for my holiday. The piece WILL be finished next week. I intend to let the Short One run his grandparents ragged while I sit in the corner and bead. It's my proposed strategy at least.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

ADDENDUM: I just found out that Artbeads.com is offering a 20% off coupon valid over Labor Day Weekend. There are requirements: a $60.00 minimum purchase and you have to sign up for their newsletter. However, the coupon code is good for anything in the store. Like their beautiful hand-painted Russian pendants, for example (drool, drool). Go here if you are interested in signing up for the newsletter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get anything done these days. Well, except paint and make cupcakes out of Play Doh (I make very attractive Play Doh cupcakes, if I say so myself). The Short One starts pre-school in two weeks. He'll only be attending a few days a week part-time, but I'm already wondering what I'm going to do with all of that free time.

Anyway, here are your super-late links for the week:

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi uses shrink plastic to make a neat little bracelet.

About.com Jewelry Making
Do you use blogging to promote your jewelry business? Tammy has some thoughts for you on this.

A Bead A Day
Have you ever used sterling silver curly-Q tubes in your jewelry designs?? Lisa is searching for cool ideas for these adorable tubes.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene expands the editorial staff and welcomes Lorelei Eurto!

Earthenwood Studio Chronices
Melanie shows off some fun experiments that she has seen coming out of her studio, mixing copper and pewter

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy unveils a new series of Art Nouveau inspired beads. In French it's known as "Stile Floreal" and in English it's the "Floral Style."

Jewelry & Beading
Looking ahead to the fall, Cyndi shows how to make a new necklace called "Autumn Arbor".

Katie's Beading Blog
Katie's mixing metals and a fun peyote bail with a giant crystal disk.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is hosting a Necklace Round Robin, but you have to leave a comment to be entered to win a spot!

The writing and art of Andrew Thornton.
Beadfest Philadelphia was packed with talented artisans and bead-makers. See what Andrew picked out!