Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Efforts

Sigh. A couple days ago, a friend kindly told me about a call for entries closing today. I've spent the past 48 hours writing up projects due in at the beginning of October, firing new pieces and frantically trying to make a few new jewelry designs to submit for this call. Last night, I had everything set out to get to work designing when the Short One woke up from what was evidently a bad nightmare and started screaming. Poor little guy. By the time he calmed down and finally fell back asleep it was already 3am, and there was pretty much no way I could work and still get enough sleep to function today, so I had to bag my plans. I managed to string one very simple project this morning in the kitchen (the counters are the only things high enough to prevent an interested party from getting to all of the components) while drinking my morning cup of coffee, but that's pretty much it.

I think I have to sit back and be more selective about deadlines and just recognize under the circumstances that I can't do everything. Obviously, the SO comes first in my list of priorities. I just have a hard time letting things go. Also, with my background, I'm used to last minute projects and working overtime, so I think I overestimate what I can do and still take care of the little one on the morning. (I never pulled an actual all-nighter as a lawyer, but I did have nights where I worked in the office until 4-5am. I still remember one of the junior associates in the office down the hall who would show up at my door in the morning dunking a tea bag in his coffee to try to get a little extra caffeine in his morning pick-me-up. I'm not sayin' this is a good thing, I'm just sayin' that he did it.)

Anyway, sorry for whining! I will have some new work to show you tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a photo of the pendant that I used in the project in the November issue of BeadStyle. It was inspired by Ray Bradbury's book The Halloween Tree.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

This installation piece is "Falling Leaves" by the Short One, B.M.M. ("Big Mess Maker"). Jangles fans may recognize the bright lime green tissue paper. I'm sorry to say the SO turned right around and came down with another nasty cold a couple days ago, which I promptly caught from him. The Husband is creeping around the house trying not to come in too close contact with us right now. Hope your weekend was a little healthier than ours!

Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week:

About.com Jewelry Making
For those in the jewelry biz, Tammy has a collection of jewelry business topics up for discussion in the Jewelry Making Forum.

Art Bead Scene
Fall Foliage as Seen Through The Trendy Bead

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe talks about Personal Imagery-what says YOU in your work?

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter plays with purple and needs help naming a new necklace

Crocheted Pillow Pendant
Carmi saves a pillowcase's trim by turning it into wearable art.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Halloween Project

Jewelry & Beading
Repurposing autumn-colored beads gives you a stylish new necklace!

Katie's Beading Blog
Hear all about Katie's experience on The Big Idea. Check it out!

Linda from BeadStyleMag.com
An Oktoberfest-inspired bracelet complete with step-by-step photos and instructions

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean's got some earring designs in this elegant looking book, due out soon!

Strands of Beads
Melissa reminisces about her first time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You Always Remember Your First Time

I found something rather nostalgic the other day while rummaging around looking for yarn with which to make the Short One's Halloween costume. I had cleverly hidden away a jewelry box amidst a whole crate of fiber (and I wonder why I can never find anything in this house) a while back, evidently in an effort to foil the SO's curiosity over the little non-child-safe items inside. Inside the jewelry box were, well, several non-child-safe pieces of jewelry (surprising, no?), including this necklace.

This is the first piece of real jewelry I ever made. (Well, what did you think I meant by "first time"? Eh?) Back in the days B.S.O. ("Before Short One") I worked about a block away from a rather nice bead store. The ladies in our office decided it would be fun to take a basic beading class after work one day, so we all signed up and spent a happy half hour shopping for supplies before attending the class.

As a college student, I had always drooled after some lovely glass bracelets sold at an upscale gallery in Copley Place in Boston. The glass beads were barrel-shaped with brightly-colored stripes suspended within them. I didn't know at the time that the beads were furnace glass - I just knew that I couldn't even come close to affording a bracelet. So, when I saw a bowl of similar-looking beads at the bead store, I pounced on them and bought what I thought were enough to make a nice bracelet. And those were the only beads I bought for my project.

Well, of course, once class started, my instructor patiently pointed out that if I only used flat-ended barrel beads, the piece wouldn't be flexible enough to actually drape around my wrist. "You need spacers", she said. "What's a spacer?" I replied.

Ultimately, I ended up with this simple necklace and a pair of my very own jewelry pliers (I had no idea they were called "crimping pliers", nor did I realize that the tubes I had flattened with such care and anxiety were called "crimps") to take home with me. I wore it a handful of times and then it got relegated to the jewelry box where I found it again this past week. After that, I picked up the odd beading magazine from time to time, and even bought a few beads, but it was really several years before I started making my own beads and designing jewelry (and started this blog).

Still, it's nice to remember where it all began. Especially when I go through periods where I feel that I'm not advancing in my skills (like now), I think it's useful to look back on this first piece and realize that I have made progress and that, like everything else, acquiring expertise in any field takes time.

So what was your "first time" like? I'd love to know.

Ornament Thursday: BREW

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! This month's theme is BREW. Given the time of year, I couldn't help but think of witches' cauldrons. For me, the definitive witches hovering over a cauldron have to be the Weird Sisters from Macbeth, so I took part of my favorite quote from them - "By the pricking of my thumbs / Something wicked this way comes" - as my inspiration for this piece.

To start, I stamped a heavy PMC ring and toggle bar with the words "SOMETHING WICKED" and "this way comes", respectively. Given the size of the resulting clasp, I decided I could make a hefty piece (which is usually my preference for bracelets). The faceted onyx drop is a whopping 30mm x 20mm. I used 16mm shell pearl (pearl that has been crushed and reconstituted) dyed blood red for the main part of the bracelet. The fantastic borosilicate glass bead is by Sarah Moran. I added one of my small skully charms with smaller faceted onyx beads to finish the piece.

But wait - there's more! Check out what all of the other OT members have been brewing up, here:

BeadStyle & Milwaukee's heritage
Linda shares her Amber Bock Bracelet

Brew'in up a few Witches
Witches born of glass

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
New Beads are Brewing...

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble...
Joolz by Lisa has a "Hairy" Twist on OT Brew

It's not easy being green
Michelle yearns to be the Wicked Witch of the West - we think she's hit pay dirt here.

Strands of Beads
Something wicked is brewing at Melissa's place

Monday, September 22, 2008

My favorite time of the year

I love this time of year. My favorite seasons are what I think of as the transitional ones - spring and fall. I love how crisp the air feels and the brilliant colors as the leaves turn colors. I love seeing kids in costume and greasepaint and the whole atmosphere of Halloween (and, er, scarfing leftover candy from trick-or-treats, which is almost the only time we keep the stuff in the house, since I have no self-control). So, anyway, since I was thinking these types of thoughts, I made this cobweb button. The fact that we have altogether too many real life examples around the house has noooo bearing on this whatsoever. Or on my housekeeping skills. Uh-uh. Anyway, I think this would look great with faceted onyx. Maybe I'll make a couple pendants, too, for earrings.

On other fronts, I've been in agony for the past month, while we try to decide what window replacement company to go with for our big house repair for the year. We live in what can be quaintly termed a vintage home (circa 1920s), and while some things were updated by the previous owners (who spent 30+ years here), many other things were not. We've had drafts in the house every winter, and we've finally decided to do something about it. However, it's a big project (there are a LOT of windows in this house), and I've just been going into conniptions, reading all of the horror stories about what can go wrong. We were finally forced to make a commitment due to the lateness in the year, and, even though I signed off on the contract earlier today, I'm still fretting about it. Does anyone have a good window replacement story to share with me? I could use one right about now.

Oh, and the reason I signed off on the contract alone today is that H. is currently right outside of Milan, attending a conference. That's right: Milan, as in Italy. He called yesterday and told me how beautiful the village where he is staying is and that the weather has been a fabulous mid-70s and sunny since arrival. The so-and-so.

Hope everyone had a great Monday. See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion: BeadStyle Magazine

I have a new necklace project out in the November 2008 issue of BeadStyle Magazine, which I believe will be available next week. As usual, BeadStyle does a wonderful job. The project itself looks great and the photography is stunning. Thank you, again, to Naomi Fujimoto and everyone at BeadStyle! For more information (including a thumbnail photo of the project), please visit the BeadStyle website.

In the meantime, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the weekend:

About.com Jewelry Making
Mixed-Media is still a very hot topic in the jewelry making world, as evidenced by two recent book reviews posted at About.com Jewelry Making.

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Another Marketing Monday and Barbe talks about what is involved with creating a line sheet.

BeadStyle Magazine
Stacy shares her story about working with the jewelry designers who contribute to BeadStyle magazine -- could you be next?

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
It's the beginning of the busy season, and Carter has new designs to share!

Clear Resin Silhouettes
Carmi lets her image stand alone in a clear resin ice cube.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
The new studio is finished

Jewelry & Beading
Learn one of the foundational skills of jewelry making: the wrapped wire loop

Katie's Beading Blog
Tune in this Thursday to hear Katie as a guest expert on CNBC's The Big Idea. They're profiling the inventor of a new game called Bead Trade.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's Beading to be done!
Jean finds a lot to like about the fun book by Karin Buckingham, Altered You!

Strands of Beads
Melissa reviews a book of grace, style and wit - Links by Jean Yates

Thanks for visiting!

ps. Almost forgot: Arrr, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, matey! Be sure to speak proper-like and knit some arrrgyle socks, savvy?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Featured Artist for Ornament Thursday

Greetings. I am the featured artist for the Ornament Thursday group this month. This is not my piece for the month, but it does have some relation to it. Interested? If so, visit the Ornament Thursday blog to see my teaser photo for the project.

Anyway, I created this necklace last year for one of the Art Bead Scene challenges - it was very satisfying to make. I still really enjoy making the skully pendants (although I hate polishing them, argh - they are not easy to polish) and, of course, at least one other piece of mine has used the same fine silver triangle beads.

On other fronts, I was watching the Short One the other day and noticed an interesting phenomenon. While he was reciting the alphabet, he was making odd hand gestures. I looked closer and realized that he was signing the alphabet as he was saying the letters. Now, although we taught the Short One a few signs for individual words when he was younger (his favorites were ketchup and ice cream, go figure), we never ever actually taught him the alphabet. I'm completely stumped. One of the classic Sesame Street shows we let him watch (despite dire warnings from the Children's Television Workshop that the old shows may "not be suitable for today's pre-schoolers") does go through all of the signs in a cartoon format, but surely it's pretty difficult to figure out how to make the signs with your own hands after seeing them on a television screen for a few seconds? Scary.

I think there's some chocolate ice cream in the freezer calling my name. I hope you'll excuse me. Have a good night.

ps Amy Locurto is having a virtual Halloween Blog Party this year, and I'm participating with this necklace! Please go here to join the party!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Review: Links by Jean Yates

Back in May, as a Mother's Day gift, I was given the opportunity to pick up a couple of craft books from my wish list, and I chose two that have since turned into my version of cult favorites. I'll be reviewing the other book at a later date, but I did want to tell you that the first one I chose was Links: Inspired Bead and Wire Jewelry Creations by Jean Yates.

I have to be frank - I bought this book because I like Jean Yates' style. As someone who reads beading magazines, I see her work everywhere - and her designs are always polished and eye-catching. At the same time, you can tell that they are well-thought out and eminently wearable. The designs in this book are no different (which didn't surprise me at all).

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see what a wonderful showcase the book is for the breadth of her work - from whimsical, to romantic, to ethnic, even to a little sly, these pieces cover the full spectrum of creativity. Because I have very eclectic tastes, I really love the variety, and I find inspiration in all of them. (I also find inspiration in the stories she tells about each piece - Jean is a born storyteller.) My favorite pieces in the book are the ones with a bit of humor in them. The first is the perfect tea-time charm bracelet made of brightly-colored lampworked teacups finished with a toggle clasp in the shape of a teapot and spoon. The other favorite is a classic chain maille bracelet finished with a witty twist - a "naughty" sterling word charm and a padlock-style clasp.

As far as the book's layout and organization are concerned, the pieces are well-photographed, the instructions are well-written and the supporting project photos are plentiful and extremely clear. I've been wanting to try chain maille for some time (which, alas, remains on my "list of things to do" for the moment). There are a number of lovely chain maille projects in this book of different degrees of complexity, including one example of a Japanese chain maille pattern that I find very attractive. Again, the description and photos of the arrangement of rings, and the process of building the chain are very clear.

In short, I think this book is a keeper and is one I will be returning to time and again (including, hopefully, to make some chain maille). I highly recommend it. But, as always, why take my word alone for this? To see examples of her beautiful work and spend time with the lovely artist herself, please visit her website and blog.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

Although I have seen, and own, many beautiful examples of Chinese turquoise, in my heart of hearts, I still love the turquoise mined in the United States the best. Words like Kingman, Fox, No. 8, Morenci and Blue Gem make me drool. (For the uninitiated, these types of turquoise bear the names of the mine from which they originate.) Of these, though, my favorites right now are probably Bisbee and Sleeping Beauty. Like many people, I particularly love the pure robin's egg blue color of Sleeping Beauty turquoise which always reminds me of the sky. This is my current favorite strand of the stone - beautiful slices that have been polished on the cut surfaces and left rough on the edges. They look exactly like something you could make a wish on and have it come true. Any other turquoise lovers out there? Tell me your favorites, if you have them - I'd love to hear about them.

I spent last night reviewing five magazine contracts. What I find more and more as I continue in my interesting journey in the world of bead and jewelry design is that it really does become difficult to juggle different tasks and find time for everything - the administrative work and retail maintenance, the design process for both beads and jewelry, the submission process, the write-ups, the contract review, etc., etc. I seem to be perpetually behind on everything. I haven't designed a really new, substantial piece from metal clay since spring (although I have many ideas in my idea book), and this really bothers me. I have a decent number of projects in the pipeline for publication, but I need to keep creating more and stay on top of deadlines to keep the momentum going. I don't know why I'm so surprised, but like many professions, I think that what bead makers and jewelry designers do is like a glacier - 9/10ths of the work is invisible to the eye. I have so much respect for my friends and colleagues who have been doing this work and living (and living well) on their creative spirit, so to speak, for years and, yet, who remain open and generous people. It's not an easy thing to do!

Right, I should stop talking and start working now. Have a great day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Live Out Loud

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I,
an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.
-Emile Zola

I love this quote, as an artist statement and as a way of life. I am pretty much a wuss in my everyday life, so I take these words as inspiration.

As you can see, I'm still a bit stuck on the whole bar quote necklace design concept. You'll probably be seeing one or two more of these before I move on to something else. This necklace is finished with a cool lampworked bead by Sarah Moran (read my interview with her here), as well as a variety of other beads. Here's a close-up:

So this is part of what I accomplished over the weekend. In addition, I made a few skully charms and finished my Ornament Thursday project (I'm the featured artist this month!), the teaser for which will go up on the OT blog this week. I also ate way too many of those bite-sized Dove ice cream bars - they were on sale at the local grocery store - but I'm not sure you could actually call that an accomplishment.

Have a good Monday, everyone.

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

The Short One and I have been making paper mats. The SO doesn't quite yet have the coordination to weave the paper all by himself, but he still loves to try. At least it keeps him occupied from other things - like brooding over how he's not allowed to drive the family car (which has been a big complaint on his part this past week).

On other fronts, I spent some quality procrastination time updating my "What I'm Reading Now" list. You'll note that it's starting to feel a bit like Halloween here. Has anyone else read Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorinks and Matthew Reinhart? My friend Ingrid bought it for either me or the SO (I can't remember whose gift it was) a couple years ago. It's a wonderful pop-up book about a little boy in search of his mother. Along the way, he encounters and bests any number of monsters - a mummy, werewolf, vampire, etc. It's a great book. If you come across a copy, I highly recommend it.

I'm late, but here are your - still intriguing - bead and jewelry links for the week:

About.com Jewelry Making
Are you making Halloween jewelry? Or, is this holiday not a big jewelry time for you?

Art Bead Scene
Win prizes! The ABS Monthly Challenge is filigree.

Bead&Button Magazine
Ann Dee's looking for photos of QuinceaƱera jewelry to celebrate Bead&Button's 15 years

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Shining a Steamy Spotlight on suppliers that sell and make beads and findings that can be used to create steampunk jewelry styles

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Check out the progress being made on Jennifer's new studio

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi describes the process of putting together a multistrand necklace that features lots of wrapped-loop dangles.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to done!
Jean talks about the Bead a Day Calendar for 2009 in which she appears, and adds that she also uses Melanie of Earthenwood beads in one of her projects for it! See photos!

Strands of Beads
Melissa interviews lampworker and bead artist Sarah Moran

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I've been teetering on the precipice of joining the micro-blog crowd for some time, and I finally fell two nights ago. You can now find me tweet-ing (if I'm using the lingo correctly, which I may not be) on Twitter under my own name. My most recent Twitter updates can also be read in the sidebar of this blog. Anyone else here on Twitter? I've found some friends, but I'm sure I've missed many more.

Here are the nephrite pendants I purchased in New York. I love them, love them, love them. I already have a design for the deer pendant (read my comment regarding the tagua nut tiger bead from two posts ago which ditto, here) percolating in my brain, as well as the beginning of a design for the rectangular one (the hole for which runs through the long side of the rectangle and not the short side, which I like). I also found a few cute soo chow jade (probably dyed bowenite) pendants, too.

On other fronts, I'm finally biting the bullet and starting the Short One's Halloween costume. Until last month, I had been intending to make him a crown and "ermine" lined cardigan to wear. However, he started wandering around the house saying "Arrr" in menacing tones and calling me "Mommy Pirate", so perhaps you can guess what we've decided on ,costume-wise, instead. Needless to say, this household is anticipating International Talk Like a Pirate Day with great expectation.

My mother, who is visiting with us right now, has complained since before the SO was born that she could knit something for him if I told her what to do (she can knit and purl but does not know how to read or write her own patterns), so I've decided to put her to work on one part of the project. This is actually the first time in about six months that I'll be picking up knitting needles, which, until this year, was pretty much unheard of. However, the SO still loves to unravel balls of yarn around his neck in a big tangle, so I haven't been able to keep projects lying around the house during the daytime.

I'm off to put a load of silver in the kiln (arrr - sounds vaguely pirate-y, eh?). Hopefully, I will actually have new work to show for it by early next week. It's occurred to me that I completely missed posting last weeks Bead Blogger links when I came back on Monday, so I'll post them here, now. I'll have the current links up tomorrow or Saturday, as usual. Thanks for visiting!

About.com Jewelry Making
Have you been to the Jewelry Making Forum lately? If not, no problem - here is the low-down about some recent jewelry discussions going on over there.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene is Sunny Side Up!

Bead&Button Magazine
Several projects percolating in Tea's beading brain lead to a new creation

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie celebrates her upcoming feature about Steampunk jewelry in Beadwork Magazine

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi's wrapping up an armful of fun with this colorful bracelet!

Katie's Beading Blog
This week, free instructions for Katie's Smoky Topaz necklace!

Suspended Leather Pendants
Carmi finds an easy way to suspend leather in wire.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Interview with Sarah Moran

"Violetta Spiky Sprockets"* in soda lime glass by Sarah Moran

Anyone who is a reader of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Sarah Moran's lampworked beads. I once referred to her style as ruggedly iconoclastic, and I stand by that statement. Both she and her work are complete originals - her beads never fail to catch the eye, due to their bold design and incredible color, and it seems to me that a bit of Sarah's personality is expressed through each one (and through her completely vivid titles and descriptions). But, as usual, why take my word alone for this? See (and read) for yourself, below.

"Ruby !RED!"*

Tell us a little about your background.

Artistic? Educational? Or both? I don't have much of a background in either one. I was supposed to be a graphic designer, and I took a two year vo-tech course in high school (all of which was the extent of my formal education). I knew pretty early on that college would be a huge waste of time and money for me, what with my aversion to conventional discipline. Art school was never even discussed or considered... I never took art classes in high school, and the ones I had in junior high I practically flunked out of. I think everything worked out just fine - I have good enough understanding about graphic design to present items for sale online and maintain a decent website... but truth be told, I learned most of what I do from day to day from my husband. And my refusal to take classes of any sort beyond high school is what kept me at home and figuring things out on my own, sometimes with the help of an instructional book or two, and other times, just plain old stubbornness.

"Blood Orange Medley"*

What first attracted you to lampworking?

Beads (particularly glass) and jewelry were already my thing. I never gave much thought to how beads were made, even my favorite (obviously handmade) ones, like vintage encased foil beads. At some point, I came across a story about Kristina Logan in one of the earliest issues of Bead & Button. She had a scary looking torch and made the most excellent beads I had ever seen... but I couldn't imagine myself doing that. At about the same time, I had already bought just about every bead I wanted from the local bead and craft shops when my mom ran across an ad for Making Glass Beads in a craft book catalogue. She saw it and made a mental note to tell me, then misplaced that mental note somewhere, along with the catalogue. (and believe me, the thought of being able to make glass beads in my own favorite colors was very appealing.) Mom finally found the catalogue, and I bought Cindy Jenkins' Making Glass Beads with my birthday money. That book made me feel like making my own glass beads was a real possibility, and it was my constant companion for the next few years to come.

"Reinventing the Lilac"* - a recent set with two of Sarah's excellent new Bebeadeds

Looking back on you career as a lampworker, is there anything you would have done differently?

Absolutely not. And ssshhh... don't tell me it's my career. I might just freak out at the realization and go hide behind the toilet. If it must be something, it's more like a compulsion.

"Neon Fronds"* - one of Sarah's personal favorites

What do you love most about lampworking today?

THE COLORS! I can't believe how many more colors there are now than there were 10 years ago. I remember in 2000 when they came out with dark teal and evil purple and it was a huge deal. (it was to me, anyway.) Even still, there aren't nearly enough colors to please me, there should be more. I also think brass presses are pretty cool, and those definitely weren't as available when I got started. They create shapes that would be nearly impossible to achieve otherwise.

"Tea Stained Sea Glass Glitter Toggles"*

I never cease to be inspired by the use of color in your beads. The color combinations you create, especially in your work with soda lime glass, are always completely eye-popping. What inspires you in your use of color?

All kinds of things. Some of my favorites were inspired by textiles and seasonal fashion lines, and others were colors or themes I stumbled on and happened to be in the mood to be inspired by them. I can't always match them exactly with the glass, and even when I can, I almost always add another color or two that (I think) needs to be there. I love vintage fabrics like barkcloth with tiki and satellite type prints, and wild Hawaiian shirts and muu-muus with loud splashy flowers and colors. Other combinations were just afterthoughts of color combinations that I once used and then decided to try with or without a specific color.

"Persimmon & Blue Spruce"* in borosilicate glass - I particularly love Sarah's Dots-on-Sticks patterned bead which is second from the right

In addition to soda lime, I know that you also work with borosilicate glass. Your work with boro is some of the most unusual that I've ever seen. Tell us a little about what working with boro is like compared to soda lime glass and what has influenced and/or continues to influence the development of your style with boro glass.

Boro is just stiffer and easier (for me) to encase. It's just different - different colors, different shapes and different designs... mostly limited to rounds and tabs for me. It's real hot. And my oxygen delivery lady sees a whole lot more of me when I'm working with it. After about a week or two, I'm bored with it, so it would be safer to say that I haven't really had much time to devote to developing my style with it. What I do with boro is so different from what I do with soda lime, and it's nice to have that change now and again... but soda lime is and always will be my first love glass.

"Hot Ziggity"*

What or who has been the biggest influence on your growth as an artist and why?

I would have to say everyone in my life. With the support and encouragement of my family, clients and bead friends, I have grown artistically as well as become able to support myself by doing what I love - fiddling with beads!

"!RED! Smooches"* - a client favorite, according to Sarah

"Twilight Peach Mod Tabs"* - one of Sarah's personal favorites

There always seems to be an interesting divide between the work an artist's clients love and the work that the artist herself loves. Among your diverse body of work, what pieces are your favorites and why? Which of your own beads do you tend to wear or do you keep for your own bead box?

My most favorites are the ones that turned out even better than I hoped they would. And as for the beads I wear, I tend to wear more muted colors, like my Tea Stained series. What I like is usually not the best seller at my sales.

"Frondescent !BLING!"* with coldworked beads

What are you looking forward to the most, professionally and/or creatively, in the coming year?

I'm always looking forward to expanding my creative horizons. I recently started coldworking my lampwork beads and have been re-discovering seed beads. Who knows what's next?

Sarah, thank you so much for a wonderful interview (and for agreeing to be my first interview victim). I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

For more information about Sarah and her brilliant beads (and to purchase her beads), please visit her website. (What are you waiting for??? Go! Go now!)

"Grandma Olive"*

*All photos in this post are
©2006-2008 Sarah Moran. They are used by permission.

Tagua Nut "Netsuke"

Greetings! I hope everyone had a great holiday and week. The family and I spent time in New York City again. Although the Short One's naps were only intermittent this trip (and the poor Husband had a business trip smack in the middle of our week away), I still managed to finagle a few hours to go bead hunting.

At the end of August, Katie Hacker had a great bead stash post which included a photo of some attractive dyed tagua nut slice pendants. It made me think about tagua nut netsuke-style beads, and, lo and behold, I found some last week in New York.

For the uninitiated, tagua nuts are extremely hard nuts that come from the ivory-nut palm. I believe they are mainly found in the rainforests of South America. Parts of the nut are carvable, and they are often referred to as "vegetable ivory". Beads and buttons are carved or sliced from nuts that are groundfall, and they are considered an eco-friendly alternative to bone. I find the material to be very warm and tactile - they make the kind of beads that you like to hold in your hand.

Again for the uninitiated, netsuke refers to a type of Japanese bead whose original purpose was to serve as a toggle for a purse-like ornament that was worn from the obi sash of a kimono (since the kimono has no pockets, the purse or container served to carry the wearer's small essentials, like coins). Original netsuke were carved from ivory, coral, boxwood (you can still buy lovely carved boxwood beads - I'll have to show you the ones in my stash sometime) and other similar materials. The carving of netsuke can be extremely intricate and beautiful.

These beads are much simpler in aspect, but they didn't cost a fortune (real netsuke can cost hundreds of dollars), and I think they're quite attractive and will make nice pendants for necklaces. My photo came out rather small here, but I think you can click on it for a closer look. From left to right, they are a tiger (frankly, I thought this was a dragon, but when I squinted at the receipt it was identified as a tiger, and when I showed it to my mother, who is visiting us right now, she said "Well, of course that's a tiger", so what do I know), a hen, a Foo or Fu dog (also called a Fu lion or lion of Buddha), and, well, a happy gentleman in snazzy dress. It is also quite common to see sets of twelve tagua nut beads with each of the animals of the Chinese zodiac carved on them. I was tempted to get a set, but ended up being seduced by some nephrite jade pendants (more on this later) instead.

So, the words for today are "tagua nut". And fine words they are, too!

On other fronts, I've decided to expand my blog horizons and start posting the odd interview here. I won't tell you right now what luminary I have as my first victim, er, interview subject, but her work appears here quite regularly, as she's one of my favorite bead artists, and, if I do say so, her beads are quite stunning. Please come back later this week to see who she is (and many thanks to her for agreeing to be grilled by me!).

Thanks for visiting!