Friday, July 31, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

This is our first year planting corn, so we weren't sure what to expect - especially since we didn't attempt to hand-pollinate the stalks when the tassels opened. However, I went out the garden this evening to take a peek and counted at least eight small ears growing in our garden. Woo-hoo! Here's the clearest shot I was able to take of one of the bigger ones. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it?

Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the weekend. Have a good one!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is helping to promote Cynthia Thornton's new book release by offering the 1st of 8 giveaways!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
With Swarovski crystals from, Andrew creates a wire-wrapped dangle bracelet inspired by a fuzzy caterpillar.

Art Bead Scene
Learn how to make your own bezel with Art Bead Scene!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi places some vintage lace/tatting between glass for this lovely pendant idea.

Beading Arts
Fishing is a fun summertime activity, but even more fun when it results in something to wear!

A Bead A Day
Swarovski Crystal Volcano! Are you ready to see sparks of red, yellow and orange? Jewelry Making
Tammy's going bananas over bamboo beads!

Jean Campbell
Jean gives the inside scoop on Rachel Nelson-Smith's upcoming book, Seed Bead Fusion.

Cindy Gimbrone
Want to add charm to your jewelry? Cindy Gimbrone shows you how to make glass nugget charms.

Strands of Beads
Melissa discusses her experiences with metal clay safety issues

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Good Things in Small Packages

I love receiving packages in the mail and this month was no exception - check out the contents of the goody bag I recently received from the good folks at Rings & Things. It's filled with a variety of treasures, such as the cool, metal links in unusual shapes, a sweet and simple copper bail, a bag of blue designer mix beads and some cool Swarovski Crystalized Elements crystal cubes.

I was particularly interested in the cubes, as the colors just happened to complement a boro lampworked bead I recently acquired from Sarah Moran. The bead had been lying around for inspiration to strike, and the goodies from Rings & Things turned out to be the perfect catalyst.

I took one black diamond crystal cube and one topaz/aurora borealis crystal cube, two small fine silver rings I made myself and wire-wrapped them together. I then added two pieces of crimson silk ribbon to create this simple tie-back necklace:

Here's another shot of the necklace:

This simple design works for me. The beautiful crystal cubes set off the focal boro bead perfectly - the colors complement the glass nicely and the clean, geometric cube shape contrasts beautifully with the round focal. It is comfortable and easy to wear for the summer (and if you read my previous post, you know I'm now a big fan of tie-back closures).

Thank you, Rings & Things - I couldn't ask for a better Muse!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Confession of a Late Adapter

I'm sure you're going to laugh at me. I just discovered something fantastic - I really love tie-back closures. I know - silly, right?

I've always loved their simplicity and the way this type of closure looks, but, deep in my heart of hearts, I always felt they must not be terribly secure. Last week, I was shopping at our local paper store and one of the clerks was wearing a humongous double-strand necklace with over-sized stone drops - 40mm or over - closed at the back with a simple bow-tie. So, naturally, I accosted her with my questions: "Is it comfortable? Is it secure?" "Sure it is!" she replied.

So, after my year's worth of skepticism, I tried it myself with some heavy ceramic beads - and I love it. Comfy! Secure!

It takes me a while, but I get there in the end.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Here's a little summer color to inspire you - beans from our (H's) garden. These were actually picked yesterday, but they are still darn fresh compared to what I find at our local grocers. Meanwhile the tassels on our corn have opened - we did not have time to go out and pollinate by hand, so we are just hoping that we will get a few ears out of it - this is our first attempt to grow corn in the garden.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend. I'm finishing up a project for a book today and reviewing a few contracts - trying to take care of business. Here are your bead and jewelry links for the week. Thanks for visiting! Jewelry Making
Rock clubs rock, literally, when you are looking for inexpensive, local jwelry making classes.

Art Bead Scene
Tired of your liver of sulfur going bad? Check out this - Patina Gel!

Beading Arts
The second part of Cyndi's tutorial on using CopprClay to create a necklace.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
After cleaning the studio, Andrew finds (and finishes) a long-lost PMC Floral Link Bracelet.

A Bead A Day
The new Swarovski Air Blue crystals are perfect for summertime jewelry making. Lisa has used them to represent a "happy day" in this ring and necklace set.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi introduces a vintage walnut to rhinestsones.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy takes on heavy metal in the studio. No, you won't need to cover your ears - just your hands!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie takes some time to show off a few new resin and brass collage pendants!

Jean Campbell
Jean visited Chicago and discovered a new beading technique using pleather and Conso

Katie's Beading Blog
Take a sneak peek at Katie's newest beading book!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei makes a fun Owl swap with a blog friend.

Snap out of it , Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean is wowed by Denise Peck's recent earring book, 101 Step by Step Wire Earrings! Get it and make some for YOURSELF!

Strands of Beads
Melissa curls up with a few good books from Rings & Things

Friday, July 24, 2009

Framed Heart

Here's one of my necklaces appearing in the current issue of Creative Jewelry. I designed the necklace around the clean, geometric piece of turquoise I found at Ayla's Originals, one of my local bead stores. It was pretty much the perfect size to frame my fine silver dragon-heart pendant.

If you're interested - this is actually my submissions photo to the magazine. The magazine photo is much more beautiful, of course, but I think seeing other people's submission photos is sort of interesting, don't you?

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I, Robot

I'm not sure if I ever posted this on my blog before or not, but it's one of my favorites. I don't actually follow Beck, but the dancing QRIO robots are simply not to be missed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Metal Clay Safety

Kate McKinnon has posted an update (I find I cannot link directly to the post for some reason - it's one of the July 22, 2009 entries) concerning her metal clay safety project, and I thought I would let you know that it's there (if you are not already following her blog, of course) and briefly weigh in on the issue.

Kate's position on safety - which requires no kiln-firing in classrooms, less (no) sanding, no burnout of styrofoam cores, among other things - has generated certain controversy from the outset. Now, I have never taken a class on metal clay - I have no practical idea how the classes are generally run or what the physical conditions are actually like from best to worst. Also, because I started working with the material at a time when I was otherwise pretty busy raising my infant son, I worked and continue to work in isolation from the metal clay community near where I live - which I think is both a blessing and a curse (but is a topic for another day). However, the bottom line for me is that Kate's information made a practical difference to someone like me, who is completely self-taught from books, at a time when I really needed the information.

As far as I know, I started working with metal clay a few months before Kate first widely starting posting about safety issues, around mid-2007. At the time, I had not yet bought my kiln, was still learning how to control the clay (whom am I kidding - I am still working on this) and was, as a result, sanding excessively and working without any sort of respirator. I didn't have any severe symptoms, but I was experiencing some respiratory irritation (which I did not immediately connect to the clay). After reading Kate's informational posts and the ensuing dialogue with other metal clay artists, I adopted certain changes in the way I work. I bought my kiln, which I store in our detached garage and fire outside, I work with sponges to "finish" bone-dry clay as much as possible and when I do sand (which I still do more than I would like), I work in a well-ventilated area away from the house, wear a mask rated for metalwork and make every attempt to "contain" the resulting dust. The respiratory irritation disappeared, and I feel more confident that my work is not having an adverse impact on my or my family's health (I always worry about the Short One, in this regard).

Now, I have to confess - I have not adopted all of Kate's recommendations wholesale. I definitely still do a few things (like the sanding I do - some of which I'm sure could be eliminated if I could just put my brain to it) of which I'm sure Kate wouldn't approve. Also, from a practical perspective, there's pretty much no way I would have spent the money for a kiln from the outset without experimenting for a while with the significantly less expensive torch (she does not recommend torch-firing). However, I don't believe it's possible to have too much information when it comes to this topic. The important thing for me is that Kate's forthright stance on this issue and insistence on holding a dialogue on the topic with artists who disagree with her findings helped me make a more informed decision on how to continue working with this wonderful material.

Frankly, whether you agree with Kate's findings or not - the fact that she continues to raise the issue is extremely important, especially for people like me who are relatively new to the field and who would otherwise not be focusing on this type of information or not know where to find it. So, if you are also relatively new to metal clay or thinking of working with it or are just looking for more information on the topic, I highly recommend checking out Kate's website or reading the safety section in her excellent book, Structural Metal Clay. What you decide to do, of course, is ultimately up to you, but educating yourself on potential safety issues is well-worth your time. As for me, Kate's recommendations had a very practical effect on the way I work, and I'm definitely happier for the changes I adopted as a result.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Oh, how we suffer for our art around here. If you can call it suffering - I think the Short One was rather delighted to discover he'd managed to turn his posterior nice shades of orange and pink.

We've been playing with chalk this weekend - how about you?

I also finished up my Use the Muse II piece - I'll post photos and commentary after the "Big Reveal". I should have some new jewelry designs to show off this week, touch wood. In the meantime, here are your intriguing links for the week:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean discusses finishing up the challenge "Use the Muse II" which was thought up by Scarlett Lanson, Rainbows of and She enjoyed it very much, particularly because it made her think!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Lights, Camera, Action! Melanie tells a tale of her Beads, Baubles, and Jewels televison taping experience.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is giving away a necklace and a copy of Creative Jewelry! Jewelry Making
How has your web store experience been? Are there too many 3rd partry sites to sell or buy jewelry these days? Take the poll as a sell or buyer.

Barbe Saint John
Barbe reviews Simply Gemstones book

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva Gets Loopy
Check out Cindy's new project in the summer edition of Step by Step Wire!

A Bead A Day
Can a piece of jewelry create a feeling of calm and happiness? Check out Lisa's starry bracelet made with "new jade" stones.

Art Bead Scene
ABS Editor Heather is on the road. Check out her quick project!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Rub-ons and leather - a cool combination for this cuff sample.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Busier than a bee, Andrew shares fifteen new jewelry designs.

Beading Arts
Cyndi shows you the steps to making a simple but sparkling necklace from CopprClay!

Drawing Dilemma
Jean asks her friends about what drawing programs they use for beading illustrations

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off a new variation of her lunar phases toggle

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Curling up with Good Books

The last time I played tag, one of the questions I had to answer was what I would do with $100.00 if I could spend it on anything. I replied, "Books". Well, I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. As a member of the Rings & Things blogging partnership, I was given a $50.00 gift certificate with the opportunity to buy anything from their wide range of lovely products. While I was completely tempted by their Sleeping Beauty and Kingman turquoise, I decided to check out the book section (which I had not previously visited, despite having been a Rings & Things customer for some time) before I made a final decision.

I was completely blown away by the interesting variety of books that the company stocks. Now, I'm not the type of person who snoops through medicine cabinets when I visit other people's houses (honest!), but I always snoop through bookshelves. I am a total bibliophile and love to see and hear about what others are reading. The selection of books that Rings & Things offers is extremely engaging - from recent releases to classic texts, some of which are relatively hard to find elsewhere, covering all aspects of beadmaking and jewelry design. Browsing through the company's book catalog really is just like browsing through the extensive personal library of a bead enthusiast.

I was quite interested to learn how Rings & Things puts together its catalog in this regard, and I recently had the good fortune to correspond with Noryan Baker, Rings & Things' astute buyer for "all things book related". Noryan uses a variety of criteria in choosing new titles to add to the product list, including whether "[t]hey have good example jewelry, they have easy to follow instruction, they use items that are readily available or that we stock, or is possibly a current trend that we think is a good idea. Good pictures/pictures of instructions are always a plus."

Currently, a team of five people of varying jewelry-making backgrounds will select titles, so that "there is little to no bias, [as] every individual has different experience with jewelry making in different areas and work in different parts of our warehouse, and they can offer their opinions based on such. " The result is a nice mix of titles covering everything from basic stringing to beadmaking, from craft business guides to the cultural histories of beads and beyond.

And what did I buy with my $50.00? Well, it was a difficult choice, but in the end I picked up Oscar T. Branson's Indian Jewelry Making, Lois Sherr Dubin's The History of Beads from 30,000B.C. to the Present and Elizabeth Harris's A Bead Primer. I'd heard good things about Indian Jewelry Making (and I happen to be an avid collector of such jewelry, primarily Navajo and some Zuni) but had never come across a copy, so I'm quite excited to add that metalworking book to my library. Likewise, I had been wanting a good book on, well, the history of beads for a while now, but, in my experience, a new copy of Dubin's book can be hard to come by these days. Sure enough - it's quite a fascinating read. I was not previously familiar with A Bead Primer, but it turned out to be a nice, concise pamphlet on various bead types, such as wound, drawn and molded ones.

According to Noryan, the bottom line for Rings & Things is to "try to offer books that have useful and interesting information, that can better an individual's experience or knowledge on the world of beading/jewelry." I think they've succeeded quite magnificently. If you have not already taken a peek at their interesting selection, I highly recommend a visit now by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The African Market

Yes, it is I, the continuing absentee author of this blog. I had the best intentions in the world of composing scintillating beady prose this week and now it's Wednesday and, well, zippo. Sigh.

I do have this lovely strand to show you today. This appeared in my Christmas stocking last year. The mother of a very close friend of mine (both of whom have truly exquisite taste, in my opinion) purchased these at the African Market in Manhattan a while back with the good intention of stringing them - and then never pursued the project. I, lucky person that I am, inherited the strand from her. To be brutally honest (just between you and me), I do not know much about trade beads, but, as the saying goes, I know what I like. I find the combination of colors, textures and patterns here to be very salubrious.

Naturally, it has me chomping at the bit to visit the African Market (which had not yet opened at the time I lived in New York City). Is anyone familiar with the place? I had it on my list of places to visit the last time we were in the city, but we just never made it.

If the stars align and (more to the point), I get my act together, I should have some truly cool books that I obtained from Rings & Things to show you tomorrow. Hope to see you then. Take care.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

I fell of the face of the earth this week, and I'm not quite sure why. After several days of playdates, errand-running, and, well, making puppets and holding puppet shows with the Short One (the one on the left is the SO's), I gave up worrying about jewelry design (and my lack of progress thereof), and here we are. The most exciting thing I have to relate is the partially-obscured sign in my dentist's office that I read today during an emergency visit (I have a root canal in my immediate future, alas): Blessed are those who hold lively discussions with the helplessly mute.

I do have PMC components for my Use the Muse II contest piece firing in my kiln right now, though. I'm a little worried that I may have miscalculated the shrinkage rate on these pieces, but in an hour or so I should be put out of my misery one way or the other.

Call me optimistic, but I expect to be back to the usual beady posts this week. In the meantime, here are your intriguing links for the week:

Check out the 2009 Bead Cruise design contest winners!

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge painting for July is the Lascaux Cave Paintings. Get your stash of beads out in ivory, red and brown to match the color palette of these ancient drawings.

Beading Arts
Wonderful wonderful wonderful new CopprClay! Cyndi is so excited about this new material that she can't stop playing with it!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi attempts to create a necklace after a resin pouring disaster.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy shows off some new chain and realizes one should never shop for jeans on her lunch hour.

A Bead A Day
Lisa’s “Swarovski Summer Picnic” project is progressing. The only thing missing are the crystally butterflies!!

Jean Campbell
Jean Campbell finished off her new LeTemps Necklace design which marries bling to grunge. Hurray! Jewelry Making
School's out for summer, but is it really? Nope, not when you can take one of these free jewelry making e-courses.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei has busted out of the studio and into the Museum of Art for a trunk show.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a different, colorful, and inspiring book called Glass, by Marlene Blessing and Jamie Hogsett

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Challenging himself with a smaller scale, Andrew tackles doll jewelry. Check out five new designs with dolls in mind!

Strands of Beads
Melissa talks about where to find reliable information on copyrights - the U.S. Copyright Office, of course!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Hi there. I hope everyone had a great July 4th. It was a little drizzly where we were, but the Short One still managed to take a fun July 4th train ride at our local festival (barely: like idiots, H. and I took the SO but forgot to take any cash - after spending a half hour to find parking, we discovered we had about $3.00 between us). The SO saw a few fireworks from our house but wasn't terribly interested in them and decided he'd rather go to bed. Next year, maybe.

Above is a necklace I made last year using one of Sarah Moran's beads and one of my fine silver buttons for a clasp. As you may guess, it's called "Firecracker."

Here are you intriguing links for the week: Jewelry Making
Heard about copper clay or coppr clay? Find out more about this great new metal clay product and check out some new metal clay projects too.

Beading Arts
Cyndi reports on her experiences with firing and finishing CopprClay pieces. This stuff rocks!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy learns to make murrini and deals with mud.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi tries Ice Resin and upcycles a greeting card into a necklace.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gets creative with the "Best of ABS."

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Instead of continuing on with the tried and true techniques of jewelry design, Lorelei is finally ready to take the leap and try something new.

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Sometimes you need to have a jewelry makeover

Bead & Button stash and Heather's inspired creations

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean gets her cool stash from Use the Muse II, and muses about it

Jean Campbell
Jean gives a sneak peek of her next Beadwork magazine piece

Katie's Beading Blog
Check out Katie's wire-wrapped dragonfly!

A Bead A Day
Do you love Swarovski Crystals? Inspired by talented jewelry designer, Lillian Chen, Lisa creates a Swarovski "sculpture" ring.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Even without a lot of time on her hands, Melanie finishes a clockwork themed bracelet using Swarovski faceted rings from

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Stop by and say hello to Andrew in Charlotte, NC this weekend. Check out his new designs and some delicious new metal clay coins!

Strands of Beads
Melissa wants to know what outrageous materials are in your beading stash?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Well, the cauliflower was quite tasty

H (coming in from the garden with a nice head of cauliflower and a couple..weeds?): Here.
Me (squinting): What is this?
H (offended): They're carrots!
Me: ...Uh...Dear...

(For the record, I did wash them and put them in the crisper. A small issue to maintain marital harmony, right?)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: Creative Jewelry

I just received my advance copies of Creative Jewelry, Interweave's big annual publication, in the mail today. I have two necklace and two bracelet projects in this issue. The magazine looks great! I'm particularly pleased with the photos of a bracelet I made with Sarah Moran's lampworked beads. My other projects include, well, my own Dragon Heart pendant and Stop Traffic charms, a mermaid button from Green Girl Studios and a porcelain shell bead by Joan Miller. On newsstands now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

- William Butler Yeats

(I've been reading a lot of poetry lately - can you tell? I have this feeling I've posted this poem to the blog before, but I've been thinking about it again, so... The photo is another wedding trip one, also from our first morning in Hawaii.)