Thursday, November 25, 2010

checking in

Hi there! I've been long lost from the jewelry world and have not made a single piece of anything in a while... To catch anyone not in the know up to speed, here are my activities & passions of late:

I've gone to work full time for state police again. Yeah, yeah. Again. This takes up HUGE swaths of my time!

Needlework has intensely captured my imagination again and much of my spare time (heh. what spare time?) is spent bent over my tambour work (for which I have signed up for the next University of Kentucky School of Fine Arts master class in May- woo hoo!!), or an embroidery hoop, or free hand with cross stitch (mostly subversive cross stitch because it's more fun!) has brought me immense pleasure, introduced me to new and wonderful people around the world and I'm happy to have made one very special new friend in particular in Britain. Check it out!

Our sweet dog Lucy is almost 15 years old now and requires special needs care at this point. She is on pain meds, melatonin to help her sleep and Hills Prescription B for brain health food. So far she is holding steady but it's increasingly difficult. So when I am not at my ten hour shifts at work, I am spending time walking her and just being with her while she is still on this side of the hereafter.

Still working on numerous sewing projects and saving for my dream Bernina sewing machine!

Thanks to my cool friend in the UK, Michael and I spend as much of our time off as we can indulging in our new passion-- geocaching. We both love it! Good fun, outdoors, minimal expense, spend time together. What else can you ask for?

Oh, yes. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping. The usual drudge everyone deals with. For now, I may as well take the "beads and jewelry of" off my banner (in fact, as an after thought, I just did). My jewelry bench has collected serious dust.... Honestly I have just lost the mojo for it for the foreseeable future, and I'd rather wear the pieces I've made than sell them. :D

In case anyone was wondering what I am doing in this photo rooting around in the bushes, I have just found my first geocache and am examining the treasures! Woot!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mostly Sewing

I've been so busy with working full time again, it hasn't left the time to set down and organize my thoughts well enough to concentrate on coming up with new jewelry designs. So I have been doing some sewing, just to keep creativity flowing. Here is a bag I just finished-- the pattern is called Bow Tucks Tote and it is from Quilts illustrated by Penny Sturges. I've been itching to use my newest Heather Ross Far Far Away 2 fabrics-- they are the moons on the top portion and the orange moon pocket. The bottom is pretty blue corduroy from Joann's and the handles are from Red Rooster Fabrics The Quilter's Kitchen Collection by Jennifer Chiaverini. To make life easier, I eliminated the ties on the sides that the pattern called for.

Close up of pocket. Yes I did all the free motion meandering embroidery myself and I think it came out ok. What didn't, I hid under the pocket. :-)

The finishing touch-- a large vintage bakelite button for easy open & close. I love the smiling moons and the matching yellow thread. This is a great pattern and easy to sew up, once you get past the front pocket (thanks, Cheryl!).

Since I have quilted pincushions, a wallet and another bag under construction, plus a sewing tool bag, a knitted bag and a hexagon crochet project going on, it's busy enough to keep me going for a while.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

earth elements boho bracelet

Moving in a new direction with my jewelry making. Usually I make necklaces and earrings but now I am bitten with the bracelet bug. Why didn't anyone tell me they were so much fun to make? This is my first one. I wanted an earthy, organic bracelet with movement and rich color.

These natural green beads are actually nuts. Aren't they cool? I put a Thai silver leaf between them. The cord is distressed leather and has fabulous lampwork glass beads by Ellen Dooley nestled between the tied knots. Barely visible in the above photo is a tiny square Thai silver bead with carvings on it. So cute! Also I ran out of silver wire (horrors!) and I am tired of regular brass or copper wire so I used art wire for the first time. I can tell you I am a total convert. The spools come in all sizes and colors (it's treated copper that won't tarnish) and make the components pop! plus adds lots of interest. Here I used a green artwire to wrap the leather cord and a reddish brown to wrap the skull bead.

Gorgeous chunky red tiger eye bead next to tiny earthenware bead by unknown artist and on the other side a beauty of a green lampwork bead by Ellen Dooley. Carved bone flower...

The charms are a carved bone hand & skull, and a brass fertility goddess. I particularly love the oversized snappy brass clasp. It looks like it would weigh a ton but it is really light and comfortable. For ease of movement with larger beads, the bracelet is a comfortable 8.5". Go see it now on my etsy store:

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

keep calm & carry on

New on my etsy listings is this necklace, featuring a hand stamped pendant, smooth rutilated quartz with lovely metallic striations, two beautiful sparkling geodes and quite a bit of cable link silver chain- 32 inches. This one hangs to my belly button. :-)

I stamped Winston Churchill's famous quote on what has to be called a "slab" of silver, as it is 14 gauge- quite substantial. It is textured with various hammers and as I always do, add patina and a good rubbing to soften it up and let it shine, all at the same time. The geodes I purchased at a rock show a while ago. The open slice is agate with crystals, the reddish orange one is carnelian with crystals. They just bling bling in the sunlight!

For those who look at that smooth stone on the left and say, "what the heck is rutilated quartz?" Well....

Rutilated quartz is a form of the mineral, quartz, that has attractive, needle-like inclusions of rutile. It is often cut and polished to use in jewelry and is prized as a metaphysical stone. Rutilated quartz is mined in many countries, including the United States, Australia, Norway and Brazil.

Close up of that lovely geode. I just love agates!

Friday, August 20, 2010

in beauty may i walk

The beautiful Navajo Beauty Walk poem is the inspiration for my latest creation. The main premise of the poem I've stamped on lightweight brass disc, with added texture and lovely patina.

I do so love Ellen Dooley's incredible lampwork glass beads. These worked perfectly for the natural earth elements theme of this piece. Isn't this cool green just lovely, and the brown speckles make it all the more beautiful.

A first for me-- and I am totally in love-- Saki's bronze metal toggle. And of course, another gorgeous speckled lampwork bead from Ellen Dooley.

River rocks are so soothing. This one is super smooth to the touch.

In beauty may I walk... see it for sale on

Every year in Richmond, the area below downtown called Shockoe Bottom becomes a way-station for migrating Purple Martin birds on their way to South America. Every year Michael and I manage to miss them for one reason or another. This year we made a point to see this spectacular spectacle, and with my parents visiting we had added incentive since my dad is a professional wildlife photographer.

Richmond train station, Shockoe Bottom at dusk.

The Martin's are quick and difficult to catch on camera. This is one of my favorite shots my dad took, right before several thousand birds spiraled into formation and dove into the trees next to where we were all standing. Every night at least 15,000 birds take their nightly snooze in the trees at the Farmer's Market at Shockoe Bottom. It was an awe inspiring experience and we are heading down there again this evening to take it all in, all over again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Boy Mango

Yes, I am blogging about my cat. Here he is in his favorite spot (other than tucked under my arm) on my side of the bed waiting for the sun to come back out. He is a sweet and sour boy, my Mango. You never know what you're going to get but when he's sweet, he is very, very sweet.
The Mango Kitty Condo.
Since I have no jewelry to show, owing to life in general and getting ready to host relatives from Germany in particular, I can at least show my latest most fabulous find. Every Saturday morning until the first weekend in October there is an antiques market on Monument Avenue in a parking lot. It is within easy walking distance from our apartment and my new favorite haunt. Here is a swatch of 12 and a half yards of vintage 1960's lightweight home dec fabric I scored for twenty bucks. My husband was kind enough to haul it home for me, still on the huge rolled bolt. But I carried our old dog Lucy, who wilted in the heat and pooped out early. Hmmm.. who got the better deal? Anyway, isn't this fabric the greatest? There are more colorful combinations, this is just a piece. I foresee zippered bags, wrapped bags, shoulder bags-- bags, bags, bags! :)
One last shot of my fat little pink-bellied boy. All 23 pounds of him. :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

true to thee

What are we true to these days? I have heard nutty things lately. A friend recently told me his dream came true-- something he never thought he would accomplish. I couldn't imagine what it was! Then he told me-- he installed a dedicated movie room in his home, complete with 110 inch projector television and state of the art sound system. He is thrilled. I was completely dismayed. Is this what we've come to for dreams come true?

I am true to these things: home, family, pets, friends, art. Long walks and cool evenings. Good books and great coffee. Viewing a gorgeous piece of artwork. Hearing from a friend or calling or writing a friend after a long absence in communication. The joy of accomplishing a long worked piece of needlework or a well wrapped piece of wirework, where all the elements come together just well enough to incite a smile. These are my small and large joys in life, and so many other things- all simple, all true to me. What are you true to these days?

Fabulous glazed earthenware beads (to die for!) by Gaia. Glazed earthenware building pendant by the ever-talented Mary at Jubilee. Stamped pendant is my own. Lampwork bead, unfortunately, is of the set I cannot identify the maker. Saki silver toggle.
Available at my shop

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

sometimes i fly like a bird

I finished another necklace yesterday and it is now listed on my shop (SOLD 7/27/10). Again, it is highlighting unusual and wonderful beads and charms that I have stowed away for years. This incredibly lovely lampwork disc bead was purchased at the Whole Bead show in New York City in March 2008. To my intense dismay, I remember the woman's face who created the bead and I remember purchasing a small king's ransom in beads from her, each one even more beautiful than the last. But I have no record of her name, a receipt, credit card slip, business card or anything so I cannot give her proper and due credit for her wonderful work. *sigh* I'll pay more attention if we get there again later this year.

The entire necklace is 22". The beads are large turquoise czech seed beads, freshwater pearl and then a terrific Thai silver curved tribal tube bead, which I have also sequestered away for a while. :) I am a certified pack rat, I guess, but it's lovely to put all these beautiful components together on one piece.

Hand stamped sterling with patina by me. It's from a song, don't you know it... sometimes i cry, sometimes i fly like a bird. Well, I do sometimes cry but I like the fly like a bird part better these days, so the rest got left on the cutting room floor.

A close up of this wondrous bead. I am lucky to have about eight more of these, but this is the only one of this size and lovely dusky rose hue.

It's off to the grocery with my old and trusty dog Lucy and then? A shared ice cream cone! I don't mind dog slobber too much. :)

Happy creating, everyone! I am working with copper and bronze for the rest of today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

enigma necklace

It's been too hot to do much other than hang around the apartment. Owing to the incredible temperatures, amazing even for summer in central Virginia, we have been forced to limit our activities to quick runs to the grocery store after dark, hasty doggie pee pee's outside in the front courtyard, and household chores and laundry. In essence it has been rather nice, other than our AC blitzing out for several hours last night (thankfully repaired running constantly now). I have had time other than household tasks to take a few well needed naps, put things away in our new place, make some little quilted bags, work on needlework and also make some jewelry. Here is the first piece I had time to photograph just before dark tonight.

This is such an amazing bead, I have held on to it like a lucky talisman for a while, not sure what to make with it. Another necklace was taken apart, added to and re-worked to include this inscrutable double sided face as the focal piece. Enigma can be found on my shop page (SOLD 7/25/10).

Each side of the face is ever so slightly different. It is quite extraordinary, handmade by sweet relish charms, which you can find on etsy.

Details of lovely faceted stones and pearls. I do so love a jangly necklace. :) Keep cool and have a creative weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

new published work, be-dazzled bezels!

I have a new published piece. It is a necklace called "sticks and stones" and you can see it in the August/September 2010 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry. Two of the components of the necklace, I thought, might not be something everyone would want to bother to tackle, so I am offering these two components as a package deal on etsy. See the finished necklace in the magazine on page 18. See the components for sale on my etsy site:

I've been enchanted and consumed with the idea of creating hand stamped bezel pendants. These are my first efforts and are also for sale on my etsy site. There may be an easier way to make these buggers but I did it the old fashioned way, entirely by hand. Hand saw the copper, rounds and tubes, cut a bale. Then solder. And perhaps re-solder. And in several cases, reposition the entire piece, add more solder and end up with too much solder evident on the finished piece. Ah well. I had fun making them, with minimal flung curse words.

Each bezel has a stamped word or sentiment that is dear to me... "home" is one of my favorites.

I found this gorgeous piece of weathered red painted board on the beach last visit home. It works fabulously well as a jewelry prop. My husband is used to me dragging large and unusual props home, usually dropping sand, dead bugs and other unmentionables with them.

Lovely texture and patina. I love copper. It's so wonderfully earthy. We are moved again to a nice modern small apartment, and even in the midst of the rubble, I feel fabulously back in the game again. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

tambour bead embroidery

Last week I drove from Richmond to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky School of Costume and Design class in tambour bead embroidery, an ancient technique that is almost an extinct art form. Today it is taught almost exclusively at Ecole Lesage in Paris, an haute couture embroidery school that teaches day classes and professional classes in many forms of embroidery, including the above, which was worked with a tambour hook. A tambour hook is a needle sharp, tiny crochet-like hook that is used to work chain stitch on the reverse of the piece (stretched taut in a slate frame), utilizing a glorious array of threads, sequins, beads and fabrics to create dazzling purses, dresses and other garments. The photo above is a bead and sequined flower in progress, worked in such a way that it is three dimensional.

My class piece in progress, above. Black bugle beads, gold and purple sequins, lame and gold seed beads are worked in slow progress with the tiny tambour hook.

Wracked with nerves at first, I have my organza stitched onto and stretched across the frame before calming down to begin the learning process of holding the hook properly (over and over and over again!) so that it does not snag either the delicate fabric or thread as it pierces and loops a chain. Here I have almost all flower outlines complete, day two of the class.

Our utterly charming and incredibly talented instructor, Bob Haven.

The costume design classroom at University of Kentucky School of Fine Arts, hard at work on our projects.

Fine Arts Building where our class was held. Now that my love of this technique is confirmed, I can't wait to become more proficient with the hook, finish my class project and move on to other works of art. Lesage, here I come! (someday....)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Holy cow, more than a month flew by!

My gosh, I have been bad about posting. Working, getting ready for a move, working magazine articles (!), sewing, housework (blah...) and making jewelry again has really occupied my days from morning til fall-into-bed time. The earrings here were a custom order, sterling with green sparkly fine aquamarine stones and overwraps. I had such fun making this pair, I already made another pair to put on etsy. Being freestyle wraps, they look a bit different but still, same idea.

Such lovely beads! So pretty.

And another custom order.. black spinelle rondelles and Peruvian blue opals. Gorgeous opals! The nicest quality I have ever been able to find. These are truly dazzlers.
And last weekend Michael and I attended the grand opening of the newly opened renovated Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Great looking guys (see above), beautiful artwork, free food and drink and wonderful live bands made for a charming evening. We walked from our apartment to save the environment and the parking fee, and the museum was quite huge so we really got our work out for the day. I'm sorry I cannot remember who painted the magnificent painting above but it was Michael's favorite.

My favorite painting in the 21st century art section, Self Portrait in a Coral Bed, 2003 by Julie Heffernan. The plaque on the wall said she has painted mostly self portraits in recent years but none of them really look like her physically, it's the meaning behind it of which she was conveying herself. Hmm. I need to look back at my notes to see what she was conveying here but it was most stunning and I spent quite a while engrossed in studying this piece.

Close up head shot of Self Portrait in a Coral Bed.

The museum opened at 10 a.m. last Saturday, after having been closed for renovations since at least a year ago (don't quote me on that). A group of Tibetan monks came and created a sand mandala. This is the mandala in a stage of completion. I wanted to see them finish it and then sweep it all away but alas, we missed that part.

There is a small room of incredible stained glass from the 14th and 15th centuries. This was my favorite piece.

Me in a moment of repose, taking a break from my flat, tired feet.

This wall divider was all needlepoint! The middle panel was more realistic, if you can call mermaids realism, but compared to the opposite panels, you get the idea. Again, stood here a long time and analyzed the workmanship. Quite stunning. We were so engrossed in all the artwork (and three wings of the museum have not even opened yet, still under construction...) that I neglected to write down many of the artists or even the time period. Pens were not allowed out in the museum so that hampered my efforts a bit. I can't imagine defacing a painting but I suppose it happens.

Family Portraits, 1944, by Robert Gwathmey. I am particularly fond of African American folk art. This piece spoke to me.

And who waited at home, contemplating his revenge while his tuna bowl lay empty? Hmmm. Sorry, Mango!