A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wonder Woman, the Lone Star state, and Aidan Quinn

What do Wonder Woman, the Lone Star state, and Aidan Quinn have in common?

I think of them when I look at these earrings!

I Fought the Law, and the Law Won
I love these chubby little Mykonos stars from Stinky Dog Beads, and was thinking for a long time about how to create a pair of earrings with them. I thought I would pop them into a ring, and do up a whole mixed metal thing. While I was working on them, I couldn't help thinking of Texas, Wonder Woman (which I watched religiously as a youngster), and badges (Grandma and I used to watch Marshal Dillon clean up Dodge City, and how many times have I watched Practical Magic now?)


Have a splendid week, readers!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

I have been looking and looking for some plain, slim, tubular beadcaps/endcaps--could I find any anywhere? Of course not! Then I stumbled across these spent .22 caliber bullet casings for sale at Design From Dixie on Etsy and I thought "Eureka!" They gather these up--and other calibers--at shooting ranges, check to make sure the primer is spent, and make them available for purchase for craft projects in their Etsy shop. (The brass is lovely, especially after banging it up with my hammer!). I'm not into shooting guns, but I will happily use these babies to make jewelry! I got some in stainless steel too. They're really a snap to drill, and if you have any questions about that, the shop owners are great and super helpful. They also have a website about how to use bullet casings in craft projects. I used them above with moukaite ovals and roundels, and brass wire.

For these I stuck with a two-tone pallette of silver and brass--golden pyrite ovals, fine and Argentium silver wires, brass shell casings and brass wire. (Can't decide what I love more--the brass casings or the pyrite....) These are currently available in my Etsy shop.

OK, that's all I got! (Can't wait to use a pair of the steel ones.)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Y's, Happy Fish and White Clover

Spring in the Rockies
Hello there, adoring fans. In case you were wondering, I'm still working my way through my artisan ceramic stash, most recently using some fab stoneware tubes in sea green glazes by Jana Bližňáková of Happy Fish Things. I'm intrigued by Y necklaces (I think they're sexy and I'm all about that) so I thought I would do really elongated shapes with these. For the necklace above, I topped Jana's stoneware tube with an icy tablet of recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads (clear, with just the barest hint of a fluorite-type green), and dangled a few carved amethyst tulips underneath. It says SPRING to me!! I was playing with some dragonfly-wing shapes with copper wire, and initially thought it was going to form one side of the necklace, but then I liked it so much as part of the pendant section I left it there. I added some more clear glass nuggets to the necklace portion, and two long strands of gorgeous little seed beads in pearly lavender. (I'm really into stringing seed beads lately, I love the look).

Glacial Lakes
For this one, I hit the turquoise hard. (I love these variegated nuggets I got from a local bead store several years ago--I will be beside myself when I run out.) I kept it simple, with leather and copper. Recycled glass tablet in azure from Happy Mango Beads.

Caribbean Adventure
I went all cool greens with this one, with recycled glass rounds and discs (the latter from Happy Mango Beads) in sea green, little rectangular nuggets of pale amazonite in iceberg hues, and a dollop of green dragon blood jasper (the rondelles at the end). I kept it earthy with leather and chubby seed beads in deep cocoa brown.

I'm Going to Sandals
For this one, I was inspired by some ombre-shaded seed beads I found at Michael's, so I decided to do three strands of them (when I love something, I REALLY love it), with a pair of my hand-formed tulip ends. I stacked up some recycled glass discs from Happy Mango Beads in sea green, "Capri blue" and powder blue under the stoneware tube, and then completed the pendant section with a large tablet of faux sea glass in a light azure from Stinky Dog Beads. The wrapped loop I made for the sea glass pendant seemed to need something, so I wrapped it in a bunch of waxed linen cording and more seed beads. Always remember, more is more.

Morning Alpenglow
And lastly, having used up my set of four Happy Fish tubes, I grabbed a gorgeous little porcelain pendant by Mary Hubbard of White Clover Kiln from my stash--I'd been wanting to use this little gem forever but just didn't have any ideas that seemed worthy of it. It fit right inside this wrapped ring I had made a long time ago for I-don't-know-what. Just futzing, I guess. I didn't want it to get too frothy with the pink, so I used Botswana agate (LOVE that stone) to draw out the gray and slatey violet tones in the swirls of the pendant, and added dark cocoa leather to ground it. I added some 3mm round beads at the ends--I think most of these are also Botswana agate, but I mixed in some rhodochrosite for a little extra pink. A dash of silver seemed right too.

Well that's all I got. I have another set of three tubes from Jana, that are a more vivid green--they remind me of bamboo. I think I'm going to use those horizontally...stay tuned!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pendants with Happy Fish Things!

I have embarked on a mission to use up my two bins (ahem) of ceramic artist components--first up, Jana Bližňáková of Happy Fish Things and Happy Fish with Heart! I decided to knot them--I find knotting so meditative! Needed a little of that.

This was the first one I made, with one of a pair of Jana's feather/wing-like elements (with their size and lightness, you could use them for fabulous earrings too, but I wanted to make them go farther, and I thought they'd be great in a more petite necklace). I just love the fine black tracery in the glaze. Sublime! I combined it with a pewter heart connector from Happy Mango Beads, Indonesian glass beads in variegated turquoise (also from Happy Mango--aren't they fabulous? I love how obviously handmade they are), blackstone nuggets, transparent straw-hued Delicas, sterling silver, black Greek leather and waxed linen cording.
Heart Takes Flight
Here is the second one--I had these wonderful Czech glass leaves in autumn tones hanging out in my workspace (where did I get those???...) and when I saw them together, I had to do it! I went back to my Happy Mango turquoise seed beads for a splash of matchy-matchy, added a little Red Creek jasper and a couple of carved black horn feathers, and finished the stringing with glossy black 1 mm leather cord and 11/0 matte black seed beads. I anchored the ends to a pair of my hand-textured silver connector rings, adding some nut brown 2 mm Greek leather with my coil ends, and a short length of sterling silver connector chain terminating in one of my hand-forged sterling hook and eye clasps. Sterling silver accent beads.
Autumn on the Wing
I also had two of these fantastically delicate cherry-blossom-style pieces of Jana's left in my ceramics bin (I had only used one so far). The glaze on this one was a bit lighter than the other--a soft teal fading into a diaphanous sea green. It reminded me so much of the sea, I thought some recycled glass rounds with their sea-glass feel would be a nice addition, and I had some in a lovely celadon that went nicely with the glaze. I decided to stay with lighter colors, knotting it all together with Irish waxed linen cording in ivory, and adding Czech Picasso 3-cut glass seed beads in sea green and cobalt blue from Stinky Dog Beads. For a second it was a tossup between teal Greek leather and this lovely mint -- the mint seemed to make the whole thing pop more so I went with that. It's finished the same as the pieces above, with connector rings, coil ends, and extender chain. (That's a dollop of kyanite on the clasp ring.)
Serenity Now! Right Here Under My Beach Umbrella
The other cherry blossom was in slightly more saturated, vivid hues of turquoise and teal, so I used bolder colors. I'm obsessed with these Czech "wampum" beads from Stinky Dog Beads (they make the most wonderfully mellow clacking sound as they move together). I love the Southwest palette! I added black accents to ground it--black Indonesian glass nuggets from Happy Mango (I love the soft sheen on them), more of my 11/0 matte black Japanese seed beads from Fusion Beads, black Irish waxed linen cording, and black Greek leather--and of course sterling silver (I love that little star jasmine charm--it makes me think of a marshal's badge!). The sweet little Czech glass bird bead is also from Stinky Dog Beads.
Marshal Miss Kitty
I had two of these lovely crackle-glaze medallions in teal and turquoise tones--I love Jana's muted flower pattern, it makes me think of a batik. I thought the vibrant glaze could hold its own against some genuine turquoise, so I went to my favorite blocky turquoise heishi and paired them with garnets--I adore turquoise and garnets together! It's sort of a twist on the traditional Southwest palette, I guess. I love the juxtaposition of the opaque, matte turquoise with the translucent glossy garnets. To bring in some lightness, I teamed them up with vintage Ghanaian glass seed beads in ivory from Afrobeadia, sterling silver, matte black 11/0 seed beads, black waxed linen cord and black Greek leather.
Star Power
This is the other medallion. I wanted to go warm with it, so I pawed through my enormous bin of Indonesian glass beads from Happy Mango until I found my favorite ones, in cocoa brown with stripes of pumpkin, saffron and ivory. To echo the teal in the medallion, I added large and small Indonesian glass beads in translucent teal (from Happy Mango Beads) and 11/0 Japanese seed beads in a similar color; and riffing off the colors in the brown striped beads I added more 11/0 seed beads in a warm maize color, Ghanaian seed beads in ivory, a few 8/10 seeds in root beer brown here and there, and deertan lace in a golden buff color. I added a pewter Celtic knot bead from Happy Mango, and finished it off as I did the others, with sterling silver rings, coils, chain and hook-and-eye clasp. (That little Czech glass flower in teal on the clasp is from Stinky Dog Beads.)
The Warm and Cool of It
I have more awesome stuff of Jana's left--this is what's on my worktable now:

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I recently learned how to make beaded tassel earrings (a year ago--what can I say? I'm slow), thanks to Bianca at All About Beads and  her Fabby YouTube channel. HERE is the tut if you're interested.

Well, as you can see, I went a little crazy--my wrapping my head around this technique coincided with a delivery of some rather delectable Czech glass beads from Stinky Dog Beads. I'm crazy for the "wampum" tube beads, as you can see below. As well as the Picasso beads of every other shape and color--like the 3-cut seed beads and faceted rondelles in transparent sea green, and the red Picasso spacers below.

Southwest Bonanza

These began with a gorgeous set of enameled beadcaps from Anne Gardanne--these aged Picasso seed beads from Beads and Babble seemed perfect with them, as well as the short Czech Picasso barrels in mint green from Stinky Dog Beads, and again with the sea green 3-cut seeds--LOVE those.
How Green Was My Lawn

This pair of earrings began as 10 lovely Czech Picasso glass teardrops in azure and a couple of faceted sky blue rondelles from (yes, you guessed it) Stinky Dog Beads, which eventually joined ranks with more seed beads from Beads and Babble, big aqua glass spacers, my own embossed copper beadcaps, and Indonesian glass beads in turquoise from Happy Mango Beads (on the earwires).
Island Paradise

Well here is a little Cinco de Mayo for you at the end of August. I started with the little scarlet Czech flowers (need I say it? from Stinky Dog Beads--or just "The Dog," as it is known at my house), determined to use them in a tassel earring. I finally settled on some other beads to go with them--variegated turquoise seed beads, pale yellow seed beads, Indonesian glass seed beads in coral red and transparent teal (those are the larger ones right on top of the flowers) from Happy Mango Beads, my own embossed copper beadcaps, a couple of faceted Czech rondelles in azure from The Dog, and two carnelian rondelles from my ancient bead stash. I picture Frida Kahlo in these.
Cinco de Mayo RIGHT NOW

For these I started out with Czech Picasso seed beads from Beads and Babble (I believe they are the same ones as above in Island Paradise and How Green Was My Lawn, except not etched). I used some heavily Picassoed sea green 3-cuts in the tassels, as well as a pair of jade green faceted Czech rondelles, sea green wampum tubes in metallic-accented sea green, all courtesy of The Dog, my own embossed beadcaps topped with a pair of Tierra Cast caps, and some old glass tile beads in amber from Fire Mountain (which they of course no longer carry because they were too fabulous.)
Green and Gold

And lastly, this is the first design I attempted when I finally sucked up the courage to try Bianca's tutorial. I started with a pair of Gardanne beadcaps, and went from there. I used a mix of both Japanese and Indonesian seed beads in turquoise (the latter from Happy Mango), rose-gold faceted Czech rondelles from BobbiThisnThat, and sultry black-finish rhinestone spacers from The Dog. And then lots of pewter and sterling silver. (I think the silver heishi are from Fusion Beads, and the little daisies are probably from Monsterslayer.) GIRLY!!! You could blow the lid off a My Little Pony party with this kind of ear candy.
Girl Power

Well, frankly, I'm exhausted after all that. Time for a nap.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Glory of Summer

I designed this necklace--believe it or not--around the little blue multi-striped beads around the bail. I had made a bracelet with them, and loved using them so much, I wanted to use them again in a necklace. Aren't they darling? (And of course they are from Happy Mango Beads, my go-to bead store--and they have more!! Just click the link above, or below the picture below.)
Indonesian Glass
So off I went to excavate all my blue, yellow and orange beads to find the elements for my necklace. I knew it was meant to be when I found this spectacular enamel butterfly in my stash, from Gardanne Beads.
The lady has a way with enamel, no?

I went with copper, because I love the warm/cool contrast, and chose a little of this and that to go with my beads and my butterfly--a cultured sea glass nugget from Stinky Dog Beads in cornflower blue, a spotted, etched lampwork spacer in a similar shade (it worked great as part of my bail!) from Julie Miller Glass, blue kyanite ovals from Lima Beads, recycled glass tulips in vivid yellow from Afrobeadia, seed beads from here and there, and tiny copper torpedo beads from Monsterslayer.

I wanted to really make a statement with that butterfly, so rather than simply using the holes for stringing, I created a couple of yoke type contraptions from heavy copper wire, and attached them to the butterfly with copper headpins. I attached my beaded necklace portion (strung on Softflex) through a lampwork spacer--they have nice big holes, and the beading wire goes right through there. I was thrilled that it worked! I wanted to echo the yokes a bit in the chain portion, so I made some bar chain links, just by hammering more heavy copper wire, and making holes with my trusty Beadsmith hole punch pliers. I added a simple second strand of delicate copper chain, with another kyanite oval.

(I don't mean to brag, but the blue in that butterfly is the color of the clear skies up here in Montana--shocking, nearly cobalt blue overhead when you're out hiking.)

I don't usually use these colors--bright blue or bright yellow--but it was fun!
Happy rest-of-the-Summer to you!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Red Planet 2.0

Red Planet 2.0
I liked a good friend's suggestion to add some turquoise to my "Red Planet" bracelet (see previous post), and so tossed some in--love it! I loved it so much, I couldn't help but create a necklace with the same feel and most of the same materials.

For the focal, I used a ring of copper I made several months ago as an experiment, and a heart-shaped raku bead from Spinning Star Studio. The raku bead has a hole in the upper left, but I felt when it was hanging sideways that way, it didn't resemble a heart so much as a mystery polygon. I decided to fill the hole with some turquoise on a headpin, and then created a bail for it with some wire. I like it this way much better!

Here is the revised "Red Planet" bracelet with a dash of turquoise added in:

I liked it before, but I think I like it better now.

Ta for now! Off to the gym. Yuck.