Tuesday, August 31, 2010


According to Webster serendipity is the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. That really is how this necklace came about.

It started with this bronze blossom pendant. It was a failure in the firing. The center part didn't stay attached. But then I stumbled across a video on riveting. Problem solved. I just drilled a hole in both pieces and made a copper ball end head pin and riveted them together. Seredipity!

I have all sorts of ideas now of what I might like to do on purpose with these pendants. And I wanted to do something special with this one. Along comes a blog post by Heather at The Peacock Fairy.

She posted this photo of her gorgeous Woodsy Wrist bracelet featured in Bead Trends September 2010 issue. And it kind of clicked what to do. I'd been eyeing that leafy chain for some time with no thought just how I might put something together with it. Finally, I bought a foot length. It was laying around my chain stash waiting to be loved. 25 wrapped garnet, jasper, and glass beads later....

This is a real departure from my usual style which is pretty understated and simple. But I've got studio tour coming up again in November. I've never jurried into jewelry before and felt like I had to make some thing with a little more flash.   So there you have it. A serendiptous turn of events. I love that word!

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Never Ending Quest

As many of you know, I do local art market every month.  I often customize pieces on the spot so that people can get a piece of jewelry that they've had a part in putting together. I like that and it makes me happy. I'm on this never ending quest to make my life simpler and my customers happy.

I also really like dropping little things off of wire wrapped beads.  These pieces are often difficult, and sometimes impossible, to put on a diffrent style chain or cord without taking the chain apart. And those jump rings on the end are tiny and hard to work with in a market environment.

Today as I was puttering away, I had one of those light bulb moments. Mostly my light bulb is on the dimmer switch but today it was blazing brightly. The problem with my wire wrapped beads was that the loop at the top is closed. So what if I made it like an eye pin, more like a pendant bail? The wire I use is 20-22 gauge so a regular eye pin just doesn't seem sturdy enough to drop a pendant off. Besides I really like the look of a double strand of wire up there on the top.

Probably you are all rolling your eyes and muttering, 'Silly, girl. The solution is obvious.' But I am so danged pleased with myself I'm going to show you what I did.

I took a 4 inch or so piece wire and used that flat plier thingy that I don't know the name of and bent it half.

I squeezed the two ends of the wire tightly together, starting at the bend in the wire.

Then I made this sturdy eye pin. You can't really see it here, but it's a double strand of wire that you see only the side of.

I use my round nose plier to grip the base of the eye pin. Then I take one end of wire and bend it back at a 90 degree angle.  It seems to look more centered if you start your wrapping from the back (the open end of the eye. The piece on the left of the photo is the stem. The piece on the top will get wrapped around the stem.

Wrapped top of bail is done. Please ignore the nasty yuck under my nails. It's oxidized copper from something I was working on earlier. I don't even want to think if this is nasty and toxic. It will be gone later when I clean up!

I slipped on my bead and made a little loop at the bottom. The loop is oriented at 90 angle to the eye at the top so that when I put a jump ring through it everything is facing the right way. This bead is a lovely opalized something or other stone that I can not remember the name of. Wish I could, because I want more.

The finished bead thingy all ready to take a ride in the tumbler. The back side of the top loop can be gently manipulated to slide on a chain.

Want that bead at the top of your pendant in brass instead of copper? Want it in blue? No problem :-)

Have a fantabulous weekend!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just Playing

Every once in a while I think it is good for the soul to just go with what you feel like doing. That was me today. I have heaps of things I 'should' be doing, none of which I really felt like doing. It felt better to take some of my newly made components like that etched leaf pendant and do something with it. It's a tiny pendant, barely 20 mm in diameter.

There are all sorts of bits and pieces scattered across my work surface today. I spent a lot of the day wrapping up components and tinkering. The truth is I feel distracted. I spoke with my son today which is always a treat, even though that connection between here and Afghanistan is a little weird. He sounds so excited and happy with the wedding coming up. That makes me pleased. On the other hand, he told me he's the senior medic on patrols three days a week now. Even he will talk about how dangerous it is. I try not to worry but it's hard not to knowing that each time he goes out they are at risk. Most of the time they are fired on. Most of the time they face IEDs. Sometimes it's worse than other times. Sometimes there are no injuries. I felt much better when he was in side the wall on his base.

Remember Alice? She's my deployment dog. She came home with us at 8 weeks of age, the day my son deployed to Iraq a couple of years ago. She is almost 3 and very naughty because her mummy held her in her lap for two months. See that blur in the bottom right of the photo. That's her happy tail.  How can one not smile when you've got a dog who gets happy from tail to nose?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thank You, Kelly, Cindy, and Marie

It's been a very rewarding summer for me. Three very talented jewelry designers had pieces featured in four different magazines with my little beads in them.  Let me show you what they designed just in case you missed them.

First up, Kelly of Silver Parrot.

Kelly designed this necklace using one of my barnacle pendants that was featured in the summer Stringing. Isn't it lovely? Kelly and I shared a first here. It was her first publication in Stringing and mine too.

But that's not all.

Kelly designed yet another beautiful piece that uses one of my bronze pieces. This was just published in the fall issue of Stringing.  Kelly recently told me that she sometimes has difficulty keeping designs with art beads simple enough to highlight the art beads. Well I think she's done a fine job of creating beautiful cohesive designs in these two necklaces. Thanks, Kelly!

Next up Marie of Skye Jewels

Marie used my big puffy porcelain lentil as a focal in this beautiful bracelet published in the July Bead Trends. This one even made it to the photographers pick on their blog. I am so pleased that Marie chose to use one of my beads in her design. You see, Marie has had a goal to be featured designer in Bead Trends and this was the issue where she acheived that goal. Congratulations! I feel very honoured that you thought one of my beads was special enough to be included with the designs in this very special issue.

And last but certainly not least, Cindy at Sweet Bead.

This little birdie flew all the way to England in Cindy's Fly Free necklace. This was a very special occasion. Cindy is the first American designer to be published in Beads and Beyond. And she even made the cover! I am always in awe of Cindy's use of metals and wire and this is necklace is no exception. Thank you Cindy for giving that little birdie such a beautiful home.

You know, I am really very grateful that these designers used my beads in their designs. Sure the publication and exposure is nice for me and I am thankful for that. But the thing I take most to heart is that these designers felt inspired enough by my little humble offerings to design beautiful jewelry with them  Thank you!

all jewelry photos were taken by the designers. thank you for sharing them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Butterflies and the New Glazes

I opened the kiln and what to my wondering eyes should appear. These, I love these colours. These colours are exactly what I was hoping for. The chocolate brown background is my own glaze formulation and when it behaves it is lovely. The butterflies are commercial glazes that I've been working on getting applied in a way that I am happy with. And I am happy with these.

These I am not so very happy with. The colours are nice but they've wiped out the texture on most pieces I fired. They work beautifully just as they are on my stoneware trays. I'm pretty sure I know how to fix this. But, dang, I was hoping that I'd get lucky first time round on the porcelain. I could always change over to the stoneware, but I like the porcelain for beads and pendants. We are friends. We've developed a relationship over the years. I don't want to break up.

If you want to see how I made these you should hop over to the Beads of Clay blog on Tuesday. Actually you should probably stop by there before then. Lots of lovely clay things happen over there.

I do like the autumn colour of that coral on brown up there. I was all in the mood for it a few days ago when our weather was actually tolerable. Now? Back to the upper 90s and humid. Yucky.

Have a great weekend everyone!

I'm off to make 7 dozen 2" daisy buttons. Sounds exciting, heh?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's so good to be home

I've been home for 10 days straight, which is something of a record this summer. I've been able to follow through on a few ideas that have been percolating in my mind. Those pendants up there are glazed and ready to go into the kiln tomorrow night, along with a lot of other bits and pieces.

Remember these?

Those pendants are tiny versions of these small plates. Only the pendants are made in porcelain and the plates are stoneware. I have no idea how most of the glazes will turn out. I'm using a mix of my own glazes and some commercial ones. I just don't have the time to do glaze development anymore. But it is kind of exciting to learn how to make my own someone else's glaze formula. Hopefully, some of these are going to come out in the autumn colours I see in my mind. I know, butterflies are more of a summer theme. But many butterflies migrate like the monarch that this design is based on. So heck, I can have autumn butterflies, right?

 That sky up there is what I looked at just a few minutes ago as I sat on my deck and relaxed for a few moments. Isn't it glorious against the green leaves of the pecan? I love that green and blue. And the best of all thing is we are under 100F right now.  Autumn is on the way and I am ready for my favourite season!

Come back Friday and I'll give you a peek at those pendants when they are finished. I'll even throw in some pics of the uglies. Hopefully there won't be any uglies. But I never know when I'm doing new things.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Favors & A Mystery

My job, and a happy one at that, is to make wedding favors for the guests attending my son and dauter-in-laws wedding.  Goodness, did  I really just write that. Yes, indeed, I am getting another daughter and even a grand daughter. So I'm making little porcelain birds to put on the goody box. I think they are quite sweet looking. I hope they like them.

The mystery is this. How can it be that I can wire wrap tiny little beads reasonably well but not tie a bow? This bow tying business is tough. I think it took me longer to tie that bow than it did to make the bird. I'm not even going to tell you how many pieces of ribbon I went through. Is there some kind of bow tying school out there that I missed out on?  Is nice bow tying skill something you only get if you belong to a secret society?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet Little Birds

I've been making teeny, tiny little birds for earings and to put inside etched and domed pendants. These little guys are only about half an inch wide. They are headed off to the Downtown Art Market tomorrow. I've been a busy little bee here. I've made a million pairs of earings. No kidding, a million. OK, maybe it just feels like a million. I've etched a bazillion pendants and little earing pieces. I've wire wrapped a katrillion beads. I've got all sorts of new things for tomorrow. So if you are in Lubbock, you should come see us. Even if you are not in Lubbock, you should come see us. Even if that means getting in your own personal jet, you should come see us. It will be fun!

Now for your viewing pleasure I present you with a rare glimpse into my studio. Unfortunately, the unsightly mess you see on my work table is not rare. This photo was taken at 1pm today. It is much worse now.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

End of Summer Yet?

I can hardly believe it is mid August already. This summer has flown by at an astonishing pace. I'm just finishing up a few pieces for the Downtown Art Market this weekend and then I've got an entire month, yes one whole month, when I don't have to meet any deadlines except of my own making. I can not begin to tell you how good that feels. Not having to get in the car and drive more than 5 minutes feels pretty darned good too. The very best part of all is that I've got all this time to follow up on ideas that have been accumulating in my mind and as sketches on scraps of paper. Except for making that star fish necklace, I definitely feel myself moving into an autumn mood. Now if the weather would just cooperate and drop those temperatures below 90F. Actually, I'd be happy with below 80F.

On the wedding front, plans are just falling into place like magic. We have a beautiful location, we have the dress, and now we have the minister who coincidentally meditates daily in the botanical gardens where the wedding is going to be held. I'm not really much given to signs, portents, and omens, but when things come together as effortlessly as this wedding has, I just have to feel like it is something that is meant to be. It's only a little over a month away. I can hardly wait to see my son home again, even if it's only for a month. I can hardly wait to see him together again with Tammy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thank you Austin Bead Society

We got back from exhibiting at the 19th Annual Austin Bead Society Jewelry and Bead Bazaar late last night. A little tired but so happy to have gone to this show. The Austin Bead Society simply rocks when it comes to putting on a bead show. This was so well organized and the quality of the jewelry and beads included in this show was fantastic. But best of all these women really know how to treat a vendor well. We felt so welcome and at home that it's a little sad to think that we won't see many of these people again until next year.

One of the highlights was getting to meet Carol Bradley who has followed this blog for some time. In fact she was set up on a table in the same little section as I was. She makes beautiful jewelry and her wire work is stunning. To top it all off she's a really nice person. And then there is Nancy and PKaye, and Jennifer, and Melissa, and Marsha....and ...... So many new friends and so nice to get out of the solitary nature of studio work and talk beads.

The show is held at the Palmer Event Center which is a stunning venue just along the river in down town Austin. It is set in beautiful park land with amazing views of the city center. I could have spent two days just wandering around looking at this building. I can't think of a better place to hold this show.

Thank you Austin Bead Society! We will definitely be back next year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Off to Austin

I'm off to the Austin Bead Society annual show tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning. This is my second bead show ever and tell you what, it makes me nervous. Last minute prep. Hate that I work right up until the last possible moment. But that's really just part of my nature and I need to accept that. But the up side of all of this is that I'm staying with a very dear friend who just moved to Austin. I do so wish I had more time to spend with her. Oh and my sweetie will be doing his roadie thing and that is worth his weight in gold, doubled. It is just so hard to do a show all by my lone some.  The bestest part of all is that in this crazy summer of mine, is that after the show, I will be home until Labor Day weekend. Yee Haw! I have so many ideas of how I will spend some of that time, including a few books I've been wanting to nap with.

So if you are in the Austin, TX neighborhood this weekend, stop by the Palmer event center and do a bit of shopping! I'd love to see you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big Pile of Brass

Finally, today I got around to finishing up some brass pieces I etched a while ago. That whole wedding planning frenzy has played havoc with my work schedule. I confess, the real reason I didn't get these pieces finished is that I lack discipline. But the wedding planning is just too much fun to give up to polish brass pieces. I do love brass. There is just something about that warm glow of brass that has a patina that makes my little heart sing. It's good to see these little pieces go from almost black with tarnish to soft and glowing. Most of these are going off with me to the Austin Beads Society show this weekend.

In a little wedding planning news, which of course I can't resist, much got done during my quick trip to Wichita. The bride has a dress, the brides maids have dresses, we have a place. Look at those flowers up there in front of the building where the reception will be held. It makes it so easy to decorate for the wedding because mother nature is doing the best stage setting we could ever get. Why mess with that? I'd love to show you photos of the bride and her wedding dress but a certain groom is known to lurk on my blog from time to time. It just wouldn't do to let him have a preview of the big day. And Cole, if you out there lurking, just don't even think about trying to get any top secret information out of us.