Tile Trials


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I scored a variety of beautiful tile left over from remodeling jobs (not mine, alas) and was excited to try them as photo backgrounds.  Here’s how it went.

Here are two pieces on a whole sheet of small, square tile. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this because of the spaces. But looking at it, I think it could work sometimes.  I can’t seem to get a nice picture of this particular necklace. I also tried on another day on other backgrounds. The tin bead (with the horrible glare on it!) is from Trinket Foundry.

Here is the same tile closer with a beautiful necklace by Andrew Thornton and Cynthia Thornton. I think the background colors are perfect for this piece, and I love the texture of the tile in this close up, but I’m not wild about how the webbing shows. Also, I know I’d get all perfectionist on whether the lines look straight.

Here are some photos on decorative bathroom tiles.  I actually have three designs, but I’ve only used two here.  i was in a hurry because the light was fading. The lampwork bead below is also from Trinket Foundry.

I think the bracelet below looks better on the patterned tile than the necklace above.  The design shows through the glass pendant on the necklace too much. There are so many variables in a picture that affect the outcome, but I can see that these tiles will be good for many things.  (They look fab in the bathroom too!)

I really like how this elephant by Staci Smith looks on the patterned tile too. I think small, bold pieces might fare best on the patterned tile.

Here is a necklace with a bird by Heather Powers of Humblebeads on three different smaller tiles put together. I actually really like this picture which surprises me. I would have thought the transitions between each piece of tile would be off-putting. I don’t find that. I like that there is a dark, medium and light, and I could position my piece to take advantage of that.  It’s often a problem to have a dark pendant and light beads because one inevitably suffers in a sold background photo.

Here are two pieces on a small square of kitchen counter.  It’s so much prettier in the kitchen, but I think both pieces look relatively nice, although again the bold elephant pendant does better than the necklace. The problem with this pieces is that, unlike the other pieces, it is shiny. That will cause glare, as you can see in the picture with the necklace.

The banana pendant is by Artybecca. The banana dangles are by Joan Miller. The Zola Elements chain is from Lima Beads. The clasp is Nunn Design.

The tile I think fared the worst in photos was this plain white/grey. It’s kind of flat and dark, and again when I need it bigger and put multiple pieces together, I won’t like the line.

I’m not sure this tile is great with these two pieces, but I do believe it will be great with many, many things.  It is gorgeous stone tile, and I have one very big piece that will be good for larger/longer jewelry when the colors are right.  I also have another partial piece with different colors/textures.

I’m very happy to have all these tiles, and will enjoy trying them in the future to have more options for jewelry photos.  MooKitty is also very excited about all the packaging I carried the tile home in.

Inspiration in Everyday


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Artist Terri DelSignore, one of the contributors to the Art Bead Scene blog, created a new Facebook page dedicated to the inspiration for bead and jewelry making that we find in everyday things.  I like this because it stretches my creativity.  My inspiration mostly comes from beads, often challenges.  If I have a group of beads, ideas come to me. But I know I make different things with different inspiration – for example the art posted on Art Bead Scene or a book from the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  I’m very task oriented, and don’t think to find a lot of inspiration in the everyday.  But it’s all around!  Here are some suggestions by Terri in a recent post.

I often walk past a clothing boutique, Change, near where I work.  I like the logo they have in their windows: it’s retro yet modern. Here is a picture I snapped the other day.

It reminded me of a plastic filigree piece I got in an Andrew Thornton destash. And I think this logo was in the back of my mind when I got the piece. Then Loralee Kolton, who makes some of the best earrings anywhere ever, made earrings out of a couple of filigree pieces and they had dangles.  She does the best messy wire wrapping (not on the earring dangles, but just this is what was in my head.)  Here is what I came up with.

I’m really happy with the piece.  I think it turned out fun and elegant.  I used tiny garnet briolettes with a shiny copper wire messy wrap for my dangles, one calla lilly bead above the plastic scroll pendant, and freshwater pearls. The beautiful hand patina chain by Miss Fickle Media brings the copper from the front around to the back. The pendant totally reminds me of the logo! What inspiration can you find around you every day?

Inspired by Reading Book Club: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin


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The idea behind Allegory Gallery‘s Inspired by Reading Book Club is to read that month’s book and make something inspired by it.  This month, the book is Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I read this series years ago in college; it was fun to revisit it.  I liked it the second time around too.  The characters are real and generally sympathetic.  This book is told from the perspectives of various characters; my piece is based on the character Mary Ann Singleton. She’s a young woman from Ohio who goes to San Francisco on vacation and decides to stay.  She is looking for something else in life than the traditional path she was destined for in Cleveland.

I thought about the type of jewelry that was popular in the late 1970s when this book took place. There was a lot of minimalist gold and silver.  I remember the big names in stores I went to being Napier, Monet, and Trifari.  I remember wanting a Speidel ID bracelet with the passion of a 12 year old.  So those were the things rolling around in my head when I made this bracelet inspired by those things but made for today.

I used a Tim Holtz Idea-Ology word band as a bracelet bar.  The quote, “live the life you’ve imagined” is what Mary Ann was trying to do, as well as advice Mrs. Madrigal, landlady and sort of den mother to her tenants, might have imparted. I made the band part of the bracelet from gorgeous wobble beads by Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I included two charms.  The heart is a nod to the Speidel ID bracelet of my youth that this was inspired by, and the vintage mouse charm is a reference to Mary Ann’s friend (and fellow tenant) Michael “Mouse” Tolliver.

Thanks to William and Andrew of Allegory Gallery for these great book club challenges!  This was a really fun challenge that took me back to the jewelry of my childhood. Have a look at what other participants were inspired to make on the Inspired by Reading Book Club Facebook page.

No Procrastination Necklace Remake


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I do not like remaking things.  If I make something and end up not liking it, the poor piece will languish perhaps forever.  Certainly for months or even years. So yesterday I made a necklace.  I liked parts of it – the pendant, the color combination.  But I did not like the overall effect.  Somehow the round put me off in the middle with the chips.  It seemed like an unbalanced texture or perhaps size mismatch.  Here that is.

I really love this bird by Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  She calls it Mod Geo in Terra Cotta. (Not a good picture, but I’m taking it apart anyway.)  I love turquoise with it which might not be a natural color choice.  But the composition of this necklace is just off.  I slept on it overnight, and I’m still not satisfied.  I decided to change it up right away because I don’t want it to languish.  Finished, it will be a great necklace for spring and summer.

I had a bag of mixed beads sitting on my bead table.  I had made a necklace I really liked with them that I gave away.  Here was my chance to have another version of that necklace. That necklace had been heavy on pink, so most of the pink beads were gone.  I added white, turquoise and some handmade natural clay beads from the shop fromNothing Earth & Stars Joshua V. Davis.

This design still didn’t quite satisfy me, although I liked it. Perhaps if I had made it longer, I would have left it. But the white chips were still nagging at me. I had really liked them with the bird. I went to redesign it again. I thought about discarding the turquoise colored dangle which would open up more design possibilities, but I really loved that pop of color.  I decided to use just the mother of pearl chip knotted on turquoise blue waxed linen to tie in that color. Of course I didn’t cut the linen long enough (will I never learn?!) so I added some chain at the back.  Now I have choice of lengths.

None of these pictures is great, but I have no patience to wait for better light. Makeover mission accomplished in less than 24 hours.  That’s the way to do it!


Family Jewels


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At a bead show last year, my sister’s girlfriend bought me a beautiful stamped glass pendant.  I made it into a necklace a few weeks ago, but I was waiting to “finish” it because I wanted the orange and yellow ends of the ribbon to show. I finally decided trying to do that was too fussy and to just leave it the way it is. Depending on how I want it to hang, tying the ends could allow a bit of those colors to show.

The lampwork bead above the pendant is from Trinket Foundry.  I have a tiny stash of those in different colors from one of their one-off projects. So special. I’ve used two and must hoard the rest for a while longer. The silk ribbon is hand painted from Quintess. Doesn’t this just make you believe spring is coming, whatever the weather does?

And a long, long time ago I got this lampwork cow bead for my sister from a now closed bead store in town. I made her a bracelet with it, but it was really too big/heavy for a bracelet, so I told her I’d make her a necklace.

When I gave it to her yesterday, she didn’t even remember the bead because I’d kept it captive so long. Maybe it took me this long because I finally found the perfect thing to make it into a necklace – Zola Elements chain. My sister had liked it when I showed it to her, so when the cow surfaced, I thought they were perfect together!

It’s nice and long, the way she likes.  I see the horns make it look more like a steer, but whatever.  This is jewelry making, not animal husbandry!

One more family related part of this post is the photo background for the cow necklace. My parents are having some work done at their house, and my dad dug this broken piece of tile out of the garbage because he knew it would be good for my jewelry photos.  What a great guy!  It really works; thanks, dad!


Allegory Gallery Design Challenge Reveal – Forest Journey


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Today is the reveal for the Forest Journey edition of the Allegory Gallery Design Challenge, and this time it’s a competition! Artist Andrew Thornton has put together yet another fabulous kit with one of his lovely handmade components. Of course I forgot to get a picture of the kit – grrr! – but almost everything I used came from the kits, so you’ll have a good idea of what it contained.

The first thing that struck me were these metal drops that were perfect for earrings, so I made some.

Then, looking at the variety of wonderful beads in this kit, I decided to use a mix of them together in a long necklace with the handmade pendant.

All of these beads are from the kit except a few Elaine Ray ceramic beads – the brown lentil above the pendant, three brown discs stacked together, the polka dot bead and the little brown cube.  I strung them all on the waxed linen from the kit. Other than that, I only added the leafy clasp. The colors in this necklace are wonderful, and the variety of shapes remind me of treasures collected during a walk in the forest.

This is not dissimilar to necklaces I’ve made in the past, but I do love this style that allows me to use a few of a lot of different styles of wonderful beads. This one is extra long which I think lends elegance.

To see what other participants made, visit the Allegory Design Challenge Facebook group.  Thanks once again to Andrew, William, Allegory Gallery and everyone who plays along and makes it so much fun to join in these design challenges.



African Bead Strand Necklace

Last year at the Madison Art Glass and Bead Show, I got several strands of beautiful African glass, including one very mixed, craggy strand.  I used it in a necklace with a clay pendant from Mali.

The pendant has three holes at the bottom, and I considered various things with that. Nothing felt quite right, so I am just leaving it alone. I love the length of this necklace and the fact that I was able to basically leave this strand of beads intact.

Funny Face


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I made a necklace sketch and went to the studio to get out the beads for it.  In the process of searching for one of the beads, I got inspired with materials for 4 other necklaces.  “Oh look, this will go with…”  When that happens, I just go with it. My attention span is better served by making whatever I have already found the materials for.

I had a Dana Swisher ceramic face bead sitting on my bead table, and when I got out a box of jasper and agate, I saw these big rounds that would go with it perfectly! I also got out some ovals I thought could complement the design.

I first put some of the smaller ovals at the front, but I wasn’t happy with that. I decided the big rounds looked best around the face.  I did put a few at the back near the beautiful bronze Saki Silver clasp.  I included a teal polymer clay swirly design bead by Staci Louise Smith for a nice pop of color.

I am in love with this necklace.  So much wonderful fun and beads that just get to be themselves.

Two New Necklaces


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I recently made two new necklaces.  I feel like as long as I have beads, I’ll never run out of ideas!  Thank you to all the wonderful bead artists who make gorgeous art and bead vendors who find and make treasures available!

I’ve become a big fan of Michelle Ann McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.  I recently got the cutest pendant – a multi-color lollipop!

I used colors from the pendant to choose a variety of beads (a great way to use leftovers) to make the necklace.  I think it’s a really fun piece. It looks ready for the warm weather to come.

Then I made another necklace going in a completely different, more chunky direction.  I had this beautiful strand of blue agate faceted graduated rounds. Beautiful just as they came temporarily strung, so I didn’t want to add much.  I added some bronze spacers to the front and a hammered bronze clasp by Miss Fickle Media.

I love making jewelry!