Small Mixes

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I really love small mixes of leftover beads; they make such great accents when combined with other beads.  These chartreuse and red die were part of a Czech glass  destash I bought. (I’m still waiting for the perfect project for the dogs that were included!) The die inspired the color combination for this necklace I made for Lori Anderson‘s Bead Soup Blog Party last year. 

So when I saw a Czech glass mix of squares and ovals, I bought it knowing it would make its way into a design. I got this fabulous large, lightweight owl from Kim Mayberry Ouellette.  In looking through my beads, I saw this little mix and the colors are perfect! I added a couple small strands of Czech glass rondelles.  

I think the owl and the larger Czech glass beads really complement each other.  

Yay for leftover bead mixes!

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Contrast and Shine

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I’m lucky enough to have scored some lovely pendants by Julie Schmidt Bowen of Autochthonous Evolved. Recently she paired some of her lampwork beads with drilled rocks (and seriously wonderful wire wrapping) to create pendants. I love the hard and soft together. This photo doesn’t do justice to the luminous quality of her lampwork bead. It really has a light inside of it. The gray, mottled rock is the perfect foil for the delicateness of the glass. 

In deciding what to use to complete the necklace, I wanted to bring out that contrast. I chose some vintage German glass beads with an AB type coating. The lampwork bead has these same colors. I thought about adding some granite beads, but that would be carrying the hard/soft theme too far and hitting the necklace over the head with it. 

I also used matte grey seed beads in between the glass. I like the overall soft color of this necklace. I had quite a number of these vintage glass beads and have enjoyed using them. In two other necklaces, I was using them to represent snow. I do think they look like snow but also like the smell of new flowers or the feel of a soft breeze on an early spring day.

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Easy Elegance

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This was a quick make, but I’m so happy with its easy elegance. 

The clasp and beaded chain sections are from Miss Fickle Media, one of my absolute favorite places to get special chain and clasps – hand patina, vintage chain combined with beads, swirl clasps in different metals.  It is easy to use these things to quickly make special necklaces. For this one I just added a few jump rings and this lovely vintage brass stamping with a great aged patina from Vintage Bead Vault.

I love when materials from different sources come together so perfectly!

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Vintage

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I’ve been really enjoying vintage beads lately.  Also, I’m starting to be able to get back into making jewelry! So for this post, both of those things have come together in a necklace made of vintage and vintage style components. If you don’t know, I got a tendonitis in my thumb and wasn’t able to make jewelry for a couple of months. I am doing much better now, and started a necklace last weekend that I finished this weekend. I’m trying hard not to over-do it. 

The focal is a faux tin piece by Heather Powers of Humblebeads. She has a technique where she puts an image on steel and it doesn’t scratch or come off. The pieces have such a nice feel and really look like vintage tin.

In the actual vintage category, my mother had given me this vintage glass bead necklace. The worn patina of color with the white bead showing underneath is so lovely. I probably would have re-strung that necklace and worn as is with no additions, but it was too short for me. I think the beads work well with this piece, and I paired them with some vintage Preciosa rose shaped beads. My idea was to hang little beads from chain at the bottom. Once I decided on fringe chain, though, more beads seemed like too much. I didn’t want it to get too busy around the pretty focal. 

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. (Do I end every post that way?) Here’s a shot of MooKitty helping me with the photos for this post. Thanks for visiting, and you can look forward to more finished jewelry in my posts again.

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NC Gemstone Necklace – Final Decision

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I wrote recently about some gemstone shards my sister brought me from North Carolina.  

I had tried the locket I put them in with some chain, which looked nice really, but in my mind I wanted it to look like something handed down in the family, and that felt like it would have pearls on it. I only had pearl chain with raw brass wire, and it did not look right (but I did like the pearls). So I found some pearl chain with the perfect size pearls and dark brass wire at a fantastic price at Dry Gulch on etsy. It was my first order from them, and I was very pleased. 

Here is a picture of the gems in the locket with the pearls. It’s not a great picture as I was losing the light, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I made it super long so I can slip it over my head, and also that’s how I picture an older piece.  I think I have in my mind necklaces from olden times that were magnifying glasses on some fancy chain.

I’m back to beading again for very short stints as my tendonitis continues to heal. I started a necklace I hope to have finished by next weekend so I have something new to show you.

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Mixed Media

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I love mixed media, especially if it is taking bits and bobs that might otherwise get thrown away and making beautiful art out of them. Another benefit is that I have a penchant for very blingy things that in their whole form could be a bit garish, but in little bits are just enough to make something boho-fancy.

Here is a bracelet my sister got me at a thrift shop in Italy. (I also have another similar one in a different colorway.) 

I have made a couple of bracelets with special handcrafted leather and fabric cord from Tree Wings Studio. I’ve also used buttons, linen, sari silk and WoolyWire.

However, none of these were super intricate. So when I saw that Marina Rios of Fanciful Devices, a master of bits and bobs beauty, had a textile cuff kit available with all kinds of goodies, I could not resist. The finished example photos look so wonderful, and it will be fun to work on making something that I hope is even partially as cool and beautiful.  I thought I’d share the kit with you. 

Fun fabric! I will probably use that fiber wrapped wire for a necklace. 

These yarn-ish coils are so soft! One of the finished examples from the shop listing uses a closure like this red frog as the bracelet clasp. I will try that.

These are some of the blingy bits that really excite me. 

Fabric and lace. I like things like the sheer pieces with embroidery, metallic thread, etc. because they can add so much depth to the collage of the finished piece.

More lace! I love lace, and there are so many lovely examples here, including the GOLD. 

I like the idea of mixing the really blingy pieces with these more everyday pieces.

More lace, some beads, plus velvet!

And so much more! Below is a close up of the smaller bits.

Whoo! That’s a lot, right? I’m excited to try this out. I love art beads, but I am also getting back into vintage and bits, which I loved before art beads. This kit very much reminds me of going antiquing (particularly in Cedarburg, Wisconsin) back in the day and finding bit after bit that I loved. I didn’t always get the stuff because what to do with it? But these bits have a purpose. I look forward to working on this project.

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Charm Bracelets

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At different times in the past, charm bracelets have been all the rage. I think they are kind of timeless, but they do go in and out of fashion as far as popularity. Recently, artist Andrew Thornton was commissioned to make a charm bracelet that turned out great and also made another beautiful charm(ing) bracelet that got me to remembering my charm bracelets. I hadn’t looked at them in a while, so they were fun to revisit.

This is my first one. It was actually my mom’s to start with. I can see she had some traditional things like a marriage certificate, a baby shoe and baby carriage, a house. She also had things from visits to Florida and perhaps California. The Illinois charm was probably hers. Both she and my father grew up in Illinois and both my older sister and I were born there.  After my mom gave it to me, I started adding my own charms. I suspect the Wisconsin charm is mine, as I grew up here.  I added the shoe and purse. I love charms that add color, and that was my shoe and purse fashion phase. I always loved those split charms, and I got one where one side was “mother” and one was “daughter”.  I wonder if my mom knows where hers is.  I added things I thought were pretty like the encased flower; I love that one!  My parents got the articulated jogger and jester for me on a trip to New York as I remember. That’s a big part of the fun of charm bracelets – the memories!

My pre-etsy shopping site for beads and the like was ebay. I believe that is where I purchased this one. I don’t think I added any charms; they all came with it. It looks like this person was a traveler, or wanted to be. Again, I love the ones with color – the rooster, the eye on the whale, the streetlight and the orange crate.  It’s fun to think of where each charm might have come from and the adventures the person had.

Then I decided to start a new one that was just mine. I got a couple of my colorful charms in there with the grapes (I see I really liked grapes because I have a silver one too) and the garnet dragonfly.  Garnets were my first gemstone crush, and I still love them now. Again, I love the traditional charms, and someone gave me a round “happy birthday,” The tea set is very me. For many years my family in Wisconsin would go for tea each December (my birthday month) at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. It was lots of fun. My sister who lives in New York has treated me to birthday tea at a couple of tea rooms, including this past year. I love a good English tea. The computer mouse symbolized my career shift. I had been a sign language interpreter and was in school for computer networking.

The chakra symbol is a bit of transition to my “new” bead life. I had gotten into yoga during this period to help me deal with chronic migraines at their worst. This was also my introduction to art beads. I remember bidding on the set of these handmade chakra symbols on ebay. I loved that there was so much attention to detail in handmade such as the artist kept the charms unpolished as a sign of humility. I ended up buying a second set of those charms because I couldn’t stand the thought of using one and no longer having a “full” set. I still do things like that!

Thanks for coming along on this trip down memory lane!

 

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Toolbox of Beads

A friend at work and her girlfriend were decluttering, so I was given a toolbox full of beads and beading supplies. It has been sitting in my basement ever since. I finally got around to going through it. It’s always fun to go through a bunch of beads someone gifts me. This one also came with storage! Here is the tour.

Red toolbox for storage. Love! This right here is exciting just on its own. You can spy the black insert at the back of the next photo behind the toolbox.

And then all the beads and supplies! Here are some favorites. Two colors of beads made from seeds. 

Here is a box (more storage!) with random stuff and a full strand of beautiful green fire polished crystals.

The random beads included this cute little ceramic frog bead. (And the photo, as always, revealed my serious need for a manicure or at least some lotion!)

Here are a bunch of findings and metal spacers. This includes a finished necklace with some nice rustic looking metal. 

There were a variety of nice Czech glass beads. This is just a small portion.

Some really cute charms and charm pairs – spoons, wine, yoga person, locks and my personal favorite, a rocket ship! These were all in a bag with random beads.

And then a whole big bag of a variety of charms.

Seed beads and Swarovski crystals.

There were some small stacking storage bins. Some were broken, but I think some are still good.

Glass pearls!

I think I’m about halfway through the contents. I had to stop because opening and closing the small plastic bags was taxing my thumb. I thought I could continue in a day or two, but I’ll have to leave it until my tendons heal more. The next day I found I had seriously overdone it and was quite cross with myself. It took about a week to get back to where I had been! It keeps amazing me the effect small movements have on tendons and the large effect small tendons have on one’s overall health and abilities.

MooKitty has appointed herself guard, so it will all be safe until I can finish!

 

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Creativity Will Not Be Denied

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Even though I can’t make right now, I don’t want to stay away from my beads. It has given me time to focus on organizing my studio. Although I’ve been spending what in the past would have been creating time in there, progress seems very slow! However, I am enjoying at least being in my studio. I found myself creating recently without meaning to. When I realized it, I stopped. It doesn’t seem to have harmed me; it wasn’t wire wrapping or anything! It gives me lots of hope that for a while I didn’t even notice I was doing it! But I’m very cognizant of not over-doing and delaying my recovery.

I was cleaning out the hodge podge that is the bottom drawer of my bead cart. Before I had a whole room taken over by beading, I had one of those plastic four drawer carts. All of my beads fit in there. Can you imagine? I used to seatbelt the whole thing in the car when I went to visit my parents so when my mom and I were beading together, I would have access to all of my supplies. I still have the cart, but it serves a different purpose. 

When my sister and brother-in-law were in North Carolina some years ago, they went to a gemstone mine where you pan for your own gems. They got a blue topaz they set for my sister’s engagement ring. It’s really beautiful. My sister also brought me some gem shards. I didn’t know how to use them, so I saved them until I did. Several months ago I saw a locket with glass in Candie Cooper’s shop that I knew would be perfect to make the gems into a pendant. I had looked for the gems in that drawer, but hadn’t immediately found them. Cleaning it all out unearthed them.

I put all but two of the gems in the locket (they were too tall for it to close) and then added a few more things to make it look fuller. On advice that came with the locket, I glued the closure shut to make it secure. This is when I realized I was making with my bad thumb.

So I didn’t finish it. If it had been a matter of just finding the perfect exact length of chain, I might have braved finishing it another day. But I have two options, one of which is slightly more work than that, and one of which will have to wait a much longer time or will require a purchase. Here is one idea. 

Mix some vintage chain with some new chain to make a long enough chain for the necklace. The other idea is to put baroque pearl rosary style chain with it. I really like that idea and even have some chain. When I looked at it, I thought the wire was gold, but I was looking in my etsy history to see if I had other pearl chain (without going through more heavy boxes). I found some that said brass wire. I will have to take another look at it.

I’m so happy I’ve found a way to wear my pretty gift gems!

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WIPs

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I’m very pleased with how occupational therapy is going for my thumb, but I’m still not to the point of being able to bead. I got a new exercise yesterday, and in doing it this morning I could only hack one set instead of two. But I can feel that I’m getting better all the time.

So, in the absence of new makes, I will show some old works in progress (WIPs).  These are materials I’ve had gathered for a project for quite a while but have never actually put the piece together. These things may or may not work out in the end. It will be interesting to see whether they come together or I end up releasing the beads back into the wilds of my stash.

The first grouping started with beads by Joan Miller Porcelain.

This heart, and steampunk elements are by Joan Miller. I’m pretty sure I got the chain with these beads in mind. I know I bought the red and gray/silver pair by Nikki Thornburg with this project in mind.

Next up is an idea for a necklace with a hand painted pendant by Dot Winchell of Winchell Clayworks

I think these pink melon Czech glass beads will be wonderful with it. I have a Swarovski shank button I got at Mood that could be a good closure. I love this little floral/filigree button. I took a picture of the wrong side; the other side looks like mother-of-pearl. I’m not sure how I’d use it, but it’s worth trying in the design. 

This pendant is by Nancy Adams of Round Rabbit. She doesn’t make beads any more (that’s how long I’ve been hoarding this) but she does still make beautiful handmade items, so still check out her shop. Czech glass and amethyst are perfect for the pendant; the actual design of how the beads will fit together remains to be seen.

Here is a bronze coin by handcrafted by Andrew Thornton (and designed by Cynthia Thornton) with some lovely carnelian calla lillies.

One last project is actually going to be a remake of a vintage necklace my mom bought and then gave to me. 

Look at those gorgeous beads and clasp! I really like it just the way it is, but it needs to be restrung and is just a little short for me. I’ll try separating the beads with some seed beads my mom also gave me to match or add a chain extender in back.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to show you some of these in finished form in the future.

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