Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cloudy Blue Skies

I've been working in blue a lot lately. It may be the clear blue skies I've been watching, the spring buds sprouting in the trees. Is this an angel face, a small child or a woodland sprite gazing out?

I guess I'm eager for blue summer skies, light fluffy clouds and wildflowers.

This bead is made to look like a broken shard from a ceramic cup or vessel, with writing on the back side. It's legible, shows up in the darker blue.

Speaking about "the soul shines forth" and "all that surrounds us" - things to ponder while watching clouds forming shapes in a blue, blue sky.

Please think of me as I wing my way over to the Northwest ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Art Fest - Bound and Blog

I'm headed out tomorrow to Port Townsend, Washington, to attend classes at Artfest. I created a blog cataloging the preparations for going, and will be taking photos and continuing to share the experience while I'm there.
I'll be back in Saint Louis on Sunday, hopefully with a suitcase full of trades and a head packed full of new ideas and names of new friends!

The theme this year is sea creatures and monsters - another beach-type feeling for charms!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Butterfly Lines

In the how-to shots for the Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine article, I had one piece that was in the works that I used to show how I made the boxes. I finished it off recently by adding the resin, it didn't have the resin in it for the photographs. You can see me holding it, in some of the photos. I hand painted the wings to look like monarch butterfly colors.

I'm going to drill some holes to turn it into a focal pendant or charm, it's pretty substantial in size. The color of the lines inside around the butterfly winds are really shiny copper, from when they were etched. And the back is etched copper lines, too.

The lines echo around the shape of the wings and the round charm, I didn't do it on purpose, not like it was planned that way. I made the box, and put the wings down inside, and realized that the lines formed right around the shape of the wings. I like it when things like that happen. Isn't that fun?

So I'm planning to drill one hole in each upper corner for a wire wrap. Do you think I should put two holes in each bottom corner too, for dangles, or other chain? Or no holes? Or maybe one centered hole ... or even three holes?

I'm going to line the holes with darkened copper liners - what do you think about holes in the bottom corners? One, some, lots or none?

Do tell?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Published Jewelry Returns Home

I went to the Post Office yesterday and I had a package - the jewelry from the spring issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry has returned! It's interesting, when I send the jewelry off for photography and it's away for a while, when it comes back again it's like a whole new experience seeing it again.

I've had folks asking me about the jewelry, I guess they've seen the issue. I don't add the jewelry to the Etsy shop until I have it back. I used to do that, and then people had to wait to have it shipped to them. So now I wait until the package of jewelry is actually back before I list them, so if someone wants one I can ship it right away.

I etched the metal before I made the boxes. The article is about making the boxes using rivets, without soldering. They can be made up without etching the metal, but the etched copper and brass have a really vintage look to them that adds something special.

Both sides of the metal was etched, so if you look closely you can see the inside of the box has images in the metal, designed and etched just like the reverse side.

I remember making them now. Making the little round bezels and filling them with resin. The bird wing box has the words 'TAKE WING' stamped in the copper at the top of the box. The rectangular brass box, with medieval lettering etched on the back, has the words 'TAKE HEART' stamped into its copper banner at the top.

I'm going to take the large round pocketwatch looking necklace with me to Artfest next week, so if you see me around at Artfest I might be wearing it!

It has a seashell in resin embedded in one of the round holes, and the word 'LIFE' is visible etched in the copper backing, with a photo of a family in another round bezel on the front. The back is domed like a pocketwatch casing, with an antique image etched into the copper case.

I'm so happy to have the jewelry back! and to show it to you. Three fun little pieces of special jewelry.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Box of Wise Sayings

I showed some of these beads a while back. I kept thinking about how I wanted to finish them, the asian style YoYo beads. I thought about trying different things, and I kept putting them back down.

Sometimes the answers come at odd times. Like when you're having take out from the chinese restaurant, and you look at the little fold up box with the handle on it.

Or you're driving down the road and you see the design in the wrought iron fence you're driving alongside, and wish you had time to stop and take a photograph.

Sometimes the pattern in the flowers at the grocery store in the floral department, sitting in pots of water waiting to go into an arrangement, temporary bright colors.

I didn't want to drill a hole, or put a wire wrap through the round YoYo designs.

So I decided to try something really simple, just open loops on the back of the bead that you can slip a chain or a cord, or maybe a whole group of strung seed beads through. There's a red one, and one that looks like antique copper or iron with a green patina.

It's going to be fun to see how folks use these. I was tempted to make something up myself, but decided to list them in the Etsy store as beads and let you have fun with them.

I think they could be made up into earrings and bracelets, now that I have the idea about how to add the metal loop rings on the back.

How fun is that?

Someone put together this pretty Treasury aptly titled "ORACLE" with lots of mysterious and interesting images. See my Star Chart Hearts in the second row?

I like the combination of colors, textures and images. If you see something you want to know more about, go to the Treasury, it's up until Sunday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Memory Lanes Turning

I finished polishing some new heart designs last night. There are certain parts of making the beads I really enjoy, don't mind and will do over and over. Then there are some parts that are less favorite, so that task sometimes stacks up on me.

I enjoy making the shapes, applying the color and seeing the little beads come to life.

Less enjoyable is the sanding, buffing and polishing to get the shiny surface to come through. So last night I had a sanding and buffing session.

It's interesting, though, that I enjoy watching the polish and shine come up on the surface of the beads, once I get going on the buffing.

Here are a few safety rules for using the buffer, it's never a bad idea to repeat them. It's a power tool and safety is always a good idea. I tie back my hair, or put it up in a bandana scarf, and I don't wear any dangly jewelry when using the buffer. I put a flat basket backstop behind it to catch flying beads that get caught and go whizzing away. And I wear safety glasses (most of the time, anyway) in case anything gets loose and flies back at me.

These heart beads remind me of the cast enamel pans you see for canning, that smooth shiny translucent enamel, the kind you have to be careful with or it will chip. It reminds me of making jelly or preserves in the summertime, from fresh strawberries or peaches.

The color of old barns, painted and weatherworn. Driving through the country lanes in the summer with the car windows down, letting the scent of cut grass on the wind come in and fill the air.

Do they inspire any memories for you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Top of the Tower

I have to confess I've been hanging onto this pendant, because I really like the way it turned out. Sort of turning it over in my hands, extending the time to look at the colors and patterns.

It has a line drawing of the Eiffel Tower looking very vintage on it. With a simple brass wire loop at the top for a chain to pass through.

But I went ahead and listed it in the shop, in its fancy black ornate frame. It reminds me of the Left Bank flea markets in Paris, an antique souvenir of the Paris at the turn of the century.

If you have a warm place in your heart for things Parisian, or if you are longing to travel and see the City of Lights, this is the one for you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Legendary Color Master

Instead of Tuesday Tips, this week I thought I'd pass along some news about an upcoming book that sounds very interesting! Even if you're not working in the polymer clay medium, I think this book will have color inspiration for any artist or admirer of art and be a fun read, if not a vital resource book for your art library.

Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio have a new book coming out, it's scheduled for August 2009, titled
"Polymer Clay Color Inspirations and Techniques."

Lindly is one of those polymer clay artists who was there in the beginning of the development of polymer clay methods and uses, coming up with ideas for how to use the new clay. She was a founding member of the National Polymer Clay Guild. Her designs and use of color is very different from mine but I have always admired her work. Anytime you see one of her pieces, it's immediately recognizable as being her work.

Her designs are always colorful and innovative, somewhat based in nature but with an unusual twist and very distinctly her own style.
Her blog is an exploration of color and a feast for the eyes. On her website she talks about her use of polymer clay and color, it's very interesting.

I haven't seen the new book yet (except for the cover), but I'm sure it will have a lot of great information and inspiration inside.

Her first book, a collaboration with Pierette Brown Ashcroft, was published in 1997, titled "Artists at Work: Polymer Clay Comes of Age." Hard to believe that was more than a decade ago now.

If you love color, shape and visual new designs and looks, check out Lindly's offerings and keep an eye out for the new book, I promise you'll be inspired.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Green Garden Crown

This design has been waiting to be finished, I probably should have done it before Saint Patrick's day. I just didn't get it pulled all together until recently.

The front of it is cast in resin, from that last batch I showed that had a glint of golden color to it, but tinted with a green color.

The reverse side is polymer clay, and the bead is quite light even though it's substantial, because it's hollow inside.

It reminds me of the designs in wrought iron gates, with a mossy finish from being out in the garden. It reminds me of the castle garden, of the place I stayed on the trip to Ireland, when we were near the coast. That rustic ancient feeling, still moist from a dewy morning.

There are more photos at the Etsy shop, if you want to take a peek.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


This necklace is a special memorial piece, the photos is of my mother's sister when she was a little girl, it's her dress, legs and feet, and her hand in the upper left corner of the photo.

I made most of the unusual components on the necklace, the large fleur-de-lys and the filigree-capped beads on the chain. The faux ivory game piece die and the faux vintage cameo, as though from a family necklace handed down. To see the story and see more photos, go to the
Art Bead Scene for my Studio Saturday post yesterday.

A friend gave me the large skeleton key in this photo and made me a challenge to use it in a design - so here's where it ended up! As part of this chain in the necklace ...

A while back last fall I sponsored a charm / bead / clasp exchange, and I've been promising to show the necklace I made using some of the charms. Mary Harding made a gorgeous necklace, putting all the charms on it together. I've been making pieces individually but put several on this one necklace.

The focal is called "Medici Gate" and I made it from glass and metal, it's hanging from the large skeleton key. Suspended from the bottom of the focal from soldered wire loops are three of the charms from the swap.

One is Gaea's ceramic heart charm, looks like it might be raku with the crackle design, suspended from my stamped brass link with the numbers "1-2" on it. Counting, like the old child's game of one-two-buckle my shoe rhyme.

Another is the bottle of gold flakes with the word 'LEAF' on the front of the bottle that I made. I like the pun contained in it, 'gold leaf'. Did you get it? I know, it's a bad pun but I couldn't resist it.

The center one is by Lorelei Eurto, with a small key and dangle over her stamped metal component
with the word 'H-O-M-E' on it.

It feels ancient and reminds me of friends, near and far, who made it possible by their gifts and generosity to me.

As a bonus - it jingles when I move!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking Lace

I thought I'd show you some of the lace I've been making the last few evenings. It's very relaxing, like knitting, the repetition of the movements and watching a ball of thread become something in your hands. Immediate reward.

During the day, working with computers and programs at a very hectic and fast-paced run, there's a feeling afterward that there's not a lot to show for all the hours and thinking that went on, not anything tangible that you could hold in your hand.

So to sit down with a tiny steel crochet hook and a ball of thread, following a pattern I've had from the early 1970's, to make a strand of lace like this seems like the antidote to the workday.

The pace is slow and measured, the results immediate and visible. It grows organically in the hand, stitch by stitch and row by row.

Some of these patterns have been around since the 1800's and even earlier, being worked by women to make money for their family, or to occupy genteel upper class female hands that weren't allowed to go into the work world and needed something to make, to be productive.

The idea of a trouseau, of pillowcases, doilies and linen sheets decorated with lengths of this handmade lace, in a sweet smelling cedar chest. Small girls and teens being taught the skill of handwork, of needlework. Dress fronts and bonnets ornamented with handmade lace.

In the 1970's I was visiting a friend's family at a ranch in southwest Texas, an old ranchhouse that's probably no longer standing. She went to an old cupboard and pulled out a wooden box, and inside were rolls and lengths of tatted and crocheted lace. Aged, golden color from time, they were gorgeous. Beautifully ornate, made by female family members over the generations. A treasure trove. Also nestled inside were the ancient hooks, some of ivory and some in steel, and carefully wrapped packages of the cotton threads to make the lace. Put away carefully for another day.

I want to try my hand at irish lace crochet, I have reproductions of the books used to teach the irish women and girls how to imitate the venetian lace designs that were so popular at the time with french fashion designers. The history of it is facinating, how they used crochet methods to imitate the fancy lace patterns to make money to support their households. For them it wasn't relaxation. For them it was their work and their livelihood. It's nice to have it as a pastime, I prefer it that way.

Is your beading or needlework your refuge, too?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby Needs New Shoes

I have a back burner project I've been wanting to start, it came from running across these stitched felt baby shoes on the Martha Stewart website.

Aren't they cute? I have little feet in the family that need little shoes!

The pattern template and instructions for this version also are there for a free download and they look fairly easy to make. Dainty girly baby shoes.

I have a paper brochure, just a pamphlet really, that I got in the mid-197o's, that explains how to measure your foot to make handmade shoes. It's mean to use leather for footwear that looks like native american indian styles, but seeing this project using felt made me wonder about using those patterns with fiber materials instead of leather. Hey, to make big girls shoes and slippers, too.

Or check out these adorable Bitty Booties from Heather Bailey, the pattern for these is free. Aren't they sweet? I know some of you have new little ones in your life too, and if you don't make the traditional knitted baby booties, you might enjoy creating a pair (or several pairs) of these to give to your newest family members or to friends.

Getting out the size 30 (extra small) crochet cotton and a size 12 (teensy) crochet hook that is barely visible, I made a length of cotton crochet lace last night. I thought it would be sweet to have my own handmade lace on the shoe trims - yes, I know it's over the top to make my own lace, especially for something that will only fit those baby feet for a short time! But maybe they'll become a family heirloom, it's not like those little feet will wear them out, right?

And another pattern for fabric shoes and accessories from Stardust Shoes are also a free download from her blog.

I wanted to work upstairs in the main room, watching a movie or show, so I knew I'd need more light or I wouldn't be able to see all those tiny stitches. Down from the upstairs extra bedroom came an apothecary lamp with a dimmer so it wouldn't be too bright, to sit on the floor right beside me to shine good light directly onto my hands.

I made a short length of lace to get the fingers back in practice. For some reason recently I've been itching to crochet some lace and now the patterns and materials are all out and in a little padded bag, to make them portable. At lunch breaks and during times when I have to wait, I can work on the little lacy strips.

So now I'm considering how to get some beads into this mix, and do some bead lace crochet! It never ends, does it?

Are you inspired yet? Do you have baby feet that need shoes?