Thursday, May 31, 2012

Turquoise Feather Earrings

Sterling silver feathers and small turquoise barrels dangling from sterling chain - I love the way these earrings swing!

Available in my Etsy shop!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Just a quickie today! I'm starting to feel like you guys are as tired of this necklace as I am!


I have completed 3 inches of fringe on the zombie iolite fringe project!

For newcomers, I decided awhile back to start finishing some of my (hundreds of) unfinished jewelry design projects (henceforth known as Zombies, because I am bringing them back to life. Theoretically). I decided to start with the iolite fringe necklace.

Then I discovered that after 5 years of this particular project sitting idle, I could not duplicate the fringing style I was using way back when, so I made the decision to take it apart and start over.

Then I had some problems making myself work on it.

But now I am chugging along. My goal is to work on it 2 hours a day (except weekends), and I come pretty close. This works out to about an inch of fringe per day - I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but soon, I hope! The fringe is pretty dense, and I'm afraid that all the gorgeous beads in the crocheted base of the necklace - the pearls, the iolite, the glittery Czech firepolish beads - may not show in the finished design. See the difference here? How light and airy the old fringe was? It looks kinda like a furry caterpillar now. Oh well, time will tell.... Not doing it over again, I assure you!

Gotta go fringe now - have a great Wednesday!

What's on your worktable?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

Sometime between the time I got up this morning and let the dogs out, and the time I left the house for work, the rain bands from tropical storm Beryl reached the area. Pouring rain - so hard that the doggies refused to set foot outside. Including Bailey, my intrepid golden retriever who once swam from Daufuskie Island to Hilton Head Island,* chasing a pelican with a wicked sense of humor.

Bailey after the Great Pelican Pursuit

Bailey, on water:
Atlantic Ocean, sharks, salt water, and all: Yay!
Swamp, alligators and all: Yay!
Bath: No way!
Rain: Unh-uh.

So, it's off and on raining pretty hard here. Thank goodness I have an attached garage, or I might not have gotten the dogs into the car! But once we arrived at the shop, they bolted out of the car and ran for the safe dryness of the shop.

And whatever is going on with the barometric pressure is giving me an awful headache, which actually started around 3AM, so I should have known this system was close. Of course, the weather guys here had forecast all this tropical storm weather would start in this area 2 days ago, on Sunday! Never listen to them!

My shop is closed on Mondays, so Mondays is (sort of) my day off, making Tuesday, my Monday. So the Carpenters reference seems pretty apt.

Unfortunately, bead shop customers are a delicate bunch, apparently highly susceptible to melting when wet (cue Wicked Witch of the West theme music!) - the shop tends to be pretty deserted on rainy days, sadly. Such good beading weather! But mustn't get wet! Paradox!

I turned on the TV once I arrived at the shop - my morning ritual is to blog while listening to Judge Marilyn. Love me some Judge Marilyn! I glanced over at the TV, and noticed they were running an unusually long weather advisory across the top of the screen. I saw the words "localized street flooding" - which I had already experienced on the way to the shop. Lots of the roads I traverse to get here are surrounded by small lakes and ponds that tend to spill over onto the roadways whenever it rains. No biggie.

Then I saw the words "7 inches of rain expected." Whoa. That seems a little excessive! But this was a really long, wordy advisory, and I didn't have the attention span to read it: I kept getting distracted by the fools in Judge Marilyn's courtroom! I finally caught the words "rivers not expected to flood" - that caught my attention. Yes, we live on a river (the Savannah river). But rivers? What rivers? And in 23 years of living here, I have never seen a weather advisory that mention river flooding. Ever. So I made myself read the whole advisory, and I guess there was a glitch in their system, because they were running the weather advisory for the coastal areas from Charleston to Savannah, which are pretty far from here, at least as far as tropical storm effects. Whew! But I hope everyone there stays safe!

I spent hours yesterday reaming metal beads, and to steal a punchline, "boy are my arms tired." It takes a lot of forearm and hand pressure and strength to get the cutting broach through metal! The technique that worked for me was to hold the bead tightly between the thumb and forefinger of my left hand, and to hold the cutting broach ... blade?... whatever the metal part of the broach is called, about an inch above it's tip, with my chainnose pliers in my right hand, tightly. The cutting broach blade is square, and it enlarges holes by turning and cutting, and in order to get enough force behind my movements, I would twist the bead with my left hand in one direction, and twist the pliers and broach with my right hand in the opposite direction. I applied a lot of pressure with both hands, and just alternating twisting both hands one direction and then the other, to make the broach blade turn and enlarge the hole. I think I finished about 400, maybe 450 beads. And my thumbs, forefingers, and forearms are unbelievable sore. It hurts to hold anything in my left hand right now!

And I still have several thousand metal beads that need to be reamed! Waaahh! Will NOT be buying these smaller-holed beads again, no matter how nicely they take the enamel!

*almost. He made it almost all the way to Hilton Head, as I stood in waist-deep ocean, hollering like a fool at him. He would periodically turn around and look at me, and then the pelican would dive-bomb his head, and he would take off chasing it again. Once I was reduced to a mere speck on his horizon, he finally turned around and headed back to Daufuskie. The pic above is Bailey, right after the pelican chase (and a roll in the sand), ready for more beach fun!

Edited to add: Right after I hit the "publish" button, they interrupted programming with a local weather advisory: There is a Tornado Warning (warning, not watch) just one county to the south of here, and that weather system is moving north. Eeks! And it is actually eerily calm outside right now, with no rain at all. I think I will rush the doggies out, and then batten down the hatches a little. May even close up and go home, since today will be a lonely day at the bead shop!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Reaming Metal Beads

A few weeks ago, I ordered a bunch of metal beads to feed my torch enamel habit. I have thousands of beads to choose from now, but there're always a few flies in the ointment, you know?

Several...thousand, there, I said it .... several thousand of these beads have very small holes. Too small for the smallest mandrel. So I experimented with my handy cutting broaches yesterday:
It's not easy, but the holes can be enlarged. It's tedious, and it's a 2-step process. The hole has to be reamed with the 3rd broach from the top (in the pic above) first, and then again, with the next largest broach. It takes a lot of pressure, because the beads are made from iron! But it can be done.

And so, today, I am watching movies and reaming thousands of beads. We'll see how many I get done!

Thank goodness the vast majority of the beads I ordered don't have to be reamed! Which gives you a clue about how crazy I got when I ordered these beads!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Metaphysics and Gemstones - Patience

This is Part 3 in a series of posts about the metaphysical properties of gemstones.

Part 1 was dedicated to creativity and artistic expression, and also gave a brief background on metaphysics. Part 1 also described how to incorporate gemstones and crystals into your lifestyle in order to benefit from their purported healing benefits.

Part 2 covered focus and concentration.

Today I'll cover those gemstones believed to help increase patience.

Please note: This information is provided for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as diagnosis, prescription, or healthcare information, directives, recommendation, or advice. Please see a licensed healthcare provider for advice and recommendations regarding specific injuries or illnesses.

Gemstones which are believed to increase patience include:




There are several more, but they aren't as readily available at your local bead shop.

Finding yourself in need of a little patience? You might want to wear some jewelry incorporating one of more of these stones. Couldn't hurt!

Here is an amethyst necklace I made recently; it's available in my Etsy shop.

Stay tuned for the next update to my Gemstones and Metaphysics series... happiness.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beadwoven Bracelet with Faceted Seed Beads

I wove this bracelet with multicolored faceted size 6/0 Czech seed beads. I was fortunate to acquire a cache of these magnificent beads - I had kelly green, the color mix shown above, brick, jet picasso, ruby picasso, and a couple of other colors. (the ends of the bracelet are 4mm Miyuki cube beads, in square stitch) 
These faceted seed beads are a joy to work with - the facets give so much texture, and added color and play of light to the pieces I use them in! I have made a number of kumihimo pieces with them, mostly bracelets, although I made this necklace, and sold it right off my neck:
Lucky for me, I had enough of the beads left over to make another one - for ME! I really love this necklace.

This is another view of the bracelet:
The larger beads are coral, agate, and turquoise chips that I threw in randomly to add even more texture, and to really make the colors pop. And it worked - this one sold right off my work table, before I even finished attaching the clasp. Love when that happens!

I have selfishly put some of the kelly green faceted 6/0s in my private stash. My original plan was to make a kumihimo necklace with them, too - but now I am dreaming up new creations for them. The colors they flash are so vivid - they need a special project!

I still have some of these beads left - in the brick, ruby picasso, jet picasso, and the multicolored mix. If anyone is interested, let me know, and I can reserve a listing for you in my Etsy shop!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fold-formed and enameled earrings

These earrings were forged from 24g sheet copper, which I cut, sanded, fold-formed, and then enameled. I used transparent "beryl" enamel, and fired them in the kiln (as opposed to immersion torch-firing). I chose the kiln because I wanted to maintain the texture I'd achieved with the folding, and sometimes immersion enameling can fill up all the texture, defeating all your hard work - but also because I love firescale. There - I said it: Firescale can be beautiful!

Immersion enameling doesn't allow for firescale formation - some view this as a great benefit. Me? Not so much - sometimes I have to fire up the kiln and get a little firescale flavor going.

And now I am laughing because Blogger spell check believes that "firescale" is a typo for "freckle". LOL!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tila Flowers

I like the new 2-hole Tila beads from Miyuki - I have made quite a few patterns with them, and am always on the lookout for more.

One of my favorite things to make are Tila flowers (circular peyote + herringbone) - these are so versatile! You can come up with such a huge variety of color combinations, but also the composition and shape of the flower changes when you switch up the bead sizes that you pair with the Tilas - lots of fun!

Here is a bracelet/earring set that I created with Tila flowers, using on of my favorite Tila colors: matte black AB. This color isn't black at all, but a gorgeous blue iris with hints of bronze, gold, and purple. Love it!

These posts chronicle my love affair with matte black AB seed beads.

Here is another piece I created with Tila flowers - this one for the Bead Soup Blog Party Hop last fall:

Detail of the tila flowers stitched to the peyote ring

The Tila flowers use a lot of different sizes of seed beads, although you can control this a little bit - for instance, instead of using 2 or 3 different colors of 11/0s, you could limit it to one color. In the green and red flowers I made, I added a 3 mm Czech firepolish bead in place of an 8/0 - so you really can change it up quite a bit, you just have to vary the number of some of the other beads you use, so that no thread shows. These flowers work up super fast - so they are nice projects when you need a break from something!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Still working with the iolite fringe zombie project - and things are going so much better!

Last Saturday, I finished the first "fringe pass" - shown here:
The barely-visible red nymo was put on the necklace so I would know where the mid-point is, and the different spot where I wanted to vary the length of the fringe. When I first started (again) I thought this would come into play on this first pass, but I quickly changed my original plan (and love the result), but the red threads have gotten a little covered up (and one is completely invisible) so I need to remove them and retie them, and then I can start my second and FINAL fringe pass, where I plan to graduate the fringe length from short in the back to longer in the front.

I worked at the torch on Sunday, and took Monday completely off. Bead holiday! Sometimes you just have to, you know? And a customer ordered a custom beadwoven bracelet last Friday, so I started that yesterday, and hope to finish it sometime today, and then I will start fringing again!

And here is a fun postscript:
Kristi Bowman is hosting a copper focal blog hop - take a look. Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More torch work

I had a pretty good day at the torch on Sunday - I was able to learn quite a bit about the process by repetitively firing the same bead type over and over with different colors, and then switching to a different bead type, and going through the same colors again. It was a very methodical, logical approach, which is definitely my wheelhouse!

I certainly still had some bad outcomes - one pretty pink bead, out of all the pink ones I did, peeled. And a few of the large peacock beads need to be re-fired, as I somehow didn't get a complete firing, and they stopped at the "orange-peel" stage.

The larger beads (and pendants) are much harder to do, because the process requires that you get the entire piece uniformly, glowing-orange hot before immersing it in the enamel, or else the enamel won't take. And with the large beads, it is very hard to get the whole bead hot at one time! In addition to some of them not firing completely, I have a few that didn't get much enamel coverage on their tops - the part of the bead furthest from the tip of the mandrel. That's the part of the bead that enters the enamel last, and it has had the most time to cool during the quick transit from the flame to the enamel, and is no longer hot enough to grab the enamel. I need to work on this.

I actually sustained a very small, maybe 1mm second degree burn to the very tip of my right index finger on Sunday - I was trying to solve this big bead problem by choking up on the mandrel before shoving it into the enamel. The mandrels are stainless steel, so there is virtually no heat conduction - but the part of the mandrel that goes in the flame DOES get hot (duh) - and I miscalculated how much I was choking up on the mandrel, and my index finger touched the mandrel where it had been heated. Ooops!

Here are my beads from Sunday:

These are some filigree butterflies:

These are also a challenge to get uniformly hot - you can see that the 2 butterflies at the top of the pic have taken up enamel in their centers, but not at the tips of the wings. I could go back and do each wing tip separately, but I have to be careful not to over-fire them, or they will just turn black. The hole in the center of the butterfly is so large that it spins on the mandrel when it is heated, making it harder to control where the heat goes!

The butterfly at the bottom patinated in the heat of the flame, and I liked the colors, so I just left it. Now that it has cooled, and I have re-examined it, I can see the color isn't uniform, so I'll do it over the next time I fire beads. I am going to experiment with heat patinating some of the larger beads, too - I like the results so far!

I'm feeling a lot more confident about the torch fired enamel now - looking forward to the next time I have a free day to play with it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Simply Dotty

These black and white polka dotted beads started out as a "stretchy" bracelet I saw at Target - one of those beads-on-elastic cheapie things that never fit well, then stretch out, and then break. I hate elastic jewelry!

But I love black and white, and I love polka dots, so I bought the bracelet, took it apart (OK, cut the elastic) - and remade them into several pairs of earrings by adding a white bead and a dangle of jet Czech firepolish.

They sold pretty quickly, and now I wish I had kept a pair for me!

I'm intentionally not using the words "repurposed" or "upcycled" here - for a couple of reasons. One, those words are used to death, in my opinion, and two, they are so often used incorrectly! I don't see what I did as particularly "green," - I just saw something I liked (the black and white bead) and turned it into something I would wear. Nothing noble going on here - just jewelry design!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Metaphysics and Gemstones - Focus and Concentration

Since I was having a problem last week with focus, I thought I would devote today's post to those gemstones that are said to help increase your mental focus and ability to concentrate. These gemstones are purported to help you clear your mind, and focus on the task at hand.

While quite a few gemstones are reported to have these properties, I am going to limit this post to a few of the ones which are more readily available for jewelry design. Please refer to yesterday's post if you'd like to learn more about metaphysics or about the series of posts I am doing on the metaphysical properties of gemstones, in general.

As always, please note: This information is provided for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as diagnosis, prescription, or healthcare information, directives, recommendation, or advice. Please see a licensed healthcare provider for advice and recommendations regarding specific injuries or illnesses.

Gemstones which are reported to increase mental focus and the ability to concentrate include:


Lapis Lazuli:

Fluorite, in all its gorgeous colors:


And also, Carnelian, which I covered yesterday, for its reported abilities to boost creativity and artistic expression.

Here are a few pieces I have made using some of these gemstones:

This is a sterling silver necklace with a stunning faceted fluorite dangle, as well as some smaller pieces of fluorite and aventurine, Swarovski crystals, and freshwater pearls. Ironically, I specifically made this piece because of fluorite's reported abilities to increase focus and concentration, and I never wear it because I never remember that it is in my jewelry box! I had forgotten about it again I until I did a Google search for fluorite, and my own necklace popped up! Sad....

Malachite chip earrings

That's today's post - I'll be posting another soon - hope you enjoy them! These posts take quite a bit of time to research and compose, so I probably won't be doing them everyday, or with any particular regularity - I'll post one whenever the time and inclination collide to allow me to put one together!

If you would like me to address a particular metaphysical healing property, such as issues with fatigue, grief, headache, etc., please leave me a comment, and I will see what I can do.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Metaphysics and Gemstones - Creativity and Artistic Expression

I am fascinated by metaphysics, in all its guises. I'm not here to debate - but to share information that I find interesting.  Believe, don't believe - personally, as far as gemstones and their healing properties, I keep an open mind, and firmly believe that I can use all the help I can get, and no harm can come from wearing more gemstone jewelry!

First, a little background:

Metaphysics means, simply, "what comes after the physical".

Traditional Metaphysics is an ancient branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, attempting to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world by investigating principles of reality that transcend those of any particular branch of science.

Modern metaphysics is a looser, all-encompassing study of topics that are "beyond the physical world", including subjects like spirits, faith healing, the occult, healing properties or energies of stones and crystals. This new Metaphysics thus includes studies of philosophy, astrology, parapsychology, meditation, yoga, mysticism, and many more areas which all share at their core a basis in the exploration and understanding of reality.

Metaphysically speaking, the term “healing” is a holistic concept that extends beyond the physical body to encompass our minds, emotions, and spirits, such that if any one part of us is “sick” or out of balance, the whole being will be “sick”. Healing therefore is the process of restoring balance and being in harmony with natural forces. For centuries, gemstones and crystals been believed to play a role in healing and restoring mental and physical balance, with different "healing" attributes assigned to different gems and crystals. As a lifelong rock hoarder, jewelry designer and collector, and a purveyor of gemstones, beads, and cabochons, these metaphysical properties fascinate me, and I'd like to explore some of them further.

Please note: This information is provided for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as diagnosis, prescription, or healthcare information, directives, recommendation, or advice. Please see a licensed healthcare provider for advice and recommendations regarding specific injuries or illnesses.

When using gemstones and crystals for healing purposes, it is said that most effective way to use any gemstone is to wear it as close to the skin as possible, preferably in direct contact, as a pendant or focal bead. This is particularly relevant when working with Chakras, which I'll address at a later time. If it isn't possible to wear the stone against your skin, you can hold the gemstone in your hand while reading or watching television, or even place the gemstone under your pillow at night.

There are myriad resources available to those interested in more information about the metaphysical properties of gemstones - the internet, books, and metaphysical practitioners, and more. Many resources list the healing properties by gemstone, an approach I took earlier this week when I dedicated a post to indicolite, one of my favorite gemstones.

I've been thinking more about these metaphysical properties ever since I did that spur-of-the-moment post, and I decided that looking at the properties according to their purported benefits made more sense to me, so I'm embarking on a series of posts dedicated to these metaphysical benefits, starting with something we all could benefit from recharging: creativity and artistic expression.

Many stones are believed to increase artistic expression and creativity, but I'm going to limit my list to those that are fairly easily found as beads or cabochons, since these are so readily available to jewelry designers and wearers.

Stones which may benefit persons who want to increase their artistic expression and creativity include:

Botswana agate:

Rutilated quartz:


Watermelon Tourmaline:


Picasso Jasper:



And there are many more - they just aren't as readily accessible at your local bead shop!

Here are a few pieces I have made featuring these stones:

My aventurine, freshwater pearl, and Vintaj Natural Brass multistrand bracelet, from the Bead Soup Blog Party Challenge last year.

A carnelian and citrine necklace, available in my Etsy shop (matching earrings are available separately):

I actually use all of these gemstones fairly frequently - I guess I just need to start wearing them more often!

Stay tuned for the next update to my Gemstones and Metaphysics series...