Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weeping Willow

Today's post is inspired by the challenge on Humblebead's blog. The idea was to create something on the concept of "Willow". Willow to me means the weeping willow trees of my childhood. Granny had one as big as a mountain ( it seemed to me). The branches came all the way to the ground and you could pretend you were in your own private cave of green as far as the eye could see. We had one sorry willow specimen in our yard right on the fence row. The neighbor's mule would mosey up to the fence, bray once just to show he could get away with it, and chomp a few leaves. He finally killed it before it could flourish.
My dad sang an uptempo bluegrassy song that had this verse:"Bury me beneath the willow, Under the weeping willow tree, So she may know where I am sleeping, Then perhaps she'll think of me." It's strange how a snippet of song can bring back a forgotten feeling. I thought everybody grew up with the same songs. When I went to college the girls from the city knew a smouldering jazzy song with this line: "Weeping willow weep for me, You know where I long to be...". Same tree, same sentiment, different worlds.
I pulled out all the green mini beads I'd made from polymer clay from my stash and made a few shades I didn't have to make this willow-inspired fidget bracelet. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Heather!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coyote's Quest Beads

Day after day Coyote traveled the roadside. She felt the eyes of the two-legged ones watching from every angle. The roar and vibrations from the traveling machines keeping her wary. A safe place to lie down,a place to prepare was all she sought. A safe place close to water and far from the noise of the machines. "Are the safe places all gone?" she howled, but there were none of her kind to answer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer of '42 Bracelet

Lina walked along the water's edge. She dodged the towels and umbrellas on the beach keeping her focus on the horizon. Shep was out there somewhere on the other side of that ocean.The sky was soft. The water was blue. The waiting was hard. Getting harder every day.

Mermaid's Treasure Bracelet

Lina lay on the rocks and dipped her tailfin in the water. She thought about the jewels in her clamshell. "I'm in a sparkly kind of mood today," she thought. This bracelet is what she wore.

Song of the Whale Beads

The whale came closer to shore. "Step back,"said the mothers,"The whale is so big." Sadly, the whale retreated, singing as she swam. The song spoke of regret, of sadness, of hope,of love. When the mothers heard the whale's song, they told their children,"The next time the whale comes by do not be afraid for she is a mother too."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Under the Apple Tree Beads

Lina waited for the mailman. Through the kitchen window she heard her mother's radio. "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me..." The sun was dipping behind the barn. Night was closing in. Just like yesterday and the day before, the mailman never came.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


While I'm making beads there is always a story in my head. I'm thinking about a color, a texture, a story, a song, a poem. Here's where "Visionary" came from.
The sky was turning from ink to milk as Lina stood at the kitchen window. In the distance the trees were shadows in deep greens and blues. A woman appeared, mist swirling around her skirts. Lina was instantly drawn to the woman. She could feel the soft fabric of the woman's skirt against her own legs. Soft blue green with designs of lilac and sunny yellow. As the woman neared, she could see that the designs looked like eyes. "Should I go and talk to her?"Lina thought. Just then the woman turned to the left and was gone.
Later that day Lina found a scrap of fabric tied to the branch of her clothesline tree. It was soft blue green with designs of lilac and sunny yellow. The eyes looked back at her.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How a Bead is Born

I'm so excited that my friend Hannah is making polymer clay beads this week. Beads are really just poems in a medium other than words for me. I hear a line in a song, see a pattern in a butterfly's wing, read a word that intrigues me...They all become beads. Here's how these Copacabana beads were born. Flipping through daytime television I paused on Barry Manilow. He was playing requests. "Let's have a happy song," the host said,"how about Copacabana?" Catchy, yes, but happy? Not Copacabana. I started to think about the images in the song and these beads were born. The yellow feathers, the dress (midnight blue with peekaboo cutouts and a hint of red underneath that drove both Rico and Tony wild). I muted the colors because that dress would be fading right along with Lola. Copacabana beads emerged.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Turn on your heartlight

I bought alcohol inks quite a while ago and have only started playing with techniques this year. Applied directly to the clay, the colors are soft and subtle. When metallic leaf is layered between the clay and the inks something magic happens. I can look at these beads all day. The colors change as you twirl the beads between your fingers: blues morph into greens, reds and yellows make fire, purples peek shyly from the edges. Poetry without words.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Science Class All Over Again

All those years of teaching fifth graders how to do science experiments have paid off. Today I started out trying to make some BIG beads. The beads were beautiful, but they took a lot of precious clay and were too heavy to suit me. How to make a hollow round bead-experiment number one. First I tried placing the clay on a rounded support, but this resulted in lentil shapes instead of roundish ones. Then I tried baking the beads around an already rounded bead, slicing them open,removing the armature and putting the two halves back together. Too much margin for error in this one. Last, I searched for a dissolvable substance that would simply be gone when the bead was cured and cleaned. EUREKA! It worked. I desperately wanted it to be cornstarch packing peanuts, but alas, none were in my studio. What was in my studio, you ask. Ummm, snacks were in my studio. Some cheezy crunchy things from the "healthy foods" aisle at Kroger were in my studio. I placed a layer of scrap clay against the ersatz food, extruded a rainbow blend of clay and wrapped the bundle. Then, I pierced the resulting bead and fired it up. When the beads came out of the oven I dropped them in water. They floated! After a few minutes they sank to the bottom. When I took them from the water bath, I blew the remainder of the residue out of the piercing holes. VOILA-a big hollow bead.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Art Bead Scene posted the picture for the June Challenge and, once again, I diligently got to work. I've done every challenge for the past few months, but lacked the courage to actually send them in. Seeing the incredible work of some of the designers is daunting. This months' picture is Ophelia in the water. Here's how the day went: I pulled out the translucent clay and alcohol inks to mix a watery mokume block while sculpting a bas relief Ophelia face covered with a thin layer of translucent to give it an underwater look. The resulting cabochon was baked on a small light bulb to give it shape then re-baked with black and copper backing and rope trim. The graduated blue-green beads were formed by slicing thin slices from the block and applying them to skinner blended base beads of blue and green. I wavered back and forth on glazing, but really liked a matte finish for this piece. The spacers and dangles are black rondelles and flower and leaf cut-outs smeared with sparkling copper Pearl-ex. I wanted the piece to have an earthy feel and decided to use 1 mm leather for stringing and a hippie sliding closure with the leaf beads I made for the dangles. It turned out quite pretty. Here's a link to the challenge:
Art Bead Scene Blog: June Monthly Challenge