Friday, August 12, 2011

A Matter of Preference

Beadmaking is my passion and my delight. When I started to make what I like instead of what I think other people might like, beadmaking progressed into jewelrymaking. Here's today's question: shiny or mattte?
I like matte finished beads. The colors do not pop quite as much, but individual colors tend to blend with things you wouldn't normally choose when the finish is unglazed. The beads have a more earthy feel and are smooth as silk after sanding.

Glazed beads, on the other hand, have that great light-reflecting quality that makes you notice jewelry. Glaze deepens the colors and makes them stand out more. Glaze also fills in and strengthens the surface of a bead.

Designing a piece of jewelry using both glazed and unglazed beads works in most compositions, but most of my newest work cries out for diversity and a large variety of beads from which to choose. I envy people who have huge bead stashes to pick from when designing. I want to create all of the beads in a piece myself. Perhaps years from now I will have built up a backlog of beads. Perhaps I'll be making something else altogether. Robots, maybe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I have exciting news to report: for the first time I signed up for the Bead Soup Blog Party and I have received an absolutely wonderful partner. She is Stefanie Teufel in Germany. Many years ago in university I took enough courses to receive a minor in German. I didn't learn how to speak it well as we mostly watched videos of a student's daily life in German and memorized phrases. She kindly provides both German and English translations on her blog
Wait till you see the vibrant colors of her work in her etsy shop:
I tend to work with a lot of muted earthy tones, but am so excited to think about working with the color combinations she creates like the pictures here. I can't wait to exchange beads and see what our creations will be!

Monday, August 8, 2011

To Bead or Not to Bead-That is the Question

Things are happening rapidly for me right now. Back to school time means back to work and less time for studio work/play. I'm trying to list as much as possible on etsy for the times ahead when I'll be too busy. Here's the thing: when I make a few beads that I really like, it's difficult to decide whether to make something out of them or list them for someone else with more jewelry-making skill to enjoy. I'm taking apart some bracelets to make necklaces to increase the number of beads I have to work with. Still love the stretchy bracelets best of all, but necklaces are quite fun now that the secrets are revealing themselves. Will just have to take my cue from Scarlett. Tomorrow IS another day after all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Color of August

I adore the colors in this month's ABS Challenge. Most of the walls in my home are painted the lovely ochre of the model's dress. It's a perfect backdrop for the brick reds,burnt sienna,olive and cobalt blues I like to use in decorating. As usual, I got out the clays and played around with mixing my colors. I decided to use some different polymer clay techniques so that the beads would have some pizzazz: caning, extrusion, and mosaic. I made an ochre, a soft yellow, some coppery sienna and some green-grayish mud to work with the black and white I saw in the original. I wanted the necklace to be long like women wore during this time period so I made lots of beads. The necklace hangs beautifully but does not photograph on my necklace display as it is 31 inches long. How perfect this challenge was for August, the weeds and trees are starting to take on that thirsty ochre hue before the fall rains begin.(If you click the necklace picture you can see the detail better.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Smoky Mountain Memories

Part of my growing-up years were in the Smoky Mountains. I love all of Tennessee, but the eastern part holds a special place in my heart. I love the way you can see that misty blue gray outline from miles and miles away as you approach. I love the way the trees seem to shade and shelter you from the heat. I love the way a smidgen of sunlight peeks through a hole in the leaves. Last year our loved ones took us to see a production about the original inhabitants leaving the mountains to make way for the park. It was heart-wrenching to realize that people lost their homes and their traditions so that we could make roads that snake slowly up the mountainsides for tourists to visit. Say hello to the Smokies for me, you'ns.

Twilight Zone Web Beads

These beads have a mysterious spooky feel to them. While trying to achieve a soft-edged design using the mokume gane technique, a web appeared. Was it an accident or have we entered (insert music we all know here: dee,dee,Dee,dee) ....THE TWILIGHT ZONE?
There are eight 12-14 mm matte-finished polymer clay beads for your stringing pleasure...if you dare. There's something weird about these beads. I just tried to make this post and the computer went bleep and published it with only the title.
(Been watching too many old shows on Netflix lately, can you tell?)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tiger Lilies

This week's challenge for Humblebead's "Inspired by Nature" series is tiger lilies. They grow wild around here. One summer my oldest and I picked up a friend and drove to the next town where driver's education classes were held. The road to her house was covered with tiger lilies. A sea of orange. Almost like driving through Knoxville on a football weekend. I wanted to incorporate the orange with a little black for the speckles on a real tiger lily. The disk beads at the base of the necklace were caned with black and white spirals, some of the pendants use the watercolor mosaic technique. Not visible at the upper part of the necklace are tiny rondelles in shades of orange. To get the pendant collection to hang properly I strung everything on leather. All beads are polymer clay and handmade by me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fading Through the Door Into Summer

And he thought he heard the echo of a pennywhistle band...and the laughter from a distant caravan...and the brightly colored line of circus wagons in the sand...fading through the door into summer.
This is a song from an old Monkees album. I know, I know, but I still have two copies of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones.
Summer is fading slowly as the heat lingers on. The trees are still green, but everything looks dusty and tired. Let's start fall early, shall we?

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Plight of the Bumblebee-Inspired by Nature

I don't know if I got this necklace finished in time for the challenge deadline, but it was wonderful to get so wrapped up in creating. The theme was bees. Right outside my studio window is a crepe myrtle bush visited daily by bees. I was so excited to use them as models. I started by making a bunch of black beads layered with silver foil and yellow alcohol ink with a translucent overlay. These were my base layer interspersed with glass seed beads in black and yellow stacks. Then I mixed translucent and burnt sienna to get my beehive color and extruded strings to get the hive effect. I needed a dark pearlex powder for the shadows between layers, but didn't have any. A quick trip to the drugstore and some black eyeshadow worked perfectly. The bees were simply tranlucent with a bit of yellow and extruded black for the stripes,stinger and antennae. Tiny translucent wings sort of disappear, but are there. I then made some rectangular tubes in a bit stronger yellow with white flower cane overlays. I have some left over and hope to have enough for a bracelet and earrings as well. A honey of a challenge! Thanks!

Brave New World

Once again I am amazed at the possibilities of beading now that I've finally learned to use the jewelery pliers. These are book thongs made with little abstract heartlight beads on one end that seemed too special to include in a bracelet or necklace but needed a setting where the melting colors could be contemplated a bit more. The bead on the other end is an experiment with flattened disks, stamping and pearlex powders that I could never get to fit into a bracelet but feels the perfect weight for book thongs. I made some with leather and some with this nice cording. Need to decide which works best because I want to make lots. Such a nice little giftie for readers.You can leave it in your book and don't have to lay it aside to get lost while you read. Don't know what to do about the Kindle crowd; what can I bead for you?