Friday, June 26, 2015

CC7A :: Soft Summer Hues

This month's CC7A challenge is hosted by Sally Russick and is inspired by these beautiful soft summer hues.

I confess that I had originally designed my cabochon #3 as my piece for this month, but I ended up posted it early. Truth be told, I posted it and then remembered several days later that I meant to reveal it for this hop. It was too late to switch it around! That is exactly how distracted I've been lately. 

Ah well, I did have a plan B. I had also made a sweet pair of earrings in the color pallet using a beautiful pair of headpins by Genea that I could not resist buying. I love the celery green color mixed with earthy colors. It just feels like summer to me. I really love her headpins, and all those silvery additions to the beads were perfect for me to add just a touch silver fringe to bring it out.

Be sure to check out everyone else's creations this month: Alicia, Christine, Therese, Sally, and Monique.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stone Cabochon Series :: #4

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Years ago, before we had our kids, my husband and I took a road trip through the Southwestern US. What a gorgeous corner of the world, and something that continues to influence me when I sit down to create jewelry. 

The red rocks and painted desert of the area are breathtaking and remain carved into my memory along with our hike down into the grand canyon as we watched a thunder storm erupt along the opposite rim. Mother Nature's light show was spectacular.

I will absolutely never tire of the bold, but simple colors and geometric shapes from local artisans. I am inspired by the Southwestern Native American tribes of the region with Navajo, Zuni and Hopi being personal favorites. If you have time to browse, check out my Pinterest board for some of the regions beautiful inspiration.

This set of red stone cabochons gifted to me from Melinda Orr were two of the first I paired together for this series. While they are not of the same stone, they seem to depict the shifts and changes of the rock layers throughout the region. It is one of the memorable things about visiting the Southwest. I love how you can see the the layers of sediment exposed to the elements over the millennium; a rich history you can study as you hike these magnificent natural wonders. You can see more inspiration on my South by Southwest Pinterest board.

Each one of these paired cabochons has taken on its own personality, and this one seemed to need a brass chain to draw out the flecks in the sandstone. As I think about it, the first time I ever saw sandstone was in the small market as you enter Monument Valley. The cluster of vendor stalls were full of local craftsmen selling items in the traditional native Southwestern styles, including pottery, blankets, clothing, bags or jewelry. I've been in love with the stone ever since and it continues to reminds me of our trek through this region each time I pull it out to create.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stone Cabochon Series :: #3

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach, OR
For as long as I can remember there has been one place, that when I close my eyes it is what I see. I can instantly feel the cool mist on my face, the whipping wind twisting my hair and the roar of the surf. It is the one place that can bring me peace from the moment I crest the hill, and round the corner to head down the long drive to Cannon Beach. The rock will come in and out of view as I wind my way there. 

When I looked into the pattern of the stone that Melinda Orr gifted me, all I could see was the silhouette of haystack rock that dominates the view from Cannon Beach. I see a "moody" winter sky surrounding the rock. Just as I remember it being most days. 

My childhood was spent along this coast line at the various beaches in the area, but nothing captivated me as much as this mammoth rock jutting out of the surf. I always wanted to climb it, and I would shift around to a side, dig in and begin to climb a few foot-holds up. But my mother would notice and yell to "get DOWN off that rock!" Once upon a time I was 7 and would wait until I thought my mother wasn't looking so I could sneak in a little excitement, something I was definitely not supposed to do. Yes people climbed it, and yes it was wet, slippery and dangerous. But there was a time in my life where I just wanted to see the view from up top. 

I no longer have this piece as a friend bought this one from me 2 weeks ago. She tried on almost every one of my stone cab necklaces in this series, and nearly bought the one I showed last weekend. But in the end she took this one. I knew from the beginning that this was the one for her, but it took her most of the weekend before she knew it too. She also took the cuff I posted last weekend. When she told me she wanted it, I was a bit taken aback because she exclaimed "oh, this will be perfect for the wedding I'm going to!" Totally didn't see that coming. But once she told me it was a wedding on a beach and she had a cute cotton jacket it would match, it all made sense to me. Absolutely nothing makes me happier than to think of her wearing these pieces.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

ATTS 7: Bead Embroidery

I just love this hop hosted by Christine and Therese. Each one has been a challenge for me to try something new. To practice a stitch or technique. This installment had us trying our hand at bead embroidery. 

While I have been doing quite a few bead bezeling pieces lately, I wanted to try some stitching into fabric. So that is where I wanted to start this challenge. With a piece of fabric, some beads and a simple design. 

The last time that Christine and I got together for a beady weekend, I decided to get started on a piece for this hop. Christine happened to have a bit of grey cloth that matched a bead bezel focal I had just finished. She gifted me the cloth and I got started. I attached the focal and continued the design on the fabric with the same beads. I was going to fill in more beadwork, but both Christine and I agreed simple was better.

But it did just need a bit more, and so I decided to do some bead crochet for an edge. I stitched that in place and then added a suede backing to the fabric. I love the way this one feels on ... that suede backing is so comfortable! And the cuff has that bit of boho elegance that I love. So a win, win for me!

I thought I'd show you all another piece I recently finished. I've been in a bezeling mood lately and I've created a number of pieces with some small polished stones that Melinda Orr gifted me. There is a wide variety and I've had so much fun mixing and matching them. I'll come back and show you more later, but here is one of my favorites. 

I've discovered a nifty trick. If I glue a jump ring to the back of my focal, and then add the suede, I can stitch the whole piece together with a small loop for me to connect the focal. So instead of a large embroidered piece, I get a few individual pieces that connect and have a bit of swing to them. I have a growing collection to show you all that I'be been working on for months. Yes, I am just a tiny bit obsessed with this style.

Be sure to check out the rest of the hoppers today: our hosts Therese and ChristineAmyLiz EKim, Janet, BobbieMaryanne, KarenBecky, ShirleyLola, Lori, Karin G, Debbie, Paula, Wendy, Jasvanti, Ginger, Alicia, SarahLizzie, Samantha, Sally, and Niky

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Make A Statement :: Featuring Therese Frank's Cabochon

Today's hop is hosted by Sally Russick featuring cabochons. She's left the rules a little loose so that people can create with their cabochons using metal smithing, wire wrapping, bead weaving or bead embroidery. I decided to go with a beaded bezel for my cabochon. But not just any cabochon, but one created by my beady friend Therese. 

I wanted to give a little shout out to her hop for next weekend with the ATTS crew (A Time To Stitch) for the 7th installment. Christine and Therese have been hosting this hop for the last few years now (has it really been that long?), and this upcoming hop (Saturday June 6) features bead embroidery. Therese was so sweet to share with many of us her cabochons that she personally made. Her skills seem to know no boundaries, and now she's added lapidary to them. Click here to see some of the other's she made.

The one she sent me I think is just beautiful. It is a plume agate and seems to have a landscape pattern to it. In doing a bit of homework on this type of agate I found that there are several large areas in Eastern Oregon and Idaho (the Owyhee Mountains and Graveyard Point) where they mine this type of agate. They say that plume agates are a seam agates and get their names from the plume like shapes from inclusions in the stones. Many are cloudy plumes, but you'll find brown and black mineral inclusions as well. One 'rock hound' said that when the agate is exposed to the elements it tends to make it look fractured, stained and cloudy. However these stones form, they make for some gorgeous eye candy to bead around.

For my cabochon I decided to use a mix of 'mineral' colors in gun metal grey, copper, brass and gold to highlight all those beautiful inclusions in Therese's stone. I tried (for quite some time) to add leather for the strap, but it just wasn't going to happen. I gave up and went with a simple chainmaille instead which gave this piece just the right balance and substance that I was looking for.

Please be sure to check out all the other artists and their cabochon pieces: Sally (our host), Therese, Sandi, Karin, Paula, Veralynne, Elizabeth, Niky and Terri

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CC7A :: Tutti Fruiti

Today's CC7A hop is hosted by Therese Frank. Her challenge to all of us was to use the colors from this mutli-colored, tutti-frutti bloom. I think I might have mentioned this in my last post that I'm Mardi Gras challenged. Using lots of colors is a struggle for me. My mind likes uniformed patterns, so when someone throws in a bunch of colors it goes a bit haywire. 

Throwing caution to the wind I decided to use a pile of beads in a multitude of color. I dumped out what remained of my bicone crystals and used them all. Yes, every last one of them in a random order. 

I knew that I didn't have enough for a full bracelet, but I had something in mind. Originally I was going to finish off each end with a simple peyote band, but it created too much elegance. Strange I know, but it really wasn't what I was going for. I  really wanted something that was everyday wearable with a bit of fun bling. My friend Therese loves a bit of boho, biker bling ... and so I let it inspire this design.

I ripped out what I had, and instead took a strip from an old pair of jeans. I cut out a window box to nestle a sort of stained glass look inside. I stitched the outer edges of the beadwork right into the cut out window box. That first picture is capturing the light coming through the center. 

This cuff slips on like an old pair of jeans. It snaps in the back and feels so comfortable. I asked the Bead Girl to help out by wearing this around for a week or two to fray out the sides. She did a fantastic job with her part, although not exactly what I was expecting. I did see her wearing it for a few days, but when I asked for her to go grab it so I could snap a few pictures she could not find it anywhere. To the point of shouting through the tears, "I put it right here! I don't know what happened?" Fast forward an hour later and her room sifted .... I discovered it in the bottom of her bed. Sigh. 

Please make sure to check out all the other artists this month: Therese (this month's host), Alicia, Christine, Monique, Sally and Emma.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Playing Hooky with the Bead Girl

Bead Girl's picture of a door at Clinton Castle
Native American Pin
Last Friday my daughter had an optional field trip. Their school does an annual trip to view a surgery. This year was a bypass, in previous years it's been open heart. She was dreading it, and the school allows for kids who just can't take it to opt out. 


Seems a strange field trip, but the district here feels like it encourages those kids that can see themselves in the sciences, or those that might go into medicine. But for those of us that can't take the sight of our own blood (that would be me) ... the kids can opt out.


Bead Girl's picture of museum sky light
And so, the Bead Girl and I played hooky last Friday. I took the day off to run around NYC with her. We managed to get in quite a bit of the city including a trip down to Battery Park for a peek at the Statue of Liberty and a look around Clinton Castle (the battery itself). 


Native American Water Jug
Then afterwards we walked across the green there to the National Museum of the American Indian, which had free admission. I love this type of exhibit. I have seen many in multiple countries. But I will tell you that only one rivals this exhibit and that is the one in Vancouver, BC at The Museum of Anthropology. If you are ever in the area it is a must see.

The National Museum here in NYC was amazing, and completely unexpected. They had exhibits from Indian culture from all over the Americans and down into Central and South America. While not as large as the exhibit in BC, it is packed with beautiful things to see. 

Chibi polymer figures by Bead Girl
From there, we headed uptown to check out other landmarks she had never seen. I know we live close to NY, but we really don't bring the girls into the city much. And even then we usually have an engagement to meet up with someone so we don't sightsee. This trip was to tick off a few places she'd always wanted to see. We stopped into the Empire State building and then on to the Chrysler building. Not to mention Grand Central Station and the Graybar building next door. 


Cake, carrot and peas in polymer by Bead Girl
Our last stop was a store that she'd been talking about for months called Kinokuniya which is a bookstore full of all things Japanese. She's very in to anime whether it is drawing, painting or creating the little figures. She's practiced this miniature polymer art over past year. So she wanted to explore the store for new ideas. We spent 2+ hours there. Yes, 2+ hours. I can honestly say I was more than ready to leave when she said she thought she was 'done.' It was a fantastic day. And I loved every minute of spending a little one-on-one time with daughter. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Look Up New York

Gorgeous building awning @ 5th Ave and 34th Street
Awning at 5th Ave and 40th Street
I've been having fun this past week playing with Instagram. I've had an account for, I don't know, 2 years? Probably. But have not posted a single picture. Yep. Not one. 

Then for some reason this week I decided I needed to get in there. Can't tell you exactly why, but this seems to be the week that I burst on to the scene of Instagram. Yeah, I'm a big trend setter. 
Doorway on just another side street in NYC

So why now? I stumbled across some Instagram photos that really caught my eye, and I realized that there are a lot of things that I see each day that I've grown used to and, to me, seem mundane. But may not to other people. So why not share? 

I walk to work each morning, and try to switch it up with varying routes. I duck down a street to see if I can discover some new hidden bit of architecture to admire. There are so many amazing buildings in NY that just go unnoticed. At least to the average tourism guide. 
Lord & Talyor window box
So much of the cool stuff is 'up.'  Literally. As a typical NY'er hustling off to work, your focus tends to be straight ahead, down to avoid stepping is some random piece-o-crap or up at the light to see if you need to run to cross at the next corner. That sums up walking to work.

I've decided to snap pics on the way to work. I'm still figuring out Instagram. Yes I know I'm late to the party, but I'm a quick study. It seems to be less connected than other social media, so I'm sticking to posting photos snapped on my iPhone. I guess that will limit my gallery to 'on the go' types of pics. Thus the current tour of the streets of NYC. Love to link up with you all who are already on Instagram. I've been trying to click around to find you all, but click here and link up with me! I'd love that.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

One More for Mother's Day

I've been posting a lot of leather bracelets lately, and I thought I would show you one more. This one is no longer in my stash as I gave this one away as a gift to a friend. A new mom who recently had a sweet baby girl. I asked her to help me design a "Mom Gift" for herself. I know, a bit unorthodox. I brought in a box of options to the office and we played with colors and designs. In the end she went with a simple sort of black and white look with black leather and silver. It looks amazing on her. I love how excited people get when they realize that they are creating a piece of jewelry for themselves.

My girls in Savannah at one of the many squares
Summer in the Adirondacks at age 8 and 4
There is always so much excitement around newborns. Rightfully so, but sometimes we forget about the mother or the sibling. Having had two daughters of mine own, I know it takes a bit of time to feel like yourself again. That's why I usually give gifts to the mother. Something special that's just for her.

It took me a bit of time to feel like myself again after each of my daughters were born. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being a mother. It is one of the best things in my life, which is probably why it all seems to have gone by so quickly. I feel like my two daughters went from grade school to high school in no time flat. And now my oldest is just a year away from college. Seems like just yesterday that she was so little. I love the person that she has become, but it will be such an adjustment for me when she's off to college. I guess that is what is on my mind lately.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bracelets :: The Collection

Lately, I have been mixing and matching all sorts of leather, beads and findings to create bracelets. Over the last year I've been hoarding, well collecting all shapes and sizes of leather along with fun focals and closures.  As you can see, the stack of bracelets is growing.

If you've visited me lately you will have already seen a few of these posted. There was the Game of Thrones hop hosted by Heather of Humblebeads where I created a Daenerys Targaryen dragon head bracelet. There was also a hop to celebrate Alenka's birthday who has a love of butterflies, so I did one in honor of her.Then there was the one from last week where I was trying to solve for keeping a gorgeous lampwork bead (by Lea Avroch) from sliding all over the place. 

But there has been more. Much more as you can see. This stack represents the ones that are finished. There are actually quite a few more in various stages of 'doneness.'  Then there are the bits and pieces mapped out on the bead table waiting their turn to make it to the mat (the bead mat of course).

I really have been loving this braided leather. It is soft and easy to work with, and well looks a bit Medieval which of course is right up my alley. This particular one with blond leather, a copper twist focal and strong copper closure was designed by the Bead Girl. She loves to paint while I bead or glue away. But the last time I had a whole mess (yes I mean mess) of leather and findings spread out across the table she grabbed this combo and ask "what about this Mom?" Yes, yes I believe that will work is the only answer for that.

The vast majority of my materials I've picked up from my friend Melinda Orr. She always brings an enormous, movable stash (on wheels) with her to Bead Fest. And Linda Younkman and I will sit literally for hours oooh-ing and aw-ing through our discoveries. She always sends us off with things to try. Which leads me to my growing love of leather. I'm sure you've all noticed it cropping up in my designs over the last year or so, and I have Melinda to thank for my obsession! I blame her entirely.

Now that the weather is warming up, and the sun is finally here, I've been able to get a few decent pictures. I have most of these listed over on my Etsy, so I can make room for new additions to my growing collection of these babies.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Leather and Lampworks

I've been playing around with this bracelet for awhile now. Originally I had just the leather and the beautiful lampwork bead (made by Lea Avroch) in this bracelet.

Man I love this bead. I bid for it in an auction a while back and was out bid (argh!). But then Rita over at Toltec Jewels surprised me with it as a gift! That sneaky girl. 

I hoarded it for more than a year. (Hanging head). Yes it is true. I just couldn't part with it, and I wanted to find the right way to showcase it. It is a large hole bead and I didn't want it to flop around like a class ring on a string. I love the way this blue leather sets off the center of the pattern.

But it just needed more. Because while the the leather is the right width (with two pieces of cord) it still slides back and forth. I decided I was going to have to break out some seed beads. But I didn't want them to compete with the main attraction. I went very neutral with a pale, silvery grey. I did a quick peyote loop that I made just a tad over sized. I had something in mind. I wanted to lock them in place as a way to 'bumper' the lampwork, and stop it from sliding all over the place. I put in just a few stitches in the center and the whole thing locked just as I thought it might. Oh I love when things work. And bonus! Lea's bead stop shifting about. It actually stays put in the center now. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

CC7A :: Easter at Downton Abbey

The theme this year is not based on swapping beads, but instead based on sharing colors. For each month one of us has suggested a color pallet to inspire the group. Our first color challenge for this year's CC7A (the Creative Continuum of 7 Artists) is brought to you by our host Alicia of All The Pretty Things

Alicia decided to kick it off with some bright Easter colors. I think I might be a bit 'Mardi Gras' challenged. I just don't seem to be able to work with color pallets beyond 2, maybe 3 colors. So I zeroed in on 2 'fruity' colors from the pallet Alicia sent and went with watermelon and papaya. I just happened to have one more rose quartz doughnut left from the set I bought from last month's CC7A post (my watermelon color). And then I picked a warm, brassy-orange filigree to compliment my piece (my papaya color). The design has a lean toward the era of Downton Abby. If any remember my piece from last year inspired by Alicia, then you'll remember that I also picked this period (and Downton) to reflect my design for Alicia's month. Which I personally think is perfect since both she, and I are huge fans of the show.

I wanted to create something that any of the Downton ladies might wear to Easter dinner. They all wear dresses with long, elegant styles, and they often dress for dinner with some gorgeous necklace that 'lady's maids' have to fasten into place. I can't even imagine needing to 'dress' for dinner when I find it bothersome to deal with dressing for work let alone dinner. I'd rather slip into my jammies when I get home; not into an evening gown! 

Now I can't wait to click over to my fellow CC7A team to see what everyone else created with their Easter egg inspiration: Alicia (our host), Christine, Monique, Therese, Sally and Emma.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bucket List :: Savannah

I have an extensive bucket list of places I want to see. I realize the title of my blog is kind of a give away to my love of travel, so it should come as no surprise that I have a list. I have two lists actually, and they are over on Pinterest. The first one is for the places I want to see, and a second for the places I've been. I guess we all have our silly collections, mine just don't tend to be 'things' (unless we're talking about beads) usually they are experiences.

I have been to several of the places on my Blog Header; London (Big Ben), New York (Statue of Liberty), Seattle (Space Needle), Paris (Eiffel Tower), New Delhi India (Gandhi Museum), Hilo Hawaii (King Kamehameha), San Francisco (Transamerica Pyramid and Rodin's The Thinker). Some of you who have seen The Thinker might say, "that's not where that statue is." And you'd be right, and wrong at the same time. Apparently several casts were made, and so this statue actually sits in the courtyard of about 9 museums in the US, and another 8 outside the US. So for me, I saw Rodin's sculpture in San Francisco's Legion of Honor. And while that sounds like a lot of statues, there are almost 50 of Mahatma Gandhi around the world. As for my Shiva, this is a statue that sits on my book shelf that I brought back from a little town in the foothills of the Himalayas. You can read more about it here.

So back to the list. I can now tick off one more place I've been that is on both my bucket list and travel icons for my blog header: Savannah. I read a book years ago called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which intrigued me enough to make my bucket list of places I wanted to see. On the cover is a popular statue, Bird Girl, in an old cemetery just outside of Savannah called Bonaventure. The statue was originally made in 1936 using an 8-year-old girl as the model, and was meant to be a bird feeder. Four statues were cast from the original, which ended up in four states with one purchased by a family in Savannah who put it in the family plot in Bonaventure. The statue has since been moved to a local museum due to its popularity from the book. I am not one for visiting graveyards, but this one was intriguing. It is on 100 acres with lanes of trees crisscrossing through the cemetery and framing up the statuary. It is a worth the trip for any photographer.


We enjoyed our week in Savannah, and nearby Hilton Head. While there is a lot of history in this little town, we honestly just enjoyed the endless places to walk, or hike around. The streets are tree-lined and full of Spanish moss hanging down. The main park, Forsyth Park, is gorgeous with a cast iron fountain in the center. We met a local man who was out walking his dog who showed us a picture on his phone from 4 weeks ago when they have a quick drop in temp and the fountain completely froze over. They can't turn the water off as the cast iron would crack so the fountain froze with the water looking as though it stopped just shy of bubbling over. We spent one morning down along the old river walk and found a local favorite for pralines called River Street Sweets. I don't think I've ever had one before, and boy are they good.


The neighborhoods are full of Georgian style houses that are gorgeous to check out. And in one little neighborhood we found our favorite restaurant, The Crystal Beer Parlor, which is an old speakeasy. You wouldn't know from the outside that it was a large pub on the inside, but I suppose that was the point. Our second favorite restaurant we found out on Hilton Head called Scott's Fish Market, which had delicious fresh seafood. I think if I tallied the rest of the family The Distillery would come in third.


Savannah seems to have it all. There are also some wonderful beaches. In the city you can head to Tybee Island which is about a 20 minute drive. The beach has a long boardwalk out over the water (which is how I took this picture from this angle). Or for a bit more upscale experience try Hilton Head which is about a 40 minute drive. The sand is soft and there is an abundance of shells for those who love a little shelling. We brought home several bags, so I'm hoping to do a little beading with some of those. Finally, I think my personal favorite was a walk around Pinckney Island just off Hilton Head which is a wildlife refuge. There were marshes in every direction full of tiny mud crabs, local oysters and muscles. But even more amazing were all the birds. I lost count on how many types there were. There was a gorgeous great blue herring just standing there looking at us. Unfortunately (for me) the picture is on my husband's camera, so I'll have to come back later to show you all that one. But I'll leave you with a quick video of bird chatter we heard out on the island. Blogger wouldn't load this one, so just click over to my Facebook page.

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy