Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Oranges of Summer

I love this carnelian orange color. It reminds me of those deep colors of late summer and fall. I guess some would call this 'burnt' orange, or even tangerine which is what ZnetShows calls these tube beads of sea glass.

The thing about color (at least for me) is all in how you pair it. Sometimes you need to give a vibrant color a little breathing room. So when I paired it with some hematite and gun metal colored crystals I noticed that it seemed to deepen the orange color and create a very rich combination. Where black might have been striking, the grey was rich. It does really pop paired with Kate's pale blue boho dress.

This is the last multi-strand necklace that I created for this summer design series. All of these necklaces were the same pattern, but I changed up the colors and textures between ribbon, leather and beaded accents. Funny how just a small adjustment can seemingly create a whole new look.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Water Dance

Of all the piece I made for this series I believe these earrings are my favorite. I have had these silver twist connectors for years, but have never been able to find the right use for them. But for some reason when I saw these gorgeous little crystals in a color called 'lake blue' I knew exactly what I was going to do! I could just see them set as clusters drops for these earrings. 

They are perfect, long and dangling earrings for summer that are feather-light to wear. They like to twist in the wind. And when the light catches them they sparkle like the sun dancing across the water. 

I made two pair of these which are both featured in the recent version of Spark Magazine. The other pair have single crystal drops vs. these that are in clusters. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Along the Saugatuck

Saugatuck River at Westport, CT
Kate and I have been working our way through photographing my growing pile of jewelry. We took a stroll down by the Saugatuck River near the downtown area of our little New England town. There is a wonderful wooden walk way that runs out into the tall grass that grows in the upper marshes of the river. 

It was a gorgeous day, and perfect to get our photography started. I still have quite a lot to photograph, but at least we're putting a dent in it!

This photo of Kate features a piece I've already shown on the blog back in April. It's a simple long, boho necklace with a bit of leather fringe. I do so love fringe in jewelry.

Through the winter I was trying to get my mojo back and started out slowly with some classic beading stitches that just felt good in my hands. I had swatches of beaded patterns all over the place with no clasps or closure. Yes, you can read closure anyway you like here. But sometime in the late spring my mojo sheepishly arrived and I started completing one piece after another. The simplicity of the patterns and closure to the project felt good. 

But my blogging muse was still on vacation somewhere North of the border. As you can see I've got posts stacked up and rolling out at this point. Perhaps my blogging partner has also decided to arrive; even if a bit late to the party.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Matching Earrings

Sometimes you just need to do the matching set. Although I am a believer in not wearing it all at once. It can seem like over kill, and as one of my friends likes to say it is too 'matchy-matchy.' I tend to agree.

That said, this pair is a matching set. It is that same yellow sea glass and sand colored Chinese crystals I used in the previous post. These are hoops with some serious fringe ---that swings. Not sure why exactly, but I have been in to fringe earrings lately. Can you ever get too much fringe? I think not.

Another set of photos with Kate, but this time lounging in the yard in my husband's favorite Adirondack chair. He walked out in the middle of this session grumbling that we'd stolen his chair. 

.... that would be the look on Kate's face wondering if she was about to be kicked out. And the smile when she heard me say you'll have to find another chair since we were in the middle of the photo shoot and I had earrings, bracelets, scarves, necklaces, camera lenses ... strung out carefully placed all over the yard. Last thing I needed was him to step in the middle of my work! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Beach Boho

So, this is the second in a series of multi-strand necklaces I've created with Sea Glass from ZnetShows. This one uses some beautiful silk to tie at the neck by Marsha Neal. I love the combo of necklace and Kate's cute baby-doll dress. Hard to believe just how grown up she is these days.

My daughter Kate has been doing quite a bit of modeling for me lately. And I have to admit that I am so enjoying spending the time with her. I don't have a lot of time left as she'll be off to college come August. I am feeling so nostalgic about her leaving, and it probably doesn't help that we've been cleaning out her bedroom and we're finding all kinds of things from when she was younger. It seems like yesterday that she was still small enough to crawl up in my lap and snuggle. So many sweet memories.

Summer Design Series: Yellow Sea Glass

NOTE: for some reason I deleted this post and lost all my comments. Thank you to everyone who did stop by and leave me a comment!

Recently Hope sent out a call for designers to work with some ZnetShows beads. As always, there were some great choices of Cultured Sea Glass. But there was also an amazing choice of Chinese crystal beads. I'm not normally one for crystals, but these caught my eye. And once I opened the package from Hope it was love at first sight. These have a deeper texture to the colors than your typical Swarovski. I much prefer this colorway.

I created a series of these clustered, double strand necklaces for this round of designs. I have two others but I thought I'd start with this yellow one. It uses beautiful honey colored sea glass with the Chinese crystals (in a sand color). I wanted to keep the tone light and so added a blond leather. The result is a beach-boho look for summer.

I have a whole series of photos for these designs as I think it makes such a difference sometimes to see them modeled. So check back this week to see my other designs modeled by my daughter Kate. You can also see them featured in the magazine here. Bonus, Hope surprised me with featuring this necklace on the cover!

Thank you all for your comments (I didn't want to lose them):
Karin: What a perfect combination of colors and materials, I love multi strand necklaces and this one has a lot of softness to it.
Duni: That's gorgeous!! Such a unique design and congrats on the feature :)
Linda: What a beautiful design and beautiful model. Love the monotone color scheme in this piece. Great job. Congrats on the cover. This piece is definitely a summer winner.
JoJo: Beautifully done!!!
Val: Oh I love it! The pale yellow is not a color we see to often in jewelry. It really makes it unique and so perfect for summer. It looks so pretty on Kate!
Patti: That magazine was certainly a feast for the eyes! I can count on one hand the times I have used yellow ...but this necklace is so soft know?! Gorgeous! Love EVERY piece that you contributed!
Susan: very pretty and looks just right for a Summer party. I really like how you paired the crystals with the honey colored leather.
Margaret: fabulous design! Kate makes a lovely model!
Alice: I love the yellow beads. Just right for summer that blond leather is just the thing to finish the necklace.
Keith: it's absolutely beautiful :)
Stacy: Gorgeous!!! Unique and beautiful! I love your creations! Congrats on the magazine!!! Big Hugs! 
Claudia: Lovely yellow color, perfect for summer!
Amy: It was a perfect choice for the cover!!!! Bravo! Love your work in this recent issue of Creative Spark!
Edi: The yellow is such a pretty color and looks great on Kate :) Congrats on the cover feature!
Sharla: So pretty! Clever use of the sea glass! Congrats on the front page too!
Marcela: Beautiful necklace!!! Nice photo!!! Have a nice day!!!:))) Besos, Marcela

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Currency of Beads

Beads are a medium to create and express yourself. At least I see them that way. 

I am often asked why I don't wear much of the jewelry I create. I'm not sure exactly, but I can say that when I bead it is more like creating art then designing for fashion. I suppose that makes sense given my love of understanding the history and culture of specific styles and patterns. 

While Native American beadwork dates back to prehistoric times, these early beads were crafted by hand with crude tools and tended to be large. The beads themselves were crafted from bone, quills, shells and stones. It wasn't until Europeans began traveling the Americas that the use of 'seed beads' in Native American designs appeared. Most explorers, traders and missionaries carried glass beads with them to use as gifts or barter with native people. Thus, beads became a local currency.

One story alleges that the 'sale' of Manhattan to the Dutch colonists (c. 1620) was for $24 worth of beads. Most likely the Native Americans thought that the newcomers were giving them a gift, not buying the land with their strings of beads. It is likely a cultural misunderstanding that Native Americans did not have a sense of 'owning' the land. They were a nomadic society. So the notion of selling land would be a large misconception of European settlers. 

Before the Europeans brought seed beads, the Native Americans were using shell beads. You can see their value and significance as archaeological findings will trace shell beads thousands of miles from seacoasts, which indicate trade routes among the ancient peoples. As seed beads were introduced they appeared through a network of trading posts but quickly spread through an exchange network among Native American tribes.

Beads became a popular trading item as they were light weight to carry along the trading routes; particularly through the northern woodlands area where treks were on foot with backpacks through the forest trails. Two types of trade beads were popular: large ceramic 'pony' beads (a quarter to half inch in size with a large hole to use as a focal) whose name comes from decorating pony reins and other horse gear. The other popular trade bead would be the tiny seed beads which supplanted the more difficult, time-consuming porcupine quill work.

The beads themselves came from Bohemia (Czech Republic) and Italy. Probably starting in Venice Italy where there was a flourishing industry dating back to the 14th Century. For centuries the Italians kept production techniques a secret, which gave them a monopoly over the production of glass beads. The beads were valuable and used as currency by European traders through West Africa to buy gold, ivory, palm oil and slaves. This is where the term 'Trade Beads' originates. 

Today the distinct tribal patterns blend into a more modern use of beads. Marcus Amerman is one of the most celebrated bead artists today with his work deeply steeped in his Choctaw roots. Born in Phoenix, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He has created a movement of highly realistic beaded portraits. He is an example that history can influence art, but take on a modern variation. I like the way he rolls. My beaded earrings here are of no specific pattern, but clearly have that Native American feel to them. I have been wanting to try this style and I've been playing with colors and bead types. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mojo :: On Vacation

I know a lot of us out there in beadland have been suffering from a loss of mojo. Not exactly sure where it went but there appears to be a large group of mojo off on vacation touring somewhere without us.

I've started beading again. It comes in bursts with gullies of nothingness in between. At least it is a start. 

I decided that if I could just weave some patterns my hands know perhaps I could find some rhythm again. The funny thing is that the first stitch I turned to was herringbone. I can hear Christine giggling as I say this. It is so unlike me as it usually is my least favorite. Perhaps an unconscious sabotage attempt? Luckily it didn't stop me, and I moved on to other stitches. 

The piece here is a chenille rope with soft creams and copper. I wanted to highlight the jasper focal with similar flecks of colors. I do love the earthiness of the stone and the inclusions are always my favorite. They make the pattern interesting, just like the bits and pieces in life. Life would be dull indeed if everything were simply smooth. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

When Worlds Collide :: Queen Victoria

In the center of Nassau you'll find the old and the new worlds coming together. Rawson Square features a new beginning with a bronze of Sir Milo Butler who was the first governor-general for an independent Bahamas. And on the other side of the street is Parliament Square with Queen Victoria representing a colonial past.

The commercial port of Nassau was established around 1670. It was overrun for more than a century by lawless, seafaring men, and it was twice destroyed by both Spanish the French. The port also saw its share of pirates who would loot the heavily laden cargo ships. So by the early 1790s, the British decided they'd had enough and built several fortresses to restore order and protect the island from invaders. Fincastle was built on top of Bennet Hill and has two 24-pound cannons, two 32-pound, two 12-pound and a Howitzer. The fort never fired once even with all this firepower. 

Toward the end of colonial rule (late 1700s) local African slaves carved a gorge, more than 100 feet deep into a solid limestone hillside with pickaxes. At the far end of this passage they included a staircase of 66 steps to provide a shorter route to Fort Fincastlethe highest point on the island. The task took 600 slaves 16 years to complete. The Queen's Staircase were named decades later (1837) when Queen Victoria signed a declaration to abolish slavery on her ascension to the throne. Later, the staircase was modified to 64 steps, each representing a year of Queen Victoria's reign. 

It is a short 10 minute walk up from the port to the staircase where a wall of vines and overhanging brush offer a cool oasis on a hot day. Climb the stairs and you arrive at Fort Fincastle where you will get a stunning 360 view around the island and a birds' eye perspective of the enormous cruise ships coming and going in the port. You'll see the hoards of tourists scuttling off the ships to the straw market or one of the touristy bars, but very few venture beyond the couple of streets that surround the port. A shame because there is so much more to see on the island.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day :: Clifton Heritage Park

Sacred Space Sculpture Garden
One of the most interesting places we visited while in the Bahamas was Clifton Heritage Park on the Western tip of the island of New Providence where slaves were brought ashore. A place where European ships dock after a grueling Middle Passage sail across the Atlantic with human cargo in their hulls. It is the Bahamas first national park that protects and preserves a deep history of slavery. Not to celebrate it, but to learn and remember those that lived their entire lives on this plantation. While exact counts vary, it is estimated that 11 to 15 million Africans were kidnapped from their homes and forced into slavery during the 16th - 19th centuries.

Slave home ruins
There is a sculpture garden by Antonius Roberts that he calls Sacred Space with African figures carved from driftwood. It is a tribute to the first wave of those who came ashore here. The figures face to the East, in the direction of Africa. The area is remote, but not far outside of Nassau. No public transportation extends this far, but it is easy to hire a car for a short 15 minute drive out to the park. 

The plantation at one point was owned by William Wylly, the Attorney General of the Bahamas. He is said to be one of the more benevolent slave owners, if that is a term you'd use to talk about slavery? He would encourage his slaves to marry and when they did he'd build them their own home. You can see the remains of these homes in the slave village ruins. He also employed a plantation overseer that was of African origin, who also happened to be the local pastor of the church that served the African community.

Coral reef underwater sculpture garden overlook
The beauty of the beaches around the point has made it a popular place to visit. But it also attracted developers who wanted to exclude the public and build a gated community. Bahamians protested to preserve the area as a park with historical significance and what they call a 'cultural treasure' to the local people.

We spent the day hiking around the plantation and snorkeling in the cove where there are sunken statues. Since I have no idea how to do underwater photography I'll give you a link so you can see what is under the surface. The fish were amazing and everywhere. It is a stunning location with panoramic views of the ocean along the cliffs.

Cotton growing wild
The Bahamas is associated with 'Loyalists' who fled the US following the Revolutionary War. They moved to the Bahamas to continue the production of cotton which was in decline due to boll weevil infestations, and a series of devastating hurricanes. Within 20 years, the economy collapsed and many of the landowners abandoned their plantations and returned to England. The slaves were left to fend for themselves.

The British emancipated slavery in 1834 throughout the Empire. At this point the Bahamians were "free to establish their lives according to their own beliefs and in pursuit of their individual happiness." The British establish an apprenticeship program through August of 1838 where they were required by law to teach their former slaves the needed skills to work and provide for themselves. One thing I found fascinating is that the US abolishment of slavery came some 31 years later. What took so long? Too bad the American's didn't take a page out of Bahamian history and not only abolish it earlier, but help to usher them in to a life of freedom.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Fallen Sky Stone

The Navajo believed that turquoise was a piece of the sky that had fallen to the earth and called it Fallen Sky Stone. It was believed to be a great healing stone. I could use some healing powers this weekend.

The memorial for our friend was on Friday, and there were many tears shed by the people who loved him. From the friends, family and his children who he leaves behind. I wish he could have been there to see how much he was loved.

The weather at the moment looks as I feel. Cold, rainy and grey. Usually I enjoy the rain. It is that Pacific Northwest in me that needs the rain to refresh. It makes me want to sit by the fire and go deep into my own thoughts. I believe that is where I am this weekend. 

The Native American legend celebrates the relief felt when the rains came. Water was the symbol of life.  When the rain began the people would dance and rejoice with tears streaming down their faces. The rain and their tears would mix and seep into Mother Earth to become Sky Stone. A beautiful way to symbolize the cycle of life. There are just moments along the journey that are more difficult than others. And so I may walk in the rain today just to feel it on my face.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lanie's Heart

Nothing I like better than to make jewelry for a friend. Especially someone who appreciates handmade. 

This piece was made for a friend that enjoys hearts. But as she's grown up her style has changed a bit. She's wearing more leather, and more sophisticated things. So I decided that I'd have to up my game a bit if I was going to design a piece for her birthday this year.

I saw a vintage Czech glass button that I really liked and decided that if I cut the back off I could turn it into a cabochon focal necklace. The Bead Girl says she thinks this has a bit of a steampunk look to it. Perhaps. I just like its old world feel to it. I'm hoping that it looks great with her leather jacket and that she enjoys wearing it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem.

Posted on Instagram by another friend from work
This is not my normal type of post, but I feel compelled to write about suicide. A horrible event to all involved. There is no doubt that a person who decides to end their life is at a point where this seems like the only way out of the pain. But the people left behind in that wake of pain is deep. 

I have known several people in my life who have attempted suicide, and luckily they were unsuccessful. And today they live very happy lives. Suicide would have been a permanent solution to a temporary problem in their lives. One of these people is one of my closest friends. She is married to a wonderful man and has two teenage boys who would not be with us today if she had been successful all those years ago.

This winter there were several teen suicides locally where I live. Two were related to competitive grades at school. These two jumped in front of trains. A third was in the school where my oldest daughter attends and was due to bullying. It is so tragic to see young lives ended because they don't have the experience to know that today's pain is a moment in time and that if anything is for certain; life will continue to change. If only they had lived another day understand that.

Recently, a friend from work committed suicide. I was shocked. She was so full of curiosity for life; constantly pushing herself to explore and understand. But a car accident brought pain into her life, and ultimately she took her life. With a gun that should never had been sold to her. This is Kate pictured here a few months before she died.

Yesterday we found out that one of my husband's best friends has taken his life. In the last few years he had been through a rough divorce, but he made it through and it seemed as though he'd found peace with his ex-wife. He has three teenage sons he leaves behind who now have to figure out how to live life without their father. Somehow suicide later in life seems even more difficult to comprehend. My husband has known him since college. We've been with him before he met his wife, after he met his wife, during the births of his sons, after his marriage ended. He knew both how amazing life is and how painful it can be. And that if anything is for certain that tomorrow brings another day. Why he would choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem is hard to understand. The wake of pain he leaves to all that cared about him is deep. I always wonder if the person who commits suicide could just see how much they were loved if it would change their mind. And if that would encourage them to live another day.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring Thaw

Spring is in full swing at this point. My hubby's favorite flowers (iris) are just starting to bloom, and my favorite flowers (peonies) are up and will bloom shortly. 

I've been working on a pattern called Spring Thaw created by Christine of OneKissCreations that I seem to be slightly obsessed with at the moment. I've made three of these back to back for some reason. I sit down and bead it start to finish in an evening. 

They really do feel lovely around the wrist, and so I'm trying to decide if I will 'love it, or list it' (for those of you who enjoy the HGTV show!). While I decide, I think I'll put it on and head out to the garden and snap pictures of the flowers. If you follow me on instagram you'll find them over there.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hathor :: Goddess of Motherhood

After my post yesterday you all are likely wondering how I could possibly have more to say on the topic of turquoise? There is more, lots more. But I'll try to keep it short today and show you a turquoise cuff edged in leather. I think it has a sort of old world basket weave feel.

Since yesterday was Mother's Day, I decided to highlight Hathor the Egyptian goddess of motherhood including feminine love and the principles of joy. She seems to have covered a lot of topics (like most moms) as she was also the goddess of music, dance and foreign lands. I don't know about you, but my daughter's room seems to classify as a foreign land most days with an abundance of ancient artifacts under the bed, severe 'off roading' to get to her closet and a look of 'lost in translation' when I ask her to pick up. Just call me Hathor, goddess of teenage girls.

So what's Hathor got to do with Turquoise? Well, funny you should ask. She also appears to be the patron goddess of miners. Yep, that's right. She really had a full plate this one. And so she also picked up names like "Lady of Turquoise" and "Mistriss of Turquoise." This goddess was a real multi-tasker, but then I suppose motherhood includes a lot of juggling, some feminine love and occasionally principles of joy ... most days.  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ancient Stones :: Turquoise

One of my favorite stones of all time has to be turquoise. The veining in it is like a heartbeat frozen in time. I love the idea that this stone has been held in the hands of so many people and cultures through the ages. Mined, carved and adorned. It is a rock of rugged beauty.

It is rare to find stones naturally colored blue, and likely even more rare in ancient times without 'man-made,' synthetic stones. From across the globe people have treasured its blue color thought to represent the heavens to the ancient Persian, fertility, good luck and protection against evil to the Egyptians. 

In the Americas it had great healing powers and brought prosperity. Which is why the Aztecs offered it to the Gods and the Anasazi (known as the "Ancient Ones" and the ancestors of the modern Pueblo) used the stone to treat the sick. They believed it could prevent accidental injury, prevent blindness or ease stomach pains. The shaman would grind the stone and have the person ingest it to heal the stomach. Truly, turquoise has such a storied history.  

Persia (Iran) is known for the purity of its turquoise. Some describe a bright blue turquoise as "Persian blue" based on the prized high quality of stone. 

I actually prefer the American version of this stone. Full of inclusions, deposits and other minerals like iron which can infuse a green hue to the stone, or copper which gives it a blue color. Deposits from its host stone show up like a spiderweb of brown or black that stone cutters refer to as its matrix. Green turquoise and heavy matrix are less valuable, but I love to see the patterns in the stone. Today, the American Southwest produces some of the world's best turquoise, with Arizona and Nevada supporting more than 120 active mines. People who know turquoise can often tell which specific mine the stone came from, such as the Sleeping Beauty Mine which is known for its light blue turquoise without matrix. It is some of the most sought after (and most expensive) turquoise in the world.

My design is influence by the Mayan calendar which is comprised of two interlocking calendars working simultaneously: the Haab (civil) and the Tzolkin (sacred). The calendars work like a continuous churn of gears in a machine, and represent life as one eternal cycle. While the Mayans did predict centuries into the future, they did not see an end. That's the funny thing with the western interpretation that the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world. That would have been a foreign concept to them. The turquoise in my design is actually a flaw as the Mayan did not allow anyone to wear it and reserved it as an offering to the gods. I just liked how the copper focal brought out the veining in the turquoise. C'est la vie. Sometimes the flaws in life are more interesting.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bahamian Flowers

Elder Flower
The Bahamas was in full bloom when we were there last week. Lots of flowering bushes, trees and vines like the colorful leaves of Bougainvillea. 

I think what surprised me most was that I was expecting the Bahamas to be more year-round tropical temperatures. But apparently temps do vary quite a bit and even dip into the 40s (or so our cab driver told us), but we had beautiful 70 degree weather all week.

We had arrived just as so many trees were blooming, one of which is the national flower called the Elder Flower. It looks like clusters of yellow trumpets. The flower has a number of medicinal uses ranging from digestion to high blood pressure or even catnip. I was surprised to learn that honey produced from these flowers can actually be poisonous to humans, and there must be quite a lot of it since the bees were very attracted to it. Perhaps think twice about buying Bahamian Honey!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Working with Leather

I see a lot of tassel necklaces and I've been wanting to design with that in mind. So when I came across a brown leather tassel at a near by bead shop I heard it calling to me.

But I have been trying to use up my stash since I appear to have enough beads already to open my own shop. Shhhhh ... please don't tell my husband I said that. He'll put another ban on my bead shopping!

Ok, so brown. I wanted the beads to be the supporting cast, not over power the tassel as the focal. So I grabbed cream colored carnelian. Yes, those are carnelian. It isn't what you normally think of with its deep orange color, but if you look at the natural stone you'll see that indeed there are parts of it that are a cream color. 

Next I went hunting for brass beads in my stash. I guess I don't have a lot of those, but I did manage to find a set of Asian bar beads. I included small brass beads from India, which were the last of my stash on those. A bit of leather for the back strap and there you have it. A long tassel necklace that will look great with sandals and a flowing top. Who else is ready for summer?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Caribbean Blue :: Larimar

This year the hubby was determined to plan several escapes from the winter given how brutal winter was last year. And while it was much more mild this year, it has been nice to get some sun early in the season. 

The second trip he planned was the Bahamas, and while I've been here before a few times, they were quick single day excursions from a ship. It is much different to stay locally just off the beach. Our place has its own pool and a quick walk up to shops, restaurants and local beaches. It is the perfect place to simply relax. 

One thing that always strikes me about the Caribbean is the color of the water. It is just so blue. And when I recently saw this stone I just could not resist as it looks like the color of the water and seems to have the pattern of surf in it. The stone is called Larimar. 

A bit of quick research revealed that it is a stone found only in the Caribbean, specifically the Dominican Republic. It was named after the daughter of the man who rediscovered it in 1974, Miguel Mendez. He combined his daughter's name (Larissa) with the Spanish word for sea (mar) to create the name. The Dominican Republic's Ministry of Mining show records that in 1916 Father Miguel Domingo Fuetes Loren asked for permission to mine for a certain blue rock he had discovered, but he was denied. Years later Miguel Mendez, a Peace Corps volunteer, rediscovered the stone walking along a local beach.

The stone is formed from a crystallization of blue pectolite when it is pushed into the 'tubes' or 'chimneys' of a volcano by the hot gases. Today there are networks of mines left behind from crews who have had to excavate deeper and deeper into the old volcanoes.

It really is a striking stone, and I didn't want to over complicate the setting. So I decided to stay with the blue theme and used a thick blue leather cord and set the focal with silver. I kept it short as a simple choker with a magnetic closure in back. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bead Lessons :: Zig Zag Stitch

This necklace came together in pieces, and it all began with a beading lesson from my friend Christine. Each time we get together we try to share a technique with the other so that we're both learning something new. I do so love these little lessons.

I had seen a stitch over on her blog that I just had to try where she'd used a new variation on zig zag stitch using peanut beads. It creates amazing depth to this beaded chain (click on the link to see the beautiful piece she created). I picked out some metallic colors and got to work. I really just wanted to bead this new stitch to feel the rhythm of the pattern in my hands. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, and tucked it away. 

Once I was back home it sat on the bead table for some time, like so many other stalled projects. But then I pulled out a focal bead that Christine had gifted me from that last trip to Fishkill in the shape of a scarab. I added a semicircle of braided leather to complete the necklace and it all came together. I love the symbolism of the scarab as amulet in Egyptian history. It is said to bring protection to the wearer. I turned the bead into a simple cab to attach to the leather, connected the beaded back strap, and voila. Another Christine-inspired design! 

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