Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Thaw

I don't know about the rest of you, but this spring weather is long over due! I don't even care that my allergies are about to hit me hard. I just need some warmth already.

I recently met up with Christine, and as we usually do; we beaded, swapped ideas and perhaps sipped a bit of wine. Gotta be careful on the wine front so there aren't any 'bead injuries' with all those needles. Lord knows how many times through the years I've stabbed myself with a needle or accidentally hammered a finger. So we were careful. I only stabbed myself a few times.

Christine showed me several new patterns. That woman can bead! And she is always coming up with amazing bead weaving ideas. One of the patterns she shared is called Spring Thaw. So appropriate don't you think?

The base stitch is herringbone with a twist using bugles (yes bugles with twists of course). Typically Christine uses bugles on either side of her center anchor (you can see it here). I decided that since my bugles were on the longish side that I'd do only one side. I kind of like its off-kilter look. It's a bit like me, and suits me just fine. Thanks for the bead lesson my friend. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stones: Connemara Marble

Over Christmas we took a trip to Ireland. I posted some pictures a few blog posts back (Doors of Dublin, Castles and Gathering Moss). I promised I'd be back with a design that was Ireland inspired. And so I am. This piece uses a focal stone called Connemara MarbleIt is said to have 40 shades of green in it's wild pattern which perfectly represents the landscapes of the Emerald Isle. 

If any of you follow Karen over at Backstory Beads you will have seen her stunning design with this same focal I shared with her. It was amazingly designed and can be worn as a necklace or a pin. Seriously, it is very cool and you should click on over to her post. Liz from Bead Contagion also has one of these stones, so there is still one more stone to share with you all from Liz that will no doubt be a completely inspired design.

When I saw Karen's design I giggled to myself because I was half way done with my piece when she posted her's and I noticed that we had both looked at this stone and thought it needs fiber and knotted beads. Could not agree with you more Karen! Karen even went so far to include some beautiful macrame for her closure using a Sherri Stokey's technique.

I actually used a technique I saw in Erin and Lorelei's Bohemian Inspired Jewelry book (I never get tired of this book and come back to it again and again for inspiration). The knotting around the stone is called a lark's head knot. I included moss agate rounds to bring out all the shades of green in the focal. I added my own wire wrapped chain and then finished up with a bit of extra chain to make this a rather long necklace that slides over your head without a need for a closure.

Ok, and now for the history behind the stone. You know I can't resist a bit of that. Connemara Marble is over 900 million years old and is unique to Ireland. The name is tribal from Conmacne, a tribe with many branches from all over the Connacht region of Ireland which today is called Galway County. One branch of the tribe that lived on the Western coast was called the Conmacne Mara with mara meaning 'of the sea' in Gaelic.

The stone itself is a serpentine-rich rock, which has been used and traded since Neolithic period. Yeah, that's pretty old I'd say. During our trip we saw old ring forts that were from 6,000 years ago and weather-beaten stone huts that housed the people living along this wind-whipped part of the world. The rugged beauty is stunning as is their rich history. Absolutely a place worth visiting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CC7A :: Contrasting Color Palettes

This month's Creative Continuum of 7 Artists challenge is designing with a bead soup sent out by Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime. Her challenge was to pull contrasting colors together, and for me it is always a challenge. 

You can see my first piece is not all that contrasting in its browns, tans, creams and Native flair. But I liked how the focal came together and blended with the zig zag chain that I didn't have the heart to pull it apart. I did make my own copper toggle with a bit of fringe that you can pull forward for a little extra. So there you go, my 'non-contrasting' piece.

I pushed myself on the second project, and I did a bit better. I pulled in deep cherry color crystals that I paired with celery green duo beads. Absolutely not something I would have ever put together on my own, but that is what the challenge is about! I decided on a focal flower center to a bracelet and went through my stash to create the band. Clearly this green is one of my favorite colors as I had plenty to play with to finish up the piece. It was a fun pattern to play with that I let come together organically, which is not perfect but then what flower doesn't have a bit of imperfection to it?

Now to see what the rest of the artists did with their beads from Sally: Alicia (our host), ChristineEmmaMoniqueSally and Therese.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stones: Dalmatian Jasper

Wrapping up my week of stones with one last Jasper. Yes, I have more, but I figure you guys have all seen enough of my stones for one week. 

So we end the week with Dalmatian Jasper; a stone name for a dog. A noble cause. In my opinion, dogs are the best.

Ok, so on to the earrings. We've got one more jasper stone mined in Chihuahua, Mexico. It is fun and festive, at least I think so. I did 2 versions, one with polished onyx, one with matte. A little silver to give it some sparkle. Certainly worthy of a night out on the town.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stones: Amazonite

I do have more jasper, but I thought I'd take a break today and show you a feldspar called Amazonite

Of all the minerals out there, feldspar is the most common. In fact it is 60% of the earth's crust. But despite its abundance, there are only a few varieties considered to be of gemstone quality. The name feldspar is a German word, which loosely translates as 'a rock that does contain ore.' And 'spar' is a generic term used by geologist to refer to any non-metallic mineral with a glassy luster that breaks on distinct planes. (Johan Gottschalk Wallerius officially named it in 1747).

You can see the breaks in the stone that add so much character to the patterns in the stone. It was named after the South American river, which partially flows through Brazil. And it is believe that it was originally found there, but mineralogists have argued that there are no green deposits of feldspar that exist in Brazil's Amazon region. As a result the stones were later assumed to be nephrite jade. Actual Amazonite is found only in a few places around the world. For a long time it was thought they could only be found in Russia's Ilmen Mountains and Madagascar. That is until recently, as it has been found in Colorado, Virginia, Australia and yes, Brazil.

Today I'm showing you 2 versions of the stone. One that is mostly the pale green color of the stone with streaks of copper running through it. They are paired with the same color Amazonite rondelles and copper. The second pair has a more grainy color in it so I paired them with a darker color of Amazonite rondelles. I do really love how the copper brings out the patterns in this stone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stones: Sonora Sunrise Jasper

My friend Christine noticed in yesterday's post that there is a bit of a theme running through these stone earrings. The style of the earring is the same, but the stones have been switched up. 

Today I'm showing you my favorite one so far .... a green jasper called Sonora Sunrise, mined in Mexico. It is a relatively new-to-the-show stone (the Gem show in Tucson that is). It has deposits of Chrysocolla and red Cuprite with perhaps some Tenorite in it. I am in love with the deep green in this jasper, with the tiniest wisps of red. I used rough cut garnet rondelles in this pair to pull out that red, and switched up the wire to include copper instead of silver. There are still more to show you! So, stop back by to see me again this week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stones: Wild Horse Jasper

I see quite a few of you are as excited about jasper as I am. There really is such a range! This pair I'm showing today was a variety I had never heard of until last summer. I don't know about you guys, but just the name alone (Wild Horse Jasper) makes me think of horses running through the fields.

But when you look at the colors in the raw stone, not to mention the flow of its patterns, it brings images of cave paintings. At least to me. I know, I know, I've been told I have a crazy imagination. Of course I couldn't help but look it up (a quick google search got me lots of cave horses!) and found the perfect example from caves in Lascaux, France. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac in Southwestern France which is famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings.

And then while I was looking at the name origins I noticed it also seemed to be French, or Old French (jaspre) meaning spotted or speckled stone. Hmm, wondering what the French Connection is here? Regardless, really loving this new discovery for me. I paired my Wild Horse Jasper with matte onyx rondelles and use a Southwestern silver earwire. You knew it had to be Southwestern with all those wild horses didn't you?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stones: Laguna Lace Jasper

Jasper has a wide and wild variety of patterns, and has been valued as far back as the ancient world. It's mentioned in writings in multiple languages: Arabic, Latin, Persian, Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian. 

One of my favorite jaspers is the picture variety which will have banding formed by the flow and deposit of water and wind. The stones can have stunning patterns appearing to be scenes or images. 

The stones I'm showing here are a soft lace jasper with white and grey bands called Laguna Lace which is known for it's tight banding. It is mined on several sites in the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico.  They paired perfectly with some hematite rondelles and a Southwestern, silver post earring.

While these stones are mined all over the world, the Mexican varieties are really most striking. A common type of lace jasper is Mexican Crazy Lace which is know by it's deep red and mustard colors. This week I'm showing a collection of earrings all made from various stones, most are jaspers, with one a feldspar. But that's all I'm telling you! You'll have to stop back by to see them all.

Friday, February 28, 2014

She Made :: She Made

I'm so excited that Therese asked 6 of us to join her in the She Made : She Made Challenge this month. Usually this is a one-on-one between Therese and Christine. But Therese generously invited a few of us to join, and sent out a focal to work with.

I loved this piece from the moment I saw it; created by Susan Clayton, a sculptor in Tallapoosa GA.  Susan says about her work "each little soulful character has an important story to tell, and I hope other people can look at them and find some connection." Therese was at an arts festival in Tuscaloosa when she came across Susan's booth, and walked away with a handful of these beautiful face focals.  

I knew I was going to bezel it, but I let this one develop as I beaded along. Once I had the bezel done I knew she was going to be a pin! I had to build up the back of it just a bit because it was rounded and I wanted to be able to attached a suede backing. And then a pin to the suede. She really came alive to me once I gave her some dark beautiful locks. She feels like an 'old soul' to me, with much knowledge to share. 

Thank you Therese for asking me to join this month! I loved this project. Here are the links to all the others joining the challenge: Therese, Christine, Tanya, Hope, Shirley and Bobbie

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CC7A :: Round & Round

We are posting on our second installment of Alicia's The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists (CC7A), and this time we are working with an item sent out from Christine

She sent me a beaded cage around a rock that she picked up at the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Mineral County, Colorado. I love the various rocks Christine shares. The textures of her rocks always seem to fill my head with patterns and ideas. She has such an eye for their shapes, sizes and surfaces... and this one has a sort of moonscape to it, or the look of a well worn surface. As I rolled the focal around in my hand I got an old world feel, like something that has been around for the ages. Such rocky awesomeness... I can see why she collects them!

I'm not sure why, but I knew the second I saw it what I was going to do with this focal. Once I got started with this piece, it came together quickly. The hatching pattern in the chenille, the opaque white of the beads with bits of gold, and the brassiness to the metals just made me think of Elizabethan style. Who knows why my mind wanders as it does .... but it was easy to find a picture to show you what was flying around in my head. Note the puffy sleeves, the hatching on the arms and the coloring of the outfit. Perhaps not the perfect match, but close enough! And to stick with Christine's theme of 'round and round' the choker is designed to give the focal a twist or two so the stringing will gently create a twisted pattern. Hazzah!

Now to see what the rest of the seven artist's created please visit: 
Alicia (our host), ChristineEmmaMoniqueSally and Therese.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Freeform Peyote :: The Color Red Challenge

Karen from Baublicious is hosting one of her freeform peyote challenges. I would never have known about this form of bead weaving without Karen's blog, and I most certainly would not have tried it without the amazing encouragement she offers.

I have come to really enjoy freeform beading. In fact, getting comfortable with freeform has done two surprising (at least to me) things for my bead weaving. First it got me to relax and not be so afraid of making every stitch absolutely perfect. This fear can sometimes paralyze you to a point where you spend more time ripping things out, or simply giving up instead of pushing through and practicing the stitch. The second thing it has taught me is to think more creatively about designing a piece. I was constantly looking for a specific pattern, and trying to 'color within the lines.' But I find that the more comfortable I have become with freeform, the more comfortable I am with branching out to try new stitches and designs. So for this, I thank you Karen!

Now, on to the current challenge at hand, which is to use red in one of our pieces. Karen says that it can be anything from a wash of red to a single drop. And, of course, the piece needs to include freeform peyote, but we can also include a mix of bead stitches or techniques.

I really wanted to use a beaded bezel as the focal to a bracelet and then freeform the band. I had this large evil eye bead in my stash that a friend gifted me. It's one of several that she brought back from Turkey for me. I do really love the meaning of these. She will tell you that it is a way to ward off evil, and deflect it back at the person who might wish you harm. When you walk into her house you'll see them hanging from the door handles, in the window ... she even put a few into the mortar of the tiles in her kitchen. The most common place to put them in Turkey is right over the door so that it will deflect evil from entering the house. 

I used my red in the focal, and a few more smaller accent beads .... then the rest is black for a little drama in the bracelet. I used predominately freeform peyote, but you'll see a little stringing in there and even a little bit of ladder around the closure. Isn't that closure cool? I picked this one up from Melinda Orr (her shop is Orrtec on Etsy). It is a magnetic belt buckle! I had a lot of fun with this challenge, and can't wait to see what everyone else created: Baublicious, Beadsong Jewelry, Saturday Sequins, Antiquity Travelers (that's me), All in Beads, A little of this a little of that

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Free Bird :: What's in a Song?

I found many meanings for the song with a wide range of interpretations from people. But most believe the song is about needing to move on because staying where you are is holding you back. The opening line "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?" was what Kathy (Allan Collins' girlfriend) said during a fight. He wrote it down and it ended up in this classic song. So its origins are literally about leaving someone, but its meaning seems to have grown into so much more. I love the symbol, and couldn't help but pick up a few charms and pendant to design with the iconic free bird.

The song originally started as an instrumental piece written by guitarist Collins. He had been playing around with the melody for about 2 years before Ronnie Van Zant wrote the lyrics to the song. Zant told Skynard that he thought it had too many chords to write lyrics for, but one night he asked Collins to play the melody again and after about 20 minutes the lyrics were flowing "If I leave here tomorrow ..."

The ballad was actually shorter at first (a mere 7 1/2 minutes) without any of the guitar solos at the end. And when they went to record it (1972) the band's record company didn't want to put the song on the album because they thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it. Boy were they wrong. The song is so well known, that even when Skynayrd stopped singing the words to the song in 1977 (after Zant died in a plane crash) the crowd would just sign out the lyrics anyway.

Now the song is a bit of an urban legend for concert goers to shout out "Free Bird" when they just want to hear the song because they don't like the music the band is playing. Every now and then the band will actually play the song. The lyrics are amazing, as is the the classic guitar riff. (From a 1976 concert)

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now, 'cause there's too many places I've got to see. But, if I stayed here with you, girl, things just couldn't be the same. 'Cause I'm as free as a bird now, and this bird you can not change. Though this feeling I can't change, but please don't take it so badly. 'Cause the Lord knows I'm to blame. And this bird you cannot change. Lord knows, I can't change.

Won't you fly high free bird?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wind Chimes :: The Winter Doldrums' Transport

A little while back I was shopping with a friend of mine, Melinda Orr, at Bead Fest. She picked up these great shell spikes and then later did some patina on them. I thought they were absolutely fabulous and wanted to give them a try. 

I bought a few myself last Fall. But I admit to having put them in a few projects, and then pulling them out. Only to be exasperated by trying to get them to work. They are not as easy as they look! I had them in a necklace but they are so light weight that they didn't have enough 'heft' to 'fringe' with. I know that sounds strange, but true. I was going for a boho, native look. But it was a 'no go' situation.

I decided they might work as earrings as they have nice length without the weight. Voila! The black beads are actually wood, so the whole thing is extraordinarily light, but have the look of stone. And because they are light they seem to swing and chime just a bit ... and if you like that sound (like a summer's day) it is kinda nice. I had them on yesterday in my studio and it was a great way to transport me out of the doldrums of winter.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cats in History

You never know where my mind will wander when left to ... well, wander. I was in a mood to create some cat earrings. And I decided to make 2 pair; one with a tortie look, the other a bit more glam. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I'm not totally sure what I want to create (just yet) I drag out all sorts of beads, findings, wire, string ... and play. Pairing things this way, and that way until something sticks. 

I'm not sure how I got to a place where I used hemp twine for these tortie earrings, but the black just sort of spoke to me, and once I finished I thought they almost had an Egyptian look to them. The mix of black, gold and warm brown I guess took me there. I decided to make a second pair of cats, but this time all white with a tiny labradorite round at the top. I'm not showing it here, but there is also a bit of a curl to the tail in back. These two cats remind me of another pair of cats I know named Isabella and Angel. You can see the real ones over on the Beaded Tail blog.

I decided to see what role cats played in Ancient Egypt, and found that they were first domesticated from wildcats 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. That is thousands of years before the rise of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Cats were praised for controlling the local vermin, you know like cobras snaking around outside. Egyptians loved their cats and took them to the afterlife; having them mummified along with them. There were deities of cats, one of the well known one called Bastet was known as the keeper of hearth and home, the protector of women's secrets, guardian against evil spirits and disease. Cats were sacred, and protected. The penalty for killing a cat in Ancient Egypt was death, and in households where a cat died people shaved their eyebrows as a sign of deep mourning which lasted until their eyebrows had grown back. What an interesting and strange thing to do?!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

CC7A :: National Gallery of Canada

Just before Christmas Alicia of All the Pretty Things asked a group of us if we'd be interested in coming together to share beads and create as a team: The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists (CC7A).

First up in our group of seven is Monique of A Half Baked Notion who gave us the theme of a current exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. She was inspired by this exhibit to create a polymer focal blending the look of wood with an artistic flower in the center. 

This particular exhibit features a unique mix of artists, architects and artisans, or more specifically how their work and styles blended together from 1890-1918 in Canada. Quite a unique collection. During this time of Canada's history they were moving from agricultural colonies to an industrial nation which included a demand for new buildings both civic and domestic. The building boom created a growth period where artists and architects worked together to design and decorate their towns and their homes which introduced the idea of combining painting with architecture in design. It is a beautiful example of Canadian Arts & Craft period, a style of architecture that is my absolute favorite and which I use for my own home. You can read more in an article by the National Gallery of Canada Magazine.

I pulled a few examples from the exhibit to give you a flavor of the works (numbered left). (1) 1904 Oak Sideboard by Jeremy Adamson a piece that as William Morris, founder of the Arts & Craft movement, said is “characterized by a return to simplicity of design.” (2) 1897 book binding (book of Ruth & Esther) for Will Bradley which is tooled, gilded and colored cow skin from Nova Scotia. (3) 1906 mural painting by Gustav Hahn; many of the artists were commissioned to paint for the new Toronto City Hall and Parliament Buildings. (4) 1912 sideboard from the main dining room of the Legislative & Executive Building at Regina, Saskatchewan built by Edward & W.S Maxwell. (5) my favorite ... a 1900 Arts & Craft piano! Built by Reid Brothers Manufacturing in Toronto. The piano is stained oak with three oil paintings. I would love to own this one for sure.

I used Monique's wood & flower focal with a design I recently saw from Erin Seigel's in Stringing called Glistening Garland. While I used Erin's technique of tying beads in clusters, I did put my spin on it (because I can never seem to follow directions!) I changed it up with beaded fringe around the focal. I thought the hemp used for the stringing and the sway of the fringe reminded me of the old book binding above (#2 picture from the exhibit). For anyone else that would like to try Erin's design, you'll find it in the Winter issue of Stringing and is quite easy to follow.

As a bonus, Monique included a second polymer focal with a mosaic heart. I took the opportunity to practice my chenille stitch for Christine & Therese's A Time To Stitch #4 Challenge. Chenille has become my favorite new stitch and I seem to be using it non-stop. I've already made several necklaces, and a bracelet (you'll see the other pieces posted on my ATTS post).

Once I finished this chenille chain for the heart necklace I went in search of a very loving home for it. And I found it with Christine's youngest daughter; just look at that sweet smile. She was wearing it for her recent piano recital where I hear she did an amazing job wowing the audience. Rock on Lanie! 

And now to see what the rest of the seven artist's created please visit: Alicia (our host), Christine, Emma, Monique, Sally and Therese.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Giving Spikes a Try

Before Christmas I saw some interesting spike beads at my local bead store. Now spikes really are not my usual 'style' but I have been wanting to at least give them a try. I was hoping for something a little less .... metal-dog collar-ish. So, when I saw these howlite ones I thought, well alrighty then these could work.

The thing with these spikes (or any spike) is that they are a 'one way only' kind of bead. So what you do with them is somewhat limited. I decided to start off a bit predictable. I know, I know. That isn't really like me. But at least 2 early attempts were disastrous 'fails' that were ripped out. Surprisingly (at least to me) the feel of this bracelet is so comfortable around the wrist. Totally wasn't expecting that!

The beading here is an organic ladder stitch (aka, freeform to work around those ginormous spikes). I wanted an earthy feel to it, so I grabbed some mud-colored seed beads that are a bit irregular. They really pulled out the light veining in the howlite. I still have a stash of these, so I will go back to trying something a little more adventurous and let you know if I hit on anything worthy of showing you all. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Time to Stitch #4

This round of bead weaving hosted by Christine and Therese has us using patterns with a choice of chenille, netting, spiral ropes or chevron stitch.  I decided to try all of them because, well I'm just enjoying learning new bead weaving techniques. And these two ladies are wonderful encouragement for my repertoire!

Ok, let's start with netting. I pulled out an older bracelet I'd done a while back (in a brown/ tan color) that I had trouble with the closure. I ripped it out and added a slide which I like so much better. Then I made a second bracelet (in blue) with a vertical netting. It beads up much more tightly as a pattern for some reason, but has a nice feel once on the wrist.

I still wasn't quite done with netting, and decided to try a necklace. I had this really cool multi-piece fish bead I bought from Firefly Design Studio that I love. And I thought it would be such a great design to do a 'fisherman' design, or 'fisherwoman' as the case may be! I decided to gift this piece to Christine's oldest daughter who is quite the fisherwoman catching more than 100+ fish last summer! As you can see, the design really seems to suit her (just look at that beautiful smile), and I'm so please that she likes it.

Next up I decided on spiral rope. I made two versions of a bracelet. The first is a true, simple spiral, but the second is a bit of a twist - literally! I used the silver zig zag chain (I featured in my zig-zag tutorial) and added hematite rounds between the chain. For some reason the difference in the size of the hematite made the pattern twist in a way that resembles a spiral. Huh? who knew that would happen? And a complete bonus discovering a lazy way to bead a spiral rope - ha!

On to chenille. I believe this may be my new favorite rope; I'm completely in love with the rhythm of stitching this. I started with a bracelet. I used a variance in size to create a 'bead-bar' focal. It is actually a 'double pattern' as I stitched up over the first round to fill in with more beads. Kinda love this one and may end up in my stash of bracelets that I actually wear. Next I wanted to make a necklace and matched it with a beautiful jasper drop stone. I love the cut and shape of this stone, and look how wonderful it is in its simplicity with just a beaded bail to finish it. Small tip on this piece. I simply glued the ends of the spiral into the copper caps with E-6000. Easy peasy and holds perfectly!

Ok .... are you all still with me? Just one more stitch: chevron. For this last piece I did a bracelet and made two matching bands that I stitched into a braid of reclaimed sari silk. I added a leather button which really brings this one to life for me. Christine gifted me this button last Fall and I was waiting for just the right project to use it. I think I found it here. 

Now to see what all the hoppers, and our hosts created: 
Therese Frank (host), Christine Altmiller (host), and all the hoppers: Amy SeverinoJanet BocciardiCynthia Machata (you are here)Alicia MarinachePaula KramerKim HoraDee AlcaldeDagi (Kokopelli)Maryanne GrossLizESally RussickBecky PancakeJasvanti PatelKarin SlatonAlenkaSarah SequinsTanya GoodwinDebbie RasmussenShirley MooreCrystie Willard, Nelly May, Ana Cravidao

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy