May 2009


Blue Pearls with Venetian GlassThat is really the word to describe these pearls.  They are just fabulous.  I got them this week and could not wait to use them.  Each pearl is about 10mm and the strand just felt rich and substantial in my hand.  I wanted to do something a little more than just a strand of pearls, but knew not to do too much and perhaps lose focus on the pearls in the design.  I decided to use this lovely glass bead a friend brought me from a trip to Venice along with a few other beads to bring the design together.  Gorgeous.

I got these from ArtBeads.com, they call them Limited Edition – The Vault Pearls.  I can totally see why they would have these babies on lockdown and am so glad I got a strand while still available.  There are so many beautiful jewelry supplies to work with.  I love beads!

Annette 1One of the things that has happened over the last several years is an explosion of different types of silver beads.  When I first started making jewelry, the choices were pretty much sterling silver or silver plate.  The sterling silver beads were gorgeous, but came no where close to the styles and varieties available today.

For me, the first type of interesting silver I noticed was Bali silver.  Nina Designs is an excellent source for this silver and I believe Nina has done a lot to further the understanding, appreciation for, and distribution of Bali silver.  I then began seeing something on the market called Thai Hill Tribes silver.  I think I saw it first at a bead show and if I remember correctly, the vendor was Na Bo Row and they had a mouth-watering display.  Thai Hill Tribes silver has a higher silver content than sterling silver and an amazing variety of designs is available from Na Bo Row and many other companies.  It’s hard not to want it all and I truly appreciate the artisans that make these beautiful beads as well as the companies that work hard to make them available to us.

Green Chrysoprase Necklace

Green Chrysoprase with Amazonite, Glass, and Crystal

I would say, until the last month or two, I have had this curiously strong attraction to green and also to aqua and turquoise to lesser extents.  Whenever I would decide what to work on next, I would look through my beads, select what really intersted me at the moment, and realize it was green.  Over and over again.  Sometimes I would work on it anyway.  Other times, I would say to myself – no, you have to use other colors.  Not everyone wants green jewelry.

This went on for quite a while, several months actually.  I think I’m out of it.  When I finish a piece of jewelry, the next stop for it is photography.  Until I’m ready to take the pictures, I keep the jewelry in a pretty box and when I looked in it recently, there was nothing green, aqua, or turquoise.  Amazing.  Although, as I look at my work table, I see a recently completed turquoise and green bracelet and the necklace I just started is green and blue with some gray.  Hmmmm….

This is a basic skill in metalworking that took me a while to understand.  I read about it in books and articles about metalworking and did not get the point.  I mean, why not just get on with whatever needed to be done?  In a parallel track, I would see some metal jewelry made by others and wonder – how in the world did they do that?  I remember seeing a project in Lapidary Journal for a pair of earrings.  One of the steps involved folding the metal.  I wondered, unless it was very thin metal, how would you fold metal.  Metal is hard.

It wasn’t until I actually felt a piece of annealed metal in my own hands that I understood, the two parallel tracks came together and I realized what an incredibly useful technique it was.  A piece of hard metal that I could not bend with my bare hands, once annealed is pliable – for a while.  As you continue to work the metal, it begins to harden.  Depending on what you are doing, you can anneal it again.  I learned annealing best by doing it with an experienced person sitting beside me.  Basically, you are looking for a color change that you achieve by carefully heating the metal.  Then you immediately quench it in water.  It helped me to have someone tell me when I heated the metal to the right color.  Once I saw the color, I then knew what to look for.  I have also seen Internet articles and videos demonstrating the technique.  It’s nice when the pieces come together.

turquoise_purse_pin

I don’t make pins very often, but once in a while, I will.  I have always loved miniatures and one day decided to try making miniature beaded purses.  Part of the fun for me was just figuring out how to do it.  The purse is three-dimensional.  It has sides that mimic those on a real purse and the back is the same as the front except it has a pin back in place of the little bead decoration.

I started by making sample pieces of each of the parts.  Once I got the size and proportions correct on the sample pieces, I then worked to figure out how to attach the pieces to each other to make it come out the way I wanted.  I kept careful notes because there have been times when I figured out how to do something and then couldn’t remember what I did later.  I used a combination of brick stitch and square stitch on these little pins.  For the brick stitch, I used two beads for each row rather than one.  I tried it with one first and the angle it created for the sides of the purse was too sharp.   I made these two miniature purse pins and then went on to do earrings with even smaller purse in the same style (one bead on the brick stitch for them) and some necklaces that featured a clutch style bag.pink_purse_pin

Two FacesI saw these polymer clay face beads and couldn’t resist buying them – the crazy hair-do’s, the facial expressions – I loved the whimsy.  The pendant I made with them is really a tassel, one with a very long top part and very short dangle part.  There may be more appropriate tassel terminology than the words I am using, but you get the idea.  Normally the dangle part is longer than the top part.  Why the birds?  I think they continued the whimsical feel started by the two faces and added a horizontal element in a piece that was very vertical.  To keep the pendant as the focal point, a simple black and fuchsia crystal necklace seemed like the way to go.

Texturing metal gives it a lot of character and interest.  Adding variations to the color of metal does as well.  I have always had an interest in the coloring and patination of metal and hope to take a class in it when I can.  The copper ovals at the bottom of these earrings were made by cutting them out of copper sheet, texturing them with a ball peen hammer, and then using heat to achieve the color change.  Copper can change a wide variety of colors when heated; it can even head into blue tones a little bit.  Heat-treated copper is not stable so I use a sealant to preserve it.PaigeEarrings

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