This strand of beads belonged to my dear friend Frances Wright.  Frances loved beads and jewelry making, had a huge wonderful personality, and was one of those people who always made you laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes.  Frances was a member of the Bead Society of Southeastern Virginia, and I have been a long-time member myself.  We lost Frances suddenly few years ago and were all shocked and saddened.

Her family had no use for her beads and sold a lot of them to the Bead Society.  We used quite a few of them to initiate a project in her honor.  We named the project Frances’ Beads and made jewelry to donate to a local organization that helps women enter or re-enter the workforce by giving them an interview outfit.  Frances’ Beads has gone on to become an annual event.  I know Frances would be proud.

I remember bead shopping with her.  We were in Maryland at a bead show and we were both looking at some African beads.  Frances said I love these beads so much but I never use them.  I told her I loved mine too but I used mine and asked her why she didn’t use hers.  She said the strands were just so beautiful that she could never bear to cut them.  This strand of African beads is one I purchased from the beads Frances left behind.  It hangs in my workshop, it reminds me of her, and will remain a strand uncut.

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Treat yourself or a friend to a $25.00 gift card from If you love beads and making jewelry (like me), want to give it a try, or have a friend or loved one who makes jewelry, take a moment and enter.

It’s easy – just leave a comment in this blog post and a name will be selected at random. Please be sure to leave a valid email address.  The giveaway winner will be selected Tuesday 12/15/09 at 7:00 pm EST (GMT -5).  Good luck and happy beading!

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This Masai wedding necklace is part of my personal collection and it has been a much loved treasure for years.  A professor from a local university traveled to Africa as part of a project she was working on.  While she was there, she purchased this and many other beaded items directly from the women who made them, paying them what she felt was a fair price.  She brought the items back to the US and I was lucky enough to find out about this and purchase this necklace.  I have it hanging in the hallway and love passing by it, seeing it, and when someone brushes past it, hearing it whisper a very pleasing sound.

These necklaces are a great craft project for children.  I helped my nieces make them and they enjoyed it.  You will need to start with some paper plates – the kind that is a little waxy on one side and plain paper on the back.  Cut out the center and punch holes for the beads to be strung at the bottom.  You can also punch a hole at the top and add a bit of ribbon or string to hang it.  The children can then paint the back of the plates and add strands of beads.  You can add little coin, bell or other charms at the ends of the strands.  Three to five strands are a manageable number – you can do more if you have an older child who has the patience.   Children who visit my home are always a bit captivated by this piece.  It is long – about four feet and they just stare up at it.  They loved being able to make their own versions and take them home.

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The blue/green beads in this necklace and the small teardrop stone in the pendant are the gemstone chrysocolla.  It’s a gemstone I was not familiar with until recent years, but now love using.  It’s a gemstone that is beautiful and relatively affordable.

Chrysocolla is a mineral that is made from hydrated copper silicate and can be found in many parts of the world, including the United States.  It is mostly found with or associated with other types of minerals that include; quartz, azurite, limonite, cuprite and secondary copper minerals.

Folklore and legend has it that Chrysocolla is associated with tranquility and peace, intuition, patience, and unconditional love. It is thought to offer gentle and soothing qualities.

I’ve used black to set off the beautiful colors in the Chrysocolla stones.  The cabuchon in the pendant is black onyx, both it and the Chrysocolla were set in sterling silver.  You cn see this necklace at the design stage in an earlier blog post.  I chose black glass beads to accent the Chrysocolla and then softened the design with crystals in a color named Pacific.

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Right now I am working designing a necklace that will primarily feature this strand of chrysocolla beads.  I plan on creating a pendant using the two cabochons shown in the photo.  One of the cabochons is black onyx and the other is chrysocolla.  I’ve done a sketch to show the basic concept of where I am heading with the pendant.  Next, I’ll cut out the pattern, glue it to a sheet of sterling silver, cut it out and get the setting made.  I’m excited about it, I love the colors and hope the resulting necklace will be stunning.  What I see in my mind is – just gotta get it done.  Off to work.

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BeadShoppingIf you’re ever on route 301 in the stretch between Port Royal, VA and La Plata, MD – stop by Terry’s Treasures.  It’s a fabulous bead store  that rivals bead stores in much larger cities.  Terry’s Treasures has everything – gemstones, a vast selection of Swarovski crystals, glass, pearls, charms, findings, tools, and lots more.  These are a couple of my treasures from Terry.  Many beads are sold temporarily strung like those you see here.  Jewelry designers then cut them apart and use the beads in all sorts of dazzling temptations.  I can’t wait to get started on mine.

If you’re in the area, call Terry’s Treasures at 540-775-4611.  The address is 9553 James Madison Pkwy, King George, VA  22485.

For some reason this year, these little glass flower beads caught my eye and I began thinking of ways to use them grouped together in some manner with a base underneath them.  This is the third piece I have made using them – I did a pair of earrings with a different shape in cornflower blue and a necklace in a golden yellow color.

These earrings, as well as the other pieces, were made by creating a double layer of square stitch creating a stable base and then sewing the flowers on, passing through each flower twice for strength.  I’ve also been enamored with this shade of aqua and yellow this year and find it cropping up here and there in other pieces.  I like the technique I’ve used here.  The resulting pieces are strong and very stable.  It is one that takes patience, a quality most of us that work with beads tend to have.JulieEarrings1