In addition to jars with buttons and coins, I also have a jar with keys.  Why I’ve kept the keys – I really don’t know because I have no idea what they go to.  But, like buttons and coins, keys have a likeability factor – at least for me they do.  The idea struck me to use a key as the focal point in a bracelet.  One of the challenges in using coins and keys is that you are not always sure what metal you are working with and how it will react to heat and basic jewelry tools.  I figured this key was probably brass and went for it.

I annealed the key and curved it slightly into the shape needed for a bracelet and then drilled the hole at the bottom of the key.  From there, it was simple – find complementary beads and create the bracelet.  I don’t know what key 1139 used to unlock, and I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.  It has moved on and is now part of what I think is a lovely bracelet.  Do you have items you are upcycling or finding new uses for?  I’d love to hear about them.



When I studied at Penland in 2008, I saw people creating bowls, bracelets, chokers, and other items from a flat piece of sheet metal in a process called raising.  The results are beautiful and have a special feel to them that is not possible to replicate with mass-produced items, I don’t think.  I knew I wanted to try it but just did not have the time.  It’s such a challenge in classes to absorb all the material presented and try all that you can.

This year, I was determined to give it a try and this is my first attempt.   This bracelet was made from a sheet of 20 gauge copper in a process called anticlastic raising.  What this means is the metal is being shaped in two different directions – it is being shaped downward into a bracelet form and the edges are being shaped upward to form the curve at the edges.  Sounds simple enough, right?

The concept is simple, the execution – a different story.  The difficulty is that the two directions you are trying to take the metal want to fight with each other.  As you work to shape the bracelet downward, the curve at the edges starts to open up.  As you then work to curl up the edges, the bracelet shape starts to open up.   So you go back and forth, coaxing the metal to do what you want.   And you have to anneal the metal – a lot.

I am thrilled with the results of my first attempt and want to try it again.  I could not have made this without the guidance of and instruction from my classmate Andrea, a lovely young lady very skilled at raising.  Thank you, Andrea.

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2640055I designed this bracelet to accent the twisted blue lace agate oval center bead.  I love blue lace agate, I find it works equally well as the focal point or as supporting cast adding lightness in a design that needs it.  I accented the blue lace agate bead with sparkly crystal, creamy coral ovals, bright sterling silver, and picture jasper in wonderful brown tones.

I made earrings to coordinate, not match exactly; using hand formed and hammered sterling silver loops.

SerenaBracelet1A beading product I use from time to time is memory wire.  Memory wire is really hard, thin wire that comes in coils.  And when I say hard, believe me.  You need special cutters to cut it or it will ruin a regular pair of cutters.  Memory wire has been treated in such a way that when you stretch it out and release it, it goes right back into the coil shape.  When it first came out on the market, the size of the coil for a bracelet was about the size of a baby’s wrist which made bracelets that were really tight.  The manufacturers realized this was less than ideal and came out with bracelet and necklaces sizes that fit very well.  I think they even make ring sizes.

Two things are great about memory wire.  First, you don’t need a clasp which a lot of people like.  Second, the resulting bracelet has a degree of flexibility in the sizes of wrists it can accommodate.  I did find that you have to design for it a little differently than you do a traditionally strung bracelet.  What worked for me is to measure the length of one round, determine how many rounds I wanted, and calculate the total length I would need.  Then I pre-string the beads on a length of traditional beading wire to the measured length, coiling it up from time to time to see how the design would look once strung on memory wire.  After I had the design worked out, I would then transfer it to the memory wire.

This bracelet was made that way and features marcasite, dumortierite, agate, crystal, glass, and metal beads.  I named it Serena.


These two bracelets were both inspired by the same coral and gray ceramic beads with dramatically different results.  The ceramic beads were handmade by a fabulous bead artist and I wish I remembered his name.  I’ll have to search through some old records to see if I have any trace of it.  He makes ceramic beads that have a quality about them that I really love and it would be awesome to be able to find him again.

Anyway, back to the bracelets.  I made the bracelet below with the silver and wood beads first.  I had three of the ceramic beads and the design just did not work if I tried to use them all.  It worked with two beads so I had one of them left.  I wanted to use it, they are just so gorgeous, and wanted to make something completely different.  Part of the joy for me is in the creative process so I try to stretch and take different approaches with the same materials.  I think I achieved what I set out to do – two very different bracelets that both accent and complement the same ceramic beads.  Red_Silver_Wood_Bracelet

Cat Bead BraceletThere was a period of time when I made several pieces of jewelry featuring cats.  Mostly necklaces, but also some bracelets and earrings here and there.  One of the stores that carries my work had customers who really liked cat jewelry and I sold every piece I ever took there.  I stopped making cat jewelry, not because I didn’t like it, but because it got difficult to find cat pendants and beads that were not too juvenile looking.  So, I moved on to other things and forgot about cat jewelry.

Recently, I noticed that I had a few of these blue and white porcelain cat beads left and decided to use them.  I think pairing them with the cobalt and copper swirl glass beads gives the bracelet a nice level of sophistication.  I’m happy with the result and hope the ultimate owner will be as well.  Maybe I should take another look at what is available in cat beads.  There could be some new things out there that I would enjoy working with and customers would enjoy wearing.

when it comes to jewelry photography.  The funny thing is, back when I was taking bad photos, I didn’t even know they were bad.  I took them to have historical documentation of my work.  I’m glad I have them especially because I can see growth through the years.  But, back to the pictures…

Here is a bracelet I re-photographed.  I am very happy with the result.  I think the bracelet comes to life and think the rich colors of the bracelet and background complement each other nicely.


This is a really bad photos of the same bracelet.  I didn’t have the lighting right.  I didn’t know how to get a sense of dimension.  I don’t know what I was thinking with the crumpled paper bag thing.  I have worked a lot of things out since then.


Photography is not my field of study and I have huge respect for those who do it well.  I didn’t pay much attention before, but now, when I flip through magazines and catalogs, I think about the photographers, stylists, editors, and other people it takes to get great looking product shots.  They do it so well and make it look effortless.