Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Having Fun!

A number of years ago, Marcel gave me a bracelet for Christmas that was made up of sterling silver curved tubes and assorted sterling beads. The stringing material was not optimum for the tubes, and by the third time it broke, I was tired of going back to the jeweler. So I put the beads in a box and there they sat for quite a while. Well, I saw a piece of junk jewelry in a flea market last month, and it gave me some ideas, so I took out the tubes to play with. Using memory wire and an assortment of odd lampworked and cane beads that I only have one or two of, I came up with something that has been so much fun to wear!

It was fun to make, too, so I've ordered a couple of sizes of curved tubes, and I'm planning on a colorful assortment for Christmas sales.

Next week, I'll be heading for the States for an annual conference. Now, I'm a big believer in name tags - one of the things that makes me nuts about group activities in France is that it can be very difficult to identify the people you are with - but I don't love lanyards. However, I'm in the minority on this one, and the lanyard is the nametag holder of choice for this conference. Beading Daily (an on-line newsletter that every beader should subscribe to) talked about lanyards a while back, in the context those worn by people whose badges are part of their business dress (like airport security people), but I thought it would be fun to adopt the idea for this conference. This one practically made itself, and I did the loops on the end precisely so that later the lanyard could become a necklace.

I thought my mother would like one for the same meeting, so I asked her what colors ... she said blue and gray. I played with that one for a while, but what I ended up with I would never have let anyone wear, so when she changed her mind to clear and silver, I was happy (especially since I have boxes of all kinds of clear pressed glass beads!). It didn't photograph nearly as well as the above one, so you'll have to imagine it!

And finally, here's the latest in chain mail ... Byzantine weave. What is interesting is that the bracelet is a random mixture of colors (made to go with a necklace in another weave) that are in the same range (pink, orange, golden, bronze), whereas the necklace is composed of very strong colors (red, blue, purple, silver) that I think would not have been harmonious if they had been used randomly.

And when I get back from the States, I'll have just a bit over a month to get ready for Christmas sales ... more fun!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Working with Stones

Working with stones is like working with miniature sculptures! Interesting forms in different colors and shapes - stone beads add another dimension to the creative process. When I'm working with stones, I think there is nothing better - of course, I think that when I'm working with glass, too. But many forms that are available in stones would be difficult to create in glass, and each substance has its own qualities. One thing everyone should know about stone beads: almost all stones are treated to enhance or add color.

This is moakite in several different forms, including a big wavy coin as a centerpiece, round pillows, and nuggets, with red jasper chips to set off moakite beads.

 The big disks are called green web agate, for obvious reasons, and they are interspersed with free-form chunks of carnelian. Quartz rondelles separate the beads. Very autumn!

 I don't often mix stones and glass, but these vintage blue pressed glass beads looked good with the dark blue sodalite. This necklace uses little copper round beads as separators. Dress up or dress down - a good match for a suit or a pair of jeans.
And here is a multi-stone necklace, with V-form beads in rose quartz, red aventurine, amazonite, and dumortierite. This one looks really good with a turtleneck sweater in any  number of soft colors!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

All that Glitters!

Crystals have been hot for quite a while now - kudos to Swarovski for fabulous marketing! I have been very late in getting into the crystal mode, but I do like certain kinds of shiny beads!!

This necklace is winter personified! Foil-lined hexagonal beads in pale blue, silvered bugles, and different blue shades of E beads - these all contribute to an icy, shimmery piece of jewelry!! Foil-lined glass beads are enormously versatile - it's one of the reasons that I like working with them.

This looks vintage (but it isn't) ... shades of pinks, violets, and mauves in different faceted forms, strung on pink thread - very ladylike! This one is an adjustable choker - I don't usually do necklaces this short, but it looks elegant right at the base of the throat.

And this one is vintage: blue faceted beads, pear-shape frosty ones, and ruffles (one of my favorite shapes in beads,  and I haven't seen them in years) ...

I got a bit carried away here ... I was poking around in my bead boxes, and I found myself with a handful of lampworked glass beads in various colors, each with gold or silver glitter. So I started playing with them, and I found a box of copper-lined E beads to set them off. But the necklace wasn't long enough, so I started adding vintage crystals of various shapes and coatings, and by the time I was done, I found myself with a long rope of lots of glitter - all it needs is something dressy in just about any color!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Doing My Colors

Several decades ago, Color Me Beautiful was a fairly revolutionary concept, and of course I did my colors - being a brunette, it was no big surprise that I was a Winter: white, black, bright colors, silver jewelry, etc. The concept evolved, and a friend of mine who underwent the entire training process told me that actually I was not a 100% Winter but that I had a little Autumn mixed in there. Well, one of my grandmothers was a redhead, so that's not too surprising. And this fall, that Autumn side of me seems to be coming to the forefront!

These beads came from a shop in Prague last spring. I was in a jewelry/bead shop on the Place Wenceslas, and the stairs to the upper level were roped off, with a sign saying that there were more beads upstairs and ask the salesperson for help. So I asked the young woman in that part of the shop if she would open up the upstairs for me; her reply was along the lines of "was I really going to buy any beads (or was I just going to waste her time)"? Well, she had to follow me around with a basket to keep up with all the beads I was tossing at her, and yes, it was worth her time!

These oval slices of Czech glass are in all different tones of early autumn leaves, with just enough blue to recall a clear autumn sky! (I've lived in Brittany now for more than 15 years, and still the autumn is when I'm most nostalgic for the USA ... we do not have autumn color - when it stops being green here, it's pretty much brown!)

And this one is made up of a variety of glass beads, including red millefiori chunks, glass double pyramids that look like agates in reds and beiges with light striping, and little brown barrel-shaped glass beads to enhance the autumnal effect.

Of course, there are lots of other things sitting on the bead board, and not all of them are "Autumn" ... we're back at work, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Display Opportunity

It took me a very long time to figure out the best way to set up a display for shows. I was always looking for something out of the ordinary, which a lot of times ended up looking more bizarre than anything else. I admired the way other exhibitors artfully used large shells or wooden Christmas trees or an elegant suspension, but I finally realized that a set-up like that only worked if what was being presented was all the same style. In terms of style, my jewelry has lots of color, and that's about the only consistent theme. So what I have discovered is that I do best with black and white as a background and the simplest possible display pieces.

I am part of the retailers' group of Plomelin, the town I live in, and the local optician offered me the opportunity to do a window - couldn't pass that up! But I've never done a display window with my beads, and it took some thinking; luckily, his major display piece is white, and so my display forms fit right in. I had enough to select a dozen necklaces and a dozen pair of earrings (no bracelets this time, but I'm out of them anyway), but I had to ponder what extra touches to add. I finally came up with some silvered chunks that I had bought a box of to decorate for Christmas and never used, and those filled in the empty spaces on the shelves. To add visual appeal and to show off (frankly!), I took two square glass vases and filled them with all the rest of my necklaces. (I was tempted to just fill them with beads, but the idea of having to sort all those beads later was too overwhelming. In any case, getting all the necklaces out of my work space has given me a bit of time to reorganize!)

Then I had rather a difficult time getting a photo, as the glass window reflected everything. I managed to get a couple off-center this morning, finally, before the sun was shining directly on the window! I like driving by and seeing the window filled with my creations ...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A New Season

To wrap up the last post ... my mother and I took a splendid cruise together at the beginning of May down the blue Danube. I brought both necklaces with me and gave her first choice (of course, she had already read the post, so she was prepared!). She picked the one with the blocks of color, which is the one that I had put her preferred clasp on ...

Now the summer crafts season is starting, and I did a small show last week, for which it was necessary to show some new merchandise, since the potential clients all saw my stock last December. I decided to focus on bracelets:

The one on the top is a large-link bracelet with a toggle clasp - each link has attached to it an aluminum ring in a bright color with a large-hole bead in a very bright color. I sold it right away, and I think I'll have to make another one for myself! The third one down is the same basic bracelet but with a different kind of bead. The other two are charm bracelets, one with glass and sterling hearts (which continues to be one of my favorite forms) and the other with small rounds in assorted stones.

On the high tech front was this necklace, a chain mail variation done with aluminum links in black and hot pink and small rubber o-rings in purple and orange.

Below is a very interesting necklace (more interesting than the photo, perhaps ... ) of teardrop beads in a frosted silver gray with little color dots on them, interspersed with small beads in frosted colors. I haven't worn this one yet, but I'd like to put it on with red or blue.

I have another small show coming up next week, and then I want to do one good-sized crafts market this summer. I'm also planning to start selling on line ... stay tuned!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Color for My Mother

My mother has an awesome sense of color, and I'm not the only one who thinks so ... a number of decorating magazines over the years have been delighted to photograph her homes! Anyone who has looked at the pictures on this blog knows that I really like to play with color and mix it and generally enjoy myself with it - that all comes from my mother. So this necklace is for her ...

Here is that pile of rectangle beads in all sorts of colors that showed up at the beginning of the month. It took time to sort all those beads out, and these kept calling my name. I took the pile and sorted all the beads into color families, and there were enough for two necklaces, so I divided each family in half and started to work with the two groups. I like this kind of project - the distribution of colors, which I have no control over, helps to give structure to the project. And this project was going to be one necklace for my mother and one for me, related but not identical. Each necklace is over 60" long, meaning that it can be worn doubled or tripled. (In my younger days, I never wore shorter necklaces, and in my older days, I often do.)


This version of the necklace takes the color families and keeps them together in blocks. The look is not the same doubled and tripled, because the color blocks fall differently. Between the rectangle beads are golden seed beads.


This version of the necklace mixes the colors randomly (well, not completely randomly - random looks better with a little structure). The look is pretty much the same doubled and tripled. Between the rectangle beads are silvery seed beads.

As I was beading these necklaces, I had time to think about my mother and color. When I was a kid, my bedroom was a pale green called celery - I really did not like it (although I loved my dust ruffles, which were dark olive green with dark pink in the box pleats). My bedroom is due to be painted this year, and 40 years later, celery is looking like my first choice. My mother is usually about five years ahead of fashion in color, but I'm a slow learner about some things ...

I think I know which necklace my mother will choose ... I've already put her preferred clasp on it, so we'll see if I'm right!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Delivery from the Czech Republic!

This week, the post lady delivered a small box that was stuffed to the brim with beads from the Czech Republic, almost 6 kilos of them, which is over 12 pounds! There were four lots of mixed beads, which means that they have to be sorted, and it is such an entrancing task that even Marcel spent some time separating different colors and shapes. He does colors and then shapes; I do shapes and then colors. (Each of us organizes according to our own lights. I did graduate work at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and one night, one of our profs brought in a bag full of things which she dumped out on the table; our task was to group them in some way we found coherent. I don't remember what was in that bag, but I do remember that no two arrangements were even remotely similar!) And the more time I spend sorting the beads, the longer I can postpone the inevitable stressful moment when I have to actually put them into as-yet-unidentified storage boxes.


As I'm handing this mass of glass beads, of course all sorts of ideas are coming to mind, and I'm also discovering some new shapes and techniques. There is one bead that seems to be a slice, glossy on the flat sides, matte on the outside edge. There are also some big-hole beads which will go with the chain mail. There is a terrific assortment of crystals (which I almost never buy - the Swarovski craze has completely passed me by) which has serious possibilities. I really like these mixes, because I get to see some new things that I might not order otherwise.

This batch of glass rectangles would make a super long necklace designed to be worn twice or three times around the neck ... a lot of the transparent ones are two-tone ... 

And this is a kilo (2.2 pound) of black glass beads - they only have to be sorted by shape, and it appears at first view that a lot of the shapes are crystals ... black is one color that never seems to have very interesting bead forms (or maybe I just don't know where to find them!)

These are the beads that I ordered individually by color and shape - because of the plastic bags, you can't really see much, can you! However, I don't want to open the bags until I'm ready to log the beads in to my database and put them in their plastic boxes, particularly since the invoice only has numbers and no description. But I think it's obvious that there are interesting colors in the bunch ... the two that strike my fancy right away are in the photo below - on the left, those are Baroque Balls in red, black, and gray, and on the right, black glass hearts with copper dots on them (I bought a number of heart beads - it is one of my favorite shapes).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chain Mail, Part 2 - Bracelets

I needed a birthday present yesterday for a friend who wears lots of my charm bracelets, and I thought I would do something different. This bracelet is a classic 2+2 weave in red anodized aluminum (very lightweight and also very strong and solid when linked in pairs). I tried adding some sterling charms to it, but it wasn't the right look. So I put smaller links on the outsides of each pair to give the bracelet some movement (and if I'd had small beads with big enough holes, I would have put those on the smaller links). The clasp is magnetic, which means that the bracelet almost puts itself on the wrist! My friend put the bracelet on right away and wore it all evening - it was very interesting for me to be able to observe how it moved.

This bracelet is a Byzantine weave in three colors, also with a magnetic clasp - there are lots of other possibilities for this weave ... stay tuned.

These flowers are very time-consuming! Here the magnetic clasp saves the day, because there is no need to allow for maneuverability with the clasp - the bracelet is very close to the wrist. These flowers would make fun earrings, and perhaps a pendant.

I was thrilled to discover the web site for one of my Czech manufactures, and there are 10+ pounds of glass beads on their way - that will be a fun day when that box arrives!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Personal Stash - Part 2

We're still in my personal jewelry drawer - these are the pieces that I didn't photograph properly last time!!

For my 50th birthday, I joined my three college roommates for a weekend on Martha's Vineyard. We had not been together for many a long year, and we had a splendid weekend. To celebrate the occasion, I made each of us a necklace in hematite and quartz - each different but using the same stones. This is the one I made for myself: it is asymmetrical and made to be worn doubled. I originally put a hematite ring on it, but I have to say that this stainless steel donut makes much more of a statement!

Here's one I don't really like. I wanted to try a lariat, so I did a three-strand with small black beads. Each strand is highlighted with either golden, silvered, or coppery seed beads and a matching bead at the end of the strand. I like to wear new models myself to see how they feel, so I wore this, and frankly it's kind of boring. It's still in my drawer, but I have a feeling that one of these days I'll take my scissors to it and do something else with all those little black beads.

The beads with the squiggles came from - you guessed it - Prague! The smaller beads in between are Murano glass, and Marcel gave them to me. This necklace is not too long, and it looks good with a crewneck sweater and jeans.

Vintage,vintage,vintage .... the beige beads with red and black squiggles sat in my bead boxes for years, and then one day, they just jumped right out and lined themselves up with the big chunky red beads and black beads. Vintage is basically just classy recycling!

On my very first tripto Prague, I bought a necklace that was just rondelles in blues, yellows, and greens. I mostly bought it because I liked the boutique, where everything was handmade, and because it wasn't symmetrical. But really it was too short for me - in this lifetime, I do not have a swan neck ... So I redid it, keeping the same sequence of rondelles and adding sterling silver rounds and vintage Czech glass beads in matching colors. Another good one for jeans!

Another one of my early creations ... it's six+ feet of hematite in various shapes and sizes, highlighted with all sorts of small glass beads in different colors. I don't know if I believe in the properties of stones or not, but hematite is considered to be an energy stone, and it does absorb body heat until it gets to your body temperature.

My one and only big-hole necklace - these are pottery beads with faces in them that I bought on eBay years ago and then never knew what to do with them because the holes were so big. Then I discovered rattail satin cord and this whole thing tied up nicely, with a few extra Indian glass beads thrown in to make it long enough to wear double without a clasp. I sort of missed out on the macramé craze - this was my chance to catch up!

And finally, these splendid vintage beads that I collected over a period of time - all the same style, but some are black and bronze and others are bronze and clear/silver. Since I never know exactly which way they will flip when I put the necklace on, the effect is never the same twice but always striking. It's possible that this is my all-time favorite of everything in my jewelry drawer!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From my personal stash, part 1

The best way to publicize your creations is to wear them as much as possible! When I was still in the world of education, I wore lots of jewelry. Then I moved to France and got into retailing, first a shop and later the Internet and mail order sales. I stopped wearing so much jewelry, especially long necklaces, which tended to get in the way of wrapping gift packages and shipping boxes.

My preferred metal is sterling silver, and I have lots of it. I always wear earrings because I have holes in my earlobes. In the winter, I wear rings, and in the summer, it's bracelets. I almost never wear sets of anything, although a lot of people do, so I generally make a pair of earrings to match necklaces that I plan to sell.

In pulling out necklaces from my jewelry drawers, I realized that there was a lot of black and red in there - no surprise, because I wear a lot of black and red. The black beads did not photograph well, which is why there will be a part 2 to this topic!

This red, orange, and yellow necklace with touches of black was the absolutely first one I ever made! It uses vintage beads of all kinds in what I like to call a studied asymmetry (basically that means that it's not as random as you think), a style that I still use frequently, particularly with odds and ends of vintage beads. It's long enough to double, which is useful for my current lifestyle.

This one didn't photograph so well either, but the beads with the swirls on them came from the famous trip to the Czech bead manufactures (these are hand-made), and they are mixed with smaller beads from Murano that Marcel gave me. This necklace is terrific with jeans and is the right length for a crew neck sweater! I could be happy to go to Murano and learn to play with glass.

This necklace is made with Picasso agates in two shapes, each strung individually on a wire. The appeal is the coloring of the stones. The necklace is simple and geometric and goes with just about everything! (It's a piece that I made to sell but it didn't so I kept it. Sometimes I wish that would happen with certain other pieces, but it doesn't always .... )

A very, very long necklace made with all sorts of vintage blue glass beads, as well as some small sterling ones and some chalcedony. I made this one many years ago - I don't know if I'd have the patience today. This one really goes better with off-white, which is my preferred color for shows, because most colors look good on an off-white background. My general look is not usually elegant, but when I need to up the level a bit, this necklace will do it.

I am in awe and admiration of people who work extensively with seed beads - I can't do it. I like to use them for accents and fillers, but I almost never feature them as an important design element. This necklace is the exception. The tube beads with raised dots (also from that famous trip to Prague) were just asking to be connected with rows of seed beads in matching colors. This is a summer necklace, more because of its delicacy than its colors. It's one of my favorites!

I have a thing about yellow glass ... it really appeals to me. It took me years to collect these vintage beads and assemble them into a necklace. This one is long enough to go over my head without a clasp. It's like having sunshine around my neck!!