Heather Powers, an internationally known polymer clay artist, designed the Tiger Lily focal bead in my newest bracelet. This is one of the beads I purchased at the Puget Sound Bead Festival. According to Heather’s website, her work is inspired, in part by “Birds, tree branches, leaves, flowers and sundries from the sea (which) reflect the beauty of nature…” She states that she “ hope(s) to encourage others to grab hold of what captures their imagination and spirit.” This is truly what happened to me as I developed my design for this bead.
Tiger Lily Bead by Heather Powers of Humble Beads
I love combining orange with turquoise so I laid out a bunch of turquoise beads as potential contenders for the honor of framing the Tiger Lily bead. None of the bright, shiny beads looked right with the rustic style of Heather’s bead. Two 1.25 mm chunky turquoise nuggets were just right for the job. I also picked out 2 flat, circular disks of turquoise.
I didn’t want to make the whole bracelet turquoise so I started rummaging around in my drawer of orange beads. I found 2 hand-felted beads. My sister-in-law had given me a bracelet that alternated the hand-felted beads with orange wooden rounds. It was all orange and kind of boring. I never wore it (sorry sis). I took it apart and threw it in the “orange drawer”. The felt beads were exactly what this bracelet needed to lift it out of the ordinary! I then filled out the design with chocolate-colored porcelain beads and tortoise-shell colored glass discs between all the beads. A silver clasp was too shiny, copper looked much better. It’s in my web shop now.
Tiger Lily Bracelet
This really turned out to be a mixed media bracelet: Handmade polymer clay bead, hand-felted beads, turquoise, porcelain and glass. Mixed media jewelry is very on-trend right now. What do you think? Is it delightful, too busy, jumbled or fun? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
I’ve posted pictures of the art beads and gemstones I brought home from the Puget Sound Bead Festival, but that’s not all of my loot. I also purchased a lot of sterling silver and the work-horse of beaded jewelry: pressed glass. It is called pressed glass because the molten glass is poured into forms and the 2 halves are pressed together, resulting in a faint tell-tale seam around the edges. Because the glass can be manufactured in huge quantities, it is usually less expensive than gemstones or art glass. The most unusual shapes and vintage glass beads are more expensive. Of course, it is exactly those unique shapes that I am after. Can you find the prize beads in this display?
One of many such tables of glass beads at the PSBF
What’s a person to do? Lee Anne and I were practically fondling the glass. It was so cool, silky and wonderful! I didn’t really need any pressed glass, so I just made three selections.
With great restraint, I only purchased 3 sets of pressed glass beads.
All three of my purchases were wonderful vintage German glass beads from Wynnwood Bead Gallery in Port Townsend, WA. I had purchased two of the red beads when I was in Port Townsend about 2 months ago and ever since then, I wished I had bought more. Lois, the owner of Wynnwood was a vendor at the Bead Festival and I quickly snapped up a whole strand of these remarkable red beads. The light turquoise beads are sea shell shaped and have two holes apiece. They will become part of a couple of two strand bracelets. The darker turquoise beads appealed to me because of their unusual shape and the dappled green along the edges. Now its time to get to work!
What are Art Beads? They are the super stars of many of my jewelry designs. Taking center stage; they are original works of art by talented bead artists working in the diverse media of glass, ceramics, polymer clay, metals, and fabric. I enjoy getting to know the artists who create these beads and when I hold an art bead in my hands, I feel the creative vision and passion of the person who made it. When you possess jewelry with art beads; you possess treasure. (If you are interested in learning more about art beads; visit the Art Bead Scene Blog.)
Art beads are obviously more expensive than mass-produced beads, so I had to shop carefully at the Puget Sound Bead Festival. There was so much more that I could only dream about, but this is what reality would allow me to come home with:
Art Beads purchased at the PSBF
The rust colored bead, (top, left) is a dandelion bead by polymer clay artist Heather Powers. The long tube-shaped bead was created by Olympia, WA glass artist Scott Parrish. It has the most gorgeous swirls of purple, green, and rust. The ceramic dragon-fly pendant is from Raven’s Journey in Port Angeles, WA. The brown and cream twisted rings are called pretzel beads and creating with them will be just as fun as munching on pretzels! The pretzels, the blue shell and the leaf are all creations of Unicorn Beads. What a joy it will be to create jewelry with these beads. It is a collaborative process with the artist who made them.
My beading buddy, Lee Anne, and I had a BEAD-utiful time at the Pacific Northwest Bead Festival in Tacoma, WA yesterday. Imagine a convention hall filled with over 100 vendors selling an amazing array of gemstones, art beads, sterling silver, gold, copper and brass clasps and beads, vintage and contemporary pressed glass beads and crystals. Comfortable walking shoes are essential and you have to be prepared for sensory overload! Having a budget also helps – hehe. Its easy for the green to just slip through your fingers when you are only half way through the vendors! I’ll share my plunder over the next 2 days! Here are my new gemstone goodies:
- Gemstone Goodies from the 2010 PNWBF
At the top of the picture is a strand light green freshwater pearls. Gemstones are usually purchased on 16 inch strands of monofilament with a knot on either end. Perpendicular to the pearls is a shorter strand of rectangular brioche agates. These will probably become a bracelet at some point. Directly below the pearls are some lovely faceted garnets. I love garnets! Laying right up against the garnets are roundelles of Brazilian Amazonite. Such a luscious color! Finally, my big splurge, are these fabulous graduated turquoise wafers. I can hardly wait to design a necklace featuring some of those! I also came home with glass, sterling silver and art beads. I’ll share those tomorrow.
I’m on my way to the Puget Sound Bead Festival in Tacoma. I’m going with my childhood best buddy, Lee Anne, who has never been to a bead festival before. This day will just be pure happiness! Stay tuned for pictures and exuberant ramblings!
It started like this:
Lampworked heart by Dan and Jenelle Caracas
Jenelle gave this lovely lampworked heart to her mother for Mother’s Day, and shortly after we met, about a month ago, her mom asked me to design a necklace to go with it. When I picked up the heart, yesterday, I knew immediately that it was crying out for amethysts and garnets! I could hardly wait to get to work.
I found amethyst rounds and pretty faceted garnet tubes in my stash. I added some small silver rounds and some Swarovski crystals for bling.
Amethysts, Garnets and Swarovski Crystals
Next I wired the pendant to a sterling silver bail and added a pretty little tassel at the end of the heart with more Swarovski crystals and a single garnet.
Pendant with Tassel
I finished the necklace with a sterling silver heart-shaped clasp, to echo the beautiful lampworked heart pendant.
Sterling Silver Clasp
I love doing custom work. It gives me a chance to make something that is meaningful and special. The whole time that I am designing, I have a specific person in my mind. I hold an image of them, as well as of their jewelry. It’s a deeply gratifying process for me .
Now, here’s the finished design. I hope she likes it!
Just a quick post today. My friend Jess (see my Jess Blue post) was just interviewed in an online jewelry magazine. Read the interview to learn more about her artisan chainmaille jewelry.
Linda's class, Lincoln Park, early 1980's
Last week I retired from a 30 year career in education. I started out as a kindergarten teacher in Selah, WA in 1975. Over the years I have taught grades kindergarten through 4th. I’ve been a reading specialist, helping kids who struggled to decipher meaning in print. I later became a reading coach whose job it was to create systems and structures to support teachers as they implemented research based instruction in reading. When I retired I was doing similar work in the field a mathematics. I’ve taught in 4 different cities, some rural and some more urban, as well as in a tribal school for the Nisqually Indian Nation. I have been enriched by each of these experiences, but my heart will always be at Lincoln Elementary School in Toppenish, WA. I taught and later was a reading coach there for more than 20 years. Many of the teachers at Lincoln Elementary School are like family to me. We raised our kids together; watched those kids become adults and go off to make their own lives. We’ve laughed together and held each other through the tears. I would not be who I am today, professionally or personally if it weren’t for those precious friendships I made at Lincoln school.
Five years ago my husband and I moved away from the Yakima Valley and away from Lincoln School. It was the right move for many reasons, but it was also unbelieveably painful for me to leave Lincoln. Today I received a retirement card in the mail, signed by the staff of Lincoln School. Even though I’ve been gone for five years, they still sent me a card. I can’t begin to say how much this meant to me. My heart was so touched; I cried. I have been abundantly blessed to work with people who nurtured me and helped me to grow, people who cared and believed in me. My life has been rich indeed.
School photo, Chehalis, WA, 1977
It is fascinating to ask jewelry designers how they arrive at their final designs. You hear everything from the slightly New Age-ish, “I let the beads tell me where they want to go.”, to people who draw out detailed plans on paper first. Some people have a definite color scheme in mind, others get out a color wheel and use it for guidance or inspiration. Some people just start grabbing beads and somehow create something lovely with a seemingly random process. None of these approaches is right or wrong. They are just a reflection of our individual styles — just as each designer’s jewelry reflects their individual artistic voice.
Most of the time my designs are inspired by the focal bead(s) I have selected. This was the case when I started working with the sand dollar beads I purchased from Jenelle and Daniel (see yesterday’s post).
I like to work on a Vellux bead mat, because it keeps the beads from rolling around. So I laid out my 3 sand dollar beads on the mat, with the largest in the middle. Four small spacer beads came with the set: two in turquoise, with sterling silver tracings and two in green. I place the two turquoise beads on either side of the largest sand dollar. I knew I wanted clusters of Swarovski crystals between my beads, but first I had to choose a few larger beads to go with the sand dollars. Initially I decided to go with blue and green, but when I looked in the drawer where I keep all my green beads, I just saw the dark, dense greens of malachite, jade and serpentine. I realized I needed the light, airy colors of sky, water and beach glass. Looking in my drawer of turquoise beads I spied lots of pale turquoise amazonite: Perfect! I had amazonite in rounds, faceted ovals and carved tubes. I can’t seem to compose jewelry in my head or on paper. I just have to try it out. I laid each possibility between the sand dollar beads. It was clearly the carved tubes that looked “just right”. I discovered, however, that using two amazonite tubes on each side of the center bead made the bracelet too long, so I went searching in my stash for some smaller coordinating rounds. Do you like my pick?
These beads are sometime called sugar beads because the texture on them looks like the tracings of melted sugar. My last step was wiring it all together. 48 sterling silver wrapped loops on the Swarovski crystals took awhile, but I was so excited about how it was looking that I could hardly wait to finish! What do you think?