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.
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!
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?