Friday, July 17, 2015


Lately I have been looking to find inspiration from designs of the past. One of the things I have been checking out is vintage jewelry from auction sites like They have some beautiful pieces offered for sale. Some of them are really unusual. It encouraged me to look through my jewelry box for vintage and unique items. I like to go to the local auctions and various markets, and have bought some interesting things there.

This is a vintage ring I found at auction. I am not sure what it's story is, but it has different colored stones set around the top, and it is really tall. I thought it was a great find.
Some of my favorite pieces of jewelry are one of a kind, and some are just different from anything I see readily available.

This is a piece I found at a second hand store.
 The enamel egg and amber design is similar to one I remember seeing in the book  Africa Adorned by Angela Fisher. I believe it said the style of necklace was given to a woman to commemorate her becoming a mother. 

 These amber rings belonged to my maternal grandmother. She loved big rings. I found the necklace at a flea market. Some of the beads are missing, but the remaining ones are pretty nice.

 My paternal grandmother received this pin when she graduated college in 1930. She had a degree in Spanish, which I find strange because I was never good at languages. I love the pearls in the heart shaped part.

These are some easy to make bracelets. I used sterling wire with trade beads. They are fun to wear with just about everything I own.

 Rubies and opals are my favorite stones. I found the rubies at the gem show in Tucson in 2006. I strung the two strands of faceted beads separately, but I wear them together, usually wrapped around my wrist. They look great with gold bracelets.

These rings came from the local farmers market. They do have some bakery and produce there, but most of the place is odd little shops. When I spotted the rings in the coin shop I bought them because, well,  I love opals.

This is a piece of jewelry that has a pin back as well as the chain. It came from a jewelry shop in an antique mall. I don't know how old it is, but I have had it for 20 years.  I really like the way the different kinds of turquoise are used together. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chains and Freedom

My entry for the 2015 IBA competition. The theme was "On A Journey of Discovery." I chose to make a beaded representation of the Liberty Bell, since that is the symbol of choice for the city of Philadelphia. There is much emphasis on the history of the early days of the United States in the county that I live in. There is even a replica of the Liberty Bell in my town! You can see my picture of it on the Liberty Hall Wikipedia page.

On Independence Day my favorite activity is taking pictures of fireworks!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Battle of the Beadsmith

Space 25/50
My Battle of the Beadsmith entry this year represented the culmination of a year of intense beading. I had only finished my Bead Dreams entry the week before the April 1st start date, and I made a bracelet for the Etsy Beadweavers spring swap in that time. I had no idea what I was going to make, and at midnight on April 1 I was struck with the idea of a space theme. The free form format I had been playing with seemed a perfect medium, and even though the idea was very self indulgent I went with it. The second week of April I started making my entry for the Fire Mountain seed bead contest, and I spent three weeks on that. It was accepted to the next round of judging, so it was time well spent. That piece was purple flowers, and may have proved a better choice for my Battle piece since my space themed necklace was voted out in round 1. The space necklace was the second in my Earth and Sky series, and I probably should have taken more time with it. The thing about the Battle is all the beautiful beadwork designs are amazing, in some battles especially it is so hard to choose. There are some really unique ideas this year, and once again I am happy just to be included with such talented bead artists. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Waterfall Necklace

Some pictures of Glen Onoko Falls in the Pocono Mountains near Jim Thorpe, Pa.

 The blue bead I found while hiking the trail that gave me the idea to bead the waterfall. I added it to the necklace, under a fern.

Close up of bracelet and necklace

I used labradorite and aquamarine beads along with two hole beads and seed beads to create the waterfall.

 Reverse view

 The sun came out for this picture

The entire piece is free form bead work incorporating brick, peyote, square, herringbone, spiral stitch and fringe. I worked on it over five months and am very happy it was chosen as a finalist.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Romantic Floral Bracelet in Purple

This Mercury retrograde I decided to finish up some projects that I had started in the past year. One of my favorites is this floral bracelet. I had so many flowers I made and never used I was able to make a bracelet in purple and blue as well as the pink. The center flower has a superduo center with luminescent Japanese seed beads. The berry clusters are Swarovski pearls. I made the toggle bar into a caterpillar that blends in with the flowers.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Waltz of the Flowers

This barrette is inspired by the music of Tchaikovsky, and was created for the February Etsy Beadweavers challenge, Let the Show Begin. I thought to represent the ballet, using the gentle sway of the flowered fringe to capture the flow of the dance. The blue flower beads are vintage German glass that I mixed with some modern Czech glass and vintage seed beads. The majority of beadwork is done using Czech seed beads with some Japanese seed bead accents. I also added some Swarovski pearls. To balance the blue flowers I made a few bead woven bell flowers in shades of purple which also add to the texture of the fringe. The beadwork is sewn on to chamois, and attached to the metal barrette. 
Visit the Etsy Beadweavers team blog to vote for your favorite from February 9th to February 15th.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2015 Beading Contests

Beading contests 2015

End dates for submissions- double check all info with websites, and verify dates for yourself- end dates sometimes are extended. I will update this list when more information becomes available.

Jan. 31, 2015 International Bead Awards, Perlen Poesie - On a Journey of Discovery

Jan. 31, 2015. Beadworkers Guild UK 15th anniversary Swarovski contest

March 25, 2015 Bead Dreams Bead and Button magazine

April 1, 2015 Piecework pincushion contest.

April 30, 2015 Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest

May 15, 2015. This is a Facebook contest inspired by Earth Day and sponsored by Happy Mango beads.

This is a monthly design contest sponsored by Preciosa Ornela, makers of Czech glass beads. Each month features a different theme and entries must be comprised of Preciosa beads.

June 15, 2015.  Fashion Colorworks

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Azurite malachite Flower bracelet

This year for the Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest I used some azurite malachite composite cabochons, and made them into flower centers. I wrapped the cabs, then added petals. One of them I used on a necklace, the other as the center focal of a bracelet. I accented them with smaller flowers, some on the necklace used cats eye beads as centers. I used vintage French seed beads to make the leaves. The bracelet was selected as a silver medal winner.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Autumn necklace

Dakota and my autumn inspired necklace, with Swarovski pearls and rivolis.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Last month I entered a competition sponsored by Perles & Co. The challenge was to create a piece inspired by the beadwork of the Huichol people, following the theme of peyote and using peyote stitch. My piece ended up being a cell phone case. I had been making an amulet bag, but somehow it was a lot bigger than I had planned. The finalists were chosen the other day, and mine was not selected. I was very impressed with a few of the pieces; I liked the three-dimensional cactus designs and the I thought the deer was fantastic. You can view the finalists at the contest page.
While searching the images of traditional Huichol beadwork I came across an amazing collection, the recent work of Kali Arulpragasam. Titled "Gold Diggers," the beadwork is made in collaboration with the Huichol or Wixarika people to raise awareness of the problems they face in the 21st century. You can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Selling Beaded Jewelry

I recently joined the Etsy BeadWeavers group. I opened an Etsy shop because when you make beaded jewelry people have the expectation you wish to sell it. On that matter I need to remain indifferent, for reasons mentioned below, but I opened the shop so people could have a place to go. I joined the bead weavers group because they have monthly challenges and I love motivation. Last months challenge by Marsha of Haute Ice was the perfect present. I always have a problem with knowing what someone else would want, so I skipped that challenge. When it came time to vote for my choice I had an epiphany. I realized why I have such a problem selling my jewelry myself. I fell in love with one piece to the point where if it were in the brick and mortar bead shop I owned years ago I probably would have described to a potential customer the merits and beauty of that piece while downplaying my own, even if my jewelry was the subject of the original inquiry. "But look at this detail here" I would say about the other work, then follow it with a "see here, where I did this? That was completely wrong- check out how this other piece is made... It's so much nicer." And on and on, and of course I would make the sale- of the other persons jewelry. Why? Probably because I admired the work, but knew I couldn't make it so that's what I would want someone to give me. Not because the other piece was better, but since I was not so intimately involved with the other work and I was bored with mine having spent so much time making it I was over it. People had to be very determined to buy my work because I usually found myself talking them out of it. I had a much easier time teaching classes and selling beads, fortunately I was able to do lots of that.
I recently had a conversation about promoting yourself through unethical means. There are so many beaded jewelry makers in the marketplace that it is hard to stand out, and people resort to low levels in order to make money. That is nothing new in the world, but it has gotten to extreme levels with the ease of communication. I keep my beadwork as a refuge, a place where I can go that doesn't need to be constantly performing better in terms of how much money it makes. I like to challenge myself to do the best work I can, and I submit to places where I am essentially judged on the work. If some one wants to buy it, great, but I will still make things whether they do or not. That doesn't pay my bills, and I should be trying to succeed with jewelry sales, but I didn't like the pressure that needing to make money from beads put on my creativity, which is why I didn't do any intricate beadwork for years after I closed my store. At this point in my life, for me, creating is more important. I would rather enjoy my beads and explore ideas that take too many hours to put a easily accessible price on than try to please the whims of fashion. I realize most people don't feel that way, which is why there is so much unethical promoting, design theft and other various forms of bad behavior out there. People want bigger houses, newer cars and fancy vacations. All I want is more beads, and a quiet sunny place to play with them.
Next months challenge is warm and fuzzy. I am working on an entry for that since it is the final challenge of the year and I am required to participate. I don't know how salable the item will be, but since that is the ultimate goal in the EBW challenges I will try.