Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vintage Lucite

I picked this flower brooch up in a thrift store figuring I could refashion it into a necklace of some kind.  I have no idea when it was made, but, when I was pondering design possibilities, an image of it paired with retro 1950s/1960s beads came into my head.  I located vintage teardrop Lucite beads that probably are from the early 60s when moonglow (a pearlized finish) finish became very popular. 

I like how the teardrop shapes echo the shapes of the flower’s petals. I thought the Lucite spacers with the beaded edges were very interesting as well. I am hoping these items will all manage to work well  together in a necklace.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lillian Bracelet

I finished the bracelet I have been working on using my grandmother’s locket. Along with the heart locket, I used a Lily of the Valley brass finding because my Grandmother’s name was Lillian. Ceramic rose painted beads highlight the romance of the heart locket. Brass links with white patina accentuate the vintage qualities of the other findings.

Originally, I was going to make it a multi-strand bracelet with small, matte white beads, but decided against that. Somehow, that wasn’t looking right to me.

I  want to remove the current clasp so I can add a toggle clasp. I did not have one on hand to use. What do you all think of it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring is Blooming

We know it is spring here when our annual nesting birds arrive on the porch outside our bedroom. After too many indoor snow days and sickness of winter, I always greet spring with some relief. As flowers (and pollen!) begin to bloom again, I am left longing to create.

Today I took out some beads and findings to play with. I know I have two other projects going right now, but there are some specific beads I am waiting on so I can get back to work on my grandmother-memory project. I wanted to use some silver tone jewelry because I have not worked with it yet. So I positioned and repositioned chain, beads, and findings.

I love the process of discovering which beads and findings fit the style and mood of a piece. I have always been drawn to color and different ways of using color. This goes back to my scrapbooking days of old! I wonder where these particular beads and findings will take me?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slowing the Hands of Time

In working with my grandmother’s locket, I wanted a way to preserve the pictures since they are not behind glass and are glued down to the locket surface. I first scanned the images and backed them up online as well as on DVD.

Researching the best method to preserve them was a little tricky. I finally found the Glass Attic site, one of the few resources to address the ways to seal the pictures. I will use an acrylic sealer to seal the images first. I then want to coat them with Magic-Glos resin to provide a barrier between the images and the elements. Hopefully this will freeze or slow down the fading/aging of the pictures.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Trash to Treasure

I finished my Tribal Treasures workshop DVD and really thought it was excellent. My skills improved greatly from the DVD version since I could see what Miller was doing and not rely on only pictures in a book. I am now moving on to her Ethnic Style DVD. After that, I may want to enroll in a class held at one of the local beading stores here.  

I am waiting on a few specific beads to arrive before I begin work on the bracelet I have been simmering on the back burner. In the meantime, I am debating entering a Trash to Treasure beading contest.  On the one hand, my grandmother bracelet could easily fit the category since I am using a lot of vintage findings. But, I think I would like to create a different project for it.

I have a lot of second hand/vintage findings so deciding which to use may be hard. Also, the idea of entering a contest freaks me out a bit since I am a beginner, but it won't be to win as much as to challenge myself.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

No Bigger than an Agate Stone

In a previous post, I mentioned winning some handmade earrings in a giveaway. I received them yesterday. They are even more beautiful in person than I was able to capture in this picture (the photo doesn't get at the amazing small details). I wore them to a birthday party today.

Yesterday, I explored a giant beading store in the far, far suburbs of Atlanta (Duluth!). I had some time to kill while my husband and son got haircuts. Beads After Beads had a beautiful collection of beads from crystal, to glass, to semi-precious stones. The only thing I thought needed some improvement was their selection of findings and beading wire.
Interestingly, as I explore beads, I find myself particularly drawn to natural stones like agate. I never thought of myself as a natural stone lover. Yet, I love the unexpected palette and pattern produced in nature that is reflected in natural stone. Have you found yourself surprised by the beads and/or findings that attract you when crafting jewelry?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Savings Plan

I normally save up spare change and then, every month or two I take it to a coin sorting machine. I then use the money for splurge fun. Once this jar is full, I have a feeling I may just be using these funds toward jewelry making items.

I do have some other items that I love though.

Look at these beautiful potholders that xxxRedStitcHxxx makes in her etsy shop! (Photo from the RedStitch shop). 

 And another favorite of mine are the wonderful felted chickens that TheLavendarTree crafts. (Photo from The Lavendar Tree shop). 

Guess I really do need to save my pennies!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All Wound Up

I won something!!!! I am so excited. I entered a giveaway and won some beautiful earrings from Simon and Ruby's  Etsy shop.

Today I worked on a coiled bead lesson. I am fairly pleased with the work I did, though I should go through and even out the spaces between the coils a bit more. I am happy to find my wirework improving with more and more practice.

I am pouring over the latest issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry. I absolutely love Stampington Company magazines, but I normally consider them too expensive to purchase, and just drool over them at the bookstore. However, I accidentally purchased it. I was purchasing some things for my son at Barnes and Noble, and meant to set the magazine aside, but it got swept up into my purchases (divine intervention??). Guess this only serves to further my addiction obsession!

What are your favorite (craft or other) magazines?  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I’m Getting Better!

Today I had a little time to do another lesson on the DVD tutorial I am using. One lesson was on making a hook and eye closure. I am very pleased with how this closure came out.

I also made a wrapped bead in another lesson. When I first attempted this lesson, I used too little wire so I had to start over. It also took me a little practice to see what she meant and how much pressure I need to use when forming the spirals. This looks like it can still use a wee bit of work, but I can tell that my wire wrapping skills are steadily improving.

As the week unfolds, I am looking forward to having some more time when I can focus some more on the bracelet I want to make.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kudzuing Around

Today I discovered a wonderful antique mall that I had no idea existed. It is called Kudzu Antique Market and it is just East of downtown Decatur.

It has some awesome items enclosed in its giant interior. I located a large pile of beads and jewelry findings in one stall. I spent a long time looking through those and came away with some great finds including some skeleton keys I can use as charms.

I also was on the hunt for a few bead storage vessels. I found a set of milk glass jars with tin lids that I love. I have a thing for milk glass!

But, my favorite two finds of the day were these vintage buttons (that remind me of blueberries!) I can use in jewelry making as well as this beautiful blue-green jar that I can store beads in.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nostalgic Vintage

As I mentioned Wednesday, I am working on a bracelet using one of my grandmother's charms. I have several pieces of her jewelry that I am hoping to eventually use in various ways. However, this brass heart locket has always been a favorite of mine.

Why? Well, it has two pictures encased safely inside. On the right is my grandmother, and on the left is a very faded picture of my grandfather in uniform. This was while he was gone fighting in WWII.

I have several ideas bouncing around in my mind- right now I am thinking maybe of trying to create a multi-strand bracelet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lenten Season

Today is Ash Wednesday. I attended a noon service at church. Ash Wednesday always marks the shift to the solemnity of Lent in our church year. I enjoy the rhythms of the church year and the reminders of the life of Christ. Here is a picture of me after the imposition of ashes.

I am in the process of designing a bracelet in memory of my grandmother. I have an old (not sure it is officially antique?) brass heart locket charm of hers that I want to use in a bracelet. I am slowly collecting other charms that look good with it. I also found some matte Czech glass beads. The more familiar I become with beads, the more I realize how much I like Czech glass beads in particular.

What are your favorite beads to work with?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


For some time, I have been working on figuring out a design I like for a necklace. I was playing with it in my mind ever since stumbling upon some great reclaimed saint medals on Etsy. The charms were all yellow gold in tone and I discovered a plain yellow gold link chain in my jewelry collection.

At the same time, I attended an Evensong service at church and was reminded of how the Magnificat (song of Mary) is one of my favorite songs. I am often brought to tears when I hear it. I contemplated how well this song fit with the theme of this necklace and it gave me the idea for the title of the piece. Later, I also realized this would fit well with the challenge fellow blogger Rebecca Anderson at Songbeads posed to make a piece inspired by a song you love. 

Initially, I struggled with how I wanted it to look- I first made it very long. But, when I tried it on that looked wrong/off balance to me, so I shortened the chain. I reworked some other parts of the chain as well - like the clasp.

(The picture of it on me is not superb- I am having a lot of trouble with lighting today). 

I ended up with a more asymmetrical design that I like. The center charm is reclaimed very ight weight religious medal of Mary and Jesus. I beaded with Garnet Gemstone 5-7mm Rectangle Beads and 6 mm Czech Cathedral Glass Beads 6mm.

How do you all like this? See any room for improvement?

Monday, March 7, 2011


Being Episcopalian, I am deeply attracted to liturgical worship. The more ritual I do, the closer I feel to God. For example, though not required of Episcopal worship, I do say the Rosary, sometimes practice novenas (nine day cycles of prayer), and love creative expressions of religious faith.

When I came across these incredible milagros charms I could not resist them. Milagros are prayer charms often used as a votive offering. The tradition is most common in Latin American countries as well as Spain. The charms are shaped to represent different prayer requests- for example, a heart can be used for a multitude of prayers; a new marriage, the hope for love, or increased heart health. 

I will definitely be using them somehow in my jewelry making, though I am not certain how yet. How would you use them?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

“Out of clutter find simplicity . . . “ –Albert Einstein

Yesterday I revealed my need to organize my jewelry making supplies. I gathered some items I already have like little glass jars, unused spice jars, shallow bowls, and decorative boxes.

I then purchased a fishing bait/tackle box. In looking for one, I took the advice of something I read about not buying one with movable pieces/walls. This turns out to be excellent advice- otherwise the beads and findings will migrate to other compartments.

 I also found a fishing reel box that works for storing my beading wire (though the spaces are slightly big- I can still get away with it).

 For now, I decided I like to divide by metal color for findings and chain. My beads I just placed in containers with no real categorization. As I get more beads, I may need to redo this to divide by color.

Sitting on top of the tackle box (far right top shelf) are some divided lunch trays made for kids that I also read are good for ongoing projects.

In other important news, my superb wire cutter arrived yesterday. I used it in one of the Tribal Bracelet lessons I am working through.

Let me confess that my wrappings look nothing like the beautiful, even work of Sharilyn Miller, but I am sort of pleased that I am getting just a wee bit better at it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Week’s End

My current goal is to organize some of my growing jewelry making supplies. I gathered all the small containers from around the house and am thinking about categories to sort them into. We have a bonus room that I have long thought would make a stellar crafting space. I have used it for scrapbooking a bit, though I have not done scrapbooking for quite some time now.

So I should definitely post some after pictures!!!

I am awaiting the arrival of some charms to continue with  my current project. I I have been having some trouble striking a good balance in the piece. I will need to move the elements around. For those with more experience, does finding the right way to balance the design elements in a piece start to come more easily over time?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jump Ring Woes

I have been making my way through the lessons on my Tribal Treasures DVDSharilyn Miller is an excellent instructor who really walks you through each step in the lessons- she leaves nothing out!

My struggle with jump rings continues, but today I discovered what I think part of the problem is. I have extremely inexpensive, not high quality wire cutters. I have a set of inexpensive tools because I did not want to make a big investment if I ended up not liking jewelry making.

So now I think I will redo the jump ring lesson once my improved wire cutter arrives. The good news is, my wire wrapping skills are steadily improving!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blooming Things

This morning, I got in some work for my new term teaching and I am about to watch my Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop DVD. I am excited by the techniques I will be learning in this at-home workshop.

In other news, I opened our curtains to the beautiful sight of our Camellia in bloom. We got this shrub as a housewarming gift when we first moved in and it has been growing strong ever since. Will there be a camellia-themed jewelry piece in my future???

Here is another sneak peak at my current bead board!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sneak Peek!

Psssst- what to take a guess as to what I am working on next?

Here is a preview:

Stone Path

This is my second design- a necklace and earring set. I am happy with how the necklace came out. I used all natural stones mostly in plum shades with a matching drop pendant. I added some gold beads as embellishment.

I made earrings that compliment the necklace out of glass beads and earring findings. They are imperfect because my wire wrap technique needs a bit more practice.

You've Gotta Start Somewhere!

I am brand new to jewelry making and learning things on my own using books and YouTube videos.

For my first necklace, I used pre-made chain as my jump rings still need to be perfected more. This is what my first design looked like (blurry I know!):

So, obviously, things seemed off balance and just . . . wrong. I was going for asymmetrical and it was clearly not working! Also as I viewed the picture of it, I realized the floral pendant on the far left did not look good with the other charms and pendants.

I took it apart. I moved things around endlessly on my bead board. I shortened it.

I crafted embellishments for the different charms to make them stand out more fully.  Finally I came up with this:

Generally, I think it works a lot better than the original. I think it could still use some more beaded elements or something to give it more bling though. What do you think?