“Dream Garden” bead embroidered necklace with vintage glass cabochons. Many of the beads and stones feature an aurora borealis coating. This finish creates beautiful play of light effects, which lend an ethereal, dreamlike quality.
I’m still trying to participate in NaSeBeMo. I say “trying” because I have not been able to bead every day as I had hoped. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I have had a TON of custom work this month, so most of my creative energy has gone to that.
Still, I’ve made a conscious effort to get in as much beading time as I possibly can. While I have not been able to bead daily (which is the goal of NaSeBeMo) I have managed to do a bit of beadwork at least 4-5 days a week. This is significantly more beading time than I have had all year. Hopefully I can continue in this vein.
Most of my projects have been small ones. I took one evening earlier this month, and glued a bunch of cabochons down to a beading substrate. I mean a whole bunch… there are vintage glass stones, old Swarovski, and an abundance of jaspers and agates. This prep work has made it possible for me to work in a bit of bead embroidery whenever I have a spare minute or two. Many of the stones will decorate my leatherwork, while others will be bases for me to build into more complex jewelry pieces.
In addition to the smaller projects mentioned above, I’ve completed the two necklaces shown here, as well as an assortment of earrings and bracelets. They’re all simple pieces, but it feels really good to be getting back into the habit of beading again.
Another factor in all of this is that I recently got glasses. I have needed them for some time, but kept putting it off because the adjustment period is so intense for me; as a self employed artist, I really can’t afford to have impaired vision for an extended length of time! I’ve been wearing my new glasses for 3 weeks now, and I still have some rough side effects (dizziness, nausea, headaches) but it is getting easier. So while the transition phase is slow and uncomfortable, I expect a long term benefit to my beading practice. I am already noticing a huge improvement in my vision, which should make beading a lot more enjoyable 🙂
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my beads have really been calling to me. I’d love to listen, but I never seem to have the time or resources to really explore this. That’s why I’m stepping back from commissions right now; I really want to clear out some time to follow my muse.
While I do enjoy the type of work that I’ve been doing, it feels like I have fallen into a cycle of creating easier, smaller, “safer” stuff — either because that’s all that I’ve got time for, or because I know that it will sell. That last bit may sound shallow, but let’s get real — I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living, but it IS still work. This is how the bills get paid, so I often feel pressured to create the smaller “bread and butter” items that satisfy my creditors, rather than the time intensive pieces that satisfy my soul.
Amber necklace – 2001
For a frame of reference, the headdress above is probably one of the most elaborate pieces that I’ve completed in the past several months. It’s lovely, and I’m quite proud of it; however, it’s still not a huge time investment compared to my beaded pieces. It probably took twice as much time for me to create the necklace at the left — which is still not that elaborate in the realm of beadwork! In both cases, the significant creation time requires a greater price tag than most of my work. While they’ll certainly sell eventually (in fact, the necklace already has) I typically do not sell pieces like these every day. Thus you can see how I’ve fallen into this cycle of creating more “bread and butter” work, and less of the deeper work that really fuels me creatively.
I’d really like to change that in the year ahead, but I’m not entirely sure how to do that. The cold hard truth is that no matter how loudly my muse calls, my responsibilities remain. So how do I create this shift in focus? Do I take out loans (not really an option), pray for a generous benefactor, or simply take a huge leap of faith?
For several years now, I’ve been sketching very elaborate designs which would incorporate several of the skills that I’ve developed over the last 20 odd years, and also challenge me to develop new ones. While I used to fantasize about having the time to work on these ideas, now I am feeling like I need to. Part of this drive is simply my creative force aching to stretch and grow, and part of it is the need to go deeper and develop greater patience and focus (qualities I am seeing the need for in other areas of my life). I can see and feel this goal very clearly, but I can’t yet see how to actualize it. Any suggestions?
For this installment of my handmade holiday gifts series I’m going to focus on jewelry. It is such a time tested gift idea – we all love to adorn ourselves, and there’s a nice range of price points. Jewelry is great for stocking stuffers (like my peacock earrings to the left) and also as a more elaborate gift for someone special
Whatever you choose, I hope that you’ll avoid the big chain stores (where everything looks the same) and consider buying from independent artists instead. This list includes a few of my favorites from Etsy. Their styles range widely, but the common denominator is that these are individual craftsmen (and women) who create original, quality work.
beaded bracelet by Beadware
Beadware creates handcrafted gifts & fine beaded jewelry made with glass beads, crystals, stones, pearls, sterling silver, pewter, copper, brass & silver or gold plate. Affordable enough to wear a different piece everyday.
Her designs reflect a juxtaposition of left and right brain. She likes organization, order and details. She loves color, combining it in surprising mixes or staying within a color family. Her work is colorful, delicate, tasteful, understated and simple.
beaded necklace by Blazin’ Beads
Jenny of BlazinBeads says this of her work: “I strive to create unique pieces. I get my inspiration for my creations from colors I see in nature. I am always thinking of new ideas and feel most satisfied with my work when I can put the many ideas I have into a new and unique piece. My true passion is seed bead work and it is crucial to me to follow my own style. I have been beading for 20+ years now and my creations are meant to stand the test of time.”
tribal skull necklace by Erthe Fae
Erthe Fae is your source for handmade fantasy jewelry, steampunk jewelry and tribal jewelry. She makes beaded necklaces, crystal bracelets, unique anklets, chandelier earrings and more. Every item is one-of-a-kind and handmade in Arizona with a dazzling variety of beads.
Her handmade jewelry draws on her love of fantasy, faerie lore, tribal belly dance and the steampunk subculture. She designs with these passions in mind, always striving to create something that is equally at home with a costume or day-to-day wear.
wire wrapped bracelet by Faerie Kat
Faerie Kat’s Dream Faire wares are handmade necklaces and chokers, bracelets and cuffs, rings and earrings, tarot bags and pixie pouches, faerie stars, handcrafted books and folders with jeweled pens, tiny crocheted bowls and baskets, and other trinkets and treasures shaped from the ethereal gossamer of Kat’s dreams.
She is inspired by the magic of nature, mythology and legends, fantasy and folklore, fairy tales and faeries, all living in a world overlooked or unseen by most.
deer necklace by Heidi Kummli
Heidi Kummli’s beadwork is an expression of herself, and her feelings for our Mother Earth and the creatures upon her. Through researching Native American beadwork techniques and trial and error, her work has continually evolved. Heidi started working with beads in 1975 and remembers making jewelry even as a young child. Heidi’s great grandmother was a Chippewa Indian that did beadwork for Vaudeville. Heidi feels this gift was passed down to her. She currently lives on 12 acres west of Boulder, Colorado with her husband Gregg, and their son Benjamin age 15. Their home is totally off the grid. The sun and a back up generator is all they need to power their home. Heidi has won numerous design awards throughout her career. She hopes that through her work she can share the beauty that surrounds her.
JG Beaded Jewelry offers handcrafted beaded jewelry and unique gifts including beaded earrings, bracelets, necklaces, crystal sun catchers, rear view mirror car decorations, beaded bookmarks, real bug necklaces, insect key chains and Lovin Life stickers.
She loves beads & gemstones and started creating jewelry when she was very young. They say, if you love something – stick with it, well… she has stuck with it (for decades).
necklace by Rainwater Studios
Rainwater Studios explains: “Each piece I make is unique and enchanted. From faeries who frolic and play to butterflies in flight. I like to use vintage jewelry pieces and precious stones to mesmerize the eye. Each piece has a story to add a personal touch. From the Celtic highlands to the romantic times of the Regency Era. You are sure to find a special piece that you will soon want to call your own.”
earrings by Seattle Chic
Seattle Chic is a 1-woman artisan business, creating handmade jewelry & jewelry-quality accessories for boutiques, online, & local customers.
She says: “I can’t imagine a life without passion. Making imaginative, original jewelry & photographing it keep me busy all day & up half the night. When I do sleep, I dream up new designs & can’t wait to get up to make them real. I hope you find something here that you love & sense the joy I felt when creating it!”
ancient eye bracelet by Splendid Fish
Splendid Fish says “Each piece of high quality handcrafted jewelry from Splendid Fish Studio is based on original designs imagined and hand tooled by B. de Corbin.
You won’t find pieces like these made by anyone else, or sold anywhere else in the world. I work with copper, brass, and silver using a variety of ancient techniques such as forging and enamelling. My work is derived from the work of the ancient metalsmiths, but is still contemporary, and is designed and constructed to please the discriminating collector. This is not just costume jewelry – each piece is an original, quality piece of art!”
ear cuff by Thyme2Dream
Thyme 2 Dream states: “I create jewelry for Fae & Elven folk and have recently discovered that mortals like it too…in my shop you will find unusual jewelry items~ ear cuffs, bohemian wraps (ear wraps), arm cuffs, tiaras, circlets, hair vines combs & twirls, rainbows and other fairy accouterments.
Fantasy, Medieval and Renaissance wedding jewelry is also a specialty of mine…I would love to work with you to create something unique for YOUR special day!”
thistle ring by Winged Lion
Winged Lion says that they’re “an artistic family – Natalia, Sergey, and our teenage son Lev. In our etsy store you can see Jewelry made by Sergey and original hand-pulled prints by Natalia and Lev.
Having an extensive fine art background, Sergey combines deep knowledge of art history, refined taste, vivid imagination, and the ability to turn his artistic fantasies and inspirations into accurate and realistic renderings. Some of Sergey’s jewelry pieces are designed by himself, some by me [Natalia]. Our creative collaboration resulted in producing jewelry which can be truly called wearable art.“
filigree earrings by 1000 Dragonflies
1000 Dragonflies creates exquisite vintage inspired filigree jewelry, using components from her extensive collection of vintage and antique rhinestones. She has an excellent eye for line and color, and her work is particularly drool-worthy!
These artists’ work may or may not be to your taste. Of course, I hope that you will love their work as much as I do, and choose to support them … but if you don’t, please consider doing your holiday shopping with other independent artists on Etsy, or at local craft fairs.
Apparently, I’m still on a cuff kick. I’ve made a couple new ones since my last cuff post, and I have more in the works. Not that I’m cranking them out or anything. If you’ve ever done beadwork, you know — it is simply impossible to “crank out” quality beadwork.
These are a bit simpler than my filigree cuffs. I’ve been using them to explore my aversion to negative space. To be clear, it’s not that I dislike negative space… it’s just that when I get in the beading groove, sometimes it’s hard to stop myself from filling everything up with color and texture.
So I’m consciously trying to leave some open space with these. It amuses me to notice how challenging that can be. It takes conscious effort for me not to bead every square inch of the cuff!
I suppose that I’m improving, though. This brown and green cuff is my second attempt at deliberate open space. The smaller purple & teal cuff below was my first try, and as you can see, the ends are really the only areas that leave any open space.
The one that I’m still working on is primarily open space, with just a beaded focal and edging. I like it, but I’ve got the nagging feeling that it isn’t finished. Once I complete the edging, I’ll post a picture here and on my facebook fan page. It might be interesting to see what kind of response it gets. Maybe that sense that’s it’s incomplete is just a manifestation of my compulsive desire to bead everything? 😉
. Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with a group of old deadhead friends that I used to be very close to. This community was colorful and eclectic, and I learned so much from them. Being a bunch of hippies they naturally loved beads, so I also learned a lot about beading. In fact, I would say that some of the best beadwork I’ve ever seen came out of the the deadhead parking lot scene.
My fascination with cabochon beading – and also my love for antique microbeads – probably began during my deadhead years. I’d been doing beadwork, and even collecting beads before I got into the Grateful Dead, but those years really fueled my interest. I was exposed to the work of talented bead artists like Nome May, and of course, selling my work was a great way to support my gypsy lifestyle.
A few of my friends still have some of the pieces that I used to sell to fund my travels. I was delighted when they shared pictures of these older pieces with me. This one belongs to my beautiful friend Janna, who grew up to be an inspiring yoga teacher. It was made in 1989, and it features a large chrysacolla cabochon with a small (I think) raw emerald cab below it. The blue-green stones are tourmaline, and the quartz crystal at the bottom used to be a much longer, crossed/double terminated point, but it broke at some point over the last 20 years.
This barrette belongs to another amazing old friend, Hollie Rose – Java Goddess and owner of Klekolo Coffee in Middletown, CT. It was made in 1988, and it features 3 teensy opal cabs and 1 aquamarine cab set with size 18/o vintage micro seed beads. The funny thing is – I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I made this (In fact, I still have some of the beads from this dye lot!)
Seeing these pictures reminded me of just how long I’ve been creating beadwork. It’s interesting to me that even though I’ve learned many different techniques over the years, I am still drawn to the same types of materials, such as cabochons and vintage beads. This picture shows me doing beadwork when I was about 15. Back then, I might not have guessed that my love for beadwork would last a lifetime, or play such an important role in my life.
We recently cleaned out a storage unit that had been untouched for some time. I was psyched to find a box of beadwork that I thought had been lost in a move years prior!
I’m guessing this work is circa 1997-2001, and it’s in various stages of completion. There are some pieces I’d still like to finish … like these two necklaces in the upper right:
They’re from a “goddesses and angels” phase I went through. In 1999, a dear friend of mine died. I can’t help thinking that if she’d nurtured herself as much as she did everyone else, she might still be around. It became really important to me to remind my women friends that they’re amazing — divine, even — and to honor that. These necklaces (and brooches) were the result. It’s nearly 10 years later, and this sentiment still resonates with me.
Besides, they’re almost done! The bright blue one below is worked in microbeads (mostly 16/o to 18/o) and features firey opal and rainbow moonstone cabochons. I have her pictured above her big sister there for a sense of scale. All she needs now is some arms (or wings) and to have the neckline polished off:
Other pieces will probably remain unfinished, like the multitude of amulet bags. Below are just a few. Some are pretty cool — but it’s been more than a decade since my big amulet craze, and I’m still burnt out on making them!
I think the little dove amulet is the most recent work in this box. It was a sample for a pattern Julia created as a Bead Quilt fundraiser in 2002. At that point, the quilt kind of took over my creative/beady energy and I didn’t bead again for quite awhile.
This box runs the gambit from “wow, I need to explore that idea more!” to “OMG, what was I thinking?”. Some pieces will be finished, sold or gifted, while others will stay as they are. All of these pieces are special, they represent a piece of my past — of myself — that I thought I’d lost long ago!