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Monday, March 31, 2014


This is the third post with a liquor inspired piece of jewelry.  Pretty soon, you guys are going to start thinking I have a drinking problem.  FYI, that's not the case.  I'm a lady.  Ladies are prim, proper and conscious of the image they present to society at all times.  Ladies don't have drinking problems.  Ladies cautiously indulge.

You won't believe how hard it was to find a photo of intoxicated women without a panty shot.  THANK YOU, Inspired Women for classier pictures on your website.

Certain beverages have a long tradition of consumption, special rituals, standards and acceptable flavors.  These beverages tend to be highly regarded and seen as points of sophistication.  They are intoxicating in more than one way.  That sends a powerful and, to some, sensual message.  Much like Jewelry does.

That is why I'm posting this piece that I call 'Cognac'.

It features colors common to this historical brown alcohol from France.  It also has an aura or of power and prestige without being overpowering.

I initially started this project to get rid of some left over beads from Brandy.  I was going to make a simple bracelet and call it a day.  Then, I remembered some polyclay beads I'd gotten from a Jesse James strand and decided to take it a bit further.  Thus, this necklace came into being.

I made the pendant out of some filigree and beads from a different project.  It came together nicely.  Here's a closer shot of it.

All in all, this project came together fairly easily and the experience was rewarding.  It freed up some space in my stash, gave my twitchy fingers a break from trying to work the pliers and generated something that makes me feel good.  That's always a plus.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I won a couple of eBay auctions a while ago.  I paid an average of about $3 for each auction, which featured 300 pieces of genuine swarovski crystals ranging from 3mm to 15 mm in size.  The colors were completely random.  It was a mystery bag.

A lot of people would say that a mystery bag is a bad investment, that you'll only get small beads or even that you'll only get ugly colors... but some of my best pieces have come out of mystery piles and destashes.  If you've ever bought swarovski for a project before, you KNOW how easily you can end up spending $1 per bead.   $3 for a swarovski mystery mix is NOTHING.  You can pull a definitely pull some decent pieces from grab bags.

You don't believe me?  Well, look at this commission I made from mostly items I got from my grab bags.

It's a full 20 inch necklace.  Not a half-beads, half chain number either.  Here it is from a less flattering angle.

I was even able to squeeze a bracelet out of it.  The bracelet looks pretty durn good too, if I might say so myself.

Oh.  And I got some earrings out of it as well.  Grab bags are only a bad investment if you don't know how to wield your powers as a designer.   Put your creativity to work.  Think outside the box and remember that even if you get 'ugly' colors, you can make them spectacular with the right additions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

La Fée Verte

I love emerald greens. They have always exuded an aura of vibrance and nobility.  I always picture rich, well-nourished foliage, copious wildlife and a regal appreciation for all things that walk and crawl.  Also, elves and fairies. 

I swear this is not another Lord of the Rings or Hobbit fan art piece.  I happen to be highly inspired by the Prohibition Era and the green fairy (absinthe).  Consuming absinthe is a ritual.  You start with a fine 'dose' peridot to emerald green liquid in a beautiful, yet simple crystal glass.

Courtesy of the Wormwood Society
Delicately place an elegantly perforated spoon and a sugar cube atop it and drip ice water.
Courtesy of the Wormwood Society
The sugar water falls into the glass, creating swirling opalescent patterns in a sea of verdant alcohol.
Courtesy of the Wormwood Society

That's classy.
You can't help but to be inspired by such a carefully crafted ritual to enjoy a beverage with a lot of tradition, history, mystery and misconceptions.  It was just that sort of feeling that inspired the following design.   La Fée Verte.

Look at that color!
I often pair green with gold.  They aren't complimentary colors, but they do bring out each other's good sides.  I inherited the green glass point from a destash buy from Etsy.  Initially, I had no idea what to do with it.  That's distressingly common with a lot of my pendants.  The little twinge of uncertainty excites me and make me more likely to do something unexpected.

I tend to stay away from side drilled points because they have a nasty habit of shattering the instant you thread something through them or clink a bead against the place where they hole is drilled.  Bails are necessary.  I HATE bails.  They often don't work with beaded chain and force you to stick with stringing techniques.  Also, they tend to have a very large opening that is hard to hide AND balance. 

I hate bails.  Still, I looked at this green point and I said, "I have to do something with you.  Now."  I actually found a solution to the common problems with points through something I noticed about Amy Labbe's line of Art-i-cake findings in Michael's craft stores.  You see it? 

Get Closer.

That sparkling little rhinestone and tendril of silver is part of the rig holding the point to a bail I McGuyver'd out of a bit of filigree leftover from a project.  The filigree actually did not take well to bending into a bail.  I used that to my advantage to ensure that when I wrapped the pendant with wire and a rhinestone, the pressure wouldn't shatter the point.  The filigree pushes away and the wire pulls it back  Tension, baby.  That's PHYSICS!
Courtesy of Funny Junk.

None of the parts directly touching the bead are putting pressure on it.  The key to working with points is indirect pressure.  They have to be cradled, not gripped, like butterflies... or maybe captured fairies.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Great Friends: Jo

There are all kinds of friends.  What I've found is that few people actually have BEST friends, someone you can talk to about anything, trust to be there for you, and is comfortable telling you that you're being a huge jackass without fear of repercussions or hurting your feelings.  Everyone needs a friend like that.

I'm fortunate enough to have more than one.  Each of my best friends occupies a key role in my personal development.  What I mean by that is, we share everything without being judged.  As people, our differences make us grow closer together, rather than apart.

Do you remember how you and any of your best friends met?   Sometimes it's something HUGE and you immediately know that you and that person are going buddies forever.  Sometimes, it's small, like the word 'hello'.

That's how I met Joanna.  I'd started going to a Catholic High School in a mostly White neighborhood.  We always said 'Hello' to each other.  Everyday.  While our classmates were busy sticking with their 'clique' or being terrified of the minorities in their school, neither of us gave it much thought.  We were the best of friends.

A big thing that I will always carry with me was one of my first brushes with racism.  We were sophomores.  We'd synchronized our classes and always sat together for studies and lunch.  We'd make fun of our homework, teachers, and hang out at the mall together on half-days.
One day just before lunch, Joanna was staring off into space, looking very serious.   She disappeared for a while.  I was worried she had gotten sick again.  When she finally came and sat in our usual spot at lunch, I could tell she was in a funk.  The first words out of her mouth made my blood run cold.

One of our classmates thought that the Black girls and Latino girls were making our school 'bad' and that the White girls, Joanna included, shouldn't sit with them.  It's so easy to freeze up in a situation like this or to go with the 'popular' idea.  Joanna didn't.  No.  She turned into some kind of terrifying, blood-thirsty, blonde hell-beast.

Courtesy of Alpha coders.

But I loved her for it.  That was the moment that I knew Joanna and I were BEST friends.  She cared enough to tell me what was going on and dared to do the unpopular thing and make sure it did not happen again.  I knew that I could trust her.  Especially since I never saw that particular girl or her clique at school any more.
From then on, I've tried to speak up for others when they're being ostracized, bullied, or taken advantage of because there's someone besides my mom who will do the same for me, consequences be damned.  I'm already blunt as the flat side of a shovel, but thanks to my experience with Joanna's Fury, I've become quite adept at squashing rumors.

Thank you for always being fierce, silly, kind and serious when I need you to be.

Happy Birthday Joanna.

Apple Greens: Playing with Murano glass

For Christmas, I recieved a ton of Murano glass beads from my dear friends, Liz.  Murano glass is a type of bead that is typically hand blown by artisans.  Each bead is completely unique.  I've never really worked with Murano glass before, so I was curious about how to make it work for me.  It was tricky.

Murano glass is heavy, often has slightly irregular shapes and has to be treated carefully in a design.  Because the process of making these beautiful beads is so involved, artists often focus on making truly beautiful beads instead of truly uniform ones.  That can make incorporating them into a necklace design a bit tricky.  Still I pulled it off.  Have a look!

After some careful sanding and selective use of the beads we got this!

Such drama.

Much sparkle.
Alright, that's enough of me imitating the Doge meme.  This necklace was really easy to make and a great break for my wrists since they've been aching an unusual amount recently.  I wish I could post this on my Etsy, but mom snapped it up right away.  Perhaps I'll make something similar sooner or later.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I've been rather inspired by a lot of golden colors recently.  Maybe it's because I'm longing for the warmth of spring and summer.  Perhaps it's because the snow has blanketed my home and given me aches in my joints that I would sooner forget... Or maybe it's because I have a ton of golden, topaz, and bronze colored beads laying around.  Hmm...

Unrelated, I've been watching National Geographic and they've been hitting all my favorites.  Big cats, deserts, Predators of the Serengeti, The World's Deadliest (Also known as 'everything in or around Africa and Australia').  Couple all that with rediscovering Indiana Jones and you've got a recipe for simple, but magical looking baubles.

That's how we got Sahara.  Once again, findings and pendant rescued from the piles of treasure I've hoarded over the years and put into a useful form.

The majority of the focus for this piece is on that bedazzled pendant.

The aged findings and beads give it a rich, classic feel
I really like this piece.
 I think it would fabulously dress up a rustic, outdoorsy casual outfit. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Stash Blasting 2

In my last post I told you guys the origin story of this.

Today, as promised, I'm going to show you what I did with it and maybe tell you why I think its current incarnation is much better than any of the other possible ones that were brainstormed.  Ok.  Are you ready?  You sure?  Ok.  Here it is!

I call it the Dragon's Amulet
 I made it into a necklace for a variety of reasons.  Making it into a brooch would have removed much of its Muchness as the Mad Hatter would say.  I rather like 'Muchness', so I'm the last person who'd do something to remove it.  I couldn't make it into an earring set because there was only one and it would rip your earlobe clean off.  I also couldn't figure out how to incorporate it into a bracelet or hair clip without silly things happening. 

Such drama.
Initially, I'd wanted to make it into a necklace anyway.  However, there was the problem of finding components that could stand up to all that was going on with that pendant.  In the end, I had to couple some bead weaving techniques, contrary shapes, careful planning, and math (I hate math, but I swear, I use it more in my hobbies than I do anywhere else in life). 

The result was a piece of jewelry that practically EXPLODES with intricacy and richness. 

Look at how the sun bounces off that antique glass.

Thanks for reading guys!  Happy Crafting!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Stash Blasting

A few weeks ago, I told Rhonda, a fellow blogger and member of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago about how I'd been spring cleaning and trying to find purpose for the beautiful filigree I'd rediscovered.  She was VERY interested in what would come of it.  Rhonda has purchased some jewelry pieces from me before and she's always inquisitive about anything new that I might be doing.  Actually, come to think of it, Rhonda's always curious about anything clothing or fashion related that ANYONE'S doing.

We both needed to join this organization years ago.
WELL.  At any rate, habitual collecting and accessorizing aside, I did promise her that I'd get into making things from my fancy filigree as soon as possible.  Thus, we have this darling. 


I made this pendant YEARS ago, back when I first discovered the joys of E-6000 glue.  That, 4 years ago.  Around the last time I attended an anime conventions.  Ugh... Scandalous. 

At that time, I had fallen in love with Visual Kei (Think Hair Metal- except with men in drag... for some reason) and Harajuku fashion trends.  They were so new and different and often included cutesy accessories that look like cakes.  I tried emulating some of their elements in my art and jewelry design with varying success.

Oh how lovely.
 This pendant/brooch/thing was one of the successes.  I'd purchased most of the components online in an eBay auction for broken estate jewelry.  There were some GORGEOUS pieces in that auction.  Most of them, after repairs or repurposing went to my mother or sold immediately.  This one was a bit harder to place.

Check those details.  Mm.  So sexy.

I was at a loss as to what to do with it.  It seemed too pretty to attach to a brooch finding.  That would have been the easy way out, you know?  At the time my stash consisted of Czech glass beads of varying quality and even then I recognized that against this level of intricacy and quality, whatever design I came up with would be a flavorless imitation of 'style'.  So, I held on to it for FOUR YEARS.

Now, I did find something to do with it and it turned out much more brilliant than I imagined.  I will show it to my next post.  Check back on Wednesday for the finished design. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Forgotten Necklace

I didn't realize that I had this.  It's quite pretty, but somehow got lost in the shuffle.  I'll post it for you guys to judge, since I cannot remember how, why or what inspired me to make it.

I think it had something to do with the colors.  You don't see too much copper jewelry these days, at least not in filigree applications.  This pendant is absolutely audacious.  I'm glad I had enough sense not to make the chain too intricate or add too many elements to it. 

What do you guys think of this blue, copper and golden necklace?  Hit or Miss?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Miasma Necklace

Stringing has got to be the easiest and most ancient of all the jewelry making methods.  You only need a couple of things to complete a stringing project.  It's simple.  Even the most primitive and ancient of cultures has strung beads of some sort.  Furthermore, stringing gives rise to all other forms of beading.

Just 3 steps.
Obtain String and Bead.
Thread String Through Bead
Tie Off string.

Borrowed from Who Does These Things blog.

The simplicity of strung jewelry makes the whole process VERY zen-like.  You have repetitive motion, repeating patterns, and a small simple task to focus on.   In no time, you have a beautiful, enchanting piece at your fingertips, like this one.  

BAM!  In your face!  Look at those beautiful purple resin swirls!

This particular necklace is one of the few times I've used acrylics to create a jewelry piece.  I tend to stay away from plastic beads because they feel kind  However, recently, Jesse James, Darice, and Blue Moon have been producing high quality acrylic beads.

It's a simple pendant with a slightly tribal feel.

Would you wear it?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Great Friends

One of my dear friends is a kind, sweet, and thoughtful young woman, one of those strange people that you don't meet often: A Marvelous Friend.  From the day I met her, she has always been a person you can depend on and trust.  She gives till it hurts.  She plans things to the smallest detail.  She is always there for you when you need her, even if you don't ask her to be and, right now, she's my favorite person because she just gave me a metric ton of beads.

Naturally, I'm going to show them to you, because, why else would I mention it?

Lime green, black and shimmery silver Murano glass beads
I've known her since high school, back when she dyed her hair black, wore maroon lipstick and worked with the theater club making and painting sets.  Even then, she was kind of a reckoning force: Stellar grades, solid extracurricular activities, and the best-designed planner in Queen of Peace. 

Black, White and Shimmery Semi-opaque Murano Glass
That was important back then.  Your planner was a collection of your hopes, dreams, goals, ideals and where you kept your class schedule.  Personalizing it made it clearly and irrevocably yours in the world of plaid skirts and white polo shirts.

That swirly pendant looks dangerous.

There were three things the administration didn't touch: your socks, your planner and your hair.  Necessity regulated hair-style changes.  A ponytail doubled as a handy pencil case in a pinch, so it was most preferred.  Socks and planners were the things we were allowed to go wild with.  You saw everything in a person's planner.  Was she a nature lover?  A preppy chick?  A sports fanatic?  A rave-loving wild card?

Bats, skulls, pumpkins and pentagrams!  Huzzah!
Or a kind down to earth person who was a closeted horror movie-fanatic?  Seeing a person's planner told the story.

Happy Birthday and thanks for everything, Lizzer.