Meet ANNIE, my muse. I photographed her on a sunny February day on our deck just up from the woods. She's sporting a tank, a my husband's tooled leather belt , a big silver buckle that my dad used to wear, and lots of new "cowgirl"-style jewelry. She's looks pretty good, right?
It all started with my "need" for a figure like hers to be the stage for the new western-themed jewelry I had in my head. Once she arrived, Annie seemed the right name (just enough sass), but she needed some clothing. Well, lo and behold, I found the perfect garment on Junk Gypsies website: "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History"--one of my favorite sayings.
Well, ever since I partnered up with Annie, my full-size (although headless and legless) jewelry model, I have found a wealth of jewelry ideas that just keep coming.
See what's new below.
SUEDE:::a softly western style . . .
This is "Palomino"--a set made with handmade lampwork beads (Blue Heeler and others), Czech glass, and pewter.
I made it in several colors (soft desert tones), and some of them are now "living" in two Oregon galleries till they get adopted by someone who loves them. There are some on the website. I'll make more.
ROCKIN' COWGIRL:::a little more bold . . .
Annie will be wearing a whole neck-full of these babies. Some will be long like this, some short, some heavily turquoise, some glass, some will feature vintage cowgirl pendants or western wear pendants. But at shows she will be front and center loaded down, because "more is better."
Each necklace will have a pair of earrings that coordinate with the necklace (not much matchy-matchy) so they will be easy to wear with several other necklaces.
BY THE BOOK:::book chain, lays flat like a moveable cuff . . .
This is a variation of my Glass Charm Bracelets, first introduced in 2012, but still a favorite. I make them all the time. Each one has a Swarovski "Wild Heart" charm to indicate their classy degree of innate wildness.
I have several of these, and my new idea is to colorize the chain and use coordinating (or not!) dangles.
This one has been showing up on Pinterest a lot lately. Love that!
BEACH VACATION:::"Posy Patch"
I just finished my first collection of these last weekend. This one actually sold once it was seen on Facebook. Each piece I made is OOAK (one of a kind), so it won't be repeated. But lots of colors are available, and I'll make more.
Lovely frosted sea glass (man-made) is combined with lots of goodies from my stash--tagua nut, Lucite, and Czech glass, for sure.
BEACH VACATION:::"Tawny Gold" necklace
Love working with the sea glass. It mixes well with other materials, plus it GLOWS from within.
Check out the bottle-rim pendant. Looks like a piece of bottle that just washed up on the shore. I use sea glass that is man-made, and it looks beautiful.
Annie is calling my name again from the studio where she stands in front of the fireplace. While she continues to do that, I will respond. Today I'll be making BEACH VACATION earrings. I have a dozen ideas. Way to go, Annie!
DESTASHING: The "art" of finally letting go of treasured baubles and stuff.
I love destashing. It gives me another chance to discover things I thought I'd lost, to reorganize, and to get ready to find new homes for those little babies I've been hoarding for way too long. I loved them in the beginning, but today my styles have changed just enough that I don't use the same beads and findings. But somebody can! And I have way too much stuff! (Is there such a thing where beads are concerned?)
I do most of my shopping on-line at favorite "stores." Thus I have accumulated some items that perhaps were not what I thought they would be. Have you ever bought way too many of the perfect bead and when it arrived it was NOT the chartreuse you thought, but lime green? In the destash basket. How about those clasps that are way cheaper when you buy a dozen, but you only ever used eight? The orange daggers that "came in" sets of five strands, but you only need three? In the destash basket. Or the chrome seed beads that are perfect for spacers, but you had no idea how much a quarter kilo amounted to? In the destash basket.
I do several DeStash Events throughout the year, so I periodically update my DS baskets and trays. Right now I'm getting ready for a bead retreat where 75 women gather to bead, take classes, learn from each other by watching and informal chats, and eat. Lots of the latter. But many of us bring things to "liquidate", shall I say, so if we sell something we often bring home other people's treasures too.
The energy is AMAZING for that weekend. I always take bead projects and spread out my tools, beads, findings, and light, but I get so distracted. I make a few things but I find myself wandering around the room several times per day to see what is being designed, invented, tweaked, auditioned, mulled over. Mostly the latter. And see what other people are liquidating. . . I wouldn't want my stash to get too small, after all.
Here are a couple of the baskets and trays that are in the "think I'll take that" stage. Do you see those lime green beads? And the daggers?
It's been a couple of days, and I think I have sorted all I can. I packed up a couple of plastic totes with towels and placemats between the trays. There are paper plate "shopping carts" for those who need the beads I'm movin' on out. I found some polymer clay buttons and charms I did a while back. They're still fun so I had to save a few. (I might knit. Someday.)
My new issue of Stringing magazine for Spring 2013 arrived this week. I've been submitting pieces for publication since 2009, and I was anxious to see what was new. Well, it's my "Maria" bracelet made with tagua nut. It's a "no-metal" bracelet for those who cannot wear metals because even the toggle clasp is made with tagua, a sustainable material from Ecuador (and other Central and South American countries.) It's also commonly called vegetable ivory and is widely used in colorful jewelry.
Tagua nut is one of my most favorite stringing materials. I love the way it works with glass, especially lamp work beads, and metals. Many colors are saturated, and the texture is smooooooth! Plus it's lightweight, perfect for the longer earrings. .
I have several bracelets in the Mixed GlassWear section of the website where you can see where I've used those together. Also fun are the tagua bangles in those hazy, not quite pastel hues that I'm just loving lately. Here are a couple of those to see what I mean plus a pair of clip earrings.
I am scheduled to have a necklace published in the summer issue, and I'm working on pieces to submit for the fall issue. So when they "debut", I'll let you know.
Round 2 of Suze's jewelry redesign project was delivered today. She was delighted! We're calling it the Band Practice Collection because of how it came about. For several years, Suze taught music lessons in her studio to a group of ladies in their golden years who wanted to learn something new or brush up on old skills. Due to health and other issues, it came to be that all the ladies needed to meet at one home, and Suze delivered the lessons to them. Over the years, they formed a "group" and called their sessions "Band Practice." Her payment was a sum of money that they insisted she use for herself only...no bills, no gifts to anyone, just something special for herself. She saved it up, and this jewelry redesign is what she chose.
She will be at the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering in Ellensburg WA February 14-17, and some of the new pieces are for this event. She is performing and wanted new stage eye-catchers. So I delivered. We'll start with her favorite.
Here are a few more redesigns. Each uses mainly the beads in the original, but I add glass, metal, or findings from my own stash to "make it right" and to put my own style on it. Sometimes it needs to be longer (or shorter), or chunkier (or slimmer), or more symmetrical (or a bit crazy). It all depends on what the beads in the original tell me.
Here is a necklace that just needed to be lengthened into a rosary-style. So I added quite a bit of glass and some coral. Suze wanted more red and liked the two colors of turquoise in the original piece.
Here is a necklace that needed to be tamed a bit. It's hard to tell it's the same set of beads! The blackened copper filigree pendant is fabulous.
You can see Suze's style and color palette preferences in the necklaces above. The next project is a real change of pace. The crystal links had languished in a jewelry box for far too long. They had been part of a necklace years ago, and Suze wanted it updated into pieces she could wear.
In October 2010 I met with a friend who wanted me to update her vintage collection of inherited jewelry, gifts, and her own purchases over the years. She didn't wear it anymore, or never had in some cases, but she wanted to honor the memory of some pieces handed down from dear relatives. So we met to brainstorm, and in the end she gave me a box of jewelry, some intact and some just remnants, and a list of projects that I completed by the end of the year.
Suze Spencer Marshall is an award-winning musician, entertainer, music teacher, and record producer in Vancouver, WA whose western musical roots go way back to the 30s and 40s. We first met at her house where she showed me fabulous collections of her stage wear: vintage western shirts and boots, lovely velvet jackets, and beaded garments from the early 20th century. With these in mind, and knowing that she wanted what would look fabulous on stage, we planned the remakes.
Here are a few before and after pictures of what was done:
Those are five of the original remodels I did for Suze. There were more, some with white glass pearls and very traditional, some with black nailheads in a netted design, some with glass chips that just needed more room between the beads so they could move. All were fun. As I work on Round 2, I'll show you the process.
Just this week I "remodeled" my work space. (I've really been into the new looks, updates, fresh starts this year so far--no guarantees on how long this phase will last, however.) But this is where I work.
Organization and efficient storage are the keys to my being able to work creatively. It will always nag at me if I have a chore to complete before I sit down to have fun. And beading is way beyond fun for me. It's when my muse sits nearby, maybe on my shoulder, and gives me artistic encouragement and inspiration. Hence, the remodel . . . and on to courting the muse!
First a little history: My studio is a big room in our basement that used to be the rec room when the kids were little and played down there. Years went by and the room became a store room for furniture, athletic equipment, you know, an easy place to stash whatever. Then one day I thought that I wanted to move from a small spare bedroom upstairs to this luxurious space that wasn't being utilized to its full potential. It's big (about 18 x 30 feet), carpeted, and completely comfortable, and I am really appreciative of it. So I carried all my beading stuff down the stairs piece by piece (and of course did a thorough purging of the accumulated goods to better homes.) The arrangement has gone through several redos over the years, but I'm really happy with it now. We plan to move the pool table out later (right now it's a staging area) and put in a large wooden dining-style table (now living in the garage) for display, work, bead retreats, and classes. It's always something . . .
The photo at the top shows where the magic happens, so to speak. There are two six-foot tables, one under the windows and one to the right forming a corner. The table you see is the actual workspace; the other table holds stuff. The cool thing is my storage on the table. I ordered two shelf units from Amazon (the kind that are used in schools as mailboxes or paper storage). I assembled them, put them on the table, and proceeded to fill up the 72 cubbies. Since most of my beads and findings are stored in plastic divided boxes, the fit is perfect! And . . . everything I use all the time is with reach. My husband is going to build one for the other table that is a more custom size. I'm sure I can find things to fill up those cubbies too.
But the best thing is that I'm no longer working in a one-foot-square space. In the past I've always somehow ended up doing that by surrounding myself with beads, boxes, books, tools, articles, etc. until I have almost no room left to work. So, right now at least, I have the whole length of the table to work on a project. No guarantees, but for this week, it's working!
The photo to the left above is my tool table. It's a steel garage or workshop metal shelf from Costco, so it's beefy. I have three of these altogether. The other two are for other purposes. But this one is where I keep my hammers, mandrels, bench blocks, stamps, cutting tools, dapping tools--anything that really requires some pounding. The shelf below is storage for tools used less often. The wooden section on top is a leftover from my mishmash of earlier storage shelves. It's about four feet long and about nine inches wide. It's perfect for the little things that need to be corralled or they fall off or get lost. I have the stamps, hole punches, scale, dapping blocks, glues and other solutions there. And it's open underneath so that tools with longer handles can be tucked there and still be found easily.
Those are my two main work areas. I sometimes go downstairs and just look at it. Do you ever do that? I'll do the same thing after I've made a piece that I really, really like. Just make a trip to look at it. It's somehow satisfying.
About Me . . .
I am a beader.
Courting My Beading Muse . . .
I think about beads and jewelry a lot. Maybe not constantly, but almost. So when my muse is with me, I must court her so she stays and provides me with inspiration. Here are some results . . .