Drawer 25: Iridescent

  Week 25/Drawer 25: June 21, 2017: “I Believe I can Fly”

 I’ve made perhaps ten of these complicated woven necklaces in my 22 years as a bead jewelry artist. As a beginner in the 90’s, I took lots of classes from a lot of fabulous well-known instructors.  I loved learning about other artists’ styles and methods, hearing their tips, fondling their samples, and buying their beads and books.  For me, there is no better way to spend time.

helen dietze (always lower case) gave classes in making “Ambassadors”—knotted woven seed bead chunks about 2” x 6” strung on thread which was tied in a knot and worn long. As named, she took them on her travels and gave them away.  She also taught her techniques, including an advanced class where the Ambassador was used to encase a beautiful extraordinary object preferably found in exotic places.  These creations were meant to exemplify the “more is better” theory.  This class was made for me!

 

 

 

 

So, helen, here is what you taught me 20 years ago, adapted to my style, and an appropriate challenge for Week 25, almost halfway to the end; almost to my 75th birthday!

 

 

 

 

A bit of a bio of helen: Born in perhaps 1919 (she disallowed discussions of her age); she studied art at the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Color and Design in San Francisco; was widowed in 1959; lived in a house in San Leandro, No. California, which was packed to the rafters with mosaics, yarns, looms, and beads.  Small of stature, she was tall in presence:  perfect make-up with signature red lipstick; hair up in a chignon; black clothing; and always a major necklace on her neck.  She was our Georgia O’Keefe.  helen passed away in 2004, at approximately age 85.  Needless to say, the crowds at her memorial were huge.

In closeup, above, in step 5.

To describe my necklace, I shall do it in terms of the construction process (usually called my design process):

  1. Go to the bottom of the necklace and find the knot of beads. This section, about 2” x 2” is the “Ambassador” starting point. I added the sterling silver fish and the pewter frog. Attach it to the 4” long shell with some holes supplied by Mother Nature.
  2. I weave and knot my way up and over the shell strip using multi-color beads of varying sizes. My principal colors reflect the iridescent shell—greens, pinks and greys in all shades. Blues and reds thrown in for punch.
  3. Practicing “more is better”, I add another shell, 2” at its longest. By now I am working with four strands of strong bead thread on each side.
  4. I start up one side. I string 2-3” on two strands and knot them. I string a new strand, add a few beads to one of the strand I just knotted. Repeat over and over. But I only go up 3-4” on this one side.
  5. Then I turn my attention to the other side, always consulting side 1 to assure balance by bulk and color.
  6. Note the Guatemalan fish dangles at about the 4” mark. Here I terminate one strand on each side so I can progress with three strands.
  7. I work narrower as I round the neck area, tie off and cut one more strand to finish with only two.
  8. The darling frog button gets attached on side 2 and I string medium size Czech glass on the loop side, completing the closure and the necklace. It took 22 hours by my best guess. Did you find the fourth fish dangle?

This woven necklace is 22.5” long. The centerpiece section is 7”.  $139.

Drawer 24: Black (with other colors). Revised to show color😘

“Grand Illusion”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 24/Drawer 24: June 14, 2017: “Grand Illusion”

Two weeks ago, I stated there were four black drawers. Now there are three!

I re-organized the contents into three drawers after tossing the ugly, donating the unwanted, and re-assigning others. I put iridescent beads, mostly shells, into Drawer 25 which you will see next week in a necklace of a very different style!

Let’s focus on this week’s design: Venetian glass.  It’s been a staple of mine for many years and I am down to a small supply left in Drawers 1 and 2.  I paired the Venetian with another love:  American Art glass by David Christensen.  See Week 17 for details on American Art Glass.

It is a mildly asymmetrical necklace but balanced so it will sit prettily on the neck. I needed some very shiny and medium sized beads for the top half and found those qualities in some plastic beads I bought at a yard sale back in the day when you could find real treasures in yard sales.

The clasp has a starring role with a fabulous oval piece of art glass and a sterling silver toggle I fashioned. Two perfect pieces of art glass found their way to the earrings.  All in all, a very satisfying creation.  20” long.  $99 for the set.

 

Drawer 23: Black (Shiny)

 

“Midnight in the Gardens”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 23/Drawer 23: June 7, 2017: “Midnight in the Gardens”

These shiny black beads spoke to me because of their unique white line down one corner. These are vintage resin beads and their shine has dulled as many hands have touched them over four decades or so. They are a product of the 70’s.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the explanation for the white line had to do with the mold they were cast in and not some fabulous creative detail.  But we shall not know because I cannot find any info on these beads and if there was a story when I bought them, it is now forgotten.

 

 

Well, I’m a techie-in training, and I barely managed to draw orange arrows to show my readers the cool white lines, but I couldn’t get rid of the pesky “text” circle.  Oh, well, enjoy and chuckle!

 

 

 

 

There is a story in the white freshwater pearls: my friend Penny’s friend sent them to me to re-use.  I fell for their heft, solidity and the fine markings etched by their life in a shell in warm water somewhere in Asia.  They were re-used within a month of receipt; lightning speed for me who can hold beads for twenty years before finding a match!

I have undoubtably mentioned my need to personalize my creations with an interesting clasp so the view from behind is as creative as the front. I estimate that this is possible in half of the necklaces I produce.  This one features a black plastic elliptical circle with a black horn toggle.

Three bold components in this neckpiece: rectangular beads, hefty pearls and a strong clasp!  Just the way I like it!

This strand is 19.5” and comes with matching pearl earrings on a modified hoop. $79.

Drawer 22: Black (Matte)

“22nd Century”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 22/Drawer 22: May 31, 2017: “22nd Century”

There are four black drawers! As I have stated, I am re-organizing/tidying/tossing as I go through my 52 bead drawers.  I approached the four black drawers, three sections each, with enthusiasm, wearing my organizer-in-chief hat.

Drawer 22 ended up with all the matte black beads and the shiny ones went to Drawer 23; I am still sorting the next two black drawers, deciding how to proceed since they are black with other colors. I guess I just named them!

My discovery in #22 were the meteorite beads pictured above. I thought they were lava beads which I have worked with for several years, but the label said meteorite…that sent me straight to Google.  Meteorite is a first for me.  As you can imagine, a meteor entered out atmosphere 50,000 years ago, crashed and splintered and lingered, and only 50 years ago, ancient gravesites were found in the Midwest with beads formed from the iron nickel fragments.  With the emergence of treasure-hunters with metal detectors, meteorite made its way to bead shows and my Drawer 22.

Black and chunky, these beads are coated to protect them from wear and oxidation. I test-drove this necklace and it is comfortable and smooth on the neck.  It is of medium weight, perfect for wearing to an event as opposed to all day.  It will start many conversations!

I added a few matte onyx beads and a pewter clasp to make the back as much fun as the front! Matching earrings in sterling silver, lava and matte onyx.  The set is $89.  The necklace measures 19.5”.

Drawer 21: Yellow

“Moralist of the Quotidian”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 21/Drawer 21: May 24, 2017: “Moralist of the Quotidian”

This week I shall wax poetic over a recent 2015 memory of finding this centerpiece rather than the 20-year old memories detailed in previous blogs!

An inspiring friend, Nancy Cusack, now an Adjunct Professor Emerita at Mass College of Art and Design, Boston, and Visual Artist, invites her friends to unique events at the College. I was excited to attend the opening of an exhibit of broken/unused/unwanted jewelry recycled by Professor Joe Wood’s Jewelry class into chic new wearables!  This brooch was so captivating that I immediately put it in my hand as I finished looking around.  I knew it would make a fabulous centerpiece for a yet-to-be-determined necklace!

The beads accompanying the centerpiece turn out to be very simple: sand cast African glass from the yellow drawer with a hue so close to the flowers that they were destined to be together.  These beads have been made in Ghana since the 1600s.  In their unique process, pulverized glass is poured into a clay mold, with a local cassava reed placed where the hole should be.  The mold goes into a furnace which heats it up to where it congeals, and the cassava burns away.

I also used a few interlocking flower disc beads, also made in Africa and used as trade beads (more on trade beads in blog dated February 8, 2017). Find them in the back of the brooch and at the end of the necklace.

A fun clasp makes the back look good. A vintage resin button serves as a toggle to the black glass circle.  Earwires are blackened silver with matching beads.

The necklace is 21” long; the centerpiece is 1.5” diameter. $99 for set.

 

Here is an image of one of my other purchases at the Recycled Exhibit—a clever repurposing of faux pearls studded with silver solder and attached to two intertwined chains. It has become my go-to daily necklace when I’m dashing out of the house and no time to choose one of my own creations. Also a quotidian!

Drawer 20: Yellow Jade

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 20/Drawer 20: May 17, 2017: “Care of the Soul”

 

I thought a drawer full of yellow jade would make for a bland necklace until I came across some wonderful artist-made lampwork glass in the yellow jade tone with relief-providing beige highlights! Thank you, Sheila Checkoway (Mass.)!

Sheila was featured in a homage to women glass artists in my blog dated April11, 2016. This necklace contains 20 of her beads, each slightly different, and 22 beads of yellow jade.  Sheila also found the centerpiece, a blade of kyanite, on her travels in Tanzania, Africa.

Kyanite is an aluminum silicate mineral (crystal) found in the long blade format you see here. Blue is the most common color but this orange tone was recently discovered.  I also purchased two longer blades that are quite orange; this centerpiece is subtle in its orange and harmonizes well with the yellow jade tones.  Google raves about its amazing metaphysical properties, so check it out if that is your interest. I shall summarize it thusly; kyanite is a bridge, an extraordinary crystal that creates pathways where none existed before.

 

 

I discovered yellow jade in Hong Kong, site of an incredible Jade Market accessible to all, but you will have to wait until Drawer 49 to see the unique green color of local jade, bought at the Jade Market in the 90’s, for more info on that subject! Yellow jade is less available than green jade or new jade which is a pale shade of green.

The Chinese started mining yellow jade in 6000 BC. Confucius (551—479 BC) thought it had properties that encouraged purity, bravery and honesty.  Its yellow varies from lemon to golden; I have mostly the shade you see here which in my mind is mustard seed.  Its yellow properties are caused by iron leaching during its weathering stage.  Yellow jade was beloved by Emperors and the Imperial Court; mostly sculpted into imposing foo dogs and pagodas.

The necklace is 19” and has a brass clasp and vermeil beads. Matching earrings.  $119.

Drawer 18: Garnet & Mahogany

“I Do Give a Damn”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 18/Drawer 18: May 3, 2017: “I do Give a Damn”

 

I think the reason I like garnet is because it is so ruby-esque, which is my birthstone, but so much more affordable than the precious gemstone that ruby is. Although the strands I found in Drawer 18 were cut much smaller than I usually work with, their rich color and the bail by Gita Maria which lay hidden in the drawer, convinced me this would be a nice necklace!

I used three strands for this necklace; two of them I personally bought in Jaipur, India, in 1994. While living in Hong Kong, I joined the American Women’s Club which gave cultural lectures and sponsored trips.  I eagerly absorbed it all, including a trip to India:  New Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur.  Envision 52 American women driving city to city.  At every stop, local vendors rushed our buses, offering their wares.  One of us was wearing sneakers with the flashing lights (some trends fortunately didn’t stick!), and she had a major following of groupie kids and vendors whom she mesmerized!

Jaipur is a major gem cutting location, so I set out, alone—it was perfectly safe—to an address recommended to me. It was closed but people managed to tell me it was Ramadan and at sunset it would re-open.  I waited for about an hour, did my haggling, and purchased a half dozen strands, including the two garnet we see above.  I returned to my hotel in a taxi in crazy traffic.  At one point, a camel pulling a flatbed transport wagon was right beside me!  Elephants were also transporting, not in the main street, but on a sort of frontage road.  A great memory!

The Gita Maria (Oregon) bail is made of garnet-colored glass enamel over sterling silver and holds a sterling silver crown to celebrate that we are all princesses!

 

Here is a pair of Gita Maria octopus earrings from my studio.  Sterling silver earwires and Swarovski crystals.  $45.

 

 

 

 

Garnet has been used for gemstones and abrasives since the Bronze Age. Its Latin name, “granatus”, is due to the stone’s similarity to pomegranate seeds.

This necklace is 20” long with silver plated brass beads and clasp. Wear your sterling silver earrings.  $89.

Drawer 16: Pink

“PINK: One Word Sentence”

 

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 16/Drawer 16: April 19, 2017: “PINK: One Word Sentence”

A half a dozen years after I started beading, I became a redhead. I stopped wearing pink since it clashed with my hair.  I guess I also stopped buying pink beads, because when I pulled out Drawer 16, I was surprised at its sparsity.  Besides the one bag of pink Czech glass that dominates this necklace, all I had were bits and pieces.  For example, near the clasp, note the two “lacy” round beads and the larger pink ones of the same family as the dominant beads–there were exactly two beads in each plastic bag.  Now there are none.

I have many pretty pink beads: the ones with embedded green leaves (maybe dots to your eyes); vintage faceted clear and pink; and the triangular ones near the centerpiece and in the earrings as well.

The centerpiece is from my large lampwork glass collection and features pink and lavender roses, er, flowers, with leaves. It measures 2.5” and is a real statement!

Riffing off those flowers and leaves, I couldn’t resist designing four clusters of them into the body of the necklace. I wanted each cluster to be unique, so I pulled different shades and styles of leaves and flowers, and randomly assembled them.  It took some time and involved close work, but I found the process very satisfying.

 

Work in progress:

 

Laying out the design.

 

 

 

First cluster is made!

Finally, the clasp is a pink glass circle with a silver toggle.

This is the first and perhaps the only necklace of this Challenge to be strung in thread which is especially adaptable to the clusters in this woven piece. I used three strands on each side to give the three-dimensionality I wanted to the clusters.

This necklace is accompanied by earrings using beads from the necklace. It is 26” long plus a 3.5” dangle.  $129.

Drawer 14:  Bone

“Birdsong”

 

My Apothecary Chest:  in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there.  Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time.  Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 14/Drawer 14: April 5, 2017: “Birdsong”

Having lived in Asia for a year and a half, I enjoyed using bone beads and buying beautifully carved bone centerpieces.  Bone beads are popular all over the world and come from organic antlers or horns from animals such as oxen, cows, camels, and water buffalo who died naturally.  In Hong Kong, I found three variations of bone beads:  natural white, tea-dyed, and otherwise dyed.  Later on, visiting my husband’s son and his family in Bozeman, MT, I bought some beads made from deer hooves which looked like a dark wood.

This drawer features natural white oval beads and spacer beads. The clasp is a bone ring and a toggle charmingly “painted” brown which I thought spoke to the centerpiece.

The centerpiece is 2” x 2.5” with a lovingly carved scene of birds in leafy tree branches.  It is inlaid into a piece of rosewood, also well-carved.  Turn it over and the artist, proud of his work, embedded his signature in a perfect circle.  This is the only Chinese carving intended for jewelry I have ever seen signed.

The Chinese started carving bone in the 5th century BCE for use as tools.  Attracted to its natural beauty, they evolved their carvings to adornment.

“Birdsong”

The necklace is 18” long plus 2” for the centerpiece.  Earrings included.  $75.

Drawer 13: Beige

“Find the Edge”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 13/Drawer 13: March 29, 2017: “Find the Edge”

 

I didn’t have to worry about beige being boring when I explored the Number 13 beige Drawer: the calcite reached out to me! It is a very textural stone:  faceted, sparkling yet soft and complex in its coloration (sounds like a fine wine, doesn’t it?) but there is something mysterious going on inside all those white markings.  I confess I knew nothing about this semi-precious stone, and was surprised to find it is related to chalk, limestone and marble!

The spacer beads are soft and rounded and called sunstone which gets its warm color from copper. This mineral is the official gemstone of the State of Oregon and is said to bring good luck as well as make you feel lively and enthusiastic.


The broach has some history with me: at a California outdoor Art Festival, I fell in love with its clean lines and the interesting wire wrap on the surface.  I enjoyed wearing it on my business suit throughout the Eighties.  Yes, we dressed for work in those days!  When I retired, I reinvented it as a centerpiece and it remained there until last week.  The crystal on top sure looked like calcite to me, so I selected it to make this necklace great.

This necklace is 21” long with a brass clasp. The broach is 2” x 2.5”.  Wear your gold earrings with it. $85.