May 1, 2018: AMBER.2.Faux Amber (Resin)


“Heaven’s Gate”

One of the treasures I found while revisiting the Amber drawer was some faux amber beads I found in an outdoor market in Bhutan, a landlocked Himalayan nation in South Asia. Its 800,000 citizens are surrounded by India, Tibet and Nepal. They are peaceful Buddhists. Instead of GDP, Bhutan measures Happiness.

I knew the necklace was faux, but I bought it for the memories, not only of scenic Bhutan, but of the last trip Don and I made together before the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease were unleashed. Now, five years after Don’s death, I release these beads into the world. May they be someone’s personal measure of Happiness!

It was a gift of the two-toned resin beads from fellow artist Donna Goes* that made me think of the Bhutanese beads and I think they pair well together.

I added sterling silver beads and a Tibetan centerpiece of copal with pretty silver work.

Ah, copal:  another twist to the Amber story. For 23 years, I have described it as “young amber,” just to make it more understandable to my clients, but always labeled it as copal. Now that I’ve researched it, I was correct: it is tree resin, like amber, but has not completed its fossilization. It is measured in thousands of years; Amber in millions. Copal is softer, opaque, citrine in color.

Weight: 8 ounces

Length: 20”

Price: $79

Size of largest bead: roughly 5/8” from hole to hole by 1” high.  Centerpiece:  1.75″ hole to hole by 1″ high.

Wear your silver earrings.

*Read Donna Goes’ story and see her amazing fused plastic paintings at

 Heads up! Visit us both + 38 other talented artists at Hull Artists’ 23rd annual Open Studios Art Tour on July 7-8 & August 18-19.

April 1, 2018: AMBER.1 Very Old Amber


“Unexpectedly Sentimental”

It’s Easter. It’s April Fool’s. It’s interesting Amber time.

This necklace is very old Amber: an oxymoronical statement since to be Amber, it has to be fossilized resin of extinct pine trees dating back 40 million years. This mixed necklace contains three antique natural extra-large Moroccan Baltic Butterscotch Amber beads at the center and two out from the center. To clarify the oxymoron, they are Baltic Amber, by definition very old, but also antique since they were crafted into this shape over 100 years ago in Morocco. Therefore, they are also rare. Etsy has an overflow of amber pieces, but only one with these three beads in it; they price out at $166 each.

The remaining 18 beads are Ram’s Horn, also made in Morocco, also antique, also natural. Their patina is even more interesting: cracks and dryness which I assume are from the dry mountainous air of the nomadic Berbers who traded in beads. Their colors are in vibrant shades of amber. The ram has been a popular theme in jewelry and adornment since the Phoenicians of the 6th century BC.  I still wear my ram’s horn gold earrings from the 1980’s.


On many large Amber beads, signs of testing are visible as round black marks near the hole.

See details in two beads to left.

The trader would prove the authenticity of his beads by applying a hot needle: if it cannot penetrate the surface and if the contact smells of soot, it is real Amber.

Other resins would allow the needle to easily go into the bead and smell of fresh pine.



Finishing this necklace are some small Chinese wood beads with miniature landscapes etched in black ink, chosen for the overall shade of amber dye to extend my color theme. Notice sterling silver spacers and interesting circle with a lobster clasp. Wear your silver earrings.

Weight: 10 ounces

Length: 21”

Price: $175

Size of largest bead: 23 x 35 mm or roughly 7/8” hole to hole by 1.5” high


Berbers are indigenous to North Africa, especially Algeria and Morocco, living there as farmers since the Phoenician times. They were also traders, although not as famous as the later Tuareg tribes discussed in my blog of March 22, 2017.

February 15: Cut some Ball Chain, Add a Centerpiece!

My Blog Plan for 2018 is based on a first of the month posting of a special necklace and its story which was also 2017’s plan, only weekly. I also thought I might post a more lighthearted piece of work mid-month.

There is nothing more lighthearted than ball chain. My first exposure to it was a lucky rabbit’s foot I received as a birthday present as a kid. Today such a gift would have PETA picketing outside our family home. I just attached it to my pencil bag and petted it for good luck.

Otherwise folks used it to keep their keys together. Maybe it should have been called key chain? Or dogtag chains? Or pull cord chain?

My selections from the top include fancy sterling silver ball chain with the Egyptian Ankh and Nefertiti pendants.

Then three brass ball chain 24-6” long, with picture jasper, brass and copper, and ceramic snake pendants.




Next, 36″long ball chain with faux Amber resin and lamp-work glass with silver dots.

Finally, ordinary ball chain with picture jasper, lampwork glass and pewter in 24-6″.

Ball chain really keeps prices down!  They range from $11 to $25.

The top two sterling silver are $35 and $38, left to right.




Drawer 11: Amber Glass



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 11/Drawer 11: March 15, 2017: “Dialogue ”

There are two drawers for Amber and only a small section is dedicated to amber-colored beads. I was immediately drawn to the glass “horn” and found some wonderful vintage beads and a section of chain with amber and pearl drops to create a very asymmetrical neckpiece.

The asymmetry of this creation will drive my structured friends crazy, but I had a lot of fun designing it. The large faceted bead is sort of the center point.  The off-balance side contains some fabulous vintage beads given to me 20 years ago by Topher Delaney, the top San Francisco landscape designer I was lucky enough to convince to create our Menlo Park, CA, garden (and come down to San Luis Obispo to set the design concept for the house we were building in a vineyard!).  I found the asymmetry to be incomplete until I added the recycled chain.  It hugs the top of the inside and importantly drops below the outside strand.

Topher’s beads are really vintage: the type our grandmothers were given by their mothers; the quality of the faceting reveals a craftsmanship of bygone days.  The chain held a surprise also:  green amber, a type of bead I have never worked with before.  The chain, which contains dangles of honey-colored and green amber and pearls, was also used for the earrings.

This is the third “horn” I have made over the past 23 years; one black one remains from my long-ago purchase from Olive Glass in Washington. I find it fascinating the way it hugs the neck and love the design challenge!  It is lampwork glass, made in front of a flame with a cane of colored glass in one hand and a steel rod in the other which manipulates the molten glass into the desired shape.  Such talented artists!  BTW, it’s a large glass piece; it will break if it falls on a hard surface.





I used Ada, my turn of the century mannequin, to make the elements fit and drape. The clasp is a purchase from my trip to CA four months ago; again, something new to me.  It is gold plated over base metal, bold, and in a classic “S” shape.



This necklace is 16” long. Earrings are included; the dangle is 2” long. $140.


Trunk Show

Trunk Show December 6 & 7 2013

Hail West Coasters!

Hope to see you for my THIRD ANNUAL TRUNK SHOW…


Oh, Oh, OK!

The necklace is named “DIALOGUE” and is 21.5” long.  The widest bead is 1.25” and the toggle is 2.75” long.  I recommend chunky silver earrings with this necklace. It is very chunky, but not very heavy due to the lightness of wood beads.  It is $139 which includes shipping and insurance.

The necklace is named “DIALOGUE” and is 21.5” long. The widest bead is 1.25” and the toggle is 2.75” long. I recommend chunky silver earrings with this necklace. It is very chunky, but not very heavy due to the lightness of wood beads. It is $139 which includes shipping and insurance.

For years, I have been designing a style of necklace I call “One of a Kind” or, in my shorthand, OOK.  They originated from chunky orphan beads, leftover onesie or twosie charmers, tossed into a box.  One day a necklace designed itself in that box and my first OOK emerged.  They feature as many different beads as possible:  it’s a fun challenge not to repeat beads, even though I do allow myself to for superior design.

I’ve probably made 30 of them since I declared myself a bead jewelry artist in 1995.  But it took gallerist, Gail Sewell reminding me how much she likes them, to get me habitually thinking about OOKs.  Now she gets first dibs for her Chambers Gallery in Cambria, CA!

This necklace’s genesis was five large wood beads (from the top:  an ebony and resin assemblage; a bird’s eye in soft wood; coco as in coconut; a finely carved snake which in Chinese mythology signifies cleverness; then another coco).  A notable bead is the obelisk-shaped carved soapstone with images of a stylized fish.  Balancing the wood are some opaque rock crystal beads with subtle brown markings.

This OOK demanded a striking clasp with a solid silver ethnic circle. The wood toggle, formerly known as a button, I found with my knitter friends, Tess and Dottie, on a fun driving trip to Webs, the biggest yarn shop ever.


REGARDING MY MURANO BEADS, stay tuned.  I’ve designed only one necklace, a fairly “safe” medallion, pictured below, because the big unique beauties I selected in Italy are currently intimidating me.  They have to be fabulous, and they will be, but they need to take their time.

Murano millefiori disc bezeled in sterling silver, with Baltic amber chips and sterling silver clasp; 18.5” to 19” adjustable length.  Priced at $99 including shipping and insurance.

Murano millefiori disc bezeled in sterling silver, with Baltic amber chips and sterling silver clasp; 18.5” to 19” adjustable length. Priced at $99 including shipping and insurance.