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 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 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.

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.