Dreaming the Dream

Greetings!  This is the fourth, and maybe the last, necklace I will have made in the Era of Coronavirus-19.  Let us pray this virus ends soon.

The shutdown is mostly over in Boston.  Some people are thrilled to be liberated;  most practice social distancing and/or wearing masks; some prefer to remain inside; others are elsewhere on the Bell Curve.  It’s all OK.  My motto throughout has been “Be informed and carry on.”  But I am fortunate that I have no underlying conditions except my age.

Speaking of age, in one week I shall wake up and be 78 years old and embrace the beginning of another year of my existence.  I wonder if Max understands he is responsible for keeping my life full of laughter?  The crazy Doodles are most capable of that task!

The Necklace:  “Dreaming the Dream”

“Dreaming the Dream”

This necklace will always make me smile because I remember buying the eight large blown glass beads in a beautiful plaza directly on a canal in my beloved Venice in spring 2019.  The cobalt blue and azure aqua are such refreshing watery signs of summer that I wanted this necklace to be July’s choice, my birth month.  We Cancers are water signs as personified in the Hermit Crab (as well as nesters as personified by the home they carry on their backs).

All the beads I used are glass in those two colors; the 4-sided ones near the top are vintage as are the curvaceous ones under them.  The clasp supports the watery theme with its sand design (as I interpret it…) and a well-crafted starfish in pewter.  Matching earrings using the vintage beads and silverplate earwires.  The necklace is 21” long.  $119 the set plus $10 shipping since it will need to be double boxed.

A Max Moment

Max is happy and almost 2 ¼ years old.  He is calmer each month.  A charmer.  Very cooperative. And indulgent of his septuagenarian Mom.

I have told you he is a curious dog and zeros in on what attracts his attention.   I have featured him focusing on a plane in the sky, watching TV, and here he is, intent on the road as I drive him to playtime.  There he will meet up with bro Ralphie.  Oh, the latest news is the two bros have let a third Doodle bro, Milo, into the play-pack.  They both greeted him after our short ride and dashed out to play.

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Last month I made some edits after I published and when my blog appeared in your inbox, it was messed up.  If you want a glimpse of what last month’s necklace looked like, it is available on http://www.priscillabeadle.com.

 

 

Corrected Version. Matte and Hammered Jewelry; Matted and Shaved Puppy

 

“Global Scale”

Let me  state this is my third posting during the Era of Covid-19.

The centerpiece is a wonderful shade of aqua, matte lampwork glass, surrounded by shiny translucent lampwork glass, all separated by sterling silver.  The lampwork is artist-made but since I purchased these from Helen (see January 2019 blog), I don’t have the artisan’s name.  Likewise for the unfortunately nameless person who made the silver beads which I bought at a show.  The necklace is completed with two types of beads that are a perfect match for the lampwork’s shade of aqua!  Thank you, Drawer 33, for delivering such a fine match!

The clasp is an equally lucky find in my sterling box…a hammered oval paired with a sterling “lobsta” clasp.

And I was thinking of my dear collectors when I made the earrings without aqua, thereby gifting you with not only a matching hammered earring but one you can wear anytime sterling silver earrings are called for.

The story of interest here is the aqua wavy vintage plastic beads in between the aqua matte beads:  they had a tiny paper ring encircling the strand that said “Made in Japan”.  I first learned of this classification in the 90’s from the knowledgeable bead traders at the big shows in California.  This tagline can only be used on beads made after 1921, with the peak period from 1950–1970.  Post-WWII, the Japanese economy was in shambles and the government was seeking exports to boost the Treasury.  Besides beads, Artisans pumped out pottery and lots of toys were manufactured.

From 1921 to 1952, the tag could also say “Made in Occupied Japan”.  I have never seen this one on beads.

The necklace is 19″.  The set is $115.

A Max Moment

I’m not going to bore you with whining about Max’s shaved body (to see him in that state, look at August and September, 2019,  blog when he was last shaved, due to excessive matting and I whined plenty!)   Massachusetts allowed pet services such as boarding and playtime but not grooming services which were allowed to open May 25th, Memorial Day, making his hair twice as long as normal.

Instead, I have a photo taken May 13 when he was adorable and fluffy.  Max selected the orange section of the sofa for his morning snooze while I read the paper.  My heart was warmed by his color choice!!!

Daydream

Created during the Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place which commenced on March 15, 2020 for Massachusetts.

It’s been easy to daydream. There is no pressure to get anything done, no place to go, so why not dream up things to do in my studio?  Or make lists of where to go when we are allowed back out.  Or pull out Unfinished Projects…yikes, I found six pillow tops I quilted back in that phase of my life 15 years ago. Nothing is going to motivate me to finish them, so my Project is to hire somebody else to do so.  Or that intimidating 4′ by 3’canvas which I started 2 or 3 years ago and am now daydreaming how to finish.  And so on…

My worktop has a half-dozen semi-finished necklaces featuring beads from my new bead stash (Helen’s old stash. See January 2020 blog). I daydream over them. I’ll get them done when it warms up a bit. In the meantime, I’ll daydream-design another half-dozen.

“Daydream”

This is April’s necklace. I think the centerpiece is a new-tech collage overlaid on a bead and sealed in resin. I thought it was glass until I examined it carefully. The choice of pearlized Czech glass interspersed with faux turquoise Czech glass feels right with the unusual center bead. Brass clasp. 23.5” long. Wear your gold earrings with it. $49 with free shipping.

 

I checked to see if I had any real turquoise necklaces in my inventory. I found only one and talk about real turquoise! This necklace features four faceted cuts of what is called America’s finest turquoise! It is from Arizona’s Sleeping Beauty mine. Check it out in the January 2019 blog.

 

A MAX MOMENT

Max’s favorite toy delights him as he hogs the ottoman while I read my Wall Street Journal and drink my coffee before our day starts.

 

POSTSCRIPT

I send prayers and empathy to all the great Americans touched by this relentless coronavirus. While many have and more will recover, for those who have not, I wish for the repose of their souls.

 

The Bunch Series

“Clarity and Subtlety”

A couple of years ago, I had the idea of bunching a group of related-by-color beads with a two-color necklace. I was pleased with the results, so I make one whenever the inspiration strikes. Presented here is November’s offering plus one from this year and another from last year.

They are fun to make, even if the wire work is a tad laborious. But they serve another purpose: I can utilize my special beads which don’t suffice for a full necklace, but can be the highlights of a Bunch Necklace. That is how they are born—open a drawer, find a bag of a half-dozen beauties left from a big project—lay them down on my desk and keep adding more beads until some colors announce that they are happy with each other. Lay those colors on a design board, search other drawers to find what’s missing, then celebrate the “aha” moments as a real necklace designs itself!

Not easy for a beginner, but after 25 years, I’ve learned to look and listen to the beads. They know what colors they want to be beside. Sometimes they surprise me. They have been wrong a few times and I have had to take them apart and return them to their drawers for another chance at greatness.

November’s choice could get you through this year’s holiday parties. The necklace is composed of sparkly black and clear faceted crystal glass with some rhinestone spacers. The bunch features black and white swirls on clear blown Venetian glass with additions of silver, vintage pearls, a vintage plastic flower and leaf, and vintage Japanese black glass drops. Matching asymmetrical crystal earrings. The necklace measures 20”. $99 for the set.

This necklace was born in my busy 75th year (2017) when I set aside a bag of vintage molded glass shells from 1950’s West Germany. They posed a design challenge (how to wire them) until this summer when I said, this is easy, and threw them together! I think you can see how the beads dictated that the jasper semi-precious and vintage yellow (plastic) colors would work together. Length: 19”. Matching earrings. $99 for the set.

 

 

 

 

This Bunch started when pink and aqua met on my desk, so I built on it. I wire-wrapped Venetian blown glass, “sugar” beads as I like to call glass with dotted textured surfaces, and vintage glass leaf stick pins and bunched them. The pink became matte and shiny Czech glass juxtaposed with a bit of aqua. 19” length. Wear with your silver earrings. $79

 

 

 

 

A Max Moment

I worship at Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, MA, which has beautiful woods and grounds walked by locals and their dogs.  A long-time occurrence each October is the Blessing of the Animals.  Max was a beneficiary this year, under a gorgeous blue sky, along with about two dozen other dogs and some cats.

 

 

Me holding Max tightly so he won’t jump on Abbot Tom who celebrated the Blessing.  The Abbot had just finished asking the human participants what their pets meant to them.  I answered that he is someone I can talk to and no one thinks I am crazy but was upstaged by a 9-year old who said “a lot.”  Clearly the best answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the occasion of my husband Don’s interment in Glastonbury Abbey’s Columbarium, my four sisters funded a bench in his name inscribed with these words:  “In memory of Don Beadle who had a smile for everyone.”  I wanted to connect Don and Max and here is what it looked like.

It’s Springtime! Nightingale’s Eye.

“Nightingale’s Eye”

The nightingale, a European thrush, is unknown to Americans other than through its history as a romantic, even poetic, bird with an amazing night song. (1)

Before I connect this necklace to my chosen title, let me tell you how I choose titles for my necklaces…and why I choose titles.

First, why title a necklace? I started making bead jewelry in 1993 while living in Hong Kong with nothing to do but wander while my husband was on an 18-month work assignment. While wandering, beads seemed to attach themselves to me. Since an acquisition gene controls a part of my life, I just collected beads. Soon I had to hide them under the bed. No surprise, my husband asked me why I had so many beads…Surprisingly, I answered, “To make necklaces!”

Oops. A commitment. Good reply, it turns out. I started at the dining room table in Hong Kong and liked what I did. I had fabulous beads. Still do. So I made some decisions: this is my business; it’s appropriate to make a profit so I can keep buying beads without guilt; I’m now an artist; therefore I treat my work like a painting (Important insight. I had plexiglass boxes made so I can hang my works like two-dimensional art.) Also, I titled my work. Whew, took two paragraphs to answer that one.

How I choose titles. When we returned to Menlo Park from Hong Kong, while reading the NYTimes Book Review, I started underlining catchy phrases. Mind you, only an English major wants to memorialize catchy phrases. Then I listed them on notepaper. I did this for less than a year. I just went to my studio to count the pages–23. I still use them and have never expanded the lists.

When I finish a necklace, I prepare a tag. First is the title. The feeling of the necklace is fresh in my mind as I review the lists and a title that corresponds jumps at me. It’s totally intuitive. So simple.

Back to the nightingale and the necklace. I recently named this necklace and when I started writing today, discovered how an intuitive pick from my long list of titles was the correct karmic choice.

There is a Ukraine legend that a nightingale flew to Ukraine from India and heard only sad songs, so it sang its song to cheer them up. The people responded with happy songs, and since then, nightingales visit Ukraine each spring to hear happy folk songs. This was my spring necklace, created in the winter, correctly, if surprisingly, so named for spring. Full circle.

Details: it is 20.5” long accompanied by earrings that are 1.5” long. $119 the set. The necklace features a lampwork glass heart by Louise Erskine (MA) and two large Venetian blown glass beads. The remaining beads are rock crystal and faceted glass crystals. I love how the aqua of the crystals refracts through the clear beads. Sterling silver clasp.


To hear a nightingale sing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TepTnlERuRo

Max will turn one year on April 12. I shall post a birthday salute!

Welcome 2019 and the American Sleeping Beauty Turquoise

“American Sleeping Beauty”

 

I remember when I was first introduced to American Sleeping Beauty Turquoise at one of my beloved bead shows in Northern California.

Whether it was Oakland or Santa Barbara; what the exact date was; I have no recall. I saw the clarity of a robin blue strand of really big faceted turquoise beads, and just like the first Tiffany boxed gift you receive, you are transfixed by the color and you know you are in the presence of something iconic.

The strand was expensive ($39 per bead), but I intuitively knew it was worth it. And guess what? I never saw turquoise from the American Beauty mine in Globe, Arizona, again. After my research for this blog, I know why: the mine closed in 2012*.

Close-up of the front of the centerpiece showing artistic use of boring ole electroplate. There are two pieces: the flower shape on top and the rectangle of dyed magnesite on the bottom.

Turquoise mines in that area date back to the Anasazi era (200 BC to AD1500) of Native Americans. The Navajos mined it into the 1900s. An American entrepreneur took it over in the ‘60s and closed it in 2012 to mine copper.What made this necklace possible was my discovery of the creative centerpiece at my favorite Boston area bead show this past October. Currently it is the only show I attend since I am well-stocked after 24 years in this endeavor! But like all acquirers, I can’t stop looking! And buying….

The vendor didn’t tell me the name of the designer even though I asked, so I can’t give credit. I have two more to use later. Can you see me smiling?

What attracted me to this centerpiece was the creative use of copper electroplate, usually seen as smooth and sleek. This inspired artist made it to the consistency of mashed potatoes and just piled it on, with a few balls of pure copper accenting the bumps. S/he picked dyed magnesite (often confused as turquoise, and, worse, often claimed as turquoise by unscrupulous vendors), then cleverly added a “flower” in the spirit of more is better. There is even more: the top bead of frosted rock crystal is artistically embellished, crowned by a generous circle to attach to a necklace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of the centerpiece:

electroplated copper on dyed magnesite.

 

 

 

The third component to this magnificent piece (forgive my abandonment of humility) are the Swarovski pearls which the world-famous crystal producer made by using a crystal instead of the usual shell irritant, resulting in faux pearls in a myriad of colors! So this necklace is the classic high/low I often see in home design magazines. They are reasonably priced, but a quality pearl: the low to the above two highs.

Now for the summary: this American Beauty Turquoise necklace is 20” plus a 3” long centerpiece. $259.00 including earrings.

 

*Not to say American Beauty Turquoise cannot be found. Many people, especially the miners, have stashes of it. Prices have increased, as they do for all scarce commodities.

March 15: Creative Clasps, Chapter 2

Why bother with unique clasps? Answers: it’s all about the hunt; it’s a challenge to put something creative at the back of the neck; it makes me stretch.

Anyone can use store-bought clasps or even seek out artist-make clasps at the big bead shows. I too use these old stand-bys for the majority of my necklaces. But it is fun to rummage through my drawers and cubbies to see what odd find can be made into a clasp.

I made a decision early on that I didn’t want to create beads. It suited my personality to engage in a hunt for the odd, quirky, overlooked, repurposable, full-of-character item that can function as one part of a clasp—either the circle or the stationary part or the toggle or moving part of the clasp. Yes, I am a collector. My finds are my treasures.

This particular clasp find is a 1960’s vintage plastic circle that was a good color match to the necklace. Plus, it added texture to the already-rich necklace: look closely at the crisscross pattern.

I designed the toggle part of the clasp from sterling silver wire.

The centerpiece is thick handmade glass I purchased in Murano, Italy, with a distinctly aqueous pattern in bold tones of aqua and pale grey with some darker streaks. It is 2” diameter.

In a stroke of great bead karma, Drawer 15 (Grey) contained the palest shade of grey faceted Czech glass beads which are the base of the necklace and speak to the centerpiece. Also note the four artist-made lampwork glass beads bookended with rare vintage Italian oval glass beads in aqua.

Statistics for this necklace follow:

Title: “Murano Waves”

Length: 21” plus centerpiece.

Featured beads are described above. Matching earrings with 7/8” dangle are included.

Price: $110.

 

I made a trip to Murano & Venice in 2013 and blogged about it here on June 29, 2013.

Drawer 27: Vaseline Beads

“Things Rare and Strange”

 

 

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, mostly sorted by color.

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

Week 27/Drawer 27: July 5, 2017: “Things Rare and Strange”

 When I found these opaque aqua beads in a section of Drawer 27, I gasped at their beauty, mostly due to the intensity of their color. As I fondled them, I realized there were subtle differences in their aqua shades; I also observed they were so old that their faceted surfaces had become smooth! They are trade beads, after all. These discoveries made this strand mysterious—what secrets were they sheltering?

Since the secrets are unknowable, let me address “What the heck are Vaseline Beads?”

Beads have been made in Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) since the Romans occupied it in 400 AD. Until 1400, they mostly made rosary beads.  In the 1500’s, a major expansion in bead-making began, attracting Spanish, Italian and English traders.  In 1800, the Industrial Revolution invented machines that produced pressed glass beads in great volume, different designs, and at lower prices.

One of those innovations was fluorescent Vaseline glassware and beads. The fluorescence was created by the adding uranium salts to the glass.  They kept lowering the amount of uranium to the 1-2% that worked.  It actually shone in the dark!  Today, with electric lights, a black light is needed to see the fluorescence.

Vaseline beads had their heyday from 1900 to 1920 and continued to be made until artisans lost their ability to buy uranium when governments became universal procurers in the 1940’s.

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Vaseline beads are transparent in color and usually yellowish green.  The short strand third from left look to me like they may be shine-in-the-dark variety! 

 

They were so named because their color resembled the petroleum jelly sold in the 1900’s under the Vaseline label.  Doesn’t that sound so mundane for beads made from uranium?

My opaque aqua beads are called Vaseline Beads, but they are a variation: during the Depression, iron oxide (a glass-ceramic) was added to the formula to create opacity.

Today’s collections of Depression glass, milk glass, Fire King tableware, etc. all have roots in Bohemia, uranium, and iron oxide!

Before closing, let me name the other beads I used in this necklace: aqua serpentine which is a cousin of jade; Czech glass “spades” drops; round matte glass which looks like ceramic due to iron oxide.  Also I was quite pleased to find an aqua glass circle in my “creative clasp stash” and made a sterling silver toggle for it.

The necklace is 20”. $115.

Drawer 26: Recycled Glass Beads from Indonesia

“Adventure of Sea and Sky”

 

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, mostly sorted by color.

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

Week 26/Drawer 26: June 28, 2017: “Adventure of Sea and Sky”

I remember the first time I saw recycled beads: probably at the giant quarterly San Mateo Gem Show (still ongoing) in the late 90’s, and my eyes popped at recycled Coke bottles—remember that shade of green?—made in Indonesia.  Due to my policy of never hesitating at the odd or the beautiful, I bought them.  In those days, they were made in Indonesia, now Ghana seems to produce a lot of recycled beads.  Pictured below are some of that original stash:  pretty unsophisticated as quality beads go, but screaming Coke bottles!  I also have some of the early blue ones made from old-style TV screens.  Both colors are relics now.

My journal notes as I string Drawer 26’s necklace. Also three of my Coke bottle recycled beads from my collection. Too bad they stopped making those green bottles!

I favor the long rectangular bars, 2” x .5”, since they are the most contemporary and I found a photo of a necklace I made around 2000 and allowed myself to be inspired by it. Most recycled glass is transparent although there are opaque dark blues and browns in my collection.  Here I have paired the transparent glacier color bars with diamond shaped beads featuring a smooth glassy top and rough etched edges.  The Indonesian recycled beads are handmade, easy to verify since no two are quite alike.

Instead of dark compliments as in my earlier version, I found a strand of grey freshwater pearls with subtle blue and green iridescence and made my decision. I used two different seed beads with similar iridescence (the colors are silver AB* and Japanese glass triangles with aqua outside and shimmering gold inside) and wove them through and around the diamond cut recycled glass as I did 17 years ago.

This necklace is 21” long with earrings to coordinate. $99 for the set.

*I learned something I wanted to pass on: AB is Aurora Borealis, a finish invented by the famous Swarovski company, and, in my world, they always connote crystals with an iridescent surface.

Cate Blanchett Elevates Turquoise to an Oscar Win!

Cate Blanchett Elevates Turquoise to an Oscar Win!

Cate Blanchett Elevates Turquoise to an Oscar Win!

 

No news can ever be too old in my bead world. So here is my take on the Oscar 2015 jewelry. Just one take, really: Cate Blanchett!
She wore a stunning choker-length bib made by Tiffany (who knew they were into beaded jewelry?) featuring turquoise, aquamarine, and diamonds. Perhaps they were attached to a net backing since I saw no stringing materials.
I noticed her early on the Red Carpet (didn’t you miss Joan Rivers?) and my first thought was that she was wearing a multi-strand of various-sized turquoise beads. Being ever so smarmy, I thought “way too casual”. Fortunately, she hung around for many shots and I caught the sparkle of the diamonds. How original! How daring! Thank you, Cate, for putting beads in the spotlight!
Other watchables were Scarlett Johansson’s teal bib going from her neck to her décolletage; Viola Davis in pearls and diamonds; and Margot Robbie wearing an incredible vintage sapphire and diamond piece.
I plan to let the turquoise and pearls inspire me as I make my Spring, er, March return to my studio.
You’ll see them here and at Open Studios, July 11-12 and August 22-23.
On the personal side, I chose to sit this winter out. Lucky choice, it turned out, to have selected this year for my knee replacement. I am snug as a bug staring out at the massive snow banks instead of walking and driving in them. Lots of physical therapy and connections with friends near and far has made it work for me. I am progressing well and actually venture out into the whiteness on March 9. Let life re-commence!
Studio life returns on March 2. After a general tidying-up, I am going to do a few winter-white-cold weather-snowdrifts visible out the window-type necklaces in rock crystal, pearls, moonstone. Thanks, Robin! I was complaining to her about the cold snowy views getting in the way of happy beading when she suggested I just let them inspire me!

 

Tiffany Necklace Blanchett 2015