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.

Blue and Green Colors. Transparent and Opaque Beads.

“Polyglot”

When I found myself stating at a blank page not knowing what to say about this necklace, I telephoned my sister Nancy who is mad for blue and green, on her person, in her home, in the world. “Why?” I asked. “Because they remind me of the sky and grass,” she answered. “They feel fresh, soothing and welcoming.”

This was a happy necklace for me to make.  I love the beads and I agree with my sister.  But I didn’t know quite what to blog since there is no story. So I will tell you about the beads.

This necklace started with three Venetian blown glass beads combining cobalt blue and lime green, inspiring the blue/green mix.

Next, I placed the cobalt and lime drawers on my work table and the necklace practically designed itself.

The two large lime lampwork glass beads were purchased from Marj Bates from nearby Scituate. A strand of vintage frosted faceted glass lime beads was selected as the basic infrastructure to hold the necklace together. I found the funky, chunky glass spirals in the cobalt drawer and do not remember where or when I bought them.

Feels strange not to have any stories about the beads…but allow me to distract you with the clasp. It is 18 karat gold-plated with olive crystals bezeled onto both sides of the circle as well as the ends of the toggle. An elegant ending to the poor necklace with no story!

The earrings feature two different shapes of the blue/green Venetian glass with old but charming blue glass dangles. Warning: it’s an asymmetrical look!

Details:   The necklace measures 20.5” in length. The earrings are 1.75” long from where it hangs in your ear to the bottom of the dangle.  Price:  $119 the set plus shipping (about $14) since I prefer to double box this much glass and ship it priority.

A Max Moment

I am so embarrassed that he has also has nothing special to report this month. He mostly behaved. His hair is growing back far too slowly for me. Some wise guy called him “the dog with a lion’s tail.”  This shot shows his growing obsession with his “blankie”  (security blanket) as well as his goofy tail.

This is my 3000th Necklace

“Persuaded by my Own Rhetoric”

I’ve been telling people about making my 3000th necklace in August and their first reaction is “Amazing” but there is always a second and it is always “How do you know?”

When I started making necklaces 24 years ago, I told myself to run it like a business.  So I bought an accountant’s notebook in which I numbered and named each necklace;  listed all the beads I used and their cost; and noted my labor which I valued at $25 an hour (and still do).  I’m on my fifth notebook.

It only took seven years to reach one thousand; eight years for the next thousand and nine years for the third millennium.  Estimating ten years to achieve 4000, it will be in 2029 and I would be 87 years old.  That is too scary to think about.

I made a necklace similar to this about 15 years ago and I found my “record shot” of it when I recently went thru my files of record shots.  I stopped taking them when Instamatic cameras went out of fashion.  I used the same yellow glass circle and found its twin in my circle storage box.  It was love at a second sight and I had my inspiration for number 3000.

The necklace is two strands of shiny black and yellow seed beads punctuated by black onyx and opaque muted yellow beads.  It is 28″ long and has an antique cone shaped button closure.  The 6″ dangle features the yellow circle and a rectangle of onyx attached with matching seed bead rings.  Earrings are included and are 2″ long.  $109

A Max Moment

This is what Max the Labradoodle looks like without his hair.  His groomer got sick and he had to wait 11 weeks.  In the meantime he got all matted and had to be shaved to a stubble.  I snapped this at the vets and realized he lost one pound of hair.

 

Three Shades of Orange

Usually I control myself from making too many orange necklaces since it is my favorite color and I don’t want to impose it on others. Similarly, I restrain from making pink necklaces because it is a color I don’t like. I suspect the nice pink necklace from my 2017 one-necklace-from-each-color-drawer program sensed my distaste and won’t sell.

The sultry hot weather of the last two weeks of July drove me to the orange drawer where I found materials for not one but three lovelies! My favorite, of course, is the ultra-chunky one of XL-sized faux cinnabar/real resin beads measuring 1.25” from hole to hole. It also has an outrageous and amazing dangle that is 11” long.  It was made by my ophthalmologist’s sister who lives in the Philippines. The resin beads are made in Indonesia, making this a thoroughly Asian necklace.

This fun necklace is 19” long with an 11” dangle. Wear your gold earrings with it. $79.

 

The next chunkiest necklace in my orange madness features three sizes of black water buffalo horn—a sustainable product—with a nice shine to it. The orange beads are glass with millefiori bits inserted during the manufacturing process. I do believe they are made in India. Coordinating earrings with sterling silver ear wires drop 2.5” from the earlobe.

This 19” necklace is $65 for the set.

The last one I wish to present is a two-strand square coral opaque glass seed bead necklace with a special 8-strand dangle. It is special because I made it many years ago in my San Luis Obispo, CA, studio for a project I fell out of love with so I saved the dangle in my tassel box. I love tassels whether made of beads or fabric, whether made by me or not. Many door and drawer knobs in my home are decorated with tassels.

The tassel consists of orange seed beads and milky multi-colored resin beads tied together and connected via a vintage fluted brass bead.

The necklace is 20” long and the tassel adds 4.” Wear your gold earrings with it. $89.

 

A MAX MOMENT

MAX THE LABRADOODLE

15 MONTHS OLD

July’s weather got to Max too. I was enjoying the 5 o’clock hour at my sisters’ beach cottage when he got away from me and dashed for the water. Except there wasn’t any water. It was “dead low tide” which means the tide goes out beyond the rocky beach to expose extensive mud flats. Max was in heaven and jumped around, sprinted up and down, and finally started digging…for clams?…and put his face, front paws and chest into the stinky mud.

 

Meantime, I am down on the rocks calling Max.  Ha! Temporary deafness! Unresponsive!  Finally a neighbor found some kind of a treat, ran down her dock above the mud and waved it in his face. He went for it and she teased him up to the rocks. I brought him back on to the grass, then the street, and turned on the hose until he and I were rid of mud.

The next day, the neighbors came over and we laughed a lot. One gal who had a standard Labradoodle said she remembered more than one occasion when her dog did the same thing.

Venetian Memories

“A Venetian Memory”

I’m trespassing in unknown territory here.  While I have a unique necklace to present, I know very little about it.  So this blog is all speculation based solely on my 25 years of experience.

In Venice, I was walking to a bead shop near St. Pantaleon Church, set in a small plaza on a canal.  There was also an antique shop in the plaza.  I spent some time looking in its windows,  discovering several treasures which impassioned me.  Recall how I love hunting for interesting beads and you’ll understand how I wanted to pounce on a necklace and a bracelet in that shop window.  It was closed.  Later, I thought.

The bead shop had beautiful local glass beads made in Murano which I was pleased to purchase and thrilled the prices were close to what I pay for them in the USA.  I sauntered back to the antique shop.  Still closed.  I was to make two more trips until I could enter the shop.

I looked at all their jewelry butsettled on to the two I zeroed in on earlier in the day:  for myself I bought a pearl necklace with a front closure similar to the one I am presenting to my readers plus a honey yellow glass bead bracelet with this orange and brass dangle.

Once I arrived home on May 8, I placed the bracelet on my work table.  On June 10, I finished the necklace.  I had purchased a strand of giant Baroque* pearls last October.  I removed the clasp and centerpiece unit from the bracelet, strung the pearls and voila, a Venetian Memory!

A close-up of the centerpiece.

The clasp/centerpiece is a gold-colored brass of excellent craftmanship with 6 orange glass cabochons bezeled in place with filigree work on top and bottom.  This circular piece is attached to another brass circle with a 1950-style flower soldered on to it.  Quite a remarkable example of workmanship.

The necklace consists of two pricey components—the pearls and the clasp/centerpiece.  20″ of pearls which range from 14-17 mm each (one inch is 25.4 mm) and a clasp/centerpiece (meant to be worn in front) which is 2″ long.  $149.

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*Baroque pearls are natural freshwater pearls featuring unique markings, imperfections,  irregularities and subtle beige coloration unevenly marked.


A MAX MOMENT

This is one of Max’s most endearing traits as he calms down as he approaches 15 months:  when he jumps on my bed, he takes a big mouthful of the throw into his mouth, brings both paws beside his mouth and gets a contented look.  It’s his “blankie”, his security blanket!

 

Whimsey Bird

A touch of whimsy always makes my day.

This lampwork glass bird is one of many whimsical beads Stephanie Sersich, Topsham, Maine, creates.  Sersich today is 43 years old and introduced herself to the bead world at age 25 with a public lecture and an article in the legendary “Lapidary Journal.”   Two big influences contributing to her success are her creative Mom and a major in metalsmithing and painting.  As she says, “I learned engineering and color which led me to making my own glass beads.”

She then developed her own “Spiny Knotting” method to allow her to bind many of her colorful beads into a single bracelet or necklace.  Check them out on her website sssbeads.com.

I have often wondered why I preferred the hunt for fabulous beads like Stephanie’s instead of making them.  It has a lot to do with the fact that my youthful focus was on getting an English degree, living in Paris and Lisbon, and being a corporate HR professional.  I didn’t buy my first bead until I was 50 and living in Hong Kong, entertaining myself while my husband organized his company’s South Asian footprint.  But I loved the hunt!  From the Hong Kong Jade Market to Beijing’s outdoor flea markets, Shanghai’s treasure-filled antique shops, from small entrepreneurial silver shops in Bali, to the giant pieces of turquoise I found in Tibet, and the amazing beads on small Indonesian islands of Sumba, Komodo, and Flores.  For two years, I never thought of making my own beads.  Just acquiring them.

And I can safely say that is true today, 25 years later.  I was determined, however, to put my own creative stamp on each necklace.  To balance color and texture, to be bold, chunky and fearless, but above all to never stop searching for the odd, eccentric, remarkable bead.  And to do that, I expanded my search to fulfill the true definition of a bead:  something with a hole in it which can be strung.

Stephanie’s bird and fiber dangle is 3.5″ and the pink Czech glass bead necklace is 24″.  Featured in the necklace are molded glass pre-war German semi-circle beads plus glass flowers at the end of the necklace and in the earrings.  $139.

 

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!

A Corrugated Necklace

“A Corrugated Necklace”

This necklace draws attention coming and going. I strive to make all my designs attractive from the front, but it is only a few necklaces that can achieve that high mark from the back. This is one.

These paper beads were made by an unknown artist in Murano, Italy. I bought them on a trip there four years ago. They look like corrugated paper sliced in ribbons and crafted into architectural shapes…to my mind. What a labor of love! They are treated with a matte varnish to protect the surface. They are very sturdy.

I wanted them to be paired with special beads, both texture- and color-wise. For that honor, I found a dozen handmade glass beads from the tiny shop in Carmel, CA, called Two Sisters. The remaining spacer beads are pale wood.

 

The creative clasp is a resin circle in pale beige coupled with a wood toggle featuring four different woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matching earrings of the stylized paper and sterling silver are 1.75” long. The necklace is 21” long.

$149 for the set.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2019

In New England, Valentine’s Day is inexorably linked to the weather which is usually snow, sleet or ice. I started making these necklaces during the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday. Ice was the weather horror of that weekend. With a forecast of snow followed by rain followed by single digit overnight temps, I planned for a forced two-day homestay by shopping for tasty food. I stocked crab cakes, cod which I cook Mediterranean style, lobster meat for a Lobster roll as well as sautéed over angel hair pasta. I did not forget Chardonnay and Merlot!

The three necklaces shown below were strung on the sofa in front of a fire with the dog Max curled up on his spot. It was a pleasurable two days with no broken bones since the furthest I went was to the deck gate to let Max out…after pouring hot water to defrost the gate latch.

I decided to string simple seed beads and save the excitement for the dangles that are such fun to assemble. Descriptions follow, left to right.

  • Red glass “pony” (a big seed bead) necklace, 22” long with a gold metal heart clasp. Dangle of 4” with large gold metal circle as the connector. Featured beads are Murano red glass with foil interior; red glass hearts and assorted gold metal charms. $47.
  • Small gold metal round beads make the 19” long necklace and simple hook and eye clasp. Dangle of 3.5” featuring an off-white heart plus 4 gold metal hearts plus an angel making music. $39.
  • Sparkling red glass seed bead necklace, 21”, with a creative silver metal clasp. Dangle of 3.5” featuring two Murano foil glass hearts, assorted red hearts and a sterling silver and crystal small dangle. $42.

A search of my “HEARTS” box produced three gems that I could just put on a chain and present at a low price because my labor is negligible (unlike stringing those seed beads). I show them in the second photo. Again, from the left.

  • Blue and white Murano glass bead on a 20.5” on a silver mesh chain. $20.
  • Large (2.25” wide by 2” high) lime green with copper and silver foil designs embedded on a 36” copper “key chain” which I (or you) can easily make shorter. $20.
  • Simple and contemporary 18” silver chain with a stylized silver heart and gold patch. $20.

 

 

 

 

 

Certain dog-loving readers have asked for more Max photos. I shall graciously let him steal the spotlight every other month. This is Max on the sofa, which is for play as well as rest in his mind.  He is just shy of 9 months of age.

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.