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 17: Dark Green

 

“Fascinating Rhythm”

I’m challenging myself in 2017 to create one necklace a week using only the beads from one drawer of my 52 drawer Apothecary Chest.

Week 17/Drawer 17: April 26, 2017: “Fascinating Rhythm”

In the glass bead world, a hierarchy of three levels exists: American Art Glass (officially called “furnace beads”); lampwork glass which I use a lot; and blown glass (see Drawer #1).

These American Art Glass beads were designed by David Christensen, Rhode Island, and I used to buy them from him by the hundreds when I lived in California. This dark green color was attractive to me because when you look closely, it sparkles due to the silver foil with which he embellished the green.

To get wonky for a moment, “furnace glass” is an American adaptation of an Italian method called “latticinio” which uses glass canes—like all three levels do—and encases them in clear glass, then manufactures them in large scale furnaces. They are not individually made, like lampwork and blown glass.

The most predominant stone in this necklace is green aventurine, which is from the ubiquitous quartz family. Sometimes I have to look twice to identify these beads since jade comes in a similar shade of green.

Also featured are some lovely pressed glass beads made in West Germany. They were hand made from 1948 to the 70’s, when they switched to machines.  I bought these vintage beads from a CA vender in 1995, so there is a chance they were hand-made.  They are the distinctive bullet-shaped beads and the leaves with white stripes.

Green Aventurine has some interesting properties: they are the heart chakra; they comfort; they settle nausea; and they give courage to the wearer in social situations.

In my quest for an unusual clasp, I found a green glass circle and paired it with an oversize pewter lobster clasp.

This two-strand necklace measures 21” and earrings are included. It is $99.

Part of the fun of each week’s necklace challenge is journaling in my “Maker’s Notebook”. It starts on the right where I leave four spaces for data which can only be entered after I finish the necklace. The body of my scribbles are thoughts that emerge as I am designing, then stringing, then closing off the necklace and earrings. On the left, I then do a drawing and color it in. I draw after completion; my design process lets the beads percolate as I gather piles of them–a process too intuitive to draw in advance.

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 15: Peach & Gray

 

“Emotionally Rich”

 

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 15/Drawer 15: April 12, 2017: “Emotionally Rich”

Since I had just a few peach and gray beads, I put them together in Drawer 15 and they have co-existed over the years. While rummaging through the drawer, I was excited to find two strands of gorgeous peach aventurine to feature this week.

Aventurine is a crystal with a lot of quartz in it, mostly opaque and often green, leading some to incorrectly identify it as jade. Peach is a lesser known aventurine color which is achieved by the presence of the minerals orange mica and pyrite (aka “fools’ gold”). These minerals are said to enhance creativity.

When I found the four large peach aventurine ovals, I knew I had enough to make a two-strand necklace! Notice how the sparkle of the coppery seed beads brings out the brightness of the minerals.

The highlight of the necklace is the lampwork glass creation of Gail Crosman Moore. Gail is special to me: a familiar face at the many CA bead shows where I shopped; she is from Western MA; and she is a redhead!   Mostly she is a truly creative artist as she wields colorful glass canes in one hand and in the other hand, she shapes the molten into a unique bead, all while wearing protective gear in front of flame!

Shaped like a bell, the centerpiece is peach with striations of green and blue. The bottom has beautiful blue pods waiting for your caress.

Read Gail’s website and be sure to note her shop in P-Town!

This necklace demanded a copper clasp and is accompanied by a simple pair of copper and aventurine earrings. It is 20” long.  $115.

Drawer 11: Amber Glass

 

“Dialogue”

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.

 

Drawer 8: Honey Brown

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“Rich Varietals”

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 7/Drawer 7: February 22, 2017: “Rich Varietals” 

Drawers 8 & 9 are labeled Brown, but I did not find a lot of traditional brown color; rather there is honey, root beer, caramel, brick and mahogany.

This necklace has a second name: Susie’s Beads.  Susie Whitinghill is my beloved husband’s beloved daughter-in-law…lots of loving going around in the Beadle Family!  She gave me a necklace for a special occasion and I loved wearing it…until it broke and, like the bead vulture I am, I put the beads in Drawer 8 instead of re-stringing it.  I present it now, reincarnated.

The 16 large Indian glass beads of root beer and olive are from Susie’s necklace. I added honey beads—Czech glass in faceted cylinders and squares—which I repeated in the earrings.

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I found a perfect large lampwork glass bead in my stash for the centerpiece! It is a cylinder bead with a brown branch wrapping around it plus abstract color dots of red, orange and yellow plus a brilliant honey-on-steroids sun image.  Then, to make it more complex, the artist-maker puffed up the cylinder with a clear layer of glass and laid raised multi-colored flower forms above the brown branch!  I feel so bad the original tag was lost and I can’t credit the maker.

By now you know I treasure my beads stories as well as form my own opinions of them. I have a special characterization of the three kinds of glass beads I use frequently:  Venetian glass (see Drawers 1 & 2) is the most sophisticated, hand worked and well-designed; Czech glass is my standby filler, well made and affordable, appearing in 80% of  necklaces presented so far; and Indian glass, the newcomer to the bead industry with decades of history as compared to centuries for the other two, is cheery and colorful.  Lampwork glass stands alone since each is artist-made.

This necklace is 21” around with a dangle of 3”. Earrings included.  $59.

Drawer 6: Red

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Vintage Trade Bead necklace showing some White Hearts

I’m challenging myself in 2017 to create one necklace a week using the beads from one drawer of my 52 drawer Apothecary Chest. Welcome to Drawer 6.

Judging by my mail since last week, Valentine’s Day is pretty soon. The MFA issued a lush brochure announcing its revival jewelry exhibit opening February 14; Chico’s wants me to come in and accept a free necklace; HullArtists.com’s own  Gallery Nantasket invites everyone the Sunday afternoon before Valentine’s Day; even my inbox is exploding with jewelry created for the occasion!

I too must rise to this annual red heart fest. Once in the over-flowing red drawer, I couldn’t stop myself—so I made three necklaces!

#1 is a long simple necklace of red Czech glass made distinctive by a Paul Vien (Westport, MA) ruby red dichroic kiln-fired glass pendant coated with the most lustrous shade of gold etched with delightful images of stones (if you are a beach girl) or bubbles (if you are a champagne girl)! It is 28” + a 2” pendant.  $69.00img_1303

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#2 is featured at the top of the blog and is created with trade beads only. The true definition of a trade bead is a glass bead made in Venice and traded around the world, especially in Africa , from the 16th to the 20th centuries.  My definition is they have patina which is evidenced in chips and crevices darkened by the dirt of ancient markets as they are bartered and change hands.

The larger red beads are glass made to look like faux amber, the agate center bead has that trade patina, and the small red ones are called white heart beads and have a long history. Red glass beads were historically made with gold.  In 1480, beadmakers added a white layer at the core of the bead (see photo) to reduce the amount of gold needed.  Production of white hearts was finally ended in 1960.  It is 22” long. $69.00.

drawer6-1#3 is a medium-length necklace of red Czech glass with Valentine heart dangles. A faceted red crystal heart hangs near the sterling silver heart clasp which can be worn at the back of the neck—it also looks nice worn by your collarbone.  A red circle holds three dangles:  a vintage Swarovski heart It is a clear heart which reflects the ambient light); a sterling silver heart and bead; and red beads on a cool sterling silver triangle.  23” + 2” long dangles.  $69.00drawer6-2drawer6-3 

 

 

Drawer 5: Green, light to medium

 

 

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“Grown-up Stories”

I’m challenging myself in 2017 to create one necklace a week using the beads from one drawer of my 52 drawer Apothecary Chest. Welcome to Drawer 5.

This week was fun to look forward to: Drawer 5 had so many shades of green from the lighter end of the spectrum that, before I knew it, a large pile had accumulated.  Pulling out four harmonious strands plus spacers, seed beads and a few accent beads was easy.  More difficult but so delightfully intrinsic to the creative process was moving the beads around my design board until harmony emerged.  Only then could I start stringing.

I worked until I had four strands of 9—10” on each side of the centerpiece. Then came the challenge of conforming four straight lines into a necklace that hangs around a neck in a flattering way. My model is Ada, a turn-of-the century mannequin I found in a Lisbon flea market in 1965 and put into service in 1995 as a neck model for multi-strand neckpieces.  I pin the strands on her velvet form and figure out how many more beads are needed to fit each strand to where the clasp sits at the back of the neck.

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A word about the centerpiece. Luminous and glowing green on top and opaque and creamy on the bottom, it is a fat lampwork glass circle which is perfect for gathering four strands.  Artist-made and acquired in California twenty years ago, it found a happy home in this necklace.  A strand of green and cream Japanese ceramic beads which I have had equally as long are also featured.  Taking them out of Drawer 5, I noticed an old paper tag which said “Made in Japan”.

Starting in the 1920’s, the U.S. Customs Bureau required imports to be labeled or marked with the country of origin. In 1952, paper tags were mandated, launching an era of collectibles referred to as the Golden Age. The tag is attached to those beads in this necklace.

Other special beads are the vintage six-sided Italian glass canes, the square Czech beads from the 1940’s and the faceted sparkling vintage Italian seed beads between the canes.

I chose a gold clasp to reflect the warmth of this necklace. I also made 2” long earrings to accompany the vintage beads in the necklace.

This four-strand necklace is 22” long. $139.00

Drawer 2: Winter White is so Ethereal!

"Light Fantastic"

“Light Fantastic”

My Apothecary Chest: We brought it back from Hong Kong in 1994 after an ex-pat assignment there; it is also where I discovered beading.

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

Week 2/Drawer 2: January 11, 2017: “Light Fantastic”

I am writing this in the middle of a raging blizzard with 8—10” forecast, so can you blame me for thinking white?

This delightful necklace is a white-out! But it will go with everything, unlike snow.  There are five white striped and one opaque white Venetian glass beads, each of a differing stripe and distinct size.  See Blog dated June 29, 2013 for my ode to Venetian beads, also called Murano beads since they are made on the small island just a vaporetto ride away from Venice.

Besides Venetian glass, there are many American Art Glass beads made in Rhode Island. Again, all clear and/or white.

Finally, there are white “sugar” beads. I coined this name myself, so let me explain:  they are opaque white beads coated with what looks like glittery sugar, but it is powdered glass.  There are more white sugar dots on clear glass beads at the end of the necklace and in the earrings.

Since I like the back of my necklaces to look as good as the front, note the asymmetrical glass clasp with a sterling silver toggle.

This 19” necklace is $99. It is fragile, but the glass is not as thin as the Drawer 1 necklace is.  Matching earrings are included to keep the white vision.

See you next week!