Fact & Fiction: Suzhou Jade

“Fact & Fiction”

For 5000 years, Imperial China used the word jade as something precious and beautiful.  Today, more jade comes from Burma than China, but the Chinese are considered the master carvers.  However, jade (think the green kind), became expensive and that engendered more affordable and clever uses of the word jade.

Such is today’s necklace made of ”Soochow” jade.  It is not jade but serpentine named after the city of Suzhou, 60 miles NW of Shanghai.  I’ve bought it for years in earthy shades of green, brown, tan and cream.  But I always put it in the serpentine drawer, placed next to the drawer holding the shimmering green real jade.  I always thought of serpentine as jade’s first cousin.  And after all the research I did for this blog, I shall continue to hold that opinion because serpentine is nice on its own and doesn’t require the false tag of jade to be attractive.

Actually, naming it after Suzhou was a big compliment to serpentine when you consider the city is called the Venice of China.  There are images of gondoliers pushing their boats through the narrow waterways of the Yangtze River Delta.  But no research revealed serpentine was ever mined in Suzhou.  Pure Marketing BS!!!

Fact and fiction aside, this two-strand necklace is made from two different strands and three sizes of brown-tone serpentine beads…note the earrings contain the three sizes.  Try to find two beads of the exact same tone and markings; nearly impossible.  For me that is the charm of serpentine–it’s mixable and matchable.  The centerpiece is made from an archer’s ring [worn to protect the finger against the pullback of the arrow.  When I first touched one , asked what is this, and hearing the answer, I bought a dozen of the nicest ones.  Two decades ago, I thought they were so cool.  Still do.]

My drawer of carved serpentine revealed this nice carved arrowhead and I used gold plated wire to attach it to the archer’s ring.  Brass clasp.  19″ necklace with 3″dangle.  Earrings included.  $90 plus $7 shipping.

A Max Moment


Just two years ago, I started reporting Max was growing attached to his “blankie”, a 50″ x 60″ throw I put on the sofa to protect it from him.  He loved it, snuggled into it, licked it, soft-jawed it, ran with it.  So cute.  Then came the destruction:  chewing, tearing, and swallowing it.

He stills runs with it except it is a 20′ long trailing fleece mess.

HELP!  I need advice from doggie Moms and kiddie Moms:  how do I get rid of it????

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!!!

A Clockwork Orange

 

“Clockwork Orange”

I do believe this necklace will be as much fun to wear as it was to create! Making it was a real adventure in my orange drawer…I know, I should get out more.

It started with the orange and red lampwork* glass hearts by Pumpkin Hill Beads (MA) that I bought last October and have had sitting on my worktable percolating. So, when I organized the large stash of Helen’s beads that I bought last November (see January 1, 2020 blog for story), two strands of red-orange beads fell in love with the hearts. I pulled out the orange drawer and right on top were these vintage Lucite circles in orange and red. It’s so predestined, isn’t it?

I checked the red drawer also and found other goodies, all of them vintage glass or Lucite (plastic used in costume jewelry from 1950-70 and loved by me because the colors are so real.)

The large orange circles are end-capped by square reddish vintage glass with modern hieroglyphic marks. The necklace is longer than usual at 25” because I believe the circle and heart centerpiece demanded some space on the torso. It dangles for 4”.

The centerpiece only wanted to be assembled one way: a red and an orange circle butting up together (how to tie them together was my big challenge) with hearts attached in some pleasing way.

The clasp is an orange circle and a silver toggle. The earrings had to be long also and they emerged with sterling silver earwires that drop 2’’ from the lobe to the tip of the orange heart.

I present my March 1 creation for your aesthetic discernment. $140 for the set plus $7 shipping.

*Lampwork: artist-made glass bead sitting in front of a flame with a mandrel in one hand and glass canes in the other.

 

A MAX MOMENT

BROMANCE is in the air. Max and his best buddy, Ralphie, also a Labradoodle, but a standard sized one, are inseparable and non-stop for an entire five-hour playtime at Sunshine Pet Parlor (Hull, MA). When I bring Max in, Ralphie is already there and he comes running to the gate to greet Max. Max enters and falls on the floor to indicate his submissiveness, jumps up and they dash through the pet door to the backyard for hours of doggie rough and tumble.

 

Petal Power

“Petal Power”

This necklace is very pleasant, pleasing and a joy to wear. Front and center are vintage Lucite flowers, in subdued shades of olive, orange, teal and yellow. Nestled inside the flowers, and appearing in the necklace, are vintage glass beads with multi-colored markings. The basis for the necklace is rock crystal. The clasp is a treat for the back of your neck: an orange circle and a silver metal toggle.

Lucite is clear acrylic plastic first manufactured by Dupont in 1937 for military use. Dupont also offered to license it to several costume jewelry makers who found they could carve it, dye it, and make lightweight jewelry. From the 1940’s until 1970, it was hugely popular.

I like working with rock crystal and use it often. It is pure colorless quartz which doesn’t sound as interesting as rock crystal. It is often seen as a six-sided one or two-inch carved prism of pure light and energy known as the “Perfect Jewel.”  For centuries, metaphysical practicioners have considered rock crystal to be a healing stone.

The necklace is 20” long and the matching earrings hang 1.5” from the top of the earring. The set is $89 and shipping is $7.

 

A MAX MOMENT

On a recent sunny winter’s day, I put Max out for some fresh air. This is Max following an airplane’s flight path. He is a curious puppy, now 21 months old.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers!

Coming and Going.

I love it when the clasp looks as good as the centerpiece!  In this case, they are the same bead:  a square piece of olive jade, a semi-precious stone, which are also the round beads used in the necklace.

Olive jade is considered to promote emotional stability.  Its energy brings balance to the mind and the body.

The color of this strand is less olive and more chartreuse.  It is a soft and warm chartreuse, not bright.  My photo is a bit washed out, sorry.  If you want a better shot, comment and I’ll send you a true – color snap.

This is a simple necklace, attractive and fun coming and going.  The square clasp is secured with a giant lobster clasp–easy to open and close.  It is light, weighing 2.3 lbs.  It comes with matching earrings with gold French leverback earwires.  $49 for the set plus $5 shipping.

A Max Moment

18 months old

Here he is, dashing down to my studio with his ever-present “blankie” in tow.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, dear Readers!  Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah!

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.

 

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!

 

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.