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!

 

Venice: Is It Goodbye?

It was during my last few hours in Venice, sipping my last Aperol Spritz, this bag on a gal’s shoulder was suddenly at eye level with me.

She let me take a picture and I just saved 1000 words.

Venice grabbed hold of me on my first visit in the 80’s.

Don and I returned on a cruise in the late 90’s.

I went back in 2013 and blogged about it here on June 29 of that year.

I went again on May 5, after a cooking trip in Verona, convinced I would say goodbye.  Maybe I will; there are so many other places to explore.

Verona was certainly one:  Roman and medieval in art & architecture, handsome of people, lovers of dogs, low prices, fashion-forward, great food and Prosecco!

Venice does not reveal herself so quickly.  Venice is a mystery.  Venice causes you to get lost, give up looking at your map, and allow you to discover.  Some delights I found include door knockers, Carnival shops with ready made costumes and masks as well as artists’ studios for custom masks, marbled papermakers, old churches with amazing art, food markets with interesting restaurants close by, cafes, canals small and large with their bridges just tall enough for a gondolier or delivery boat to glide under,

 

 

 

 

 

and building decoration,

such as a stone carving

or this magnificent Della Robbio.

 

 

 

There was something very new this time:  chichetti, pronounced chi-ket-ti. Wine bars!  Stand up only, serving wine, beer and prosecco from which the Aperol Spritzer is made.  Looking out my hotel window on the rainy windy Sunday I arrived, I noticed a group of people milling around a storefront with drinks in hand.  I grabbed my umbrella and went to inspect.

So glad I did.  I ordered an Aperol Spritz…paid my 3 Euros and wondered how they can make money at those low prices ($3.37)!?  There was a bench for two inside and there I perched, chatting with Sam, the owner/barman about this novel concept.  His space was 23 square meters (247 square feet!!!)  He also served slices of French bread with toppings such as prosciutto or salami.  One euro!

Monday was Murano glass bead shopping with several opportunities to get lost and Tuesday was a discovery day on a route never traveled before to end up at the Rialto Fish Market.  Lunch at a fish restaurant on the Grand Canal.  Both days were sunny and concluded with a stop at Sam’s chichetti.  There were three times as many people as on rainy Sunday.  Volume is how they make a profit.

That concludes the travelogue.  A brief philosophical analysis will help with the “Is it Goodbye?” decision.  I’m kidding, it’s not philosophical.  I operate a lot by intuition.  To that end, there are three incidents to ponder:

  1. As I am dining in the hotel restaurant at a table with a view of the bridge over its canal, an older nicely-dressed gentleman pauses on the top of the bridge, turns to gaze behind him, then continues across.  I believed he was saying goodbye.  Like me.
  2. Back in my room, I gaze out the window and see a sea gull gliding along the canal.  When he gets to the hotel, he turns back and flies into the dusk.  He too is saying goodbye and going somewhere else.

3. I bought a charm for the Tiffany’s bracelet my friend Sandra gave me. It is the large heart on the right.

It says “Please return to VENEZIA.”

I confused myself.  This doesn’t say goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

GOLDSTONE

“Grand Illusion”

As I reach the end of my second regular blogging year (weekly in 2017; monthly in 2018 and onward…), this Goldstone research produced my first big “Aha!”

For almost 25 years, I have assumed Goldstone was one of my beloved semi-precious stones found in Nature.  It’s called stone, right?  But no!  It is a glass product cooked up by artisans!  I am not disappointed, dear readers, because it still is a fabulous glittering glass and it makes a great necklace.  I am now informed!

The original goldstone manufacturing process was developed in 17th century Venice (and Murano) by the Miotti family and exclusively licensed to them by the Doge.  The ingredients include silica, copper and other metal oxides to produce glass containing tiny crystals of metallic copper.

I have also used blue goldstone which I now know substitutes cobalt for copper.

This 22″ necklace contains two sizes of facteted goldstone with a center bead called a briolette, also faceted, which plays up the glitter very nicely.  Copper clasp and matching earrings.  $69 for the set.

 

 

 

 

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 36: LIME: Venetian glass

“Dreaming the Dreams”

My Chinese Apothecary Chest:   in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during my husband’s 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 36/Drawer 36: September 6, 2017: “Dreaming the Dreams”

I’ve expressed my love for Venetian glass many times and the romance continues with this week’s choice. This shade of lime is especially dreamy.  Actually, I do believe the gold foil centers of most of the beads causes the lime to impart a special glow on your neck.  I have worn this twice and the compliments were many!

It is my opinion that Venetian glass is made by true artisans on the Island of Murano, a vaparetto ride from Venice ( details of my visit there in Blog dated June 29, 2013).  Those artisans are the designers and the flame workers:  they both have their hearts involved in achieving outstanding results.  You don’t find any of the Venetian beads I’ve showcased this year in a bead shop (apologies to my local purveyor, Beaucoup Beads in Scituate…I still love to shop with you!), rather you have to go to shows where vendors lay out their best stuff, and make you drool!

Regarding this necklace, the 11 squares trimmed with yellow measure 7/16th of an inch…small, but large enough to be noticed.  There are smaller squares, only 1/4” across, that I used as spacers.  Be sure to notice two round lime beads with gold foil centers that comprise the focal point.  In fact, all these beads except the distinctive square ones have gold foil centers.

This 18.5” necklace comes with matching earrings.  Gold metal clasp.  The set is $109.

Week 1:  Gold glass from Venice

"Romance Retold"

“Romance Retold”

2017 Necklace a Week CHALLENGE:  from 52 drawers of beads, create a unique handmade necklace using only the beads from one drawer at a time.

These large (1″ around) mottled gold Venetian glass beads will make any complexion glow!  They are hand-blown thin clear glass with splatters of gold.

The centerpiece is a Nautilus-inspired shell in cranberry color with gold flecks which turn iridescent in the light.  It is an artist-made lamp work glass bead.  Other spacer beads are glass with gold foil inside.  Secured by a gold metal clasp.

These Venetian beads are lovely to look at and wear, but please, handle with care since they are fragile.  Don’t drop the necklace and don’t wear dangle earrings that are long enough to hit them as they swing from your ear.  Truth in advertising now satisfied, don’t lust for this necklace unless you like attention because compliments will be endless!  I guarantee it or refund offered!

Wear it with your own gold earrings.  Title:  Romance Retold.  Length is 18.5″.  $99.00.

 

MURANO ISLAND RISING IN MY STUDIO

"Social Success"

Titled, “Social Success”, this creation joins Murano glass beads with six 1960’s vintage Lucite beads. The clasp is dyed and carved from sustainable water buffalo horn with a toggle I made from sterling silver wire. The necklace is 20″ and is accompanied by Murano glass asymmetrical earrings of one square silver foil glass bead and one twisted bead tied together with black seed beads. The larger bead, a tad over 1″, hangs 2″ from the ear piercing. The square bead earring is 1.75″ long.
The set is priced at $148 including shipping costs.

I took a baby step this summer and designed a very small Murano pendant (see previous posting) from my new acquisitions. Now taking another step with this lively necklace in lime and clear/silver foil-lined glass beads from Murano. This winter: some real adult steps working with the big boisterous boys; stay tuned!

I usually start designing in my imagination as I am buying beads and this purchase was no different, except for one big thing: they were going to be two separate necklaces. But the beads bonded in my suitcase during the rest of my Italian journey and emerged as one necklace with black seed beads to make the lime and clear colors pop.

The necklace was a bit short so I searched for appropriate companions to join the Murano glass and found just six of these 1960’s vintage Lucite (fancy for plastic). Serendipity! Ditto for the clasp: dyed horn carved from sustainable water buffalo horns and a toggle I made from sterling silver wire. The necklace is 20″ and is accompanied by asymmetrical earrings in silver foil glass beads, also from Murano. Asymmetrical, in this case, means I had one square bead and one twisted bead tied together with black seed beads. The larger bead is a tad over 1″ and the earring hangs 2″ from the ear-piercing. The square bead earring is 1.75″ in length.

The set is priced at $148 and includes mailing and shipping costs. I have titled this creation “Social Success”.

 

Oh, Oh, OK!

The necklace is named “DIALOGUE” and is 21.5” long.  The widest bead is 1.25” and the toggle is 2.75” long.  I recommend chunky silver earrings with this necklace. It is very chunky, but not very heavy due to the lightness of wood beads.  It is $139 which includes shipping and insurance.

The necklace is named “DIALOGUE” and is 21.5” long. The widest bead is 1.25” and the toggle is 2.75” long. I recommend chunky silver earrings with this necklace. It is very chunky, but not very heavy due to the lightness of wood beads. It is $139 which includes shipping and insurance.

For years, I have been designing a style of necklace I call “One of a Kind” or, in my shorthand, OOK.  They originated from chunky orphan beads, leftover onesie or twosie charmers, tossed into a box.  One day a necklace designed itself in that box and my first OOK emerged.  They feature as many different beads as possible:  it’s a fun challenge not to repeat beads, even though I do allow myself to for superior design.

I’ve probably made 30 of them since I declared myself a bead jewelry artist in 1995.  But it took gallerist, Gail Sewell reminding me how much she likes them, to get me habitually thinking about OOKs.  Now she gets first dibs for her Chambers Gallery in Cambria, CA!

This necklace’s genesis was five large wood beads (from the top:  an ebony and resin assemblage; a bird’s eye in soft wood; coco as in coconut; a finely carved snake which in Chinese mythology signifies cleverness; then another coco).  A notable bead is the obelisk-shaped carved soapstone with images of a stylized fish.  Balancing the wood are some opaque rock crystal beads with subtle brown markings.

This OOK demanded a striking clasp with a solid silver ethnic circle. The wood toggle, formerly known as a button, I found with my knitter friends, Tess and Dottie, on a fun driving trip to Webs, the biggest yarn shop ever.

 

REGARDING MY MURANO BEADS, stay tuned.  I’ve designed only one necklace, a fairly “safe” medallion, pictured below, because the big unique beauties I selected in Italy are currently intimidating me.  They have to be fabulous, and they will be, but they need to take their time.

Murano millefiori disc bezeled in sterling silver, with Baltic amber chips and sterling silver clasp; 18.5” to 19” adjustable length.  Priced at $99 including shipping and insurance.

Murano millefiori disc bezeled in sterling silver, with Baltic amber chips and sterling silver clasp; 18.5” to 19” adjustable length. Priced at $99 including shipping and insurance.