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.

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.

 

Multi-Strand Woven Necklace with Agate. Puppy update.

“Celtic Twilight”

This necklace has many fascinating beads with too many stories, so I shall focus only on the amazing agate stone centerpiece which has two sides and two personalities.  I will list all the beads for my readers’ information.

Agate really is just a stone living in volcanic host rocks discovered in the third century on the shore of a river in Sicily…think Mt. Etna.

Most agates are hollow and in the form of a geode.  Slices like this one are cut from the outside of the geode; the inside is called drusy quartz.   This agate is probably Brazilian identified by its brown color interlaced with white and gray with striking layered bands.  This is high end agate; ordinary agate is found as gravel in streams.

 

The stone centerpiece pictured here and above inspired this necklace’s colors:  warm and inviting.

 

It can be worn on either side.

 

This is a woven necklace with four strands started at the bottom.  The threads were pulled through the agate and then four threads were each loaded with beads, looped through a main bead, knotted, and so on, up each side.  The clasp is vermeil (14k gold over sterling silver).

 

Here is a list of my favorite beads in the necklace:  yellow and white “sugar beads”, my name, called crackle glass by other beaders; copal, opaque and beigey, which I have often described as young amber; white vintage Japanese cut glass; small white-striped  Venetian trade beads; semi-precious citrine chips; yellow jade; pale yellow vintage pre-war German pressed glass (three are seen at the clasp).

This necklace measures 21″ plus 7″ for the centerpiece and dangles.  It weighs 6.8 ounces.  It is not heavy to me since it is dispersed over 4 strands. Wear your own gold earrings with it.  $145.

Here is Max, the Labradoodle, now 19 weeks old.  Still a pesky puppy, but doing well in  obedience classes.  He is showing loving traits, follows me everywhere, and loves being outside!

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 52: Recycled Found Metal

“Urban Jabber”

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 52/Drawer 52: December 28, 2017: “Urban Jabber”

We have arrived at the last Wednesday of 2017 and at the bottom right last drawer. Drawer 52 actually contains faux amber, but the necklace would look a lot like Drawer 34 (August 23), so I have chosen to conclude my year’s work with panache.  I will tie together an amazing centerpiece with a quote from the artist which will, in turn, tie together my thoughts on rejuvenating my work in my 75th year.

Rochelle Ford, Palo Alto, CA, is the artisan who made the centerpiece. At age 58, she taught herself to weld, got a permit to salvage metal at the town dump, and turned her home into a gallery of her work.   I took some classes from her in the late 90’s to learn how to solder (I flunked, just like those drawing classes I took.  So if you can’t do it, buy it from one who can!)

I commissioned some recycled metal centerpieces from Rochelle and this is the last one in my inventory.

Life marched on.  I’m in Boston; Rochelle has turned 81 and is still welding.  Imagine my surprise three years ago when some ageing quotes popped up in my email, just like the cute dog and cat emails, and my friend Rochelle had a fabulous quote!  I copied it and put it on my studio bulletin board.  Here it is:

“ Every morning when I wake up, I say, ‘I’ll never be as young as I am today.  Today is the youngest day of the rest of my life.  Get up and do something fun!’” 

Her piece is 5.75” by 4.75”. There are many crazy bits of metal welded together and painted.  Like all my centerpieces, they dictate the colors of the beads:  here olive and copper were the obvious choices.  They had to be chunky, so there is lampwork glass, Indian glass, filigreed copper, a strand of small round flat vintage Czech glass, and it really demanded some hefty copper chain.  It weighs just 10 oz, not a heavy necklace.

The beaded section is 9.5” long on each side and features a large copper clasp. Matching olive  earrings don’t match with each other:  one is round and the other an organic pear shape.  As Rochelle recommends, have fun!  $139.

Rochelle’s story is too good not to tell, so I will do a week 53 wrap-up to tie together my thoughts on rejuvenating my work and what I learned over the past 52 weeks. We’ll pretend there are 53 weeks in 2017.

You will love her website www.metalsculptor.com, or google her name Rochelle Ford.

 

 

 

 

Drawer 51: Reverse Painting & Bumpy Beads

“Meditation on Nature”

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 51/Drawer 51: December 20, 2017: “Meditation on Nature”

In the middle “double wide” drawer, I found two oddities: four glass beads painted on the inside that I found in a flea market-type setting in Beijing and my bag full of what I call bumpy beads, due to their surface texture, but undoubtedly vintage Bohemian pressed glass.

As I emptied out the bumpy beads, the bright green ones wanted to be near the painted glass so they could pop the green in the landscape scenes. Finding some matte vintage Lucite beads that didn’t overpower the painted beads was easy—Drawer 6 offered a great selection.  I chose three large plus a strand of medium faceted beads to intersperse with the green glass.

Reverse painting originated in Venice in the 13th century, resurfaced as a method of portrait painting in the 19th century, and enchanted Americans as fancy lampshades in 1910.  But it was the Chinese who elevated reverse painting to fine art using very delicate brushes.

This necklace features two beads with a typical landscape of a lake, a boat, a mountain, and a verdant foreground with a tree by the lake. The other two feature an elegant crane in flight and, on the other side, a resting crane.  Imagine packing all that inside a bead that is only ¾” in diameter!

Cranes are a frequent symbol in the Chinese culture since they are a sign of longevity.  A common expression is “heavenly crane” which is a reference to wisdom, the second role of the crane.

I could not find any images of my bumpy bead collection, so my name sticks. I am confident they are the pressed glass Bohemian-style beads made in post-war Germany.  See Drawer 30 for the story (7-26-17).

This necklace is 22.5” long. The clasp is a matte glass odd-shaped circle with a silver toggle.  I made earrings to match.  Since I’ve had the painted beads for so long, I used their original low price and not the average price of $12 to $15 each I saw on Etsy.  Therefore, the set is $79.

Stay tuned…only one more Wednesday in 2017. I plan to end this challenge with panache!!!

 

Drawer 50: Wood

“Blurry Shadows”

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 50/Drawer 50: December 13, 2017: “Blurry Shadows”

 

I am so close to the end that it is scary. Only two drawers left after this one.

My Apothecary Chest has seven rows of seven drawers, each 16” deep. Across the bottom, there are only three drawers:  I call them my “double-wides.”  And, I guess, because they are odd-sized, I used them for odd beads which didn’t have a home in one of the other 49 drawers.  So these last three are free-form!

The first is wood. I found enough to fill one-third of a drawer. Not the sophisticated wood of Drawer 4; but playful wood, reminiscent of the large shapes that were strung into necklaces for us as kids—at least in my house where we were five girls, only eight years from me to my baby sister, and a play producer Mother—dress-up and staging plays in the cellar was what we did if there was no sun shining outside.

I glossed over the playful beads as I tumbled them onto my work surface because I immediately saw a contemporary (dare I say sophisticated?) design in black and beige. It is pictured above; I shall let you judge.

The necklace is symmetrical, chunky, and very light. A pleasing yet somewhat bold design.  But I didn’t restrain myself with the earrings:  asymmetrical; one beige, one black, neither matching.  I got cold feet the next day and made a conservative pair of earrings.  Both come with the necklace.  Wearer’s choice.

The necklace measures 21.5” and is $59 including two pair of earrings.

I’ve been asked. Yes, Virginia, there will be a next year.  I’ll take a break from weekly challenges and make it monthly in 2018, with little bits popping up in between on some Wednesdays.  More info soon.  It’s premature, but THANKS, I couldn’t have done this without your feedback and that ultimate compliment of a purchase.