April 1, 2018: AMBER.1 Very Old Amber

 

“Unexpectedly Sentimental”

It’s Easter. It’s April Fool’s. It’s interesting Amber time.

This necklace is very old Amber: an oxymoronical statement since to be Amber, it has to be fossilized resin of extinct pine trees dating back 40 million years. This mixed necklace contains three antique natural extra-large Moroccan Baltic Butterscotch Amber beads at the center and two out from the center. To clarify the oxymoron, they are Baltic Amber, by definition very old, but also antique since they were crafted into this shape over 100 years ago in Morocco. Therefore, they are also rare. Etsy has an overflow of amber pieces, but only one with these three beads in it; they price out at $166 each.

The remaining 18 beads are Ram’s Horn, also made in Morocco, also antique, also natural. Their patina is even more interesting: cracks and dryness which I assume are from the dry mountainous air of the nomadic Berbers who traded in beads. Their colors are in vibrant shades of amber. The ram has been a popular theme in jewelry and adornment since the Phoenicians of the 6th century BC.  I still wear my ram’s horn gold earrings from the 1980’s.

 

On many large Amber beads, signs of testing are visible as round black marks near the hole.

See details in two beads to left.

The trader would prove the authenticity of his beads by applying a hot needle: if it cannot penetrate the surface and if the contact smells of soot, it is real Amber.

Other resins would allow the needle to easily go into the bead and smell of fresh pine.

 

 

Finishing this necklace are some small Chinese wood beads with miniature landscapes etched in black ink, chosen for the overall shade of amber dye to extend my color theme. Notice sterling silver spacers and interesting circle with a lobster clasp. Wear your silver earrings.

Weight: 10 ounces

Length: 21”

Price: $175

Size of largest bead: 23 x 35 mm or roughly 7/8” hole to hole by 1.5” high

 

Berbers are indigenous to North Africa, especially Algeria and Morocco, living there as farmers since the Phoenician times. They were also traders, although not as famous as the later Tuareg tribes discussed in my blog of March 22, 2017.

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.

Drawer 14:  Bone

“Birdsong”

 

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 14/Drawer 14: April 5, 2017: “Birdsong”

Having lived in Asia for a year and a half, I enjoyed using bone beads and buying beautifully carved bone centerpieces.  Bone beads are popular all over the world and come from organic antlers or horns from animals such as oxen, cows, camels, and water buffalo who died naturally.  In Hong Kong, I found three variations of bone beads:  natural white, tea-dyed, and otherwise dyed.  Later on, visiting my husband’s son and his family in Bozeman, MT, I bought some beads made from deer hooves which looked like a dark wood.

This drawer features natural white oval beads and spacer beads. The clasp is a bone ring and a toggle charmingly “painted” brown which I thought spoke to the centerpiece.

The centerpiece is 2” x 2.5” with a lovingly carved scene of birds in leafy tree branches.  It is inlaid into a piece of rosewood, also well-carved.  Turn it over and the artist, proud of his work, embedded his signature in a perfect circle.  This is the only Chinese carving intended for jewelry I have ever seen signed.

The Chinese started carving bone in the 5th century BCE for use as tools.  Attracted to its natural beauty, they evolved their carvings to adornment.

“Birdsong”

The necklace is 18” long plus 2” for the centerpiece.  Earrings included.  $75.

Drawer 4: Wood

drawer-4-5My Apothecary Chest: It arrived via container to California from Hong Kong in 1994 after an ex-pat assignment there; where I discovered beading; my repository of many beads.

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 4/Drawer 4: January 25, 2017: “Celtic Turf”

Opening Drawer 4 full of wood beads was a big letdown. Wood is brown!  Brown is boring!  It took an Irish Claddagh and scented rosewood to bring life to brown beads!

The Claddagh symbol has been worn as a ring since Roman times; the hands, heart and crown symbolize friendship, love and loyalty. It became an Irish icon in 1637 when the design was approved by Charles I.  It was named after a small fishing village in Galway.  I bought this Claddagh during my first and only trip to Ireland to discover my ancestral land.

The title of this necklace is Celtic Turf for a reason: the centerpiece is made from ancient turf, or black peat soil, found in bogs all around Ireland.  This turf can be 5000 years old.  Interesting fact:  Ireland’s decayed organic matter is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet.

The rosewood beads have their own story to tell. Called red sandalwood in the Indian culture, these beads ask the god Ganesh to remove obstacles.  And it is believed their scent calms the immune system.  There is only a vague scent remaining with these beads I bought in Asia in 1993-4, my first year of a long love affair with beads.

I’ve learned a lesson. Not all of the 48 remaining drawers will be exciting, but they will be interesting because they have their own special stories to reveal.

Wear this necklace with your own sterling silver earrings.

The necklace is 25” long plus a 2.5” centerpiece.  $69.00

Precious Petrified Wood

 

 

I have paired the petrified bleached wood from Alaska with large baroque pearls (read interesting and organic shapes), and beige multi-toned glass seed beads woven in and out of the wood. The necklace is just shy of 21”.  It has a pewter-based gold-coated clasp and can be worn casually or dress-up.  Just remember, it is no longer precious; it is now a statement piece! The price is $175 which includes shipping and insurance.

Petrified bleached wood with large baroque pearls, and beige multi-toned glass seed beads woven in and out of the wood.
About 21”, with a pewter-based gold-coated clasp; can be worn casually or dress-up.It is a statement piece!
The price of $175 includes shipping and insurance.

 

Can you believe it was over ten years ago that I bought several pieces of petrified bleached wood from Alaska at the big fabulous bead shows I used to go to at San Mateo, CA?

Can you believe that I’ve held these precious commodities until now? What is it when something is so precious to us we are afraid to use it? Think of your grandmother’s crystal; your child’s first Mother’s Day gift purchased with his own money; that expensive designer blouse we splurged on? That is how I classified my petrified wood….until now.
Here it is, magnificent in its paleness, pure in its organic forms, and sustainably repurposed into adornment that we can wear and enjoy! I have removed it from the rank of precious and transferred it to attainable. Such a transformation!
I have paired the petrified bleached wood with large baroque pearls (read interesting and organic shapes), and beige multi-toned glass seed beads woven in and out of the wood.
The necklace is just shy of 21”. It has a pewter-based gold-coated clasp and can be worn casually or dress-up. Just remember, it is no longer precious; it is now a statement piece!
The price is $175 which includes shipping and insurance.

 

Trunk Show

Trunk Show December 6 & 7 2013

Hail West Coasters!

Hope to see you for my THIRD ANNUAL TRUNK SHOW…

 

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.