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????

A Gau Box and a Tibetan Bead Adventure

“Tibetan Gau Box”

 

In 1993-4, Don and I lived in Hong Kong.  I discovered ethnic beads at the fabulous bazaars located in alleys and byways and became enamored of the giant orange and yellow beads that were described as those worn by Tibetan nomads.  I asked Don to take me to Tibet on one of his business trips to Beijing.  Ha!  Impossible since it is located on a 5000’ high plateau in distant southwest China.

So I convinced him to have an adventure travel vacation in Tibet.  Be informed adventure travel translates as difficult travel, as in one-star or no-star accommodations, toilets that range from pots under the bed to blackened porcelain with no seat, mattresses that feel like plywood, walking a lot, crossing the Himalayan mountains with a view of Everest in a jitney without any shock absorbers…a trip to Katmandu, Nepal, that took 24 hours including the overnight accommodations described above.

The pleasures of adventure travel are close-ups of the native population, interesting food, cultural immersion, different religions.  And beads.  No bead shops, just go to the village square and the traders find you.  Whew.  The first lesson is to push away the crowds, establish some control, and patiently look, point, and bargain.  What wild memories!

These Gau boxes were my most unusual finds!  Today’s necklace features an excellent specimen.  I paid $100 for it and it is $490 on Etsy as I looked for one today.  As you know, I don’t mark up the original price I paid.  No need to, since you, my dear readers, are looking for an interesting necklace, not a collector’s item for a display case.

Gau (sometimes Gao) boxes are antiques today, less than 30 years after our first visit.  We returned again in the late 90’s and the change was sad—China had infiltrated Han Chinese into Tibet in a massive relocation program to dilute Tibetan culture.  As a result, many Tibetans have crossed the mountains into Nepal where they are respected in their enclaves

These boxes contain Buddhist paper prayers and relics folded into the box, and worn around the neck, near one’s heart, by Tibetan nomads or travelers.  It also is an amulet to ward off negative energy and attract blessings (just like those fluttering strings of flags placed in the mountains).  Like any antique, they have patina, the fancy word for wear marks and nicks over time.

This necklace is 24” from clasp to bottom of box which is 2.5” diameter and 5/8” thick.   The clasp is hammered pewter.  The necklace weighs 7.7 ounces.  The set is $195.

The beads are dyed coral shell pearls.  These pearls are made from the lining of oyster shells, ground, shaped, dyed, and coated with a lustrous shine.  They do not lose color or shine due to sweat or perfume.  I also like them because they come in large sizes for a reasonable price.

At the beginning and end of the necklace and in the earrings are other Tibetan beads with silver decorative endcaps.  The beads in those endcaps and the center of the Gao Box are the same orange beads I first saw in Hong Kong…seems they come in all sizes. 

These are two other Gau Boxes I bought on that trip.  They are shaped like shrines which is another use of the Gau Box.  The large one is a wonderful speciman with many cultural icons carved in the silver and a wonderful polychromed deity in the window.

The small one is so old the silver plate wore off to its copper base.

 

 

 

 

 

A Max Moment

I dare not disappoint Max’s followers.  Here he is trying to dismember his stuffed  toy, but his smart Mom bought him a leather toy and it takes a really long time for him to destroy it.  Approaching 28 months.

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Postscript:  I imagine there are prayers and relics still in these boxes but I am afraid of ruining them if I attempt to open/close the boxes, so I don’t.  I just imagine.  I encourage readers to use their imagination also.

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.

 

 

Daydream

Created during the Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place which commenced on March 15, 2020 for Massachusetts.

It’s been easy to daydream. There is no pressure to get anything done, no place to go, so why not dream up things to do in my studio?  Or make lists of where to go when we are allowed back out.  Or pull out Unfinished Projects…yikes, I found six pillow tops I quilted back in that phase of my life 15 years ago. Nothing is going to motivate me to finish them, so my Project is to hire somebody else to do so.  Or that intimidating 4′ by 3’canvas which I started 2 or 3 years ago and am now daydreaming how to finish.  And so on…

My worktop has a half-dozen semi-finished necklaces featuring beads from my new bead stash (Helen’s old stash. See January 2020 blog). I daydream over them. I’ll get them done when it warms up a bit. In the meantime, I’ll daydream-design another half-dozen.

“Daydream”

This is April’s necklace. I think the centerpiece is a new-tech collage overlaid on a bead and sealed in resin. I thought it was glass until I examined it carefully. The choice of pearlized Czech glass interspersed with faux turquoise Czech glass feels right with the unusual center bead. Brass clasp. 23.5” long. Wear your gold earrings with it. $49 with free shipping.

 

I checked to see if I had any real turquoise necklaces in my inventory. I found only one and talk about real turquoise! This necklace features four faceted cuts of what is called America’s finest turquoise! It is from Arizona’s Sleeping Beauty mine. Check it out in the January 2019 blog.

 

A MAX MOMENT

Max’s favorite toy delights him as he hogs the ottoman while I read my Wall Street Journal and drink my coffee before our day starts.

 

POSTSCRIPT

I send prayers and empathy to all the great Americans touched by this relentless coronavirus. While many have and more will recover, for those who have not, I wish for the repose of their souls.

 

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.

 

Black and White Glass. Happy New Year.

“Illusory Simplicity”

This necklace began with the black and white polka dot beads. Polka dots are a favorite pattern of mine and once I started this necklace, I couldn’t stop.

There is a Japanese artist I love not only for her colorful bobbed hairstyles nor only for her wild and crazy clothing, but for her life-long obsession with polka dots. In February I will see Yayoi Kusama’s work live at Boston’s contemporary art museum. Kusama is now 90 years old and has featured polka dots in her art since she was 10 years old.

In the necklace pictured above, the plain black beads are onyx; the XL black and white beads are made in India; the clasp is a simple silver metal one. The centerpiece and the two earrings that almost match are lampwork glass made by a friend of mine from Palo Alto in the late 90’s. The earrings drop 1 7/8″ from the ear lobe.  The necklace is 19” long. It weighs 4.5 oz.  $99 for the set.  Free shipping.

“Pattern and Motif”

This black and white necklace has a craft feel. All of these beads were Helen’s (see story below). I made it this week as a companion to the polka dot necklace. Note the pale hints of pink and lavender in the striped beads. The clear glass beads with the squiggles were also used for the earrings.   There is lots of black and white going up one side of the necklace and down the other side. The clasp is pewter. The earrings hang 1 3/4” from the ear lobe. The necklace is 19” long.  It barely moves the scale, weighing only 1.4 oz.  $75 for the set.  Free shipping.

The Best Bead Shopping Ever!

Who ever knew I would return home from a recent trip to California with five bags of beads that made my suitcase ten pounds heavier? My friend Helen is switching from beading to quilting and offered me a unique shopping experience right at the kitchen table!

Once home and as soon as I had the time, I emptied them onto my work surface and they covered it entirely! It was bead heaven. What fun I had sorting them by color and putting them away in the drawers of the apothecary chest! Even more fun were the 15 piles of beads (see tray, top right) that immediately inspired me as future necklace potential. I will let them percolate into necklaces during the next few months. Yesterday I pulled out the glass bead centerpieces and found a half-dozen artist-made lampwork beads to add excitement to the percolation. I’ve promised to send Helen pictures of the finished product.

A Max Moment

Max is wearing the latest couture for groomed dogs. Gone are the bandanas with pinking shear edges. In is the sophisticated bowtie!

Max is now 20 months young.

2020:  May it Bode Well for All of Us!

I am feeling awed that today is 1/1/2020.  I have a deep seated feeling that this year, this decade, may  be good for humanity.  I can’t predict the future, but I can pay attention to my feelings and share them with you.

No matter what 2020 brings, doesn’t 2020 have a nice ring to it?  Let’s make the most of this New Year!

 

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.

 

OPEN STUDIO.AUGUST 16-18.HULL,MA

COME BY TO SEE NEW WORK.

SHOULD BE GREAT WEATHER FOR ART-STUDIO-HOPPING.

ALL WEEKEND I’LL BE CELEBRATING MAKING MY 3000th NECKLACE, BRACELET OR EARRINGS.  IT ONLY TOOK 24 YEARS.  HA!  BUT WHAT FUN ALONG THE WAY!

FRIDAY, AUG 16 FROM 6 TO 8 PM.  wine and cheese to celebrate 3000.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, AUG 17 & 18 from 10 TO 4.

CATALOGUES FOUND AT HULL BUSINESSES.  ALWAYS FREE.