Drawer 25: Iridescent

  Week 25/Drawer 25: June 21, 2017: “I Believe I can Fly”

 I’ve made perhaps ten of these complicated woven necklaces in my 22 years as a bead jewelry artist. As a beginner in the 90’s, I took lots of classes from a lot of fabulous well-known instructors.  I loved learning about other artists’ styles and methods, hearing their tips, fondling their samples, and buying their beads and books.  For me, there is no better way to spend time.

helen dietze (always lower case) gave classes in making “Ambassadors”—knotted woven seed bead chunks about 2” x 6” strung on thread which was tied in a knot and worn long. As named, she took them on her travels and gave them away.  She also taught her techniques, including an advanced class where the Ambassador was used to encase a beautiful extraordinary object preferably found in exotic places.  These creations were meant to exemplify the “more is better” theory.  This class was made for me!

 

 

 

 

So, helen, here is what you taught me 20 years ago, adapted to my style, and an appropriate challenge for Week 25, almost halfway to the end; almost to my 75th birthday!

 

 

 

 

A bit of a bio of helen: Born in perhaps 1919 (she disallowed discussions of her age); she studied art at the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Color and Design in San Francisco; was widowed in 1959; lived in a house in San Leandro, No. California, which was packed to the rafters with mosaics, yarns, looms, and beads.  Small of stature, she was tall in presence:  perfect make-up with signature red lipstick; hair up in a chignon; black clothing; and always a major necklace on her neck.  She was our Georgia O’Keefe.  helen passed away in 2004, at approximately age 85.  Needless to say, the crowds at her memorial were huge.

In closeup, above, in step 5.

To describe my necklace, I shall do it in terms of the construction process (usually called my design process):

  1. Go to the bottom of the necklace and find the knot of beads. This section, about 2” x 2” is the “Ambassador” starting point. I added the sterling silver fish and the pewter frog. Attach it to the 4” long shell with some holes supplied by Mother Nature.
  2. I weave and knot my way up and over the shell strip using multi-color beads of varying sizes. My principal colors reflect the iridescent shell—greens, pinks and greys in all shades. Blues and reds thrown in for punch.
  3. Practicing “more is better”, I add another shell, 2” at its longest. By now I am working with four strands of strong bead thread on each side.
  4. I start up one side. I string 2-3” on two strands and knot them. I string a new strand, add a few beads to one of the strand I just knotted. Repeat over and over. But I only go up 3-4” on this one side.
  5. Then I turn my attention to the other side, always consulting side 1 to assure balance by bulk and color.
  6. Note the Guatemalan fish dangles at about the 4” mark. Here I terminate one strand on each side so I can progress with three strands.
  7. I work narrower as I round the neck area, tie off and cut one more strand to finish with only two.
  8. The darling frog button gets attached on side 2 and I string medium size Czech glass on the loop side, completing the closure and the necklace. It took 22 hours by my best guess. Did you find the fourth fish dangle?

This woven necklace is 22.5” long. The centerpiece section is 7”.  $139.

Drawer 24: Black (with other colors). Revised to show color😘

“Grand Illusion”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 24/Drawer 24: June 14, 2017: “Grand Illusion”

Two weeks ago, I stated there were four black drawers. Now there are three!

I re-organized the contents into three drawers after tossing the ugly, donating the unwanted, and re-assigning others. I put iridescent beads, mostly shells, into Drawer 25 which you will see next week in a necklace of a very different style!

Let’s focus on this week’s design: Venetian glass.  It’s been a staple of mine for many years and I am down to a small supply left in Drawers 1 and 2.  I paired the Venetian with another love:  American Art glass by David Christensen.  See Week 17 for details on American Art Glass.

It is a mildly asymmetrical necklace but balanced so it will sit prettily on the neck. I needed some very shiny and medium sized beads for the top half and found those qualities in some plastic beads I bought at a yard sale back in the day when you could find real treasures in yard sales.

The clasp has a starring role with a fabulous oval piece of art glass and a sterling silver toggle I fashioned. Two perfect pieces of art glass found their way to the earrings.  All in all, a very satisfying creation.  20” long.  $99 for the set.

 

Drawer 23: Black (Shiny)

 

“Midnight in the Gardens”

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 23/Drawer 23: June 7, 2017: “Midnight in the Gardens”

These shiny black beads spoke to me because of their unique white line down one corner. These are vintage resin beads and their shine has dulled as many hands have touched them over four decades or so. They are a product of the 70’s.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the explanation for the white line had to do with the mold they were cast in and not some fabulous creative detail.  But we shall not know because I cannot find any info on these beads and if there was a story when I bought them, it is now forgotten.

 

 

Well, I’m a techie-in training, and I barely managed to draw orange arrows to show my readers the cool white lines, but I couldn’t get rid of the pesky “text” circle.  Oh, well, enjoy and chuckle!

 

 

 

 

There is a story in the white freshwater pearls: my friend Penny’s friend sent them to me to re-use.  I fell for their heft, solidity and the fine markings etched by their life in a shell in warm water somewhere in Asia.  They were re-used within a month of receipt; lightning speed for me who can hold beads for twenty years before finding a match!

I have undoubtably mentioned my need to personalize my creations with an interesting clasp so the view from behind is as creative as the front. I estimate that this is possible in half of the necklaces I produce.  This one features a black plastic elliptical circle with a black horn toggle.

Three bold components in this neckpiece: rectangular beads, hefty pearls and a strong clasp!  Just the way I like it!

This strand is 19.5” and comes with matching pearl earrings on a modified hoop. $79.

Drawer 22: Black (Matte)

“22nd Century”

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 22/Drawer 22: May 31, 2017: “22nd Century”

There are four black drawers! As I have stated, I am re-organizing/tidying/tossing as I go through my 52 bead drawers.  I approached the four black drawers, three sections each, with enthusiasm, wearing my organizer-in-chief hat.

Drawer 22 ended up with all the matte black beads and the shiny ones went to Drawer 23; I am still sorting the next two black drawers, deciding how to proceed since they are black with other colors. I guess I just named them!

My discovery in #22 were the meteorite beads pictured above. I thought they were lava beads which I have worked with for several years, but the label said meteorite…that sent me straight to Google.  Meteorite is a first for me.  As you can imagine, a meteor entered out atmosphere 50,000 years ago, crashed and splintered and lingered, and only 50 years ago, ancient gravesites were found in the Midwest with beads formed from the iron nickel fragments.  With the emergence of treasure-hunters with metal detectors, meteorite made its way to bead shows and my Drawer 22.

Black and chunky, these beads are coated to protect them from wear and oxidation. I test-drove this necklace and it is comfortable and smooth on the neck.  It is of medium weight, perfect for wearing to an event as opposed to all day.  It will start many conversations!

I added a few matte onyx beads and a pewter clasp to make the back as much fun as the front! Matching earrings in sterling silver, lava and matte onyx.  The set is $89.  The necklace measures 19.5”.

Drawer 21: Yellow

“Moralist of the Quotidian”

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 21/Drawer 21: May 24, 2017: “Moralist of the Quotidian”

This week I shall wax poetic over a recent 2015 memory of finding this centerpiece rather than the 20-year old memories detailed in previous blogs!

An inspiring friend, Nancy Cusack, now an Adjunct Professor Emerita at Mass College of Art and Design, Boston, and Visual Artist, invites her friends to unique events at the College. I was excited to attend the opening of an exhibit of broken/unused/unwanted jewelry recycled by Professor Joe Wood’s Jewelry class into chic new wearables!  This brooch was so captivating that I immediately put it in my hand as I finished looking around.  I knew it would make a fabulous centerpiece for a yet-to-be-determined necklace!

The beads accompanying the centerpiece turn out to be very simple: sand cast African glass from the yellow drawer with a hue so close to the flowers that they were destined to be together.  These beads have been made in Ghana since the 1600s.  In their unique process, pulverized glass is poured into a clay mold, with a local cassava reed placed where the hole should be.  The mold goes into a furnace which heats it up to where it congeals, and the cassava burns away.

I also used a few interlocking flower disc beads, also made in Africa and used as trade beads (more on trade beads in blog dated February 8, 2017). Find them in the back of the brooch and at the end of the necklace.

A fun clasp makes the back look good. A vintage resin button serves as a toggle to the black glass circle.  Earwires are blackened silver with matching beads.

The necklace is 21” long; the centerpiece is 1.5” diameter. $99 for set.

 

Here is an image of one of my other purchases at the Recycled Exhibit—a clever repurposing of faux pearls studded with silver solder and attached to two intertwined chains. It has become my go-to daily necklace when I’m dashing out of the house and no time to choose one of my own creations. Also a quotidian!

Drawer 16: Pink

“PINK: One Word Sentence”

 

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 16/Drawer 16: April 19, 2017: “PINK: One Word Sentence”

A half a dozen years after I started beading, I became a redhead. I stopped wearing pink since it clashed with my hair.  I guess I also stopped buying pink beads, because when I pulled out Drawer 16, I was surprised at its sparsity.  Besides the one bag of pink Czech glass that dominates this necklace, all I had were bits and pieces.  For example, near the clasp, note the two “lacy” round beads and the larger pink ones of the same family as the dominant beads–there were exactly two beads in each plastic bag.  Now there are none.

I have many pretty pink beads: the ones with embedded green leaves (maybe dots to your eyes); vintage faceted clear and pink; and the triangular ones near the centerpiece and in the earrings as well.

The centerpiece is from my large lampwork glass collection and features pink and lavender roses, er, flowers, with leaves. It measures 2.5” and is a real statement!

Riffing off those flowers and leaves, I couldn’t resist designing four clusters of them into the body of the necklace. I wanted each cluster to be unique, so I pulled different shades and styles of leaves and flowers, and randomly assembled them.  It took some time and involved close work, but I found the process very satisfying.

 

Work in progress:

 

Laying out the design.

 

 

 

First cluster is made!

Finally, the clasp is a pink glass circle with a silver toggle.

This is the first and perhaps the only necklace of this Challenge to be strung in thread which is especially adaptable to the clusters in this woven piece. I used three strands on each side to give the three-dimensionality I wanted to the clusters.

This necklace is accompanied by earrings using beads from the necklace. It is 26” long plus a 3.5” dangle.  $129.

Drawer 15: Peach & Gray

 

“Emotionally Rich”

 

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 15/Drawer 15: April 12, 2017: “Emotionally Rich”

Since I had just a few peach and gray beads, I put them together in Drawer 15 and they have co-existed over the years. While rummaging through the drawer, I was excited to find two strands of gorgeous peach aventurine to feature this week.

Aventurine is a crystal with a lot of quartz in it, mostly opaque and often green, leading some to incorrectly identify it as jade. Peach is a lesser known aventurine color which is achieved by the presence of the minerals orange mica and pyrite (aka “fools’ gold”). These minerals are said to enhance creativity.

When I found the four large peach aventurine ovals, I knew I had enough to make a two-strand necklace! Notice how the sparkle of the coppery seed beads brings out the brightness of the minerals.

The highlight of the necklace is the lampwork glass creation of Gail Crosman Moore. Gail is special to me: a familiar face at the many CA bead shows where I shopped; she is from Western MA; and she is a redhead!   Mostly she is a truly creative artist as she wields colorful glass canes in one hand and in the other hand, she shapes the molten into a unique bead, all while wearing protective gear in front of flame!

Shaped like a bell, the centerpiece is peach with striations of green and blue. The bottom has beautiful blue pods waiting for your caress.

Read Gail’s website and be sure to note her shop in P-Town!

This necklace demanded a copper clasp and is accompanied by a simple pair of copper and aventurine earrings. It is 20” long.  $115.

Drawer 12: Carnelian

“legendary Heroes”

Week 12/Drawer 12: March 22, 2017: “Legendary Heroes”

I do love carnelian. It is a semi-precious stone that is found in all shades of brown, almost every one tinged with orange.  Now you know why I love it!

I probably say I love this or that bead in every blog. I suppose that’s why I’m still beading 23 years on!

Carnelian is a member of the Quartz family. It is considered the stone of creativity, individuality and courage.

This necklace started with the centerpiece, named a talhakimt. Over the years, I have purchased every interesting one I have seen and parcel them out into necklaces every few years.  They are always based on the triangle/circle design.  I have only one more truly interesting one left plus about 5 smaller ones that were originally men’s rings.  The design feels very graphic and crisp to me; contemporary rather than ethnic.

Talhakimts such as this one were carved of large banded agate in the nineteenth century in Idar-Oberstein, a famous stone cutting center in Germany, a location that means more to bead nuts than the less-obsessed. They were favored by the Tuareg people, pastoral nomads who controlled several Sahara trading routes, and are descendants of the true Berbers who predated the Romans in their settlements.  This rare talisman adorned Tuareg women’s hair.  I found it interesting to learn the Tuaregs are a matrilineal society.

It is always a design challenge to figure out how to attach the unusual centerpieces, which I love to collect, to my necklace. From the get-go I knew this necklace would be pure carnelian:  therein was the attachment answer.  I found a bag with some very old carnelian (see above photo) which was also small in size.  No two alike…all the better to see the varying colors of carnelian!  Also notice their patina (wear)…visualize them a century ago in a Tuareg’s bag in a camel caravan travelling across the Sahara to a trading bazaar at the next oasis!

It should be no surprise that beads were money in many sociieties, from the Tuaregs to American Indians who invented heishi [pronounced “he she”], which are the small brass spacers used in this necklace. Our forebears, however, used shell as their money.  Today heishi are any small round beads made by hand from natural materials.

The necklace itself is designed with highly polished carnelian nuggets separated by brass heishi.

This necklace is 23” long with a brass clasp. The talhakimt is 3”.  Wear with your gold earrings.  $99.

 

Drawer 8: Honey Brown

drawer8-7

“Rich Varietals”

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 7/Drawer 7: February 22, 2017: “Rich Varietals” 

Drawers 8 & 9 are labeled Brown, but I did not find a lot of traditional brown color; rather there is honey, root beer, caramel, brick and mahogany.

This necklace has a second name: Susie’s Beads.  Susie Whitinghill is my beloved husband’s beloved daughter-in-law…lots of loving going around in the Beadle Family!  She gave me a necklace for a special occasion and I loved wearing it…until it broke and, like the bead vulture I am, I put the beads in Drawer 8 instead of re-stringing it.  I present it now, reincarnated.

The 16 large Indian glass beads of root beer and olive are from Susie’s necklace. I added honey beads—Czech glass in faceted cylinders and squares—which I repeated in the earrings.

drawer8-1

I found a perfect large lampwork glass bead in my stash for the centerpiece! It is a cylinder bead with a brown branch wrapping around it plus abstract color dots of red, orange and yellow plus a brilliant honey-on-steroids sun image.  Then, to make it more complex, the artist-maker puffed up the cylinder with a clear layer of glass and laid raised multi-colored flower forms above the brown branch!  I feel so bad the original tag was lost and I can’t credit the maker.

By now you know I treasure my beads stories as well as form my own opinions of them. I have a special characterization of the three kinds of glass beads I use frequently:  Venetian glass (see Drawers 1 & 2) is the most sophisticated, hand worked and well-designed; Czech glass is my standby filler, well made and affordable, appearing in 80% of  necklaces presented so far; and Indian glass, the newcomer to the bead industry with decades of history as compared to centuries for the other two, is cheery and colorful.  Lampwork glass stands alone since each is artist-made.

This necklace is 21” around with a dangle of 3”. Earrings included.  $59.

Drawer 3: Rock crystal

drawer3-3

“From This Moment On”

My 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 3/Drawer 3: January 18, 2017: “From This Moment On”

From the first moment I saw the clear icy depth of a strand of rock crystal beads, I was smitten. I soon discovered everyone else is too since rock crystal, or quartz crystal, has metaphysical powers:  it is a conductor of energy; it is used for healing and meditation.

My most favorite pairings for rock crystal are sterling silver or pearls. I designed this necklace with hammered sterling circles and ovals plus a clasp by the same artist.  I found a small supply of this nice sterling while searching for something else and they practically flew over to the rock crystal strand I had chosen to be the representative of Drawer 3.  Necklaces often evolve that way for me!

The centerpiece is a crystal prism encapsulated in sterling silver wire, wrapped by my www.hullartists.com friend, Terry McMahon, who can be found at www.treesasstudio.com.

Wear this looker with your own sterling silver earrings. They can be large or small, but bold, if possible, to hold their own with this seemingly simple necklace.  It is 22” long plus a 1 3/4” centerpiece.  $111.00