Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Memories and reflection

To make room for the new stock I picked up at the end of September, I started culling my stash of leftover supplies. Rediscovered some real finds that I'd put away for future inspiration and got busy. (Have a look at the Buy Bling site, necklaces in particular, for some of the recent creations.).

Also did a first experiment with beaded wire trees to use up some extra gemstone chips.

Later learned that the Ming tree art form covers a wide range of possibilities -- plaster, beaded or straight wire, silk,  and a variety of ways to display the miniature trees. I wired the base into an old piece of coral, a memento from my late aunt's last Florida vacation. She's been gone more than 15 years now and it's a nice reminder of happy memories.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving this year and enjoyed spending time with family and friends.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sign of the season

Listening to the radio over breakfast yesterday, I heard my first "days to Christmas" alert. Three months today it will actually be the day after now. I usually wait until Thanksgiving before I start seriously thinking about organizing the holiday gifts with exception of an early present to myself -- a visit to the annual rock and mineral show.

On this weekend, it's where I spent a glorious three hours Saturday afternoon, browsing, meeting old friends and searching for supplies and new ideas. And yes, I SHOPPED. When I was logging my purchases in inventory earlier today, for fun I totaled the linear length of strands I brought home. Almost 20.5 ft. of gemstone chips and freshwater pearls. That's equivalent to the average width of a two-lane road! And they're all gorgeous -- mostly pastel shades, especially the pearls.

Gemstone chips are fun to work with but I'm just starting to experiment with pearls. Sorry I don't have a picture to include with this posting, mainly because the new materials are still in bags. But if you want an idea of the variety of both shape and color in freshwater pearls, have a look at the bracelets catablog on Buy Bling.

Oh, and if you have any ideas of pieces for me to make, feel free to get in touch. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Working through puzzles

If you've ever been stumped by a "how did they do that?" then you'll relate to my fascination with this chain maille pattern that features caged beads. I'd seen finished pieces on display at a local bead shop and tried to recreate the design on my own but somehow the bead always dislodged. It wasn't until I took a workshop that I finally understood. Aside from learning the technique, I was also privileged to see a demonstration of natural teaching ability which I'll remember whenever I do the pattern. Thanks Miriam.

Here's the "stitch that provided the inspiration. You can have a closer look at what I've done with it by visiting the Necklace catalogue on Buy Bling

Monday, June 21, 2010

Revisiting the Passion

I've always had a fascination with glass. I originally started with stained glass years ago and even though I still have my tools and a supply of materials in the basement, I moved on to other techniques. While I greatly enjoyed the thrill of glassblowing and lampwork, one-day workshops I took over successive holidays, I also knew I didn't have the right facilities at home to continue with either activity. But thanks to the new studio I mentioned in my last post, I now have a place to work.

After a three-week refresher course, I'm hooked again. No wonder. There's something addictive about working with flame. It's not just working with volatile materials -- a combination of propane and oxygen -- to melt glass, but it's also honing your skills to give it shape the way you want. The simple act of forming a glass bead is not easy at all, although the experienced lampworker makes it look effortless. Here are a few shots taken during instructor demos at my workshop. to give you a sense of the process.

Shaping the bead is step one. The creative process gets more interesting when you start looking at embellishments -- adding dots, stripes, different colours, encasing your bead in clear glass to give a 3-D effect. Once you're satisfied with the design, you then move it to a kiln to start annealing. Simple explanation: the bead needs to be "baked" and gradually cooled for it to be hard enough to last. Once out of the kiln and cooled, the bead needs to be cleaned and finished and this means removing the metal mandrel, any residual bead release coating on the inner core and sanding all sharp edges.

Even though it will undoubtedly be some time before I'll be sharing the results of my experimentation with you, thought you'd like to see what can be achieved when you have some knowledge. I bought this barrel bead recently from a local lampworker and created a simple coiled bail for display on a black leather cord. Enjoy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm Back

Apologies to all who have checked in for updates over the last few months. I guess having a blog is like an exercise program. Doesn't do you any good unless you spend time with it on a regular basis. No excuse. I just lost track of time.

Since my last post, I've taken a few workshops including one on wire-wrapped rings. Great fun. Not something I'd list on the Buy Bling site since size matters. Rings need to be customized to both fit the hand and the wearer. Enjoyed it though but the bling I've added to my own wardrobe.

Have also experimented with some new materials like stainless steel wire which is harder to handle than expected. To date, I've played with some pendant designs. Looking forward to a bangle bracelet workshop at the end of June where I hope to pick up some new techniques.

Earlier this month, I also enjoyed the second annual Bead Bop staged by a handful of independent bead shops in the Ottawa Valley area. The concept is you buy a passport for a nominal fee which entitles you to some discounted prizes for the duration of the event. Each shop also provides some goody give-aways and you're eligible for a grand prize draw at the end. Great way to support local merchants and develop new sources.

Thanks to the Bead Bop I also found a new lampwork studio. It's been a few years since I've worked with this technique so I'm now taking a refresher workshop on making my own glass beads. Will have to wait for next week's session to see what came out of the kiln.

Most of my free time is invested in yardwork these days -- planted half the vegetable bed this week -- but I still have a few new pieces to share with you. Enjoy.

On the right  is a close-up of the FIVE Swarovski crystal rivolis used in this wire and beadwork endless chain necklace. Unfortunately the photos don't do justice to the beauty of the Volcano crystal. Sorry, this one isn't listed on the Buy Bling site since I decided to enjoy it myself. But there are some new items on the Necklace

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I am -- a morning person. Skip to the eye candy now if the idea makes you queasy since I'm going to give you a glimpse of what that really means.

Most days, I'm awake by 4 a.m., weekends included. I force myself to stay in bed for another hour. Usually I read, everything from mysteries to manuals, latest is a series on working with polymer clay. Haven't moved my idea notebook to the bedside table as yet but that may not be a bad idea since this is an ideal time to work on new designs.

As the days are now getting longer, the cat goes out earlier so that's my cue to get moving. Once the computer is on, coffee is brewing, both indoor and outdoor felines fed -- a few of the neighbours show up for early backdoor "buffet -- I can retreat to my workbench before the rest of the household is up. Since I set up my space in the laundry room, I'll also throw on a quick load while either starting a new project or finishing what's in progress. By the time the washer is done, I've gotten my daily " fix" and am ready for breakfast.. And most of this happens before I have coffee.

I'll be the first to admit this is not a lifestyle for everyone. But it works for me. By  7 a.m., I'm ready to get on with the rest of the day having satisfied my creative urge first. It also means I have some quiet time to work out ideas and come up with new projects.

The latest is this variation on a celtic knot. I've been experimenting with chain maille and Swarovski crystals lately and wanted to try a different look. The bracelet came first and the earrings just seemed a natural pairing. This is also the first set I've produced -- look for it on the Bracelet  and Other Accessories catalogues on buy bling.

Now if I could just find a way of working photo shoots into my daily routine, I'd be able to update both blog sites more often!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finding the solution

Can't believe we're almost at the end of January. I've had an active few weeks, creatively, and I wanted to share with you one of the latest projects on the workbench. This is a necklace that's a collection of both ancient and modern techniques -- kumihimo or Japanese braiding, wire wrapping and polymer clay findings.

What's interesting about this piece is how it evolved. I've been playing with kumihimo for about six months, starting with making my own disk and experimenting with different fibres. There's something very rythmic and soothing about the braiding process. Adding beads creates a whole new look that varies with density. Good to experiment but sometimes it's a challenge estimating the finished length. Since both cords used the same selection of beads, I thought they'd work well together as a single necklace if I could figure out a way to join them.

No luck finding anything the right size commercially -- drove myself a little crazy looking in the process. So I decided to make my own using polymer clay. Perfect solution since it's lightweight, can be shaped and textured as you wish and there are virtually no colour limitations. I'd describe the look of the piece as edgy organic.

Thanks to several kind friends, I was alerted to a problem on the Buy Bling page. The necklace catalogue was not displaying properly. Hopefully I've now fixed the problem. Please do let me know if you have any difficulty accessing the images. Here's a link Buy Bling if you feel like browsing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm so glad the holidays are finally over. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy seeing family and friends and a change from normal routine can sometimes be as good as a rest. That didn't happen to be the case this year since we were nursing a sick pet.

Our cat spent five days in kennel over Christmas while we were out of town. Normally, she's fine with boarding but this time she came home listless. As the week progressed, she got worse -- stopped eating, drinking and the prescribed antibiotics just upset her stomach. End result: she spent New Year's at the emergency clinic, hooked up to intrevenous to bring down her high fever and build up her her fluids. By noon the next day she was doing better and was able to come home that night. Her appetite is coming back and she's started getting into mischief again -- always a good sign.

This is the story behind this necklace. In the catelogue I've called it "New Year's Morning". Alternately, it could have been named "Waiting for the vet to call".

I took advantage of the holiday break to add some new bracelet stock as well. Enjoy the browse at the buy bling site.

All the best for 2010.

You have to start somewhere

Q. When does a hobby stop being a hobby?
A. When you no longer continue the activity for pure enjoyment.

That being said, I’m a hobbyist who enjoys creating. My current interest is mostly jewellery – glass beads, metal, natural stone and minerals. I get a kick learning a technique or working with a medium I haven’t tried before. The problem is what do I do with all the items I’ve made. My solution is this blog.

I’d rather see the bracelets, necklaces et al find a home with someone who will enjoy wearing them as much as I did making them. If I can cover my costs as well, then I can afford to keep trying new projects without going broke. Sounds good in theory. Hope it works.

Look forward to hearing from you by email if you see something you like or have questions.