Sunday, October 21, 2012

Night Owl

This piece is somewhat of a big first for me as a jewelry designer - the first piece I'm going to submit to a contest.  It was an easy decision to join the contest - its all about OWLS and I ADORE owls!
 The contest is called "Show Us Your Hooters Owl Challenge" and is sponsored by a new group I am lucky enough to belong to, the Artisan Whimsy.  Here's the link ~ check it out ~  Both jewelry designers and component designers are competing. There's so much talent in this group, check out all the contestants, join the site if you like, and vote!  I will be listing this necklace on my Etsy site, Grace Elements, so check that out too!  Happy Sunday everyone!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lazy Sundays

I love lazy Sundays.  This one is somewhat typical for our house.  We all slept late, which in our house means past 8 am, but only because Emma was away at a sleepover.  She's our early riser, even on weekends.  After getting up, Derek turns on the radio to NPR, makes coffee, makes Claire breakfast, and I slowly stumble into the day.  Derek stretches and leaves to go play soccer across the street at the Middle school,  Claire settles in on the couch with Derek's iPad, playing some game.  I surprise myself by stretching and then getting on my bike, taking our dog Copper over to the Middle School for a run.  I ride around the track, covering nearly two miles, wave to Derek, call to Copper, and head home.  "This American Life" is on NPR now, so I make another pot of coffee, settle on the couch to listen, laughing at the short story being read by the author, and contemplate getting up to start laundry.  Claire's still playing her game, Derek's not home yet, and the house is unusually quiet without Emma here, the radio the only sound bouncing off the walls.  I'm on the couch now, computer in my lap, watching the morning coastal cloud cover blow across the sky, and typing this blog. I'm considering making a necklace, getting up for more coffee, stretching again, starting that laundry.  But for now, I think I'll just continue to be lazy.  Happy Sunday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When It Doesn't Come Easy

I usually don't struggle with the creative process.  I think this is because I buy pendants that inspire me, and that makes it easy for me to create with them.  But recently, I REALLY struggled, first with a custom order I had, and then with another piece.  The custom order was really tough for some reason.  A dear friend gave me four lovely pendants she'd bought on a trip to New Zealand, and asked me to create long necklaces with them, on silver.  I had free rein to design what I wanted, with the caveat that she didn't want anything that was "too much."  No worries, I thought.  Famous last words!
So when I returned home on the Sunday before Memorial Day, after a lovely day and night in Monterey with my family, I set to work on the order.  And it was like pulling teeth.  I guess it had a lot, if not everything, to do with the fact that I was trying to create something for someone in particular, and that I hadn't chosen the pendants.  And the pendants were lovely, but not what I gravitate towards lately - one was abalone shell, one green jade, one black jade, and one bone.  Besides the green, not really colors I typically start with. Then I felt like I HAD to make them symmetrical, because past pieces this friend had bought from me were all symmetrical.  Lately, symmetry makes my head hurt - I just can't do it, it feels wrong.  (Ironic, given that I'm someone who for years loved and reveled in the symmetry of nature and wouldn't have dreamed of creating an asymmetric necklace!)

But then I started pulling beads out and setting them next to the pendants, and starting wire wrapping, and gently coaxed the designs out.  The results are shown here, all four asymmetric! but my friend loved them all, she's already worn three of them.  So I guess I did ok!  But it bothers me as to why this was so tough.  Because it was for someone else?  It can't entirely be that, because all the pieces that go into my shop are in theory for someone else.  The key thing there though is I don't specifically know WHO those pieces are for, where here I did.  Was it because it was something I felt I HAD to do, rather than something I wanted to do?  Yes, that's it too.  That seems selfish somehow.  Anyway, while I'm happy my friend liked the pieces, I don't think I'll intentionally take on any custom orders.   This felt too stifling at first, and stressful.  And that's NOT why I do this, at all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

out of my rut

I feel like I'm creatively in a bit of a rut lately.  I am continually drawn to the same color palette lately - an aqua color with some variation on brown tones.  The necklace below typifies this - a lovely medium brown pendant paired with variations on brown and aqua colored beads.  Its lovely - to me - but not outside my comfort zone.  And just why or how has that palette become my comfort zone?  I've never felt compelled to stick with one palette and yet time and time again lately this is the palette I end up with.  I'm also not sure why I'm bothered by this.  But I am.  So after I finished my bee necklace (which I'm keeping and actually wearing right now!)  I looked at the lovely bronze butterfly pendant I had sitting on my table from Lesley Watt at Thea Too.  I've had this piece for weeks now and just couldn't seem to come up with a design to go with it.  Probably because it is a metal pendant and not ceramic, and didn't quite fit my current color palette rut!  But as I looked at it and at the beads sitting on my table, inspiration struck!  Its an amazing pendant and calls to mind a big field of wildflowers.   I had just received some lovely lampwork glass beads from Pam Ferrari in a pale greyish purple tone. Once I saw those, the lepidolite squares jumped off the table at me and said "use me too." And yes, there's still the brown - but look at the vibrant teal color !!!   Ah, I've successfully veered out of that creative rut...feel better now...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gaea My Earthy Muse

I haven't blogged in about a month, and I should be grading and but just can't bring myself to even start.  So I'll say I'm taking my lunch break and blog instead!

I'm going to blather on today about Gaea Cannady and her WONDERFUL ceramic pendants and beads.  I adore her work, every time she posts new sets on Etsy I drool and drool and invariably order something, even if I already have about six of her pendants at home waiting to be used (like I do now).  Her pieces are so detailed and rich in color, and I'm drawn to her nature-driven pieces and her more earthy colored glazes.  Gaea herself recently called me The Queen of Earthy on my FB page, which made me feel SO good (and blush a deep red) and if I am that, its all thanks to the inspiration of her pendants and beads.  I'm drawn to her more mellow, earthy colors, like those seen in the pictures here, calm aquas, pale blues, serene greens and sedate browns. I also recently made a necklace (one of the ones I just sold) with a brighter cream and green pendant that I got as part of some destash sets I got from Gaea Exchange on Etsy, and even though the pendant was brighter, the color palette I ended up using with it was still earthy, just with a lighter edge to it with cream beads and silk. 

I just sold two pieces that have Gaea pieces in them, (the ones shown here) and I've made at least two more lately that I'm keeping (one being the bee above and the other the heart at the top of this blog).  I want to keep all the pieces I make from her pieces, and I seem to be able to ALWAYS instantly create a necklace with her pieces, no matter what they are - her work just speaks to me.  I've said that before about other artists, but lately its so true with her work.  And its not just her work, its also about Gaea the person.  She answers my convos immediately, mails out my orders in record time, ALWAYS comments about the necklaces I post with her work in them (and others), and is just so sweet and generous in everything.  She always sends a little extra with my orders - I ordered two destash sets from her about a month ago, which were huge bargains already as they were discontinued styles, and the dear woman still sent me extra goodies!  I passed on some of those in a swap I recently did, and am about to pass on a couple more to a woman I've met on Facebook from Belgium.  I'm happy to share this amazing work of this wonderful woman with as many folks as I can - either through my jewelry or through swaps.  I'm already looking forward to my next purchase from her!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Love of Mud - Marla's Mud

I LOVE to look at beads and components.  I could spend hours just looking through my favorite shops on Etsy.  My husband doesn't get that, nor do my kids.  Its a compulsion and a near obsession.  Buying comes in a close second lately, in terms of my obsessiveness.  But to be good, this month I've limited myself in what I buy and how much I buy (i.e. NOTHING), and anyway, I find myself focusing on just a few shops lately that I adore.  I want to tell you about one of those shops today - Marla's Mud.

A big part of it is Marla herself.  I have never met Marla in person, I only know her through Facebook, but I can tell that if we lived in the same town or even within easy driving distance, we'd be fast friends.  I love her sense of humor and her spark. She's kind and funny and generous and supportive.  She has a wacky sense of humor, but you can tell there's also a serious dedication to her. She cares about her craft, and that shows through in her pieces.   It makes her work as beautiful as it is, and that makes her pendants so easy for me to work with.

Her pieces are earthy, organic, with gorgeous texture and some soft subtle colors, other strong rich colors.  I could gaze at her pieces all day, but I also love to hold them, feel their weight and texture and marvel at their beauty in person.  I broke my vow to not spend this month - I can't blame it all on Marla because I bought some pendants from a couple of my other favorite shops - and splurged on three LOVELY pendants from her shop that I got in the mail just two days ago.  I already finished one necklace that I'm keeping (the daisy to the left) and I've set out beads with the dragonfly to work on next.  I bought three of her lovely goddesses last month and have already used them all.

I have to be honest - I struggled a bit with the first one of the goddesses I worked with (the necklace sold right away!), but with the other two, the designs just came to me, like it did with the daisy. I'm keeping the goddess in the picture here, she was the second I worked with and my favorite, the pale green color is so peaceful and lovely.

I bought several of her lovely lovely heart pendants before Valentine's,  I remember when I first got these hearts, I IMMEDIATELY started to work with them, pairing them up with beads and having a literal creating storm.  I used them all up within a week!  The necklaces that are still in my Etsy shop are pictured below.  I can't do that with every piece I buy.  I really struggle with many of the pendants I buy, but not with Marla's.  I connect with her pieces, they speak to me, which maybe that sounds odd or silly, but I think some people might get that.

 In fact, I think I hear the dragonfly talking to me right now...I better go listen to what he has to say...

Thank you Marla for your amazing pendants!  I will definitely be back again and again for more!

Check out her shop at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bead Swap - Finally Posting!

I have been seriously remiss in posting pictures from the Bead Swap I took part in recently.  So here they are finally!  To the right are two lovely focal pieces from Black Mud, I've already started using the green one but I've hidden what I'm doing!  Below are the stones and ceramic beads. And at the very bottom of this post are the gorgeous pearls she sent, the lucite and the brass components.  I was seriously spoiled by Lauren Potts!

I've had the beads for well over three weeks, and I've used some already, even sold a pair of earrings that included some of the lucite flowers.  And I'm just today getting around to taking pictures.   Shame on me!  I also forgot to take a picture of the beads I sent, and I didn't make a list, just sent sticky notes attached to the bags.  Yeesh - I guess its obvious this is my first bead swap!  But hopefully it won't be my last!  I thoroughly enjoyed the process, although it did stress me out a bit - will I send enough?  what if I send too much? will she like what I send? - and I fretted over the fact that it took me so long to send out my beads, especially after I got my swap from Lauren.  BUT, enough words, here's the beads, let them speak for themselves!  Also, a big thanks to Lori Anderson for setting up the swap and to Lauren Potts for being a patient partner and for the lovely lovelies she sent me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Destash or Not to Destash?

I was going through my own jewelry box the other day, looking for something for my older daughter to wear to school, and I realized that I have a LOT of jewelry.   A LOT of lovely pendants with lovely stones.  A LOT of pieces that I invested a LOT of time and a LOT of money in.  A LOT of jewelry that I don't wear anymore.  I started to go through it all, an noticed that I clearly went through a "long" necklace phase, and I'm not there anymore, and not sure I'll wear those necklaces EVER again.  I found one of my favorite pendants that I've had for years,  it was in its second necklace (picture above), and I couldn't stand the sight of it!  Does that happen to anyone else?   I promptly took it apart and "repurposed" it (see after below).  I definitely like the new piece more - purple is more my color than fuschia, and I love brass and bronze so much more than silver these days.  I decided I might end up doing the same thing with the other pendants I just can't bear to part with.  But I thinking there's some pendants in there I could part with, so maybe I need to do a destash sale.  These necklaces are so different from my current "style," I have to wonder if any one will buy them.  But then I think maybe some folks might like this "old" style better, and will buy them.  I guess the only way to find out is to pull some of these pieces out of my jewelry box, take new pictures outdoors, and put 'em up on Etsy, see what happens.  Sounds like a lovely thing to do on a lazy Saturday morning.  Stay tuned!

 <-- Out with the old and in with the new -->

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tree Wing Studio Bead Giveaway!

I just entered this giveaway, go check out this blog - Tree Wing Studio - Rebekah's beads are AMAZING. I haven't bought any yet, so I hope I win, but I might just have to buy some anyway!

Tree Wing Studio's Blog

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shout Out to My Clay Bead Sisters

Ok, I don't make beads.  I don't make ceramic or clay or glass or stone or metal anything on my own.  But gosh, I LOVE ceramic lately.  It is my 1st choice for pendants and beads lately.  Look at my shop - you'll see an influx of ceramic in my work about six or more months ago.  I still use other beads - mostly glass and stones, but sometimes some metal sneaks in.  But the majority of the pendants I use lately are ceramic.  I admit, I don't know the difference between ceramic or clay or porcelain, which I SHOULD because I'm sure there's LOTS and LOTS of chemistry involved in those differences.  In fact, I'm going to go look it up right now.  (Can anyone tell I'm in work avoidance mode?  I'm supposed to be grading finals and notebooks right now!)

But I digress.  Today's post is all about my bead sisters in clay.  Here's a link to the Beads of Clay Blog, which has a listing of all the wonderful members of that group.  There's also a link to the BOC Etsy shop. These lovely ladies MAKE lovely lovely works of art in clay, of some variety.  I'm tickled pink to say I know more than a handful of these ladies, through Facebook and/or purchases I've made with them.  I love all their work and I strongly encourage you all to check them out, if you haven't already.  You won't be disappointed!

Happy Beading!  I'm off to grade...

Beads of Clay Blog

Beads of Clay Etsy Shop

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bead Table Wednesday!

Here's what's on my workbench today - my third goddess necklace, this one for my sister, and the beads still to be added to it -

This little sweet bird is also still on my table, even though the necklace is finished and posted to Etsy.  She's not quite ready to go into my stash of product...doesn't seem like she should be shut in a box -

Lastly, these are the beads I bought last week locally, as well as a handful of Gaea beads.  I have one more large goddess pendant and these two sweet little goddesses.  No big ideas bouncing around my head on all these beads - waiting for my Marsha Neal and Karen Totten orders before I lay out more designs.

Happy Wednesday - what's on your Bead Table??

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Goddess of Earth, Sea and Sky

 I have, for whatever reason, never been a big fan of the goddess figure.  But Friday, I visited my favorite local bead store - Beads by the Bay in Morro Bay - and I found this lovely goddess pendant.  I love the figure here, I'm not sure why this one struck me like it did but it called out to me! And the swirl is one of my favorite symbols.

The funny thing about that trip to the bead store is that I only meant to buy bronze wire, which they were out of.  They were also closed when I walked up, but the lovely owner Susan opened the door for me and let me stay another half an hour.  I ended up buying several strands of beads, including the lovely aquamarine and wood I used in this necklace.  The dangle is a lovely rough opal I bought there too.  There's also a rose quartz in there and ceramic beads from Gaea.

I already posted this to my FB page, and I've gotten two orders for necklaces with this pendant!  I hope Susan isn't out of them, and I hope I can ignore the other beads this time and just buy what I need there!

Happy Sunday everyone, and happy beading!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lovely Tulips-Heralds of Spring

I love tulips.  I love all spring flowers - daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, iris - but I think tulips are my favorite.  I don't know why.  I certainly didn't grow up around tulips so its not a memory from childhood.  (That would be lilacs - OH how I LOVE lilacs!) There's just something about them - the long graceful stem, the elegant symmetric flower, the rich, vibrant colors.  I don't actually grow tulips - haven't tried much here in Los Osos, don't garden much myself since my back surgeries.  My husband and daughter planted some bulbs years ago, and they never came up - guess they don't like the sandy soil?

I think I'll let the tulips speak for themselves now- they say it all so much better than I can. (These were tulips I bought recently, there were orange ones too but they died first)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Back to my roots

I posted several necklaces today, many of which I'd made quite a long time ago, some that were just re-listings of expired posts, but all of them were new photos taken outside.  These older pieces reflect what I consider my starting point or roots in jewelry making. When I first starting taking my jewelry making seriously, around the same time I moved to California, I worked with stone pendants, seed beads and stone beads exclusively.  I've since moved away from beading with seed beads, and on to wire wrapping.  When I made the switch, I took apart ALOT of seeded necklaces and converted them to wire wrapped pieces.  Most of the pieces I posted today came after that, so they'd be my first generation wire wrapped pieces.  I still love stones and I'll never stop using them, but I'm taking a break for awhile from stone pendants and using ceramic.  Ceramic just speaks to me more these days than the stones do.  But I'll come back - I have a lovely lapis pendant sitting on my work bench, calling to, waiting for the right beads and chain to come along.  In fact, maybe I hear it calling right now...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bead Table Wednesday - my first!!!

A good friend was recently admiring a necklace I had on that had a Lilly Pilly shell pendant on it - not actually a necklace I made myself, which is becoming a more common occurrence lately as I find myself not only addicted to artisan beads but jewelry by other artists.  A few days later, she gave me this pendant, said she wanted to see what I did with it.  I love the design on this shell pendant, it reminds me of Southwestern Squash Blossoms, a pattern or motif found in Native American jewelry. I'm from NM so that motif is near and dear to me.  I think I originally thought about trying to make the necklace reflect the SW, but when it came down to it, turquoise just didn't seem right, nor did coral.  I actually came up with this design when I was at my sickest recently.  I felt just awful, thought I had pneumonia, it was the second day I was home from work and I was so weak and out of it, I couldn't get out of bed.  And in that haze, this design came to me.  The garnet is very dark but lovely, I can't remember where I got it I've had it for so long.  The czech glass is silverish and just lovely, and the pale gray pearls are favorites.  I'm still staring at this piece, trying to decide if I like it.  Its growing on me...

Living in Paradise

My husband and I often comment to each other about how lucky we are to live where we do.  We live on the Central Coast of California, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, far from the maddening crowds.  The closest city of any renown to us is San Luis Obispo, likely known for California Polytechnic State University, where we're both fortunate to hold tenured professor positions in the same department, chemistry.  We live about 15 minutes from SLO in a little town called Los Osos.  This picture was taken near sunset on a particularly high tide in Baywood, the sweet little "town" on Estero Bay that is the "sister" of Los Osos. (Its basically all the same town, not sure why there's the distinction between the two, they literally run together).  This little bay is 5 minutes from our house, we love to walk around the little Farmer's Market near here on Mondays or walk our dog with the girls on the little beach here.  Its an amazing place to live, as close to paradise as I've ever been.  Those of you that know my jewelry can see, hopefully, where I get the natural inspiration for my designs.  I'm very very lucky to be here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Back to my basics - lovely ceramic with stones and glass

This sweet little ceramic bird pendant from Nan Emmett at Spirited Earth has been sitting on my workbench for several weeks now.  I kept pushing beads around it, adding some, taking others away, but never quite happy with the colors.  Today I dug through my gemstones and found these lovely jasper nuggets.  I'm sure I knew at one time what type of jasper they were, but I've forgotten - they're a mottled orangish pink with mossy green, I picked out two of the orangy pinks to go with the bird.  I already had the cool turquoise that looks like a spotted egg, his partner was quickly found.  Two cool yellow czech glass pyramids and the cream ceramic bead from Gaea completed the palette.  Copper chain and Vintaj rings to finish is off.  This seems to be my style of late - asymmetric, with rings interspersed between my wire wrapped stones, and two or three colors in the palette.  I love trying to come up with the right color combo,  its very satisfying when it comes together, like it did here today.  I think this little bird has already found a home, here with me...he's been here so long it seems only right!

Latest Piece - not sure about this!

I'm really not sure how I feel about this piece.  I've already changed it, so this isn't the most recent picture of it.  I changed it from this because something just didn't feel right.  I was going for an asymmetric look, but also something very different from my typical "wire wrap some beads and then add chain."  I needed to use some of the wildly colored glass tube beads I bought from Happy Mango, and I'll admit, I was emulating Lorelei Eurto's fun funky style.  I love her work!  But its her work, and I should stick to my own style.  I'm just not sure I've found it yet...
But here's how I changed the piece - moved the chain to the "back" of the necklace, and moved the flat frosted glass and green glass forward.  Still not sure, but its going on the Etsy site!

Taking the Plunge...

Well, now I've gone and done it - I've started a blog.  I've been selling my jewelry on Etsy for almost two years now, and I've had a Facebook page for my jewelry business for about a year now.  But all the BIG jewelry artists I follow have Blogs.  I've been tentative about starting one - for one thing, who REALLY wants to read what I have to write about?  Next, do I really have anything worth sharing in a blog?  And where will I find the time to blog?   I've been encouraged to do this by a lovely group of ladies I'm fortunate enough to know through Facebook, all beaders, jewelry designers and/or bead makers, and I've been inspired to start the blog by two of them who recently started their own blogs, Lesley Watt and Donna Martin Bradley. All that aside, HERE I AM! Will you listen?  I hope so.  One way or another, I'll ramble on here, show you some of my work, and hopefully meet some new folks in the world of jewelry design.