Still Working Hard

061909_necklace We have reached our "summer camp" in Maine, unpacked and are getting ready for the arrival of our first guests next week.

In the meantime I have placed a number of my pieces at the new Heritage Village in Wiscasset; a new undertaking of local artisans ... furniture maker, alpaca breeders, Maine wine makers and brewers and my friend Betsy Pare' who makes wonderful lampshades and painted furniture. 

Betsy invited me and several others to share some of her retail space at Heritage Village.  It is located on the left side of Route #1 as you come into Wiscasset from Portland..  Look for the lighthouse which is home to a new lobster restaurant.  There's also a resident artist painter in a little "schoolhouse" and fresh blueberry pies and jam in another building.

As always, I have set aside time to do my favorite thing:  make jewelry.  In fact, three necklaces and two bracelets, and here are two of them. 

061909_claspThe bracelet is (pictured above) one I am very proud of as it incorporates many pieces of Raku pottery beads, several of which I've made myself.  As well, there are numerous vintage beads and some hand-made glass ones and even an agate bear fetish that I've had for some years waiting for the perfect piece.   To top it off, I've made the toggle clasp myself and embellished it with tiny beads and wirework.  Oh yes, in the middle of the bracelet is a beaded bead that kind of looks like a sea urchin...this one bead has over 50 smaller beads in it.  I call this piece MOOD INDIGO.


The second piece is just a really nice necklace that I started before we left Virginia.  The center piece is a stitched section of Russian Spiral beading and finished with two really nice Thai Sterling silver bead caps, four good turquoise stones, separated by large Raku discs and more  Sterling.  A chain and clasp finish off this handsome necklace made to be worn as a loose choker.  I'm calling it ... RUSSIAN SPIRAL!

Click on each of the pictures to see them in a larger version.

Coral Reef

Coralreef It took three weeks stranded on a lovely island, but I found the perfect way to jump start a project that has been on my to-do list for several years:  TAKE ONLY ONE PROJECT TO WORK ON!!! 

So here is the result.  It's called Coral Reef, with my inspiration the incredible turquoise waters and scenic underwater locales on St. John, U.S.V.I.

It all started with a precious hand-carved seahorse made in the rain forests of Costa Rica,  which I purchased several years ago.  Now, many hundred beads later, he or she sits on a bed of coral with fish, shells and starfish for company. The toggle clasp is handmade of enamel and there are many handmade glass and vintage beads, too. Whew!  What a relief to have it done! (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Etched Copper Earrings

Etched_earring_2 Here is my first pair of etched copper earrings.  They're about an inch in diameter and I've made some tiny wireworked twisted Sterling coils as accents. 

They may look elegant in their simplicity, but many steps were involved in getting there. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

    Starting with a thin 3" X 3" sheet of copper, I used very fine steel wool and kitchen cleanser to abrade it; stamped it with decorative designs using special carved stamps and ink.

    The sheet was then immersed in a caustic solution for 45 minutes.  It emerged quite blackened and had to be steelwooled vigorously to remove all the caustic agent.

    Next it was "antiqued" with Liver of Sulfur, a smelly concoction much used by jewelers to add a patina and definition to their pieces.  Again vigorous cleaning with the steel wool and then I used a disk cutter to make as many small 1/2" and 3/4" disks as I could out of the now-etched sheet.

Oh yes, I also tried to center the designs to best effect on the disks and each had to be sanded as the cutter had left edges which were quite sharp.  Finally, I used a dapping block to form and shape each disk.

At last they were ready to be made into  "simple, but elegant" pieces of jewelry!

Pagoda Earrings

Pagoda_earings_e Here they are, my new Pagoda Earrings.  I finally have two pairs that are not spoken for. 

One set is Sterling Silver, hand hammered and pierced, with gorgeous etched Raku beads.

The second is 14K gold-filled, again hammered and pierced, set off by stunning Ocean Jasper semi-precious stones with a most interesting design. 

Either pair, $85. (Click on the photo for a larger image.)

New design: Copper Maze

Bracelet_020608_2 Hot off my design board is my newest freeform bracelet...a gorgeous piece if I do say so. 

I'm calling it COPPER MAZE, for it is filled with twists and turns, bridges, tunnels and flying buttresses. 

It all began with a new square-shaped flame-worked focal bead from Grace Beads of San Francisco and two matching smaller round ones.  The bead shades of copper, caramel, taupe, saffron on a cream background led me along a meandering path of four sizes of seed beads, bugles, hex, daggers and some glimmering topaz Swarovski crystals. 

I am leaving the snap closure off until a buyer comes along so that I can make a custom fit.  This will enable me to size it for both smaller and larger wrists.  The bracelet took me three weeks to make and is $300. (Click on the photo to see a bigger image.)

Home again

After three and a half glorious months in Maine this summer, we are now back home in Virginia and in the full swing of the season. 

Our Great Falls Studios Artists Tour will be the weekend of October 19, 20, 21 (10-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday). 

And this weekend 10 of our group will be demonstrating on the Village Green at The Taste of Great Falls (noon-4). 

HandsThis past Friday and Monday, October 5 and 8, I had two great classes at Star's Beads in Vienna, Virginia.  The first, my Froth and Glitz Necklace and the second was Wireworked Bangle

Here is a pictorial (mostly of the fiber necklace class) with the last two showing the students wearing their Bangles (was too busy demonstrating to take pics in that class!).

Everyone finished their projects and were extremely happy. One person made me so happy when she said it was the best class she had ever had and the first piece of jewelry she made in a class that she would wear!

Happy Sox

Drb_joy With our idyllic summer of 2007 in Maine winding down to a precious few days, I visited my knitting buddy Joy in Freeport and gave her a pair of what I call "Happy Sox" ( of Boothbay Harbor, Maine).  They're made in Vermont of cotton and nylon and always bring lots of comments.  Joy immediately put her new pair on and here we are modeling them.

Bracelet_1 Bracelet_w Here, too, are my latest creations, my Sea Urchin Bracelets.  They're actually macrame (remember that from the 70's?  with scores of vintage beads (lots of leaves and flowers) and each has some very special handmade lampworked (torch fired) beads, too.  The closure on one is a large ceramic bead and the other is a button I purchased last year in Galway, Ireland. They look like you're wearing this multi-faceted ruffle on your wrist.  Lots of fun. (Click on the photos to see larger versions.)

I call her Twinkletoes

Twinkletoes_2 My latest concoction features unusual long, twisted Czech bugle beads. 

I've threaded brass wire thru them and looped each end.  The bottom curl has been pounded so that it's a little flat.  Each is hung and separated by freshwater cultured pearls in the most beautiful luminescent khakis and teal, irregularly shaped and quite kinky!  It's adorable on a real body.

The matching earrings are hung from bronze dangles made by hand by my friend Renee Chock of Albuquerque, NM.  (Click on the photo for a larger picture.)

Belted Cows

Belted_cows_3 On the way to lunch with  my friend Joy/Maine, (as opposed to Joy/Tucson) in Freeport, Maine last Friday, we passed by a field of the most amazing cattle.  She told me they were "belted cows" which I had never heard of.  They are all black with an all-white belt of color around their waists. 

Since I was driving, I couldn't snap a photo, but found this one on the Web (Click it.) They're called Belted Galloways and I think they're pretty neat.

Since Joy's birthday is this coming week, I wanted to do something special for her and so I made some Belted Cow Earrings!  (Click the photo for a larger picture.) Aren't they cool?  I know she'll get a lot of conversation out of them!