Semper Fi

Semperfi 19588One of my favorite things to do during our summers in Maine is shop at the Wednesday antiques market at Montsweag Flea Market, a mere five miles from our house.  Some folks come hundreds of miles to browse, buy, and chat.  

It's a weekly trip to a folk art museum where everything is old, whether vintage (1940-50s) or antique (1900s and before) and where treasures abound: wooden-handled tools perfect for my jewelry making, keys, buttons, watches, decorative brass hardware and of course, furniture.  I bought a lovely old oak hutch for $125 delivered by the 82-year-old vendor and carried up to the second floor by him and my husband.  It now graces my studio and holds my jewelry displays.

One of the things I especially like finding at the market is old military pins and buttons.  I have amassed a small collection and enjoy researching where they originated.  

Semper Fi is a piece I made this summer with two very old brass Marine Corps buttons.  

I've polished them up and, as it always seems like I am problem solving, I had to figure how to attach them to the pendant backplate.  These are the kind of buttons with slots thru their backs so I used bronze wire that just barely fit thru the slots (didn't want them rattling and moving around in place) and affixed them to the top plate (more later about that) and then had to make a second plate to attach to the first one because I didn't want those nasty old wires showing and catching on things. These I riveted together with microscrews BUT I had to use spacers in between because the two plates would not fit firmly together thanks to the bulk of he wire.  Try sliding spacers into this narrow space and catching with the screw coming thru.  Not easy!

My bronze top plate is textured with my beloved divots and has a lovely subtle checkerboard pattern I achieved through special torching techniques I learned from Mary Hettsmanberger at Arrowmont School in Gatlinberg, TN last October. Another custom bail and a lovely brass chain and this is a perfect gift for some proud lady with a vet in the family.

Donna Barnako

Summer in Maine, so far

Our 2010 summer in Maine has started off with great weather, a Fourth of July lobster bake and exciting plans for a trunk showing of my jewelry in Wiscasset, Maine for July 22-23.  Here's a link to the press release.

I am very pleased to have completed Random Acts of Beads, a necklace five years in the making, shown in the press release (and above).  It is comprised of 18 separate beaded components which were then sewn onto a separate beaded necklace base.  It's in shades of caramel and copper with purple accents and made to sit at the base of the neck for all to see.




I have also been very busy making a half dozen unusual freshwater cultured pearl necklaces (above).  They're unusual because of the pearl shapes and incredible iridescent colors.  Shown are Jacks (they remind me of the Jacks game we used to play as kids), Merlot and Hummingbird.


For the many lovers of purple, I made a seven-strand pearl bracelet that is definitely BLING.  The custom two-inch dichroic glass and Sterling clasp is meant to be worn on the front of the wrist, the better to show it off, along with the 14 Swarovski crystal cubes alongside it.


The last photo is NightBloom (above), one of two stunning (if I do say so) bracelets that really need to be seen in person.  NightBloom features scores of beads:  vintage, glass, stones and gems in black, gray, taupe, silver, copper, lavender and teal. The closure is handmade glass in black and white stripes by David Christianson of Providence, Rhode Island.  The second bracelet (no photo) is in lime and turquoise with seahorses, shells and fish with an eye-catching ceramic toggle clasp.  This is a happy bracelet.

If you're anywhere in the midcoast Maine area on July 22-23, please stop by and see the trunk show as well as DebraElizabeth's wonderful shop, right on the banks of the Sheepscot River.  Be sure to get in line for a lobster roll at world famous Red's Eats, right at the end of the block.  Deb's phone # is 207 882 8485.
If I don't see you there, be sure to mark October 16-17 on your calendar for the Great Falls Studio Tour.  I'll be opening my studio once again for this event, which gets bigger and bigger each year.

Ben and Bayly Go for a Swim

Swimmingdogs Frank and I and our two Bouviers, Ben and Bayly have had an active and fun-filled summer in Wiscasset, Maine.

  • Ben has perfected his monkey-in-the-middle soccer ball game.
  • Bayly continues to amaze us with her energy at 9 1/2 years of age.
  • Frank completed a one-week digital photography course at the Maine Media Workshop in June and has gotten heavily into it over the past weeks. 

Certainly there is no end of interesting subjects to photograph in this wonderful state, from our fog-enshrouded Sheepscot River at dawn to exotic chickens at the county fair.

Farewell to Maine for Summer of 2007

Bistol_1_edited3 Frank and I had our final summer kayak trip on September 8...a blissfully beautiful day on Biscay Pond in Bristol Mills

We paddled for two hours/four miles, something I'm very proud of! 

We saw scores of turtles sunning themselves on partially submerged logs, herons and heron nests, ducks, and beautiful islands and shoreline scenery. 

Can't wait til next summer and more exploration!

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.)

More antique Flea Market finds!

Just can't stay away from that Montsweag Flea Market!  I do have some willpower though, I only go once a week (Wednesdays is furniture day) when I COULD go Saturdays and Sundays, too! 

Well, there I was vacillating over a $10 purchase when a lady comes over and plunks down $120 cash for a tiny sewing kit.  It was cute, I'll admit, with a little sterling thimble and scissors.  The vendor had just  bought 5 gold thimbles from another vendor but wasn't ready to part with them yet.   Glad I'm not into thimbles, I'm into enough stuff as it is. 

Chest Anyhow, here is my BIG find, a lovely old oak hutch that now graces my studio in Maine.  More space to hide my supplies and show my "stuff". 

Hat Right now sitting on the shelf are 5 fab filagree hat "decorations" that used to grace those big 1920's picture hats with feathers and ribbons and bows.  One is even a Deco Egyptian design.  Thought they'd look great as focal beads marvelous assorted chains I bought at Beadin Path in Freeport.  They're copper or brass, just like the hat fobs.

I have been productive in and around the kayaking, hiking and eating lobsters.  Froth_and_glitz_3 Just completed another "Froth and Glitz" fiber necklace in soft greens and aquamarine.  I'll be teaching the class at Star's Beads in Vienna, Va. on Columbus Day, October 8 if anyone would like to try one themselves.  This one contains lots and lots of vintage beads, hand dyed ribbon yarns, a beautiful sterling and aquamarine pearl clasp with large Bali silver cones.

Fringed_fantasy Another piece I just finished yesterday and am tickled with is my "Fringed Fantasy" bracelet in luscious colors of grape, sage and Delft blue.  The primary beads are ceramic from Jangles ... there are 5 striped and polka dotted beads and a ceramic button closure, too.  The color inspiration came straight from these beads. I've added lots of grape-colored flowers and peridot drops and other vintage goodies.

Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Donnakayak Here's proof that I do more than make jewelry while here in Maine! 

The Pemaquid Paddlers explore different waterways on Maine's midcoast. (Can you find  me?  I have a baseball cap on and my kayak is red.  Frank is off to the left and waving).

Last week Frank and I paddled up our own Sheepscot River in front of the house (You can rent it!) and the big excitement was sighting a harbor seal.  Sorry, he/she submerged too fast to photograph!

Flea Market Finds

Judi Well, I'm guilty of FleaMarket-can't-stay-away-itis.  And the visit of friends Judi and Richard Teske this past weekend gave me, well, another excuse to visit the thrice weekly Montsweag Flea market, a mere eight miles away from Wiscasset (aren't I lucky?).

My last cool find was an old, old tiny red table with decals for FOUR DOLLARS!  Fits perfectly next to the toilet to hold my beading magazines :)

Judi and I went last Saturday and found more old treasures:  carved jadeite stone totems.  Judi asked me to make a necklace of hers and at first I was going to braid some multi-strands of beads, but had a better idea:  I would make a Kumihimo fiber braid and this is the result (also pictured are my two "totems"). 

Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese technique that had many ceremonial uses but was also used by Samurai warriors.  The intricate braiding was used to join pieces of their elaborate armor together.  The Japanese used thin strands of silk but when you employ funky nubbly and eyelash yarn, totally unique textures are produced.  For Judi's necklace I had some great tulip shaped copper cones and embossed toggle clasp to give the piece a finished look. (Click on the photo for a larger picture.)

My "Papoose" Necklace

 Beadinpathlogo1old_3 My second visit of the summer to Beadin' Path (one of the best bead shops I've ever visited) in Freeport, Maine yielded more treasures. 

The store specializes in vintage (over 50 years old) Lucite beads and has an enormous collection sorted by color on the wall.  A few steps up, another wall has Czech glass beads in thousands of different shapes and colors.  The choices are awesome.Papoose_2 

My find this time was a strand of ochre-colored beads that had a narrow tulip shape.  They presented a design challenge for, when strung end to end, they tended to twist around so you could not see the opening.

I also found some wonderful faceted French jet glass beads (very old) and Voila! my Papoose necklace came to life.  I simply made each one a dangle with a tiny coil at the bottom and then hung them from the necklace base. 

I think it's very sweet! (Click on the photo to get a larger picture.)

Ceramic beads at Ingram Gallery

Ceramic_beads Now that we're back in Maine, I've re-established my relationship with Ingram Gallery on Main Street in Wiscasset.  Larry Ingram has two of my pieces right in the front window, including "Dance the Night Away" which he's priced at $585 (includes earrings :)

He did pretty well selling my things last summer for only a month or so, so we'll see how it goes.  Many, many people pass by every day, most are waiting in line for hours at Red's for the 'world famous lobster rolls', only a block away.

The pictured piece features 5 very old ceramic beads from 1850's Japan.  Larry asked me to make up a design with them and luckily, I had some perfectly-matched freshwater cultured "potato pearls".  These are separated by turquoise disks and tiny copper balls.  The big surprise is that I have added an "extender" which can be taken off and worn as a bracelet, making the necklace a princess length, or if worn long, the necklace can be passed over the head.  It thought it was pretty cool and he loved it!  (Click on the photo for a larger picture.)