Beads: Placekeepers in the Book of Memory

I was thinking about signing up for Lori Anderson’s Memories and Thanks Blog Hop.    My friend Susan died earlier this year and I wanted to make something in her memory.  She called me one Sunday last March and said she wanted get together to  play with beads.  By this time,  her left leg  was huge from lymphedema and I didn’t  think she should drive.  I told her I would come to her house.

But no.  Susan did things her way.  She wanted to be in my workshop with me and play with beads.    She got herself down the steps to my basement  workshop while I held my breath.  We played and chatted for two hours.  I had given her lots of  jewelry over the years and made beads for her too.  She brought the beads over and a sack of her broken jewelry.  We tried out jewelry designs, looked at beading books and forgot she had cancer.  We talked about the future.  Before she left,  she gave me some beads and  broken jewelry so I could use them in a new piece.  The next time I saw her, she was  very sick.   She died two weeks  later.

When I read about the Memories and Thanks Blog Hop,  I went on a tear through my workshop looking  for the items she gave me on that last visit.   But this  story is not going  to end up like you think.  I could not find that jewelry even though I tore the place upside down.  I know  she was  hiding it from me.   As I resigned myself to giving up,  I pulled out a box full of beads that I bought in South Africa a few years ago to make a necklace for Shari.  When Shari died before  could make her anything,  I put the beads away and didn’t look at them for a long time.

I found myself staring at the beads and heard Susan’s voice, “You weren’t really looking for me, Lamb Chop.  You’ll get to me when you’re ready.”

And so I will. In the meantime, I unexpectedly find that I am ready to make Shari’s necklace.

Finally.

Darleen Bellan’s Unique Ornaments and Mementos

I met Darleen Bellan this summer at Clay ConneCTion, the semi-annual retreat of the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild and  fell in love with her quirky and inspired polymer clay figurines and ornaments. When she agreed to do an interview with fellow sculptor Sherman Oberson for the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s YouTube Channel, I grabbed my equipment, met them in a quiet hallway and we did the interview on the spot.

Darleen’s an animal lover and her ornaments are lots of fun (Chicken ala King anyone?) But Darleen doesn’t restrict herself to ornaments and figurines; she crafts made-to-order pieces memorializing  departed pets and gives each one a unique twist  that gives it  personal meaning.  So what’s the unique twist?   Go to the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s Blog and watch  the video to  find out.

Most of Darleen’s  work is  one of a kind and she welcomes commissions.  If you are interested in buying or commissioning her work, go to her web site or her etsy shop.    Here are some pictures.

Sherman also has some great ornaments for sale in his etsy shop.  His style is different from Darleen’s but

his work is charming and will make you laugh.

Here’s one I bought

and here are some more!

Support Our Artists!

Happy Thanksgiving from Plumpton

Sunset on the South Street Bridge

I took these pictures one evening while crossing the South Street Bridge on the way to a friend’s house. It’s funny how the time of day and and some photo effects can make the ordinary seem magical. Even the Schuylkill at rush hour.

Dear Fleisher 2012

Dear Fleisher, 4×6 Inches of Art is a biennial fundraising exhibition showcasing the work of hundreds of artists from Philadelphia and beyond. Artists submit original postcard size works in a wide range of media and styles, each of which is exhibited anonymously and sold on a first-come, first-served basis for $50.

Some  well-known artists have contributed work  So have some not so well-known artists like me.  Since polymer clay is not well represented in the exhibition, I try to use polymer in my contribution.  This year I made an earring holder you can hang on the wall using screen printing  over a stripe pattern.  I included a pair of matching earrings made from the same screen printed polymer clay, mixed metals and seed beads.



I like this style earring because it spins around when it’s worn.

When I cut out the earrings,  the scraps looked just as interesting so I used them too along with gold-toned screw eyes to suspend the earrings.

Bead Soup is Served!

I have recently learned that tubular bead crocheting with gemstone chips employs the same part of the brain you use driving through a blinding thunderstorm when there’s no safe place to pull over;  you keep plugging away slowly,  steadily and carefully, concentrating on what is immediately in your path and ignoring distractions.

I could have done a stringing project for the Kalmbach Books Bead Soup Party, but I wanted to do something different. Linda Jacobs-Pence of Your Beading Heart sent me some yummy and inspirational bead soup. I decided to try tubular crochet but could not find much information so I went by the seat of my pants as usual. I added chips and seed beads to the mix and was going to make this a wrap around double layer necklace, but it looked terrible! Then I got the idea of knotting the crocheted seed bead section of the necklace and it all fell into place. The beads around the clasp were also part of the bead soup. I didn’t want to hide the pretty metal beads Linda sent in the crochet work so I decided to showcase them in the closure but had to come up with an idea for a closure because a toggle was clearly not going to cut it.

I ended up attaching a rare earth magnetic clasp to the necklace and beading a “turtle neck” for it to hide in.  I added a small safety chain just in case the magnet fails, but it’s pretty darn strong.


The seed beads and chain are from my stash.  The drum-shaped beads and 3mm bronze beads came from Your Beading Heart.

Here’s a closeup of tubular crochet with chips and 6/0 and 8/0 beads.  I used black crochet cotton.

Here’s a close up of the knotted crocheted rope.  I used a sparkly blue yarn to crochet this portion.  The necklace is about 24″ long and not as heavy as it looks.  It’s easy to take on and off too which is a design aspect I think is very important.

You can read the story behind this Bead Soup creation here and here.

If you’re in Philadelphia this Sunday,  don’t forget

Dear Fleisher, 4×6 Inches of Art is a biennial fundraising exhibition showcasing the work of hundreds of artists from Philadelphia and beyond. Artists submit original postcard size works in a wide range of media and styles, each of which is exhibited anonymously and sold on a first-come, first-served basis for $50.

Some  well-known artists have contributed work.  So have some not so well-known artists like me.  The buyer does not know the name of the artist until after the piece is sold.

Proceeds support Fleisher’s nationally recognized award-winning arts education programs.

Click here for more information.