Swimming in Bead Soup

I signed up for Lori Anderson’s 7th Bead Soup Blog party and my reveal date us April 13. My partner is Miranda Ackerley who runs MirandackArts.  Miranda obviously takes these bead swaps seriously because she sent me SO MUCH STUFF.  I mean, they had to drive a truck up to my house (only kidding).

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Lots of stones

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Some beautiful crystals

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Chain and some metal stampings

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Some semi precious beads

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Some glass and shell beads

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And a lovely focal and clasp.

Here’s what I sent Miranda

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A sterling clasp I made

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Some vintage buttons, leaf dangles and chain

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Some of my small lamp worked beads and tumbled glass shards

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And a focal set I made from glass my friend Sandeye  gave me.

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And that’s not all; I was interviewed by a new on-line called line magazine A Garden Life,  about the jewelry I made from sidewalk finds and found objects.

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     Click on the image to open the article in Adobe Reader.  Or you can view the web page here.

My Visit to Wolf Myrow or Thank You Nehemiah

Elwood: It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

The Blues Brothers

OK, maybe our trip to Wolf Myrow didn’t start off with snappy dialog, but I was game as soon as a friend suggested we take a break from Clay ConneCTion 2012 in New London and head to Wolf Myrow in neaby Providence RI.  “And don’t wear good clothes,” he added.   I had never been to Wolf Myrow before, but I’d  heard about it and was eager to go.

Some  background: The U.S. costume jewelry industry was born in Providence, Rhode Island 1794, when Nehemiah Dodge, a local goldsmith and watchmaker, developed a gold plating process that opened up the jewelry market to  mass production.   Providence became  a major player in the costume jewelry industry and, at one time,  employed thousands in its factories. In fact, New England was once filled with factories from the looms of Lowell  to the textile mills of Lawrence and the paper mills of Maine.   Hardly any factories exist anymore but one can spot the abandoned buildings with their stone walls and multi-paned windows  near the cities’ outskirts close to rivers and railroad tracks.

Wolf Myrow is a left over from those heady manufacturing days.  It buys and sells jewelry findings and beads, mostly discontinued or  old and items left over when a factory closes.   Poking around the vast  Wolf Myrow  inventory gives a feeling similar to exploring your Grandmother’s attic;  the sense of mystery and discovery is heightened by the plain paper packaging and boxes that hold  most of the items offered for sale.

We approached the ware house from hilly street on the edge of town, parked the car on a narrow gravel driveway and entered through a heavy fire door.  The air smelled musty and old.   We  made our way down a narrow hallway over ancient wood floors worn smooth from years of use.  Then I entered the main room and felt like I had walked into a store in Diagon Alley. 

It was crowded with rows of towering rusty metal shelves and every shelf was piled with  cardboard boxes bearing faded type written labels.   I saw a yellowed newspaper lying on a massive dark wooden counter next to an antique cast iron scale.  I felt like I had walked back in time.

And everywhere I turned, I saw a door to another room.  There are so many rooms that they kept the lights off to save electricity, but the light switches were clearly marked in case anyone wanted to shop there.   Each room I entered contained  rows of old metal shelves piled with dusty cardboard boxes.

I walked into a room and switched on the light.   I felt like I was the first person who had entered that room in years.   As I made my way down an aisle I stopped for no reason,  pulled a box off a shelf and opened it.  I saw scores of a brass stamping that reminded me of a brooch an aunt wore when I was a child, a memory I had forgotten.

When you open a box, you might pull out copper bracelet blanks.  Or brass chain.  Or glass pearls.  Or Swarovski crystals wrapped in crisp paper packets.

 

Customers are required to purchase items in bulk and most things are sold by weight. If you go with a few friends, you can swap  purchases with one another and come away with an assortment of products .  The staff is nice and extremely helpful.

Press here for a link to the website and catalog that will give you an idea of that Wolf Myrow sells. But take it from me, there is no substitute for a visit to the warehouse in Providence.  Thank You Nehemiah.

New Work

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I still have a buzz from Clayathon  and am exploring some new ideas.  Here are some pictures.

 

Every Bead Has a Story

  Beads hold  memories and  and every bead has a story, partially known and partially buried in the past.  When I finish the piece for the Blog Hop,  story of the beads I’ve used will become longer and might be told later on-or not.

Most of the beads here are very old and I don’t know anything about the people who wore them.   I am only the latest owner-no, I prefer to think of myself as a caretaker.  I hope there will be other caretakers.

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I will use some of the beads you see below in my piece for the Memories and Thanks Blog Hop, so I thought it fitting that I should share some bead history with you.

The red disks (above) are African Vulcanite Heishi beads made from old phonograph records. The brass comes from vintage jewelry that has seen a lot of use. The glass beads (above) are African sand cast beads,  millefiore (actually Venetian but traded widely in Africa) and interlocking “snake” beads (above) called African for the same reason even though they are of Czech origin.

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Millefiore Beads

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Phenolic Resin Amber

Seed beads, Krobo glass beads from Ghana, (right) brass and bone beads.  Note that the Phenolic Amber is not genuine amber.  It’s a simulation and some of it is highly collectable.  I bought the  Phenolic Amber above in Cape Town, S.A

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  These brass findings-to-be aren’t African but I followed an African tradition:  recycling!  I cut the wires off  a brass wire picture holder,  cleaned them and made jump rings .  Then I soldered a few of the rings to straight pieces of the wire.

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More Krobo Beads from Ghana.

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I am thinking earrings here, maybe without the beads because I don’t want them too heavy.

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Baoulé Brass, Ivory Coast, Ghana

Interested in learning more?  See

Bedazzled Dictionary of Beads

But wait-there’s more–

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Maruti International Beads sent me some  lovely  handcrafted beads to give away to lucky readers.    Interested in winning some?   Details coming soon, so keep checking here and my Facebook page.

Old Beads, New Beads


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I was going through my workshop the other day and found a necklace I’d made for my Mother-in-Law years ago.    The necklace had five big (20-25 mm) round  beads I made on aluminum foil cores.  I’d strung them with bugle beads and crystals.   I didn’t like the overall necklace design but I liked the beads.

 

 

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I dig up some more of the beads from that series that I had saved,  Most of them have inclusions or metal leaf covered  that I with translucent clay and sanded smooth.


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This one has scraps  of newspaper under the layer of translucent clay.  I should play some more with this idea-maybe comics or newsprint from a local Chinese language newspaper.


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And  here are some new ideas in the process of germinating.  I am not sure where I’m going with these yet.  That makes it fun.

A New Beading Angle

Well, it’s not really new. I have always had a fascination with beaded beads. I could not rest until I learned how to make the Puffy Heart which is really a beaded bead made from the two strand version of right angle weave known as cross weaving or the Hachinojiami or Kousa-ami stitch that one often sees in Japanese three dimensional bead work. For a simple project pattern, press here.

Arguably the dodecahedron shapes above and below are not really right angle weave because the beads don’t all sit at right angles to one another.

These beads are cubic right angle weave which is a wonderful stitch. It works up quickly and you can turn out shapes as if by magic. I was tearing my hair out trying to learn this stitch until I realized that it started with a beaded cube and the rest of the stitch was just a continuation of the cube. So I was able to figure it out on my own. But my mind works in funny ways. I am still stymied by the fax machine in the office where I work.

Anyway, I looked at a few on-line videos because I wanted to teach the stitch to Beading Yoda, (who is the Empress and number one Ambassador of flat right angle weave).

Most of the videos took a straight forward technique and complicated it to the point where it resembled Chinese Algebra rather than beading. And that’s not a good thing.

But then I came on this video by Heather Collin. It’s lucid, understandable, and you can see what she’s doing. Take a look.

I’m winding up with a picture of some more beaded beads including new Klimt inspired beads. I’ll post more on these later. I am still experimenting and have not gotten them out of my system. Yet.

The Big Reveal Revisited

The August 11 reveal date  for  group 2 of Lori Anderson’s  6th Bead Soup Blog Party has passed.  I was blown away by all of the outstanding work I saw as I hopped from blog to blog.  Lori put together the map below to show where  all 400 blog party participants live.  There are  more detailed breakdowns on her blog.

Look at what  my partner Kristen Latimer  made with the beads I sent to her

MJM Jewelry Designs

I don’t think my beads and clasp were the easiest to work with.   Kristen’s jewelry seems more delicate than a lot of  mine and the clasp I sent  was pretty big.  And I could never figure out what to do with those minty vintage curved bugle beads.   Kristen found a way to integrate her crystals and smaller beads  with mine and  made a a very attractive set of earrings and a bracelet that anyone would be pleased to wear.

On another topic, the Philadelphia Polymer Clay Guild (of which I am a member) has started a YouTube channel and we intend to fill it with playlists of high quality tutorials with videos we make ourselves.

So, here is the interview with Jana Roberts Benzon.

And finally, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  That’s right: It’s Beadfest Philadelphia time.  Don’t miss it.

Attack of the Killer Beads (or Blog Hop Part 3)

OMG! Beads! Millions of Beads! Not killer bees, Beads! Well, I felt the same adrenalin rush but in a good way when Kristen’s beads arrived. I haven’t been able to put up pictures until today because my card reader gave out. Well, here they are. Ta Daa!

I love blue, I love encased beads and I love crystals.

And not only were there beads, the package was tied with beautiful ribbon which will probably find its way into the necklace.

I am starting to play around with design ideas in my notebook.

And since I love to take pictures, here are some more.

I think this will be my last post on the Blog Hop until the Big Reveal.

Now Playing on My Computer Screen

Now and then  I like to share the  blogs and web sites that are current addictions or on my must check out list.  Here’s what’s currently playing my computer screen:
fauna  is my latest addiction.  Blogger Paxon is a naturalist and  writes mostly about zoology and biology.  His  creative prose  and  acerbic wit make these subjects  even more fascinating (I know-your high school science teacher murdered them forcing you to major in the humanities.)  Paxon can be flip (don’t read this post if you are easily offended) but he is hooked on  fauna  (sorry- but I couldn’t be the first. . .) He even  invites questions (with a few conditions).  You will learn and be endlessly amused.   Your high school biology teacher should thank him.
If you are the artsy type and  think you are not interested in science,   the pictures alone justify a look at fauna.  Besides, nature is the most elegant and economical designer.   And it’s all connected.
the things that live in the ocean never cease to amaze me :3
Here’s more!
Graftgawker  Crafty projects from blogs all over the Internet
Inspirational Beading  is chock full of beading tutorials.
Brandigirl Blog A Life Inspired by Color – another great beading blog
Linda Peterson Designs –  Polymer clay, mixed media, news and tutorials
 Barbe Saint John  -Saint John is a mixed media artist who writes for Belle Armoire Jewelry , and is a member of Susan Lenart Kazmer’s creative team for Objects and Elements .
Object Fetish – Look at jewelry until your eyes go blurry
Top Ten DIY Fashion Blogs – Stripes and Sequin’s  picks for 2012.  Something is sure to interest you here.
For those of you who loved Domino Magazine,   check out  Lonny Magazine.  But wait!  A special edition of Domino, Quick Fixes, hits the news stands on April 17!
Finally,  here’s a picture of my contribution to the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s  Spring Fundraiser.     I made the bezel (for the bezel challenged) and the cabochon.  I hope someone likes it enough to buy it.