Jewels from the Sidewalk

I walk to and from work every day and I constantly scan the sidewalk for treasures I can use to make something. Trash day is the best day of the week!!!

Awhile ago, I wrote about making lampworked beads from glass I found on the sidewalk. Now I have added brown beer bottles to my cobalt blue wine and aqua Bombay Gin bottles. And a co worker contributed too! She had a beautiful yellow glass vessel sink in her powder room and when it cracked and she had to have it replaced, she gave me the broken glass.

The pictures below show each kind of glass, plain, fumed and fumed with stringers on top.

Since I don’t know the COE of the glass, I don’t mix the colors. I cut the glass as best I can and hold it in the flame with a long hemostat. It’s loads of fun and you never know what you’re going to get.

Frit Experiments

A few weekends ago, I took a polymer clay recycling tip and separated my broken beads and tiny stringer remnants by color. Then I smashed them into frit. What you see below are my containers of frit and some of the beads I made with it.

I have an unorthodox method of using the frit; I melt the end of my Moretti Rod, dip it into the frit container, introduce it slowly back into the flame and melt the colors in. I repeat these steps a few more times then I wind the glass onto the mandrel.  

Here’s Lampworker Tom Wright on YouTube showing how he adds frit to beads.

And the Beads Go On

I’ve fired up my torch after almost two years and I’ve been trying different techniques including hollow beads, encasing and working with enamels and baking soda.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve made so far:

I’m really looking forward to Bead Fest this year.  Aside from seeing all the lovely lamp worked beads,  Wale Apparatus one of my favorite suppliers, is on the vendor list.  How cool is that?

Make Mine Mosaic

My latest project is covering the countertop between my dining room and kitchen with a tile mosaic. I cut lots of glass tiles, tumbled some to get a matte finish and left the others shiny. I have plenty of cut up ceramic tiles, dishes, glass baubles, some fusing failures that still look pretty, lampworked beads that cracked in half before annealing and a bunch of mirror tiles I cut. I got sand colored grout because I thought white would be boring. Much like when I got married, I don’t have a plan. I will wing it and see that I get. I’ll post pix here when I’m finished. Wish me luck!

You can be a Bead Star

Enter the second annual Bead Star challenge—an exciting competition with more than ten thousand dollars in prizes!  Here’s how it works:

The editors of Bead Star, Stringing, and Beadwork magazines sift through the entries and pick  20 finalists in nine categories.  Then, from May 15 to May 30, 2009, people from around the world  log on to   and  pick the winners.  Then,  Fire Mountain Gems picks the Grand Prize winner  from the first-place category winners.  This lucky and talented  person gets  a trip for two to Santa Fe for Bead Expo 2010, $1,000 in cool beading stuff, and his or her design on the cover of Bead Star magazine.  Last years’ winner was  Valeri Ahroni. Hey! I know her!  This year, it could be you.

It’s easy to enter.  The entry deadline is May 1, 2009 there’s no entry fee. If you enter before April 24th, you’ll be entered for an Early Bird Prize that will be drawn at random. Click here to enter.

Wanna see last years finalists? Click here.

DVD’s from Kato, Miller and a Calder Article


Donna Kato Presents: Tips, Tricks & Techniques for Polymer Clay  is three and a half hours of Donna Kato demonstrating caning, transfers, mica shift, finishing techniques and more. The gals at video night (you know who you are) gave it a five (out of five) pasta machine rating. A bargain at $34.95. To order, press here.

I love everything Sharilyn Miller. (To see my review of her Tribal Treasures video, press here.) I just got finished watching her Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop video, and all I can say is “Wow!” Another three and one half hours of valuable information on wire working, and instructions for making four bracelets and two necklaces. A steal at $39.95. To order it, Press here.

I wrote about the Alexander Calder Jewelry Exhibit at the Philadelpha Museum of Art in an earlier post. The latest issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist has an article on Calder’s jewelry well worth reading: “Calder’s Mobile Jewelry” by Cathleen McCarthy.

I Love Crystals

Me at the Swarovski Crystal Store In Vienna, Austria.

I Love crystals: Looking at them,  stringing them, beading with them, designing for them and wearing them.  During the summer, I troll the Streets of Philadelphia in search of house sales with troves of beads for sale.  While I have snapped up caches of old jewelry made of old Swarovskis and other glimmering crystals for a song,   I am not above buying new crystals because  Swarovski is constantly coming out with new styles and colors. 


I have project article in the January/February 2008 issue of Step by Step Beads called “Tokyo Rows.”  It’s a bracelet made from the traditional Japanese flower motif using seed beads and crystals.  Check it out.

Here are some of my favorite crystal beading web sites:

Swarovski Create Your Style


Beading Bees

To see a crystal slideshow, press Here

Mixing My Media

My latest offering is a necklace  made with my handmade beads  and beads from my stash. I put it together last year, but never liked it.  After rethinking my design, I took it apart, laid it out, and restrung it three times. I think I finally got it right.

I made the lampworked beads from Moretti glass and  etched most of them in acid to get a matte finish. The round  glass bead is hollow. I beaded around wooden beads in peyote stitch using size 11/0 seed beads in harmonizing colors. The long bicone-ish looking beads and some 16mm round beads are polymer clay, made with the Mokume Gane technique, sanded and polished. The natural stones are coral, bone, turquoise, tiger eye, freshwater pearls. red hearts and horn. The findings and Balinese-style spacer beads are vermeil and gold filled. The longest strand of the necklace is about 24 inches. The short part in the back is a counterweight which hangs down the wearer’s back.

To see some more detailed images, press

Recycled Materials in Art

I make lampworked glass beads. This summer, I have been having  fun making beads from recycled glass I find on the street.  I use colbalt blue wine bottles and aqua colored Bombay Sapphire Gin bottles. Trash day is like a shopping spree only I don’t need any money! What could be better?

There is a rich tradition around the world of using recycled materials to make art. Most art from recycled materials comes from so-called Third World Countries. The patchwork quilt is the one we are most familiar with in the United States.   As we become more of a throw away society,  however, the recycled materials movement has found its way to our affluent shores.

Here are three links where you can find more art made from recycled materials. Happy dumpster diving!

Indigo Arts
Oakland Museum of California