Connecting with Beads

My friend Gladys Glass operates  the Woodstock Trading Company with her son Seth and husband Harvey.  Woodstock specializes in vintage one-of-a-kind Rock ‘n Roll memorabilia.  and Rock ‘n Roll oriented gifts, clothing, incense, posters and novelties.  (Their store is closed because of the Coronavirus, but you can shop on line.  They ship anywhere in the US. )

For years,  the spacious lawn in front of  Woodstock’s  colorful psychedelic storefront in Cherry Hill, New Jersey was a gathering place for people to enjoy live concerts,  Maypole Celebrations, and Drum Circles.

Until the coronavirus stopped all that.   It’s been hard not just for business, but also because of the loss of social interaction that people really need.

Gladys  was recently commiserating with her friend Suzanne about how difficult the isolation and social distancing can be, and suggested  the idea of stringing beads of “hope” to mark the days in isolation.  She thought that sharing  the beaded creations with like-minded people  would be a good way to stay connected.     A few days later, Suzanne  called Gladys back to tell her she and her friend Galen had created a web site so people could do just that.  It’s  called Safe-String.Com.

Safe-String.com is a free site whose purpose is to help its users “navigate stress, panic, raw nerves, uncertainty, and loss during one of the most challenging episodes in human history.”  And it uses beads to connect people to one another.

The Safe-String.com site offers a forum where its users can share their creations and ideas.  The forum topics are not limited to beading.  One asks, “What expectations of normal are you letting go of today?”   Another asks, “Who have you checked in on today?”

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If you are interested in joining the forums but need beads, you can  buy a kit  from Woodstock which contains  31 random beads, spacers, string, and  ending finial as an ornamental bead stopper.  Also included as a bonus is a hand-painted card, gift bag, and instructions.

But you don’t need to buy a thing to participate in safe-string.com  or to join the forums.   You can make beads  from cloth.  You can make beads from paper and old magazines.  And you can string anything with a hole it it.

Stay well and keep washing those hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinkets and Some Bowls to Hold Them

It’s not like I don’t already have enough beads, but having access to a pottery studio, glazes and a bead tree has made new beads magically appear in my workshop.  The items you see below are pendants and a couple of bead comes.

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Here are some beads in their greenware state and decorated state  after bisque firing and prior to glaze firing.

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And if bead making was not enough, I been making  little trinket bowls to hold rings and other small treasures.

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I am having fun with different glazes and textures, and finishes.

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And I have also been having fun making components for the Into the Forest  collaborative polymer clay project.

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Let’s Get Dirty (In the Pottery Studio)

Pottery is my first love.  It comes before polymer, before metal smithing, before lamp working, before everything. From the time I was a little kid, I knew that as soon as I tried it I would love it.

 

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I didn’t have pottery classes of any kind in school.  Well, I did get to go to a paint your own pottery shop with my Girl Scout troop and paint a candle holder for my mother and a fish dish that could be an ash tray or hold change for my father.  Except my mother didn’t burn candles and my father kept his coins in a change purse.  But I had fun.  I still have the candle holder somewhere.

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In fact, I didn’t get to take a pottery class until I had graduated from college.  I was working for the summer in Atlantic City managing some rooming houses who had a rather exotic clientele.   I found out that there was a class at the local Community College.  I convinced a friend that “he really wanted to take a pottery class.”   I didn’t have wheels and needed a way to get there.  Surprisingly,  he acquiesced. 

The first time I sat down at a wheel, I smacked a ball of clay on the wheel head, turned the wheel on and watched in horror as the ball of clay shot across the room and bounced off a table.  Everyone froze.    After that, I was more careful.  Much more careful.

And you would think that now that I am retired and have all the time in the world to write blog posts, that I would not leave them until the last minute. “But no,” she said.  Because I am spending most of my time in the pottery studio.  I have not made any pottery in 25 years and I have a whole new group of victims  friends upon whom to bestow my clay creations.

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I am trying some new things; I have never made glazed beads before or used a bead tree and I am having fun with that.

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I am throwing pots and then altering the forms.  And I am trying different surface treatments including screen printing using underglazes.

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Making a decent print and transferring it to the clay is challenging and there are several methods of doing it.  If I get interesting results, I will post them.

 

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And I do tend to get grimy in the studio.   Not as grimy as the guy in the scraps bucket, but pretty close!

 

 

 

A Hoard of Beads from the Hermitage (and Jewelry too!)

Since I design and make jewelry, I am always on the lookout for inspiration, and there is nothing better than getting to see ancient pieces up close. Here are a few I saw at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Collections include items from the Culture of the Peoples of South Siberia exhibit and Ancient Relics of the Art and Culture of Eurasia

What’s Going on in the Workshop

This has been a very challenging summer for me. Lots of changes with loved ones coming and going from my life.  There’s the 5th year anniversary of my Mother’s death,  my impending retirement,  more and more silver appearing in my hair (which I refuse to dye-been there done that) and the feeling that things are moving slowly,  but that I can’t keep up with them.    

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It is at times like these that I find myself going into the workshop to make components without any idea of how I will  use them, if I end up using them at all.    I am past the point in my life where everything has to have an immediate goal and purpose.  Sometimes just “being” is the best thing for me.   
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So here are some pictures of the meanderings  I have taken with my materials this summer.  

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Some etched copper.

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I am trying various kinds of chain making, soldered and unsoldered.  

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Mixing chain components with polymer beads

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These pieces will become toggle clasps,

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Spirals for dangles

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Clasp experiments based on vintage belt buckle design.  Front

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And back,

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And here is a bracelet where I try to pull it all together with glass and polymer beads. 

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This picture shows a spiral dangle and one of the finished toggle clasps in use. (after a bath in liver of sulfur)  The wrinkled bead between the red  (one glass and one polymer) beads is a copper bead made from crushed pipe.

Bead Shopping in Portland

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Stores like Dava Beads in Portland Oregon are hard to find these days. It’s a full service, generously-stocked  bead shop. 

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Sunny and inviting and scads of beads- something for every one and every budget.  And classes and books and magazines and a friendly knowledgeable staff.  What more could you want?  Classes?  They have those.  A few good restaurants within walking distance?  They have those too.

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 I found plenty of different sized needles there including size 13s


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You can get Delicas and Charlottes and they have a respectable selection of 15/0 beads

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You can buy in bulk.  There are 11/0 Czech beads

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And antique and vintage buttons.  

I’m sure that the stock has changed since the last time I was there.  All the better! Portland is a great city for walking, dining and bookstores!  And Dava Beads.

Beads of a Different Stripe

I have been busy trying  lamp working techniques this summer.  Striped beads are made differently than I would have thought.  Instead of drawing stripes on the bead with a stringer you  lay down dots, put on a layer of  clear glass and melt it slowly.  This serves to magnify the dots underneath which appear as stripes!  How cool is that?  Here are the basic steps:

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Make a base bead

First dotsAdd some dots.  Don’t melt in.

dotsAdd dots on top of dots.  Don’t melt in.

 Clear wound aroundAdd a couple layers of clear over the dots only.  Think of a shape like the planet Saturn with its rings.

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 Begin to heat the clear glass.  Slowly so the glass doesn’t pop or crack.

 wrapsBring up the heat to melt the clear glass.  This magnifies the dots underneath

TorchingPick it up a bit and keep the mandrel turning.

heatingWhy?

Stripes taking shape2Because you don’t want your bead to sag.

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Let the bead cool slowly and keep it turning to maintain the shape

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Beads2   And here are the finished beads.  This could get addicting!

Don’t forget Bead Fest this weekend!

    

Elizabethan Beads

Years ago, I took a beading class with a woman named Alois Powers called “Elizabethan Beads.”  Powers  had designed some very stunning self-supported beaded beads made up of seed beads and crystals and she was an excellent teacher as I recall.

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Here are some pictures of what I made in the class and afterward.

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And thus my frenzy for beaded beads was born.  I still have all of my class materials, made some more beads and have worked out some of my own designs which Powers encouraged her students to do.

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Obviously, I cannot share any of the patterns.Fortunately the Internet abounds with information and ideas for making these jeweled  treasures.   Sidonia Petki’s channel on YouTube   is a fabulous resource.  Sidonia also sells tutorials on her Etsy Site.

Here is my favorite (so far) Sidonia beading tutorial video.

Nikola Tesla, Beads and Me

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-born inventor who made major contributions to the development of the AC electricity system that we use today.   His  experiments  to learn of the effect that lightning storms had on the earth revealed evidence of  terrestrial stationary waves which indicated that planet earth was an excellent conductor of electricity.  And this is the basis of wireless technology.   (The Internet is full of information on this topic if you care to read more about it.)

In 1899, Tesla conducted  an experiment  at his laboratory in Colorado Springs that was reported to have  produced  100 foot long lightning bolts before it blew a dynamo  at the El Paso Electric Company.  Not shabby.

What does that have to do with beads or me?  Well may you ask.  When I made the polymer clay beads, you see below,  some of them reminded me of lightning and electric waves.  And I took the pictures with an iPad which is a wonderful example of wireless technology.  Tesla is known in some quarters as the “Master of Lightning” so I call these “Tesla Beads”  despite the fact that my Italian American father was fond of reminding me that Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio-another example of wireless technology.

You’ll have to admit that the name “Marconi Beads”  does not evoke the same kind of image.  It just reminds  me of pasta and then I get hungry. 

Here are some pictures.  The round beads are hollow and I formed the cores on marbles up to 40mm.  I described the technique in this post.

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We’re Having Bead Soup Again?

This is one leftover I  never tire of.  I am just back from Clayathon and will post pictures later today.  But for now I am looking forward to participating in Lori Anderson’s 8th Bead Soup Blog Hop

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