Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Venetian Ruin

I found this broken strand of lovely, old Venetian glass beads at an estate sale.

The plan was to restring them for myself but I have never gotten around to it.
I think instead I will make myself a strand of beads using this classic Murano technique.

If you want to bring them back to life they're up for sale in my "Curious Old Things" Etsy shop.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moonbeams Bracelet

Not every bracelet has to be a big, complicated production.

Picking through my stray bead box I put these thirteen orphans together in a little pile.
Then I started hammering and coiling links from sterling silver and ended up with a very sweet, and wearable, bracelet.

Sometimes less is more, more or less.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Japanese Barberry Bracelet

New jewelry.

Japanese Barberry Bracelet - lampwork glass and brass

The Japanese Barberry is such a lovely plant in winter.
Just look, but don't touch - it's also called the pricker bush.
Needless to say I left the thorns out of the bracelet design, sure I put a few bumps on the 'stems' but absolutely no mean old prickers.

The leaves and the berries were all made as headpins.
The glass links were made on 'Pandora' bead sized mandrels.

For the leaves I used 16 gauge brass wire. The glass is Cim's 'Canyon de Chelly' with dots and swirls of a weird metallic black called Graphite.

The berries are 'dark special red' on 20 gauge brass wire. It seems like a made a million of them for this piece. In fact, there are only thirty.

The stems (glass links) are a mish-mash of 'Canyon de Chelly' and purple red encased in transparent gray.

In my house, when you stick you arm out in the air to photograph yourself wearing a bracelet, a poodle will immediately appear and attach itself to your arm.

Pet me? Pet me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Simple Pods

These make wonderful bracelets and pairs for earrings.

Here's a small batch of 'seed pods' made with transparent purple and wrapped with honey colored lobes.

Orange centers with transparent striking orange lobes.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ice Berries

The upcoming sequel to the Ice Balls bracelet will be... Ice Berries.

The same round headpins with wires that have hammered spirals on their insides, but this time the beads will have little lobes of glass down their sides.

Here are a couple of test beads that are fresh from the kiln.

The ball of the headpin is pale gray transparent and the little leaflets, or lobes, or leaf lobes (whatever) are medium transparent gray.

This is a nice glimpse into my sketchbook - a couple of pages that are still in process.

When I find an image in a magazine that intrigues me - sometimes its a group of colors, or shapes, often it is a plant or a painting. - I scissor it out and glue it into one of the books. Pretty soon I might start drawing ideas on the page and when, and if, I make beads from that page I will glue in a photograph of the finished product.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I futzed around too long yesterday and by the time I got to my studio there wasn't time to heat up that big kiln, figure out a plan and productively play with fire.

So, I drew in my bead sketchbooks.

Pondered why I have so many red and orange colored pencils.
Came to no conclusions but did eat some Valentine's chocolate.

Sketched some more -

- then watched the trains come and go from my fourth floor perch.
I like to think of it as the penthouse.

Revisited a great book on bead making called  "Beads of Glass" by Cindy Jenkins.
Wondered if she's a Cynthia or a Lucinda, like me. Nobody calls me Cindy anymore, don't even try it.
Chewed some clove gum and was pleased that I still knew how to construct a gum wrapper chain.

Dipped a mess of mandrels.
They're the stainless steel rods, coated with clay, that the molten glass is wrapped onto when beads are made. Few things are as pretty as a bouquet of freshly dipped mandrels.

Swept the floor and called it a day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cold Medicine

I knew we were in for some snow, so, I brought home a pot of tulips for the kitchen table.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Napoleon P. Oodle

stylist & photo : Margaret Storms

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yellow Tailed Pod

Making 'end of the mandrel' pods again.
It's not very practical but I love the hooked tail (root?) on this one.


Leaf headpins, left long and made into earrings.

I've heard it said that "bacon makes everything better," but for me pearls make everything better.

The headpin is 16g blackened steel wire that has been cleaned, hammered and polished and sealed with wax.
Wire 'vines' with pearls are 22g bronze colored wire.

I hammered the ends flat and then punched holes in them to attach the earwires.
Not sure about this - some other pairs are in the works were the joint to the earring is resolved differently.

February, when an old woman's fancy turns to green leaves and buds.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Spring Nuggets

I wanted these to look like raw amber - except pink.

I started with simple round base beads made with different shades of translucent pink - Cim's rose quartz, Cim's crocus and Cim's Gelly's sty. Once the beads had a nice shape I added thick swipes of transparent pinks and lavenders randomly around them - transparent pink, Cim's larkspur and Cim's pink champagne. I melted the bumpy swipes in just a wee bit to makes them more bulbous than lumpy.

Notes from my sketchbook:

And a test pair, in the same style, with Cim's Ming blue with  swipes of transparent teal.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Ice Balls Bracelet

The 'Ice Balls' bracelet is finished.

Thirty-nine clear glass headpins, with hammered spirals of brass in their centers, chained together to form a bracelet.

Some have lots of bubbles, from lots of heat while melting them round.

Some, only a few bubbles on the coil from less time in the flame.
You wouldn't believe how many rods, and shorts, of scummy clear I was able to use up making this bracelet.

p.s. this one is mine.

Friday, February 03, 2012


A couple of posts ago I showed you some old Venetian glass beads that have a great shape.
The violet and silver foil beads in these two pictures are my first attempt at re-creating them.

Here are the old ones again, for comparison (below).

What did I use? How did I do that?
I simply made a nice, plump oval bead and then spot heated and nipped in each side with these old cutters that I found at an estate sale. They're called tile nippers, or end nippers. You might already have a pair in your glass toolbox that you use for clipping rods of murrine cane.

Have a go at it! They are a fun shape to make.
Feel free to ask any how-to questions.