Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I partially wrote two separate bead porn posts that were supposed to be auto-posted during the holidays, but things were so crazy, I never got either one of them finished or scheduled.

So, you get New Year's bead porn instead of Holiday bead porn.

Etched brass bead caps from Metal Me This.

And some copper ones, too.

Patinated spacer beads from Miss Fickle Media.

And some pretty patinated flower beads, too. Just perfect for thinking ahead to Spring!

Peach links to match.

And this great, yummy blue color called Benthic Blue. I love how it has touches of lavender in it.

Of course, chain to match.

I'm always on the hunt for unusual toggles...MissFM to the rescue with this great, leafy-green version.

And finally, this beautiful seahorse pendant...doesn't it look like it's been lost at the bottom of the sea in a treasure chest for years? I love that!

Did I mention there's a lot of metal in this porn? These beautiful copper teardrops are from Kristi Bowman.

Kristi also created this stunning ammonite pendant.

These patinated butterfly wings are from SL Artisan Accents.

And then there was that sale at Gardanne...where I lost my mind (and my bank balance...starting with these blue enameled starfish charms.

And the matching scallop shells, of course.

Couldn't pass up the sand dollar...

And then I did it all over again in another color - starfish charms in seafoam.

Matching scallops...

...and sand dollar.

If you've been reading the last couple of months, then you'll recognize these flower charms from some earrings I made back in November. They are from Menagerie Studio.

These flowers are from the same vendor and they've already made it into earrings as well.

This two-hole purple heart pendant is also from Menagerie, but I'm still hoarding it. Might need to bust it out for Valentine's Day, though.

This midnight willow pendant is from Humble Beads.

As is this summer butterfly.

I have so much more to write about, including everything that happened over the holiday break (presents, food, family, vacation, car emergencies, etc.). Just need the time to sit down and get my thoughts organized (good luck, right?) In the meantime, though, I can post this bead porn to at least keep the blog up to date (more posting is one of my goals for 2012...I miss being able to write more often!)

Hope 2012 is off to a great start for everyone.

See you soon!


Thursday, December 15, 2011


What happens when you don't have time to carefully pre-pack your vacation jewelry projects? You end up just grabbing for your art bead "pairs" as you're running out the door and making a LOT of earrings.

I can't get enough of these gorgeous porcelain beads from Lumina Inspirations. I first ran acrosse their beads years and years ago at the L.A. Gift Show and now there's a local vendor who carries their line at the OC Bead & Gem show that rolls through town every 2-3 months.

The metallic accents and bright, mirror finish on the beads really add to their appeal. I decided to be a little unusual with this pair and pick up the color of the small swipe of orange at the bottom of each bead so I grabbed some recently-purchased bright orange jade rondelles and added some vermeil spacers to pick up the gold. I can see these looking great with a navy blue suit or dress.

About a year ago, I was going through a "brigh colors" period so I was grabbing everything I could get my hands on that fit that category. This cute dotted pair of beads from Jangles totally fit the bill. To her credit, she sent along some great accent beads including those red wood rounds and a pair of even tinier bright green glass beads. However, I was in such a hurry to grab these out of the package that I managed to lose one of the green glass beads in my carpet...where it remains lost to this day.

I quickly improvised by grabbing this pair of aqua and white vintage glass beads from Brea Beadworks and some dyed green howlite spacers. A couple of touches of sterling silver finished off the design.

I have to admit it - I'm not overly fond of polymer clay. Usually (there are exceptions like the great stuff at Floridity). But every once in a while, I find some pieces I really like. These cute lavender square beads definitely fit in that category. And, of course, it didn't hurt that they have pansies on them as I am obsessed with all things pansy (shout out to my fellow Tri-Delta, Erin!)

These were some of my earliest Etsy purchases from a shop called The Color of Dreams. Awesome name, right? And how to take polymer clay to a more elegant level? Add sterling silver and Swarovski, of course. Swaros make EVERYTHING better ;-)

More beads from Lumina Inspirations - but a totally different feel than the abstract designs in the first pair. I was drawn to the contrast between the dark greens and gray/blues of the background and the white and bright yellow of the flowers on these.

I added dark blue-gray faceted Czech glass in an etched finish and some vermeil to make these look really lush.

And now to my favorite pair. These are recyled glass rings from Loot - one of my favorite vendors at the Pasadena Bead & Gem show.

I added amethyst AB Chinese crystals and vermeil filigree beads along with some links of gold chain. I don't think the photos really captured the colors very well - the lighter color of the crystals is actually swirling through the glass rings along with some sparkling goldstone effects. You'll just have to take my word for it that the colors work better in real life (stupid camera). These are so glam and sparkly I almost can't even stand it. I'm going to have a hard time not keeping them for myself but they are destined for the Etsy shop (along with everything else here) as soon as I have the time (and willpower) to let them go.

Hope you enjoyed my "Earring-palooza!" Hopefully, I'll get more time to create larger pieces over the holidays - I've been sadly lacking in the bracelet department lately and need to focus on that!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

THIS? priceless.

Wow, are there some kids in need of de-spoiling...and FAST.

Warning: the last line uses a couple of off-color terms (more PG than R) so either play it at home or turn your volume down.


P.S. Let me know what your favorite part was in the comments.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Best Laid Plans...

Well, it was SUPPOSED to be a vacation LOL!

First off, we couldn't get our extra timeshare week (seriously, stop giving us weeks...we can't even use them all) booked anywhere except a resort that's 15 minutes from our house. But, you know, it was a free week, so why not at least get outta the house, have somebody else do the laundry and enjoy beautiful Newport Beach while we're at it? Sounds like a good idea, right?

And it was...right up until the night before when I got that ominous phone call from the kid's daycare (those calls are NEVER good news) telling me "Ryan has a temperature of 101." I swear, those germs just KNOW when we are supposed to leave on vacay and that's when they strike! This is the FOURTH vacation in a row where he's either gotten sick the day before we leave, the day we leave, or the day after we arrive.

By the time I got to the school and picked him up and got him home, his temp was up to 102.


So, I had a pow-wow with everyone else who was going and, since they were all in various phases of "getting over being sick" and "just finished being sick" (I told everyone in no uncertain terms that from now on, *I* am vacationing alone...all you sick people can stay HOME with your GERMS!) they all agreed we should go anyway. Mr. Sicky McSickerson will NOT stand in the way of this group's vacation (especially since we were so close to home and he can sit in the room and watch cartoons just as easily as he can sit on the couch at home and do the same thing).

Got to the resort and immediately set up a quarantine area for the kid and his germs.

And then we went on with our activities (with one person staying behind to keep the kid company, keep his medicine topped off, and keep an eye on him - we rotated this duty). Saturday evening was the official tree-lighting ceremony at nearby Crystal Cove beach. They had carrollers, hot chocolate and cookies...and Santa arrived via lifeguard rescue vehicle (I guess the reindeer don't do sand).

Here's a picture of the tree...a little underwhelming in size, I thought, since it's an outdoor tree, but it was decorated nicely. The striped awning is the outside of the famous Beachcomber restaurant.

As we waited for it to get dark enough to light the tree, I took a photo of the sun setting over Catalina Island. If you look REALLY closely, you can see the tiny triangle of a sailboat. By the way, for those keeping up on current events, the waters off Catalina are where Natalie Wood drowned (with or without help...depending on who you believe).

See...vacationing 15 minutes from home does have SOME perks. Too bad the weekend BEFORE we came it was 80 degrees and it was more like 65 when I took this picture LOL!

But it made for a great lunchtime view. This is from the pool deck restaurant looking out the other way over the ocean. If you squint, you can see Santa Catalina in the distance again. I wish I'd taken a picture the day before because we'd had Santa Ana winds for several days that really cleared up the air and Catalina looked so close you could practically walk there AND you could also see the island further out (which is almost never visible and which is called San Clemente island. )

For those with an interest in geography and history, both of these islands are part of the same chain, known as The Channel Islands, as San Nicolas island - the setting for the book "Island of the Blue Dolphins."

Since I didn't have my camera on the day when the view was the best, I used my zoom to re-create the effect...but it actually looked even closer than this.

So, that's the tale of our vacation...that sort of wasn't a vacation...but still had a few good moments. The suites were nice, the pool and view were great and there were lots of things for the (healthy) kids to do. Oh, and I got jewelry made..which I will post as soon as I have time to get the photos processed.

Oh, and SickyPants is doing better now, too thanks to an antibiotic. He was, however, NOT HAPPY about the amount of homework he's had to make up. We worked on it last week while he was home and hours over the weekend...and we're STILL not done. Honestly, I was at the point last night where I was thinking "how bad would it be if I just finished it so we can be done?"

And yeah, I know, WORST MOM EVER, but seriously, the amount of drill on stuff that he ALREADY KNOWS is just ridiculous. It's like work for work's sake. The worst part is that I KNOW the teacher didn't even send home everything...this was like just the most important stuff.

I sure hope he doesn't accumulate much new work today because we still have stuff to finish.


Kyanite Snowflake Necklace

In my last jewelry-related post, I mentioned there was one more snowflake necklace. I finally got the photos processed and ready to post so here they are:

This time, I added gorgeous gray/blue kyanite stones and white freshwater pearls as accents to one of Summer's Studios lovely bronze snowflake pendants.

Here's a closeup of the pendant.

And a closeup of the kyanite rondelles I used (please ignore the fact that Blogger is insisting on turning this photo upside down...I have no idea why it randomly does this with certain pictures and not others, but I have learned that it is futile to fight it).

In real life, the stones have a touch more blue to them than in the photos. I think my gray velvet neckstand is helping to emphasize the gray in the stones more. I also re-used my trick of pairing darker brass chain and wire with brighter vermeil spacers and gold-filled beads.

This necklace is slightly heavier in looks than the last one, but the pendant is also slightly larger so I thought it could handle the bigger accent beads. I've got to figure out more designs for using this's SOOO pretty. I love all the brown, gold, gray and blue tones it brings together.

That's it for now. I'm off to help with yet more 3rd grade homework...kid has been home sick for a week (more on that adventure in a future post) and his teacher sent home a grunch (yes, I make up my own words) of missed classwork and homework to catch up on.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Light Goes Out

Just read that one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, passed away over the weekend. That makes the last of my "Big 3" (Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffrey) all gone to a wider place than this.

I can still remember exactly when and where I first picked up one of her books - the 7th grade library at Serrano Middle School. Lunchtime. We were only allowed to go two places during lunch: outside at the tables to eat or to the library. The outside tables were...not safe for me. I spent almost all of my junior high lunch breaks in extra reading the library.

And there I picked up this weird-looking book with the gold dragon on the cover and entered the wonderful world of Pern for the first time. And really, once you've ridden dragon-back, you're hooked for life.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vacation Creations

I finally figured out what I needed in order to kick my muse into gear: VAY-CAY-SHUN! Seriously, it took one day of movies, a day of shopping, a day of eating (PIE!), and a day of lying around watching all my DVR'd shows and doing basically nothing for me to finally feel energized enough to get out the beads.

That is one serious de-stress plan!

But I guess I had a lot of pent-up creativity because once I started going...I just couldn't stop.

Here are the results:

I'm in love with these sort of blue-green lagoon-looking Czech glass rondelles. I had a whole strand and I used a few of them throughout the following earrings. This pair was sort of an end-of-the-day afterthought as I was trying to use up some of the leftovers on my work table (better to use 'em than to have to put 'em away LOL) I was trying to go for a sort of "messy" wire-wrap thing on the stick pearls...not sure I pulled it off (or maybe that's just my inner perfectionist griping). I named them "Pearl Lagoon."

And, as long as I was cleaning off the work surface, I thought I'd use up the last two of these purple Czech rondelles (you'll see the rest in a design later in this post) along with some pink chalcedony and some abalone shell beads. I needed to make a couple of pairs of earrings for a charity auction here at the office tomorrow and I thought these "Abalone Dangles" would be perfect for that.

These "Dragonfly Dangles" are another pair for the auction. Some of the last of my brass dragonflies along with a couple of faceted rhodonite rondelles. Simple and classic.

Here's another view of them.

I had these swirly flower disk beads in a dark chocolate brown color and used them in a bracelet and earring set last summer that came out really well so when I saw them in this ivory color, I grabbed them. Initially, I had them as the tops for a different earring design (the re-worked version is coming up), but that design ended up being a little over the top (I can get that way with earrings because I like 'em long or large and statement-making). So, off came the pink polymer clay flower art beads and I popped on these simpler faceted pink ceramic cubes. Less exciting, but more wearable. The flowers on the white beads sort of remind me of dahlias so I called these "Pink Dahlias."

Here's another view.

These flowers were originally going to be the bottom halves of the earrings I just showed. See what I mean about too much? Actually, these flowers were "too much" with a lot of things I tried with them. I ended up with a gigantic pile of "nope, that won't work" beads next to me trying to figure out what to put with them. I finally settled on these ivory shell rounds and some turquoise patinated bead caps from Patina Queen. They are still a little on the wild side and yet have that English vintage feeling, too, so I called them "Tea Party."

Here's a closeup of of the wonderful flower focal beads by Menagerie Studio.

Here's another view.

Similar focals from the same artist, but they are a little more subdued. The color is a bit off in the picture as they are more of a peach hue and not as vibrant. I used the brass dragonflies again and more of those "lagoon" Czech glass beads. Since this pair still reminded me of an English Tea, but in a more subtle way, I called them "Tea Roses."

Here's a close up of the flower focal.

And another view of the earrings.

This may be one of my favorites from this round of creation. I used brightly colored polymer clay squares in pink and green from Floridity, then added some mother of pearl shell flowers and wire-wrapped on some sparkling green lampwork. I have been trying for almost a year to set up a Hawaiian vacation for my extended family so I guess I had that tropical vibe going in my brain and this is how it decided to come out. The white shell flowers reminded me of plumeria flowers that are traditional for Hawaiian leis so I called this pair "Plumeria Leis."

Here's another view of them.

I loved all the earrings I'd made so far, but I noticed that there was a decided lack of glam and sparkle (and, okay, so my December "In Style" magazine had just arrived and I was drooling over the jewelry ads and seeing all the sparkley stones I'll never be able to afford). Had to grab these great 14k gold fill twisted hoop components (I've been seriously hoarding all my gold fill and, to a lesser extent, my sterling silver since the prices have gone so totally bananas...I know I'll never be able to afford some of these materials again!) And to them I added some tiny faceted lampwork nuggets in shades of amethyst and peach and small amethyst Swarovsky crystals as dangles.

The colors reminded me of sunset so these earrings have been christened "Sunset Sparkle."

Okay, I will 'fess up. I totally and completely ripped this design off from Shannon Levart of Miss Fickle Media. I couldn't help it - I fell in love with it on her site and had to make my own pair using her hammered copper flowers and patinated hummingbird charms. I did add my own creative touch by popping a sparkling Czech glass rondelle at the top. Originally, these were going to be for the charity auction (not for sale - I don't sell other people's designs), but frankly, they just came out too darned cute so I am keeping them for myself and hoping Shannon will not hate me too much for the copying. I decided that hummingirds could only be these color in a fantasy world so these earrings are called "Hummingbird Fantasy."

Here's another view.

And finally, here's the bracelet I wrote about in the last post - the one that was "on hold" while I figured out a solution to what I didn't like about it (plus, I didn't have a clasp that I thought would work with it). Shannon came to my rescue on the clasp issue as she included a wonderful freebie one in the package with the flowers and birds from the above earrings. It matched PERFECTLY in both color and sized. The rest of the bracelet is built around a polymer clay focal from Floridity, some gorgeous pink and brown "wheel" Czech glass disks, bleached wood slices and, of all things, brown shell dangles that used to be the "buttons" on ladies' shoes around the turn of the century. Years ago I bought a bag of these at the L.A. Gift show and have been hoarding them ever since. I thought it was time they made themselves useful. I call this design "Rosewood Bird."

Here's a closeup of the bird focal from Floridity.

I've been watching (and, yeah, okay, drooling) as LeAnn from Summer's Studio, Etc., started playing with bronze clay, but I was waiting for just the right design to strike my fancy. I finally found it with some pretty snowflake charms like this one and I turned the first one into this necklace by wire-wrapping some purple Czech glass rondelles (the same ones from the Abalonge earrings) onto patinated brass chain. The bronze is a bit tricky because it's darker than my normal gold findings, but not as dark as the brass. I got around this by using the darker brass chain and wire and then adding some brighter seed beads that are not quite gold, but still play up the highlights in the bronze. The purple beads reminded me of wintry shadows on snow so I named this "Twilight Snowfall."

Here's a closeup of the bronze snowflake pendant. I bought a second pendant from her with a slightly different snowflake and I made a necklace out of that one as well, but ran out of time to get it photographed. Hopefully, it will make its debut later this week.

Here's a closeup of the clasp...with my signature dangle.

And one last view. I'm loving this simple, but elegant design.

Whew! That was a lot of creating...and yet I'm sorry I ran out of time because I had more ideas and I know it will probably be a month before I get any more time to play. I'll have to hold out until then!

Hope everyon had a great Thanksgiving!