Sunday, February 22, 2009


This angel is for Carol. I knew her birthday was coming up, but I couldn't come up with any ideas for her. Being a jewelry person, I usually notice what people wear, but I couldn't think of a single idea to capture Carol's style. Finally, I just asked her if she'd like to pick some beads out for me to make into something, and she told me she doesn't wear jewelry. Any. Ever. Her skin is too sensitive.

So I made her some jewelry for her Christmas tree. Or her wall. Or whatever.

This design is stolen from a pin my sister gave me for Christmas several years ago. My friend Melissa also makes amazing wire-wrapped angels. Like a fool, I didn't take the opportunity to have her teach me while we lived in the same state, so now I just drool over her stuff from 250 miles away. But I have been wanting to try my hand at wire wrapping for a while. Because I was not making this to be worn, I supersized it. I used ordinary craft wire, not a great choice because it is prone to kinking. But it is inexpensive, so good for learning and practicing. I'm not completely happy with the shape of the wings or the skirt, but it got to the point that the more I played with the strands, the more distorted they got. These techniques definitely require some more practice. I don't think I love it enough to put in the time, but it was fun to give it a try. And overall, I'm pretty pleased with the result.


This is another birthday gift, this time for my friend Ebonnie. I love looking at my bead stash with a particular person in mind. It's a creative challenge not just to make something pretty, but to come up with something that suits that individual's personal style. I've been wanting to make some kind of tangly, multistrand piece for a while, but this is the first to make it to completion. I'm pretty happy with it. As usual, Grace likes it too. Let's just hope Ebonnie does also.

It did take longer than I expected to knot the strands. I thought I'd be saving time by not having to string so many beads, but I was mistaken. By the end I got into the rhythm though, and I think I could churn out a second one much more quickly. Attaching the clasp also posed some challenges. In the end, I knotted the five strands together and then used one of the longer tails to sew the whole thing on to each side of the clasp. I then tried to conceal the knot by wrapping it in the cord. The connection is a little bulkier than I'd like it to be, but I'm OK with that.

Materials: The waxed cotton cord is from the craft section at Wal-Mart. The wooden beads are from a friend who was clearing out her stash (thank you very much, Amy!). The (fake) coral nuggets and metal disks are from a thrift store necklace I purchased for 75 cents just so I could tear it apart. The clasp is antiqued goldtone toggle clasp, which I got at super discount from a JoAnn store that was going out of business. All totaled, this project cost less than $1.50, and probably took me about three or four hours (with some fumbling at first).

Friday, February 06, 2009

For me

There are a lot of things I love about this necklace, but I'm not yet sure it's in its final form. I love the contrast between the shiny glass and the fuzzy spheres. I love the liquid look of the seed beads. I like the length.

I'm not sure exactly what I don't like about it -- I guess it'd be nice if it were a little longer. To double it up I have to use a twister clasp because it's too short to loop twice around my head. (And because I'm too cheap to buy an actual twister clasp, I fake it with a piece of wire, which is a little awkward and uncomfortable.) But I guess the main thing is that I've worn this piece several times and haven't received a single compliment. When I asked Sweetie what he thought of it, instead of answering he asked, "Do you like it?"

I have also seen people notice it and say nothing, which is a little awkward. I'm honestly OK with the knowledge that it's not everybody's style. This is my style, and I like it. What pricks my vanity a bit is wondering if my style is bad style.

Stylish or not, this was easy on the pocketbook. The fuzzy blue beads were a clearance rack find -- $1.00 for the strand. The red glass beads are vintage hand-me-downs from my husband's grandmother*. I used pricey 49 strand beading wire, but even with that my total cost was probably around $2.00.

*This deserves more than a footnote, but who knows when I'll get back to mentioning this? When my husband's grandmother died, my husband's brother saved her stash of costume jewelry (much of it broken) from the junk heap. He had no idea what to do with any of it, but he couldn't let such pretty things be tossed. Lucky for me, at some point he heard about my bead obsession, and I became the happy recipient of the whole stash. Eventually, I will use the parts to make pieces for all of the daughters and grand daughters on my husband's side. I like the idea of them all having a part of grandma's jewelry box.

m girls

This set was a gift for a dear friend Amber, who just gave birth to an adorable set of twins, Caitlyn and Madelyn. Because the girls are identical twins, I wanted to make some kind of name bracelets. I'm not a huge fan of names spelled out in alphabet beads -- I wanted something more delicate. I looked at engraving, but the options there were way out of my price range. So I settled for a dangling first initial. I really like the look, especially with the butterfly charm on Amber's bracelet. During her pregnancy, Amber mentioned a particular piece of artwork that portrayed a pregnant woman as a butterfly. The idea of transformation, of growing life really spoke to her. So I wanted to capture that imagery in her bracelet.

I actually looked all over for a suitable butterfly bead. I found a lot that wouldn't work, and finally resigned myself to go without the butterfly. But then in my very own scrap pile, I found a dainty butterfly earring. I was able to trim and bend the post into a loop, and what do you know? It was just right.

Materials: I used glass pearls, swarski bicones, and sterling silver beads. I used green and pink crystals on one baby bracelet, and brown and pink on the other. Amber's combines pink, green and brown crystals. For once, I didn't scavenge thrift stores and junk piles, so I spent a little more on these than I normally do. But I think the results were totally worth it.

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