A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I designed this piece around a pewter sun totem from Happy Mango Beads. These are my favorite totems at HMB! They make me happy. I made another bead frame for it (think I'm done with the bead frames for a while, just wanted to experiment a little), and ended up going with a kind of classic Southwest palette. (I originally was going to try a kind of autumn palette--olive green, goldenrod and brick red--combined with turquoise but it just wasn't working for me.)
I combined the turquoise with a wonderful etched red agate cylinder from a local bead store, some little yellow jasper rice-shaped beads, and a twisted oval of red agate. I added some wrapped silver bars, lacing I cut from a big swatch of saffron-colored, luxuriously-napped suede, and some burly sterling silver rolo chain.
I guess there's a reason this color scheme is a classic--it plays very nicely together! It feels good to use some of my silver, and break into new beads and other supplies. I am LOVING my Gentec mixed fuel (MAPP and oxygen) torch (now that I'm no longer afraid of it and have gotten all the connections together without leaks). What a difference having the right flame makes! (I am also excited to have gotten a fume extractor--my fan-aimed-toward-the-open-door approach wasn't working very well.)
Turkey and mashed potatoes are calling my name so I have to go (no, you didn't miss Thanksgiving.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
When I recently pulled out my stash of pewter totems from Happy Mango Beads with the intent of using them in necklaces, when I saw the owl totems I immediately thought of Snowy Owls, and sublime Botswana agate in its subdued, wintry colors--like owl feathers.
Here I've created a frame for the totem in Argentium silver wire, and combined it with wonderful Botswana agate pebbles from DayBeads at Etsy. (I loved the first strand I got so much, I had to go back and get two more.)
I went with an asymmetrical design incorporating more pebbles, finishing it off in warm brown Greek leather, sterling silver donut beads, and a short length of sterling silver rolo extender chain.
 As is my wont, I added another little bead at the end of the chain, oohing an aahing to myself over the wonderful chevron pattern.

I love this stone! (And this pretty girl below.)
Snowy Owl From Wikimedia Commons
User Connormah

Sunday, September 13, 2015


The Warrior
It's been a while since I made any necklaces, so I thought I would get back to it (it took me several weeks but I did it). I have a lovely collection of pewter Northwest Tribes-inspired totem pendants from Happy Mango Beads, so I thought I would start with those. I've also bought a lot of silver wire lately, taking advantage of the dip in price, and I thought I should use it! My plan is to make a necklace from each of the totems I have. These are the first three from my little stash.

This pendant is "The Warrior." I've combined it with lapis, turquoise, clear quartz, recycled glass in cobalt, leather and sterling silver (both Argentium and traditional sterling.) (Click on the links provided to see the item in my Etsy shop.) (Clear quartz wheel beads and recycled glass disc also from Happy Mango Beads.)

The next necklace I made features a "greeting" totem. I combined it with turquoise, a recycled glass disc in root beer brown, and a little frosty clear glass rondelle (glass beads again from Happy Mango Beads). I decided to keep it simple, and suspended it from some buttery soft suede deertan lace.
Hello, Friend
I just can't seem to get away from this caramel-turquoise combination--the veining in this turquoise is a lovely amber color.

The third pendant is one of my favorites--the Orca totem. I made a necklace with one of these eons ago, and decided to stick with the same color palette--indigo and smoked glass.
Whenever I think of Orcas I think of the Pacific Northwest and the sea and sky on a cloudy day--slate blue and steely gray waters dotted with whitecaps.

I am looking forward to making more necklaces with the totems I have left--owls, suns, salmon, ravens and eagles!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Crazy for Bracelets

Flower of the Southwest
Short-sleeve weather always makes me think of bracelets, so I've gone a little crazy making bracelets. I have this hoard of bracelet bars from Captured Moments on Etsy, and I've always adored the embossing and glaze on these "copper brown" ones--just like tooled leather! I thought, well, tooled leather--has to be Southwest. So I hauled out my bin of turquoise, and my small stash of Hill Tribes silver paraphernalia, my silver wire, sheet, and torch and got to work. This is what transpired! I tossed in a little Red Creek Jasper, Wood Jasper, and Tiger Eye to repeat the coffee/caramel browns, as well as a sprinkling of sterling silver freeform nuggets that I cannibalized years ago from a Coldwater Creek bracelet I had bought.

I have been really into knotting lately, and my remaining stash (which is generous) of drilled beach stones seemed made for waxed linen cording, so I went for an all-neutrals palette with this bracelet below, and what is more neutral than Botswana agate? I love the grays, and taupes, and creams, and almost-pinks.
I love love LOVE the striping on the agate, and I was doubly thrilled to have a chance to use some more of my Silverleaf Jasper rondelles. I love these sweet little beads. I found several strands of "donut heishi" Botswana agate that were perfect for covering up termination points at clasp areas--it's like a little stone bouquet!

For the next four bracelets, I decided to go back to a style I used to use a lot--a curved focal piece, with either a beaded strap, some chain, or a solid metal "underbar" that fastens with a toggle closure. This bracelet was designed around some delicious "wing dings" by Geneal Crivello-Knabe of Genea Beads. I LOVE these colors.
Sweet Tarts
I did them up in copper, as I thought it would compliment the fall colors, and accented them with lampwork spacers in pale apple green and olive from The Spacer Bead Shop (Etsy), and lampwork rondelles in amber from Happy Mango Beads. I couldn't help dangling a few things from it--A little pale carnelian donut, a Picasso Czech glass teardrop in variegated olive from Stinky dog Beads, and a funky copper bead from Jewelry Supply. I made the toggle closure from a couple of my embossed copper rings, and one of my hand-forged wrapped toggle bars.

Then I dipped into my stash of recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads. Creature of habit that I am, I couldn't stay away from the sea green and azure beads. The bracelet below was built around some tulip-shaped recycled glass beads--the first time I have used these. Perfect size for the focal on a simple bracelet.
Art Deco Tulip
I got all clever and added a couple triangular copper beads to echo the shape of the glass bead. The chain is one of my favorites from Lima Beads. I love the Art Deco shape to these glass beads--this stylized lotus/tulip shape is so iconic to that era.

For this bracelet, I harkened back to the hinged bangle bracelets I used to make with lampwork--this one sports a rectangle of recycled glass flanked by two donut shapes, with one of my wrapped "underbars." I love the rustic feel of these beads! I like how they look with glossy, burnished copper.
I love how this semi-matte glass glows--there's nothing more luminous than etched glass! Except maybe a light bulb.

This bracelet was constructed around some recycled glass tablets from Happy Mango--one in transparent azure, one in solid teal, and another in a lovely robin's egg blue. I went dual-metal with this one--sterling/fine silver and copper. The underbar is heavy-gauge copper wrapped with 22 gauge fine silver wire, and the focal section is also wrapped with fine silver wire (its pliability is so nice for wrapping).
Caribbean Dreams
I love how the light comes through that glass! I adore the bubbles and flaws in it--just more things for the light to reflect off of.

Well that's all I got for now! Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday evening.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Bird and the Dragonfly

The Bird
I have my own stash of Czech, Mykonos and other fabulous goodies from Stinky Dog Beads--I have been hoarding these Czech bird and dragonfly coins, trying to think of a design that would really showcase them. They're a smaller size--perfect for a modest choker-length necklace, bold earrings, or a layered set of necklaces--but I wanted to make a giant pendant out of them. I swear I wracked my brain for weeks (but my brain wasn't working too good at the time so it wouldn't have normally taken that long) trying to think of how to construct a bead frame (never did that before) and hang the coin from the inside. When my brain started working again I came up with this design.

I combined the lovely persimmon-hued bird (with subtle greenish Picasso effect) with pale carnelian, ivory bone, poppy jasper, a little more Czech glass, and my oval link chain.
My Stinky Dog Coin Stash
I went with same design with a gorgeous green and lavender dragonfly bead, matching it up with white shell, faceted glass in deep amethyst, green opal, olive green snakeskin agate, and Czech glass roundels in olive and periwinkle.
The Dragonfly
I used the rest of my oval chain, and one of my poppy caps on the long agate spear.

I really like how they turned out!

I would love to turn the little yellow bird up there into a knotted choker, with silver and turquoise blue beads. It would be part of my Yellow Desensitization therapy (I seem to have a psychological aversion to canary-type yellow colors, and I am trying to overcome it.)

Stop by Stinky Dog Beads and check out the delectable offerings!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Meet Roberta. She is my new friend, who keeps me company at work. She also happens to be a real live faerie--an Anxiety Faerie.

"What is an Anxiety Faerie?" you may ask. But better you should ask, "What can an Anxiety Faerie do for me?"

According to Di, at snotnormal (the portal through which Anxiety Faeries enter our world):
"Anxiety Faeries will absorb all angst and dread from an anxious person. They come from a mythical land far, far away, where people have piles of ugly, tedious paperwork and cars with dead batteries, and bosses from Uranus. A land with things called global warming, Fukushima, and WalMart, and root canals, and Miley Cyrus . . . and where are all the bees going, anyway?"
"Well, how does one avail oneself of the powers of an Anxiety Faerie?", you ask. Excellent question.

Again, Di explains:
"When agitated, simply clutch your Anxiety Faerie to your breast, with both arms. Then rant your heart out. Don’t hold back. Your Faerie can take it." 
Well I tell ya, Di don't lie--Roberta is, so far, impressive. I confess I have clutched her to my breast a couple dozen times since she arrived. Because of lack of privacy, however, I have so far only muttered and not ranted, and yet still felt considerable relief. It is also effective to simply look at her. She normally sits just to the left of my computer screen so I need only slew my eyes slightly to the left to see her startled but comforting visage.

Sometimes it is just enough to be together, without saying a thing--that's how you recognize true friendship. Those comfortable silences. Roberta often likes to look out the window at the distant mountain peaks while I work.
As you might imagine, the life of service to which an Anxiety Faerie is dedicated can be a tiring one, and sometimes you just need some down time. Roberta is, like me, an introvert, and sometimes after a hectic day of being desperately clutched to my breast 10-12 times she just needs to be alone. If I see her in the jade, I know to just leave her be for a while.
A Leafy Retreat
On occasion I have inadvertently woken her from a well-deserved nap:
Wakey Wakey!
But for the most part, we make a great team. Roberta is definitely a believer in "Tough Love," and if I'm freaking out and not taking the time I need to release my anxious emotions, she just gets right in my face and doesn't let up until I do what I need to do, even though that means she's going to be crushed. She's a brave and generous soul.
Not taking "No" for an answer, young lady
And don't let the firm set of her jaw fool you--she loves her some silly fun, and no one can play hide-and-seek like Roberta:
Very clever, but maybe still struggling with the concept of transparency
By now I am sure you are asking, "How do I get my own Anxiety Faerie?"

Well, I'll tell you, it's really quite simple. If you are 1) pure of heart, and 2) wicked anxious, simply click here --> SNOTNORMAL <-- and follow the instructions of the incomparable Di: "Poke around and pick something out." You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Self-Discipline. Of a sort.

Bird on Some Wire (Sold)
I am still working my way through my pendant stash. This necklace started with a bird element in raku by Duane Collins of Elements Pottery. I suspended it from a large brass ring I soldered myself (yay!), and surrounded it with recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads, lava, moss agate, more brass, and more artisan elements--a clay pottery bead by JJPotteryBeads and a "belly" dangle by Petra Carpreau of ScorchedEarthonEtsy.

Where does the "self-discipline" come in, you say? Well, lately, after finishing a necklace, I have been marching right back to my pendant bin to choose another pendant, which I then put on my workbench, and there it stays until it becomes a full-blown necklace. And they haven't been staying there for months, as has been the case in the past, but just a week or two. I do not put it back in the bin if I'm temporarily stymied; I keep laboring stubbornly away at it. In fact, I reworked the pendant portion on the bird necklace above like seven times. (I feel less inhibited about doing that when I'm using waxed linen and I have entire spools of it--it's not like cutting up sterling silver wire.)
The next item I pulled out of my pendant bin was a stunning geometric pendant in raku-glazed porcelain from SpinningStarStudio. I even had raku spacers from the same shop. I started right away with the big dotted lampwork focal, and added this and that. It sat on the ottoman for a week, and every night when I got home from work I would stare at it and change around the beads. This is like the umpteenth "dry fit" version of this before I knotted it. Then I reworked the pendant portion a few times as well (AFTER it was knotted together), literally cutting it up and changing it.
High Priestess of Something-or-Other
The lampwork bead, believe it or not, is from Michael's (it was one of three items in the bead section that were not atrocious--the Michael's franchise did NOT score a win with our new local store). The other turquoise stones are genuine turquoise (a local bead shop bought them in bulk and I loaded up on several strands), two earthy bulls-eye donuts from Jana of HappyFishWithHeart attached back to back, sand-hued seed beads from Happy Mango Beads, a little silver and a little copper, a few square raku spacers also from SpinningStarStudio, and some altered bone spacers (I sanded, scored, and antiqued them to coordinate with Jana's donuts). I knotted it all onto black waxed linen cording, and finished it off with some Greek leather and copper chain. It is long. Priestess-long. I'm into that lately....It is actually NOT sold, and is available HERE.

I picture it layered with other necklaces. The way a Priestess of Something-or-Other might do.
With a long tunic. Or a floor length Priestess dress.
I got a little carried away.

I also thought I might make a bracelet to go with my Annie Oakley necklace (see my previous post). I rather like the bracelet more than the necklace! In fact it may upstage the necklace a bit.
Annie Oakley's Wrist (SOLD)
I picture it on her slender wrist as she lines up her shot....
(I am thrilled to be finally achieving my half-hearted goal of using my hoard of drilled beach stones from StoneStudiosToo. So hard to let them go...Gorgeous mother of pearl buttons from OritDotan.)

Right now I have a sweet little round pendant by Mary Welsh Hubbard of White Clover Kiln sitting on my work table, with a half-formed idea in my head for it. I WILL PREVAIL!!! And after that I really gotta make some earrings.