My journey with beads

Someone recently asked me how I got started making jewelry.  So I have reflected on my journey with beads and thought I would share it.  

First, I started to create some simple jewelry pieces.  It began when we were going out to a special dinner and I felt I did not have the right piece of jewelry.  I had just visited a bead shop for the first time because I was asked to incorporate some beads in a cross stitch design that I was creating for a local needle craft store.  And well….  I couldn’t get all of those beads out of my head. 

I didn’t know anything about jewelry making..  what do you use to string the beads on?  How do you end the piece?  So armed with an antique button, I went back to the bead shop and bought some stone beads and silver beads and got a hasty how to and went home and created this piece.  Little did I know the journey had just begun.

my journey with beads - the first piece

I had no plans to sell my work.  It was just fun creating.  But then I discovered lampworking and for the first time found a medium that I loved.  Glass is mesmerizing.  You work it hot in the flame and sometimes the colors change when the piece cools.  It is mysterious.  It has a mind of it’s own.  And I set out to conquer it.

Fall in Tucson

It’s still in the 90’s but the sun is not as strong and the mornings and evenings feel cooler.  The fun weather of Tucson is about to begin.  The barrels are blooming….  

The blooms are absolutely gorgeous

A few more weeks in the pool.

Then it will be time to think about the fire pit and lovely evenings under the sparkly sky.

We have a vacation coming up. 

Culture and cuisine….  an expedition with National Geographic.

My psyche continues to heal.

Making art is my salvation.

new tag

But I feel the need to banish her again

banish

 

Do you ever wonder why lizards do push-ups?

lizards

This is just one of the juicy local wildlife questions that keeps me awake at night -tossing and turning, kicking the covers off, – and making it impossible to rest.  I need to get to the bottom of this mystery.  

So thanks to the Discovery Channel I discovered it’s the male lizards that engage in this push up activity (of course it is); and all he wants is attention.

Every morning I open the garage door – this is where I do my morning weight routine arm exercises.  And there he is sitting on a rock on all fours pushing and bobbing  – up and down and up and down.

I imagine all the lady lizards are out there swooning.  Yeah, we see ya big boy!

So aren’t you glad you came over to read my blog today.  Now you too can rest well tonight.

 

Lampworked beads for my artist jewelry

So you all know that I have a real passion for creating glass art in the flame of my torch.  (20 years and still torching)

To show off these exquisite glass beads and cabochons I soon branched out to jewelry design.  Simple pieces.  The glass was the star. 

Well as all things in life change; my artistic jewelry designs have really evolved too.  I still create jewelry designs that show off glass, but I also create jewelry designs that show off my expression of the deserts of the Southwest.  Which means sometimes it’s just the metal that speaks to me and sometimes gemstones and sometimes glass and sometimes all three.

I started adding metals to my glass in the torch to give the glass an earthy feel and to create colors that were totally mine.  The colors become more muted, and I can actually make the glass look like the stones and rocks found in the desert.  

Adding pure silver to the glass (in the form of silver leaf and foil) is a favorite thing I like to do.  I take a glass rod of ivory.  Wrap silver leaf around it.  Burn the leaf off.  And then pull a stringer.  Then I use this stringer to decorate the beads in the flame.

Here is a favorite design using that “silvered ivory stringer”.

artist jewelry

I love 

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

I have been working on how to banish her

banish

 

 

Desert Inspiration

It’s springtime in the desert and all of the plants are really showing off this year…..  and blooming early.

Inspiration on my side porch

We have a small porch off of our bedroom and when I first moved into the house in Tucson I nicknamed it the Margarita Porch.  It faces west so I thought sitting on that porch watching the sunset with a margarita would be absolutely nirvana.  But as it would happen sipping the margaritas from the pool or hot tub became the place instead.

So this little porch has sat unadorned until a few weeks ago my husband thought it would be a good idea to create some container gardens….

For the first one we got some cactus and succulent plants and this is what happened this week.

desert inspiration

 

 

desert inspiration

WOW!

The plant is called Echinopsis.

It’s nickname is Easter Lily Cactus

the flowers … they are extraordinary. Often 4″, 5″ or even 6″ in diameter

and frequently much larger than the cactus that produced them. 

Such a shame the flowers only last a day after opening,

but I am thankful to have captured its beauty

Echin” comes from the Greek word “Ekihnos,” which meant both sea urchin and hedgehog.

The “opsis” at the end of Echinopsis is another Greek word, one which means “resembling” or “appearance.” 

And it is definitely desert inspiration for some art jewelry.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Have a superb weekend!!

Walking

Walking For Exercise

Last February I started a walking regimen to get myself in better shape.  I like to walk on the treadmill for about 30 minutes four times a week.  I start with a low incline and do a 15 minute mile.  The machine tells me that I am burning about 170 calories.  And I feel really good since I have implemented this routine.

Walking For Enjoyment

On Sundays my husband and I and our dog Homer like to take a longer leisure walk.  Now that it’s winter it is sometimes dark in the morning when we start out.  The bonus is seeing the sunrise over the mountains by our house. Awesome!

walking at sunrise

Definitely inspiration!

creating the desert in glass and metal

Chimayo weaving

Chimayo History

Weaving was practiced by the Pueblo and Navajo Indians of North America, but the introduction of sheep to the area by the Spaniards in 1700 transformed their art of weaving.  Even after weaving diminished one settlement kept up the tradition and now Chimayo blankets have become known all over the civilized world.

Chimayó’s weavers rely on locally available wool and cotton yarns. The wool is gathered from Churro sheep,

Churro sheep

whose undyed wools display a stunning variation of ecru, cream, brown and black. Many natural plant dyes are used to expand the color palette to include the desert hues of the New Mexico landscape and sky.

I recently saw a Chimayo “striped” blanket in the Pendelton catalog – which I love.

chimayo blanket

And it became inspiration for a crochet bracelet that I just finished.  This crochet bracelet is made with size 11/0 seed beads and some Swarovski crystal.  I finished it with a lampwork bead from my Desert Bloom series.

Chimayo inspired bracelet

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

Shape Shifter

the Phenomenon

the words Shape shifter to the Native American people is mysterious and illusive.  Shape shifting occurs in their culture in dance and song , in healing and hunting.  It is quite natural for them to feel at one with the animal sounds they are chanting.  When he wears feathers or skins he takes on the graceful form and becomes that animal.

Of course shape shifter also had a dark side.  There is a story with a history as long as that of the Native Americans themselves: the skinwalkers. Witches who practiced black magic, were said to have the ability to shapeshift into any animal they chose. Such people were called skinwalkers, and if one was suspected, it was legal to kill them on sight. Skinwalkers would take the hide of a wolf or coyote, put it on, and were said to physically transform into that animal. They would appear slightly too large, disproportionate, and have red glowing eyes. They left oversized animal footprints. When in human form, skinwalkers used various spells and potions to sicken and kill those around them. And as animals, they were fierce, vicious, and bloodthirsty. Hardly any creature in the folklore of the Native Americans was as feared as the skinwalker.

I have been inspired by the lore of the Shape Shifter  for this necklace and bracelet set.

Shape Shifter

It is best explained by watching this video……………….

creating the desert in glass and metal

Desert Inspiration

Desert Inspiration at my house

I love early spring in the desert.  Cool evenings, warm days (but not too hot).  And life begins to bloom….  Just wanted to share some images

Saddle Rings

Everybody knows that a saddle is a supportive structure for a rider, fastened to an animal’s back.  It is an iconic symbol of the west.

saddle

 

Interpreting the West in Jewelry

Saddle rings are an interpretation of this western icon and many saddle rings are set with turquoise and have even been dubbed the “Western cocktail ring”.  (photo from internet)

saddle ring with turquoise

 

My Saddle Ring

I have just finished reorganizing my metals studio, and it is a pleasure to work in again without all the clutter.  Here is a saddle ring that I just finished.  It has 2 pieces of textured metal with a circle of twisted wire separating them.  The band was created separately and soldered on.  I plan to create the next ring as one piece.

saddle ring by Louise Little

The 2 pieces of metal were sweat soldered together.  I love taking online classes to help me perfect techniques.  And I just finished a course with Connie Fox on sweat soldering.  The course helped me to finesse my execution of some simple sweat soldering joins.  The class is on Craft University if you want to check it out.

Can’t wait to make another.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Monsoon Season in Tucson

Monsoon

Monsoon

A monsoon is caused by warm air creating surface low pressure zones that in turn draw moist air from the oceans.

So you wonder how can Arizona have a monsoon season?

In the summer Arizona winds shift to a southeasterly wind bringing moisture from the Gulfs of Mexico and California. The wind shift and increase in moisture combine with the surface low pressure from the desert heat to produce storms usually a heavy rainfall in the late afternoon or evening. Before the rain there is usually increased wind.  And most of the time the monsoon cools the temperature down.

I like the monsoon season in Tucson which is said to last from June 15th to September 15th.  The rains help my garden and the cooling temps are nice.  But the colors in the skies are awesome and provide lots of inspiration for beads and jewelry.

Monsoon

Jewelry Inspired by the Monsoon colors

monsoon bracelet

Here is a crocheted bracelet inspired by our monsoon weather.  The beads were strung on a charcoal gray thread and crocheted over a sterling silver wire which gives this bangle structure.  Finished with sterling silver bead caps and 2 lampworked beads.  The beads are approximately 3/4″ of clear glass with flashes of pink and orange in the raised dots.  Lots of gorgeous chatoyency in those dots.  It fits an average wrist.

creating the desert in glass and metal