A Bead Journey

Beads – How my passion got started

I have always done something crafty or artsy.  I wanted to go to art school but my parents thought that an art degree wouldn’t be practical.  

My grandmother taught me sewing.  She was a seamstress and worked in a sweatshop mill in upper state New York sewing clothing for a manufacturer until the mill moved south.  I even designed some clothing patterns.  She also taught me knitting.  And being me, I also taught myself to design some knitting patterns – pretty easy ones.  I took a painting class and it didn’t inspire me.  I loved doing needle work in the form of needlepoint and cross stitch.  I was designing cross stitch patterns for a shop in Las Vegas when we lived there.  The owner coaxed me to “name” my business and I chose Desert Bloom. Of course, I instantly designed a pattern in cross stitch for the business.  I showed it to Shirley, the shop owner, and she said “why don’t you add some beads to the design?”  

So I walked into a bead shop….OH MY!

bead journey

Beading can be overwhelming.  What technique did I want to start with?  I chose seed beads for the Desert Bloom cross stitch.  You might not be able to see them in the photo but they are there. And as soon as I finished that project I taught myself how to stitch designs and jewelry with seed beads. 

This is one of the first bracelets I made. (designed the pattern too).  And sold several hundred copies of this pattern online.  I decided that trying to sell the finished product was not feasible.  It takes a long time to complete, and I would never get the price to compensate for the hours of work.

bead journey

I designed more patterns, but I was having a hard time finding button closures.  In the meantime my youngest daughter was in college in Portland, OR and I went up to visit.  I had some time that weekend and decided to attend the Embellishment conference at the Convention Center.  And that is when I saw my first lampworked bead.  Of course I was familiar with Venetian beads.  But the lampwork beads I saw at this convention were tiny works of art.  And I was hooked.  And my journey with glass began in 1997.creating the desert in glass and metal

Spirals

spiralThe spiral is an ancient symbol. It appeared thousands of years ago in southwestern Native American tribal areas on cave walls and on ancient pottery.  I have read that spirals can mean water, or wind.  The spiral also symbolized a way of planting, starting at the center and moving out in circles as they planted. In Navajo this was called ha’oolmaaz
And the spiral can also be representative of man’s journey on earth.

Spirals in my Art Jewelry

Since a lot of my inspiration comes from the southwestern deserts I use the spiral a lot in my bead designs and silver jewelry.  It’s a soothing stroke to create in glass.

spiral,labyrinth ring

 

Man in the Maze

The Man in the Maze is a type of  labyrinth, represented in the basket making and silversmithing of the American Southwest, especially among the Tohono O’Odham nation.  It usually is characterized by seven concentric circles.  There are many stories about the meaning of the Man in the Maze. Interpretations of the image vary from family to family, and the symbolism is a sacred belief. A common interpretation that the human figure represents the O’odham people. The maze signifies the difficult journey toward finding deeper meaning in life. The twists and turns refer to struggles and lessons learned along the way. At the center of the maze is a circle, which stands either for death or for the ultimate realization of identity or eternity.

I participated in a collaboration with bead artist Heidi Kummli several years ago.  I provided lampworked beads and she created a necklace with them.  The theme of the collaboration was wind, earth, fire and water. I provided her with 5 beads –  the bottom of the piece was one of my artifact beads with a spiral in silver.

spiral

creating the desert in glass and metal

the Shaman

What is a Shaman?

Hi everyone, I want to talk a little mysticism today.  So I want to delve into a discussion of what exactly is a shaman.

Webster defines a shaman as a priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.  

I’m pretty sure when you hear the word “shamanism,” you might picture feather headdresses, buffalo hides, medicine wheels and dream-catchers—all images associated with Native American cultures. But contrary to popular opinion, a “shaman” is not an Indian medicine man, and “shamanism” is not a Native American religion. In fact, many Native Americans find the terms “shaman” and “shamanism” offensive. The word “shaman” actually originates among the natives of Siberia, where it describes a specialized type of holy person. The shamans of Siberia interact with deities and spirits not only with prayer, ritual and offerings, but also through direct contact with the spirits themselves.

Wow, I’m glad to research this as I didn’t know that.

I was using the word shaman to indicate a symbol used by a medicine man or healer in the Native American culture.  In fact there are several symbols used in Native American spirituality. but calling them shaman is not correct. 

Kachina

A Kachina is a spirit being in western Pueblo beliefs. Kachinas are believed to reside with the tribe for half of each year. They will allow themselves to be seen by a community if its men properly perform a traditional ritual while wearing kachina masks and other regalia. The spirit-being depicted on the mask is thought to be actually present with or within the performer, temporarily transforming him.  

Kachinas are also depicted in small, heavily ornamented carved-wood dolls, which are traditionally made by the men of a tribe and presented to girls (boys receive bows and arrows). These wooden dolls are used to teach the identities of the kachinas and the symbolism of their regalia. The identity of the spirit is depicted not by the form of the doll’s body, which is usually simple and flat, but primarily by the applied color and elaborate feather, leather, and, occasionally, fabric ornamentation of its mask.

There are many types of kachinas – for instance bean kachina is used for making crops grow.  And buffalo kachina assures that there will be plentiful food in the winter.

A Kachina in my work

Awhile back I made this piece which I love to wear on special occasions.  I am glad to know that it would be considered a Kachina.  I have designated it blue sky kachina.  Wear it and all your days will have blue skys.

First I made the pendant.

Then the necklace

shaman kachina

carnelian and turquoise….

I designed it so you can wear it with or without the pendant

the pendant will slide on the necklace

 

kachina shaman

kachina shaman

I consider this a prototype…  

definitely more kachinas to come


So the rebranding is progressing

new wesite

new shop

stay tuned  for September

and if you want I’ll keep you posted

 

blog post button

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

Ochre – I love this color

ochre

I love this color.  I call it ochre or mustard.

And I really consider this color to be a neutral at times.

So do you love it or hate it?

Both of my children are blond and blue eyed – so it’s not on their favorite color list.

 

What is ochre?

Ochre is a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide, which ranges in color from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colors produced by this pigment.  A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as “red ochre”.  Wow, I just wrote a blog about my love of hematite and now I find that ochre and hematite are related.  

To top it off another one of my favorite things is rock art…  and guess what.  The predominant colors used in rock art and cave art are black(from charcoal, soot, or manganese oxide), yellow ochre (limonite), red ochre (hematite or baked limonite), and white (kaolin clay, burnt shells, powdered gypsum, or powdered calcium carbonate).

Roussillion, France

ochre

 

The ochre of the Luberon fascinates.  Proudly perched on a hilltop, Roussillon overlooks the first quarries carved out over two centuries ago. The red of the cliff faces certainly explains the attraction of this village which is the only one located in the heart itself of the ochre deposits.

These natural pigments have been used since prehistoric times. Then in 1780, Jean Etienne Astier from the village of Roussillon discovered that, after processing, ochre became an inalterable and non-toxic dye.  He became the first ochre extractor in France.  The pigment is used in the making of stucco for the Provençal houses, because it is heat and sun resistant.

I visited Provence a few years back and we visited the quarrys at Roussillion.  I even bought some powdered ochre.

me in the ochre quarry

 

Ochre and jewelry making

I use ochre in my art jewelry fabrication when I solder.  By applying a paste of ochre to solder joins it acts as an inhibitor and prevents solder flowing onto places you do not want the solder.  Great stuff.

Thanks for visiting.  

If you got to this post from social media you might want to consider to subscribe to my blog. 

 

Just Click the button below

 

 

blog post button

creating the desert in glass and metal

Hematite – a stone I love to wear

hematite - photo of cabochons for art jewelry

Designing with Hematite

Aren’t those stones just fantastic?

I love wearing hematite.  The color is fantastic….  not quite black more a steel gray.  I also like to patina my silver to a dark gray so making these stones pop is going to present me with a little problem I have to solve.

I could use a gold bezel and I have ordered some.  Of course that is going to make the price of the piece significantly higher even though gold prices have gone down a little.  A foot of gold bezel wire just cost me $85.00.  But I will figure it all out…. that’s half of the fun.

About Hematite

Hematite is an iron oxide mineral (not a crystal) with a very unique look that is hard to confuse with any other stone. The name hematite comes from the latin word “blood stone”, because when it’s found naturally and broken open, it has a layer of rust on the inside.

Hematite is probably the most common stone used to balance and calm people. This is because hematite is very grounding, and helps to keep the mind focused on the moment. This stone is considered to be closely related to the root chakra.

Since hematite is such a powerful grounding energy, it’s great to use when things are overwhelming or you feel like you can’t think straight.

Specular Hematite

The photo above is some Specular hematite that I have purchased over the years.  Specular Hematite crystal is also called Specularite and is a beautiful variety of hematite that has a rich metallic luster on a sparkling silvery polished surface. Specular Hematite stone encourages you to to release judgement about whether you are spiritual or not. It reminds you to pursue your dreams.  It can help you release self-recrimination about your spiritual growth and self worth.

Right now I have six rings and one pendant in process using these 7 stones.  Part of the new collection which will be unveiled in September.  I know that seems really far off.  But I am rebranding at the same time as I work on this collection…  so I’m updating my website, building a new online store for a better customer experience.  And then there is all the other stuff that needs to get ordered… new business cards, packaging, and more.  Plus some holiday time over the summer…..  So September is really not that far away.  Whew I’ve got a lot to do.

Thanks for looking.  The rings will be made in various sizes, so if you see a particular stone now and want a certain size ring let me know.

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

The Beatles Or the Stones – leave me a comment who you prefer

beatles or stones

Beatles or Stones

Well, I was 17 when the Beatles and then the Stones invaded the US.

I like them both. 

But overwhelmingly I am a Beatles fan.

I think there has always been a battle between these two groups especially as they traded weeks at Number 1 on the charts in the 60’s. 

But I look at the Beatles as a pop group and the Stones as a rock band. 

Sorta like the boys next door and the bad boys.  I was a sucker for the boy next door.

The Beatles were just ahead of the Rolling Stones,

and you might not know this but John Lennon and Paul McCarney agreed to write an original single for the Rolling Stones called “I Wanna Be Your Man”.

The song gave the Stones their first commercial success and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began writing as well.

Regardless of who you prefer the sixties really had great music!

beatles or stones

 

 

Louise in the 60's

ME – 1964

creating the desert in glass and metal

Orange is the New Black – and so much more

I Love Orange

If Your Favorite Color is Orange…..

you are warm, optimistic, extroverted and often flamboyant.

You are friendly, good-natured and a generally agreeable person.

You are assertive and determined rather than aggressive

you are more light-hearted and less intense than those who love red.

Orange aids in the assimilation of new ideas and frees the spirit of its limitations, giving us the freedom to be ourselves. At the same time it encourages self-respect and respect of others.

Orange is a warm and inviting color

it is both physically and mentally stimulating, so it gets people thinking and talking

The color orange radiates warmth and happiness, combining the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow.

While you may not exhibit all the character traits for a personality color orange as listed above, if orange is your favorite color you will find yourself somewhere in the description.

orange

 

Follow me on Pinterest

creating the desert in glass and metal

Ode to Summer in Tucson

Summer is Coming in Tucson

It’s May 1st

Hurry up

Pack those bags

The temp is gonna reach 100 soon

summer

For many of my friends

Who sought the wintery sunshine of Tucson

Back home is starting to look good again

summer

 

So they are saying goodbye to the hot hot sunshine to come

They bid me adios

They say to me “see ya in October”

Pretty soon the low will be 75

And I need to be outta here

summer

 

Hurry up snowbird

It’s time to fly from Tucson

summer

But I live here for all 12 months

I love the heat

After all – it’s a dry heat

summer

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

Chain – an essential for jewelry

Chains for my art jewlery

Everybody has chains in their jewelry armory.  You can wear them alone…  layer them… add a pendant.  They really are essential.

And there are thousands of commercial chain styles out there.  

Sometimes I buy chain by the foot to put with handmade pieces of my art jewelry.  I then add my own clasp or I segment it with handmade lampworked beads.  Buying commercial chain helps to keep the cost down of the piece of jewelry I am fabricating.

But sometimes a piece of art jewelry I make screams to have a special handmade chain; and for the last couple of days I have been hand making one for a pendant.  It is time consuming.

Cut the wire
Form the jump rings
Saw the jump rings (tedious)
Solder the jumprings
Make the clasp
Put it all together
Tumble it in shot for 8 hours (I don’t like to polish chain on a machine as it can be dangerous)

Here is a chain I am working on now.  Had to stop to order more wire…..  (It hasn’t been tumbled yet.)

chain

But I love the end result.

creating the desert in glass and metal

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!!