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

 

Yucca Leaf – inspiration for the fall 2017 collection

yucca leaf

Yuccas have long sword-shaped leaves with pointed tips. The leaves are often about 1 to 3 feet in length. Numerous yucca leaves grow in a rosette formation from a thick base.  

 I tell you this because I used the yucca leaf as the inspiration for many pieces in the Fall 2017 Harmony Collection.  I am showing you a photo of a yucca necklace with a handmade glass cabochon.  

yucca leaf necklace

This yucca necklace is a series of links in sterling silver cold connected together to form a collar necklace.  It is lightweight, and very easy to wear.  This yucca necklace has a lampworked cabochon from the Desert Bloom series.

The necklace can be found here

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Design Element Inspiration

Artists can be fickle

Artists generally love their freedom. They want to experiment. They love a challenge. They crave variety. All that is good.  Except the artist wants their work to be recognizable.

I am very guilty about freedom in my creativity.  I like to try new techniques.  I love taking classes and trying new things.  I tend to get bored easily and want to move on.

But this year the word I chose was “focus”; and that is what I am trying to achieve these days – a cohesive line of jewelry incorporating my glass beads and metal – all inspired by my love of the desert. 

I would like you to see a piece of jewelry and say – “Oh, that’s a Louise Little design”

Repition is Reputation

I have a clear vision for my upcoming “Harmony” collection.  And I can’t wait to share it.

the harmony collection incorporates the sword like leaf of the yucca as a design element inspiration

One of the shapes I am experimenting with for this upcoming collection is the leaf from the yucca plant.  I love everything about this plant.  But the leaf is very special.  It is sword like and distinctive.  And is the basis for a lot of the design elements in this fall’s collection “Harmony”.

 

Here is a sneak peek at a pair of earrings……

these earrings use a design element inspired by the sword like leaf of the yucca plant

Harmony is set to launch on September 6th, 2017

in a brand new shop

Hope to see you there

creating the desert in glass and metal

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

 

 

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

 

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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!!

Sketching

Sketching My Jewelry Designs

If you read about my Four Corners series you saw that I designed the template on the computer because I wanted symmetry and precision.  Sometimes organic sketching will do.  I am designing a series of rings that will utilize some awesome turquoise cabs that I got at the gem shows last year.  And I want the design to be more organic so I just sketched some possibilities on graph paper.

sketching

This turquoise is exquisite and the photo taken with my iphone just doesn’t capture them properly.  I will photograph the rings once they are finished.  By the way the orange stone is spiny oyster.  Also exquisitely cut.

The sketch is necessary to make sure that the stone fits the way I want it to on the backplate.  I usually sketch 1:1 but sometimes if there is detail I will blow up the design so that I can sketch details better.

Another big decision coming up is sizing the rings…  I think this time I will make several size ring shanks but not solder the top on til it is purchased so that the client can get the ring they want in the size they need.  I can do that for online sales but not for rings that go to a gallery.  The stones are one of a kind and will go into one of a kind rings.  

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

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

Mesa Necklace with Hollow Bead

Mesa Necklace with hollow bead

This necklace has a sterling silver pendant etched with a hand drawn image inspired by the mesas of Arizona.  I added an amber hollow bead.

The necklace is long without a clasp – great for layering on a fall sweater

The necklace measures 28 inches

The silver pendant and bead add another  3 inches

The pendant measures 3/4 inch by 2 inches

The lampworked bead measures 14mm by 20mm

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

It’s in my Etsy shop now

creating the desert in glass and metal

Four Corners – a new series

New Project – Four Corners

I am currently starting to work on a new series – the Four Corners – so I thought I would take you along on the journey from beginning to end.  So first is the inspiration.  Something pops into my mind that I want to explore.  This time its the Four Corners.  The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico.  It is the only location in the United States where four states meet. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations. The Four Corners region is part of a larger region known as the Colorado Plateau and is mostly rural, rugged, and arid. In addition to the monument, commonly visited areas within Four Corners include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The most populous city in the Four Corners region is Farmington, New Mexico, followed by Durango, Colorado.

Four Corners

I decided that the first piece of jewelry I wanted to create is a ring.  I also decided that I wanted this ring design to be adjustable because they are easier for clients to purchase than a fixed size ring.  I plan to wear this ring on my middle finger which I know its a size 7 – ish so the ring shank has to be about 58mm.  The ring would not have much of an opening for a size 7 but could be adjusted wider up to maybe an 8.5 where there would be a little space in the band where it met on the backside of the finger.  Then I decided I wanted this ring to be one piece instead of a shank and a top.  In order to get a template I like to design in Adobe Illustrator.  By no means am I an expert on this software, but I can get some simple designs sketched this way and then they are easily printed off so I can reproduce the design without having to start drawing from scratch.

four corners design

I then print the design and cut the shape out and try it on to make sure it is what I had in mind.

four corners template

I have decided that I am going to add wire embellishments along the shank and from top to bottom which will define the four quadrants.  And I drew in 4 dots where I am contemplating adding 4 stones using a gypsy setting.  I have done a gypsy setting only a few times and not in awhile so this will be a little challenge for me.  Also forming this syle ring takes a little patience and strength.  But it will be fun.

four corners

Yep… just what I wanted..

creating the desert in glass and metal