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


Higher Prices for Pearls at the Gem Shows

At February’s Tucson gem shows, prices of white freshwater pearls were significantly higher than in years past. I asked my favorite vendor why and he said that Asian consumers are the reason.

Top-quality round white freshwaters are the most expensive and toughest pearls to obtain. Plus, production of bead-nucleated pearls is up, as is demand for bigger sizes.

I personally like large baroque fresh water pearls with a shimmer of color.  An even though I found some beautiful pearls the price was almost double from last year.

The unique luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. The iridescence that pearls display is caused by the overlapping of successive layers, which breaks up light falling on the surface.  The very best pearls have a metallic mirror-like luster.

Here is a bracelet I made with a 16mm baroque freshwater pearl with a glorious luster and lots of flashes of color.


I added 2 of my lampworked beads and a 22K gold spacer bead and strung the bracelet on a stretchy cord.

( see my video about stretchy bracelets)

I love the ease of wearing a bracelet like this and it really adds a little class to any outfit – including jeans.  All the colors of an Arizona sunset.

creating the desert in glass and metal

A challenge – but it’s finished

Nevada Silver Pendant Necklace – finished

This piece was definitely a challenge, but I finished it yesterday and I am very happy with the results.  First the sketch


The glass piece was a Nevada Silver lampworked pendant I made a few weeks ago.  I wanted to cap it with sterling silver and hang it from a silver hollow form piece that I would fabricate and then set a labradorite stone that I had purchased recently – which really complemented the glass.  Then I would finish it with a hand made chain.

Here’s the finished piece

challenge pendant

Fabricating the hollow form in sterling was definitely the challenge.  Before you solder it you must drill a hole in order for the air to escape when it’s heated and prevent the piece from exploding.  The soldering went fine.  But then you pickle it and I realized the hollow form was now filled with pickle (an acid solution used to clean the silver).  OK so I soaked the piece in water and baking soda and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed.  But of course some water was still in there; so I finally had to dry the piece on a hot plate to get rid of all the moisture.  A good solution to the problem but it took forever, and I had to do it each time I soldered.  I didn’t want to risk heating the piece and vaporizing acid!!!

I had to solder the bezel twice as there was a very tiny gap.  So I got more solder inside the bezel than I had planned.  And then the stone wouldn’t fit.  Arrrggggh! I spent a fair amount of time cleaning out the excess solder but the stone was still just a little too tight.  Luckily I had just watched a video by Melissa Muir where she forms and polishes a glass cab.  Ummm  So I ordered the appropriate wheels for my jool tool and in 20 seconds had removed just enough of the cab for it to fit perfectly.  Plus I now can finish my own glass cabs…..   but that will be another post later.

Finally I fused Argentium silver jump rings to make the hand made chain.

It took a week, but it’s done.  I learned a lot and I love the piece.  I don’t think I can part with it….  So I’ll have to make another for the shop.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Nevada Silver

Nevada Silver History

Silver mining in Nevada began in 1858 with the discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver-mining district in the United States. Nevada calls itself the “Silver State.”  When I started lampworking in 1996 I was living in Las Vegas, Nevada.  When I started adding metals to my glass I named the resulting beads after Nevada’s silver mining…

These Nevada Silver beads can be used as spacers, bracelet beads, or in a long chain.  Very versitile.  I love that I am focusing on these silvered beads.  These beads a neutral and pair well with almost anything.

New jewelry soon in my shop…

Nevada Silver small beads

Sneak Peak

A bracelet with the small Nevada Silver Beads and cast Shibuichi lady bugs….

Nevada Silver bracelet

creating the desert in glass and metal

just finished

photo of new project just finished

Bead Crochet Necklace

Just finished another project.

If you follow my blog you know that I love to crochet with beads and these “fat” crocheted necklaces are fun to make because I love designing the pattern.  This pattern is based on a native American design called “Walk in Beauty“.  Usually these necklaces are finished with a magnetic clasp and are quite a statement just by themselves.  But this time I wanted to incorporate my hollow glass beads.  So I came up with this design… that is very easy to wear ….. as it just wraps around your neck.  No clasps.  Because the large lampworked beads are hollow the necklace is still light.

Crocheting with beads is a nice project I can do while traveling.  And I have had a busy travel schedule for the last few months.  I do hate stringing on all the beads though – about 3800 in total.  But once that is done the project can travel with me.  It’s time to get another one strung.

just finished wrap necklace


If you want to learn how to bead crochet I recommend this book….Bead Crochet Ropes

And I have a free pattern for a large diameter rope here.

creating the desert in glass and metal


Corona – an aura that surrounds the sun……………..

Corona pendant

New Series

Fresh from the studio a sterling silver pendant with mystic topaz and a handmade lampworked bead.  The awesome patina is on the front and I have left the back a satin finish.

creating the desert in glass and metal

New from the studio

New work from the studio

New Work from the studio

The Painted Desert Bracelet – each one a journey of desert colors and textures.  What’s fun about these bracelets is the copper tubing with a bead that has a large hole. As you wear the bracelet that bead can slide back and forth and that movement just makes me happy.

This particular bracelet has two of my lampworked beads from the “opal’ series.  Perfect for October, as opal is the birthstone for October and the astrological sign Libra.  And  that’s me…. born in October and a true Libra.  The toggle is old world bronze – purchased at a wonderful bead store in Scottsdale, AZ – the Scottsdale Bead Supply.  The pearls have been in my stash for awhile – organic sticks drilled at the top in the most glorious shade of burgundy with flashes of peacock and purple.  Finished with some copper beads, Swarovski crystals, and Swarovski rhinestone rondelle beads.

Just put three of them in my Big Cartel Shop.

new work

creating the desert in glass and metal


Andamooka OpalOpal – Birthstone of October

The gemstone opal is the official October birthstone adopted by the American Association of Jewelers in 1912.  It is also the birthstone for the zodiac sign Libra.  Opal is believed to aid inner beauty, faithfulness and eyesight.

Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica containing about 10% water.  The internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed, it can take on many colors. Precious opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black.
The picture above is Queen Elizabeth’s  Andamooka opal.  It weighs 203 carats and was presented to the Queen in 1954 by Australia.

So, scientifically speaking, opals are:

“Tightly packed, regular rows of amorphous silicates (Hydrated Silica (SiOH2o)) that are 5 to 10% water, cut and polished to reflect diffracted light back to the eye.”

Boulder Opal

“Boulder opal” is a term used for a rough or a cut gemstone that displays opal within its surrounding rock matrix. Opal often forms within voids or fractures in its host rock and specimens of boulder opal reveal this aspect of opal’s origin. The contrast of color can be striking when a bright flash of opal is seen within a the surrounding rock material. Many people enjoy the natural appearance of boulder opal and find these gemstones to be beautiful, interesting and educational.

Glass Mimics Opals

Of course there are man made “opals” – from glass.  Dragon’s Breath “opal” has been around for years and was used in costume jewelry.  It’s glass that was made to mimic Mexican Fire opal and has flashes of blue and purple.

Dragons breath opal


There is also “opal moonstone”  or sometimes called opalite.  But this is glass too.



And lampworkers love to make “opals”.

Here are some beads from my “opal series.  love the chatoyancy

lampwork beads opal series



Just finished some bracelets using these beads…..  stay tuned

creating the desert in glass and metal

Necklace – a new design

collage of a new necklace design

Fresh Design From the Studio

I have been in design mode lately.  I have made some new lampworked beads in the Painted Desert series.  And I  have been busy creating some new jewelry with those beads.  Today I am showing you this new necklace design.

You can see the inspiration in the upper left hand corner of the photo – three lovely barrel cacti sitting right in front of my studio.  The beads came first of course.  They are hollow.  And they are a little smaller measuring just about 3/4 of an inch.  I learned to make hollow beads back in 2001 on a regular mandrel by building up the sides of the beads and capturing some air which expands when heated.  But I was so eager to learn other techniques that I moved on quickly to other things.  More recently I took a class with Jari Sheese at the Bead and Button Show.  And I also purchased some wonderful “puffy mandrels”  which makes blowing the hollow bead a little easier.  Another Jeri (Jeri Warhaftig) designed these great mandrels.  Anyway, Jari makes some awesome beads and that inspired me to begin making hollow beads again.  I have made “cactus” beads a lot and usually decorate them with raised dots.  But this time I wanted to practice my stringer control so I “striped” on some silvered glass instead of dots.  I really got in the rhythm and made lots of these little beads.

Of course, I love to design jewelry using my glass beads.  And since I am having a trunk show Saturday at On the Edge Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, I wanted to create something new with these beads.  I get a lot of catalogs in the mail and see that large circle silver chain jewelry seems to be trendy right now.   I didn’t want the large link handmade chain to go all the way around ; I wanted it long; and I had to figure out how to place the beads.  I’m not sure how it came to me, but instead of soldered rings I coiled the balled wire and slipped the beads on that wire before attaching the next coil.  I found some awesome pyrite chain at the Tucson gem and Jewelry Shows so I finished the design with an endless length of that chain.  See the picture of it up close in the upper right.  I am very happy with the results.  You can see I am modeling it in the photo too.  It makes a great layering piece.

Now I just need to name it……  that is always so hard.   Feel free to leave me some suggestions.

creating the desert in glass and metal