From the monthly archives: August 2010

Since it’s Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK, I’m doing a Sunday Browsing edition in its honour. The buzzword? ‘Rain’ (You might have to be British to appreciate the connection)

I’m strangely drawn to gourd art. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the idea of making art from a vegetable that appeals to me. Regardless, the gourd on the left by TheLandofHonahLee is adorable in his resigned grumpiness:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/49774353/when-it-rains-it-pours-gourd-goblin-art

MichelleProsek makes a lot of lovely glass pieces, but I was particularly taken with her ‘Rain’ series, where a handmade fused tile takes on another dimension with blown glass elements:

I imagine you have to have some pretty strong tools to make concrete into jewellery, but that’s DrCraze’s speciality. The silver grey inclusion in the raw material add to the ‘cloud’ texture and colouring in this really pretty pendant:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/54923626/white-cloud-in-concrete

This necklace by lulubugjewelry immediately caught my eye with fabulous combination of bright blue beads enclosed within a fine silver raindrop; I love the way the blue twinkles inside the silver:
I confess, I’ve never heard of a rain chain before, but this one by TwistsOnWire is beautiful, and I can certainly imagine how lovely raindrops would look glistening on the copper and coils:
 

Before I made beads, I made jewellery; not really surprising, since I would guess most beadmakers come to it having had their interest piqued by using beads in their own jewellery.

Now I make jewellery primarily to test out my own beads designs to make sure they’re suitable for others to use (well, sometimes I’ll make myself something pretty, or make presents for people). For example, my side-drilled coin beads work well for bracelets because they lie so flat against the wrist, whilst the centre-drilled ones are great as spacers or bumpers between larger beads in necklaces:

I never used to use polymer clay beads until I made them myself, so this process has also become a side-quest for the best way to incorporate them in designs (best being subjective, obviously). Here’s two examples of what I’ve found:

Because I make a lot of flower beads, I like to pair them with toggle clasps that echo this theme; toggles with leaves, vines and flowers themselves. It’s a way to add continuity to the beads, and give the item a bit more cohesion.
 
 

 

 
 
 
I also love using polymer clay beads for bracelets because of how light they are; I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, and when I do, I like to not notice it’s there unless I’m looking at it! Simple bracelets like the one to the left are great because there’s only the little jangle of jumprings, and the smooth, warm feel of polymer clay.
 

 

Anyone reading this knows by now that I love lampworking – whether it’s drooling over lampworked glass, or doing it myself (although that’s been given a rest for quite a while sadly). So today I’m sharing a selection of unusual beads and quirky lampworking ephemera I found while browsing Etsy (the task was made easier by searching through the ‘fhfteam 2010′ tagged listing – a team I joined which is devoted to glassy goodness ;) )

Violet – Sweet Glass Lady by OneHeartArt

I love lampwork goddess beads, but a part of me finds it a little disturbing that there’s a possible subtext behind a lot of them; the symbol of ‘woman’ reduced to her most stereotypically ‘female’ parts. Where are their heads, their hands, their faces, everything that makes them a person? Anyway, that’s a bit too thinky; my point was, this glass lady by OneHeartArt is interesting because she looks more like a person. Plus, on a more aesthetic level, the fabric effect on her coat is simply stunning:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/43339199/violet-sweet-glass-lady-artisan-glass

Kiln Fairy Magnet by BruntiesBeads
Here’s an essential offering to the most fickle of creatures, the kiln fairy, made into a pretty magnet. Many lampworkers are plagued by her whims, always facing the chance that their beautifully coloured bead will be transformed into mud, or horribly cracked by the kiln fairy. Of course, the kiln fairy taketh away, but she also giveths; sometimes a bead will metamorphize into something one couldn’t have imagined:
Giggles by Pandanimal

Giggles. Brings to mind cuteness, joy, a hint of bubbly abandon? These unusual beads by Pandanimal encapsulate the idea of a ‘giggle’, as cheery and bright as they are. They were made during a ‘playday’ with glass, which means you can almost *see* the fun behind them:

 
 
http://www.etsy.com/listing/50231195/girly-giggles-a-set-of-19-pink-lampwork

 

 
 

 
 
 

 

Lisbeth The Schnauzer by suzoom
There’s something about the expressions in Suzoom’s animal beads that gives them an amazing sense of character; my personal favourite is this Schnauzer, but I also found a gorgeous orca, cute cats, and a roadrunner in her collection!
 
 
Vial Lavender Glass Bead  by LavenderBeads

If you’ve ever read a business article, you’ll know that finding a niche is one of the keys to success. Well, LavenderBeads on Etsy has found a niche, cornered it, captured it, and made it work for her! There’s a cornucopia of beautiful glass lavender flower in all stages of growth, some beads, some vials, like these pictured:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/14450252/vial-lavender-glass-bead-in-purple-rose?ref=v1_other_2

I could have kept going on this theme, but I’ll save some for another time *G*

And finally, if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet there’s still time!

 

(Firstly:
I’m giving away beads. Did you know?)

You know what interesting? (Well for one thing, it’s interesting that when someone says somethings interesting, it’s usually not. Case in point here)

One polymer clay artist has told a story about how, completely isolated from the polymer clay community (this was pre-internet) she invented millifiori for polymer clay. Another site charts the history of cane-making, and attributes the discovery to another artist, at an earlier time. I would imagine there are even more people to whom this innovation is credited.

The interesting thing is, from my point of view, all these people did come up the idea, even though it may have been at slightly different times.

It’s that phenomenon where suddenly, an idea seems to be everywhere simultaneously, despite the fact that those who came to the idea may have never even interacted together (I’m not talking about people jumping on a fad here). A mathematician may say these are coincidences, and aren’t statistically significant; a spiritualist or psychoanalyst would point to synchronicity as the answer for the occurrence. I guess I would argue that in some cases the cultural direction and evolution of the particular time ‘lead’ people towards these discoveries.

On a slight tangent, I like the idea that people manage to keep inventing things independently, sometimes years after someone else has been credited for it. It’s nice to see that there is some kind of unconscious connectivity in humans. Also, it means that we can all be innovators for ourselves, and that I can totally claim I invented those little three-leaf clover wire link things, so no-one else better steal the idea from me ;) .

Well done if you got through that mental meandering by the way. You have succeeded where others have yawned and given up.

Here a picture of a bracelet to wake you up. Beads by Beaujolais Beads
 

Confession: I’m a sucker for tiny objects, or miniatures. I think there’s something fascinating about a piece you can hold in your had, but that still encapsulates the essence of its full-size brethren. (In other words – aw, cute!)

Kenya Vessel by Beaujolais Beads

For instance, this lampwork creation by Beaujolais Beads. The colours used and its lovely curves lend it an air of ancient Grecian drinking vessel in miniature; I’d love to see it hung from some golden ribbon, or matched with green semi-precious stones.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/50797565/kenya-hollow-lampwork-vessel-by

Edinburgh Police Box by Flycheesetoastie

Or this: that’s right, it’s a tiny glass Tardis (or an Edinburgh police box - but possessing a miniature Tardis is so much cooler). Flyingchessetoastie kiln cast this, and other tiny things, from lead crystal:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/48139319/miniature-edinburgh-police-box-in-glass

Saddled Pony by VibrantPony

Isn’t this pony by VibrantPony adorable? He’s got a vaguely worried yet hopeful expression on his face that makes me want to stroke his tiny neck and reassure him that everything’s okay:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/53463100/tiny-saddled-clay-pony

Skinny Stone House by RachelsThings
I’d love to live in one of RachelsThings precious metal clay houses. They’re the sort of buildings you’d expect to see illustrating a book for children – a little bit whimsical and Seussian (apparently that’s the word used by Dr. Seuss marketers…ah, the things you learn from food challenge shows). This one brings to mind an old mill building:
Bottle Earrigns by Starfirewire
Starfirewire has a variety of ‘bottle’ earrings, all filled with tiny treasures like cookies or sugar sprinkles, but my favourite is Emily’s Love Letters. The little letters are so made so skillfully that you want to try to open the bottles just to see what words are written there (or maybe I’m just nosy):

http://www.etsy.com/listing/51023643/emilys-love-letters-nostalgic-miniature

PS – have you entered the Bead Giveaway yet?

 

Yes, I’m doing a giveaway. Here’s the prize:

Ten handmade polymer clay coin beads (but the little wooden drawer is mine, sorry)

All you actually need to do to enter is this: tell me what your favourite flowers is in the comments field below. But if you’d like to sign up to my mailing list here http://eepurl.com/NY9p, that’d be really great, as would you following my blog, or spreading the word around :D

I’ll do a random-number drawing on the 2nd of September for the winner.

 

You know, some canes you make to use, and some you make just because you want to see if you can. I had a real longing to make a poppy cane a while ago, and ended up with this cane. I’m quite pleased with it, to say that I mapped/designed it myself: this was my third attempt – let’s just say I currently have a LOT of muddy red clay to use up due to this project!

It’s been languishing at the back of my box for a while, but I rooted it out today and it’s inspired me to try some more ‘realistic’ flower canes. Usually I make canes according to the pattern or colour I want, with little concern for them being anatomically correct!

Now I just have to figure out which flower to start with…

 

If you look over there, you’ll see I’ve added a place to sign up for my polymer clay beads mailing list —->

A mailing list is one of those things that looks really daunting and professional to me, so I’m a bit heistant putting one up for my shop (I try to make my customer service and products as professional as I can, but compared to a big business, I feel tiny and inconsequential!)

But, there it is. —->

 

One of the best parts of working with polymer clay for me is what happens when things don’t go as planned. (I hope the universe doesn’t take that to mean I want things to go wrong – I really, really don’t!)

When polymer clay takes an unwanted turn, one of the most basic and primal ways to deal with it is this: squishing. You take the misshappen piece into your hands, and you twist it and roll it and smush it and smear it until

a). you feel calm and oddly satisfied, and
b). you have a new, cool Thing.

The Thing might be as simple as a new shade or colour to use, or it might be a random abstract pattern that echoes your subconscious state of mind (or it might just be a lumpy goblin creature. Most of the time it’s a lumpy goblin creature)

Often, I’ll bake these types of Things, because there is no way I’d ever be able to recreate them, but they’re just so interesting; maybe there’s a Rorschach inkblot picture hidden somewhere, or a landscape. Sometimes, these ‘creations’ lead to me considering a theme or colour scheme I hadn’t thought of before, so it can lead to new things too.

I wonder what other creators/designers do when their pieces go wonky. I know lampworkers get the opportunity to plunge hot glass into a bucket of water and gleefully watch their frustration explode into a shower of frit, but it would be interesting to hear what others do for crafting catharsis *G*

 

This week I’m sharing Czech glass finds; although my main love is artisan lampwork glass, my first love was Czech glass beads.

I was worried when I started making jewellery that the beads I was using weren’t produced ‘ethically’ (as I’ve said before, that’s a sticky word!), so I looked around for supplies that were at least acceptable and found Czech glass. My reasoning was that, being produced in a European country, the working conditions for the makers are hopefully regulated much more closely than for those of other mass-produced beads.

Plus, beads under the heading of ‘Czech glass’ are usually really pretty :D

Anyway, enough of the ramble, here are some of my finds:

CJBeaders have some lovely chunky nugget-esque beads, in a vaguely triangular shape. The prettiest for me are the Lumi-Amethyst beads:

They also have a largish range of small glass leaves which look great scattered in nature-themed seed beading pieces:

Beads for Beaders offer various pressed-glass shapes including hearts and ‘duck bills’, but I love their melon beads the best:

Robin’s Beads have the oddly-named Angel Wing beads – I think of them more as jelly beans, but whatever they’re called, they’re interesting:

Glass Craft Beads specialize in Czech glass, stocking beads not often found in other stores. In particular, they have several different types of pressed glass flowers, often used in ‘flower garden’ type sead bead necklaces:

Bead Addict have a variation on fire-polished beads, with a greater number of facets that add extra sparkle:

JillyBeads get a special mention for their Fleeting Fire-polish section where they offer limited amounts of beads that they don’t usually stock – there are often lovely bi-boloured beads in amongst the selection.

 
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