Thursday, August 6, 2015


Today I was on Pintress looking at some beautiful beads and came across a photo of my very first torch setup. It was a great inexpensive setup. The hood is the same one I'm still using, Dave found it in his work scrap pile, it's an antique gas lamp from downtown Battle Creek.  I used some cheap Target cube style shelving with cut fence post for the glass cubbies then placed a piece of  shelving board across the top to secure the hood pipe in place and to give me a location to clamp the lights.  I had a piece of white Formica I put up as wall protection not that I needed it but it did help reflect the light and that was helpful. The hose vented out a window to my left with a really big cast iron fan that my brother gave me. This fan is so strong that I have accidentally not kept dots on a bead hot enough and they popped up and were taken up into my exhaust where they plunked along until they hit a low spot in the pipe.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mexican Lace Necklaces

I just finished some Mexican Lace Necklaces and they lay on the neck so nice and the weigh next to nothing, you'll forget you have it on. 

Mexican Lace Necklace with tiny beads made by me. $95.00
Mexican Lace Necklaces with tiny my handmade beads. $95.00
Mexican Lace Necklace no beads $110.00

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More Mexican Lace Projects

I'm so in love with theses new bracelets. I used my beads in the first one and my friend Cara Washingtons in the second two. 

Mexican Lace Bracelet made with my handmade beads $95.00
Mexican Lace Bracelet with Cara's beads $95.00
Mexican Lace Bracelet with Cara's handmade Beads. $95.00

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Love Rocks

Since the lapidary class I took at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts with Dawn Couer I have fallen in love with rocks all over again. When I was a kid I loved picking up rocks on our many family trips. When I was 9 we went through Upper Michigan, into Canada and back down through Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. My dad told me to just throw the rocks I picked up in front of the wheel-well on the side of the truck camper. When we got home he called me out and I had easily filled a 5 gallon bucket with rocks from that trip. From then on he kept a closer eye on how many rocks I was collecting so they didn't affect the gas mileage. 

Here are my latest pieces some of these  stones came from Bead and Button and the rest are from Tucson. 

The backs of these stones are just as cool as the fronts. 

I love the accidental upside down Michigan on the back of that bottom middle lace agate. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bead and Button Classes

This is the second year I have taken classes at Bead and Button, I love the hands on approach these classes offer and normally the teachers are some of the best you will find from across the country. 

This year I took the Forged and Twisted Bracelet from Christina Leonard and Gail Lanum and it was a wonderful class but then any day I get to play with fire and metal is a great day. During this class I made 7 bangles and the neck wire. 

Day two of class was Scheherade in Silver Glass with HayleyTsang Sather. I don't have anything good to say about this class. It was very much a beginner class even though half the class had over 10 years of experience in bead making.   We spent most of the class listening to the teacher talk, I'm a quick worker and only got 4 beads made. The last bead was the only one we actually used silver glass on. The class was suppose to help us get amazing colors out of the silver glass and she spent all of about three minuets on reducing. I knew most everything she taught from reading Corinas book over 10 years ago.  What a waste of a day and money. 

These are the beads I made in class. And the photo below is what we were suppose to be learning.  I actually took more time packing my tools for this workshop than I did making actual beads in this class. 

The third class was the Sturrup Biker Bracelet with Anne Mitchell,  her and JC are the top teachers on my list. When we walked into class Anne had each students spot all set up with every tool we would need and our own Little torch station. 

She also had the kits all ready with almost everything cut to size. 

Her class ran so smooth I was able to get two bracelets made and was still the first one to leave class. I did stay in for lunch to work for a little extra time. If you ever get a chance to take a class with Anne do it, you won't be sorry.

These still need a bit more patina and another tumble, I'm extremely happy with these and I learned as much about making a class run like clockwork from Anne as I did metal techniques, this class was worth every penny spent and I will be taking more of Anne's classes in the future. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bead and Button Haul

I just got back from Bead and Button in Milwaukee and have to say if you ever get a chance to go, do it!  This was my 4th year going with my friends Chris and Deb. 

Let's get right to the goodies I brought back. The first items were in our treat bag given when you register for bead and button. 
I am in love with these tiny wubbers. 
These are little spoils of colored wire. 
This is a small amount of bead wire and a new thing called a spool tamer. I really like how it works and am sure I could make some of these up out of some shrinkydink plastic. 
Next up, some of my purchases. These beads were calling my name. 
A few small raw rock slabs to play with. 
All the types of paste solder they make, I simply love this stuff. 
Cute beads from Marsha Neal. I can't wait to play with these. 
I got some really fun toggle loops from Michelle McCarthy. 
This amazing tube cutting tool came from Anne Mitchell. 
A small hot torch for all my soldering needs. 
A super cute tiny all around great hammer. 
A medium set of super nice files made in Germany. 
And last but by far not least is my beautiful paisley made by Patri Cahill. I have loved these since I first saw them and am thrilled to finally own one. All week I kept walking by and admiring this piece. On Sunday it was still there so I decided it must be a sign that it should be mine. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sharks Teeth Necklaces

I was asked if I had ever worked with sharks teeth and said no but I'm sure I could figure something out. I have had these teeth since Christmas time and hadn't done anything with them so today was the day, I figured the wire setting I used for the rocks would work but when I tried to use smaller wire it just bent way to easily so I had to go back to the larger wire. I think the look is growing on me its rustic and really fits the teeth. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Off to Bead and Button

My Knife Bells are going to be featured in Chris Thommen's booth, The Art of the Bead at the Bead and Button show this year. She will have Naked ones with no adornments ($35) and fully decorated ones with beads and chains ($45). 

Here are some fun photos of the process. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Necklace Boards

Anyone who participates in shows knows how hard it is to get all your crap contained and hauled into the location. I have been selling my wares at shows since October of 2009 and working on my display just as long. I think they're an ongoing project because as your product changes your display has to change to handle it. The basics of mine have stayed the same for some time but recently I decided that the dress forms had to go they were bulky and I couldn't leave the jewelry on them to transport, after a week of trying a bunch of different things I came up with these new necklace boards. 
They are very functional and slim bit now I had to figure out how to pack them so the jewelry would be protected during travel. Part of the whole reason for designing something new was to cut down on the setup time. 
First I sewed up some wide elastic bands that can be pulled over the pendants top and bottom. There is a pice of polar fleece that they are wrapped in before the elastic goes on. 
I then stitched these polar fleece bags that slide over the whole mess, they give some more protection for the jewelry and the help keep the paint from chipping. 
Here's what the backs look like. I just used plumbing pipe to attach them to the top of my display and to the boards. Not beautiful but functional and most of the time the back will be against the wall. 
Now when everything is all packed up my 6 foot table all fits on one small cart and the only thing left to haul is my jewelry case. I can get everything I need into the show in just one trip!
Here is the old display with dress forms for comparison. I think the new necklace boards look nice and crisp. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Copper and Stone Necklaces

These are some of the stone slabs I got in Tucson. They were just rough cut so I took a lapidary class so I could learn how to make make them into beautiful polished stones. 
I made one cab in class and decided that I never wanted to make another one again. I don't have any interest in bezel settings they just always look so prissy.  When you bezel set it hides the back and sides of the beautiful stones.  Necklace wth neck wire $70.00
I ended up leaving one or more of the sides of my rocks with a rough edge so they kept some of the natural feel. To show off the stones I soldered up these simple prong settings so the stones can be seen all the way around. 
The settings looked like little aliens before being wrapped around the stones. There is an amazing free video at the Beducation site on how to make these settings. 
The stone settings moved all over on the smooth neck wires so I updated the hinged neck wires to include a little u in the front to keep the stones centered. I have several sizes because these really aren't on size fits all but one size does fit most.