Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Chain Gang

While on vacation, I couldn't resist a stop at Heartsong Beads in Seal Rock, Oregon. (Honestly, I did TRY to pass by, but the temptation got the better of me. I mean, really, I had just made a haul at three other bead shops in California, and I already have tons of beads languishing in my studio already, unused and forgotten. I tell you, this bead addiction is a bugger to kick.)

Beautiful lampwork beads, sterling silver findings, art beads, enamel beauties . . . stop me, someone! Well, there were deals - her gorgeous lampwork beads were 40% off and this antiqued brass chain was cheap. Because the links are unsoldered, I wouldn't use this chain in heavy necklaces, but the oval links could be useful. In my shopping bag it went. 

When I arrived home, it was this brass chain that inspired me to experiment. Now I had thousands of brass connecting links to use, so I decided to explore all possible configurations of earring designs using them.

Earring Designs From Simple to Complicated

Often, my earring designs are complicated and time-consuming, so it was refreshing to just make a simple and casual pair at a lower price point. A wrapped glass briolette and a beaded earwire. 

A wrapped magnesite coin bead

A sparkly glass and brass dangle (I don't often do bling, but I love these purply faceted beads.)

A periwinkle glass briolette

A Vintaj-patinated copper shell charm and brass jump ring

An apatite and brass dangle and a blue quartz beaded and wire-wrapped earwire

A Picasso Czech glass dangle with Indonesian glass beaded and wire-wrapped earwire

Oh, and how about double links with acryllic flowers
Getting more complicated now . . .  a triple dangle of glass and beaded earwire
A triple dangle of gemstones - magnesite and coral - and brass

Dreaming of Designs

Often, jewelry ideas float around in my head before I fall asleep. (I've lost a lot of sleep this way. I just have to get up and follow through with the idea.) Since the links were on my mind,  it occurred to me that I could use these them as frames backed with pieces of tin. A little E-6000 did the trick. I'm glad I remembered to punch the hole before I glued the link to the tin. I don't usually create designs in a single color, but I didn't want to detract from the cool tin pattern. Now that I look at this, a light blue accent would have been nice. 

Gotta Love Leather

Another one of those trying-to-get-to-sleep moments when link earring ideas flooded my brain. Use leather! I made a suede leather loop to hold the link. Not liking the exposed hole, I added a brass spacer to hide the hole. (These earrings were difficult to photograph, so I'll include one on an earring card to show how the hole is hidden.)

Recycled glass, carnelian, and brass.
Recycled glass, carved bone, and brass
Czech glass, carved bone, brass

Recycled glass, carved bone, brass
For now, I have satiated my obsession with these links and am ready to move on to another material. I do like the idea of having a ton of oval shaped jump rings at my whim. Great purchase!

Seashells by the Seashore

I have such a weakness for buttons, mother of pearl ones especially. In Trinidad, California I discovered a bead shop that was pure heaven - shell beads and buttons, abalone, trade beads, bone beads, and leather. Shelves and shelves of the exact kind of stuff I love. I bought bags of beautiful mother of pearl buttons in both ivory and pink colors. Now, what to do with them? 

I love the soft and feminine feel of this silver, gray labradorite, and soft pink MOP color pallete. These earrings were so difficult to photograph to capture the flash of the labradorite and the glisten of the button. They look so much more delicate and soft in person. 

And now, pink MOP buttons paired with lavender glass drops and pewter tubes. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


On a recent trip to Northern California, I had the pleasure of shopping at Tailsman Beads in Eureka, where I picked up this colored recycled telephone wire. I almost overlooked these, but on my way to the register they caught my eye. Such cool colors! I wasn't sure what I would actually do with this wire, as I haven't really been attracted to colored wire before. 

When I arrived home and pulled out this cool stash of wire, I immediately knew I would be making wrapped and beaded hoop earrings. Wanting them to have an industrial look, the steel wire I just HAD to have a long time ago seemed like good hoop material. 
Then I noticed my collection of eye shield charms that I cut, embossed, and painted a long time ago seemed to compliment the colors of the wires. Hmmm . . . 

Wrapping that phone wire is such a meditative pleasure - soft on the hands and nicely pliable. The first pair of earrings, in gray, yellow, and black is my favorite pair. I love those gray Indonesian glass beads! 

Next up, white and gray wire with black glass seed beads. 

Love the blue and purple, too!

I just love it when an inspired idea strikes, especially after such a long hiatus from jewelry-making and creative inspiration. Eureka!