Friday 30 August 2013

Lepidolite, Teal "Jade", carved Tibetan agate & Quartz Crystal Necklace...

Whenever you see a bead name in quotes, especially "jade", it's dyed -- and who knows what it really is. Quartz and serpentinite seem to be the two usual culprits. I have no problem using dyed stones as they are often very pretty and useful colours; I just don't want to be paying real prices for fakes. Still playing with and my iPhone and experimenting with photographing in different types of daylight. The colour in these particular beads is definitely more than a little wonky.

Here is what I was working on all day. A customer wants something with a lot of different colours but wasn't too specific about what types of colours, let alone what style. I'll find out tomorrow if I'm in the ballpark. It would, of course, be much easier if she gave me a picture of what she's seen elsewhere that's exactly what she wants, but welcome to my world.


Lepidolite (real!), teal "jade" (not real), quartz crystal and a Tibetan carved agate focal with pewter spacers and clear glass seed beads.

Now to pack up as I'm off to the market tomorrow morning.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday 27 August 2013

3mm Lapis Lazuli Heishi & Coin Silver Choker...

Further to yesterday's playing around, this is the first version I came up with. I really do lovelovelove coin silver. This is simple, timeless and elegant, will be great with denim or worn to the office/out to dinner with a simple white shirt.

Hand-cut 3mm lapis lazuli heishi and coin silver flowers and spacer beads, both from Afghanistan, silver-plated flower clasp, 20 inches, $156. Please email me if you are interested in this particular choker (or other variations) or ordering a different length. Shipping and handling will be extra. I take PayPal.

Thanks for looking!

Monday 26 August 2013

Hand-cut Afghanistan matte lapis lazuli heishi...

...coin silver beads and a Bali silver triangle-shaped bead... with or w/o colour? If colour, what colour?

What else can I find to play with? More pix in a bit.

I have strings of 3mm matte lapis lazuli heishi (hand-cut in Afghanistan), $18 each plus postage and handling and lots of the coin silver flower dangles, $10 each plus postage and handling. Email me for availability and to order. I take PayPal.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday 24 August 2013

Changing my mind...

No market today but guess who was bolt awake at 3:00 a.m. and drinking coffee by 3:30? My pal Lynn came by to work on a necklace using the turquoise I'd given her for a birthday present back in January. That inspired me to get stop watching Lie to Me (lovelovelove Tim Roth, whoo hoo) and do something productive. Not to mention right around when Lynn pulled up, I got one of those annoying popup messages asking if I was aware that in the past 48 hours someone using this computer scarfed up 75% of my monthly bandwidth allotment. Uh, ye-ahhh, that would be me. I just signed up for Netflix. I think this is gonna be a huge mistake.

In between lashings of homemade soup, hummus and blue corn tortilla chips and apple strudel with cheddar cheese, I messed around stringing and restringing the two necklaces I started the other day.

"Does this look okay?"

"Nnnnn... needs something here."

"What about this?"

"Nnnnn... what about changing that?"

And so it went for hours.

Raw amethyst focal, amethyst rondelles, high-cut citrine, melon-cut crystal rondelles, 100-year-old Venetian glass seed beads, pewter findings, 21" long, $79:

Kingman turquoise, amethyst rounds and rondelles, pewter and silver-plated findings, glass seed beads, 21" in length, $45:

Finished necklace

For information on either of these necklaces, their availability or perhaps you require a different length, please email me for details. Shipping and handling are extra. I take PayPal.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Bracelet or Necklace... Necklace or Bracelet...???

The eternal dilemma: I have perhaps only one string of a given bead. Do I go for a bracelet, maybe even two or three, or one necklace? Should I stretch that single necklace to two with judicious use of other semi-precious beads in the back, or use lower-cost seed beads in the back where they are less noticeable -- and jazz up with pewter or semi-precious beads? If I go the seed bead route, do I use more subdued colours or go nuts with an unexpected hit of colour?

Bracelet or necklace for this one? Still haven't decided, hence no clasp, yet. Raw amethyst focal, amethyst rondelles, high-cut faceted citrines, melon-cut quartz crystals, pewter findings and vintage seed beads from Black Tulip.

Hmm, nice artsy effect -- love Picmonkey! -- but you can see more clearly below in the closeup where the colours are pretty much dead on. 

Here is something even more dilemma-inducing for me: bracelet or choker? Kingman turquoise chips, amethyst rondelles, hand-cut Tibetan quartz crystal rounds, pewter beads:

Two Kingman turquoise bracelets, 7-1/2" and 8-1/2" long. The matte seed beads here are a deep almost lusciously lilac colour, maybe even rhododendron blue-purple. Indescribable at any rate. No amount of editing seems to work on it. But I think it looks crazy-good with the Kingman turquoise:

I'd bought a few strings of vintage 8/0 and 6/0 seed beads from Naomi at Black Tulip Designs a while back to try and decided they are perfect for my necklaces. At the Art Waves show in London on Saturday, I went nuts stocking up. Some of the beads are 100 years old and none of them are colours you can get nowadays other than sorta kinda in the Japanese seed bead ranges. What I like about Naomi's beads are the softer, random shapes and rich but muted, knocked back or greyed colours, which somehow go really well with my jewellery designs. After trying the Japanese beads out, I found that neither the precision cuts nor the acidic colours work as well with the types of semi-precious I prefer, like the softly rounded Kingman chips, the raw amethyst and wonky hand-cut melon quartz I've used in these examples. 

Saturday 17 August 2013

Bung 'em in a bin...

To "normal" people this wouldn't be a big deal, but to people who bead it's normal to have a table piled high with miscellaneous beads, findings, bins and boxes and no place to work. Instead of making jewellery as I had planned yesterday afternoon I did this instead:

I implemented a two-bin strategy, one for beads and one for metal findings. Essentially, a foot-deep pile of undifferentiated stuff ended up in those two bins in front of the window. Loose beads went into separate bags, one for bead soup, one for metal beads and one for seed beads. Everything else was swept into the garbage, and the whole process took me an hour rather than days or months: rather than wasting time and energy and losing momentum by trying to find a separate place for each of the items, bung 'em in a bin. This is my new mantra. Later... whenever... the beads can get sub-sorted into the appropriate colour bins, and later-later maybe even used.

And then I moved it all over to here -- no, not really. This table and grid, my new dedicated pricing and restringing table for show beads, is the second area that I will tackle today after the market or tomorrow. I have a large industrial shelving unit going almost to the ceiling in the utility room behind this wall which has been perfect for piling bins in, easy to see and access almost all at more or less eye level.

Maybe see some of you at the market today -- yikes, gotta run! Thanks for looking!

Friday 16 August 2013

New beads...

Here is a sneak preview of the treats in store for you at the shows this fall that have been arriving all week chez moi.

Hidden in this hand-painted Afghanistan spice pot are more raw lapis and turquoise, jade rondelles and the most beautiful carnelian I have seen in my short jewellery-making career. If you make tribal/ethnic-inspired jewellery, you will love these beads.

All week I've been restringing recycled glass beads and trying to restrain myself from eating them. They look just like old-fashioned sugar-dusted hard candy. And the really great thing about these handmade beads is that the holes tend to be quite large, perfect for stringing on leather. Here is a tiny, tiny selection:

Now to go and have lunch... and spend the afternoon making new jewellery.

PS: I'm hoping to be set up in my new studio space by mid-to-late September where I can host visitors (email me first). In the meantime, I'll bring a small selection of the new beads to the Grand River Bead Society meeting in Guelph on I believe it will be Monday, September 16th, and for sure I'll see you at the GRBS show October 5th and 6th in Guelph, as well as The Gem Expo in Toronto on November 23rd, 24th and 25th. Check out both groups' Facebook pages for updated information on all the great vendors. Email me, as well, if you want me to bring anything in particular to the September GRBS meeting.

Thanks for looking!

Monday 12 August 2013

Happy Customer... Happyhappy Me!!!

I've been making and selling jewellery for about six years now. It's one thing to sell in person where you can chat with customers maybe over several weeks, get to know them and what they like, their lifestyles, they can try different items on, and you can easily make adjustments to make something fit perfectly. But it's a whole 'nother ball of wax posting a picture online that will never be able to truly convey the colour, texture, luminosity or beauty of the stones, the weight or delicacy of a piece, and forget sizing entirely. That's a total crap-shoot.

I had posted this glass skull, pewter and enhanced lapis lazuli bracelet on the blog about a month ago.

Out of the blue -- sorry. Couldn't resist -- last Saturday, which was a long weekend here, came an email from the US wanting to buy it. After the initial whoo-hoo and happy dance, my guts went into overdrive. What if she doesn't like it? What if she's disappointed for some reason? What if the post office loses it? All the what-ifs... I packed it carefully in layers of bubble wrap and mailed it Tuesday morning. And waited.

Then I got another email late Saturday night/early Sunday morning:

OMG.  Here I've been carrying on and what I meant to tell you first thing was that your bracelet came today.
You are really, really good at all the stuff I avoid!!!!  I'll need to take another look at it, but I was impressed with the metal work.  I just have never gotten the hand of wrapping loops or working with wire, period.  I'm a klutz.  
But there's a balance, a symmetry that's very appealing to this bracelet.  The crystal skull just makes it.  And  I totally underestimated the effect of the lapis beads.
Very, very, nice.  Thank you so much.  I think my friend is really going to love this.

Whew! To Nancy LaB, thank YOU for trusting me! Go Canada Post and USPS! It took just five days to get across a border and half way across the continent.

Back to the jewellery table. Again, if you ever see something you like, please email me for more information.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Stocking up on lapis lazuli & turquoise... & musing on a new design technique

I've already started stocking up on turquoise and lapis lazuli beads to replace what I sold at The Gem Expo in Toronto in July. Here's a sneak peek of two items in the parcel that just arrived. Christmas and my birthday all rolled up together in August!

Outrageously blue, raw, flattish natural lapis chunks with lots of pyrite, hand-polished, with very clean 1.5mm to 2mm holes. The beads average about 1" / 25mm in length. These would be particularly great for stringing on leather or wire-wrapping. Some of the beads have sawn-flat backs which would lend themselves to beaded bezels or wiring flat to metal shapes or used with leather bands for cuffs or attached to leather pouches, etc.

Blue to slightly greenish-blue turquoise nuggets with and without matrix. Each bead is about 1/2" in length and softly triangular/pyramidical -- is that even a word? -- in shape. Except for hand-polishing to a velvety-soft matte finish, these turquoise nuggets are not stabilised, dyed or enhanced in any way. Being more accustomed to stabilised turquoise, I noticed right away when I hefted them that the strings feel quite light for the size of bead, which means the stabilisation process adds considerable weight to turquoise beads.

I will bring a selection of the new beads to the September meeting of the Grand River Bead Society in Guelph if anyone wants first dibs before the GRBS show in October or The Gem Expo in November in Toronto. Fetish and skull beads in various materials and a great range of Fair Trade recycled glass beads are on their way.

I just got word yesterday that Square now allows us to accept debit cards here in Canada, so I will be able to offer debit, Visa and MasterCard, prepaid Visa and MC, as well as generic cash cards at the shows and at the GRBS meetings. If anyone is contemplating using Square, it's cheap, it's fantastic and works beautifully wherever you have cell phone coverage... well, 99% of the time. And, no, nobody is paying me to say this!

I've had the occasional wonky card that the card reader didn't like, but in that case I can enter the card number by hand and it will go through (for a slightly higher fee, of course), or, as happened at the Gem Expo, my Square reader flat out wouldn't accept either of one customer's cards -- yet it had worked fine with a previous customer's card 20 minutes before. She ended up going to the hotel ATM. Later on, we tried the card again that she'd used in the ATM, and this time it worked with no problem. Who knows what happened? Computer bug. Bug went away. Customer -- and me -- happy.

NOTE: Always check and double-check you've packed your phone and peripheral whatnot chargers to the shows with you! And then check again before you pull out of the driveway. I actually did remember to bring mine (it was other stuff I forgot), but another vendor didn't and their POP machine took a special type of charger. Luckily, someone was able to help them out but it was a last-minute scramble to find one.  

I'm very happy to report that the new jewellery designs that I've been posting this spring and summer are selling well. Credit for these goes entirely to my pal Nancy who seems to have broken the design logjam in my brain. In fact, it occurs to me that the easiest way to get out of a stale design rut would be to invite a non-jewellery friend or kid of your acquaintance over to play with beads, give 'em some fishing line to string with and see what they come up with. Believe me, there are some real ah-hah moments to be had.

If something you like here has been sold I'd be happy make something similar or in different beads. Or, if you'd like a bracelet version of a necklace -- or vice versa -- or coordinating earrings (or you're looking for a particular type of bead), email me and let's see what we can come up with.

Stay tuned for lots of new jewellery -- and beads -- and thanks for looking!