Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010! A Blast from the Past

Happy New Year!

In honor of the holiday and some dedicated torch time, I thought I would re-share this post from a while back on how to wear lampwork beads.

"Outback Series" bracelet (SOLD).

Many women seem to be unsure how to incorporate colorful lampwork beads into their wardrobe. "This blue isn't the same shade as my blouse!" "But there's green in this bracelet and I'm not wearing any green". I used to feel the same restrictive pressure when trying to coordinate jewelry with my clothing, but I don't any more.

One book I found very useful is Leatrice Eiseman's Pantone Guide to Communicating With Color (North Light Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2000). Whether you're creataing a glass bead, a website, or designing a new guest room, this book helps you choose colors that convey specific emotions and messages to your viewer.

Once I started melting glass and experimenting, I became much more relaxed about mixing color. One approach that works well for me when making and wearing glass beads is to choose a uniform, harmonious color scheme, and just make sure that most of the colors are in the same family. A bracelet could incorporate light blue, dark blue, and teal, and look pulled together. Pinks are fine with lavenders and purples, olive greens are fine with grass greens. This is known as an analogous color scheme, or when viewed more exclusively, a monochromatic scheme (varying shades of one color).

The other approach that works well for me is neutrals. The Outback bracelet above was done with various complementary neutral tones. I find that I can wear this bracelet with almost any of my clothes and it looks great.

"Happy Spring" necklace.

And then there's the more colorful choices. Pantone would put these in the "Playful", "Energetic", or "Fanciful" group. Beads like this make it very easy to decide what to wear. Just pick one of these great colors to go with, lean toward a solid color top near the jewelry, and any kind of print below that plays up some of the themes in the jewelry. Let your playful side out! Have fun!

One final note, since I started watching TLC's "What Not To Wear", I learned that rules were made to be broken. A red purse can look spectacular with a grey suit, and your new blue bracelet can be just the pop that your fuschia dress was waiting for.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Was it Good for You Too?

One down, one to go (holidays, that is). Did you survive? We did, and then some. I hope your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrated) was everything you hoped for. I haven't heard any reports back on my enchilada gifts, but am hoping they were enjoyed. My mother-in-law loved her new red earrings, the ones I modified as clip ons. I got a new torch for fusing silver, and can't wait to try it out. Today I'm off to restock the fridge, settle on the tile for the bathroom, and dust off my electroforming equipment to do some beads.

Meanwhile, I've got some groovy new earrings up in my Etsy shop - if you're into grape try these:

And here are some festive winter earrings, inspired by my recent frozen morning walk. They remind me of the frozen flowers I saw.

And remember to watch out for these while you're on your walk today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BFF, Intertubes Style

Belt buckle from Cyndie Smith.

I can't believe Christmas is almost here. It was just Thanksgiving! I guess that's what happens when you have people visiting, a holiday art & wine show, work, and a remodeling project all going on at once. What was I thinking?

But life is good and progress on most fronts continues. Did I tell you that Cyndie Smith and I are going to share a booth at the Best Bead Show in Tucson this February? It's so exciting! Unbelievably, we've not ever met in person. She lives in Florida, and I live in California. It was supposed to happen in Miami for the ISGB Gathering, but Cyndie's mother took ill and unfortunately she could not make the trip. But in early February we're going to take a little road trip to Tucson during the Gem Show, and we'll be exhibiting our beads and jewelry at the Best Bead Show together at Kino Veterans Memorial Community Center. If you're there, do stop by to say "hi" - we'll be in Canopy Tent #2.

I feel so fortunate to have met Cyndie - ours is one of those great online friendship stories. We were both on Etsy, she was selling amazing organic metal jewelry, and I was selling lampwork beads and jewelry, and we happened to find ourselves in the same Etsy forum late one night. We both were gaga for each other's work, and we each started buying pieces from each other. Cyndie bought some of my beads, and I bought a cuff bracelet and belt buckle from her that I just adore. Cyndie had been on Etsy longer than I, and was doing quite well, and generously shared some of her Etsy lessons learned with me.

My Life Cuff, custom piece from Cyndie Smith.

We kept up with each other through Etsy convos until one day I got the notice from the International Society of Glass Beadmakers about an exhibition called "Convergence", where bead artists would pair with jewelry designers to create jewelry inspired by the four elements. I knew when I read it that I wanted to ask Cyndie to be my partner in this adventure, and she said yes! So we put our heads together and amazingly discovered that we both longed to create a dangerous, playful, over the top carnivorous flower piece. We shared many a late night in front of our computers, laughing at Little Shop of Horror videos on YouTube, and swapping ideas about the piece, until it all came together and the piece we called Mean Green Mother Earth was finished. We were absolutely thrilled when it was accepted into the exhibition. Since then we've had loads of fun making more wearable pieces inspired by this one - rings, pendants, and some fabulous brooches featuring Cyndie's metal work and my little Meanie beads. We'll have plenty of all of these in Tucson.

"Mean Green Mother Earth" neckpiece, by Patty Lakinsmith and Cyndie Smith.

Cyndie has been the best internet friend I could ever have hoped for. She isn't afraid to give me advice (or a kick in the pants!) when I need it. While I'm lucky to have friends and family who are supportive of my artistic endeavours, being an artist herself, Cyndie understands my basic need to create like few others do. Maybe it's because we're both Libras, who knows. I admire her exhuberance for art and zest for life, her organic style, and her comfortable way of being there for me. I wish we lived closer so we could have studio play days together. I know that I'd be teaching her to melt glass and she'd be helping me learn traditional metalsmithing, and for sure we'd be getting out and about to seek out fun places to visit and see art.

Right now we're busy preparing for the next edition of Convergence - jewelry inspired by a real or fictitious person, and we're busy getting inventory ready for Tucson. Oh yeah, and Christmas shopping. Sigh. But the one thing that keeps me going during all of the chaos that resembles my life of the last few weeks, is the thought of finally getting to meet and play with Cyndie. It's gonna be like Thelma and Louise without the Brad Pitt and driving off the cliff parts. Oh yeah, and swap a pickup with a camper shell for the convertible. Other than that, just like T&L! I can't wait for February!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Rare Treat

Nothing but images from our frosty winter wonderland today. The moist air and sub-freezing temperatures last night worked together to make some incredible textural magic. Click on each photo to reveal the high resolution versions - they will knock your socks off.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanks for a great show, Bargetto!

New work up on Etsy!

We all survived the cold in Bargetto's wine cellar this past weekend, and I really had a great time. I had Mean Green Mother Earth with me, which was a great conversation piece. It was fun to meet some online customers for the first time, and wonderful to have friends stop by to say hi and shop. In the lulls (and there were a few, though mostly it was quite well attended) it was fun to catch up with fellow artists, get to see their work, and taste some of Bargetto's wine. The chardonnay was especially tasty this year, as was the zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon.

My late nights of work last week paid off and I was ready and even somewhat organized for the show, and I feel very good about my displays this year. I even had time to get my digital photo frame to work, although it would only show photos and not the video I had hoped to show. If anyone out there knows how to get a Coby digital photo frame to play an .avi file, please send me the secret code!

As the extreme chill settles in to the hills around the Silicon Valley, I'm getting to work listing some of my new jewelry pieces from the past few weeks in my Etsy shop. I've got some holiday sparkle to help you get in the mood for your parties, and some other pieces combining glass and fine silver, which is a great combination.

One thing I've been making a lot of lately is these long, sparkly, dangly earrings. I rarely wear things like this, but they just fascinate me with their captivating play of light. They'd be great to wear to a New Year's party (the fancy kind), or even for a bride.

It's going to be in the teens around here tonight, which is not typical. Brrr! Get yer woolies out, and throw another log on that fire! I'm tempted to make some soup tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Would you like a little wine with that art?

Then Come on Down and get your holiday shopping done at Bargetto Winery this weekend! I guarantee if you're not in the mood when you arrive, you will be as soon as you enter the cellars. Yes, this wonderful event is actually held in Bargetto's cellars, among the wine barrels, and the ambiance will permeate all of your senses as soon as you step in the door. From the crisp air, the pungent smell of wine and evergreen, twinkling lights, greenery, and smiling artists around every corner, to the sound of holiday music - you will succumb to the festive mood and discover some great art along the way.

I have done this show for a few years now and have really enjoyed meeting all of the regular and new artists, and the patrons there can't be beat. The quality of work among this small group of artists is just incredible.

I will be there with tons of great gift pieces in the Under $50 category, lots of festive holiday earrings, new pieces from my Primitive Directions series, and of course, the Meanie Pendants. Oh yes, and much, much more. I've been busy making new things and can't wait to show them to you.

Speaking of wine, I had a fun, unique opportunity the other day to help a friend label some wine that she purchased from a local vintner. Not a small batch, mind you, but some 5 barrels worth of cabernet sauvignon. My friend got to use a Byington Winery's assembly line to process her wine. My job for just over an hour was to invert the cases of bottles so they were right side up, slide the foil cap on over the top of each bottle, and send them on their way to the machine that sucks them down tight. The next machine put the labels on, and then they were off to Candi and Lois to box back up. We must have processed several hundred cases in that time. I have to admit, it was rapid, mindless physical work and it was very satisfying.

My view down the line from the foil cap station.

Candi, Lois and Bob, packing up the last of the wine.

My heavenly view on the drive home. Monterey Bay was tucked in with fog that day.

If I get a chance I'll post some pictures tomorrow of some new work I'll be taking to the show.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Essential Elements Part II: Making Lampwork Bead Jewelry

Green and Lavender Amulet with lampwork and fresh water pearls.

This is the second in my Essential Elements series, where I discuss things I couldn't live without for my small handcrafted bead and jewelry business. I would love to hear about your Essential jewelry making elements in the comments.

In this installment I'd like to talk about jewelry making. Clearly there are a number of design approaches you can take with lampwork beads. You can string them on thread, embellished with seed beads, gemstones, and what not. You can wire wrap them, or incorporate them into traditionally metalsmithed settings to make some very lovely jewelry. You can even use fiber in lots of creative ways to incorporate lampwork. I have created jewelry using all of these techniques except for traditional metalsmithing, however my collaborations with other artists have taken my beads down this path, with some really cool results.

Piece from my "Primitive Directions" collection, made with hammered fine silver components, wire wrapping, and lampwork.

My preferences lean toward making jewelry using components I make with fine silver wire. It simplifies the number of things I need to shop for, and makes my work unique.

Here are the elements I find essential for creating my jewelry, by category.


SoftFlex nylon coated wire rocks, period. Unless you make very tiny beads, and depending on the weight of the piece you're making, I'd recommend using the Medium or Heavy versions. I used other brands of wimpy stringing wire before and always had trouble with the crimps failing. No more. I found this article helpful on crimping, as was this one. I like to use fairly heavy weight sterling silver crimp tubes.

I keep beads I use a lot (e.g. sterling silver daisy spacer beads, small seamless sterling balls) in a shallow bowl on my jewelry design table for quick access. Others are kept in separate bins in compartmentalized plastic storage boxes. One thing I find essential for jewelry making are the stackable plastic 8 1/2" x 14 1/2" jewelry trays with velvet pads. I use these to transport jewelry to shows, to store jewelry, and to keep my unfinished projects in. They come in different depths, and I have several of them to fit my flatter and thicker jewelry pieces.

I have not found the grey fuzzy beading layout boards to be very useful for the way I work. When I have mine out it tends to get cluttered up with all kinds of flotsam, and I rarely seem to use it for its real purpose: laying out a piece before stringing. I can do this just fine in my stackable trays, which are much easier to store a partially completed project in.

Wire wrapping

I do a lot of wire wrapping, and love my small sized Swanstrom flat and round nosed pliers, and my regular sized Swanstrom flush cutters. Flush cutters are critical for removing sharp ends when wire wrapping, and for getting good clean joints for fusing fine silver.

I like to use fine or medium gauge (e.g. 24 or 20 ga) fine or sterling silver wire for wire wrapping, depending on how heavy the piece is. I have used a wide range of wire gauges for viking knit, and like the solid feel of some of the heavier gauge tubes I've made. For larger beads I use heavy sterling headpins (.027"), or fine silver ones embellished with metal clay. Smaller diameter ones work fine for crystal charms or very small beads, e.g. in charm/cha cha bracelets.

Metal Clay

Kate McKinnon is one of my Essential Elements! I took my first PMC class with Kate McKinnon about 4 years ago so I could learn how to make my own clasps, and it was one of the smartest investments I ever made. I learned so much, and continue to learn from her website and books. As such, I deeply respect her knowledge of this material, and her brilliant insight how to create functional, lasting pieces with it. I use my AIM-84 kiln to fire it (2 hours at 1650 for PMC3), and would not for a second consider torch firing any metal clay pieces. I have found Rio Grande's two part silicone molding compound to be very useful for making molds of interesting textures I find in nature.

Metal clay links (fine silver), impressed with the texture from fan coral I found in Mexico.

If you work with metal clay, you really need a tumbler with stainless steel shot to harden and finish your pieces. If you do any kind of metal work at all it's also great for shining up your work. When you take a class with Kate, you'll learn how fine silver wire is the perfect companion to metal clay - they are essentially the same material and will fuse together beautifully in your kiln. Since most fine silver wire is soft, the tumbler helps to make the wire harder and stronger. Other tools I use a lot include my chasing hammer, bench block, dapping block, and various sizes and shapes of forming mandrels.

I fuse fine silver wire to make rings, which I can use as is or hammered for interesting design elements, or folded to make loop in loop chain. My essential supplies for fusing fine silver include my flush cutters (mentioned previously), my butane torch, a solderite pad, tweezers, and a ramekin of water. These supplies also allow me to make my own head pins by balling up the end of the wire. For making sterling headpins or ear wires I also use a pickle pot - pickle removes the fire scale on the sterling. This isn't necessary for fusing or balling up fine silver. I've worked for years without using pickle, but recently added it to my studio because I've been making my own sterling silver ear wires.

Loop in Loop chain, made by fusing fine silver wire.

I've been making all of my jump rings by hand so far, using dowel rods and mandrels as the form, and either cutting each ring with my flush cutters or using a jeweler's saw. I recently bought a jump ring maker that works with a Dremel, but unfortunately it doesn't work with the Dremel model I have.


I don't do a lot of this, as I tend to make holes in metal clay using a cutter when the clay is wet, but when I do I use my Dremel tool and a tiny drill bit.

There you have it - my essential elements for making jewelry with my beads. It's probably a short list compared to some, but where possible in the kitchen and in the studio, I like to work with tools that do more than one thing.

What are your Essential Elements for making jewelry with your beads?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The Meanie pendants are done! Just in time for the show. They're lovely, don't you think? After the show some of them moseyed on over to my Etsy shop, where you can see them in several colors and styles.

My goodness, I hope I'm not trending toward once a week updates. How awful! Shame on me. Here's a recap of my weekend at BABE, the Bay Area Bead Extravaganza.

Joyce, ready for action as the show opens.
It was nice doing a local show and it wasn't too tough to set up and break down. I shared a table with the lovely and talented Joyce Chadderdon, a friend and local metal artist. She was showing her incredible anodized titanium and niobium jewelry (check out those wild cuffs!), and offering anodized components as well.

At the show I discovered that my dry run at home used about 36" of depth (and 4' of table width), while the tables there were only 30" deep. I swear I used every inch of space available for my goods. I had to rearrange at the last minute so that I could see my customers over the top of my displays - yikes! I ended up swapping the Mean Green Mother Earth piece and the white focal bead display so I could at least gain eye contact with my customers.

My part of our table.
If you're wondering, yes, that is fake fur lining my second bead display, and it seemed fitting for my collection of animal-themed bead sets. Look for them soon in my Etsy shop.

They were lined up at the door and flooded in when the show opened at 10am on Saturday. By the time they made it to our table near the middle, many of them had glazed over looks in their eyes, and were visibly tired. I wish I had some refreshments to offer them. One of my first customers told me she knew my work from Etsy, and she bought a set of beads. Others would walk by (with that glazed look), and when they saw the Meanies they would laugh out loud. Ha! Glad I could bring a little humor to their day, if not offer a cool drink and a foot massage. I parted with some of my favorite new focal beads at the show, so I guess I'll have to make more.

I love checking out everyone's displays, particularly the ones that were designed to be lightweight, beautiful, and easily transported. I admired Ralph McCroskey's multi-level PVC marvel (not to mention his playful new eyeballs inside the eucalyptus pods), and coveted Aimee of Polychrome Beads' foamcore display masterpiece. The inner workings of shows and how to eek that last 20% of efficiency out of your set up fascinates me. By the way, I recently purchased Rena Klingenberg's ebook, "Your Profitable Jewelry Booth" (see link up there by Joyce's picture), and she's right on track with her show tips. Many I had heard of before, but several were new. I tried some of her suggestions at the Sacramento Art Fair in October, and I was amazed at how well they worked for sales.

Since I shared a table, I was able to get out and about and visit some of my friends there - Barb of SierraCatz, Lena and Robin, Shirley Cook, Hayley, Toni Lutman, Gretchen of Piece of Mind (Awesome kits!), and even more I can't recall. It was fun being next to Marion Jewel's in Fiber - between her energy and Heather Hopman's it was like mainlining caffeine all weekend.

Everyone was buzzing about the little beaded lizards and frogs at the Tropic Options booth, and I was lucky to score some for holiday gifts. What's even cooler is that they are made by Guatemalan women using some recycled content. So, if you're a person I regularly exchange gifts with, don't read this paragraph, or your Christmas surprise might not be so much of a surprise.

So there you have it - a not so hot off the presses update on BABE. Yeah, my feet hurt, and the days were a bit long, but it was fun and I'll do it again next year. There's just something special about the vibe you get when so many beady people and creations are assembled in one place. It's...beadriffic.

Next in my sights is the Bargetto Art in the Cellars show in a couple of weeks, Dec 5 & 6, but I have to wrangle a turkey and 8 dinner guests before then, and try to find some sort of place settings that don't too much resemble the sale bin at Goodwill. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As the Bead Turns

Sorry for the radio silence, but it's been a week, for sure. We had a near tragedy with our young adult chocolate lab, who was hit by a car one evening. He's recovering quickly now, but for a while there it was dicey as he ruptured a lung and had unspecified lameness in addition to the horrible abrasions and cuts. We're very lucky to still have him with us. Fortunately he's a good patient and I'm a good doggie nurse, so between pain meds, antibiotics, ice and heat, we're on the mend. This was the final straw in a series of roaming episodes that have prompted us to take a hard look at our dog containment system. It will be changed. It was devastating to see him so hurt. There heavens are recalling a lot of furry friends lately, and my heart goes out to everyone who has lost their dear companions recently. It's so cold and quiet when they're gone, isn't it?

Come see me in booth # 603 at BABE this weekend in Oakland, CA!

Needless to say the accident put a little damper on my preparations for BABE this weekend, but I'm back on track and will be at the show in Oakland with all kinds of focal beads, new sets, jewelry and great affordable holiday gifts. I'm excited about this show as I've not done it before, and I'll be sharing a booth (#603) with my friend Joyce Chadderdon of Choyce Creations, who has delicious PMC, titanium and niobium, and sterling silver jewelry and components. We're going to have fun for sure.

So, if you're in the market for the fixin's for your holiday creations, or a little sumthin sumthin for yourself (I know you've been good), please stop by my booth at BABE and say hey.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Treasures and Treasuries

"Wild Ones", now in my Etsy shop.

I've got some of my new bead sets up in my Etsy shop... I'm trying to offer more choices for designers these days, and these are some of the sets I'll be taking with me to BABE, among many others. I have to admit, I'm getting in the set groove. Granted, I have to take a break after a few to do a complex focal or two, but all in all, I'm loving it.

A simple dotted set in coral and silvered glass, now in my Etsy shop.

And the Etsy treasuries, oh my! I just found myself in three of them today. Many thanks to my friends Mallory (Rosebud101) and Cyndie (cyndiesmithdesigns) for including me in theirs.

My favorite item in Rosebud101's shop this week is this gorgeous lampwork glass thimble:

Cyndie's treasury is a knockout (as usual) and features quite a few amazing Etsy finds:

My favorite item this week in Cyndie's shop is her "Mother Nature Fall" necklace. I am ever fascinated by Cyndie's creations using my beads and her organically inspired wire and metal work.

The third treasury I found my work in was curated by Gulinoartjewelry, and included my Salsa cha cha bracelet:

Golden Harvest, curated by Gulinoartjewelry.

A big shout out and thanks to you, Gulinoartjewelry, for including me in your beautiful collection. Since I seem to be in an "animal" mood lately, this Alligator Skin Necklace caught my eye in her lovely shop filled with metal clay and gemstone treasures.

That's all the news for me today - it's foggy and cold here in Northern California (remember it's all relative), and I've got to get to the torch.


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