Thursday, December 26, 2013

Playing with pebbles

I bought these "pebbles" recently.  They're green aventurine.  I've been mostly working with my copper tube beads but I ran out of them a few days ago, and am waiting to get more.  So, in the meantime, I picked up the pebbles and started experimenting with them.  I like the way they break up the grid in an otherwise very rigid structure.  The one on the left is just plain RAW.  The middle one is RAW too, but with a triangular cross section, so that there are just 3 squares in each row, instead of 4.  It makes the tube a bit smaller.  But in both of them, and especially the one with the triangles, there's a lot of thread showing.  I'm using monofilament, so it doesn't show too much in the picture, but the irregularity of the beads necessarily means that more thread shows than I like.  The 3rd on is better that way, because I was using a structure of hexagons instead of squares.  You get a bigger, more open  tube, with places where you can see through the tube, and not as much thread showing.  Not sure exactly where I'll go with all this, but I kind of like the Payday candy bar look of it.

PS one other thing I should mention--I tried a couple of spherical shapes (a dodecahedron and a cuboctahedron) and they came out looking like lumps.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oxidized copper and stick pearls

This was a fun piece to make.  I did a necklace a while ago that had some stick pearls in it in place of the oxidized copper tubes.  But I used dark gray pearls and I only had 10 or 12 of them, so they didn't have as much impact as I'd hoped for. This one came out more the way I intended.  I've found that if I alternate 1 or 2 octahedrons with  what I guess you'd call a triangular prism, you get a blend of firmness ( from the octahedrons, since they're all triangles) and flexibility (from the prisms, since they have squares for the sides with a triangular cross section) that works pretty well.  Anyway, I enjoyed making this. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oxidized copper lozenges

Since I started playing with adding small  (#11) seed beads at the ends of long bugle beads, I've started experimenting with adding them to the oxidized copper tube structures too.  This necklace is an example.  It's a sort of a remake of a necklace I made in late 2011 and posted about at the time (Doing too much, posted in December 2011).  It has quite a different look, though, done in tube beads instead of seed beads.  Much airier and lacy looking.  Also, since the "lozenges" were all the same color, except for different colored seed bead accents, I felt I couldn't mass them as closely together.  So they're spread out more on the RAW chain.  Now I think I'd like to work with more brightly colored accent beads, and see what I get. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

bugle bead structures

   A few days ago, I wrote a post about the trouble I was having making structures out of long bugle beads, because of the sharp edge of the glass bugle fraying the fireline.  Gwen commented saying that when she uses bugle beads she adds a seed bead at each  end of it and treats the group of 3 like a single bead.  I said that might be an answer. Actually, though, it sounded to me like too many seed beads.  I was adding a single bead between each bugle, so as to make a slightly truncated tetrahedron.  The small flat face (a triangle of 3 seed beads) at each point of the tet added a bit of wobble, but not too much.  But it seemed to me, thinking of the first triangle you'd make in the tet, that doing it Gwen's way you'd be adding 2 seed beads between each bugle, and so you'd be adding that many more seed beads, and it would get more and more crowded where several tets meet.  Gwen, I hope you read this, because you were totally right and I was totally wrong.  Turns out that as you keep adding tets, it actually gets less crowded. I can't explain it, so I took a picture.  There are 2 structures, each consisting of 3 tets  The 1 on the left was done "my" way, making truncated tets.  The 1 on the right was done the other way.  Each one has 3 seed beads at each point where 3 bugles meet.  So that by even thought your 1st  triangle has 6 seed beads in it instead of 3, by the time you've finished a whole tet, the total number of seed beads is the same either way.  More importantly when 2 or 3 tets share elements ( in these the bugle bead in the center is part of all 3 tets) the structure done my way has 7 beads at the top and the bottom of that central bugle bead, and you can see they kind of bunch up.  When I did it Gwen's way there are only 5 and it all fits together much more neatly, even using #8 seed beads.    That's good for me, because, especially when I use the 30mm bugles, using #11s at the ends just doesn't look right to me.  To my eye a bugle that big needs a bigger accent bead.  Even here, with 20 mm bugles, I like the 8s.
   Once I figured that much out, I started thinking of my oxidized copper tubes.  Not that I need to protect the thread there, but I knew that sometimes it would be nice to add a bit of color.  The pic on the left is an earring (unfinished, obviously) using #8 beads in several metallic tones as accents to the dark gray tubes.  Here I may actually end up using smaller seed beads, as the diameter of the tube is small.  I don't have many #11s right now, so I used my usual 8s, and I think that it works.  I'll try #11s next and compare the results.  Anyway, this has all been fun.  Thanks, Gwen

Saturday, October 5, 2013

new webpage

Just a quick post.  As beadweaving has become as important a part of what I do as rugweaving, I've wanted to have a website that treated the 2 media equally.  So I've started  I'm still working on it, adding more pictures, captions and such, but it does basically what I want to do.  Check it out; I'd love your feedback, as it's still quite fluid.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

bugle bead scaffolds

   I've been putting together applications for spring art festivals.  I decided to use mostly my tube bead pieces, because they're the ones that, to me, look the most different from what other people are doing.  So I did mostly my oxidized copper pieces.  I wanted to have one, though that had tubes with some color, so I bought some long bugle beads.  It turned out that the ones I liked best didn't actually have so much color.  As so often happens the picture on the website wasn't a totally accurate representation of the actual item.  I don't mean that as a criticism ( this was Shipwreck beads); I think it's just inevitable.  Anyway, even though they weren't very bright, I really liked them.  These are
30 mm bugles, so they really make a big structure.  I made these 2 necklaces right away.  The bottom one also has 15mm turquoise bugles.
    The hardest part was dealing with the sharpness of the glass beads.  I used fireline, and learned to push the new beads tight up against the old ones before I started pulling on the thread.  Even so the thread would be somewhat frayed looking by the time I got to the end of it.  That was partly because I  used very long lengths of thread (around 7') because, as you can imagine, making structures out of beads that are over 1" long uses up thread in a heartbeat.  On the bottom necklace, which was the first one I made, I went back again after I had made the whole thing and ran several threads along the whole length of the nceklace ( at top, bottom and middle) and put #11 beads between the bugles to ease the sharp angle.  I think they were too small to help much, but the extra threads should strengthen it enough.  On the 2nd (top) one I used #8 blue beads and put them between every bugle bead in each triangle.  They were almost too big, because when I got lots of triangles coming together at a point, I started to not quitehave room for the last ones, and things distorted just a bit.  The ideal bead would be as long as a #8, but with a smaller diameter.  Possibly a delica would do that, but I needed to do this quickly and didn't have any at hand.  Or 2 #11s, but I don't think I like that idea as well. Another possibility would be to use a bead reamer to round off the inside edges just a bit.  I only have around 150 bugles in each piece, so that wouldn't be impossible.
    Anyway, I had great fun making these, and I think they'll improve my applications ( I used the top necklace in the one I just sent in).  So cross your fingers for me!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

bowl with wide lip

I've been having trouble with the blogger website.  If I try to move my picture to the left and write next to it, as I usually do, I can't get a cursor, so I'll just do it this way.
    I've been wanting to try using 4mm glass beads (druk beads) to do some of the things I've been doing with 4 mm gemstone beads.  Turns out they're much easier to work with.  Mostly it's because the hole is a bit bigger, and because since the bead is translucent, you can see the direction of the channel through it much more easily. 
  I've been thinking about making a vessal form.  Originally when I decided to play around with beads, I thought I'd make vessal forms.  But a bowl or basket form is necessarily a relatively big project, and you learn more quickly by trying lots of smaller projects and seeing which ones work for you.  So I started making jewelry instead.  Now I find I like jewelry (and I like wearing my jewelry), but I still want to do an occasional bowl or vase  or other form that's just sculptural.  I knew I wanted to keep this one relatively flat, bacause I've found that as a vessal's sides get high, the weight starts to squish it down. It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but the center part is the bowl, which is about 4.5" in diameter and 2" high.  The darker rim makes the whole thing just under 7" in diameter.  I think that, given the width, it needs a bit more height, so I'll probably go back and addsome sort of base onto the bottom.  Also that will make it more stable.
   This is pretty weird--I've just realized that I've misspelled vessel all the way through this post, but the only thing I can get the cursor to do is add more on the end.  So please ignore any misspellings, typos and such.  I wish I knew what the problem is.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back home

I just got back from my trip to Michigan.  It was a long trek, but I had a great time, visited my sister, and even won a prize at the art festival in Royal Oak--I got first place!  Totally cool.  I also took an order for a custom rug, so it's back to the loom.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I hadn't planned to do another post before heading up north, but I was reading a great book (Escher on Escher)  consisting of writings by M C Escher, and I came across a wonderful quote that seems to me to relate to the kind of geometric beadwork many of us do, and I couldn't resist passing it on. It's part of a letter, and he's talking about the difference between an illustrator and a graphic artist.  Here it is:

   " The restrictions finally forced upon us by graphic techniques. . . are unknown to the illustrator.  He can, of course, restrict himself, but he does not have to.  The graphic artist, however, must. . . .  He perhaps even chooses his technique because he consciously wants to set himself very definite limits, because he prefers discipline above the seduction of multiplicity and chaos.  In fact, simplicity and order are, if not the principal, then certainly the most important guidelines for human beings in general.  The urge toward simplification and order keeps us going and inspires us in the midst of chaos.  Chaos is the beginning; simplicity is the end."

Isn't that great?  I've had a copy of the book Godel, Escher, Bach on a shelf for years, but haven't had the  intellectual  energy yet to wade in.  I think I may have to try now.

Art Festival

Just a quick post.  No beadwork or weaving on this one.  I just wanted to say that, if anyone is in the Detroit area, I'll be showing my beadwork at the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Royal Oak, MI on Labor Day weekend, i.e. this coming Friday thru Monday.  I've been working hard on getting good pieces ready for the show.  I'd love to talk to any of you who could come by.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Before and after

    I was talking in the last post about using a photo to look at a piece in a new way, and see a problem with it.  Cindy Holsclaw (  and I talked a bit more about it, and it got me thinking about another piece.  This was one I recently finished that was based on the cage idea, but instead of repeating a single structure in a single cage, it was a looser version, with various seed bead shapes that are sometimes enclosed by and sometimes act as links between larger oxidized copper scaffolds.  I made the piece pictured on the top, and I really liked it a lot.  I worked hard to get a good picture of it, and have already used it as a jury shot once. 
    But the more I looked at the picture, the more I thought that right in the center front, where you want maximum impact, I had a blue shape that was so dark it didn't contrast much with the dark cage.  Also, it was completely encased by the cage.  So this morning, I took the blue piece out and replaced it with a pale pink and red one that extends beyond the frame of the cage.  I think it's a big improvement.  The second picture isn't as good--I like the lighting and the camera angle better on the top one, but that's easily fixed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cage pieces 2.0

 I find that when I'm trying out a new idea, I usually start out with a very regular, often symmetrical, piece.  Sort of like what they sometimes call a "proof of concept".  As I get more comfortable with the idea, the pieces lose a bit of that.  In mid-June I showed some new work I called cage pieces, with a bead structure loose inside a cage which was an octahedron made from tube beads. I wanted to make 3 changes for my 2nd version of the idea.  First I wanted the inside structures to be brighter, for more contrast with the dark gray cages.  Second, I wanted the cages to be less regular.  And, third, I wanted to eliminate the cages st the back, because they poke into your neck just a bit.     My first try at this was the picture on top.  Mostly it achieved what I wanted.  However, in making the cages irregular, I also made them smaller.  That is
because the original cages, which were regular octahedrons, were made entirely from 1" tubes.  In order to make the cages irregular I substituted 2 or 3 short (1/2") tubes in each cage, which inevitably made the overall structure smaller.  More importantly, though, the 1st piece used 1/2" tubes between the cages, and I forgot that and used 1" tubes in the 2nd one.  So the new cages were both smaller, and more widely spaced.  I didn't really notice the difference till I took a picture.  When I looked at the picture, there was just too much empty space.  So I took out the 3 middle cages and redid them, with much closer spacing.  That'e the bottom picture.    I think it was an improvement (although until now I didn't notice that the necklace in the bottom picture isn't centered properly in the picture).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

half knot necklace

    I'm still not very good at the mechanics of blogging:  I wanted to put these pictures side by side, but couldn't get that to happen.
    Anyway, as soon as I figured out how to do get my tube structures to spiral, I thought of making a piece that would look like a loosely knotted scarf.  As you can see, you can make twist the 2 ends together in 2 different ways, although I think the vertical twist (the bottom picture) would be better with 2 twists instead of just 1.   I plan to do another one, probably with the twist closer to the neck and longer tassels hanging below the twisted part.  The only problem with it is that  once it's tied, it just looks like a flexible tube, and you can't tell that the curves had to be built into it.  Oh, well.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Stone teardrops

This is a piece I've had in the back of my head for a while.  I wanted to take the basic buckeyball shape and extend 1 end out to make a teardrop shape.  I got that worked out and then came up with a smaller version for the back of the necklace.  The trickiest part was getting 2 "stalk" to come out of 1 ball a
in fairly close proximity so that I could get it to form 2 strands at the bottom.  All in all, I think it worked out nicely.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oxidized copper and pearls

     I went to a bead show several months ago.  I don't get to do that much, as I live in the boondocks, so I do most of my bead buying online.  It's so much fun to look at actual beads.  Anyway, I saw these dark stick pearls, and thought how great it would be to mix them in with my oxidized copper tubes.  They've been sitting in a bag for a while, but I finally got it done and I like the result.
    Another thing that I liked here was the photography.  2 things I did differently:  I used a flash, which I usually don't do, but it lightened the shadows alot.  Also I took the picture from a very shallow angle, which brought out the 3-dimensional-ness of the piece. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

hexagon shapes

    This turned into a fun project/experiment.  I wanted to create a focal piece for a pendant that was asymmetrical. Something sort of porkchop shaped was what I had in mind.  The part I felt would be hardest was the quick 180 degree turn I wanted at the top.  Looking at some of my earlier samples, I found a way to create it.  From there it was pretty straightforward to create the first shape in the picture.  But it wasn't quite what I wanted.  I had wanted a curvier, rounder shape, not just a series of hard 120 degree turns.  This led me to look again at tubes and shapes I had made in the past. 
   I knew, although I hadn't thought about it too much, that there are 2 different ways to make a tube out of hexagons.  They can be aligned either point-top or flat-top.  That is when the tube itself is pointing up and down the hexagons in it can either have a flat side up or a point (vertex).  The one on the left is made of flat-top hexes.  This is a bit counterintuitive, as they look pointy at the top.  In just the same way, when you do RAW, a "square" (4 bead circle) made with round beads actually looks more like a diamond than a square, and you have to remind yourself to think only of the thread path, which is indeed a square.
   Anyway, if you do a flat-top tube the beads appear to align lengthwise and accentuate the squareness of the tube (in both cases the tubes were made with a 4-hex circumference) and the hardness of the angles. So I decided to try to create a similar shape using point-top hexagons.  With point-top hexagons you get the appearance of rows of beads aligning around the circumference of the tube.  As I expected, I couldn't get as tight a bend at the top (I'm sure there's a way; I just haven't found it yet), but I got a much rounder tube and a more fluid, organic shape.  All in all, more what I was looking for.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cage pieces

     I love the idea of a bead or beaded shape caged within another shape, loose enough that it can move around but not get out.  I did it once with seed beads.  It was a bright colored dodecahedron caged inside a clear buckeyball.  I liked it but have never done another.  These oxidized copper tube bead shapes are ideal for that kind of treatment, and it's been on my to-do list for a while. an individual large bead caged in a structure would be nice, but you'd want it to be undrilled, so not really a bead at all.  I've thought of a marble.  Problem is I only have access to 3 sizes of tubes (and one is quite short, to it's effectively 2 sizes), so you need to be able to size the inside piece to the cage, so that it's small enough to move, but not so small it can fall out.
    Patricia Madeja does a really nice pendant with an undrilled pearl captured in a gold cube.  But I can't use a cube because a 4-sided shape isn't rigid when done in tube beads.  Also the sizing between the sphere and the square has a pretty small tolerance.  I found the same to be true if I used a tetrahedron cage, i.e. if it was big enough to not fall out it couldn't move much.  An octahedron, though, worked really well, as you can see.  There's lots of  room for the inner balls to move.  In the bracelet and the back of the necklace I used RAW cubes inside octahedrons made of 12 mm tubes.  In the front of the necklace I used dodecahedrons inside 22 mm shapes.  All the inside shapes are made from 4 mm stone beads. 
   There was just one minor problem with the necklace.  The point of the oct is toward your neck as you wear it, so it feels just a bit prickly.  It's not bad; I wore it all day, but I noticed it just  bit.  After this picture was taken I added a small bead at the inner and outer points of the octs, but it didn't really change anything.  It's not any sharpness in the tubes themselves that creates the slight prickliness, but just the shape of the oct itself.  It wasn't noticeable at all on the bracelet, where the weight is evenly distributed. Both pieces are quite lightweight, it's just that in the necklace whatever weight there is is concentrated in 4 points on your neck.  2 possible answers: reposition the octs so that there's a triangular face toward you instead of a vertex; or leave out the octs at the back of the necklace altogether.  I'm experimenting with both.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

oxidized copper and stones again

    I'm enjoying this combination of the oxidized copper tubes and multi-colored stones.  I don't do much that's dainty or "feminine", so for me this was a bit of a change.  Admittedly most people wouldn't think of oxidized copper tubes and 4 mm stone beads as exactly dainty, but for me it is, just because it's relatively small shapes, symmetrical and it's a short necklace.  Not a choker, but quite a bit shorter than I usually do (it's a bit over 18").  Another example of trying to get beyond just designing for myself.
    I spent a bit of time with the photography here too, and ultimately I'm not too happy with it.  A lot of the problem is that the shadows of the tubes are pretty much the same color as the tubes themselves.  Partly, I think, that's because it was a dark and rainy day today, so even in front of a window there wasn't much ambient light beyond the 2 lights I have for photography.  It made the lighting too harsh I think.  I find these pieces hard to photograph, though, because if I put them on a white background it gives it a harsh look, but as I go toward a darker background, the tubes don't show up as well.  Biba Schutz is a wonderful jewelry artist who mostly works with very dark oxidized silver, so I'll have to look at her website and see what her pictures look like.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Oxidized copper and stones

Just finished a new piece.  I've been moving toward adding more color to my oxidized copper tube pieces, mostly with gemstones.  This is the latest.  I have a tendency to design for myself--i.e.something I would wear (or sometimes something I would wear if I lived a life that included dressing up, which I mostly don't).  That keeps the work relatively conservative.  This one is a bit bigger than I would tend to wear myself, but I like it a lot.  I think the mix of stone shapes based on molecular structures  and copper tube structures based more on engineering forms works well.  Particularly since it corresponds with the mix of color and no-color.
  I think my next step will be to combine the 2 kinds of beads more closely--like a polyhedron where some of the beads are round gemstones and some are copper tubes.  This is tricky because generally the long beads need structures made mostly of triangles, or else they're too floppy, and I tend to avoid triangles with the round beads.  That's partly because too much thread shows in a triangle made from 3 beads, and also because I like the more open look you get with bigger circles of beads.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rounded corner cubes

   A few posts back, I talked about some necklaces I'd done with interlocked cubes.  I like them alot, but they're pretty slow to do.  One of the things I liked was the transition from the RAW cube modules that make up the big cubes at the bottom (I'm saying "big cube" to distinguish the overall element from the modules that make it up) to the triangular prism modules that make up the "chain" part of the necklace.  By triangular prism I mean that that the sides of each module in that part of the necklace are 8-bead cubes, but there are only 3 sides, so the cross section is a 6-bead equilateral triangle.  It makes that part of the necklace a bit smaller, and quicker to make.  I started wondering if there was a way to make the big cubes using  triangular prisms for the modules.  Turns out you can.  The corner of each big cube is a tetrahedron.  Of course the modules coming off the tetrahedrons don't "want" to make a right angle corner.  They're really at 120 degrees.  But in the same way that you can make a rounded tetrahedron using RAW cube modules, you can make a rounded cube using tatrahedrons at the corners.
  I usually find that an advantage of forcing  beads to do something they don't "want" to do in that way is that it stiffens the piece up.  That didn't really happen here.  I suppose that just the fact that each big cube made this was has a lot fewer beads in it than it would have if made with cube modules, thay came out floppier than I expected (or wanted).  I ended up having to go back and add beads in contrasting colors between the modules on each face to stiffen it up.  I like that, but it at least partly removed the speed advantage I was hoping for.  I'd like to make a whole necklace of interlocked cubes, and, once again, it'll be pretty slow going.
   One more thing.  I don't know if you can see it very well from the picture but when I added the green cube on the left to the gold cube next to it, I goofed, and didn't link it onto the opposite corner on the gold bead, but instead to the opposite corner of the same face of the cube.  Should have been the opposite corner of the opposite face.  However, in the grand artist tradition of deciding that a mistake is really a "design element", I did it again on the other side.  Works for me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oxidized copper earrings

Just a quick post.  I've been getting ready for a show in Atlanta (the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park, if you're in the area).  The oxidized copper tube beads I've been working with lend themselves well to making structures for earrings, so I've just finished several new earring designs.They're all just combinations of tetrahedrons and octahedrons, but by using different length tubes you get interesting structures.  The ear wires are oxidized sterling silver.  I like to do the kind of post that needs an earring back to hold it on.  That's because the earrings are so open that I don't want an extra wire hanging down behind the ear, the way you'd have with something like a French wire.  So far they all have mirror image pieces for the other ear, but I'd like to do some where the 2 earrings are close, but not identical.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

more metal beads

    Just finished this one.  I went back to my oxidized copper beads, but I now have round ones as well as tube beads.  The round ones are a pain to use, though.  These are 3.5 mm.  The holes are quite small and hard to find.  But, more than this, since the beads are hollow, your needle goes in one side of the bead, and then has to feel its way around the wall on the other side till it finds the hole to get out.  Actually the same is true of the nickel silver beads (the bright ones in this piece), but their holes are much bigger in relation to the size of the beads.
    Despite the griping, I like the way this one came out.  I like the asymmetry, as well as the way the tube beads in the chain open the piece up.  And they do speed up the weaving, so I probably shouldn't complain about the time it took to make the major shapes out of the round beads.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


        I've been taking some time to try to expand my vocabulary of the shapes I can make using round gemstone beads.  These are 4 mm, mostly red aventurine, for no particular reason except that I had a lot of it.  I was interested in the idea of graduated sizes, so I came up with 4 sizes of disks, 3 of sort of teardrop shapes and a couple of  kind of lozenge-ish shapes.  The curvy pieces at the top left had to do with trying to make shapes that were not just convex (I think that's right, I sometimes get concave and convex mixed up, but anyway shapes that curved inward as well as outward).  I made a necklace using the graduated rounds.  Unfortunately, I hadn't figured out the 4th, largest, disk yet, so it just has 3 sizes.  That 4th size, by the way, is pretty big-- 2 1/2" in diameter (6.2ish cm).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Scaffold with gemstone shapes

  I've been wanting to combine gemstone beads with my oxidized copper scaffold structures.  The first one I did ( I don't have a picture of it) was quite a regular, repeating structure.  Also, it used just one kind of gemstone, and it was gray feldspar, so it didn't add a lot of color.  Anyway, nice, but I wanted something with more unpredictability to it.  This is what I came up with.  It uses red agate, red aventurine, green marble, blue quartz, yellow quartz and gray feldspar.  Also, no 2 scaffold structures are alike.  I think it's much more interesting.  I've never "strung" beads on a cord, so it is more complicated to incorporate the colored shapes with the oxidized copper, but I got it to work.

The trickiest shapes to use were the cubes.  Each gemstone shape has a tube bead running through it.  When I made my first cube (they're 2x2x2 cubes) I discovered the only way I could put a tube through it was like this:
The tube had to go through the middle of one of the rows of cubes, so it's offset on the total cube.  If the cube were 3x3x3 cubes there'd be a path down the middle, but that would be way too big.  But then it occurred to me that this cube, which is made of 54 beads, has just 2 running down each center axis.  So you could just leave out 2 beads, and you'd have one center axis that was free.    So I took it apart and left out 2 center beads, and got the one in the 2nd picture.  I couldn't figure  out a very effiicient path to build it without those 2 center beads, but anyway, I got it done.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


   I just finished this piece, and I'm pleased with it.  It's so easy to get hung up on complexity, and I've been guilty of that too.  This piece relies on the color interaction betwen the black and white silkstone beads and the red agate.  Other than that it's simple--just buckyballs and a tube structure.  The only complexity was in making the tube curve at the top and bottom (it has too much stiffness to be able to take that sharp a curve by itself), and that doesn't have the appearance of complexity anyway.
   I  work with color a lot in my rugs, and I've always felt that that is one of the things I do reasonably well.  In the rugs, I dye my own colors, and that makes a huge difference.  When I first started beading, I was really frustrated because I couldn't just throw beads in a pot and make them any color I wanted.  So I sort of de-emphasized color, and did a lot of work in a fairly limited palette.   Then, more recently, I've started doing some seed bead pieces with more color, and have liked them.  But with the gemstone pieces, I've still been working in a fairly limited color range, partly because at the moment I'm still pretty cheap and don't buy the more expensive gemstone beads.  Also, I try to stay away from dyed gemstone beads.  I must confess that I have wondered about these red agate beads.  But Shipwreck Beads usually says when beads are dyed, and they don't list these as dyed, so I've been using them a lot.  They punch up a piece nicely.  I wish I could find a good blue too. I'm too cheap, at the moment, to buy lapis lazuli.  I bought blue sodalite once and made a piece that looked pretty nice, but I had so much trouble with the beads breaking that I ended up taking it apart, and I've never bought sodalite since.  Have any of you used sodalite, and what was your experience with it?  I'd love to think I just got a bad batch, but wherever those pretty white inclusions appeared, the bead broke there.  It was as if the white was just chalk.  Any ideas?

Friday, January 18, 2013

3 cube pendant

Since I wrote last time about the steps it took me to get to this design, I figured I ought to post the final product.  Quite simple, but I'm pleased with it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

reinventing the wheel, design-wise

    When I was doing the sampler I talked about last time, the hardest thing to figure out was an outside right angle in 2 directions like you have on the corner of a cube.  I tried several ways before I got one I liked.  My plan was to make 3 interlocked cubes, where each outside corner
 would turn into a long tube that would go behind the neck to form a pendant.  I wanted it to be pretty big and chunky, for maximum impact.  But by the time I had made 2 cubes using 4 mm stone beads, I realized it was just too big for jewelry (it would have stuck out over 2 1/2" from the body).  You can see in the picture there's still line (fireline) hanging off one of the cubes.  That's because It was pretty complicated and I did lots of backtracking to fix mistakes.  As I finished it up I found 1 last mistake, and haven't yet worked up the ambition to tear out the last corner to fix it.  It's one that only I would notice--but I would notice it. 
    Anyway, I decided to start again, using #8 seed beads in metallic colors.  I've been doing so much work with gemstone beads lately that I had forgotten how much quicker it is to work with seed beads. Hurray for big holes.  So it went quicker and, while still big, it was a better size.  But I found I couldn't get the stiffness I needed using fireline.  It needed to be monofilament.  But as I thought about starting over once again, I thought, wait a minute, I've been making open cubes like this for years--using RAW.  And while I like the sort of organic look of the rounded corners and all, RAW would be SO MUCH EASIER.  One of the things that had gotten me started on the whole project was that when I was trying to make these corners, back in my sampler, I had made one that, while I didn't like it as a plain corner, would be a great structure for morphing into  the long tube structure I wanted for the the pendant.  But I came up with a way to make an "organic" looking connection in RAW from the cube to the chain, and now I'm on my way.  But what a long way around!