Beaded bags and amulet bags - a blog hop!

 I remember thinking the blog hop schedule would give me plenty of time... 

I met Christine of One Kiss Creations when we were partnered on an ornament swap. I still hang my driftwood with beaded snowflakes every year, and enjoy it all winter. So when the magic of the internet told me she was co hosting ( with Therese Frank) an amulet bag hop... I decided to go for it... Beaded amulet bags. So many options! 

Well - I have attempted this, and I apologize that nothing is finished... I have more ideas, and when I have even more time... but let me show you what I have worked on: 

beaded bag WIP

This piece was pure bead embroidery - and I LOVED doing it. The basic idea and directions came from Beaded Embellishment by Robin Atkins. I loved my palette - so very me. And I loved watching the design grow. The problems (see below) began when I started assembling the bag. I have very limited sewing/construction experience. The piece IS complete - although it is lacking a snap closure. The beadwork did not quite line up at the front where the flap folds - so I have a few more beads to add to camoflauge that area. AND a strap. I became rather frustrated with assembly and will confess, this piece was put aside for a long while... 

beaded bag as is

The second piece I am much happier with - and learned quite a bit. I actually bagan this peyote stitch bag ten years ago?! The delicas and the bottom section, stitched int he round - was squirreled away in a bag... SO I tackled this. I decided to vary the beads and made a bead soup with the original beads, adding more new colors as hte original colors were depleted. I love the variation this has given me. A teammate over at Art Jewelry Elements said it reminded her of Roman glass - so there is the button closure! Spot on!  I adore peyote stitch and could do this all day! My thought for next time? Use rounds not delicas! The bag is SO firm. I plam to stitch silk to the sides as shown on my sketch. The ends will terminate in a knot, and a few charm or crystal dangles. 

peyote amulet bag

On a completely different note - I had done this as well, and thought it would apply. The leather belt pouch was made by my friend Betty at Emperor's Needle. She has a booth at the PA Renaissance Faire. I beaded the embroidered element onto stiff stuff, then stitched it to the leather with the final round of beads. 

beaded leather pouch

As these are my first attempts I would love to hear what you think...

Thank you Christine and Therese for hosting and challenging me! Please take a look at the other participants fabulous creations! 

Therese ( hostess)
Christine (hostess)
Jenny ( that's me!)
Karin S

Back in time: my Celtic inspiration

 One last timehop, one last stop on the Beading Back in Time travel schedule. This final installment encourages artist to select their favorite time period. Mine will inevitably be Celtic, time and time again. For fresh inspiration, I grabbed a few books and a cup of coffee... started sketching. No pre-conceived idea, just browsing at first. 

celtic sketches

The crescent "lunula" shape has been on my mind for a while. Its a recurring motif in Celtic, Slavic, Russion cultures. As a lunar symbol it is associated with women. The moon rules ocean tides, and a woman's tides. The moon, seen as female, embodies the stages of one's life in the lunar stages - from Maiden to Mother, to wise Crone.

lunula references

Diagram of lunula pendants - I'm trying to translate the text from Russion, with Google's asistance... 

Blessington Lunula  Crafty Celts lunula

1. Gold lunula from Blessington, Ireland, Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, c. 2400BC – 2000BC, Classical group ( from Wiki)
2. Lunula pendant in bronze from the Crafty Celts. "Lunula amulets date back to the end of the Bronze Age, and continued to be worn into modern times. They were common in Egypt as well as among many farming peoples of Europe and Asia and reflected the worship of the moon, which was associated with fertility. Earrings, pendants, metal details of headdresses, and other 
ornaments had the form of lunulae. Lunulae were especially widespread in Rus. in the tenth to 12th centuries."

I was contemplating doing a lunula pendant for myself in sterling, but time was not cooperating. The polymer was out... I was creating ornaments for my local gallery. These pieces - 2 styles - are polymer crescents with a hammered metal frame. The frame curls around, allowing a space to attach chain. I have stitched the small gems on with 26 gauge wire. I love using the tiny gems here - holes so small its hard to string them otherwise, but perfect in this application. 

my lunula pendants

The top pendant in cream and brown features the word "self" in the Celtic Ogham alphabet. This linear font was used for carving, and had many layers of meaning, among them trees and months of the year. I wanted an amulet - trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Center yourself. Have faith in yourself... it all comes back to "self". The gems are green garnet. The blue lunula below incorporated sterling and aquamarine. This is more lunar to me, evocative of the Moon goddess - the three stars for her three aspects. 

I plan something simple to finish these, maybe just chain, or one wrapped gem each. I may make more, but these each feel personal to me, and I plan to keep them and wear them. 

Thanks for stopping by. I have thoroughly enjoyed the creative challenges of these historical "Back in time" hops. Thanks to Sheri and Lindsay for organizing! Please stop by the other blogs! A full list can be found at: Phantasm Creations

Until next time... 




Raven's Knowledge: the Art Jewelry Elements October reveal

ravens banner

 Welcome and Happy Halloween! 

Its reveal day at Art Jewelry Elements, and this month was a Raven themed challenge, hosted by Karen. ( Check out our raven posts here and here!) I have long loved ravens whether they are in Celtic and Norse myth - or the Tower of London... This month I was feeling the need to spread my wings a bit and I have done some raven themed artwork outside of the jewelry realm! 

I wanted to sculpt ravens in polymer and incorporate them into a felt/beaded/mixed media piece. So here goes: 

wet felting in situ

The wet felting and coffee counter space! I'm new to this, so my book is to my left. The bottom pictures show the wool roving laid out, and after the first stages of felting. The combination of water, soap and agitation creates the felting action. 

blank slates

These three are the results of that afternoon felting session. I was trying to estimate shrinkage, which can be a third or so. The larger piece wa too big - the others were just right. 

ready to bead

Here they are with their ravens! 

felting lunch

Last week I had a work/lunch/date with Marsha. ( You know her from Marsha Neal Studio, but she is also now working at Sarafina Fiber Arts.) I sat down to embellish and bead my ravens and Marsha generously shared some of the equisite dyed curly locks from Sarafina. She was needle felting/sculpting great little gnome guys. And Peeves the cat was her normal charming feline self. 

Raven's knowledge

This one was complete with the curly/silky locks. No beads needed. I did add an antique button to anchor the piece and address a transition on the embellishments. This will be mounted and framed... how? I'm not sure yet. It was still a little too large for the IKEA frames I had. Like I said - calculating guessing shrinkage. 

Ravens detail

So the second piece was destined for beads! I had taken all this to Texas with me when I went to visit family earlier in the month. Hadn't touched it at all... I used vintage rose montees, bugle beads, O beads, drops, you name it. I do find the irridescent dark beads rather hard to photograph. I was pleased with the shapes in the felt, and being able to position the polymer raven to echo those shapes. 

Raven flight

Now - not to leave jewelry behind totally - I already have existing designs for 2 raven pendants and a newer crow design. (You can read about the crow glazing process here.) I decided to try a few new designs - and haven't actually gotten further than the molds! On the left is a very Pacific NorthWest/Native American style raven. It will have fine line details carved into the clay, and be glazed in a high contrast decorative style. On the right is a larger piece, inspired by the myths in which Raven stole the sun. I look forward to trying these in ceramic clay AND in polymer. 

new designs and molds

Oh drat! There is ONE more raven design - still in a plaster mold at the work studio! I will update you ASAP!

This was a great theme, rich in multicultural connections and fabulous inspiration. I feel like I have barely gotten started and the month is over! Stay tuned for more ravens - and until then please take a look at the other diverse offerings created this month! 

Guest links and AJE team links will be available at Art Jewelry Elements blog

Fall is in the air! The September COM reveal

 The windows are open. The soundtrack is crickets, Canadian geese... and while flowers are still blooming, Fall is definitely in the air. 

Its time for the Component of the Month reveal at Art Jewelry Elements. This month the fall themed piece is a ceramic oak leaf and acorn from Linda Landig. She offered a diverse palette in warm tones, but this sage speckled green called my name. When it arrived the orange stumped me. Its not a color I work with often, and this glaze was a coral/orange color. I'd recently had the pleasure of an intro needle felting experience with Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio... and there was this pumpkin color wool that I had picked up as scrap... Umm... I think its time to wet felt! 

COM materilas

Here is Linda's original (finger for scale reference...) and my felted piece - back and front. I have done small scale welt felting before - thanks to the uber talented Cooky Schock. Its so like painting that it speaks to my inner colorist, and draws on my painting experience. There is an element of random for me - while others may have more mastery of the material, I can sort of get it to do what I imagine... The felt turned out great! I wanted to bead it, and create a small mixed media hanging piece. Here's my end result: 

COM in situ

I hung it there between my closet and my new bead tower in the studio. It may stay there! Here are some details of the beaded embellishments: 

COM details

The stamped text translated as "bright autumn" in Gaelic. I love text, but sometimes using other languages is more interesting to me, adding a mystery element and keeping the text a visual first. I chose Gaelic as a nod to the Celtic language of trees. The oak stands for strength, courage, perseverance... Ironically the twig I used is a cottonwood twig from New Mexico. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and have to thank Linda for the incentive to try wet felting again! After this I did a shadowbox shrine showcasing one of Lesley's foxes! 

With glittering eyes

(Sorry for the bad pix. It was a quick snap as I dropped it off for a fibers show at the local gallery.)

I'd love to hear what you think! And the guests and AJE team is listed below! Please take a look at their creations as well! 

Carolyn Lawson
Alice Peterson
Diana Ptaszynski



Art Jewelry Elements Art Camp - and the COM reveal!

 August. Bead Fest. End of Summer. Back to school. And AJE Art Camp! 

This year I am thrilled to share today's reveal with Lesley Watt! She came for Bead Fest and a vacation... We sat down Friday in my studio to work on projects... her COM was done. Mine was not... 

The ceramic piece we were working with is a rustic coin by our friend and colleague Diana P. of Suburban Girl Studio: 

Dianas rustic coins

Diana's Rustic coins - our August Component of the Month. 

 I confess - I had an older rustic coin that I had altered. I poured resin, trapping a thin sliver of snakeskin inside. Although Diana sent me a new coin for the COM - I decided to challenge myself to finish the piece I had started... The coin no longer has the center opening so I was leading towards bead embroidery. Although I sadly covered up some of the crusty glaze on the edges, I love the matte aqua and really wanted to play up that color. The snaleskin showed best on a white substrate... and as I worked a snake emerged. Yes - that is one of Diana's small cabs there in the "head" of the snake. It was a perfect fit. 

JDR WIP and details

 Here is the finished piece! I am happy with the results and plan to hang it on a wide silky ribbon. I liked the pearls with the 15* anchor bead - echoing the dot pattern of Diana's hand stamped design. And the little seed pod beads were a perfect companion to the stoneware clay. 

Snakeskin JDR

Now - with out further ado I turn it over to Lesley! 

Thanks Jenny.

So as Jenny said, I was lucky enough to be staying with the esteemed designer of this months COM and was able to make my piece in her company. Ever the comedian here she is trying her best to distract me...!

 Work space LOL

My particular component was a lovely mellow sea foam colour and I just happend to have bought some African Turquoise brick beads at Bead Fest which were a perfect accent. I also brought with me from home some of Diana's beads in the same rustic style and some leather. I went for a design strung on waxed linen and created a bail with some seed beads. I then raided Diana's bead box for some brass spacers to intersperse between the turquoise and rustic beads.

 Lesley's COM WIP

Here's the completed necklace which I finished with leather cord but I may well change this for some chunky brass chain when I get home. The design is simple and symmetrical but I love the way the natural stone works with Diana's piece to give a soft but earthy feel - very me.

Lesley's COM final

Many thanks to Diana for giving us the opportunity to work with her lovely components. If you would like to see what the rest of the AJE team and our guest designers created please click on the links below.

AJE Team





Jenny wren - the Art Jewelry Elements Component of the month reveal

If you are looking for the Beading back in time hop - click here! 

This month new member Niky Sayers ( of Silver Niknats, now Niky Sayers Artisan Jewelry) sent us pieces made from the old British farthing coin. (A farthing was 1/4 of a penny. There were 240 pence in a LB Sterling. Taken out of circulation in 1960 - that leaves a lot of coins for creative purposes!) Niky sent me a hollow lentil bead made from 2 coins. Its stunning! I am particularly fond of the wren, often called Jenny Wren. Some nursery rhymes have the Queen of Fairy shape shifting into a wren... 

I thought I wanted to do a bangle and have a message/mantra for myself as it is Jenny Wren... Here is the first attempt: stamped and engraved copper to frame the wren bead. I have a great little engraver that makes it so easy to do script... 

COM version 1

I wasn't happy with that. I had those shapes in mind to transition from the width of the bead down in proportion to the wire wrapped bangle section. They looked like the whites on either side of an eye, and they didn't sit well on my wrist. And color. I think I want color... 


There! I am so pleased! Lampwork by Indian Creek art glass with aventurine and turquoise accents. 

bracelet detail

If you are coming to Bead Fest stop by Artisans Alley #461- I'll be sure to wear this and you can see it in person. Until then - please join my colleagues and out guests on this month's hop! 



Beading Back in Time Blog Hop - Ancient Egypt inspired!

It has a been a supremely busy month! Clay Camp, Bead Fest preparations... and here we are at the reveal for the Beading Back in Time blog hop! Wish I had a Time Turner like Hermione! But I digress... 

Early Civilization (3500 BC to 500 AD)

Really? How am I supposed to choose? Crete. Classical Greece. Rome. The Celts. Not to mention Babylon. Assyria. China. Japan. I decided to save Celtic as my favorite for the final hop. I wanted to challenge myself; many friends seemed to be leaning to Ancient Greece... I have chosen Ancient Egypt although it doesnt seem like a challenge! I have loved this time period and this culture since I was in grade school. I have taught numerous Egyptian themed lesson to ages 6-18. I have written papers on Egyptian amulets, their uses, and the traditional materials used. Phew. Now let's make something! 

Nefertari's tomb

Images from: House of Eternity, Getty publications

Tomb paintings from the tomb of Queen Nefertari show the deceased queen and various goddesses as she is guided into the Afterlife. We are all familiar with the heavy gold and bead collars favored at this time; and pectorals set with carved lapis scarabs, goddesses in carved carnelian... But it's the amulets that fascinate me. Small, intimate talismans; prayers to the diverse dieties that were actively worshipped by all classes, all the time. (I wrote a series of post on amulets for Art Jewlery Elements a while back. Part 1 - Ankh and wedjet aye. Part 2 - Dietites, heart, tyet...Part 3 - faience or self glazing clay.)

So I gathered inspirations:  

Collected inspiration

1. Illustrated antique book - Dictionary of the Bible 2. Cigarette cards 3. My faience amulets 4. The working selection. What to choose!? 

 simple heart amulet

I had a stoneware heart amulet - small, simple but interesting to me. I selected the sandcast blue beads to reference Egyptian use of lapis, and a few accent beads in carnelian. Its long, it falls over my heart - made of many small wrapped links in brass wire. While the piece is very simple, it is extremely wearable and has many layers of symbolism. Colors were especially meaningful in ancient Egyptian art. 

Heart amulets: to the ancient Egyptians it was" the most essential organ... the seat of intelliegence, originator of feeling... storegouse of memory..." Andrews*

Clay: "primevel substance which recalls both the original creation and the ongoing process of life and fertility"  (ie the annual Nile fllod) - Wilkinson*

Red:  represents both fire and blood; energy/dynamism/power

Blue: the heavens and the flood; life and rebirth

But I had more ideas I wanted to try!

I have been working with this style mixed media piece for a while. (Sadly the class wasnt selected at Bead Fest this year.) They are polymer, and contain vintage images and antique watch crystals. The polymer is the bezel and the backing, and I handpaint each one in anywhere from 2-5 layers of oil, acrylic and Gilder's paste. 

vintage PC "Lockets"

The images are taken from a set of vintage children's encyclopedias. I love the limited palette! (These WILL be available  and more like them at Bead Fest this August. Artisan's Alley #461) 

Please take a few minutes to enjoy the other offerings! Easy arm chair or desk top time travel right here. Links available with our hostesses:

Lindsay Starr - Phantasm Creations

Sherri Stokey - Knot just macrame

Thanks for stopping by! 



 *Amulets of Ancient Egypt by C. Andrews. Page 72

*Symbolism and Magic in Egyptian Art by R. Wilkinson. page 94



The Firefly reveal - The June theme challenge at Art Jewelry Elements

Firefly inspiration

When Jennifer announced "fireflies" as the themed challenge over at Art Jewelry Elements - I knew the exact look I wanted to capture. The luminous deep blue sky, trees in silhouette, just enough light to see by... and the magical sparkles of light, like fairies flitting in the dusk. 

Inspiration 2

In the ceramics studio I have been testing out my palette of underglazes in the ^10 reduction firings we do at the work studio. The underglazes are holding up to the high heat and retaining their color in a pleasing fashion - on porcelain. I love porcelain, but its not the clay body I use most. So lets give it a whirl... 

I carved a few simple pendants style pieces with the silhouetted shapes of grasses and trees. The fireflies themselves are circular impressions: I wanted to melt glass seed beads there. Planning on keeping the porcelain matte in finish - the seed beads should create little glossy halos around the "firefly" impressions. Here they are glazed, and a few of the first results: 

Before and after porcealin

Now the good news and the bad: I fired them all at once. All my proverbial eggs in the same basket. So I see what worked, and what I want to change, but I have to start anew. As shown above - all the blue skies look alike at first - and some have fired much darker. It was different shades of blue... The seed beads created the EXACT halo I wal looking for; but they were yellow/golden beads and they have fired to an amber color, not the yellow I hoped for... 

Most successful versions

These four are the truest to my original plan, although there are things I want to try differently. (They will be available at Ceramic Art Bead Market on FB later this week) 

second batch

These three are much darker, but have some nice larger melty fireflies and a few smaller plain yellow ones in the distance. (Also on CABM later this week.) 

Now - of course I had another idea as well, and limited time between 2 shows this month and teaching Clay Camp at the "work" ceramics studio...  Mason jars. The iconic symbol of childhood summer nights catching fireflies. 

Resin jars WIP

These are still a WIP. I sculpted three jars of varying sizes from polymer, and made a quick mold. I cast them in resin, doing multiple pours, and embedding golden microbeads and flecks of gold leaf in the layers. (The gold leaf wins. The micro beads are too small.) The purple RTV had a more open surface texture, resulting in a frosted look that you can see on the left and center jars. The yellow molding putty - from ICE resin - had a much tighter surface, and yielded a better result. Still a bit cloudy/frosty, I plan to give these a quick surface coat of ICE resin to smooth out the inconsistencies in the surfaces and hopefully achieve a smooth/transparent/glossy surface. 

I know this may be a logical go-to mixed media combination to create an iconic firefly piece... but I love it! I plan to wire wrap the jar's neck... and I have visions of a necklace palette of dark blues, teals, black with one or two pops of yellow scattered in the night sky... 

Please take a chance to see the other offerings from AJE team members and guests this month! Sure to light up some ideas for you! 

Guest Designers:
Veralynne Malone -
AJE Team:
Caroline Dewison -


May Component of the Month: beaded beads!

May. I miss you already. But before you depart - its the May Component of the Month at Art Jewelry Elements

Sue of SueBeads sent these lovelies! I told her to surprise me because I think all her color palettes could easily inspire... SueBeads beaded beads

But Sue knows me and sent me these delicious beads: copper, garnet red and aqua. 

My beaded beads COM

The palette gave me a plethora of ideas! I started early as I wanted to bead embroider something to play off the beaded texture. The beads were small, but I wanted them to relate directly to the focal, inspiring the whole necklace palette so they would be a major player regardless of size. 

pc beaded focal

Polymer cab of mine; an Art Nouveau woman, in copper with patina accents. glass flower beads, garnet pearls, and corresponding seeds. 

details COM

 I knew I wanted the beaded beads at the junction of necklace and silk, with some visual rest between them and the focal. I selected simple pearls and amazonite to go between. I am happy with the results! 

Please join the rest of the team and our guests this month in the AJE COM hop: 

AJE Team


May. More like Mayhem...

 Mayhem most definitely. 

The month of May - the one that is over half gone asI write this? Whew. So many wonderful things... here is a whirlwind tour to catch up. I do resolve to return to a regular scheduled blog presence, but you KNOW how things are... 

CPS article

I have a feature article published in "Cloth Paper Scissors"!!! The article features the mixed media pieces shown above; combining metal, shell, fibers, wood, found objects...The original (pictured on the left) was inspired by a short story by Charles DeLint entitled "The Conjure Man". You can read all the details on the original blog post if you desire. Or for the step by step details pick up a copy of "Cloth Paper Scissors".  

my Novel art

I took a break from clay and beads to return to books, altered books to be precise. This was for a library fundraiser  called "Novel Art" for the Ligonier library in PA. I knew of the event from Andrew Thornton as its his town... It was great fun to do something so different, and for a worthy cause. My piece is a shrine built inside an old hardback. The theme ws inspired by the ttile "Singing Waters" which instantly meant SIREN to me. She is polymer, with sheet music behind her. The ocean image on the left is transparent so text reads through.  

new tiles!

I am always adding new tiles to my library! Here you see the Harpy and the Mermaid of Zennor that debuted at Spoutwood Faerie Festival. This week I started a Greek Sphinx - another in the series of sassy women from myth, and  a Ganesha. You can see a bit of my process as the sphinx is sketched out, tahn built up. Next she will be carved into detail. 

Group shot Spoutwood

Spoutwood! What a wonderful festival! Why do I never take enough pictures?! The weather was gorgeous! The crowds were huge! And I love seeing old froends and making new!!!

me and Em

When worlds collide: my teacher's aide and friend Emma also off work to cavort with the fae... 

for the wood fire

This week and last have been a frenzy! (Check out #creativefrenzy on Instagram) I signed up rather last minute for a "Norigama" firing at the Perkins Center for the Arts. I have three weeks to create and dry and fire... 20-3- pieces. Whoa.


And I am involved in the creation of a great new auction site on Facebook: Creative Artist Bead Market. The goal is to showcase the best of the best, quality ceramic beads that are truly artist made. Hand made. Its an auction sirte, great fun, and a growing community. I like this new model as Etsy has completely sold out... But also - you will see a few new pendant designs in the picture above! Hare! Fox! Mermaid! 

All this and more detailed in my newsletter! Sign up here! ( top right column sign up box) 

See? May IS mayhem.

Until next week... 

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