Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Chance

Anyone who has read this blog for any appreciable amount of time already knows that I have learned what I currently know about metal clay from a couple books and a DVD - this is one of the books. Over the past couple years, my metal clay library has become larger, but this is still one of my go-to reference books. In fact, I flipped through it while drafting this post, and I can already tell I need to read through parts of it again.

This is a lovely, detailed, meticulous book with profoundly practical advice on working with this most wonderful of materials. I highly recommend it. Kate has been hard at work finishing up new books and DVDs that will be published later this year. In the meantime, she has put her remaining stock of Structural Metal Clay on sale (she currently has no plans to re-print the book). I'm not sure how long the sale will last, so don't hesitate. Go here to buy your copy at this great price while you can.

Here are your bead & jewelry links for the week:

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi is so happy that the third year of the Bead Journal Project has started. This year, she's making a bead embroidered bracelet for each month of the project.

Snap out of it, Jean, There's beading to be done!
book review by jean: here's a cool title, harking back to the 60s...Crunchy Granola Charm eBook by Yvette Doss !

A Bead A Day
Is it too early to "think spring" or will that make it get here faster? Lisa used her Soft Flex Trios in an attempt to hurry spring along.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei shares some new softly colored bracelet designs with readers.

Jean Campbell
Jean met up with two very cool artists this week: Gorgeous wool designs (including wool beads!); wonderful women.

Carmi's Art/Life World
After a week at CHA Carmi chooses the sweater surgery necklace as her favorite event. Jewelry Making
Are you ready to load up on some Valentine's jewelry tutorials? Are you even making jewelry for this holiday?

Art Bead Scene
Meet the pretty girl with lots of brains plus a whole lotta soul!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie looks to the skies for the inspiration for some new cloud carvings

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Instead of biting her fingernails down to the nub, Cindy makes Grunge Beads!

Strands of Beads
Melissa creates a new necklace design using cute heart beads from Rings & Things

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the Heart

I thought I'd share a new necklace design with you today.

In my goody bag this month, Rings & Things sent Valentine-themed components which included several of these cute lampworked heart beads. I don't know about you, but they remind me of frosted sugar cookies. I decided that one was simply not enough for a focal, so I strung four decorative hearts with Swarovski crystal on a short length of beading wire to create a single long dangle. The large 10mm faceted rose quartz is also from Rings & Things from my stash. I finished the piece with smaller rose quartz beads, a few pearlized seed beads and a floral toggle clasp.

Thank you to Rings & Things for providing great holiday inspiration (as usual)! Does anyone else have Valentine's jewelry to share? Let me know!

Please note: The lampworked heart beads mentioned in this post were promotional gifts from Rings & Things for review and/or design partnership purposes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Stop Traffic Charms

Ack, I just realized that I once again forgot to post links on Sunday. I've been busy with several different things, including making the prize for the Annual Short One's Birthday Giveaway (coming soon - watch this space). Here, without further ado:

A Bead in Time
Is there such a thing as social networking jewelry? Lisa dug through a bag of Necco valentine candy hearts to create a one of a kind "twittery" necklace.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Want to know what rubber duckies and Autism Awareness jewelry have to do with each other? Check Jean's site out!

Art Bead Scene
Do You Rock? Here's your chance to show others that you do!

Jean Campbell
Jean reviews Kerry Bogert's wonderfully whimsical new wirework book, Totally Twisted. Jewelry Making
Catch up on the latest jewelry related podcasts. Tammy found some excellent ones for you to listen to.

Carmi's Art Life World
Carmi has an easy idea to thank a sponsor.

Jewelry & Beading
How do you feel about using inexpensive materials in your designs? Chime in and let your voice be heard!

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
An Emily Dickinson poem describes Cindy's newest piece of jewelry.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei won some great lampwork beads and a chance to write a tutorial on how she used them.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew shares the new additions to his bead stash - goodies from Cindy Gimbrone, Diane Hawkey, and Nancy Schindler.

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off a new earring design made from beautiful cubic zirconia from

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Knit Love

Here's the other pendant I made with Valentine's Day in mind. It's a little rough - once again, I hand-cut the lettering - but I still like the message: words of love for your favorite knitter.

I've had knitting on my mind since I started my big yarn destash, so the pendant seemed appropriate. For anyone puzzling over this, "k2tog" is the knitting abbreviation for the instruction to knit two stitches together, so that they become one stitch. You can't get more romantic in knitting than that, right?

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Simply Divine

Toward the end of last year, gave its blogger team the opportunity to select from its beautiful collection of cubic zirconia beads and pendants. I had never worked with cz beads before, and I decided it would be fun to highlight their beautiful sparkle by creating a pair of simple dangle earrings. Thus, I chose this beautiful peridot geometric fan shape and paired it with simple garnet links.

Why it took me over a month to make them when the actual assembly time for the projects is less than five minutes is one of the mysteries of the universe. However, I finally sat down and put them together last night, and, oh, how I do love them. I had a tough time photographing the earrings - my lens simply can't capture the depth and sparkle of the cubic zirconia. I think these would make excellent evening wear for that special dinner out - perhaps on Valentine's Day? Just a thought. was also generous enough to send me a fistful of stars:

Obviously, I haven't strung these cubic zirconia beads yet, but given my recent penchant for things celestial, you can probably guess where these are headed.

As usual, thank you to for giving me the opportunity to try out your wonderful products. I'm a fan (no pun intended)!

Please note: the products mentioned in this post were promotional gifts from for review and/or design partnership purposes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I got caught up making the Lunar Phases pendants over the weekend, and I now have one available for sale in the shop. Thanks to everyone buying my new designs - I really appreciate it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Power of Love

Well, I'm late as usual, but I finally completed a couple new pieces for Valentine's Day. Here's the first one - The Power of Love. As far as the inspiration behind this word pendant is concerned - it's always struck me that love is often less of a hearts-and-flowers affair and more of a smack-you-in-the-face-whether-you're-ready-or-not sort of experience. Hence, my onomatopoeic word pendant.

I also thought it would be interesting to cast off the usual rubber stamps and use raised letters instead to, uh, pack more of a punch. Sure enough, this hand-cut lettering was pretty fun to make.

Actually, "pendant" isn't quite right. It's hard to tell scale from the photo, but this is a bracelet link. I finally bought a bracelet mandrel a bit ago, so I thought I'd go ahead and use it.

So there you have it - finally, a modest new piece from me. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Does Anyone Understand Technorati?

And can you explain it to me?!? I found out by accident the other day that my blog is currently not only in the Top 100 list for the Arts on Technorati, it has been hanging tough in the No. 3 spot for the past couple days (you will note that the excellent bead blogger Carmi of Carmi's Art/Life World occupies the No. 2 spot - unless you are reading this several days from the posting date, in which case, who knows where either of our blogs ended up). While I take this as a good thing, I do not understand it at all. My blog traffic hasn't changed appreciably, the last time I checked (admittedly probably 5 months ago), my Authority Rank was in the 30s - and now it's...897? Eh?!?! I really don't get it. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

I'm starting to lose momentum in my yarn destash, so I imagine it'll be drawing to a close pretty soon. Above is my favorite of the lot - Noro Iro in the best color ever. This seriously is my favorite color of Iro. It looks 100 times better knit up than in the skein - the tiny stripe of apple green in the middle of the pinks really makes it. When Noro went and discontinued this colorway, I bought a couple bags of it. Now that I've come to my senses, I'm putting one bag of 10 skeins (more than enough for a nice cardigan) up for auction.

The new stuff is listed here, and I have deals on Colinette Skye (I'm asking only $1.00/ skein for those), should you be interested.

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

So I have a new bookcase. I mean, I have a new bookcase. You have to understand - bookcases to me are the most perfect pieces of furniture. I adore bookcases - I am the daughter of a librarian, and I have books. Many, many books. I own more books than yarn (and by now, you know how much yarn I have, embarrassingly enough). Nothing makes me happier than piddling around arranging my books, re-arranging my books and then pulling my books off of the shelf to read them.

When we moved from our condo to the house in which we currently live, we lost a ton of storage space (the condo had an enormous amount of built-ins). Many of my books and magazines, and all of my new acquisitions, ended up in piles on the floor. No longer, I'm happy to say. This bookcase, this thing of beauty, now houses all of my beading and metal clay books (and some knitting books as well). It is, in a word, my craft library. I'm so happy!

I hope you all had a good weekend. Here are your bead and jewelry links to get your week off to a good start:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
I really think Barb Switzer is a super person and editor! I was thrilled when she interviewed me last year for the online newsletter, Simply Beads!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Inspired by a lampwork glass champagne-hued Basha Bead and a shibuichi mermaid pendant, Andrew creates a whimsical and sophisticated necklace.

January's Art Bead Scene Challenge is a snowy landscape with a solitary magpie painted by Monet.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has a special Paris post on photographing jewelry.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei tests the waters with some new bead elements from Pork Chop Show.

Cindy Gimbrone, the Lampwork Diva
Rewind: Cindy's Art Noveau inspired Stile Floreal bronze clay pendants.

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi wants to know, wanna be facebook friends?

Katie's Beading Blog
See pix of Katie's workshop offerings for the Bead & Button Show in June. Registration opened this week and classes are already filling up!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe will be tooting Jean's horn for her new book Steampunk Style at CHA.

A Bead A Day
Unraveled star beads become springy coils in Lisa's wintery white dangly earring project. Jewelry Making
Tammy has developed a quick link list to help you find the jewelry info you need.

Jean Campbell
Oh, geez. Jean's tooting her horn again about her new book, Steampunk Style Jewelry...

Strands of Beads
Melissa has a fun time exchanging bead stashes with a friend to create a new bracelet.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hell, yes!

Thinking back on it, I'm not sure how it came up, but I spent some time chatting with Sarah Moran a few months ago and somehow we decided to go ahead and do a trade. Although I really like the idea of trading, I have a hard time figuring out what's equitable when it comes to my own work, so I don't do it very much. I always feel as if I end up getting the better end of the deal.

Anyway, there were a few pieces of mine that Sarah has liked for a couple years, as well as a few gemstone beads from my finished projects, so I went ahead and made a set of my stuff for her and hunted down whatever I had left of the beads. I had a harder time figuring out what to request in trade. If you've ever looked at her catalog, you'll understand - there's just too much from which to choose - and it's all fabulous. I finally had a word with her - at the point we were talking, she had just started experimenting with silver 104 with truly excellent results - and we decided that if she continued working with the silver 104 that she would set aside a few beads for me from the next lot.

My trade beads are above. She actually gave me my choice of beads from her next big lot of experimentation and, let me tell you, I agonized over narrowing my choice down. And do I think I got the better end of the deal, here? Well, you know, just check out the title of this post...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So, I've been contemplating a few changes to the way I present my work for a while now. With the start of the new year, I thought it might be beneficial to stop following the path of least resistance, break out of my rut and at least try a few things, however minor. (This is always tough for me, as I tend to not want to move from a comfortable spot once I've found it.)

As you can see from my banner, I've been fiddling around a little with my "branding". I'm a little worried that "Artisan Fine Silver" sounds way too pretentious, but I didn't really like "Metal Clay Designs" or "Fine Silver Designs" or even "Adventures in Metal Clay". Anyway, I'm committed to rolling with this description for a bit, so we'll see how it goes.

When I started working with metal clay - and it became clear that I was going to devote some time to working with the material - I really didn't want to spend very much time or money to set up shop. Free blog? Check. Easy store set-up on Etsy? Check. Business cards? Well...

I've had two iterations of business cards. The first set I printed myself on my ink jet printer using Avery card stock. They were truly awful looking. The second set I printed using a pre-set template through one of the on-line stationery vendors. They weren't quite as awful, but they weren't great, either. I've been using those for the past two years, and I've finally come close to depleting my stock. So, I've decided it's time to bite the bullet and create new cards that I actually like and that reflect the kind of work I'm doing these days. I've decided to use the "Eye See You" pendant as the focal on my new literature. I've even invested a little in creating other minor print advertising material.

As far as the blog is concerned, I'm going to stay here for a while. It's been a good friend to me, and I still think free is good. However, I've owned for a couple years without doing a darned thing with it, so I decided at least to tie the blog into the url. So, from now on, you can find me not only by typing in "" but also by simply surfing to "" I also bit the bullet and opened an email address at melissa[at], so if you ever need to reach me, you can send me a message there from now on.

Finally, over the next few weeks I'm going to start ramping down, as it were, my Etsy presence. I'm not going to disappear from Etsy altogether, and the pendants that are currently appearing in magazines will still be stocked there. I've had this idea for a while now - I want my own little virtual shingle set up in my own virtual home. I will be opening up an on-line shopping cart linked to the blog very shortly dedicated more to the type of work I've been doing over the past year. I will be phasing out some of the designs on which I've worked in the past, in which I am no longer as interested. I feel this will make me happy, so I'm going to give it a go.

How about you? Are you contemplating or have you implemented any business changes for 2010 that you feel free to share? I'd be interested to hear about them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My friend Merrilu (she of the beautiful large jar of beach glass) asked me a few weeks ago if she could come over with her stash of beads (which she recently dug out of storage and dusted off) to do a little design consultation. Now, I don't have many friends locally who are interested in beads, so I was quite interested to see her stash and spend a happy morning beading. She arrived this morning (after we'd dropped the Short Ones off at preschool) with more than ten cases of beads all of which looked more or less like the above (in various colors).

Are these not things of beauty? I can't stand how well-organized these beads are. My stash is all over my house (although not yet encroaching in teacups or hardly worn shoes, I've contemplated these spaces speculatively from time to time), and it's not unusual for me to be hunting for a particular strand for a project while mumbling to myself under my breath. Once I stopped drooling, I just found staring at these cases inspiring. Designing with the beads at my fingertips like this was incredibly easy - what a, uh, novel experience.

In the end, I decided on a water theme with a cute little fish dangle. Here's the bracelet I put together during our session, using my friend's beads (and just six seed beads from my own stash):

Cute, eh? I particularly like the oval shape of the toggle clasp here, which is quite sleek-looking. Anyway, I used freshwater pearls, faceted and unfaceted quartz, amazonite, aquamarine and, I believe, fluorite (the darker blue beads - if anyone else has other ideas as to what they could be, I'm all ears), along with small silver nugget spacers.

I often forget what a social activity beading can be, since I work almost exclusively on my projects alone and quite late at night, after the Short One has fallen asleep. So, I'm curious: how often do you get together with your friends for beading? Are you a member of a beading circle? How do you set up bead nights?

(And thanks, Merrilu - I had a lot of fun today! Let's do it again soon!)

Charlotte's Web

Probably one of the best known patterns for Koigu yarn is the Charlotte's Web shawl - 5 skeins of yarn in 5 different colorways yielding a beautiful triangular shawl. I had good intentions, here, really, but somehow the yarn is still in skeins. I have more Koigu and beautiful silk/cashmere blend yarn up on eBay right now.

I also have some beading to show you (no, really), but I'm going to put it in a separate post...

Monday, January 11, 2010

To Infinity and Beyond

I meant to post this a couple months ago and never got around to it. When the Short One moved to a big boy bed this fall, we let him pick out the bed linens himself. I can't tell you how secretly pleased I was when he chose the solar system design over the cars and trucks (and we really didn't influence his decision in any way). While there are times when I feel that mixing my DNA with my husband's has resulted in a mad experiment gone awry, there are also those moments when I feel completely satisfied to pass on my geeky tendencies to the next generation. Hopefully, said Next Generation will not hold it against me as he grows up.

But, seriously, isn't this a cute set? It even has a Pluto - Retired pillow. We bought it from The Land of Nod, one of our favorite local stores for all things Short One related. (I should point out for any interested parties that this is actually a summer quilt. We can use it in the middle of winter because the SO still sleeps in a fleecy sleeper suit - due to his continuing tendency to snooze on top of the covers rather than under them.)

Once again, I've dropped the ball and missed posting my bead and jewelry links yesterday. My apologies. There's lots of good stuff here, so I hope you will check them out:

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy's made a New Year's resolution to clean out the studio with a January clearance sale!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
A luminous Golden Cloud Series Basha Bead inspires Andrew to create a bracelet ready to take flight!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Demon Monkeys appear in Carmi's projects this week. Jewelry Making
Artfire, Zibbet, Etsy, which of these is the right selling venue for your jewelry?

A Bead A Day
If you are looking for some unique findings to use in your valentine jewelry (or Twilight jewelry), Lisa uses some interesting domed filligree pieces to house a bright red mysterious bead.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Looking for just the right clasp? Lorelei reviews a few from

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi has started a new series, called "What would you do" to discuss some of the sticky dilemmas we face in jewelry making.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie starts the new year with a new source of inspiration... a project she calls Song Lore.

Art Bead Scene
ABS Rewind: Art Bead Scene isn't just about art beads, it's about artist made buttons too!

Jean Campbell
Jean is sharing stories and images this week about her stops in CA. Monterey brought the most creative inspiration of all.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean meets a cool new friend who offers us a great jewelry teaching site!

Strands of Beads
Melissa is the author of Softflex Company's Spotlight On...Article for January 2010

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

If only...

I've put up another lot of Koigu, cashmere and Prism Cool Stuff yarn on eBay. This pic is just part of the yarn in a kit to make this fab coat:

I think people either love or hate Koigu's modular knit-wear, and I just love it. I seriously love it. But when I think about actually sitting down and taking the time to make this coat, made from 37 skeins of fingering weight yarn, I know that I would knit one sleeve and then the rest would sit under my bed for the next ten years. So I've put it up on eBay, along with smaller lots of Koigu. I've also re-listed some older stuff. Please go here to view my current auctions.

ps. I'm working on a few new bead designs -seriously! I'll get back to my regularly scheduled programming soon. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Koigu, anyone?

Anyone here interested in Koigu? I have two lots up on eBay (as well as more cashmere). Thanks!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Softflex Company Spotlight On...Article

I am happy to be the author of Softflex Company's Spotlight On...Article for January. This year, I couldn't help but play with the company's Trios wire in some of the new beautiful colors being introduced for 2010. Thank you to Softflex Company for inviting me to write "In the Pink"! Please go here to read my article and learn more about the above necklace.

As always, thanks for visiting.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

I always enjoy seeing what kind of artwork the Short One and his Grandma create when they sit down together. Pretty cool, eh? I believe the SO drew squiggles, they discussed what they saw in the squiggles, then Grandma filled in the drawings. I quite like the upside-down dinosaur in the upper-left hand corner.

I just realized I never posted my bead links for the week yesterday. Ack - 4 days into the new year, and I'm already slipping. Without further ado:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean is proud and happy about her contribution to Jean Campbell's gorgeous Steampunk Style Jewelry book! Take a look!

A Bead A Day
Happy New Year from A Bead A Day! Lisa is working on transitioning new year's jewelry into valentine jewelry!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie reflects on the past year and sets her goals for the new year Jewelry Making
Take a moment to look back at 2009 and forward to 2010.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Rewind: Cindy ventures into moldmaking with a vintage French button.

Polymer Clay Bezels
Carmi makes up her first batch of polymer clay bezels for pendants.

Art Bead Scene
Deep hues and bright pops of color highlight a trip to ABS Editor Cindy Gimbrone's studio for a look at a special set of beads for this month's ABS challenge.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Getting back on the saddle again can be hard, but Lorelei is finally back up and beading after a busy holiday season.

Jewelry & Beading
It's that time of year! Cyndi wants to know, "What's on your worktable?"

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off the elegant necklace of a guest designer - her mother-in-law.

Shameless Self-Promo: Stringing

Here's another great issue of Stringing. I've been blowing magazine submission deadlines left and right this past year, but I did manage to squeak in under the wire for this issue with a nice necklace design using my lunar phases pendant - which I was lucky enough to have the editors accept. Thank you, Stringing! It looks beautiful, as usual.

I think the issue must be on the newsstands by now, because I had an inquiry today about the lunar pendant. I haven't been very good about stocking the shop lately, but I do expect to have lunar pendants and sea and shore box pendants (from my Step by Step Beads project for this month) available in the next week or so. Actually, I am anticipating making changes to the shop and the way I offer pendants/beads. More on this later in the month.

Thank you for visiting!

I know, I know

Too much yarn, right? A few more lots and then I think I'll be done. I have to say, if feels good to send some of this beautiful stuff onto other hands who will actually use it. Anyway, I have another small lot on eBay right now. This is Karabella Supercashmere Fine, a really beautiful 100% Italian cashmere in a fingering weight - which, now that the SO is not a baby, I never use for knitting. What was I thinking? (I was thinking I'd make more baby clothes and blankets, that's what I was thinking. Good intentions and all that...)

I'll get back to the beading front shortly. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who is buying my yarn (if you even read this blog - it's a little unclear to me how the knitters are finding me). Go here to view my current auctions.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Would you believe?

I had some time tonight, so I went ahead and listed a few more lots of cashmere yarn, all in neon colors this time. This tangerine orange yarn is 92% cashmere, 5% polyester and 3% nylon. The polyester and nylon take the form of a silver filament running through the yarn which makes the yarn sparkle:

Fun, right?

As usual, if interested, you can view my auctions here. Thanks!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Even more cashmere

I've added more cashmere yarn to my destash on eBay, including Artful Yarns Virtue, Trendsetter Kashmir and Jaeger Cashmina. Go here if you are interested in viewing. Thanks and Happy New Year!