Monday, May 26, 2008

Redux Deja Vu

I first fell in love with glass beads when I saw pounds of colorful David Christiansen cane glass at a wholesale bead show years ago. From there it progressed to ancient glass trade beads to more recent handcrafted lampwork glass beads and pendants made by artisans with skills I cannot even begin to comprehend. The cane glass craze came and went .. though I still have several pounds left over from major wholesale purchases. Occasionally I'll use them to make a piece for a friend, or a friend's daughter, or to donate to some local cause; but I'd all but forgotten about them until I came across them by accident while looking for something or other in the shop (sometimes a frustrating hunt turns into a delight of lost treasures). Almost all of the past designs I created with them included sterling beads and clasps; but when I found the black cylindrical cane glass beads above laced with dichroic gold, they screamed for a black and gold version. I could only find six of them, so I used two for matching earrings. The round, faceted beads are onyx (though the smaller black beads on either side of the cane beads nearest the clasp are tourmaline); the two donut-shaped items are simple dichroic lampwork glass with a clear casing; the crystals are Dorado (a pretty taupe with a gold coating); gold-filled and vermeil beads make up the balance. I call it Caravan ... as in Middle Ages, Crusades, gold, incense, Damascus swords, assassins, camels, tents and precious jewels. Evocative.

I originally made this as a three-piece set in sterling .. the necklace included a lot more soft and subtle colors (gray pearl, rose quartz, blue quartz and more creamy pearls), there were two or three different matching bracelets and about four or five different earrings. I sold the last several pieces to a jewelry store up here last November and just decided to try it in gold. The granulated star spacers are vermeil (which is 24K gold over sterling .. at least these are), the wire and jump rings are 14K gold-filled as is the clasp. These are fun to make and .. as I'd made a few wrist-wrenching wire wrapped designs lately .. they also give my wrists a break

I seem to have a gold theme going on here .. so let's continue. The bracelet below was also originally a sterling design called Sparkle. I made them in Tahitian, light green, bronze, chocolate and peach (with matching tones of Swarovski pearls and crystals).

THIS version came about because my husband and I were both going to be gone on May 10 - he was actually away from the 8th through the 11th on a Museum-related trip, and I was doing an Artisan Home Studio Tour (as a guest) with my Adirondack Artisans Guild about 90 minutes south of here. As a result, the dog was going to be alone for about 15 hours - the longest she'd ever been without us before. Fortunately, we have some friends who adore her, and she them .. so they picked her up that morning at 5 AM and I left at 6 AM .. not to see her again until they dropped her very happy self off again at 8 PM that evening. It was a long day .. for both of us. She'd already been missing my husband for two days; and our friends said she just shook and shivered for the first several hours they had her .. poor girl. But she had her favorite fleece bed, some toys, a few treats and a large marrow bone (i.e. all day sucker) .. which helped. The next day (May 11) I made this bracelet as a thank you for the Mrs. and some Chocolate Raspberry Nut bars for the Mr. and delivered them both on Monday. She loved the bracelet, and I was so taken by how good it had turned out, I made a second one that afternoon, and then a third with bronze pearls in place of the cream rose pearls used in the first and second versions. The first name that came to mind was Opulence.

By the way, I was at a little artisan gathering just outside of Canton on the 17th along with seven other women, two of whom had brought along their own glass bead making paraphernalia so that the rest of us could learn how to make them. We all brought food and spent the day firing up some little MAPP gas tanks and suspending colorful glass rods in front of the flames, rolling, tamping, adding color, and basically having a helluva time.

But the reason I bring up the day is because I met a young woman there who teaches ... elementary math practices (or something like that) at SUNY Potsdam .. but who also makes and sells jewelry on the side. She's totally lost in the magic that is Swarovski and her mention of it triggered a Swarovski conversation in which one of the two women who brought some of her glass making goodies along for the day mentioned to us how she first learned the proper pronunciation of Swarovski. I have to say, I've never had a problem with it, but I've encountered plenty of people who just stumble over their tongues trying to get it out; so I was delighted with this little anecdote I could pass on .. which came from a Swarovski dealer/shop this woman came upon in her travels .. when pronounced correctly, it sounds like "Swore off Ski". Sparklin' crystal snow, ski .. Swarovski! Great little mnemonic device, don't cha think? I can't wait for the first opportunity to pass it on!! Can't help it, sometimes it's the silly little things that tickle me.

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