Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bead Jewelry! Holiday Shopping on San Juan Island!

If I have a reputation in the world of arts and crafts, I'm pretty sure it would be for my bead embroidery, which is my first love and passion. But like many of us, I started with stringing beads - making jewelry. That was in 1985. Before that in the 70's I was a metalsmith, fabricating gold and silver jewelry. Making pendants, earrings and fibula pins with wire and beads followed naturally.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, fibula pins and pendants
I could never do production work - making jewelry to sell in galleries or shows. For me that would involve too many compromises to keep the cost and time down. Yet, every now and then the urge to pick up my pliers, hammer and files taps me on the shoulder. I get out my stash of lampwork beads, silver elements, sterling and gold-filled wire and get to work.

Lucky for me, an opportunity knocked on my door a couple of days ago. Rhonda Scott of Vital Elements, leased a store-front in Friday Harbor, the totally-decked-out-with-Christmas-lights, little town on San Juan Island and invited a dozen or so local artists to consign their art for the month of December. OMG! It's so cute in there... so many totally wonderful things!

Here's the info:

Vital Elements, Friday Harbor, WA
Here's my little area. I set out 156 items - necklaces, earrings, bracelets and fibula pins!

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins
The necklace below features antique, Chinese, glass, lampwork beads in a gorgeous, soft, translucent blue. I accented them with a Thai silver pendant and beads.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, vintage Chinese glass beads
A few years ago I bought a strand of hand-faceted, man-made rubies in graduated sizes. It was a rather extravagant purchase. What can I say... I love them! This picture doesn't do them justice at all. They look so lovely... not quite bling, but definitely people would notice if you were wearing this necklace. I always try to make a couple pairs of earrings that can go with each necklace.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, featuring man-made ruby beads
For 20 years, I've been collecting unusual, silver pendants... India, China, Tibet, Nepal... Some are very old. I decided to put some of them on silk "ribbons" and let them go...

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, featuring old silver pendants
The silk "ribbons" also work very well for some of the beautiful contemporary lampwork beads I've been collecting. Below are dichroic beads in the shape of shells. They are so striking and lovely, I decided they needed to be "strung" in a very simple, yet elegant way.

The same goes for these amazing heart-shaped, lampwork beads I found at a conference a few years ago.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, featuring heart-shaped lampwork beads
The center necklace on the stand below features an antique Chinese pendant that I found at a market in Beijing in 1991. It's a beauty!

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, featuring old silver pendants
In the black and silver necklace below, I used a small collection of vintage, hand-carved, jet beads from the early 1900's. Each is different. I found them in an antique shop in Germany.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, vintage jet beads
I've hoarded these treasures for long enough. It feels really great to make them up and put them out where somebody else can enjoy them for a while! I also use long-hoarded beads and silver elements in my fibula pins and earrings. No two are alike!

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, fibula pins, earrings
Designing and stringing bracelets is lots of fun for me! I try to make them comfortable to wear and easy to clasp, yet durable and attractive. Shopping for bracelet beads is always a joy!

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, bracelets
Over the years, I've made and sold many finger-woven, treasure necklaces like the one below. It's a technique I developed inspired by ethnic necklaces from Tibet and Nepal. If you're intrigued, you can learn this technique from my book, Beaded Treasures. This necklace showcases raku ceramic beads by an artist in Hawaii.

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, finger-woven treasure necklace
If you live in Western Washington, why not visit and shop in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island for a day?!!! Our merchants go all-out with the decorations... it's a sweet place to be during the holidays. Be sure to stop by Vital Elements, just a short walk from the ferry dock.

Shhhhh.... ladies only.... you can show Rhonda what you wish Santa would bring you and give her your sweetheart's name and phone number. She'll call to tell him what's on your wish list! I love that idea.

Well, wish me luck... I hope some of the jewelry I've created will be gifted with love this holiday season.


  1. Robin! Thanks so much for loving my shop! Your jewelry gracing it is the icing on the cake.
    Where you really up after 2 am?
    See you Soon,
    Rhonda Scott

  2. How could your gems not be gifted? What a treasure trove! The little heart beads look like they might be from Grace Ma. I love working with those. Hope the shop does really well this holiday season.

  3. I especially love your finger weaving and bought that book this summer and it is on my winter list to try along with the BJP... I left a note on your other site... I'm having great difficulty finding #15 beads... Con you comment on the difference between 14s and #15s and where to find them.. You were right...I do love the little ones.. Thanks Gerry K.

  4. Oh, Robin, these are gorgeous! I love the lampwork shells but the finger weaving on the necklace really sends me! I've got the book, I just need some more time in my day!!

  5. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Another side of Robin...extremely lovely and imaginative creations!

  6. Fun post! I love all the beautiful jewelry!

  7. Phew! I feel like I've been shopping and I haven't left my chair! What a TREMENDOUS amount of effort it must have taken to pull all of that jewelry together!

    Sooo many things to love...I agree with my fellow friends that the fingerwoven necklace is da BOMB!

    But, so are all those wonderfully unique antique pendants/beads that you've been collecting all of these I also like your merchandising and color selections for coordinating ribbons...and the lampwork shells...well...I love those too.

    I DO wish you GREAT LUCK ~~

    ka-CHING ka-CHING ka-CHING sprinkles, Susan

  8. I think this little shop is going to do quite well this month. I love your jewelry.

    Somehow after reading this post, I feel validated. I was feeling a little guilty because I have been crocheting like crazy and haven't stitched one bead. I am so happy to know that, besides book making, you also enjoy other art areas.

    xx, Carol
    Happy Holidays

  9. Well all the luck from overseas! It sure is a pity that I can't just hop over and enjoy myself! I totally love the red one (red being my fav colour!)
    Thanks for the eye candy

  10. What wonderful jewelry! You're inspiring me to make some small, beautiful things to wear.

  11. absolutely gorgeous work, and the display itself is Art! I love your jewelry. just noticed my blog is in your list...thank you! will add you to mine as well...hope you do well with sales and have a jolly holiday season!

  12. you really have a huge collection of jewelry. that,s great

    Vintage Pendants

  13. What an amazingly beautiful array, Robin! I came by your blog to see what you've been up to, and now I know!
    My favorite is the yin/yang necklace with the earrings and accompanying necklace below it. Simply stunning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wish you the best of luck with this enterprise.

  14. After the holidays, people will have many occasions to shop for jewelry. The birth of a child will make some people want to bestow gifts of jewelry that bear pearls. The creamy white, smooth texture of pearls signifies the innocence of childhood.

  15. Tania Kleckner5:51 AM

    Any chance you sell this jewelry online? I love the antique silver pendants on silk ribbon. Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

  16. To Tania ~ Thanks for your compliments!!! Yes, I'd be very pleased to sell any of these items. We could do it through PayPal or you could send me a check. Only problem is that I'm in Minnesota right now and don't know which of my things are already sold through the shop. I'll be home Sunday (Dec. 13th). If you're interested, please email me and describe the item you want. I'll check as soon as I get home with availability and price. Thanks!!!

    My email is:

  17. How did you do Robin? These are all wonderful looking. I know the economy is still down but I think people are willing to spend a little more this year on the hope of a rebound. Hope so.

  18. To Freebird ~ Thanks for asking... Not well... haven't made the cost of renting the space yet. Discouraging. Oh well, y' gotta try.

  19. Sorry to hear that Robin. They are nice pieces. I think really, it is the economy as it is definitely NOT your pieces!

  20. I love the jewelry! and it looks so sexy and fashion, congratulations for your work!!

  21. I really love jewelry coz it help women look more beautiful and desirable.

  22. Nice post, thank you for sharing this .

  23. I think its a pretty good idea not that there aren't other sites out there that already do something similar but I think it might catch on here pretty well.

  24. How Gorgeous everything is on your Blog!
    You are definitely a dreamer.
    The necklace is beautiful and looks like a dream it's self.
    Anyone would be blessed to have it!

  25. jewelry is nice but is there any online store ?

  26. What a wonderful piece!
    Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your work!
    That's some really nice stuff!
    It's very sophisticated.

  27. You have very nice designs specially the silver stone combined pieces which really stand out as per my love love them.

  28. Very nice creations both chunky and simplistic...there are days when you want to go casual and there are other days when you want to go gaga with your accessories.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!