Thursday, May 30, 2013

Studio Tour This Weekend - Preview Tomorrow - Pictures!

Been nose to the grindstone getting ready for the Artist Studio Tour. Thought you might like to see some pictures of some of the beadwork for sale...

I'm a guest artist in studio #7, Cinda Sue Dow, pastel artist. I'm happily occupying the whole of her pastel house! The tour is Sat. and Sun. 10 - 5, and we're also having a special preview on Friday, May 31 (that's tomorrow!) from 5-8 pm. The location is in Friday Harbor at 545 Alder Ct. Heading out of town on Argyle, turn rt. on Spruce St., pass Hemlock St. and turn rt. on Alder Ct. Both of us are giving 20% off during the preview.

Necklace, fibula pin, bracelet, and earrings in palette of natural colors featuring jasper and smokey quartz stones.
Necklace and earrings featuring beautifully faceted rubies (man-made) and sterling silver beads.
Selection of bracelets with specialty glass beads, pearls, crystals, and sterling silver or gold elements.

I love wireworking. These are two fibula pins and three pendants that showcase high-end lampwork beads by nationally recognized artists.

I offer a selection of every-day earrings in a wide range of colors, featuring glass lampwork beads, vintage Chinese glass beads, and more. I use sterling silver or gold-filled findings only (no plated pot metal).

This necklace and earrings feature vintage Chinese glass beads (beautiful, soft, translucent blue) paired with sterling silver elements from the Golden Triangle area in Northern Thailand.

I just finished this bead/ribbon/thread/button embellished, red, felt purse! Any fun-loving person with a flamboyant streak would enjoy carrying this on their shoulder!

I named this necklace "Sea to Sky," and based the color scheme on a painting by Monet. It showcases a vintage, magnificent and unique sterling silver pendant from The Hill Tribe peoples of Thailand. This necklace was featured in "The Beader's Color Palette" by Margie Deeb.

This necklace is an example of my "woven treasure necklace" technique. It colors are inspired by the raku glaze on the featured ceramic beads by an artist in Hawaii.

This tassel ornament is another example of the "woven treasure" technique. In the light, it reminds one of stained glass windows in a cathedral.

"Trust" is bead embroidery art to enhance a small space. it is one of the 13 technique samples for my book, "Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery."

Inspired by Emperor Penguins, this bead embroidered brooch looks great on jacket lapel or sweater.
Earrings and fibula pins.

Key fobs, zipper pulls, cell-phone or camera tags on the top shelf.

I display most of the jewelry in color groupings. There's a range of casual to elegant, ethnic to contemporary, and understated to bold looks in my work.

It takes me two days to set up for this thing, plus uncountable hours to make the work. Since I'm actually a rather shy person, it's difficult for me to promote my work in person. When guests come, I sometimes don't talk to them at all. So it's always very gratifying when people show up for the tour and actually buy my work, despite my awkwardness. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Red Balloon Purse

A few years ago I impulsively bought a red felt bag with circles of color on one side, made in Nepal. $40. I never used it... guess I'm conservative at heart when it comes to purses. Yet still, it always makes me happy to look at and touch it.

The original purse just had the "spots" of color. I embroidered the "strings" to make them look like balloons.

While moving, it surfaced. Wow, I thought, bet it would be fun to bead this bag! Maybe a more flamboyant person than I will buy it at the Artist Studio Tour (next weekend). So, for the last two days, my worktable heaped with stuff, I turned the circles of colors into balloons.

I started with the strings, embroidered with 6 strands of floss (detail picture above). Then I began adding beads, buttons and ribbons... Whoooohooo! Balloons!

Here are a couple of them.

I finished the bag at midnight last night. Most fun things were stitching into felt and adding the ribbons at the end. Most difficult thing was getting inside the purse to knot off the threads. Happy colors, happy red, happy Robin! How do YOU like it?

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Bead Embroidery Makes Me Happy

Getting back to bead embroidery definitely makes me happy, although this piece really isn't about being happy. It's my Bead Journal Project for April, a month that was all about separation and change, about moving, about finding a new way of being, living alone and being single rather than married. Both the beading and the process of changing my life are still on-going. I don't know what the future will bring with either.

I worked on this piece (no name yet) while teaching two different Improvisational Bead Embroidery workshops during the month. As always, I have the students write poems on the second day of class, poems about self based on words and phrases that come to mind while looking at their beadwork. These are the two poem I wrote based on this piece.


I am scattered
I want to be one of the other
words or phrases
such as I am peaceful
or I am purple
or I am flowing
but the truth is
I AM scattered right now
as I cut through
the crumpled remains
of the soft colors
of my marriage dream
I am scattered
as I pack all my things in a box
drained of energy
traffic noise in my head...
oh flower fabric and aqua beads
may you refill my cup of life
               March30, 2013


I am delicate
emotionally delicate I guess
a little unusual for me
my heart is folded
my wedding rings still on my finger
my life flowing along
as if everything was normal
as if everything was the same
I am circled by beads
beautiful, graceful, pretty beads
are supporting a new phase...
like the butterfly
I will take a new form
yet with the same life blood
and the same heart as before
                  April 14, 2013

I'm doing post-card-sized (5 x 7 inches) pieces again this year, like the first two years. This one seems to be going in the direction of being solidly beaded, which takes a lot of time. I don't know if the others will be encrusted or not.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

In The Pink ~ Wireworking Tutorial

Maybe I'm back... Or, maybe I'm just avoiding the task of unpacking all the boxes...

Either way, as I put on my pink corduroy shirt this morning, the thought of making some new pink earrings propelled me into the studio. Yay... ignore the boxes and have some beady fun! As long as I was doing it, why not take a few pictures? OK, so here's a mini-tutorial about wire working.

This is how they look finished.

You need half/hard or full/hard wire for these, because they need to have some "spring" to them in order to be able to fasten the hook at the back. I used 20 ga., half/hard, gold-filled wire for this pair.

Cut two pieces of wire, each 4.5 inches long. File one end of each wire, so that the cut end is smooth. Use a small, round-nose pliers to make a small loop at the filed end of each wire.

Load the beads on the wire. Disc-shaped, lampwork beads work well for this style of earrings. I add a gold-plated snowflake spacer bead and a 2mm gold-filled, round bead on each side of the disc. After adding the beads, bend the wire upward at a 90 degree angle as shown in the picture. If the loop is turning the wrong way, grasp it in the jaws of a flat-nose pliers and twist to position it correctly (horizontal).

Use a felt-tip marker to make a mark on the wire 1.5 inches above the right angle bend. This mark will be at the center of the top of the earring.

Place a 3/8" or 1/4" dowel as a mandrel under the wire, centering the mark on the dowel. Bend the end of the wire downward, over the dowel, toward the loop at the back of the earring. Do this step slowly, checking your progress and making sure the bend is directly above the beads.

Cut the end of the wire about 1/8 inch below loop. File the cut end smooth, and slightly round the edges. Then I sand the tip of the wire with #400 (or finer) sandpaper, and polish it with a soft cloth to make it totally smooth.

Use round-nose pliers to round the tip upward a little, allowing it to hook into the loop for security.

These earrings are very comfortable to wear. Because of the hook at the back, you'll never cry over one lost earring!