Anticipation…. and revelation

Unloading a kiln is like opening presents. Its eager and tentative. Excitement and trepidation. Anticipation, sprinkled with hope, resulting in happiness.

I do this on average once a week. My work, my student’s work, other student work… Here is one window into one kiln.

My triple hare, my students mural tiles and other student work.

All looks good! 



My custom giraffe, mural/mosaic border tiles and my adult students relief tiles!


My triple hare, my students mural tiles and other student work.

Fairy tales by mail! The art charm exchange and auction

Welcome the the Art Charm Reveal! This special event is designed to raise funds for a great charity : Beads of Courage. In case you haven’t heard of them , their mission is “… providing innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness, their families and the health care providers who care for them.”

Beads have been seen in many  cultures as symbols of wealth, of status, amulets of power…and healing. The BOC page has a great article to that effect.  Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions has organized this swap and auction for a few years running. Participants made and traded beads, offering at least one of each design up for auction – where all proceeds benefit the charity.

This year I was very inspired, as the Fairy Tale theme is a focus of my work on a regular basis. My first charm was the castle – seen above in its original sculpt and then painted. The castle is such an icon in fairy tales… as the starting pint from whence heroes and heroines depart on quests of discovery and exploration…. as the destination after trials and travails. Its the home, the haven, the sanctuary and yet its the goal, the reward. It can even be the jail, the challenge, the obstacle…

In working on my charms I was playing with the dragon as well. This is its debut! There will be one OOAK charm available at the auction. Dragons can be the obstacle to overcome, but they can also be a guide on the hero/ine’s journey. Associated with age, wisdom, wealth… they are a powerful and recurring icon.

My third charm is very detailed, very meaningful and related to one specific tale. Inspired by the Grimm’s “Fitcher’s Bird” and Angela Carter’s story “ The Bloody Chamber” – this is a polymer hand, with charm key and blood red garnet drop. The tale tells of BlueBeard’s wife, given and egg to hold, and a key to a secret chamber she must not enter while he is away. Curiosity wins, and she enters to find the remains of his previous wives… Through ingenuity and cunning she defeats him… A gruesome tale to be sure, but the original tales usually were… ( Read more at“BlueBeard and the Bloody Chamber” and article by Terri Windling)

So take a look at the treasures I received – and remember! You can bid! Its a great cause and these unique special edition beads could be added to your collection!


1. Red Riding hood ceramic bead. Caroline at Blueberribeads 2. Tortoise and the Hare ceramic bead. Terri at Artisticaos.

Hand carved exquisite beauty by Caroline, such clear and simple beauty telling the tale. Hand drawn totems by Terri – 2 sides of the same coin as it were…


1. polymer face bead by Patti/Miya Beads 2. resin charm by Vanessa of Culturezine  3. “Muchness” lampwork and metal focal by Jen at Glass Addictions 4. Stamped heart charm by Marianne of Simply Seablime

Some Alice in Wonderland love from Jen and Vanessa – always a favorite! I love that Jen’s heart has a subtle fairy tale message and is such a  stunning complementary palette!  Magical faces and iconic words from Patti and Marianne!


1. Polymer charm set by Brooke at Artistic Endeavors  2. polymer hat charm by Alenka at Pepita  3. Lampwork pot-o-gold by Sue at Sue Beads

This batch was tougher to photograph ( apologies). A generous robust set by Brooke! A wee adorable hat by Alenka! And Sue’s pot of gold is to die for! Its a amazing shape, and a tiny scale that could work in almost any design!


Had to show you the packaging! Silver charm by Charlene of Clay Space!

This last one – I adore! And I haven’t even unwrapped it yet because the packaging was too cool! Thanks Charlene!

Now – Please hop the blog hop… but steady on like the tortoise! There are many lovely offerings to see. AND the auction- details to follow as soon as possible! Don’t forget. Great cause – and a treat for you! 


Dryad portraits: our Tree themed reveal at AJE

Welcome Autumn! Welcome to the reveal of the Tree themed challenge at Art Jewelry Elements. Caroline gave us a simply amazing inspiration post to start us off, and this image haunted me… baumbuddhatreebuddahfacehiddenimage-5adf4072c250d06096d141de8ccfceb3_h

This face in the trees made me think of many visual references,  Green Men among them. But what to do? First there is my piece from a year or so ago – when Rebekah gave us wood grain hearts for COM:


Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

Then there was a haunting memory of a poster I had as a teen. A poster showing carved stone heads of all the River Gods of Ireland. Personifications in stone of the rivers deities… A little Googling and I found some images. (Carved by E. Smyth, they are on the Customs House in Dublin)


River Gods of Ireland by E. Smyth. They adorn the Customs House in Dublin.

So I knew I wanted to reprise the dryad face… and move forward with that idea. Perhaps different faces for different tree species? I started with stoneware face cabochons I had in my inventory.


Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015



Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

I love the matte stoneware with the softer satin look of the polymer. I did use some cabs that were glazed, but kept to my autumnal palette. I am thrilled with how this idea is evolving!


My 4 mixed media dryads await accents.


Feeling Fall. Waiting for beads and gems…

These dryads pendants are not going to set down roots in my studio! They will be paired with gems and as necklaces the will head to FaerieCon in November. I need to add a few dryad sisters to the grove…

Until then:

please take  a peek at what our guests and my teammates have created this month!

AJE Team

Magic in mosaics

So – earlier this week I mentioned “art camp” as Lesley and I had taken to calling it. And how we went to the AVAM. ( My first time!). So the week of our vacation held another local/art/field trip first for me. Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden in Philly.

I knew Zagar was a tile/mosaic master and eccentric visionary type artist. ( He even taught a work show earlier this year at Hacienda Mosaico in Mexico) I knew he had many public works around the South St. section of the city. I was prepared to be delighted. I was in actuality inspired and blown away.


Full scale wall mural installation on the same block as the Gardens. Note: dogs! 

There is a sense of freedom and chaos in the murals – yet they are all designed to have composition and flow. There are commercial tiles integrated amidst fragmented industrial tiles and artists OOAK tiles. There are mirrors in abundance to play with light and reflection; incorporating the viewer into the piece… and a chance for random mosaic selfies, I will admit.


I was completely enchanted with other ceramic pieces incorporated into mosaics in such a non traditional way. 


The inner courtyard at the PMG is simply… epic. 


Art is the center of the real world. 


This sanctuary to be inhabited by my ides and my fantasies. 


The garden is excavated down and interlocking pathways are built of concrete, flotsam & jetsam, found objects… 

The gardens were a personal piece that Zagar worked on  – the space was his studio – for app. 8 years. When the land owner wanted to sell/demolish the installation, a grassroots community organization saved the PMG, and it now functions as a non profit organization. I would recommend it to anyone, tourist or not, artist or not. Its a momentous undertaking that is impressive, inspirational, fun yet gritty, filled with joie d’ vivre.

I’ll just sit and watch the clouds roll by and ponder the meaning of life… and how mosaics may feature in new work this fall…




Inner visions, Inner Harbor


The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. 

Why had I never been here before? 

Last week my friend and blog colleague Lesley Watt was visiting. We had planned our vacation art camp with a mix of field trips and artwork projects. The weather was so insanely cooperative – very unlike late August/early September usually is… So our first adventure was the AVAM in Baltimore, on a glorious temperate, blue-skied day…


Mosaic bluebird of happiness. 


A museum is covered in installations.


Bunny! On the “Magic Bus”

This mosaic Cosmic Galaxy  egg was breath taking. It even incorporated images from the Hubble telescope. ( Artist: Andrew Logan)


The Museum grounds are outstanding. Sculpture, installations, fountains, gardens. I felt completely enchanted before we even entered the museum.



A sense of fun, a tranquil enclosure… 

There are many instances where words or a quote stop you in your tracks. I did manage to capture a few heartfelt phrases.

There is no photography allowed in the museum, so you are seeing pieces from the grounds, and in the mirror below a stealth pix of Lesley in a mirrored mosaic. The blue sculpture above? Entirely beaded, representing John Waters and Divine as a folk art weather house – you know – where figures emerge and disappear depending on the weather readings?


No pictures allowed IN the museum, but the bathrooms were fair game! 


In the gardens between the buildings. A true oasis in the city. 


Need I say more? 


Amazing views from the AVAM Bird’s nest balcony

After the museum we headed to the Inner Harbor for a tourist browse and then dinner. Crab cakes, naturally.


The Inner Harbor – then off for crab cakes! 

Lesley has posted regarding the adventures over at Art Jewelry Elements. Take a look at her pix! And stay tuned for more here, later this week!

I love airports. 

At the international arrivals gate in Philadelphia- yet I hear Hugh Grant in my head from “love actually”. Well I may not be IN Heathrow but I’m awaiting Lesley arriving from Heathrow. 

And experimenting with WordPress on my phone. How did it work? We shall see. 

Here be headpins ! The AJE Component of the Month reveal.

Welcome to the reveal of the AJE headpin challenge!

This month we decided to highlight these small, delicate and super versatile elements. I have quite a collection from Jen ( Glass Addictions) Sue ( SueBeads) and Marsha (Marsha Neal Studio)

This collection sits just above my bead table...

This collection sits just above my bead table…

I decided to try something I had never heard nor seen done. I wanted to bead embroider the head pins. WITH the wires intact. Could it be done? Hmm. Lets try.

Headpins finally placed.

First shapes looked too much like outline of USA, second version works!

So the short answer? IT WORKS!

The headpins sat rather tall on the Stiff Stuff, so I had free rein to bead with abandon and build up some height. As I wasn’t bezeling them, I wanted tall beads around to integrate them into the overall piece. Here is is before backing:

The abalone shell pulled all the colors together...

The abalone shell pulled all the colors together…

I stitched the wires down to hold them in place and secure them. the back is a mess, but Ill show you anyway… This isnt for the faint of heart. Nearly every third stitch got looped on a wire and snagged. See the far left int he bottom picture? Many stitched snagged. I didnt even know when that happened to pick them out. So I added a bit of glue there. Gee, guess I will have to keep this one since it has issues.

Beading around the wires proved problematic.

Beading around the wires proved problematic.

details of Jennifer's headpins in the piece, and a SueBeads dangle!

details of Jennifer’s headpins in the piece, and a SueBeads dangle!

Pearls! Pinch beads! Fire polish! Abalone! No rules seed beading ! And I had SO MUCH FUN.

Not sure what to do now? Silk? wire wrap gems? What do you think?  Until next time – Ill be off creating with my new headpins  created by Thornburg Studios and Bead Fairy!

New beauties from Thornburg Studios and Bead Fairy

New beauties from Thornburg Studios and Bead Fairy

Please join the AJE team and our guests on this blog hop! I am sure I speak for the whole team that we have so many guests this month. Enjoy!

Bead Fest: there and back again…


Every square inch is used…

Its a whirlwind. I felt such a sense of relief as I left to set up… yes – before the show started!  The week prior was so busy and stressful! Thursday was set up, airport trip to pick up friends, and time to socialize!


The debut of the shrine pendants! 

I  was happy to debut my polymer shrine pendants – which were well received! I will be continuing to work with this shape and format. Lovely to see familiar faces, to talk beads, to meet new people !

And with Cooky Schock and Heather Boardman as my booth neighbors – I couldn’t ask for a better home away from home.


The “Mythic Nature ” line in cabs and pendants. 


A few of the monthly goddesses on display


And a last minute batch of goddesses – of course! 


I always wish I had taken more people pictures… 


So I am really glad when friends take pictures! 

There was some shopping. There were some high jinks. There was a lot of coffee.


The lucet – braiding Zen

New this year: the lucet. Braiding from one cord with these fork shaped tools. Easy once you get your tension right… Cooky has these stunning hardwood lucets made in Wales by an artisan woodworker.

And the beads. And cabochons. And headpins. I was pretty restrained – only 4 strands of gems. I couldn’t handle the thought of being at Bead Fest and NOT buying stones! But the real treat for me is the artwork beads and components by my friends and colleagues in Artisan’s Alley!


What Bead Fest post would be complete with out the “loot” picture? 

Now – to recover, unpack, and plan for the September shows on my calendar!

Have a great weekend…

Retail therapy. (aka procrastination)

So Bead Fest is right around the corner. I have some 200 pendants and cabs that need to be glazed. Yesterday I glazed, loaded and fired the kiln and make polymer sugar skull cabs. Today – I felt like playing hooky. So I went on an art field trip…

Good day for drive!

I had a couple different ways to justify the trip – although no one challenged me. <smirks> I had NEVER been to Amy Blevins bead store even though it was a short hour away. And there were some enticing things she was posting online that I wanted to check out. There were classes this weekend with  the charming Cynthia Rutledge; cant hurt to take a peak!


My destination! My “local” bead store…

vintage theater

Vintage style…

I don’t have any local bead stores in northern Delaware. I am so glad to support my friend, and a local-ish store… I had some show and tell with me – and the August goddess is ready to bead. I needed a few things.

What a welcoming foyer!

What a welcoming foyer!

Lisa Peters Art cabs and eye candy beads!

bead porn

Yes, please.

Shh… class in session

The store is lovely! Brightly lit in a corner spot on the charming small town main street. It has everything and more you could want/need/lust after for your projects. I needed to show a little restraint – but I found all I needed and more! I could see myself taking a class there in a heartbeat. The joy of a class in a setting like this – as I was discussing with Amy  – you aren’t rushed. Class sizes are smaller and much more personal than at the larger bead shows. Great one on one with the instructor, and shopping right there.  I know sometimes the big shows are the only access people have to classes – but after the Shepherdess years I am thoroughly spoiled. Bead & Glass Boutique is the class room climate I prefer!

selfie time

Mischief managed

So the August goddess is glued and ready. The aquas and teals are my favorites, but I wanted to do something different this month. I wanted to play up the antique/ivory/bone palette. So – Umm. I needed beads. And waiting for Bead Fest? Nope – leaves me no time left!

needs inspiration

August goddess

Antiques and ivory

My favorite palette

Oh yes. O beads, mini daggers, 8 hex beads in bronze, those triangles! And Amy gave me a great tip for stacking the 2 hole – umm are they the super duos? Well, anyway – I have a plan, and inspiration!

Time to get started…

Oh – speaking of Bead Fest – I will be back in the glaze cave tomorrow morning. If you are planning to attend, I would love to offer you this admission coupon! See you there!

Admisssion pass

All about ammonites – the July COM reveal at AJE

Its no surprise I love ammonites. I mean – organic design, natural, spiral… So this month for the COM Lesley shares these lovely ammonite pendants with us! Here is the one I received, already paired with some jasper in a corresponding teal tone.

paired with this jasper - a natural match

paired with this jasper – a natural match

I had in my head a plan to keep the front simple and create a braided triple strand in the back. I wanted to make matching cones from polymer to accent the pendant and transition to the triple strand. I made them – and they were “meh”. So I made some beads to go with…

Polymer beads and cones made to match Lesley's focal.

Polymer beads and cones made to match Lesley’s focal.

Ok – that’s better! Lets see – kyanite, smoky quartz, that teal jasper ( what IS that variety called?) and a little mother-of-pearl for brightness. Now which color palette of seeds? I had a little too much fun spilling them all and swirling them around on the bead mat. 

pearls? seed beads? colors?

pearls? seed beads? colors?

Here it the finished piece! 

The finished necklace

The finished necklace

I did end up with a loose braid of sorts. It is seed beads in matte olive and matte aqua with a slim strand of soft leather threaded through… I am pleased with the way it visually connects to the black glaze in the impressions. 

the loosely braided back of the piece - seed beads and leather

the loosely braided back of the piece – seed beads and leather

Please take a look at my fellow AJE members and our guests! See what else people have created with these lovely ammonites.