The annual “Use your Stash” challenge at Art Elements!

January. Wow. Come and gone… I spent some quiet time off work, reviewing, planning… and I had a most magical vacation! ( Details coming soon – here! Stay tuned…) And I dove into the hoard of beads to use a few treasures from my stash. For a few years running we  have designated January “Use your stash” month at Art Elements blog. When you are part of such a generous creative team – the bead hoard grows. Here is what I started… and actually finished:

There were plans for many bezel and tab set pieces. They are sitting in the top right, quietly awaiting time with saw and torch. The Wire framed pieces will emerge first – frames of wrapped wire, with crystal dangles… The hare beads are by our Caroline. The fox – Heather Powers of Humblebeads.


Every day talisman. Ceramic eye by Karen Totten

I decided to use some of the focal I had been saving as brackets for myself. I like to accessorize my FitBit – which I wear daily. I do utilize certain stones for their properties…   Hematite is used for grounding, for staying centered and stable, rooted to the Earth. Paired with an eye talisman bead of Karen’s – this feels very powerful to me. Stay centered – on the self – on the journey…


Jen’s harlequin bead

This lampwork stunner is by Jen Cameron. I call is a harlequin as it reminds me of a jester’s motley. The colors are gorgeous. I wanted this to be something I could wear and enjoy!


Blast from Diana’s past!

When I pair brackets with my Fitbit – I often stack a few on together. This paisley bracelet  bar of Diana’s was so earthy, and lovely as is… so it is partnered with deerskin lace in a triple wrap. Done. Soft, and fun to wear.


Heart and stone – with cab by Sue Kennedy

So there hasn’t been much  seed beading this month – but I had two pieces planned that I was able to make progress… Sue is my go-to artist for small cabs to pair with other things. And although they are small – they re gorgeous. Above is a stone heart, and below? Its a whole world in glass! A miniature planet… that I have paired with river rock. The above is a pendant… not sure where the bottom piece is taking me…


Glass planets, deep and blue!

And one more – an experimental piece.

I am always playing with ways to incorporate seed bead work and metal – happiest when I am truly doing mixed media. So here are some explorations of stitched wire frameworks incorporated into the bead embroidery.


Mandala design with cab by Lesley.

I think this will give me options for the necklace portion, to wire wrap and keep a cohesive appearance. And I liked how the wire framework accentuated the mandala 5 petal design. Thats how the idea came to be – from the cab itself.


Wire frame stitched in…

Please join the AE team and our guests this month – see what they have unearthed from their stash to start this year off creatively!


Inspired by Reading: “The Bucolic Plague”

 This month for our book selection, Andrew Thornton chose “The Bucolic Plague” by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. The real life tale of 2 Manhattan executives who became… goat farmers. I had heard of Josh and Brent as they starred in a reality show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” depicting the cycle of growth and chaos on the farm. Raising heirloom vegetables, parenting a diva llama and a herd of adorable goats, and creating “Beekman 1802” their line of goats milk based bath & beauty products – all taking place on the former Beekman estate in upstate New York. They also ran… and won… “The Amazing Race”! Quite a multi faceted pair, these two… 

The book was a fast and engaging yarn. Josh tells their tales, all the ups and downs, with honesty and humor. I dare anyone to read the scene about the baby goats in the truck on the way to the Martha Stewart Show – and NOT be compelled to read the rest! It was heartfelt in the telling of the trials and tribulations of this dream turned reality, and didnt candy coat the all too real stresses that this journey put upon the partners. I applaud that honesty, and was all the more engaged; feeling I was allowed to see the real deal. As someone who left a full time lucrative (art) teaching career at its prime to allow myself to be a full time artist – I respect and admire their risks taken and rewards reaped. 

I was struck most by the contrasts in the book and the attempts to reach compromise, middle ground and a general sense of balance. And this was an evolving journey, with no clear solution – just 2 loving, inspired, creative, energetic, daring adults trying to make a dream a reality. And a life for themselves, and then some… 

From the city to the country. And back to the city.

From close partners to long distance partners, working partners…

The polar opposites of Martha Stewart’s Stepford-like perfection to Oprah’s “Best life” with a dash of Wabi sabi.


“Country” – Hand painted watercolor, under mica; with gems. Inspired by the goat barn, and the grassy border of the “Beekman 1802” logo. (Shown below). 

Beekman logo


“City” – watercolor sky behind a copper NYC skyline; with gems. 

*Disclaimer -I designed this piece to be two sided. Country/city pendant… and I drilled the holes incorrectly. Jeez. Embarassed. As I thought it over – trouble shoot or do 2 pieces? Inspiration struck…)

"best Life" country themed

The finished “Country ” piece – the copper backing is stamped with “Best Life” typos and all. I wanted to pay homage to the idea of doing what you love, doing what makes you happiest – even if its not perfect or always pretty. 

"Good Things" urban themed

The finished “City” piece. “Good things” come in all shapes and sizes… and should be appreciated, honored, and recognized. The city became a bit of a necessary evil to Josh as he spent weeks working to financially support the farm/his dream, while Brent was doing the day to day… yet it was Martha’s own “good things” that helped launch the soap business initially. 

Study in contrasts

But this story wouldnt have occurred without both sides of the tale, both people, both environments. A sense of contrast and a sense of balance achieved!

Congrats to Brent and Josh at their upcoming wedding at the infamous Beekman Farm!

Please take a look at my friends and colleagues’ offerings this month! The full list will be posted on Andrew’s blog. 

Thank you for stopping by – I would love to hear what you think!