Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bead ADDiction

I have a lot of beads.  I love making my own fine silver beads to combine with beads made by others. I find stringing beads quite relaxing. I never sketch my necklaces or bracelets before I make them. Instead, I take some beads that inspire me, look for color combinations I like, and string them on some wire, starting from the middle of the necklace. Sometimes I use a specific pattern and sometimes I make them asymetric. The pieces come together by trial and error. Beads on the wire – beads off the wire. Different beads on the wire – then look for other beads to use in the combination.

Here’s where my ADD tendencies run wild. As I’m looking for different beads to try on the necklace I am stringing, I see other beads I want to use in my next necklace. I am designing the next necklace in my head, making  a little pile of other beads, while still trying to find the right combination for the first necklace.  I repeat this process many times before the necklace is finished. After a few hours of work my bench looks like this:


I’ve learned to accept that these piles are part of my process. As messy as they look, they are my path to discovery and design with beads. (Though when I work with metal clay, the sketchbook is a big part of my process and that work area never gets to this stage of disarray.)

Inevitably, I sort all this stuff out. Either when someone is coming over to visit my studio or when I want to start a new piece with beads of a different color.

The bead bench in mid clean up:

Ready for a fresh start and a new mess:


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My cousin Gail Collier

Just when I haven’t taken any photos to give my blog some energy, I get an e-mail from my cousin, who is an award winning colored pencil artist. She thought I might like to read a blog from Barrington, Illinois (Chicago suburb). She was the featured person in today’s blog. Of course I liked reading it, and I think you will too. Thanks Gail for an interesting look into your life as an artist.  I’m proud to be your cousin. (Though I’m jealous that you got the family dark hair gene and I did not!)

Want to see more of Gail’s work? Click here for a link to her website.


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The sweetest sound

The weather has been way too nice lately to spend much time in the studio. It has been wonderful to take a break,  get the garden in shape, and take  more walks. Late this afternoon, as we were coming through the woods I heard a sound I’ve been waiting all year to hear. The ethereal song of the Hermit Thrush. It is one of the few sounds that will cause me to stop in the middle of whatever I’m doing, just for the pure joy of listening to its beauty.

Last summer I found a site that would allow me to hear the Hermit Thrush whenever I wanted. There are three other thrush songs to listen to, and an amazing chance to hear the songs played in a slower mode. It is not quite the same as hearing these birds tell me in person that summer is on its way. But it is a pretty cool way to have the next best thing. Check it out!


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Scenes from my neighborhood

Local artist gets new kicks from riding in the “honey wagon” while it visited lucky island residents last week…

Bunch o’ guys talking about the best way to flip over a heavy wooden boat…

Bunch o’ guys talking about something else…

Bruce explaining to Cynthia Lief about the halibut trawl he plans to set tomorrow…

Bruce impersonating the halibut he hopes to catch tomorrow….

Ruh roh! Truck with tire off the rim, on a beach where it doesn’t belong. The tide is on its way back in and it looks like a local teenager is in a heap o’ trouble…


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Blast from the Past

I ran into a friend recently, who owns a frame shop in Bar Harbor. She said, “Remember those earrings I got from you at the craft fair, a long time ago, with the beach stones? Well, I’ve lost one and I wonder if you could make me one to match it?” I remembered that we had traded her framing services for my earrings, but I couldn’t recall the exact pair. “Why don’t you send it to me and I’ll see what I can do,” I told her.

I had forgotten making these, back in 1998, when PMC (Precious Metal Clay) was still pretty new, and only available in its original form.  This earring represents my first attempts to set a stone in place, allowing for the shrinkage of the clay, and my first attempt at creating and embedding a fine silver wire to hang the earring. I knew nothing of trying to pre-finish an unfired piece with an emery board or sanding pads. I relied on clean cuts and smoothing the clay with my wet fingertips. (A practice I need to use again, more often.) The high polish came from a muslin buffing wheel and rouge compound, after the piece had been fired.

The world of PMC has changed a lot in the past 12 years and so have my methods for working with it. It would be too time consuming to try for a mirror image of this particular earring.  I sent the earring back to my friend  with a note explaining I had photographed the piece and would make a new pair of earrings, with a similar look. Then I would bring them by her shop to see if she liked them.

12 years ago I did not have a digital camera, and I did not work from sketches when it came to experimenting with this new form of silver. K’s lost earring provided me with an opportunity to look back at something I had forgotten, and to see current influences from some of my earliest work in metal clay.


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These tiny blossoms showed up earlier than usual this spring. I wonder why they are also called “Quaker Ladies?”

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At last, a few of my own clasps in use…

…but still working on those background colors and the lighting, especially for necklace photos. (I want the instant gratification of already knowing how to get a great shot, not just taking a chance. Oh well, trial and error. It takes time to learn from experience, so I’m still a student.)

Below is the kind of instant gratification I want above.  Super macro point and click.

The base of a flower arrangement, taken somewhat surreptitiously by candle light, at a recent dinner party.


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