Monday, February 21, 2011

A Garden in Glass

Today's featured artist is Blissful Gardens Beads.

Listed on the Blissful Garden Blog as Feb 17 Special

I wanted to show you all lots and lots of gorgeous beads and offer a bit of insight into a fabulous artist names Heather Davis.  The problem with that is 1, the fabulous beads she makes never last long enough in her shop for the posting to be accurate, and 2, perhaps more importantly, I really know precious little about Heather, which in a way says a lot about her work.  She has been able to quietly and consistent build a business that is a part of the jewelry making world just on the power of the beauty and quality of her art. 

These were featured in Dec.  Image from Heather's Blog.
Heather does lampwork.  Now, for any of you who do not know what lampwork involves I will offer a very quick, and hopefully somewhat accurate picture of what it entails.  The artist prepares steel mandrels (rods) with a release agent and then, after warming long glass rods in a torch flame, wraps the near molten glass around the mandrel.  Sometimes only one color and sometimes many colors are whirled together or dropped in discreet parts of the beads to form a pattern, depending on the effect the artist desires.

Links to Blissful Garden's Blog
BLISS Pale Blue Swirls

You can see in both of these beads the effect of the colored glasses in the beads.  These beads are more on the flat (smooth) side similar to the bases of the floral beads.  Yes, these beads were made by Heather too.

Once this base 'bead' is formed, Heather takes 10 giant steps forward and creates gardens of flowers on her beads.  Yes, each one is still made using the nearly molten glass, which is attached to the bead base while it is still warm. 

One of the more profound things about all this is that when Heather is working with the glass, she can not see the final product as hot glass glows a deep orangey-red tone.  Heather's amazing gift is the ability to instinctively know what the molten glass will produce once it is cooled.  I think you can see, she is extremely talented.

Karen does her beads in a variety of shapes, including squares, hearts, little houses, tulip flowers and of course the amazing round ones.  Often the sets will have a couple of matching spacer beads to mix in when the buyer uses the more decorated beads, but that can also be used on their own. 

These are from December 2010. The link goes to Heather's shop.

These are called Speckled Tulip Beads and I think you can see why.  I would like to say I know how the speckles are added but I am not sure.  I do know there is a technique that uses glass frit, or small bits of glass to add color and this may be a case of as the bead is being produced they are rolled in the frit to add the speckles.  However the effect is added, these are spectacular!!  And yes, the color is permanent to the glass.

Now, you might be thinking glass beads with be fragile and not hold up.  I have to admit, when I first saw these gorgeous lampwork treasures, that is what I thought.  But the truth is they are not very fragile at all.  Heather makes each bead and then the beads are put through a kiln annealing process that takes many hours.  This tempers the glass making each and every bead very strong and durable. 

You can see in the image below, Blissful Garden Beads are an amazing addition to finest handmade jewelry. 

This necklace, which has matching earrings and bracelet was made by Karen Snyder using Blissful Garden Beads.  Its an amazing piece that showcases the beads as well as the chainmaille of Karen from OSebastian Studio

No link is shown with the picture since the pieces are already in their forever home.

I hope you can see from the pictures how wonderful the lampwork that comes out of Heather's Washington State studio are.  There really are no words that adequately express how amazing they are, with each bead unique to itself and unreproducible,  they truly are a Garden in Glass you can hold in your hand.  I hope that you will all take the time to stop by Heather's shop and look at the beads currently available.  I know you will not be able to pass them up.

Blissful Garden Beads on Artfire
You can find Heather's shops on:

Artfire:     Blissful Garden Beads on Artfire
Facebook   :  Blissful Garden Beads
And on Heather's blog:   Blissful Garden Beads Blog

Monday, February 14, 2011

Polyclay Magic....

Today's feature is 2 Good Claymates, a husband and wife team out of British Columbia, Canada.

Gecko Brooch - 2 geckos are the 2 Good Claymates logo image
Carolyn and Dave Good make all kinds of amazing jewelry, household and art pieces in their home studio.  Carolyn, the main force behind 2 Good, states she has always been interested in design work, first in the textile arts, later in the floral arts having once owned a flower shop, and then into the beading arts and polyclay.  "Color has always played an important role in my art," says Carolyn in her Artfire bio, "so it was only natural to branch out into bead work and since discovering polymer clay, I've been able to apply all of these techniques to this new art form. Being a practical person, I feel my art will always complement the person or the home."

Among the amazing and useful pieces that you can find in the 2 Good shops are Candle Collars and Switch plates.  2 Good even accepts custom orders for them.
Chili Peppers Double Switch Plate Cover
From the just for fun look of the Chili Peppers, left, to the elegant and highly textured Exotica, below right, and on to the fun and fabulous Personalized switch plates, below center, for a child's room, you can see just how fabulous these plates are.  They are all coated to keep them looking beautiful through years of use.

Exotica Single Switch Plate Cover
Personalized Children's Switchplate

For those among us who make jewelry, 2 Good offers fantastic beads filled with rich color and in a number of varieties, as well buttons galore for textile or jewelry use.

Tiger Print - Made To Order
Zebra Print Pendant

These amazing pieces are not only a work of overall design but require lots of patient practice and anticipation of how the clay and colors will move when they are being layered during the caning process.  Carolyn's talent and obvious skill are really showcased in these Animal Print treasures.

Light Vintage Rose Textured Lentil Beads

This is a fabulous example of how these beautiful little lentil beads can be used.  Carolyn shows them as a necklace, bracelet and earring complete ensemble.  You can see the amazing amount of detail that is captured in the beads as well as the additive affect of the other handmade beads that are used for this set.

Antique Copper Textured Tube Beads

Among my personal favorites are these tube beads. 

In the description for these Carolyn states that she uses her own technique to create these so there is no seam.  This is a wonderful feature that really enhances any design they could be used for.  The beads are all finished so they maintain the shimmering metallic finish.

Me, I love the colors and texture 2 Good has available.  I can imagine including them in a fabulous necklace with lengths of Gold Filled or shiny raw bronze chainmaille between them.

Now, don't imagine that you can not get amazing, stylish and just gorgeous pieces of ready to wear jewelry from 2 Good.  Carolyn and her husband work hard to make some fun and stylish pieces that are great in sets or single statement pieces.

Amparo Blue and Turquoise Bangle

This pretty piece features the swirling movement that is so typical of polyclay, though I think we can all agree that this piece is anything but typical.  Pretty and ready for that Caribbean vacation, a wonderful week long cruise or just a summer-time flash of color.

Amethyst Weave Textured Earrings

Amethyst Textured Tube Bead Ribbon Necklace 
These fabulous earrings, left, show lots of texture and an elegant grace of design.  The coordinating necklace, right, is yet another showcase of the amazing seamless tube beads, this time in Amethyst tone.

Blue and Gold Shawl / Scarf Pin

Can you just see yourself in your favorite shawl or long, thick scarf and this richly toned and patterned pin holding it perfectly in place?  I can!  Understated, elegant and the perfect accessory for those loose knit essentials.

The latest additions to 2 Good's lines is the Country Charm Collection.  These pieces not only offer themselves as yet another example of Carolyn's design sense, but are made using a "special technique where no two piece come out alike."  Real, one of a kind treasures.

Layered Feather Earrings in Honeysuckle Pink

Feathers!  The birds would be jealous if they could see these.  Well, maybe not, but they are really amazing and look like they would be lots of fun to wear.

Boot Bracelet - Olive Green and Gold Lizard Tail
Boot Bracelet -Black and White Lizard Tail
Couldn't you just picture yourself walking into the Toby Keith concert or the Summertime Rodeo Event with one of these wrapped around your boot?  I could!  I can't help but find myself staring at the amazing movement and color in them.   And to think, not one lizard was harmed to create them.

Below is a composite image of the Blue Feather pieces that are part of the Country Charm Collection. 
The Country Charm Collection

Stop by and check out what 2Good Claymates has for you.  They are way friendly and always happy to answer your questions.  Oh!!  Oh!  I almost forgot.... they sell a few tutorials too, so even us clay novices can learn to make amazing clay works, though I am sure it would be damned hard to even match the beautiful pieces that 2 Good makes.

You can see these pieces and so much more at the following 2 Good webshops:


Thanks for stopping by!  All Blessings!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Little About Me

This week I thought I would spend some time talking about myself.  Not something I am either accustomed to or comfortable doing, it was suggested to me that folks would like to know a bit more about me and about what I do.  So here goes.

I make chainmaille jewelry.  I am a jeweler.  The piece above is an example.  Yeah, I know, that really does not say much but it kinda does.  Let me explain.

I started making maille because I was interested in having a set of ankle bells.  I was quite heavily into a game style chat group that had some S & M components to it and the idea of the bells just fascinated me.  So I looked everywhere on the net for a site where I could buy anklets with bells.  No luck... at least not 6 years ago.  What I did find were a couple of sites, such as Urban Maille, Blue Buddha, Spider Chainworks, and TRL where there were many different kinds of jewelry pieces that caught my attention.  Well, I got some rings and was off to the races. 

The first few pieces I made were not that fabulous.  I started with Euro 4-1, which is the weave in the image above.  I then learned byzantine and after that Japanese.  I made a couple of different chains, mostly to give to my mom and son... and my then boyfriend.  Then one day I was playing around trying to figure out how to make a Cross.  For some reason I did not realize at the time that most chainmaille Crosses were Persian weave and I worked at it until I had a Cross made using the Byzantine weave.  It took more than one try... many more than... but I finally managed it.  The size below, the Large, is the first size I managed to make. 

Now, this Cross... this image, has been seen so many times by so many folks that I reckon most of you who know me are sick of looking at it.  The thing of it is, from this single piece has come so much for me.  I currently make this Cross in 5 sizes in this style and 3 sizes with a set stone in the center.  I also make them in Silver, Copper, Gold-Filled and Aluminum (for key chains).  I also offer tutorials and kits for those who want to learn to make them themselves.

The experience as a whole has made it possible for me to become a better and visually stronger designer, along with teaching me what is involved with taking an idea through my skill set to a finished piece.  At risk of boring you to death, below are a few of the more recent Crosses, some of which will not hit my site for sale until midweek.

Peridot Small Cross
Amethyst Small Cross

Citrine Small Cross
Small All Silver Cross

Each of these are the same size, which is 11/4" tall x 3/4" wide.  The stones are set in a cast vee head setting with prongs that keep the stone absolutely secure.

The All Silver version, which is below, right, has a rich shimmer.  This is one of the newest batch, as the last of the ones I had from the last batch is now happily at home with a US Soldier.  I am very proud that my Cross was chosen by one of our heroes.

So, some of you may be wondering what else I do.  Well, lately I have been working quite a bit on getting the behind the scenes stuff for my business done.  I have been organizing, which is not much fun, and working on a database that will keep track of everything.  Once upon a time I was a DB Administrator and programmer and you would think that would make developing one of my own easy, but skills like that get rusty and out of date quickly so it has not been as easy as I would have liked.  I now have a mostly functional application and will be taking if for a hard spin around the block and punishing kicking of the tires in the next few weeks. 

Besides the EyeCandy stuff, I take care of my son, who just turned 18.  That should mean he doesn't need all that much care anymore but surprisingly my son still depends on me for things, no matter how much he would like to think otherwise.  He is a wonderfully intelligent boy who thinks he is grown and knows all the wrong buttons to push.

I also take my mom shopping when she needs to go and help her with other things she really should not do by herself anymore.  Since she lives in the apartment downstairs it is not far to go but sometimes too close for comfort, if you know what I mean.  She's a great lady and at a bit past retirement age, she still works full time and is amazingly health.

Please feel free to contact me.  Say hey!  I love hearing from new folks just as much as from old friends.  My plan for this blog is, first and foremost, to feature folks who's work I love, but you will also find some postings about me... a sort of get to know me.  You are also invited to come and take a look at my shops.  I am currently on Handmade Artists Shops at , on Artfire at , and on Etsy at .  I am currently testing a host for a website of my own and hope to have that up and running by April.  If you want a more everyday look at me, you can also find me on Facebook at!/profile.php?id=100000268195212 .