Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Diamonds, and Serendipity

Ah. I am moving.
Joan made a big move from Pennsylvania to Florida this year, and now I'm headed back to the mainland after nearly two years on the island of Kauai.  Things aren't all going as smoothly as I'd like, but I am on track to have my contribution to our Wintry Kit ready to go. I'm so glad to have something fun to focus on as a break from packing and planning.

I bought something new at the Honolulu Glass Art and Bead Festival a few weeks ago: diamond beads.  I passed some up a few years ago and had been kicking myself since.  They are gorgeous, with a one-of-a-kind fire. I will be using some 18K gold wire and findings, combined with fine and sterling silver. Texture, color, sparkle, I can't wait! Kit first, though.
Yeah, right--like I could just let them sit there! These silver hearts had been freshly tumbled, just begging me to add the diamonds and gold.  I'm very pleased with the results!
Silver heart pendant with 18kt gold and rough diamonds

Do you hold on to things in your stash, or do you only buy things with a project in mind?  Maybe, like me, you do both.  I have learned at long last to trust my instincts:  when a strand of beads or unusual item grabs me, I buy it if I can.  Sometimes, as with the diamonds, I have an immediate use for them.  Other times, I have had strands sit in the stash for years (10+ years, I'm not kidding) and then suddenly become EXACTLY what I need to fulfill an idea. Those moments are pretty satisfying!

An example would be these bottle cap beads:

vintage bottle cap beads

I had them in my box for at least five years. I enjoyed looking at them, but never gave much thought to using them. Then one day they became indispensible:
Green and Orange 'Bunny Pop' bracelet
Black Cherry Blackbird garnet braceletBlack and purple collage bracelet

They have been a wonderful addition to my collage bracelets.  I even based a whole bracelet on the delicious red color of this one:

-Amusingly, the cap says ORANGE on it.
I am running low on these beads, and I'm undecided about reordering. It felt so good to 'find' them serendipitously in the bead box; I wonder, will they feel as spontaneous if I buy more off the internet?  Funny how this emotional aspect of the materials comes into play. It's important, though, particularly in composing this kind of jewelry.  I have a specific feeling or association with pretty much every piece that gets to be a link.  Whether it's the fascination with vintage materials, or the pleasure of using a bead made by a friend, combining these things with pieces I've made myself feels in some ways like a self-portrait.  Each one has an element of discovery to it, and a story behind it.

With every piece of jewelry I make, I go through a process of questioning, reasoning, and pushing myself to look beyond my initial inclinations. There's no formula or pattern to it, and there never will be.

The pieces above are available on my website, with the exception of the black and purple bracelet, which is sold.


  1. I am a firm believer that beads DO NOT go bad. They have a pretty unlimited shelf life. For someone who rarely makes jewelry I have a pretty abundant stash(this blog is supposed to motivate me to explore more jewelry making rather than rely solely on making beads.....we'll see how that goes.)

  2. Sometimes they actually seem to get better with age!

  3. And sometimes they go up in value. I have a silver stash that I bought in my Tucson years that I sure couldn't afford to replace now!

  4. True Dat!
    LOL I have scavenged more old, 'what was I thinking' jewelry than I care to count!

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