Monday, April 25, 2011


Hmpff. I had been planning to write about something topical today once I'd spent a couple of hours working on the new painting. Yes, it's coming along fine and you'll see it soon. Anyway, once the grocery shopping was done I dragged out my scanner and decided to see if it might be possible to scan some jewelry pieces I made a long time ago. My friend Marja-Leena gave me the idea by showing some of her extraordinary scans of both natural and made objects. The beads, silver, and other sparkly bits made my jewelry difficult to photograph so I'd pretty much given up until today. I'd say this one looks pretty okay.

It's kind of stunning when I dig through the few items left of things I used to make and see just how time and determination can manifest truly cool things. Nobody taught me how to bead but about 25 years ago I bought a book of beaded treasures featured at the American Craft Council Museum in New York and I wanted some of them. Unfortunately, I had none of the kind of money they cost and, besides that, none of them were for sale anyway.

The only bead store close to our place in Providence was a Native American shop on the outskirts of Worcester MA. I went there and spent nearly $300. buying hanks, scoops, jars, and individually counted beads in multiple colors as well as a bead loom and beading needles. Then I purchased a small book that showed several techniques. That was only the beginning of my love affair with bead stores. It wasn't long before I got pretty good at designing and making my own stuff - maybe not as good as the best I'd seen but good enough to please me. Would you believe I sold and gave away a number of pieces without even trying to get a picture?

The one shown here was done completely free-hand using peyote stitch for the necklace itself (32" long and very sinuous) and square stitch for the centerpiece made of glass, silver, and carnelian which I based on the idea of a Tibetan prayer wheel. Making it was kind of like climbing the Everest of beading but it's meant to be played with.

Anyway, I hope you like it. I'll probably post a few more one of these days and may even get around to posting that topical piece soon.

ps: Spring has arrived in Halifax and it's beautiful.

oh well, may as well show you one of my bracelets while I'm at it:


  1. There is no end to your talents, obviously! Que lindo!

    sending a hug.

  2. Indeed, no end to your talents, Susan! Lovely, very intricate jewelry and great scans! How did you get that neat background on the first one?

  3. pagan sphinx - Oh, there's an end all right but I do enjoy problem solving. :-)

    marja-leena - Thanks. It was fun for a few years but entirely unprofitable. I wrapped the inside of the scanner lid with black silk and held it. You can see the shadow of my arm :-)

  4. Susan

    My wife and I spent eight years teaching in an Athabascan Indian village in arctic Alaska - Athabascans are known for their bead work. I have two pair of beautifully beaded gloves and my wife has gloves and slippers along with other artifacts that we treasure.

    the Ol'Buzzard

  5. Well, you certainly are at superstringbeing! The necklace is exquisite and I hope you show more of your bead work, because the scan turned out great. I am fascinated by your story of how you taught yourself beading; you are really something, you know?! After my mother died I inherited her Christmas ornaments, including the two beaded ones from her New York childhood, circa 1919 or so. After Christmas that year I kept them on my dresser instead of packing them away because I thought it would be wonderful to make reproductions for members of the family as gifts the next year. The next year the ornaments went back on the tree and after the season was over they went back into the packing boxes, which is the cycle ever since! In other words, I was stumped. It is still a lovely idea but.....

  6. You, my dear, have the patience of a saint! I could never concentrate on anything for that long. Such a talent!

    There was a bead store in Michigan that my kids used to love to go to when we were on vacation at the cottage. They would spend hours picking out just the right beads to make necklaces, bracelets, and ankle bracelets. It kept them busy on those rainy days we were stuck in the cabin without a TV. I think I still have some of their creations.

  7. ah, wow...

    and a good thing about spring....

  8. Wow they are beautiful Susan. I wish the not-wife would start beading again

  9. ol'buzzard - Native American beadwork is really amazing. I love the pieces I seen made of natural materials. Teaching in Alaska for 8 years must have been a life transforming experience and it's good you have the wonderfully worked mementos.

    lydia - Actually, my real title is 'quantum mechanic' but that one remained difficult to scan. I bet the old Christmas ornaments you inherited are truly beautiful. People back then learned all sorts of skills that are very difficult to replicate without being shown the logic and method.

    nunly - You're absolutely correct that my main talent has always been patience since I wasn't granted natural skills.

    I'm glad your kids got to spend time making such lovely things rather than watching tv.

    okjimm - Damn good thing about spring. Walking is so much more pleasant now.

    jams - Thanks. Beading is addictive behaviour.

  10. Peyote stitch? I knew this post was about drugs.

  11. randal - I knew I could count on you to find the drug reference no matter how well I tried to hide it.

  12. Those are really cool! (though I don't do jewelry myself...)

    In my younger days I did some loom beading which got appliqued to buckskin clothing, and did a really nice rosette on a buckskin pouch with looooooond fringe. That and several other things got stolen by an old hippy who took my heart when he took my handiworks; I haven't beaded since.

    Great to hear Spring has arrived, and with it open windows and fresh air for your building!