Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Just a quick little post to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

I would like to take this opportunity to send out a big Thank You to all of you that like my work.

Thanks for all your purchases over the course of 2010 and before.

Thank You for your encouragements, comments and support.

I truly appreciate all of you and the friendships I've managed to build online.

I hope you will all have a very Happy and prosperous 2011.

I am looking forward to another year of exciting interactions and conversations with you all.

Don't forget if you are coming to Tucson for the Big Bead Shows and Gem Shows be sure to stop in and see us at The Best Bead Show in the side hall booth H21-22 My good friend Vladislav Ivanov of Golem Design Studio and I will again be sharing.

All the best to everyone for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crystal and Blue almost icy

Finally I got the time to actually make up one of my new Slide sets myself.  This one is the one I call Fancy.  I just love the design on this set.  This set as well as a couple of the others in the collection were created using architectural accents as a starting point.  As is frequently the case when developing new designs and ideas a few adjustments must be made.  Currently I am in the process of refining and re-shaping some of the cone ends for these sets to give a greater variety which will better accommodate more types of cords.  I may also make somewhat smaller holes in the slides available as and option.  These refinements will serve to make the collection much more versatile.

The pale blue with palladium accents really gives this one a sparkly icy winter look to it I think.  I used a variety of strands for the Kumihimo braid on this one.

I used a 'silver yarn', blue and white braiding cords and 4 strands with 4 different types of beads for a total of 10 strands. 

I used two types of large 'e' beads or size 6 in pale blue and a clear silver lined.  Also some small round silver beads and clear silver lined seed beads.

I was quite pleased with the look this combination gave me.  I added a large clear crystal to the bottom of the slide completing the icy look.

This style of slide is available in my Bead Shop Currently in the 'NEW' category.

And Don't Forget that EVERYTHING in the Bead Shop is on SALE at 25% through Christmas.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Red is for Christmas Right?

Check out this beautiful Red Flower Necklace that Linda Roberts of Beads for Ever on Etsy has made.  She used of one of my New Sliders and a pair of end caps that I made to match the slider along with a beaded Kumihimo rope.

There are a variety of different designs of sliders, most with end caps available in the New Section of my Bead Shop

This one is made up in a length that is just slightly longer than a choker but still riding high up on the chest.

The beaded Kumihimo rope matches perfectly and  this is yet another illustration of how you can really make a lovely necklace in a pretty short period of time with these sliders and a Kumihimo Cord.

It is my experience that Kumihimo is one of the quickest ways to work up a beautiful beaded cord.  With the ability to also include a variety of fibers you can make an almost infinite variety of looks with the combination of Kumihimo and my new sliders.

As you can see in the photo to the left the matching porcelain end caps make for a very neat looking and matching way to finish off the ends of a Kumihimo braid or a viking knit or even a crocheted or bead woven cord.  With holes in both ends you can secure the rope to the clasp with thread or wire and do not have to depend on glue to hold it all.  Furthermore you can seal up the ends of fibers with glue to prevent any loosening or fraying without worry of it showing.

If you don't see one you like right now be sure to check the Bead Shop frequently.  As I will be adding more colors and designs regularly.  Also I will have more cones/end caps that are available separately as well as sets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Still Crazy After All These Years

Hey most people agree that I'm crazy.  Usually they say in a good kinda way, so I can live with that.  I've always thought that Different was good.  But perhaps you wonder how did I come to do little stuff, how long have I been doing beads and jewelry type things.  So for any of you folks that might wonder any of these things I decided I would make this post and remove all doubt.  Yes I'm crazy and no its not a recent occurrence.  I've pretty much always liked little things.  I've done beads and small things pretty much forever.  And included in this blog are some photos of some really old things.  These items were all made back in the early 70's or maybe a bit earlier.  Some of them I remember exactly when others not exactly just sort of. 

This belt was one of the first beaded projects I ever did.  It is a belt that I loomed around 1970.  Did anyone show me how?  Well not really my mom basically said you put thread between the coils of the spring and string the beads on a thread go under the threads on the loom, push up the beads between those threads and then take the needle back through.  That was it.  I figured the rest out on my own.  How to do a 30 inch beaded project on a 10-12 inch loom, how to finish it off, attach it to leather, the pattern.  It took awhile but I had fun with it.

As I recall this was the second thing I did on the loom.  As you can see from this piece I've had an interest in my Native American Heritage pretty much forever.

Then about a year later or there abouts my dad and I took a lapidary and silver smithing class that was sponsored by the Gem and Mineral Club that he belonged to.

This star piece was the first piece I did in this class.  The cab is the first cab that I ever cut and polished.  It is a mexican lace agate.  It is also the first sterling silver bezel setting I ever made.  I remember the teacher trying to talk me out of the star points in the wire saying they would be very difficult to get soldered on right, but I was not deterred.

This turtle was the second of the projects that I did in the class with my dad.  The stone is a jasper.

Again I didn't choose a simple structure for this piece.  Not only is it a pin requiring pin components be soldered on but again a bunch of separate pieces to be attached to the edge of the bezel.  I've always sort of liked this turtle I think he came out cute.

I also made a ring with a jade cab but don't know where it is so no picture of that.

Later on perhaps that same year or maybe the following year I decided to make earrings to sell for Christmas money.

These I decided to made from Bread Dough.  This was way before Fimo or polymer clay came on the market and bread dough was the craft clay of the time.  These earrings were painted with acrylic paints.

The photos shown here are the ones that I had left.  I also made bears, mice and a few other things that I sold all of.  Here we have Hot Dogs 'n Sun, magic mushrooms, Baby Birds in nests, snails, light bulbs, woodchucks, and penguins.

The light bulbs are 75 watt as you can almost see.  I had lots of fun with these and I did make a bit of money for Christmas with them.  Yes tiny detailed pieces go figure I've been doing it forever.

 As a sophomore in High School I took another jewelry class this time in school.  This Belt Buckle was one of the first projects I did in that class.

It is a pierced copper piece on a brass base.  The copper part was sweat soldered onto the brass base then the piece was curved.  As you can see from this piece I've liked scrolly bits forever too.

This piece was a project where we had to texture the piece and dome it.  There are also earrings that match.  After I was out of school and no longer had the tools to mess with it I decided that it sort of needed something a bit extra on it and my good friend Patty added the beaded drop to the bottom of it.
 This piece and the next one were part of a rebellion that I pretty much led in the jewelry class.  The teacher we had never liked any of the designs we came up with.  This was supposed to be one of those nice red mushrooms with the white spots.  But the teacher said that design was too trite and that I couldn't do it.  She also had told one of the other students a similar thing.  So I still did a mushroom but had to alter the design.  This is copper enamel and as you can see by the chipped off places it hasn't held up so well.

The last photo was one that me and the other gal in the class brainstormed on to come up with something so weird that the teacher couldn't possibly say it was trite.  Something that was just strange enough that she would like it.  Can you guess the teacher loved the modern art type of things.  This one was designed based on cracked eggs because we both thought the teachers ideas were pretty cracked.

Ok there you have it a collection of Jewelry and beading from my past... the far far distant past.  Yes I've always been a bit odd a bit out there and definitely different.  I've always said "if unique is what you seek"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Kumihimo Slider Necklace

Today I have another example of a necklace utilizing the New Porcelain Slide and Cone sets available in my Bead Shop I have designed these new slides and cones for use with kumihimo, viking knits, beaded cords and other cord type necklaces. 

This lovely necklace was made by Linda Roberts of Beads Forever on Etsy.

The previous examples showed the slides with bead woven ropes. This necklace, however,  utilizes a beaded kumihimo cord with the frilly fibers showing throughout.  This gives the cord some added interest and shows you how they work well with the kumihimo.  This elegant necklace is finished off with a lovely green crystal drop from the small leafy slider.  Such an easy to make but elegant necklace.  This is a perfect combination for some of your holiday gift projects.  The kumihimo cords work up quickly and the necklace ends up very elegant.  Wouldn't this one look great at a holiday party?  I think this is yet another beautiful example of what you can do with these slider and cone sets.  Please view Small Leafy Slide Necklace in the gallery on my website to see more photos of this necklace including shots of the whole necklace showing the cones.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dragonfly Slide Necklace

Hello Everyone here we are with installment two of my New Slide Designs. This gorgeous necklace is the second of the samples that Jennifer Van Benschoten of Van Beads has done. You can see more photos of this wonderful necklace on my website in the gallery Dragonfly Slide Necklace This one has got to be my favorite so far. I can hardly wait to see what she does with the cab she has and the other slide too. I really like the golden colors and they are so perfect for fall too. The seed beads she chose to go with this slide are just totally perfect.  This is a perfect example of how these pieces can go together with a nice rope and result in a fabulous necklace.

Here is another of these slides. This one has head pin loops added across the bottom for a fringe. This is an option that I may include on several of the designs if people like it. Let me know what you think.  I also have a couple more of these that I still have to photograph.

I have also added views of the sides of most of these slides now so you can see the holes in the sides of each style. There are a few more designs and styles that I still have to finish so I will be adding those as they are finished as well as the new samples that are still to come.

I hope you will all visit the Bead Shop frequently.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Exciting New Designs

Hello Everyone as some of you may know I've been busy for the last few weeks creating some new designs which I hope you will all find as exciting as I do.

First a little background.  In the past couple of years the popularity of Kumihimo, Viking Knit, and various other rope type necklaces has become increasingly popular.

The size of these ropes means that you either have to make a bail out of beads or find something with a very large hole.  As there doesn't seem too be many choices with large holes I decided to make a selection of slides and pendants to accommodate these large cords.

So today I would like to announce my new line of slides, pendants and cones that are made specifically for these large cord designs. 

I have the first of them all listed in the shop on my website in the 'New Items' category  

For a limited time I am offering an introductory sale price of 10% off the regular price. You will see the sale price in RED under the regular price and the discount will be applied when you check out.  This way you can see what the regular price is and your savings for jumping in early to try out these new pieces.

I have made several that are focal pendants on their own, such as the first photo shown here, as well as some slides that are decorative but also have a hole to make it easy to attach your own pendant to the cord.  The first photo shown to the right shows you one of these new designs from the front.  In the second photo you can see the large hole that goes through the back of the design.

I also recruited a couple of people to be guinea pigs for this project so I could make sure that they worked the way I envisioned and so that I could show you some beautiful finished pieces.   I would like to send out special a Thank You to Jennifer Van Benschoten of Van Beads and Linda Roberts of BeadsForever on Etsy for all their time, help and suggestions in this project. 

 Here is the first of those pieces I have to show you made by Jennifer Van Benschoten.  It is a lovely dutch spiral rope utilizing one of the slide sets that I call the 'Long Leafy Slide Set'.  She has hung a bead and a Peruvian ceramic leaf off the bottom of it accenting it perfectly.  This particular set has the largest hole in the slider of any of the sets and would easily accommodate multi strand designs as well as large ropes such as this one.  You can see more shots of this beautiful piece in the gallery on my website.  It is the Leafy Slider Necklace and it will be available for purchase from Van Beads 
This is just one example of the beautiful things you can make with these slides.  I will be showing you more project photos as they become available.

Any of you that know me know that I love large bold designs but really hate jewelry that it heavy.  So you will find that these slides and pendants while rather large are very lightweight and easy to wear.

Another problem with these large cords are how to finish them off at the end before you attach a clasp.  Most of the cones available are too small for the larger cords.  So I have also made a variety of cones.  Some of the cones will be sold separately in pairs others will be included with a matching slide as part of a complete necklace set. Such as this beautiful  round flower set.

One of the problems we encountered in this project was that some of the cones have a very large opening and they don't work as well with the smaller cord types.  So I am making all of the fancy cones in an additional smaller size that will work better with the smaller kumihimo cords and other smaller diameter cords.  This will make all of these designs even more flexible allowing for greater choices in the types of cords and sizes that you can use with them.  I'm anxious to see some multi strand designs in these as well.  I guess I'm a bit partial to multi strand pieces but I think they have lots of interest and movement making them lots of fun both to do and to wear.

I have made up a variety of these designs in various colors and styles and I hope that you will embrace them and use them for your holiday necklace designs.  Visit the BEAD SHOP to get your introductory discount.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Santa Fe Indian Market Report

Hello everyone. My first appearance at Santa Fe Indian Market as a vendor has been a wonderful experience. The drive to Santa Fe, although rather long was enjoyable. The Santa Fe Indian Market is one of the largest juried Indian Markets in the country with 1400 artists artists this year. It truly is the place to see the best Indian art and people from all over the world come to this market. I met people from France and Luxembourg, heard a couple of Germans, and another whose language I didn't recognize. Expected attendance was around 80,000 each day. By all accounts the attendance was down perhaps as much as 40% off that figure but still 40,000 people is darn good attendance to a show each day, in my opinion at least. Of course, attendance means nothing unless they buy art, but more on that in a bit.

We arrived in plenty of time on Wednesday to find the location and get art work turned in for the big competition. I was a bit worried when they moved the Birdman Dancer Effigy Bottle out of the pottery division and into the sculpture/clay division. I wasn't sure if that would be a more difficult place for it since it is a bottle and there limitations in how you can sculpt a bottle. Consequently the waiting to find out the results of the competition were that much more difficult.

On Thursday we went up to Santa Clara Pueblo and visited my new friend Judy Tafoya of Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery. We helped her with some computer issues and had a good visit. Hopefully she will now be able to get some more info out on her website. One of the things that I do is to help other artists with their websites.

Friday morning we went to the El Dorado Hotel where there were two more art shows going on. The shows in the Hotel ran from Friday through Sunday, whereas the SWAIA Indian Market was only on Saturday and Sunday. This gave us time to have a good look around and chat with some of the artists from those shows.

After a short break back at the hotel and some dinner we were off to the artists reception to see the results of the competition. As we waited in line to get into the reception we chatted with another of our artist friends Argus Dowdy of Four Winds Indian Art. Argus is a fantastic pipe maker and stone sculptor. His pipes are the best I have ever seen and I know several people that agree with me on that point. He has won numerous prizes at Santa Fe Indian Market and other shows across the nation, so there was little doubt but what he would win a prize.

Once we got into the reception I had to find the pottery and sculpture sections to see if I had won a prize. I found the pottery and the miniatures first and discovered that my Mother and Child Effigy Bottle did not win any prize. She was beat out by a set of three playing bears. Ok, well you can't win 'em all. So off to find the dancer and see if he had any better luck. Low and behold he had won a second place. So once again I had managed to get a ribbon and this in on of the stiffest competitions in the country. Needless to say I was very happy with this result.

Next we went to locate pieces the other artists we know had entered. As expected Argus won both 1st and 2nd place in the pipe category. A couple of the other artists that we know slightly were not quite as lucky, although they often do win big prizes. We continued to look at all the wonderful artwork that had been entered into competition and chat with some of the other artists. One of the really nice things about this reception as compared to some other competitions, is that they show all the work that was entered rather than just the prize winners. This is great because you get to see lots more art plus you get to see what all you were up against. We left the reception at bit early so we could get a good night's sleep before the big event started.

Set up started at 6:00 am for us and we were in the second group to set up. At the beginning we were doing it by flashlight. Apparently there were customers waiting at some booths as early as 5:00 am. We had some early bird customers coming by as soon as it began to get light. Saturday went very well for us, although everyone was saying it was way down. Since this was my first year at market I had no reference for that, but I was reasonably happy with the results. Usually at shows Sundays are slower so a reasonable result on Saturday does not mean its time to celebrate.

Sunday started off a bit slow but lots more customers than I am used to seeing at the previous shows I have done. As the day went on it became apparent that it was going to be a good day as well. In the end we did just about the same $ amount on Sunday as we did on Saturday. Overall I was very happy with the results of the show. Now for the long drive home.

A successful show like this is so satisfying. If only they were all so good. I am very thankful for a good result and feel very fortunate as well for there were many other artists who did not fair so well this weekend. It is good to be one of the fortunate ones.

 Now to switch gears.  Its time to make beads and minis.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Going Native

As a Native American artist attending Native American shows and selling Native American pottery one must pursue the ancient methods if one wants to enter the competitions. At most Native American shows there are competitions where you have the potential opportunity to win significant sums of money, at least as much as part of your booth fee. It is also a good opportunity to become better known in the Indian art community. These shows are all juried and quite competitive. I am a rather late comer to the Native American art market. Many of the artists I compete against have been doing their art since they were practically babies.

So far I have only made it into the pottery categories at these markets. I have been doing one sort of ceramics or another for more than 20 years but I've always bought my clay at the ceramic shop and fired things in an electric kiln in the past. For Native American show competitions this severely limits my prospects for prizes as most pottery categories in the pottery competition require that the items be made from Native materials and Traditionally fired. This means you have to dig and refine your own clay and fire it outside in a wood fire. Furthermore many of the traditional pots are black.

Scientifically getting black pottery from red clay is a simple result of having the pottery in an oxygen starved atmosphere, known in the pottery industry as reduction, at a specific temperature when the iron oxide that makes the clay red is somewhat unstable. At this point it will give up oxygen to the starved fire and in doing so changed from iron oxide to iron magnetite (Fe3O4 which has only 1.33 oxygen atoms for each iron atom) If it is fired and cooled in an oxygen rich atmosphere the iron oxide in the clay becomes red hematite (Fe2O3 with 1.5 oxygen atoms for each iron atom). The black clay can be made red again by once again raising the temperature to that point in an oxygen rich atmosphere.  You may have seen some native pots that are mostly black but have streaks of red here and there.  They accomplish that with a torch on the surface of the pot, thus bringing that area of the pot to temperature in an oxygen rich atmosphere.

Now this all sounds very simple and straightforward sort of like the way those glasses will get dark in the sun and clear again in the shade. But in a wood fire it is a bit more complex as I have discovered. Some of the information I have is empirical and not as scientifically defined as the basic process above. If you have a fire that is somewhat starved for oxygen but is still burning you tend to achieve partial reduction which turns the clay a sort of gray-tan color like the pot in the photo to the right.  How it ends up tan I'm not sure perhaps is it an optical illusion.  You can see streaks and areas that are more gray.  I would have expected to see it more of a red with gray areas but that is not what we ended up with here.  But I am not a chemist so I don't know what the iron did in this pot except that it didn't turn all the way black and it didn't really stay red.  So I know empirically that the fired had too much oxygen through that critical temperature range to turn black but not enough to be red.  Now these colors are 'in' the clay not on the surface.  This is not a residue that sits on the surface of the clay.

Ok so this should be pretty simple starve the fire and it will go tan starve it to the point of extinguishing it and it will go black.  But sealing up a fire even one in an enclosed area such as a barrel, kiln, or pit is harder than it sounds because there is oxygen everywhere and you have to seal it up pretty good.  The tan pot was from the first firing that I made in my artificial 'pit' enclosure.  Due to fire regulations I can't just dig a pit in the ground and start fires in the open during wildfire season so I have to have the fire enclosed.  Some people do this in 55 gal steel drums I built a brick enclosure.  Logic says when you get the fire as hot as you want add extra fuel and then seal up the enclosure.  The additional combustable should burn up all the available oxygen and you should have black pottery.  Well that might be true if you could just hermetically seal up the enclosure but as I found this is not very likely.  We plugged the opening where we were feeding the fuel in and plugged the opening that was acting as a chimney.  It did start smoking but the fire pushed its way out around the plugs.  We put dirt over it and kept putting dirt here and there over every little place that we could see smoke and fire emerging.  Thought we did a pretty good job of sealing it up but in the morning I still had live coals which means that somewhere there was air still getting in.

For the second firing we sealed up the enclosure a bit better and tightened up the plugging methods.  Also we added a common combustible/smothering agent that is used by many Native American potters to smother their fires, cow dung.  We added this through the chimney hole right on top of  the pottery.  At the same time we plugged the fire hole and then plugged the top as well.  Well we produced more smoke than you can imagine and still had smoke pouring out in numerous places.  Places you can't imagine even like out from under neath the enclosure which is sitting on concrete bricks.  More dirt over everything and as you can see most everything ended up pretty black.  But there are a few anomalies for example the tiny pot shown on the left.   As you can see his head is tan while his body is black.  How in the heck did that happen?   I'm not totally sure but the only thing I can guess is that the cow which was covering him continued to burn with enough oxygen through the cooling period and he somehow just didn't go all black.  Some of the pots that were on the edges of the enclosure such as the bowl and ones that were totally covered with the cow also have small areas that aren't totally black.  And again I still had coals in the morning so air is getting in somewhere.

So the quest goes on.  You can see photos of all the pieces in these two firings in my Facebook photo album Wild Clay Fired   Previous Native pieces are on my Native American Art page at Natika's Native American Art   Most can bee seen in the gallery or in the pottery shop.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bead Giveaway

WOW WOW WOW this is just too good to believe.

If you love beads and you like Free you can't pass this up. Denise is giving away $350 + worth of beads. Yes you read it right $350 worth of beads. This is a totally incredible stash. All sorts of wonderful beads. Silver, gemstones, ceramic, you name it it is included. All the colors of the rainbow.

But there isn't much time left to enter the giveaway. The winners are to be announced on Friday. So hurry on over to her blog, Bling it on, and get entered!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Looking Back at the Heard Museum Indian Market

Now that all the excitement of the show is winding down and I've begun to catch up on some of the things that I need to get done, I would like to give you a bit of a follow up on the Show.  As you may already know I was lucky in the competition and won 1st Place in the Pottery Miniatures category for my little Human Effigy Water Bottle.  Which is shown here.  I was really excited to win 1st place in this show.  The competition is very stiff and the artwork is all wonderful.  The Heard Museum Guild has put together a page with photos of all the winners.  I invite you to take a look at all of the other wonderful pieces that were winners in this show.  Heard Museum Indian Market Juried Competition Winners 2010

Not only did the artwork and the other artist's company make for a lovely weekend, but the sales were good too.  I think that a show where there are ample customers with ample money and a willingness to spend it is one of the most exciting and fun things you can do.  It really makes all the hard work worth it and gives me the motivation to work hard for the next show.  I'm hoping that this is a trend that will build over the course of this year and that the economy as a whole is on an upswing finally. 

Back to the show here are a few photos of some of the artwork that was available at the show from some of the artists that were happy to allow us to photograph their booths.

First we have a nice shot of some lovely silver jewelry.

Next is a booth with some flutes, masks and drums.

And another interesting mask.  I've put a few more photos on my facebook page as well so come on over there and have a look too.  More Photos

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year

Hello everyone and a very Happy New Year.  I hope you all had wonderful holiday seasons filled with family and friends and lots of good activities to remember.

Looking forward into 2010 it is looking like a great year from here.  I've been busy working on the Native pottery for the Heard Show which is a show I've tried to get into several times without success but now for 2010 I am in the show.  I think sales maybe picking up a bit as well which is always a good thing.  I hope the rest of you have wonderful things to look forward to in this new year as well.  I have finally put up some new photos of the finished pieces of Native pottery in the gallery on my Native American website at  I've posted one of my favorite pieces here but do go have a look at the other terracotta pieces on the website.  This is a water bottle reproduction.  In the book it is listed as an owl but I really think it is a parrot.  The shape of the head and the beak are just not right for an owl.  In the southeast where these pots originated there are many small native parrots, so I am pretty sure it is a parrot.  I think this piece came out exceptionally good and I am very pleased with it.

I am now working on porcelain murrinis which I plan to fire the samples of today.  I usually cut off the ends for a sample of the design and fire them up separately for reference on the colors and design.  I hope to start making pots using the murrini this coming week.