Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

Archive for June, 2009

Proving “Beads” Can Be Made Of Anything

Posted by learntobead on June 26, 2009

Jennifer Maestre Sculpture

This bead artist cuts off the tips of colored pencils, top drills a hole through them, and bead-weaves them together in these awesome sculptures.


From the Artist’s statement:

My sculptures were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion.

The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences. Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials. Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure.


There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture.

To make the pencil sculptures, I take hundreds of pencils, cut them into 1-inch sections, drill a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpen them all and sew them together. The beading technique I rely on most is peyote stitch.


I’m inspired by animals, plants, other art, Ernst Haeckel, Odilon Redon, mythology. In fact, it isn’t easy to specify particular sources of inspiration. Sometimes one sculpture will inspire the next, or maybe I’ll make a mistake, and that will send me off in a new direction.

I started off in the direction of prickly things when I was in my last year at Mass College of Art. It all comes from one idea I had for a box with a secret compartment that would contain a pearl. The box would be shaped like a sea urchin, made of silver. In order to open the box and reveal the secret compartment, you’d have to pull on one of the urchin’s spines. The idea was of something beautiful, sculptural, but that you wouldn’t necessarily want to touch, and that also held a secret treasure. I never developed the small-metals skills to ever make the box, but it got me thinking about that kind of form. I started experimenting with different materials to make urchin forms. I found that nails, pushed through window screen, worked well, and I could use many different types and textures and colors of nails.


After graduation, I didn’t have the facilities to do glass, so I kept playing with the nails and screen (very low tech), and gradually started working larger, adding zippers and other elements. Continuing with the container theme, I started making the tack-coated eggs to place inside the nail baskets.

The eggs were so beautiful on their own, as well, that I decided to open some of them up, putting little windows in, for example.

While I was doing that work, I was also dabbling in bead work. I taught myself several beading techniques, especially peyote stitch, which is great for creating sculptural work.

I was constrained a bit with the nails, because I couldn’t get all the turns and twists I wanted. I loved the textures and the contrast between the industrial qualities of the nails and the organic forms of the sculptures, but I wanted more complex forms. I was also thinking about how bad the liquid rubber probably was for my health.

So, I experimented with other pointy things and techniques, and finally hit on turning pencils into beads and sewing them together. Using this combination of technique and materials allows me to retain all the qualities that I want in my work, with the potential for more variety of form.

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An unexpected source of gemstone jewelry…

Posted by learntobead on June 21, 2009

Wildscape Caddisfly Jewelry

Here’s a jewelry component you don’t see very often, if ever.    Caddisfly larva created casings.
Kathy Stout and along with her Mom Marilyn Kyle and many good friends and jewelry designers, created Wildscape.  Their Jewelry is One Of A Kind!
The caddisfly larva is an aquatic insect that creates a beautiful case out of stones. They use this case to create unique jewelry. The twist!! They raise the caddisfly Larva in a simulated stream and give them Gem Stones to build their cases with. Ben Stout, a biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University, designed the simulated steam that is used to raise the caddisfly larva. It took 3 years to perfect the steam, but when it was completed they had an opportunity to give the caddisfly larva a unique predator free environment to live in.
And in return, they received a beautiful gemstone case after the adult emerged from its case. Wow, who would have thought that an aquatic insect would be such an amazing artist!! That was her thought when she saw these incredible insects at work.
So now 14 years later, they are still at it! Each year new gem stones are given to the caddisfly larva and then they sit back and watch them create their works of art.

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The Donut Dilemma

Posted by learntobead on June 17, 2009

The Donut Dilemma

By Kathleen Lynam


Perhaps you can help our bead study group solve our donut dilemma.

Here’s what happened—our bead study group is currently exploring bead woven shapes and dimensionality. How did we decide on this particular segment of bead weaving? Well, we were inspired by Diane Fitzgerald’s new book, Shaped Beadwork. This book has become a springboard for our discussions—both technically and aesthetically. As we work on the shapes in the book, the group talks about the degree of difficulty, clarity of directions, etc.


Last week, “donuts” were brought up in our conversation. No, not the delicious confections filled with jelly or covered with sprinkles. The “donuts” I’m referring to are usually made out of gemstones, have a small hole in the center and are rather flattish.


They fit into our discussion because they are a shape and have dimension. I immediately tensed. Then I shouted out, “I hate donuts!” Why should a particular shape — donuts —  spark such strong feelings? 


Then I looked around the table and other heads were shaking in agreement. Other than one dissenting opinion, it seemed we all had a dislike for this shape.   But why, what is it about the donut that leaves us wanting and dissatisfied?


We talked about the usual way they are worn—knotted with a cord strung through it, maybe embellished with some seed beads or fringe. We were stymied to think of an example that showed creativity and yet still kept the integrity of the donut.


I decided to look through old magazines to see what I could find. I found quite a few examples for it seems donuts are very popular.


As a bead weaver, I love to bezel cabochons, I’ve used gemstone chips in crocheted ropes, but I’m still looking for a creative way to use a “donut”.


Maybe you have the answer.




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“Escape” Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on June 5, 2009

JEWELRY Is Partly About Emotions

Jewelry is partly about emotions and feelings.   For some reason, at the moment, I was thinking about “escapes.”   My vacation is coming up and I’m going to Maui.   Maybe that got me thinking in this direction.

Escape.   So what happens when you put the phrase “escape jewelry” into a google search?     How has the designer defined “escape” as a concept, and how is this definition reflected in her pieces?     Has this definition been successfully reflected in the pieces?

Here’s what we get:

Sweet Escape Boutique by Kerri Hall

Definition of Escape:
We create unique pieces that you will not find in department stores.  You will not see any of your friends wearing the same piece, or saying, “I have that same piece at home.”



iDazz Jewelry

Escape Definition:  We have one purpose: to open your world to a new set of fun, high quality, affordable handmade jewelry… and to make the shopping experience personal, simple and convenient.


La Ti Da Boutique

Escape definition:  Styles offered at the boutique are trendy, contemporary, and appeal to a woman with a certain attitude, not an age group.

From their Escape From Paris collection

From their Escape From Paris collection

Creative Dexterity

Escape definition:  The escape key on your keyboard


A jewelry store in Georgetown, TX

Escape definition:  We strive for the finest quality products, at fair prices, with uncompromised service.

Alchemy Bracelet by Holly Yashi

Alchemy Bracelet by Holly Yashi

Cross by John Cross

Cross by John Cross

Burglars smash into jewelry store, escape in Porsche

3 masked men seen running from back of jewelry store and into gray SUV early this morning.

The Orange County Register
Comments 9| Recommend 4

MISSION VIEJO – Burglars smashed into jewelry store at The Shops at Mission Viejo early this morning, making off with an unknown amount of loot before the mall opened, authorities said.


Escape definition:  bank robbery and fleeing the scene



The Art Escape Plan

A blog about Life through the eyes of a jeweler.

Escape definition:   living jewelry through reading about it through 30 pounds of reading material.



Not much more when you continue to search on Escape Jewelry.   Jewelry might be the perfect escape vehicle, but not necessarily as a theme from marketing or design perspectives.

But now, when you plug in the phrase “Escape Jewelry” into Google, you’ll find this page, which, in its own pleasurable, wry and weird way, has become a sort of jewelry escape.

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