Barbara’s Blog – BBD Art Jewelry

I’m Almost There…

Granted, I haven’t had a lot of time to bead lately. With our summer weather being so hot and humid, weeds have taken over and general summer chores seem to be never-ending. But, I’m almost finished with the geometric beaded beads bracelet that I started a while back and my next post will feature the finished bracelet! The clasp had been a conundrum for me…I was undecided as to whether it should be made from polymer clay or perhaps wire-worked. After debating this issue for some time, I decided a beaded clasp was the best option and one that would enhance the design most.  While pondering which type of clasp to create, I started work on the tutorial so hopefully, once the bracelet is finished it will not be long before the tutorial and kits are ready…stay tuned!


That’s an acronym for Dubuque Museum of Art. It’s an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution located in downtown Dubuque, IA. Several months ago I was invited to participate in the “Handmade Craft Invitational” exhibition running June 2 – September 9, 2018.  Having been in Ireland, I missed the opening, but I finally had a chance to view the show last week!  Wonderfully innovative and masterly works by twenty-two artists are on exhibition. I am honored to have three of my beadwoven wraps included in the show; “Loch Ness Sea Dragon“, “Sea Dragon Variation“, and my “Fire Dragon“, which is featured in the DuMA 2018 Summer Newsletter! Beading tutorials for all three designs are available in my Etsy shop. If you are in the area, do stop at DuMA and see the show!

In Progress…

I started working on these geometric beads several months ago and as often happens, they were placed in the UFO bin while I worked on other projects and then went on vacation.  I’ve decided that these multi-colored dimensional triangle, square, and pentagonal beads (each measuring just slightly under an inch in size and composed of eight to twelve different colors) will be used in a bracelet.  Brightly colored Czech 6mm Druk beads will be implemented as well.  At this point I haven’t decided on the clasp treatment.  I’m leaning towards creating a sterling silver wire-wrapped toggle-clasp upon which I may or may not float several color-coordinated beads. Or I may use polymer clay to create a brightly colored multi-layered clasp.  I’ll decide after I have completed all the beads.  When the project is finished, I’ll begin writing the step-by-step project tutorial.  I’ve already taken well over fifty photos showing the progress of a triangle, square, and pentagonal bead from start to finish.  When the tutorial is finished, I’ll be assembling beading kits…I’m guessing another three to four weeks will be required before the tutorials and kits are listed in my Etsy shop, but I guarantee the end result will be worth the wait!

Thank You, FMG!

Aside from intense heat and far more rain than wanted or needed, June has certainly been an excellent month for me!  Not only did I spend two relaxing weeks on the west coast of Ireland, but upon my return home, a package from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads that I had eagerly looked forward to was awaiting me. It contained “Elements” (the silver-gold-gemstone necklace I had submitted to FMG’s 2018 “Metals Jewelry” contest), a framed photo of the necklace and Honorable Mention Award plus a gift certificate!  Additionally, the July 2018 FMG catalog was tucked in the stack of mail that had accumulated during my absence.  Upon paging through the catalog, I discovered a full page showing the “Fleurs et Papillons” bead-embroidered polymer clay collar, my winning entry in the 2017 “Creative Clays” contest. What a super surprise to come home to!  Now I’d better get my shopping list together…more colorful Delica beads and jewelry-making goodies are in my future! Thank you so much Fire Mountain Gems and Beads!


After I’ve spent a month or two designing with beads and writing tutorials or having been immersed in resin and/or polymer clay or metal work, I need to step back and let my “inner child” emerge. That usually means getting out paper, crayons, inks, embossing powders, markers, stencils, and stamping supplies to create collage art. Playing with these materials is a refreshing change of pace. While I love the structure of geometric beading, working with paper craft materials unleashes a freedom to create a tiny world of images juxtaposed against text and script using an array of colors. These finished works just make me smile! It is also a great way to up-cycle boxes and containers that might otherwise be discarded…I’d much rather bestow new life on them!

Pictured here are two small round boxes that once housed bottles of perfume. Their original deep yellow color is shown at left on the unaltered lid in the forefront. Obviously, the collaged boxes are far more interesting and also the perfect size for holding pens and pencils or my collection of Distress Crayons. It’s truly fun to abandon my adult self temporarily and play like a kid!



A Perfect Day…

After a week of severe storms, high humidity, and a miserable deluge of biting gnats, we finally have a glorious day…the sort of idyllic day one wishes would last all year long! So, I’ve taken the opportunity to do more geometric beadwork (more triangles!) on the screened-in porch in the company of cats. Peekaboo is lying on the floor in a sunny corner where she can view any critters that should pass by or emerge from the dense growth of the prairie that surrounds our home. The heady fragrance of milkweed that dominates our prairie this year permeates the air…so delightful! Cooper is blissfully asleep on a chair cushion and Jackson is lying at the perfect vantage point for watching every stitch I take! Life is good!

Back Again!

I’ve been out of the studio for the past two weeks for a much needed vacation.  While away, I managed to cram in only a few hours of beading. The rest of the time was spent reading, relaxing, visiting tiny villages, and taking long walks in the Irish countryside. We had prepared for rain every day, but as the weather patterns globe-wide are peculiar these days, we had day after day of sunshine and warm temperatures! The locals remarked that the weather was highly unusual. We flew into Dublin and spent two days there before driving toward the west coast of Ireland where we rented a cottage near Headford for several days. Then we drove a few kilometers further north to a rental home near Cong. One of the highlights of our vacation was a visit to Ashford Castle. The photo shows only a portion of the majestic castle.  The castle grounds and gardens are incredibly beautiful and extensive. It really is quite something to see!  But, now I’m back and catching up on snail mail, email, orders that came in while I was traveling. Add to that unpacking, doing laundry, etc., and giving the cats tons of extra love and attention, I have my work cut out for me!

I’m still playing with triangles and…

Exploration with color and design is so important! I’ve charted three designs using sixteen different color combinations and I’ve learned that seeing the colors on paper is quite different from seeing the actual triangle worked up! Just look at top four triangle designs for example. The color combinations make the pattern design look so different! The second from the left seems rather subdued even though I used a bright opaque orange at the center portion of the design. That happened because I used a silver-lined light orange for the single dots of color…you’ll notice that the color combinations almost blend into each other, whereas the triangles at either side of it use contrasting colors that make the small dots pop!, especially the triangle to the left that has black contrasting against bright opaque yellow dots. I love them all and would be hard pressed to choose a favorite from the group. The lovely thing about beaded triangles is that they take very little time to work up so making samples is fun and the end results can be used as earrings or stitched together to form a bracelet or necklace or three-dimensional forms! I’ve just started playing with these particular pattern designs and my initial idea was to create a Kaleiocycle (inspired by CGB), and I still plan to make one, but what the many other samples I intend to work up will end up being used for is anyone’s guess…I’ll make that decision later!


I’m delighted!  I’ve just been notified that my “Elements” necklace has received an honorable mention in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2018 Metals Contest! The necklace is composed of sterling silver, 14k gold, onyx and rutile quartz, vintage glass and granite beads.  Techniques used in the creation of this piece include hollow-forming, sawing, sweat soldering, stone setting, and wirework.  I love charms and talismans so this necklace incorporates lightning bolts, a lot of embellishment, and multi-textured symbols. I’m keeping this piece!

I’ve Been Really Busy, But…

I did manage to carve out a bit of free time to work on some beadwoven triangles.  These are part of a collection that will eventually become a Kaleidocycle (inspired by CGB). It’s fun coming up with various designs for each of the four triangles that will be repeated six times to comprise a total of twenty-four joined triangles. I’ve wanted to make a Kaleidocycle for the longest time, but I always seemed to be mired down in existing projects. Mind you, I’m in no rush to finish this project…I’m enjoying the process without having a deadline that imposes time constraints!  As a child, I would constantly ask, “Are we there yet?”, but the older I grow, the more I feel the need to slow down and enjoy the moment rather than rushing to get things done before moving on to another project or the next task. I’m finding that my work ethic and ever present perfectionism has somewhat enslaved me and kept me from truly enjoying the nuances of the journey. The destination is the end result, but taking time to savor the road traveled along the way makes life far sweeter!


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