Barbara’s Blog – BBD Art Jewelry

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!


It’s Time Consuming, but…

It’s all so beautiful!  I’ve just returned from Murphy’s Gardens with a box full of herbs…thyme, parsley, rosemary, mint, and lots of basil!  They’ve been in a greenhouse so I will harden them off outside during the day and put them in pots on the deck in a few days.  I no longer put them in my herb garden because raccoons love to pull them out of the ground at night and I awake to withering or dead plants.  For some reason, the raccoons have not learned to climb onto the deck and I hope it stays that way!  The front beds are doing splendidly!  Jack in the pulpit, ferns, bellwort, wild geranium, solomon’s seal, and more are growing vigorously and bluebells have taken over the woodland path!  Rather than needles, thread, and scissors, my tools this week will be spade and pruning shears! As much as I want to get back to the studio and work on beading projects, I have to take this time to “smell the roses”. This time of year is so fleeting and before we know it the dog days of summer will be here…you’ll definitely find me in the studio then!

I Knew This Would Happen…

The weather pattern world-wide has been unpredictable of late! Forget spring…our lengthy and arduous Mid-west winter has seemingly become summer overnight! We went from snow accompanied by frigid temperatures just two weeks ago to hot summer-like weather!  The trees have barely leafed out, but all of sudden the flower beds are bursting with new growth and with that comes the realization that I will have to temporarily abandon art projects and devote my time and energy to garden maintenance, porch and deck cleaning, and all other tasks involved in making the house summer ready!  Believe me, I’d much rather be in the studio than outdoors with the bugs while raking leaves out of the herb garden, cleaning out the garage, and hosing down porch furniture!  But when it’s finished, I’ll look on it all as a job well done and my reward will be getting back to playing with beads, metal, resin, polymer clay, and paper!


It’s Springtime and…

Flowers are blooming everywhere…even in my studio!  These four collections of polymer clay flower and butterfly shaped components have so many possibilities! Each component has a subtle matte iridescence that does not show up in the photos…they truly are lovely! The largest components are the butterfly in Collection #1 (2.5″ across) and the big flower in Collection #4 (2.25″). The small butterflies measure 7/8″ across. The medium-sized flowers are 1″ and the small flowers are 3/4″ in size. All of these components can be easily drilled with a small hand drill or metal punch…just add jump rings, hoops, earwires, or attach with needle, thread, and beads! They can also be molded into 3D shapes with the use of a heat gun! Like a blank canvas, you can experiment with surface treatments adding beads or a stamped ink surface! You can add them to bead-embroidered projects and use them as accents in all manner of ways…even a nature wall scape!  You’ll find them in my Etsy shop…I’d love to see what you make with them!

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