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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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wedge 3Some of our most admired beads and pendants ever came out of JoAnn Wedge's kiln. I've never gotten around to interviewing her before -- but now's the time! (BTW, please let us know if you are a bead/jewelry artisan and want to be featured -- we love to discover new talent! Especially within the ranks of our subscribers!!) So here goes about JoAnn --

Sheila: How did you get started in the business of bead-making, and why?

JoAnn: Well, as I was learning to do fused glass in pottery kilns and making large items, they were expensive and hard to sell. So as I started doing smaller and smaller items, I finally got into jewelry (mostly to use up scraps) and learned how to make glass beads for watches and bracelets. They got attention, sold and that encouraged me to stick with the smaller stuff. I finally sold the pottery kilns (7 cu. ft. size!!) and went to smaller kilns so turnaround was much quicker and less expensive!!

Sheila: How did you learn?

yellow glassJoAnn: Had one girlfriend in Merritt Island, a stained glass worker that started doing fusing and spent a day with her, made a fused glass bowl and was hooked on glass. After I bought $750 worth of equipment and tools (and glass), I took it back to Colorado where I lived at the time, and started experimenting. Mostly I taught myself. There were very few books on the subject 20 years ago. But the curiosity about the medium and playing with the infinite possibilities of the craft, I kept going until I finally gave up pottery and devoted all my time to glass -- mostly jewelry --embellishing it with beads, crystals, and silver. That was 11 years ago.

Sheila: What would you call your style?

JoAnn:  I don't know. I love detail and intricate designs (as my pottery showed), so many if not all of my pieces are very detailed. Recently, I've been embellishing with flatback Swarovski crystals, small pearls and tiny beads. I refer to it as "bead-embellished fused glass". I think it is very elegant, almost Victorian in looks. With a high level of "flair", these are statement pieces and stand alone as a focal in any design.

Sheila: Do you make jewelry?

JoAnn: Yes, lots of it. Many (almost all) of my pieces are featured on my Facebook page "Wedge Fused Glass". I use that venue to document, record, and promote new pieces. I also sell from that site if people PM me for more info. 

spiral pot janieWe recently had a delightful time at the annual Folk & Bluegrass Festival in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. In addition to the amazing music, divine summer weather, and forest setting, there are always the most fun vendors – including handmade jewelry vendors – in the tents on the grounds.

This time I met JanieK Terrel, who works in a lovely combination of clay, beads, leather and stone – and one other unique element – oil! She makes and sells these great little aromatherapy necklaces. Tiny artisan pots to hold an infinite variety of therapeutic oils are strung on genuine leather and adorned with Japanese and Czech glass beads, beautiful metal findings, and semi-precious gemstones; each is unique and one of a kind.

We love the way you can see the ancient beauty of the high mountains and red deserts of the New Mexico wildlands where Janie was born. An old stone carver who has transitioned into a potter of tiny clay vessels, she now lives and works in Ruidoso, New Mexico. The necklace I chose to take home is a soft blue and brown, with a sacred spiral – a similar theme in many of Janie’s pieces. But she works in many themes, ranging from ancient symbols and designs, to simple boho, southwestern, and spiritual. The colors tend to be soft, earthy and glimmering – and in conversation with Janie I could tell she enjoys the process of seeing what unexpected things the glazes will do during the firing process – almost always a joy for experienced and creative potters.

The fact that these beautiful creations hold therapeutic and life-enhancing oils is a great bonus! Anyone who has explored the use of such oils in their life knows what a treat – and sometimes essential therapy – these oils can be. Whether you want an alternative to pricey and synthetic perfumes and colognes, or something to infuse your life with a palpable meditation aid – a healing substance – or just to enjoy – oils are a great way to go. There are lots of options, but JanieK and I especially recommend for very high quality, pure oils, at wholesale prices -- with free shipping and no memberships required.

ruby necklace 1Many cultures have long considered ruby a stone of kings. Ruby symbolism and lore have been associated with power, wealth, the protection of these assets. Possessing a ruby supposedly benefited and protected the owner’s holdings and assisted in the accumulation of wealth, including the acquisition of more gems!

When worn as a talisman, ruby’s mystical properties extended to personal protection. People believed if they wore the stone on the left, the heart side, they would live peacefully. No-one could rob them of their land or rank. The special blood-colored stone would save them from all perils.

The blood-like color of the ruby no doubt encouraged associations with this life-sustaining fluid. Those who risked their lives were believed to have a special connection to the gem. The ancient Burmese prized the ruby as the stone of soldiers. They believed it bestowed invulnerability. However, wearing it on the left was not sufficient. Only those who had rubies physically inserted into their flesh would gain this benefit; then would they be safe from wounds from spears, swords, or guns. It was also believed rubies could remedy bleeding and inflammation, and increase the warmth of the body.

The ruby’s inner glow seems to hint that it contains an inner fire. This visual effect may have inspired some curious beliefs -- such as -- "A ruby placed in water can bring it to a boil," or "If hidden in a wrapping, the gem can shine through and reveal its presence." Stories are told of rubies that emit their own light. One was even described as “shining like a torch.”

All varieties of rubies were thought to hold similar properties. In addition to their protective powers, they were said to control evil thoughts, dispel anger, and resolve disputes. However, darker rubies were considered “male” and lighter gems “female.” When people in the Middle Ages encountered gems with carved images, they believed these were found this way in nature. Although these stones were carved in ancient times, they didn’t think humans crafted them into such shapes. They believed these discoveries to possess special powers. For example, in the 13th century CE work, The Book of Wings, Ragiel writes:

The beautiful and terrible figure of a dragon. If this is found on a ruby or any other stone of similar nature and virtue, it has the power to augment the goods of this world and makes the wearer joyous and healthy.

makers pledgeJust ran across this great quote from the inspiring Kathy Van Kleeck, who creates and sells the most fascinating handmade jewelry:

Kathy calls her style ‘Urban Primitive’, and that fits, as much of her work is realized in ‘primitive’ elements such as stone, bronze, silver, clay, leather, silk and rough gemstone – and it speaks of the modern woman grappling with ancient themes – personal growth, rite of passage, and spiritual expression.

To me, Kathy is one of a kind, with lessons to teach all of us engaged in the art and life of fine jewelry creation. As she puts it, she is ‘above all else, a maker’. It is her life’s passion, her raison d'être. She craves simplicity and finely crafted wares created with equally fine ingredients – and her jewelry and design philosophy is an extension of that craving. She strives to create a beautiful structure that is free of superfluous details – grounded in a rugged simplicity – comfortable and effortless.

Like us, she is not fond of our materialistic culture, and struggles with the idea of creating ‘more stuff to put out into the world’. So she is careful to run a sustainable, green business, using certified green and humane sources, and recycles as much as possible. She quotes an online friend for giving her the language to describe this commitment: ‘We live in a world of things...[so] make things with soul, consciously, with gratitude for what is used.’Her spirit SHINES through her work – and I know that is what we all strive for, and many of us (thankfully!) have achieved. Best of all, she shares her process and inspiration with her fans & followers on her web site, where you can see her work, read her journal, and watch videos about her creative process and more.

Her spirit SHINES through her work – and I know that is what we all strive for, and many of us (thankfully!) have achieved. Best of all, she shares her process and inspiration with her fans & followers on her web site, where you can see her work, read her journal, and watch videos about her creative process and more.


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