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glass redThis is a set of red glass beads and pendant for your matching earring/necklace designs. The earring beads (approx. 1 mm. long) consist of clear red glass set in gold oval frames. My understanding is that these are vintage, from the 1950's. The pendant (approx. 1" long and 1 mm. wide) is of blown glass with gold and other elements, with a generous horizontal hole (through the red section), ready for stringing. This is not vintage, but it is beautifully handcrafted, and it goes so nicely with these beads that we are offering it as a set for your jewelry designs.

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merry elephant wood and gemMany of you are jewelry designers, or those aspiring to learn the craft. Like a lot of folks, we at The Bead have learned from formal instruction, personal trial and error, and the wonderful mentoring of other artisans. If we had to put a label on our style, we'd likely say that we love the organic and natural, whether we make something elegant or something boho. We've been influenced by so many masters -- not the least of which are those who do things in entirely new and different ways.

Lately we've encountered some great artisans who are working in the theme of this post's title -- sticks & stones -- i.e., wood and gemstones. These pretty baubles are so inspiring! We thought a showing of a few of them might trigger some ideas for you if you haven't tried this particular combination already. (Or maybe just fall in love and buy from these awesome entrepreneurs...)

Above right, we feature some cool Boho wood bead & gemstone necklaces from The Merry Elephant on Etsy. So simple, yet striking and ultra-creative. They incorporate wooden beads, Prehnite, Pink Aventurine, and Golden Quartzite.

lab 2 2Susan Thomasser of Centreville, Virginia makes beautiful original and bespoke jewelry. For those of you who may not know what 'bespoke' is, it is something that is custom made -- tailormade to fit the client's requirements and preferences. The word bespoke itself is derived from the term 'bespeak', an English word not very often used in our times. It means 'to speak for' or 'to speak on behalf of'. So a bespoke creation wouldn't be something you would buy off the shelf. It would indicate jewelry that is crafted according to specifications provided by the client.

Bespoke jewelry also often has some special significance or meaning. Someone might order a bespoke gemstone bracelet for their loved one -- and the choice of gems might be the recipient's birthstone. Or it could have an engraving of a line of poetry with sentimental value. The options for a bespoke jewel are endless and exciting!

susanSusan particularly likes to work with rubies, sapphires, flame ball pearls, pink opal, lapis, tourmaline -- some of our favorites too. She says the gems she works with tend to speak to her, telling her what they wish to become. The pieces themselves exhibit the highest level of quality and craftsmanship. There is no doubt this comes from a true passion for her work.

She says she has been in love with gems and jewelry since she was a little girl. One of her fondest memories as a young child was playing with her Mother's cedar jewelry box. It was a beautiful miniature Lane keepsake chest brimming with trinkets. She knelt on the floor inspecting the jewelry piece by piece -- clusters of pale, frosted aqua beads, luminous pearls, clip-on earrings, and more from a time gone by.

Susan now designs pieces across a broad spectrum of styles and periods, favoring Byzantine and Etruscan as well as Modernist and Victorian. She says the most difficult consideration when designing is restraint. There comes a point at which the piece is "finished," and you must know it when you see it.

I'm inpsired by the story behind her Etsy shop name, Josephine's Cotillion!

Susan's beautiful mother Josephine is the inspiration for all her work. Josephine was raised by her hardworking and loving mother in Sarasota, Florida, where she still lives. Old Sarasota is an artistic community, so that infused her upbringing, and that love of beauty has been passed on to Susan.

gypsy earringsDo you prefer the non-traditional, non-conformist approach to life, style, fashion, and handmade jewelry? If so and if you aren't already a boho-jewelry artisan, you might want to consider it.

The words "boho" or "bohemian" are most often used when describing someone who does not conform to tradition. This is the case in the way one might act as well as dress, and that is when jewelry and fashion come into play. When we're talking about fashion, the word Bohemian is used to convey an attitude and style that says free-spirited.

Called Boho for short, the Bohemian look is earthy and natural, and sometimes ethnic or tribal. Designs may incorporate leather, stones, ceramic/pottery, wood, natural fabrics, and materials from the earth. Vintage jewelry components may also be included.

You can get a feeling for today's Boho chic look by looking back to the late 1960's to early 1970's "hippie" fashions -- not Mod, you want more of a "flower child" look.

The best thing about the Bohemian look is that nothing has to "match." The pieces should layer well and work together to create classy, Boho chic appearance.

christmas tree 2016 2In honor of Christmas Day, I wanted to post something special about beads related to the holiday. I went on a rambling internet quest and found this lovely story. A little schmaltzy, yes, but the message is eternally true. It's about unselfish love, softening, and healing. Here's the link: A String of Blue Beads.

The story isn't entirely unlike a great movie we just saw with our friends -- Collatoral Beauty. I was weeping through most of it, as it made me think of my husband's illness and also the recent loss of my beloved 12-year old lab, Mishka. But that's ok, as they say weeping can help to heal. I hadn't really cried much since Mishka died, even though I have been in a lot of emotional pain. I think it's because I'm like the character in the movie; I just get on my (metaphorical) bike and ride hard, against the traffic, keeping myself busy, focusing on not breaking down.

mishka blue blanket 2But as it says in Ecclesiastes, there's a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. For us, it seems like the whole year has been a time to mourn. Here's hoping that next year -- for us and for you -- is a time to laugh and to dance. It will take some work, I'm sure -- remembering to count our incredible blessings, to have gratitude, to help all those who need it -- to the best of our ability, and most of all, to love.

May you and yours -- and the world -- have a peaceful holiday season and new year, and may all your days be merry and bright.

Until Next Year,

Sheila

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