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Bead of the Week

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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amulet 2Egyptian faience (also known as Egyptian paste) is the oldest known type of glazed ceramic. These first-known glass-type beads were made from clay, but with a thin, lustrous glass coating. The art was first developed more than 6000 years ago in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere in the ancient world. Faience is known for its bright colors, especially shades of turquoise, blue and green. The symbolism of the blue glaze in these beads may have signified the Nile and the waters of Heaven; the green tones evoking images of regeneration, rebirth and vegetation.

Such beads and can vary widey in appearance, from glossy and translucent to matt and opaque. The material was a precursor to glazed-clay-based ceramics, such as earthenware and stoneware, and also to glass, which was invented around 2500 BC.

egyptian faience talisman necklaceEgyptian faience was used in most forms of ancient Egyptian jewelry, and also in the creation of small statues and other figures. It was the most common material for scarabs and other types of amulets. Egyptian bead-makers often worked under the patronage of kings or priests. They used sophisticated techniques and an incredible variety of precious materials to create stunning beaded jewelry which was worn as an expression of status and hierarchy.

Faience has been referred to as the first high-technology ceramic. A typical faience mixture is thick at first, and then becomes soft and flowing as it is being formed. It is hypothesized that modeling, scraping and grinding were the techniques most widely used in earlier times. Beads, amulets and finger rings were produced by a combination of modeling and molding techniques. A variety of glazing techniques were used, resulting in distinctive lusters.

Ancient workshops have been discovered via modern excavations. Square furnace-like structures and molds have been found, particularly near areas inhabited by royalty.

Some modern artists are making their own faience bodies and glazes, firing pieces one or more times. I’ve provided a few examples of folks on Etsy working with faience – works featured, from top to bottom, are:

tourmaline 1One of October's birthstones, the beautiful Tourmaline can be found in a wide variety of hues, including cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, and violet.

Tourmaline is also known for displaying several colors in one gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations and are highly prized. My personal favorite, a multi-color variety known as Watermelon Tourmaline, has green, pink, and white color bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge. 

Tourmaline was known for centuries by the name Schorl. This name was used prior to the year 1400 (AD) because a village known today as Zschorlau (in Saxony, Germany) was then named 'Schorl'' (or minor variants of this name) -- and nearby was a tin mine, where a lot of black tourmaline was also found.

The more modern name Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) words tura mali, meaning unknown gemstones of mixed colors. In the beginning of the 18th century, tourmaline crystals were grouped together in tura mali parcels in Sri Lanka and exported to Europe. It became popular worldwide, as it is a high quality gemstone that is affordable to use in jewelry designs.

Tourmaline is renowned as the gem of sensitive poets and creative artists. Shakespeare even had a small collection of tourmaline jewelry to help him overcome writer's block. Tourmaline is believed to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers during the renaissance through the late 1800s. Perhaps this gemstone is believed to encourage artistic imagination because it has many faces and can express every mood though color.

heart braceletI have always been drawn to charm bracelets, even before I knew their history.  The wearing of charms was likely begun as a form of amulet or talisman to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.

During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood. In Germany, intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions.

Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets. When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular; lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased, charm bracelets carved in jet.”

In modern times, we've seen charm bracelets from Tiffany and Co., the teenager charm bracelet craze of the 50's and 60's, and even pirate-themed bracelets that were all the rage in 2006 after the movie Pirates of the Caribbean came out.

Whatever your favorite theme for a charm bracelet is, there is no doubt they are a delight to make and wear. Today we share the inspired bracelets of three individual Etsy artisans and a group of artisans who collaborate on Etsy.

First, meet SantaFeSilverworks' Gregory P. Segura; one of his masterpieces, 'Elvira's Love and Faith Charm Bracelet' is featured above. Gregory started perfecting his silversmithing skills in the 1990's. He had served in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a hotel manager, financial planner, and sales manager, but his heart was looking for a new, more creative career path. In 2008, Gregory picked up his hammer and lit his torch and never looked back.

charm bracelet 1Although he had taken a metalworking class in the 1980s, Gregory’s expertise with silver is largely self-taught. “Working with silver just comes naturally to me,” he admits. “Sculpting, painting, and carving do not come to me with the ease and understanding I feel in working with silver and stones. I guess you could say I was born with a silver spoon (I made) in my mouth.”

Gregory’s work reflects his Spanish and Native American heritage. For each of his original designs, he draws on the legacy of New Mexico’s master silversmiths as well as rich culture and natural beauty of the region.

Gregory’s ancestors first arrived in Santa Fe around 1624, and he still calls it home with the love of his life and inspiration Debra and their four cats, Sugar, Benicio del Gato (Lil Buddy), Wally, Penelope and Murphy the dog. You can find more information at his website and on Facebook - Santa Fe Silverworks.

Next up are husband and wife team Richard and Janette of RuthLindquistDesigns (see their stunning hand-woven Läckölink Bracelet to the left).

These two have lived in Sweden for many years, where they are inspired to create a lot of jewelry. They used to live on an island near an old castle, and the land all around them was a treasure trove for artifacts dating all the way back to Viking times. They have also spent many years in the US, where they live at the moment.

Finally, we feature the EtsyMetal Charm Swap 13 Bracelet (below on the right) from the creative collaborative EtsyMetal. This bracelet is an impressive collection of charms from 18 Etsy artisans (listed below). The story of EtsyMetal is especially interesting, as its members are accomplished metal artists who network to support one another and to market their respective works. Their talents include fabrication, forging, soldering, piercing, etching, engraving, stone setting, enameling, blacksmithing, casting, and more. Much of the proceeds of their sales benefit Cheekwood Art and Gardens in Nashville, TN, as well as children's art programs.

stormHi Everyone! Just a note to apologize for being missing in action the last couple of weeks. In addition to a health crisis in the family, and travel, and moving, apparently my e-mail newsletter service company, MailChimp, has its headquarters in hurricane country!

I'm hoping to work out any lingering glitches and get my regular weekly e-mails back on track by next week. So please bear with me, and thank you for your patience in the meantime!

All the Best & I hope you have a safe and happy Fall Season!




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