Woodside WireWorks

Wit, Whimsy, & Wisdom…

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Build A Line Challenge-B’sue Boutiques, Susan Bowerman, Woodside WireWorks, Part One

In the studio with Miss Skittles.

In the studio with Miss Skittles.

When I first read about the Build a Line Challenge sponsored by my friend Brenda Sue Lansdowne of B’Sue, I hadn’t a clue what I was getting myself into, nor did I know really what she was talking about. I mulled it around in my head for a while, tossed a few ideas back and forth, and thought, “Why Not, Chicken Little?   Just do it.” I took the leap and am glad that I did. Not only do I get to do what I love, create jewelry, I’m also connecting with other artists and learning more than I dreamed possible in such a short time.  Our group consists of 56 brave, supportive, creative artists.  When I sent in my application, little did I know how rich this opportunity would become.

What does it mean to “Build a Line?” This is a tough  concept to embrace for an artist who prides herself on creating one of a kind pieces, bores easily, and who loves to experiment. Since I don’t like to replicate the same piece, I’ve opted to build my line differently, using like materials to create it with a focus on the style of the line.  This is causing me to think in ways I’d never considered, is forcing me to question my thinking, and proving to be enlightening. What I once considered as truths, appear now as myths, masquerading as truths.  I’ve discovered that stubborn me can be wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here is a glimpse at the type of jewelry I love to make.  I tend to make pieces that are labor intensive, too dressy for everyday wear, and too exclusive to be worn with more than a few outfits. That isn’t good if you want to sell more of your pieces—not good at all. Time to regroup and create a body of work, which has broader appeal, is more affordable, and with fewer colors.

I made this piece with Abalone and Pearls a few years back.  It is still one of my favorites.

Abalone and Pearls…one of my favorites.


This choker is an example of what I mean by labor intensive.  I do love it though.All the embellishments were attached with wire.

This choker is an example of what I mean by labor intensive. I do love it though. All the embellishments were attached with wire.

Another “labor of love.”

Today marks the genesis of my first attempt at a line.  It’s called  Deck out that Denim . Seriously, who doesn’t own a pair of jeans—or some black slacks—and a few plain tops?  These basic wardrobe pieces can be found in nearly every closet in the country. But how we put those items together is as varied as we are.

I was at T.J. Maxx one day.   A  woman walked up to the jewelry counter.  She was clad in  all black: boots,  jeans, and top and she looked like a million dollars. It was how she “packaged” herself that intrigued me. She was dripping in silver, carnelian and turquoise. It dangled from her ears, snugged both wrists, and several necklaces fell in layers over her blouse. At her waist was a belt, inlaid with the same gemstones encased in silver. While some would find the combination over the top, maybe even tacky, and wouldn’t dream of wearing that much jewelry at one time, this gal looked hot. She was tall, sleek, sported a million dollar hair cut.  Not only was she runway material, she was a jewelry maker’s dream.

Deck out that Denim pieces will be mostly metal.  I’ve never paired those metals before, but I think they “pop” when paired together.  We are to create 5 cohesive pieces in our lines as part of this challenge.

Some of these components will find their way into my Deck out your Denim line.

Some of these components will find their way into my “Deck out that Denim” line.

First piece in my line.

This is the first piece in my line. Hand cut and textured copper blank, riveted to a bracelet bar, and embellished.

All of the artists involved in this endeavor are posting their blog today to give you a sneak peak at their journey. We’ll post a progress report on February 20, with a reveal of our lines, fully completed on March 20. In the meantime, I hope you will hop on over and see what my creative friends are doing. Oh, and if you could, do be kind enough to drop them a line of encouragement. This is a first for most of us. A few kind strokes would be nice. Those involved in the Build A Line Challenge are listed below. Please give them my best!

So without further fuss, here is the list of wonderful folks participating in this journey.  Trust me, they have been busy!


Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue Boutiques

Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Jann Tague

Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King

Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford

Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson


Lynn Stinten


Marica Zammit

Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck


Michaele Collie

The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig

Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman

Strega Jewelry

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady

MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West

Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson

 Leila Belcher

Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen

Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams

Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara

LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth


Dana Hickey

Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo

Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark

Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman

B. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger

Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen

Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed

Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields

Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam

Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis

The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman

Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le

Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters

Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider

Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett

Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson

From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman

The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter

TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer

Smithed Up

Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris

Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer

Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier

Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen

Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams

Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens

1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard

Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law



GoGo Boots and Bell Bottoms, Too!

GoGo Boots…Had to have them!

GoGo Boots…Had to have them!

Back in the day—way, way, way back in the day—the nineteen-sixties kind of back in the day, I was in elementary school.   For those of you who weren’t born yet, save your comments…

Anyhow, I guess I was in second or third grade when one of my classmates showed up one morning in a pair of white GoGo boots. What a stir she caused—those boots instantly transported her to “rock star” material and the rest of us felt like lumpy wallflowers. In our minds, life as we knew it would cease until we too, had a coveted pair of GoGo boots.  We pestered our parents, and Santa Clause, and anyone else who would listen, to magic up a pair for us. Then, to make matters worse, Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s singer daughter recorded “These Boots are Made For Walking,” sporting a mini-skirt and a pair of her own. That sealed the deal…any crazed little girl who didn’t own a pair at that point used every manipulative move in her power to acquire a pair.  We lusted after them, swooned over them.  They were the hottest ticket around.

Nancy Sinatra in those coveted GoGo Boots.

Nancy Sinatra in those coveted GoGo Boots.

That was about the same era when the Liverpool boys, John, Paul, George, and Ringo, made their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. If you wonder what a group of “swooning girls” in the sixties looked like back then , watch this.  We loved the Beetles like we loved those wonderful white boots.


There were but two department stores in our town—Smith and Welton’s and Rices Nachman’s. That was it. Aside from those boots, there were two ”must have” coveted brand names: John Meyer and Villager. Merchandising in these stores was pretty basic. A line of clothing would be placed on one rack, everything was matchy–matchy, and there were several sizes on the same rack. I think it was the Villager brand that featured a lavender pleated wool skirt, a white blouse with little clovers on it, and a matching cardigan all lined up like little soldiers. I loved that outfit! Loved it! Evidently so did my mom and most every other mom in John B. Dey’s second grade class. The day after our Christmas break—when all of us kids were sporting our new Christmas clothes—it appeared as if we were in parochial, not public school, and that little lavender ensemble was the new uniform. At least seven out of thirty girls in my class showed up wearing it.

The Woodstock Music Festival in August of 1969, created a wave of social freedom unheard of before. Our clothing choices became relaxed. Who didn’t own a pair of bellbottoms and top it with a peasant blouse? Meanwhile, Jimmy Hendrix was asking us if “We Were Experienced” while Janis Joplin belted out, “Come on, come on, take another little piece of my heart.”

As jewelry designers though, a ‘little piece of our heart” goes into every thing we create. However, all the freedom spurned during the Age of Aquarius makes deciding what to make and how to make it quite confusing.  For whom are you making it?  Should it be simple or elaborate?  Will it be worn by a young girl, or someone well into middle age?  Who exactly does your work appeal to and why?  Is it marketable?  The questions are endless.

In the “Build a Line Challenge” Creative Group I am a part of, we had a lively discussion about design and style the other night, with well over 150 comments. Handmade jewelry is art.  But the art we make needs to be cherished by someone. A couple of us admitted to being “old hippies.” This post is for us.  Meanwhile, I’m striving to put both my “head and heart” into the pieces I make.  What a concept…I wish I had thought of it sooner.


A Riveting Adventure-A Day of Discoveries

Copper Bracelet Bar

That Copper Bracelet Bar I’m so smitten with.


Yesterday was a comedy of errors. This is just too stinking funny not to share.

Before I go too far into my story, I need to tell you all a little something about me. I fancy hyperbole, I laugh at myself and when I take something on, I’m going to give it my best shot. When I tell a story though, I tend to share the unvarnished truth—both good and bad—with a little dash of sarcasm and whimsy thrown in for good measure.

Call it a flaw if you must; I prefer to see it as a gift. I’m honest, plain and simple.   When I learn something new, the road can be quite bumpy…I didn’t give myself the nickname “the hard way” by accident.   Take that moment from childhood for instance, when most of us tried to transition from a tricycle to a bicycle. My scabby knees were proof positive that I was a slow learner.   The same often holds true for anything new I try to learn. So, please don’t take my little giggles at myself too seriously. I’m in this challenge to learn and learn I will.

Anyhoo, my latest package of goodies came in from B’Sue Boutiques the other day and I was blown away with the copper I purchased. I love the warmth of it. Normally, I prefer antique copper but I found this stuff to be drop.dead.gorgeous. It sang to me.

Included in my purchase was a pair of bracelet bars in that yummy copper. Each one had five loops to attach a strand of beads from one end to the other. I kept looking at them thinking, “Dang, these are too pretty to hide behind the wrist.” I kept picking up one, holding it next to something else, I bet I picked that thing up at least a dozen times or more, studying it, trying to figure out a way to make it a focal feature. That was my first mistake but then I’m hardheaded.

The more I mulled it over, the more I thought about rivets. These are little pieces one uses to attach things together, you stick a rivet in both pieces and hammer it until the rivet expands, and like magic, the pieces are joined. Since I’d only riveted one piece before, I went back to YouTube for a refresher on the fine art of riveting. Easy peesy, right?

Rivets, fat fingers, duck tape

Rivets. Duct tape. After so many misfires, a new plan of attack emerges.


Brenda Sue Lansdowne, our mentor in the B’Sue Creative Group Build a Line Challenge, advised me against falling into self-doubt and to instead focus on discovery. Sound advice! This is what I discovered yesterday:

1.  You can use a component in a new way but beware.

2.  Too much coffee, fat fingers, and tiny rivets are a bad combination.

3.  If you are riveting something with holes in a line, the holes on the piece to be joined must line up perfectly.

4.  Duct tape is your friend, your very best friend!

5.  A drill press is your friend.

6.  A grinder/polisher is essential.

7.  You can undo something that has been joined by rivets. Pack a lunch, it will take most of the day.

Drilling holes, bracelet bar

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And again, and again.

Here is how it went: I got 4 of the holes riveted only to discover that I couldn’t get the fifth rivet in. Then I discovered that none of the jump rings I had would then fit through the holes. At this point, I’m a couple of hours into it and was feeling frustrated and stubborn. I pulled the piece a part, then set about removing the rivets, wondering if that was even possible: possible yes, a pain, absolutely!  It took forever, involved metal sheers, a file, the drill press…you name it. Meanwhile, the piece I started with kept shrinking as I had to cut away several mistakes.


Drill press.

My Drill Press. It got a workout yesterday.

Honestly, had it not been for the inspiration component—that juicy beautifully crafted piece of copper—I would have scrapped this project. But I loved that piece.  Do you remember the line from Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze says, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner?” Well I felt the same about that bracelet bar. I didn’t want to hide it under the wrist!

After a day of mistakes, much frustration, trial and error, and sheer will, I created a piece of jewelry that I really love—flaws and all. It will be part of my line challenge.

As for my final discoveries, well let’s just say that the other bracelet bar will be used differently!  And, in my case, where there is a will, there is a way.  The path may be bumpy, the ride long, but at the end of the day, I learned more than I ever expected to.  What I thought would be simple wasn’t, but the experience of going from point A to point B, with so many detours, taught me far more that I expected.  Life is good!




Build a Line Challenge

6a00d8348f44da53ef01bb07dbb244970d-800wiTalk about a wonderful lineup.  There are many talented artists in our group and I am already learning from them.  It is an honor to be in this company.  Next Friday, everyone will be giving a sneak peak in their blogs, sharing bits about themselves, the challenge, and their path.  In the brief time I’ve been involved in this undertaking–a first for me–I’ve seen some gorgeous work created by these ladies.

Our blog hops are scheduled for January 23, Feb. 20, and March 20. I hope you will join us and take a look at what everyone is doing.  I am so happy that I decided to take a “leap of faith” and give this a try.

I’ve been procrastinating a wee bit, trying to wrap my head around how to approach this.   (Rumor has it, I know how to over-think a thing.   Needless to say, the challenge is not an exception.  This morning, I decided to jump in…I spread everything out on the table and started playing.  I swear, making jewelry for me is like going to summer camp.  I loved that as a child and I love this.  When I make jewelry, I feel as if I’m sitting in the craft tent at girl scout camp.  It is amazing what can happen when we step outside of our comfort zones and make a commitment to better ourselves by learning something new.

Miss Skittles…she loves shiny things.

Miss Skittles…she loves shiny things.



What Have I Done?

That new order.  Oh my!

That new order. Oh my!

I got accepted into the B’Sue Creative Group’s “Build a Line Challenge.”  The goal for artists accepted into the group is to deepen their jewelry making skills and to develop pieces which can be replicated readily.  Roughly sixty artists are participating and from what I have seen, I’m “keeping company” with a talented group of designers.  Just shoot me!

The first requirement for participation was to have a working blog.  Check. In an effort to deepen my jewelry making skills, one of the resolutions I made for this new year was to watch more instructional videos  When I made that commitment to myself, little did I know I would start the year watching WordPress videos.  I hadn’t the foggiest notion about how to set up a blog!

As part of the challenge, we have blog hops scheduled for Jan. 23,  February 20, and a big reveal of what we’ve created on March 20th.

Some of my new toys...

Some of my new toys…

Meanwhile, back to today.  Once I learned that I was accepted into the challenge, I placed a big order from B’Sue Boutiques.  It arrived earlier this week.  Oh happy day!  This morning, I sat down with all of this delicious new inventory.  I laid the components out on my farmhouse table and started moving them back and forth as if I were trying to work a jigsaw puzzle.  Paralysis set in.  And fear.  The components I purchased are so beautiful I don’t want to screw them up.  And, the rough idea I had in my head of how I intended to approach the challenge  shifted dramatically when I saw these gorgeous copper pieces.  Oh my goodness, I love, love, love them.

So many choices…Yikes.

So many choices…Yikes.

So I am feeling more than a wee bit overwhelmed.  When I entered this challenge, I kept telling myself it would be good for me.  And now,  totally haunted by my own words, it is high time I get started.  Someone kindly put a muzzle on that inner critic of mine!  Wish me luck.  I’m keeping company with an impressive array of jewelry giants.  Holy guacamole!

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions, decisions…


Why I Create…


I love making jewelry.  Love it!  When I’ve got my “groove on” seconds turn to minutes, minutes into hours, and before I know it, darkness is falling.

I love pushing the limits of my creativity.  There is something magical about it.  I sit down, put on some music, select my materials, put them on a tray, and get absolutely,  completely, and happily lost.

Part of My Stash...

Part of My Stash…

People pursue a creative path for many reasons…mine are quite basic.  The process simply fills my soul.  I sit here, I tinker, I play, and move things from one place to another until I find a design that pleases me.  Often times, the concept that I begin with, and the finished product are very distant relatives. The longer I work with a piece, the more it evolves.

It is the “business side” of creating art that throws me.  One only has so much storage and but one neck!   Meanwhile, jewelry is quite personal, I’ve discovered.  I’ve had ladies walk up to my table at a craft show, ohh and ahh, and even say out loud “Oh that’s beautiful, but I could never wear it.”

I find this sad, very sad in fact.  Why do so many fail to give themselves permission to follow their heart?  Sure, I would have loved to have sold a woman like that a piece of my jewelry, but above that, I would rather she experience the freedom of celebrating her uniqueness.

Once again I find myself at a crossroads, trying yet another time to decide what I want to do about this passion of mine.  Quite a few of my pieces are very complicated and take days to create.  If I were in it for the money, I’d have a real problem.  I could never be fully compensated for the time it took to make an elaborate piece of jewelry.  Here is a sampling of some of the pieces I’ve created over the years.  Some came together quickly, others took many, many hours.


My wonderful  “gets directly to the heart of the matter daughter” asked me one time, “Mom, what do you have against making money?”  She has a point and I have no answer to give that makes a lick of sense.     Not a one!  Moreover, when I do a show, and someone visits my table, I love it when they appreciate the diversity of my work.  While I may use the same technique to get from “point A to point B,” I really don’t want the individual pieces to appear to be mass produced variations of one idea that gets replicated over and over and over again.  There is little or no joy in that for me.

This is a cluster necklace I made that took many hours, and many strands of beads.

This is a cluster necklace I made that took many hours, and many strands of beads.

The identical beads were used to make this pendant with a totally different look.

The identical beads were used to make this pendant with a totally different look.

The conflict continues…Hopefully, 2015 will be the year that I figure this out.  That would truly be wonderful.

Just Another Day in the Life of…

Miss Skittles in action.

Miss Skittles in action.

I thought I’d share with you what it is like to be me.  Every morning, I stumble to the kitchen to get that all important cup of coffee.  Usually I have it ready to brew and do a little tidying of the kitchen while I’m waiting.  Skittles emerges and wraps herself around my feet.  Sundog plops herself directly in my path–on the floor between the cooktop and the refrigerator–and I have to be very careful where I walk, because both girls ALWAYS manage to be wherever I want to walk next.

Once I have that blessed cup of java, I pop into the studio.  Skittles jumps on the dryer, that is where I feed her, because Sunny would eat everything I put out for her.  Sunny is at the stage in life where she doesn’t give  a rat’s ass about having a girlish figure.  She wants food ALL DAY LONG!  If I open a can of cat food, Sunny hobbles up for a dog biscuit.

Did someone say treats?  This pile is sitting on my beading table.

Did someone say treats? This pile is sitting on my beading table.

Meanwhile, I run a “tapas bar” for the cat.  If she likes the “beef and carrots entree in gravy” today, she’ll hate it tomorrow.  Skittles is no spring chicken, either, so as she has gotten older, she asserts her authority vocally, readily, and pretty constantly every morning.  As does Sundog.  This is how we start our day with me popping up and down like a jack-in-the-box until they get settled down.  It generally takes about an hour or so.  One gets quiet, then the other one chimes in.  I’m beginning to wonder if they have decided among themselves to see how long it will take for them to drive me completely and utterly insane!

Just hanging out with my mama.

Just hanging out with my mama.

Just when I think the girls are good, and I sit down at the computer, the dog walkers arrive.  By this time, Sunny is usually perched on the couch, with her head over the back of it, staring out the window, and is kind enough to announce their arrival and departure, loudly and passionately–every single day!  Meanwhile, Skittles prances between the keyboard and the monitor until she eventually settles down in her little basket on my desk.   And that, dear friends, is what life is like here in the “Critter Kingdom!”  It is a good thing I love my fur babies.  Between the two of them, I have my hands full.

Sunny and I. Oh, and the little one on the couch is my Mom's dog, Tippy. Don't let his sweet face fool you; he's a handful, too. This picture was taken when he visited this fall while Mom took a girl's weekend. My daughter was here with my grand pup, Lucy Louise. Can't believe I lived through that week to write about it today!

Sunny and I. Oh, and the little one on the couch is my Mom’s dog, Tippy. Don’t let his sweet face fool you; he’s a handful, too. This picture was taken when he visited this fall while Mom took a girl’s weekend. My daughter was here with my grand pup, Lucy Louise. Can’t believe I lived through that week to write about it today!


Make yourself at home.  The more the merrier!

Make yourself at home, Lucy Louise. The more the merrier!

Black-Eyed Peas…

So whoever started that tradition about eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck is not my friend.  I can’t STAND black-eyed peas.  As far as I’m concerned, I just as soon eat a plate of dirt because, frankly that is what they taste like in my humble opinion.


I so wish this was on my plate tonight…

Who couldn’t use some good luck?  I certainly could.  I am therefore going to eat the requisite spoonful of peas,  do a little chanting to the “good luck gurus” and hope for a wonderful year.  HOWEVER, had I been in charge of good luck traditions, trust me, there would be no black-eyed peas dancing on my plate.  We’d be having crab cakes to usher in another year.

I could totally get excited about that!  Here’s the recipe for those crab cakes.  Unfortunately, I’ll be dining on last year’s peas.  It is what it is.  Meanwhile, I hope you will try this recipe at some point.  Yum-yum-yummy!  Here’s to a wonderful New Year!  Enjoy.

Woody’s Crab Cakes

1 lb. crabmeat

¼ lb. crumbled cracker crumbs (or panko bread crumbs)

1 sprinkle of hot sauce

Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 egg

½ handful mayonnaise

Old bay seafood seasoning

Salt and Pepper

Pick throw crabmeat to remove any shell. Crush crackers (1 sleeve of saltines or Town House butter crackers–or toss some Panko bread crumbs on top of the crab over crabmeat, and combine both. Make a dressing of the remaining ingredients, and pour over the crab cracker mixture, folding gently. Pat mixture into crab cakes. If desired, pat the cakes in Panko bread crumbs to make them crispier once fried. (If time permits, make the cakes early in the day to allow them to hold their shape when you fry them.) Fry in butter flavored Crisco or butter.

What if…Why Not?


I’m hopeful that the cover of this journal will prove to prophetic. It is being used to jot down ideas for future projects.

It’s a new day, in a New Year…time to write a new chapter.   Trust me, I am ready for a new chapter. Yes, I am ready.

You see life threw me some curveballs—quite a few of them—in the last two years. Through that process I learned a great deal about who I am and what is important to me. Sometimes we have no choice but to rise up, do what it takes, and deal with life’s surprises.

When I was about 5 or 6, Mom took me to the Cavalier Hotel for swimming lessons. The instructor was a teenaged boy, I still remember his name, and I hated him. I didn’t always hate him, mind you, but I was a cowardly little girl. I didn’t want any parts of the deep end. I wanted my feet to touch the bottom. Period. Joe had other ideas.

One day I was sitting on the diving board, just being my scaredy-cat little self, and Joe, the jerk, whom I liked at the time, snuck up behind me, and pushed me—into that deep, deep water.   I was so astonished that my mouth flew open; I gulped down a gallon  of water, and coughed my brains out while trying to make it to the edge of the pool. I cried all the way home. The lesson was made even more painful because I might have had, just a wee little girl crush on him.

In retrospect, Joe did me a favor. Five decades have passed since that swimming lesson. Had he not pushed me, I probably would still be clinging to the size of the pool!   And, this thing we call life has served up quite a few “lessons” since then.

I have a new coach–at least I hope I do. Her name is Brenda Sue Lansdowne.  The good news is that I love her!   She is kind, generous, funny, gracious, and inspiring. Like Joe, Brenda is pushing me (and others) to ignore our comfort zones, and take a plunge into the depths of our creativity. Truthfully, this whole process is driving me a wee bit crazy.


These Patinas are some of the many products available to color metal. Honestly, there is so much to learn and so many possibilities.

You see, I love making jewelry, my way! I’m more than a bit stubborn about that. I love to learn—truly I do—but on my own timetable and on my own terms. I guess you could say I have a commitment phobia. Plus, every time I attempt to create pieces of assemblage jewelry I become highly frustrated and naughty words fly out of my mouth in abundance. It just doesn’t feel natural to me. All of this becomes further complicated by Miss Skittles, my constant feline companion who is always traipsing through my business, yes of course she has walked through the glue, and the gilders paste, and sat on something I painted that just isn’t quite dry yet. She is about as obedient as I am.


Skittles, my ghostwriter…Here she is sitting on top of the blog instructions.  So helpful!

Skittles, my ghostwriter…Here she is sitting on top of the blog instructions. So helpful!

These earrings were an attempt to colorize metal.  I do like how they turned out.

These earrings were an attempt to colorize metal. I do like how they turned out.

Another problem I have is I’m not wild about structure.   And I’m not too crazy about rules—never have been actually. Who really follows a recipe to the letter? Not me. And yet, here I am, scratching my head wondering if I can pull this thing off. I’m pretty certain that anyone kind enough to have read this far is wondering the same thing. After all my bellyaching, it does beg the question, frankly.

I want to do this challenge because it is good for me. That is the simple answer. If we don’t spread our wings once in a while, we will never fly. Every time I try something new, the mistakes I make become powerful teachers and I get to add new tools to my repertoire—not a bad byproduct in the grand scheme of things.

So, I’m fastening my seatbelt and preparing for the ride. At the end of the day will I become an assemblage artist: probably not, because my heart is in another place.

But that is okay. I will gain so much by just participating, and I might just surprise myself.   If I’m accepted into this challenge I am certain of one thing: my life will be enriched, my online friendships will be sweeter and deeper, and I will be pushing myself to grow. And that, dear friends, is the secret to staying young. Happy New Year to one and all.

Here is another piece I created for one of the B'Sue Creative Group's monthly challenges.

Here is another piece I created for one of the B’Sue Creative Group’s monthly challenges.

I have much to learn about assemblage pieces.  This is one of my first attempts.

I have much to learn about assemblage pieces. This is one of my first attempts.

This piece is a hybrid of beading and assemblage.  I would have never create it were it not for the influence of the B'Sue Creative Group.

This piece is a hybrid of beading and assemblage. I would have never created it were it not for the influence of the B’Sue Creative Group.

Creativity. Chaos. Clutter.

One of the toughest things for me to do is to throw things away.  I’m not intentionally a hoarder, but when it comes to crafty stuff, it takes an act of congress for me to toss something.  I won’t bore you with all of my excuses for clinging to stuff–just know that this is a real issue that I battle all.the.time!

Evidently, this is no recent development.  In grade school, I kept every paper,  project, every stinking little piece of art work until there was barely room in my closet for clothes.  When I was  in the second or third grade, my mom–fed up with the state of my room–started cleaning.  Bless her heart!    I’ve been trying to clean up after me for years… It ain’t easy!  She worked tirelessly.  She was smart,  I was in school and couldn’t object.  When I popped off of the bus, scurrying home in my shiny shoes and lacy socks, I saw my things sticking out from under the lid of the  garbage can, awaiting pickup.  I really don’t remember this at all and love to hear Mom tell the story.

She says I was sobbing when I raced into the house and wailed, “Mom, somebody made a terrible mistake.  All of my treasures are outside in the trashcan.”  Evidently, I was heartbroken.  Mom must of said something like “Oh no!,” (perhaps after thinking damn!) grabbed my hand and together we went outside to retrieve my “treasures.”

This brings us to the present.  We had this conversation yesterday because I admitted to Mom that I still had my grade school pastels, one of my most coveted childhood Christmas presents.  I hadn’t touched them in at least forty years, other than to move them occasionally.  Every time I tried to pitch them, my hand would hover over the trashcan, I’d drop them in and, within minutes, retrieve them.   (There is also pile of Nancy Drew books in my attic, too.)  Somethings are just too much a part of who we are to let go.


Fortunately, I’m not terribly picky about a spotless house…I’ve never had one, but having my beading supplies out in my great room really started getting on my nerves.  I don’t know how to be creative and neat.   So, I bought two big cabinets and converted the mudroom into a studio area.  Between the beads, and findings, wire, sketchpads, paints, and the like, my cabinets are full.

I actually fiddled with the pastels again yesterday.  I was experimenting with adding texture to something–jewelry related.  Here is one of the things I came up with that will be used in a pendant.IMG_4221

Having those pastels in my hand took me back to truly happy, carefree times!  My childhood was perfect, at least in my view.  And as we approach Christmas, I remember the coloring books that filled my stocking, the paint by number sets, those little looms that we wove potholders out of, a plastic spinning wheel, and pop beads!  I guess it was just a matter of time before I graduated from plastic to glass, metal, shells, gemstones, wire and pearls.

And the next time you look at a handcrafted piece of jewelry, like this one, made as part of the B’Sue Creative Group “Kitchen Sink Challenge” a while back, kindly look at all the little pieces and parts that comprise that jewelry…All those charms, beads, dangles, and chains need a home.  And that, my friends is why my home will never be on the garden tour or featured in House Beautiful!


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