Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pictures Coming!

Hello Belfry Bead fans! I just wanted to let you all know that a gallery of my work, past and present, is in the works. The lighting conditions in our apartment haven't been very conducive to getting good pictures, so I’ve ordered new energy efficient bulbs. As soon as they arrive, I will be taking new, beautiful pictures. In the meantime, you can see my "rough draft" pictures on my Picasa Web Album:, but as you will see, the lighting is very dark, which does no justice to the gemstones or the pieces!

But that album does show some of the commission pieces that I have done in the last few years. I am very open to both commissions and repair work. As the holidays roll toward us, a handmade custom piece is always a great way to show that someone special that you appreciate them. I am always available for custom work, feel free to email me your requests. Maybe someone you love has a favorite type of gemstone. Even their favorite color is a good starting point for custom work. Dressy, sparkly or casual I have many options available!

I will be posting soon!

Have a good holiday!

Remember, you can always email me at:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kid in a candy store

I was lucky enough to get the time (and funds) to go to a bead show two weeks ago. Me + a room full of stones + cash = good times! I got some great stuff that I look forward to making into great jewelry. Here is a sampling of these beautiful stones:

Kunzite: This pretty pink stone is a variety of the mineral spodumene, which is a type of naturally occurring crystal. It has a slight chatoyance, which is the name for that light-bending effect in stones like Tigereye. This effect makes them seem like they have a satiny sheen.

Picasso Jasper: Jasper is the most common type of opaque gemstone. It is a semiprecious type of chalcedony. This stone has these wonderful black lines across a gray background, like a lace overlay. The coin shape of these stones really brings out that effect. The thing I like about Jasper, this one especially, is the way you can dress them "up" or "down" depending on what other stones and metals you pair them with.

Gray Agate: Agate is the other common type of semiprecious gemstone, although its usually translucent. This gray agate has the same versatility as the Picasso Jasper, but I think it might look best with some nice coin pearls.

Black Agate with Quartz: These beads are interesting because they were cut from a composite of Black Agate and Quartz. I love the banding and the contrast in these stones

Serpentine Skulls: Skulls are in this year, and I love it! I already have a design laid out for this strand. You'll have to keep checking this blog to see the finished design (hint, hint). Serpentine is often listed as "New Jade", but it is softer then real Nephrite jade, but no less beautiful!

"Soo Chow" Jade: These carved barrels are very cool. Jade, I have learned from buying gemstones, is an over-used term for a variety of green, or sometimes Asian-themed carved stones. These other stones are often a type of Serpentine, in this case bowenite. There is nothing wrong with these stones, its just that wholesalers and jewelry retailers think labeling things "Jade" will raise the perceived value. Personally I find it cooler to know what the stones really are, that way you can find more of them!

Fleur de lis: Of course, sometimes you just buy stones because they are cool. I found this pendant in the pile, without a bag or description, and it was the only one. But, if I had to guess, I think that it's a banded agate, possibly Botswana.

Natural Agate: This key is carved of Natural Agate.

I also picked up some very cute dyed Mother of Pearl rounds in lavenderish-pink, a strand of gray Botswana agate roundels and Fluorite.

Well, I hope this introduction to some of the gemstones I use has inspired you to love them as much as I do. I will be posting new works when I make them, and I hope to fill you in on my beading adventures. Right now I'm working on a necklace for myself for Halloween. I found some really cool two-hole bone-shaped glass beads, cute glass skulls and Halloween-themed buttons. I hope to have the necklace done by the end of the week, because my good friend is taking me to FurFright. It will be a furry Halloween!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome to Belfry Beads

This is my first post on Belfry Beads, so let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have been designing jewelry for what seems like a long time; since I was in high school. When I started out, I worked mostly with glass seed beads and bugle beads, making jewelry with brick stitch and ladder stitch, inspired by Native American bead work. That style of jewelry continues to be a great resource to me.

A necklace I made in high school, I was young.

But then I discovered my first real bead store...and discovered gemstones. The variety and beauty of the stones inspired me to start designing a more sophisticated, and lush style of jewelry. After having seen the variety of beads out there, it helped to find my niche, my own personal style.

This was a commission for a friend from my old "day job".

Recently I have been working with vintage beads and pendants. It fascinates me how these pieces make their journey to a modern designer. Sometimes you find beads that have been sitting in warehouse for decades. Now, long after the original design company has folded, these unused beads have made their way back out on to the market.

I love the old colors, which are sometimes colors that are no longer available. In the good old days manufactures could use lots of metals and chemicals they can't use today. Uranium glass anyone? No, I'm not kidding, it was used sometimes to color glass a vibrant, i.e. radioactive, green-yellow. That things like this are not used anymore is good for the manufacture's employees and the environment, but a little sad for us bead lovers. The bright side is new vintage beads come on to the market everyday, as do new gemstones!

This pendant is a "carved" glass cameo from the 40's (most likely).

Well, that's the introduction to Belfry Beads, I hope you enjoyed it. My next post will be on all the wonderful stones I got at the local gemstone bead show in my area. Be sure to come back and take a look. If you see anything you "gotta have" just post a comment and I will contact you about commissioning a custom piece! Always remember that you can email Belfry Beads at: