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Three takes on Magatamas using Herringbone Stitch and Russian Spiral

March 4, 2012

Winter in Vancouver is tough. Sure, it’s not freezing cold like other cities in Canada, but it’s dark. That’s the main reason you haven’t heard from me in months. Each year, I take a break from photographing my work because the lighting is terrible. I’ve tried to photograph my jewellery a few times since my last post, but it was not pretty.

So, I present to you my beadwork from this winter. I’ve been figuring out how to use long magatamas and fringe drop beads.

Deco Garland Necklace

“Deco Garland” is the first in the series. Named such because these red lined drops just look so juicy like a garland of very vibrant grapes. It was created with herringbone stitch.


Swirling Stunner Necklace

I loved these long magatamas when I bought them at the Fraser Valley Bead Show last March, but it was a bit of a challenge to find a use for them. I finally discovered Russian Spiral and am so pleased with the effect. The stitch is supple and surprisingly easy. I have two slightly different shades of long magatamas here, and the great thing is beads are at different angles. I named this one “Swirling Stunner” because it’s very different than anything I’ve done before. It’s also an allusion to the my favorite artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who referred to his models as “stunners.”


Chemical Wedding Necklace

The final necklace I’m going to share is one of my favorites because, yes it’s acid green, but it’s also easy to wear. I’ve worked three sections of Russian Spiral – my new favorite stitch – to pack in a lot of shine and texture. I’ve named this one “Chemical Wedding” as a cheeky reference to Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz – an alchemical text about a king and queen who are resurrected for their wedding. The colour and the shape made me think of a very unusual bride. I imagine zombie queens might glow acid green, or at least be able to carry it off.


Star in the East Bracelet

November 6, 2011

Star in the East Bracelet
I love working vintage and second hand components into my beadwork. The filigree stars here are from a beadshow, and they are vintage, probably 1960s. The cabochons are acrylic, and they came from a thrift store. Older things hold a lot of interest for me, because the provenance is usually a mystery, but you can be sure there is a story behind it.

I chose to call this piece the Star in the East because I had heard the phrase when reading about 19th century spiritualism, and it just seemed very intriguing and suiting. The Order of the Star in the East is a Theosophical organization. The Star of the East is one name for the star the Magi followed in the Nativity story, and to me this design has a Christmas feel. It also makes me think of Venus, which is at it’s brightest near sunrise and sunset. It’s so bright, it is often mistaken for a UFO.

Unstuck Zipper Necklace

October 29, 2011

Unstuck Zipper Necklace

Zippers are fun, but is anything more frustrating than when a zipper breaks or gets stuck? Ever get had the zipper pull break off your jeans and leave you flying low? Ever get stuck in your winter coat because the zipper wont budge? Yep, I have been there. Only a few weeks ago, until I realized I just had to step out of the jacket! But hey, your mind isn’t very sharp sometimes when you get in panic mode. That’s why the Hitchhicker’s Guide says DON’T PANIC on the back cover.

As a tribute to an embarrassing encounter with a zipper, I made this zipper necklace. I’d been thinking about it for a while, but it took a battle with a zipper to get me to step up. I had seen Ginnifer Goodwin wearing an amazing zipper necklace. I really wanted one, and immediately thought of St. Petersburg stitch when I saw her wearing one. My version is only seed beads, so it’s great to wear with jeans.  I’d love to own a Van Cleef & Arpel zip necklace in turquoise, if anyone has a spare one hanging around.

Book of the Dead Scarab Necklace

October 10, 2011

Book of the Dead Scarab Necklace

Now that I’ve been beading for about 4 years, I’m at a phase where I expect everything to be perfect. I also have trouble coming up with (or finding) projects that are challenging, yet not exasperating. This is one of those projects I picked out, redid, and just plain trashed a million times. Which is kind of funny, because in the end what I settled on doing was not that complicated. Maybe that’s why it works. It lays nicely, it’s a bit flashy, and it’s very Egyptian.

This is a companion piece to my previous project. I think a scarab is very appropriate for a necklace, because in Ancient Egypt, one would be placed over the heart before the mummy was wrapped.  Green scarabs symbolize regeneration, which I really need right now.

Book of the Dead Scarab Bracelet

October 1, 2011

Book of the Dead Scarab Bracelet

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt; I was convinced I was going to be an Egyptologist when I grew up. Well, I’m not an Egyptologist, but I still am fascinated with Ancient Egypt. I love anything mysterious and magical. When I think of Egypt, I think about the 19th century Egyptian Revival style, and the magicians who have used Egyptian imagery and symbols. One of the most powerful of these symbols is the Scarab: according to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a scarab amulet could stand in for one’s heart, which had to weigh lighter than the feather of truth to gain entrance to the afterlife. So, having a few scarabs in your jewellery collection couldn’t hurt! I have a matching necklace in the works.

New Tutorial Available!

July 17, 2011

blackwood thumb
blackwood thumb by cassandraelizabethbeads on Zooomr

I just finished a new tutorial — The Blackwood Cameo! You can buy it through it’s tutorials page, or vist my Etsy shop to see the listing!

Northern Lights Labrodorite Necklace

July 3, 2011

Northern Lights Labrodorite Necklace

I have always wanted to own a piece of Labradorite, so I was very pleased to find some tear drop shaped cabs for sale at a local bead show. Feldspars are completely capitivating to me, because they seem interdimensional: when you gaze inside, you see another world. Looking into a feldspar stone like Labradorite, you almost feel like you are scrying. There is certainly something magical about the refraction of light into so many disappearing colours.

Labradorite is a very interesting stone, and it’s appropriate to work with around Canada Day because it was discovered in the province of Labrador. Eskimo legend holds that a warrior freed the northern lights from stone. The light that was not released became labrodorite.

Blackwood Cameo Necklace

July 2, 2011

Blackwood Cameo Necklace

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m addicted to Anne Rice. I’ve been reading her books voraciously, and just finished the final Vampire Chronicle. In the second to last book of the series, Blackwood Farm, fledgling vampire Tarquin Blackwood tells Lestat the story of his family’s gothic past and how he came to be a vampire. Throughout the story of Quinn and his family, cameos play a significant role. Anne’s descriptions of ornately carved shell cameos made me covetous — I wanted Aunt Queen’s antique collection and Lestat’s cameo buttoned frock coat. The cameo I’ve created here is only acrylic, but it’s certainly inspired by her storytelling.

Ariel Bracelet

June 5, 2011

Ariel Bracelet

I was immediately drawn to the vintage acrylic cabs used in this bracelet. They are gold foiled on the round side, clear purple/indigo on the flat size. As a result, they are slightly unusual and the streaky effect of the acrylic gives the colour mystery and depth, as in a witch’s caldroun. I’ve paired the larger vintage cabs with blue goldstone capsule beads. Blue goldstone is a glittering glass, which is often mistaken for stone. There are rumours that blue goldstone was originally created by medieval alchemists, and it is still believed to carry magical properties today. The magical appearance these materials, contrasted with the playfulness of the lavender seed beads, inspired me to name this piece after Ariel, a mischievous fairy from the Tempest.

Peacock’s Tail Necklace

May 4, 2011

Peacock’s Tail Necklace

Back in 2007, my blog was hosted elsewhere and it was named “Peacock Dreams” – a reference to one of my favorite shows ever, the Mighty Boosh. Peacock Dreams is about being original, even if it’s not appreciated in your time — an idea that resonates with any self-proclaimed artist. You can watch the clip about Peacock Dreams on YouTube (just be warned, it’s a tiny bit cheeky).

This necklace really brought to mind a peacock feather. Many of the beads, as well as the clasp, used in this necklace were repurposed from a vintage necklace, which I found at a garage sale. I’m fairly sure that the centre beads are vintage Swarovski 5100s. The AB coating on these blue side drilled crystals is so amazing. I framed them with cubic or 3d right angle weave, and embellished with some Miyuki Magatamas and 15s I bought at a bead show — my first time using them and I am thrilled with the result.