Wednesday, August 26, 2009


A guitarist friend of mine once told me that a musician's fantasy was a band composed of clones of themselves, with each one playing a different instrument. That way, you would have total artistic control over tempo, phrasing, improvisations, etc. I could see his point, in a way-- I was in a few bands and if you could find a bass player with rhythm, then the banjo player couldn't keep up with the fiddler, or the backup singer couldn't sing harmony. Synchronicity-- similar ideas happening independently of cause and effect-- seems to happen only when the right combination of personalities and talents come together.

This tale begins with an e-mail from Lorelei Eurto, a jewelry designer I met this spring. She traded one of her lovely necklaces for some of my beads (that she took and transformed into “The Convertible” a necklace which will debut in The Best of Stringing, due out on September 22). She and Heather Powers had cooked up a bracelet exchange--a la A Charming Exchange, a book by Kelly Snelling and Ruth Rae--that featured artists collaborating on various jewelry pieces. It was tremendously inspiring and looked like a heck of a lotta fun! Now they were inviting ME to play with them! along with Erin Prais-Hintz of Tresori Trovati and Erin Siegel of Every Heart Crafts .

Alternately thrilled and nervous-- would I sing out of key in this “band” of artistic sisters or lose the collaborative beat in the flow of my own ideas? Due to blips in my personal schedule, I chose the caboose position on the Bracelet Train, an exalted or a hellish position, depending on your point of view. Most of the design was already in place--would my editions to the final product add or detract? Well, I was up for the challenge-- I might be scared but nobody ever said I was a quitter!

We started by supplying something to get the process started-- a bead, a section of chain, a clasp, some fiber-- the items were as individual as the artists. Then, beginning with Heather, each person added to the bracelet as it was sent on to them. In order for you enjoy everyone's point of view of the process, visit the blogs of the participating artists (see links, above) for their comments on their additions. I'll discuss the final additions and present the completion photos here.

Lorelei's bracelet came with a wonderful color scheme—lemon-lime-- based on the saucy little bottlecap bead that she supplied to start. I decided to keep that color going using one of Cindy Gimbrone's slinky chartreuse glassblown links, connected with some antiqued bronze chain. To add a little tension to all the curvature, some bronze cubes joined the party. Finally, to partner the large circle link proclaiming “Motivation”, I built a hook from a copper-coated flat forged donut from Jatayu with a polyclay slice in my Apocalypto colorway. I've fallen in love with 50s-era copper jewelry and this was my homage to the work of Marjorie Baer (see my post "A Good Nose For A Deal", July 28 ).

Erin Prais-Hintz supplied an incredibly elegant start to her piece, a wonderfully embellished button clasp with wirewrapped goodies and resin. It was my intention to add my “signature” to every bracelet so I made up some mokume gane clay I call “Erin's Mokume” in shades of pear, deep lilac, cordovan and gold leaf and made a couple of roundelles with it as dangles. Lorelei had contributed a round brass locket so I put a tiny circlet of Erin's Mokume inside as a surprise! Two color-fumed Czech flower trumpets peek out beneath her clasp and I added one of my signature swirl beads in bronze. I think my additions are uniquely my style yet enhance the whole without overwhelming what had been added previously-- my goal throughout my process.

On to the other Miss Erin, Erin Siegel of Every Heart Studio, and the woman I knew the least about. But I did know she used beautiful, vibrant colors in her clay pieces and I was getting a strong color direction from the other additions. I have lately fallen in love with Picasso-finished seed beads. The fine chain and black waxed linen cord seemed to beg for some color to play with so I strung some stone amethyst color no. 8 Toho beads between the strands. Staying subtle but wanting to add some shine, next came a couple of labradorite chip stacks, dichro-dotted glass beads and a silver-washed pewter spike from Jatayu. I forged a figure-eight clasp end from silver and saluted all the bracelet's colors by adding several purple/tanzanite swirl half-Picasso finish roundelles and an “Erin Mokume” roundelle to play off Heather's. The result--lovely, intuitive colors in a soft, informal stringing style.

Heather's bracelet reminded me of an adornment to celebrate Midsummer's Eve in Lothlorien! Shimmery silver tones everywhere, fairies and dragonflies and swallows and splashes of blood-red color paired with jade green baubles. I would have to channel the Lady Galadriel for inspiration on this one! Many elements in interesting variety were already in place-- what could I possibly add to enhance this eclectic yet magical mix? I pondered for days and finally the Muse came to my rescue-- one night the moon was circled by a misty ring of ice crystals, and an idea was born! I looped two fine strands of polished steel in a bezel around Heather's bead and looped on Karen Hill Tribe molten silver drops, tiny carved silver rounds and sparkly no. 11 seed beads to halo her amazing disk. A few soft gray pearls with silver spirals rounded out the tones and I was content.

My own bracelet came back home to me as well, my starting element of a simple faux jade bead transformed into a strikingly colorful, woodsy and wonderful symphony of form and texture! Technically and artistically, it was complete. Did you notice that all the pieces had a word included in some clever way-- a hammered disk, a forged ring, a resin charm? These were the brainstorm of Erin of Tresori Trovati, who asked us all at the beginning of the process to supply one word to describe ourselves. Well, my word was “transformation”. I decided to transform my bracelet into a necklace! I used several strands of different antiqued brass chains from Vintaj and a bronze ring from Michael's to balance the ornate antique button that Lorelei had crafted into a clever clasp. After repositioning a few elements so they would hang properly in their new orientation, I had an adornment that was not only handsome but something to make me smile every time I wore it, remembering the happy and challenging collaboration we five shared. If you get an invitation to be part of something like this, jump at it! You won't be disappointed.

Thank you ladies all! I celebrate your creative spirits and generous gift of your time, thoughtfulness and skill!


  1. wow!!
    I love each and every one of them!
    I love the fact that you transformed your bracelet into a necklace, that is so awesome!!! Thanks so much for your participation in this fun project! I adore all the additions you made to each one.

  2. These bracelets are all so very awesome and I am amazed and delighted at the way they have progressed, developed from artist to artist! I love the finish you gave to each and every one. So very delightful and insightful!

  3. This has been really great to watch from the sidelines. It would be fun (and a neat demonstration of the design techniques of 5 very talented artists) to see the evolution of each bracelet on the blog of its ultimate owner, through a photo series - you wouldn't even have to describe the various additions, just show the 5 stages.

  4. Oh Miss Christine! When I got home from my week long business trip and tripped up with a monster of a head cold I saved your little package for last. Now I don't know if it was the Nyquil talking or the relief at finally being in my own bed, but I actually wept when I held this treasure in my hands! I gently probed each specific element and was so very touched by the time and talent and thought that went into each and every addition. It really is the most treasured piece of jewelry that I own now (aside from my wedding ring). I could never part with it. You and the other designers, Erin-Heather-Lorelei, have made me happy beyond words that I could be invited to participate. It was such a thrilling experience! I concur that if someone hands you an opportunity like this, that you should drop everything and take it! It was the most incredible thing...and I am seeking new ways to continue a community of creative collaboration (say that five times fast!!!). I am wearing my bracelet today, but I plan to play off of your idea of transformation and add a bit of hammered oval copper links to be sure that I could wear it as a necklace now and again.

    Thank you! Thank you! I am most humbled by the beauty that encircles my wrist!

    Enjoy the day!

  5. Absolutely fantastic! I'm so impressed! Truly! Just the perfect touches to each one! Such attention and thought put into each bracelet. I could comment and rave about what you did to each one but that would be way too long of a post! lol! So, I'll just say you did a beautiful job!

  6. Christine
    I've enjoyed reading every word about this bracelet exchange between you, Lorelei, Erin, Heather and Erin...all wonderful artists whose blogs I enjoy following. It was particularly interesting to read all of the details you shared regarding each piece. Then I admired each bracelet, and then over again. WOW - they each have an entirely different personality and color scheme. I've been trying to figure out which one was my favorite, but I couldn't! You ladies are all truly inspiring with what you have shared here. And I LOVE how you turned the bracelet in to a probably makes it easier to wear more often that way. Congratulations on completing this beautiful collaboration!!

  7. Such beautiful work from you all! What a great collaboration of creative minds!

  8. Unbelievable, Christine! These bracelets and necklace are amazingly beautiful. Everyone bringing their own artistic personality to the project. They are all so intricate. I know you could fondle these for hours and still find something new. Thanks for sharing these with us.

  9. Absolutely wonderful! Each unique piece is a treasure and such fun to read about it.

  10. Just stopping by to say I love your work. I think your beads and your jewelry designs are wonderful and inspiring.

  11. Interesting fact silver made in Thailand is only made in villages outside of the main cities by Hilltribe families. Most patterns have been in there family for many years and can only be made by large order. There are no stores or one central place to purchase Hilltribe silver in variety other than from the large wholesale shops in the city. Mondays and Fridays are the days families will bring their goods to the main shops for sale and to pick up new orders. A trip to a silver village is a real eye opener to see how families work together to make beautiful silver pieces of art. All Handmade.