Friday, December 29, 2006

And Happy New Year!

So long!

We're off to visit our son in Guatemala next week! I'll see you when we get back :-)

Don't forget to watch Nate's "home video" if you want to see what he's been doing...sort of!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Locks of Love

For the second time now, my daughter Dani has gotten her long hair cut off to donate to Locks of Love. Originally we were told that the hair had to be at least 10 inches long to donate, but it turns out that they actually will take any reasonable amount of hair, and if it's not long enough for LOL to use it directly themselves, they will sell it to other wig manufacturers. Either way, they benefit!
Locks of Love provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children who have the need because of any long-term medical need.

Dani's hair grows incredibly fast, so she was able to donate two years in a row.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Two handmade necklaces return home!

Handmade beaded necklaces

Cave Paintings 2

Instructions and step-by-step photos for making both of these necklaces are in the current issue of Jewelry Crafts Magazine (Jan/Feb 2007).

Floral Fantasy is a really fun piece that's a lot faster to make than it looks like. It uses bead embroidery techniques, but because they're worked dimensionally around a shell piece with holes drilled in it, you can stitch it up much faster than most handmade bead embroidered necklaces.

Cave Paintings 2 uses handmade sand casted African trade beads, but any large roughly finished beads will do. These are mixed with brass dog tags that have cave paintings from Lascaux France applied to them.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Trials of a Missionary Life

My son Nate shares what a typical day is like for a missionary to a children's home in Guatemala.

Making a mixed media necklace from piano ivories


When my husband began restoring an old player piano, I became interested in all of the hundreds of pieces that needed to be cleaned, repaired, and replaced. The old ivory keys especially caught my attention, particularly when I thought about the elephants that were destroyed to create these beautiful objects. Why is it that so often beauty and destruction, delight and tragedy are so closely intertwined?

The only ivory that it is currently legal to use in the United States is old recycled ivory or ancient fossilized ivory. The keys dangling from Andante are authentic ~ antique ivory that has been reclaimed and recycled from pianos that were otherwise destined for the junk heap. I chose the name Andante, a musical term, to signify the stately (and perhaps melancholy?) pace of the elephants that became part of the heritage of the piano.

The main strand of the necklace is strung white bamboo coral, carnelian, and agate, all of which have an earthy glow that complements the patina of the ivory. The central portion is wired links of horn, another organic material that blends nicely into the color palette. The keys were drilled, and then attached to the horn links by means of sterling silver wire work, using only hand tools. A selection of stone beads and Bali sterling silver beads that are wired to the ivory keys create continuity with the rest of the necklace.

64 inches 20 gauge SS half-hard wire
SS french wire, headpins, crimps, crimp covers, chain, cones, hook, and beads (see below)

44 carnelian, 6 mm rondelles
17 white bamboo coral, 8 mm rondelles
11 agate, 10 mm rounds
11 white bamboo coral, 10 mm rondelles
17 sterling silver, 3 mm rounds
23 Bali sterling silver, 6 mm daisy spacers
4 sterling silver drops, 9 mm
8 Bali sterling silver beads, assorted

Misc materials:
22 recycled antique ivory piano keys
5 horn rings, 25 mm
16 inches SoftFlex beading wire

Standard tools:
Wire cutters, round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, small file

Figure 1

Figure 2
1. Wire 5 horn rings together with headpins. Insert the headpins from the center of the rings outward through a small white bamboo coral bead and a small carnelian bead (figure 1). Make wrapped loops to hook all of them together (figure 2).

Figure 3

2. Crimp a piece of beading wire to each end, using French wire bullion to cover the wires, and crimp cover to hide the crimps. String a pleasing pattern of white bamboo coral, carnelian, agate, and Bali sterling silver beads to complete the strand (figure 3).

Figure 4

Figure 5

3. Crimp the free end of the beading wire to a 3 inch piece of 20 gauge sterling silver wire, looped at the bottom (figure 4). Pass the wire through a cone and a few beads, and make a wrapped loop around a hook on one end and a chain on the other. Add a beaded dangle to the free end of the chain (figure 5).

4. Drill small holes through the ends of 11 piano key tails and 11 piano key heads.

Figure 6

5. Using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, make large looped hooks to attach the long tails to the horn rings (figure 6).

6. Use more 20 gauge sterling silver wire to attach the shorter heads to the tails. Add beads randomly and creatively, looping and spiraling some of the wires for more variety.

This post contains affiliate links

Copyright 2006 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Creative resolutions

I recently posted on my mixed media art blog about running across some wonderful articles on creativity. Well, I just found yet another, and the focus of this one is to make sure your creative resolutions stick! So I thought I'd share these links with you. As we come galloping up to the New Year, it just seems like (one of the) perfect times to pause and set goals. Actually, I sit down and concentrate of goal setting three times a year (January, May, and September), but January is my biggie. I'm a sucker for tradition :-)

Creativity. We could all use more.
Your creative resolutions

Monday, December 18, 2006

Handmade necklace with polyclay frames


Make-Art Monday was in full swing today! I came up with the idea for this necklace...where else? the shower a few days ago. So this morning I was finally able to get down to business. It worked out exactly the way I was hoping. That might even be a first!

Before it was even finished I began to write it up to send to Jewelry Crafts Magazine.

We're leaving for the airport very soon now. I don't expect to get too much more done this week, so I'm relieved that this project went so well :-)

See you soon!

jewelry crafts magazine

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Midnight trip to the airport!

Nate is flying in from Guatemala today...or is that tonight? I guess it's really tonight or very very early tomorrow morning! Fortunately, Dani will be driving herself home sometime tomorrow after her last final.

Mike and I might also be making another trip to the airport tomorrow to pick up Nate's lady friend if she is able to join us. I guess we won't know about that for sure until we pick him up tonight... Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of "Logan's Run", also known as "Mike and Cyndi run to Logan Airport" :-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another copper and turquoise beaded necklace

The other day I shared a handmade beaded necklace of copper and turquoise. Now there's a new one! I stamped the copper discs with a crackle-patterned stamp to give them a more textured look.
Copper & Turquoise 2

Maybe you're wondering why I got on the copper kick. When my beaded bracelet won second place in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads beading contest, I received a gift certificate from the company. I decided to spend it on products that were new to me. Since I mostly work with sterling silver and vermeil, copper seemed like an interesting change.

But that's not the only new product I bought. Stay tuned throughout the new year: there are many new mixed media jewelry projects ahead!

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The holiday issue of Jewelry Crafts Magazine...

...has three of my projects. The three projects that I put together while sitting directly in front of the air conditioner in July LOL!!

Here's the big one:
The other two projects are smaller: earrings for Hanukkah and Christmas tree pendants made from circuit board!

jewelry crafts magazine

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The Two Fridas

I received a request for two pendants made to honor Frida Kahlo. These heads both came from the same painting, The Two Fridas. The strong images and saturated colors came out quite well!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Carnival of the Creators!

My friend Amy at Exalted Beauty is hosting this month's Carnival of the Creators! I can't believe the line-up she's assembled and all the different categories of submissions she received this month. It's absolutely amazing!

There's the usual list of projects to ogle and to try yourself, but there are also some posts on creativity and what to do when you decide to take a creative break! Visit the won't be sorry :-)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Copper and turquoise beaded necklace

Copper & Turquoise Necklace

So, I've finished this piece too, and it's a really lo-o-o-o-ong one! When a piece is going to be heavy, I often end up making it longer in order to balance and distribute the weight better. This one adjusts from 27 to 30 inches!

I haven't worked with copper before, so it was a bit of a surprise to me just how hard a material it is. I mean, I guess I should have known that from occasionally having to cut through copper pipes, but I just really didn't think about it. Do yourself a favor if you decide to work with copper findings...make sure you have two pair of chain nose pliers and save the wear and tear on your poor fingers! It is considerably harder than an equal gauge of sterling silver.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Handmade beaded necklace with a floral medallion

It's finished it's finished it's finished!!

Now it just needs a name...and all suggestions are welcome!

You know how pathetic I am at thinking up names for my pieces, so once more I'm asking for help! My friend Amy's floral medallion should figure prominently in the name, I'm thinking. There's freeform peyote stitch on a hammered silver armature, and the accompanying necklace strap has a toggle closure so that it can be worn without the centerpiece as well.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Some new digital art work too

Since I've been spending a lot of time not doing the things I'm supposed to be doing, I've found I have more time to do lots of other things. Did I say that right?

Daylight Fades is a digital art collage, a composite of a handpainted background with a couple of my photographs.

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Copper and turquoise beaded necklace

I know you're really not supposed to start new projects until you've finished your old ones, but...

OK, I couldn't help it! I got a load of beads yesterday, my "pay-off" from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads for the bracelet that I sent them. I got it into my head that I'd like to try working with copper, and the next thing I knew, I had compiled an order of almost exclusively copper and turquoise.

So of course, as soon as it came in, the other projects on the table (rather, in their respective baskets) got pushed aside and out came the new toys!

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The beaded centerpiece for necklace is finished!

Amy's medallion arrived in the mail the other day, so everything else got thrown aside in my excitement! Here's what the centerpiece looks like now:

I hope you'll agree that we picked the right medallion. There were so many gorgeous ones to choose from. You can find the rest of them still pictured on Amy's blog, Exalted Beauty. I'm not sure how many of them are already sold, but I know Amy's been gearing up for the holidays and doing a lot of parties, so contact her quick if you want one of these!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beaded snowflakes

Don't forget about jewelry for your tree! has instructions on how to make wonderful beaded snowflakes for your tree, using the simple wire forms that they sell. They come in a pack of 8 for just under $4. Can't beat that! There's no reason that you couldn't attach a loop to the top and string 'em up to wear too :-)

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Pearls, pearls, pearls!

Fire Mountain Gems has placed the video from their PBS special online so you can watch it if you missed the series! They have also added a lot of interesting information on the history, quality, and care of pearls.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The secrets of good design

Lapidary Journal has a really good article online called "Common Questions on Design". I highly recommend reading it. Sara Sanford has covered a lot of ground here that I encounter people asking every day: what makes a good idea? where do they come from? how do I move them from idea to reality?

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Carnival of Jewelry Design

Metal clay and bead bracelet by Lynn!

Adornments by Lynn is hosting a Carnival of Jewelry Design today. I kinda hogged it, but there's lots of other neat stuff to see. Check out Lynn's gallery while you're there!

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Friday, December 01, 2006

A brilliant idea for jewelry display

I love this idea! It is shared by Carolina, of NeoVamp jewelry. She has transformed the idea of the simple necklace bust into something that's a work of art on its own! Here's the directions for how to make your own stunning jewelry display piece.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Handmade beaded bracelets for the holidays!

I started kicking into gear yesterday for the holiday season! The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes so quickly, and then we throw Hanukkah into the mix...


It was past time to start making the smaller items that are always so popular at this time of the year. First stop..bracelets. I love making these. They're a terrific use of those beads that are left over from other projects. They're quick. You can add a couple of pricier beads without the cost rising out of control.

So, my advice? Make bracelets for the holidays this year. Or take a look at mine!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A cute pig pin for the Year of the Boar

Look at how cute this pin is! These little piggies are available at a store on Xinhua Road in Bozhou, east China. In the mood for a road trip?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

What I'm reading now

The Language of God by Francis Collins

You might recognize Francis Collins's name from several places. He is the head of the Human Genome project, that most ambitious of programs which cataloged the entire sequence of human DNA. No slouch, huh? You might also recognize him as the brilliant scientist and Christian believer who went head to head with Richard Dawkins in the November 13th issue of Time Magazine, debating the existence of the supernatural, and whether one can be a serious scientist if he also believes in a Supreme Being.

Dawkins says no. But of course, this is the very same man who proposed just a week earlier at the Salk Institute that science...excuse me, Science...should be the new religion for everyone. My, my. This is the man who decries religion as the greatest evil in the world. So much harm has been done in the name of religion, he wails. So, don't you think making science our new religion is a great idea?

Francis Collins doesn't. Among other words of wisdom in his book, he points out the fallacy of Dawkins and so many others who raise that cry, "Religious people are hypocrites! Therefore religion is dangerous and evil." Put that way, just about anyone (except for Dawkins) can see the fallacy: don't confuse the rusty cracked vessels that we all are with the pure water that we are striving to be holding. Don't be surprised when the rust of our own selves taints the water that sits inside of us somewhat. If we keep washing ourselves out with that pure flowing stream of water, we will day by day find ourselves becoming more and more of what we want to be, and less and less of what we despise.

The science explored in Collins's book is fascinating. He writes so that a layman can pretty well follow it, and he does it without getting you bogged down in terminology. And as far as science and theology goes, one of the most thought-provoking ideas that he puts forth is this: don't make your G-d the "G-d of the gaps". In other words, don't let your faith hinge on the belief that every place there's currently a gap in science, that must be where G-d worked miraculously. What happens in a few years when science comes up with the answer to that gap? Let science deal with the how, and allow religion to deal with the why.

Collins points out that there are plenty of positive reasons to believe in G-d, and we don't have to help Him out by making up reasons that aren't rational. This guy is truly worth a read, whichever side of the line you fall on. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a book more that challenged me this much.

My next project (it's smiling at you...)

I'm not exactly sure where this one is going. I know that I'm going to make beaded cabochons out of each of the seven beads (from Jeanne Kent of New Terra Artifacts).

I've just run out of silver delicas, so the one that's in progress up there in the picture will remain like that until my order comes in. I'm going to go ahead and start each of the others, and just leave a thread behind that I can go back and finish each with.

I'm planning on hooking them all together somehow, but I'm just not exactly certain what it will all look like. Do you ever start out projects like that? Uncertain where you're going, but pretty sure you're going to end up somewhere? Sorry, I don't believe in the "Muse", or in waiting for it to speak. What I believe in is getting down to work!

If I waited for the "Muse", I'd get very little done :-)

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Big Bead Jewelry

Big Beaded Jewelry is a fairly new book, and I haven't even seen any reviews of it yet, so I honestly can't tell you whether or not it's a great book or not. It's published by North Light Books, and the author, Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell is very prolific, so I'm going to take a guess that this is probably a pretty nice book to have! I think at the very least, it's probably a good source of ideas for people who don't quite know what to do with all those chunky ethnic and designer beads that they've collected :-)

I'm going to look into getting a copy the next time I go on a book-buying spree. If you've seen this one, will you leave your impressions in the comments here?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Making mixed media jewelry

Tammy Powley's newest book is ready for pre-orders at Amazon. I can't wait to see this one...just look at that gorgeous necklace on the cover!

One of my projects made it into the book as well, my recycled jewelry pins. Not that you can really see it, but the second small photo from the bottom on the left side of the cover is one of them :-)

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Monday, November 20, 2006

I got such a kick out of this...

Life Explained:

Jewelry ruts

One of my previous ruts :-)

Tammy's got an interesting discussion going over at about how to get out of a rut in jewelry making. I am happy to report that I am much too busy right now to be in a rut, a low point, a funk, or anything else other than...well, BUSY!! Technorati Tags:,,,,,

Friday, November 17, 2006

A couple of fun blogs!

Check out Stephanie's blog, titled Back in Skinny Jeans (the tagline is: get involved. feed a model.) She has been featuring some jewelry lately, including yours truly! But there is tons of wonderful stuff to look at, including a link to her newer blog...Noshtopia.

Now look, I'm warning's probably going to cost you more than a few calories to visit Noshtopia, but I think it's worth it!

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Collaboration with Amy

I haven't done too much more work on this piece that I started awhile ago, because I've been waiting for the pendant that will hang from the bottom. It's hard to get the scale here, but the silver armature is only about 4 inches across. There will be beaded straps coming up from each of the loops at the top.

So I need help! Amy just made a whole batch of gorgeous pendants, and I don't know which to choose. Give me your opinions, and I'll love you forever LOL!! OK, I'll love you anyway...

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Art opening last night

The show that I wrote about, "Stay Tuned", opened last night! Mike went with me, and we had a really good time. I ended up being interviewed by the tv station that was hosting the show, but I think that was probably just because I was the only jeweler there!

Anyway, it was fun.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Saturday was a busy day

I received my order from Jeanne Kent on Thursday, and I just couldn't couldn't couldn't wait to dive into working with the beautiful fused glass pendants that I got! Isn't this one gorgeous? The bad part is that I made this piece specifically for an article that I'm writing on color choice, so it now has to get packed up and sent off...and I probably won't see it again for 6 months or so. Wahhhh!

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Where it's at

As we head into the holiday weekend, here's the scoop:

One of my friend Amy's medallions is going to end up at the bottom of this piece. I should have stuck a ruler in the shot so that you could see the's about 4 inches across and will have beaded strands off of each of the loops at the top.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Carnival of the Creators #15

I received a boatload of submission this time for the newest Carnival! I'm really excited to be able to share some blogs with you all that are a bit different from our usual fare...not that there's a thing wrong with the usual either! But this time, I found literary posts, performance art posts, and some that I hardly even know how to characterize :-)

Anyway, let's get started. Here are some fabulous blogs for you to visit, in no particular order!

Michelle is sharing "6 fun ways to carry trash" on the American Inventorspot blog. It's not what you think...she's sharing handbags made from recycled materials! Great stuff.

My friend Bobbi tends to pick up trash too :-) In this case, it's a poor pitiful doll that she has given new life.

Pamela has written a great post on what she calls "Great Writing about Writing"...she shares a number of books that are not only beautifully written, but are about the art of writing!

My friend Tammy has written a post about a topic that particularly touched me: giving ourselves permission to do the art that we want to without always worrying about the resale potential. She focuses on beading, but you can apply Tammy's insights to any media you desire.

Another friend, Derek, has shared the incredible process he goes through to secure his materials before any art can be done. I'm not going to tell you what it have to go look. I promise you'll find it fascinating!

Derek suggested a second post from another blog for your enlightenment as well. (Do you see how my friends are stuffing the Carnival full of their own stuff? You've got to submit to the next Carnival if you want to see your own stuff here instead!) Anyway, Derek has posted about the current state of the art among woodturners. Oops, now you have a clue about Derek's other post, but hopefully you've already visited it so the surprise wasn't spoiled!)

Joe sent me a link to a post that completely baffled me at first! I've never heard of corde lisse before. You have to see what Joe does! You may consider it more of a sport, but I definitely think it falls into the broad category of performance art!

Isabella discusses "Art that makes a difference" in her blog called Change Therapy. She lists the books, films, and music that have changed her life, and invites her readers to do the same.

Katelyn presents a moving poem called "Dream Man" on her Alzheimer's advocacy blog. Her blog's main focus is to provide support for Alzheimer's patient caregivers. It's titled "Life Without Memories" and it made me cry. Visit it. Please.

There are only a few posts at Denise's new blog called "Glintlit Gloss", but it promises to be a very interesting one to track. She is planning on documenting her renovation of an older home!

Cecelia has made a little foray into the art of crewel embroidery, and she shares both the results of her adventure and also a link to a site with kits.

One of my new pals, Angela, has sent me a blog post on making nursing necklaces! Now I had never heard of these before, but I wish I had since it would have saved my hair countless times! (How many of you are aware that babies like to pull whatever they can get their chubby little mitts on?)

And last, my own mixed media blog, Layers Upon Layers, recently featured a tutorial on embellishing your collages with embroidery.

That's it for this month! Next month will be hosted on my friend Amy's blog, Exalted Beauty, so get your submissions in right away!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Measure of a Woman

She's known by the content of her character, not her measurements :-)

Made from vintage rulers, the necklace is reversible.

handmade beaded jewelry
The Measure of a Woman
The other side

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Monday, November 06, 2006

New paua shell piece

ahndmade beaded jewelry

It took me most of the weekend to even decide what I was going to make next :-) I kind of got side-tracked on making these cute little skinny scarves for holiday gifts this year. I've never made them before, but I figured, "how hard can they be?"


They're not hard at all, but they're really hard to stop making!! I'm telling you, they're addictive. It didn't help that I stopped into Michael's this morning to buy some over-sized knitting needles, and there were bins and bins of wonderful (and CHEAP!!) fantasy yarns in every color of the rainbow.

I limited myself to blue, but still came home with three new skeins...

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where is a (Bead) Doctor when you need one?

Well, there is a new doctor among us...not exactly a bead doctor, but a bono fide doctor nonetheless. Drum roll please.... Tammy Powley! Yup, the beloved guide to's jewelry making site is now a genuine PhD! Stop over at the forum and tell her congratulations :-)

You can also find Tammy hanging out at her Jewelry and Beading blog at b5media.

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