Friday, May 22, 2015

Inside the Studio: Mary Harding Jewelry

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations to Gloria Allen

You have won a $20.00 gift certificate to spend at 
Send Heather an email to claim your gift certificate. 
Glazing new work by Mary Harding

This week you are in the studio of Mary Harding.  I have been busy these last weeks making new pieces for my Etsy shop and for auctions at the Ceramic Art Bead Market. As I write my kiln is cooling off.  I will be sharing some pictures of what I find inside when I open it in a few hours.  Always an exciting moment. 
I have been using a new clay these last couple of weeks.  It is not all that different from the clay I have used for the last years but it looks very different when it  is wet.  It is Gray.  My usual clay is white.  So it is a bit of an adjustment.  Up North here where I live, it is not advisable to purchase clay during the winter months because it will freeze on the truck and the ice breaks up the structure of the clay.  My closest clay distributor is 120 miles away.  So when you run out, as I did you use what else you have on hand.  Here is what it looks like wet. 
New gray clay  comes from Laguna Clay

 This has been the warmest Spring I can remember.  I have been so inspired by the dramatic change in the world from Winter to Spring this year that I thought I would share some photos of the emergence of new leaves and lots of the greenness  and a few wild flowers that I love to use in my work.
These are emerging needles on our tamarack  tree.  It is deciduous even though it has needles and tiny pine cones just like the firs and pines.  I love that red pink around the new needles.
Emerging grape leaves
Lilac leaves after a short shower

                                                       Skunk Cabbage
                                                 Grass and Violets
Clover  There is more clover growing everywhere this year than I have ever seen before.  It makes our Woodchucks happy and hopefully will keep them out of my veggie garden.
Lilac Flowers
Maple Seed Wings  in abundance.  Just recently we had a very windy day and lots of baby seed wings were blown off another tree.  I have those in my studio.  They are so nice and small.

I just checked on my kiln and it is at 154 degrees F.  I looked inside and took a picture  looking down in

I am going to wait another hour to unload even though it is cool enough. They are a still a bit hot to handle.  So far it looks promising to me.
One  hour later I unloaded the kiln and was so happy to see they came out well.  Ceramics can be a bit of a hit or miss craft no matter how skilled you are.  That is why I always put my kiln goddess on top of the kiln when I fire.  
A group shot of some of the pieces  in this  kiln load.  Please check out my Etsy shop later today and some of them will be there .

I hope you enjoyed my visual indulgence into the greenness and beauty of this very special Spring. 
And now my Question: Are you inspired this Spring and if so what is making you feel so good and energetic?
Just answer this question in the comment section below and you will be entered to win a $20.00 gift certificate to spend in my Etsy shop.  A winner will be randomly picked and announced next Friday.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Etsy Picks

How are you getting along with the challenge? I've heard a couple of people say that they feel slightly daunted by the challenge image this month. So, if you're up for the challenge but struggling to think of what to use, here are some suggestions. As you'll see, I've focused on the stripes and dots in the challenge painting and the first place I thought to look was Graceful Willow Beads:

(these sticks are actually listed as decorations but they are very like the beads that Heidi makes and there's no reason why, with a bit of knotting or wirework or careful drilling, you couldn't use them in jewellery)

I particularly like this last option: 'It's no use: I just don't have the right beads in my stash for the challenge! I must treat myself to a set of wondrously intricate and beautiful lampwork beads'. Makes sense to me! 

Bye for now, Claire

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Perfect Pairings :: Linda Landig + Margit Boehmer

Color, color and MORE COLOR! That is what I see when I look at the inspiration painting by Augustin Lesage. That and the shapes. The arcs, the angles, the incredible attention to details. When I was perusing the entries for this month, these earrings by Linda Landig jumped out at me. The polymer clay beads by MargitB are full of life, as if there is a light dancing inside them making them glow like stained glass. The colors are soft, yet vibrant. Such a playful construction...simplicity at its best!

Featured Designer :: Linda Landig

Featured Bead Artist :: MargitB

Just a friendly reminder... We have a slightly new format for uploading your pictures for consideration for the Perfect Pairings each Wednesday, as well as the Monthly Challenge Recap post. 
We are now using Pinterest! You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes, including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge!
(Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!)
Pretty please make sure that you post a link in your Pinterest description so that I have someplace to attribute the picture to! And don't forget to tell us about those art beads!
Deadline to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post is May 28th!

TIP: If you upload your photo to pin it rather than pin it from your blog or shop, edit the pin (the little pencil button) and add your link as the source. Save your edits. This will allow us to click directly on your photo and go to your blog or shop to read more about your entry. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Best of ABS - Square Knot Bracelet Tutorial - with Rebecca of Songbead

Today we have a 'Best of ABS' post - throwback to 2012 and this tutorial showing you one way to incorporate fibres into your work. Ribbon, cord, leather, fibre - it's still on trend - so try your hand at this simple yet versatile macrame technique, perfect for the summer months ahead!


Knotting techniques and using fibre in jewellery are all the rage at the moment and you may well have used some sari silk, cord or ribbon in your jewellery. It can add a relaxed vibe; a softness and bountiful colour possibilities! It also allows a piece of jewellery to be made entirely without the use of metal, which could be important if designing for someone who has an intolerance (although I have used a copper clasp, you could easily replace this with clasp of a different material, or even a knotted closure). I have long taught knotting classes at my local bead shop, and fellow ABS editor Erin Siegel along with Lorelei Eurto have an exciting book coming out soon - Bohemian Inspired Jewelry, for which I personally can't wait! These ladies are both so talented and I am looking forward to seeing their beautiful fibre led designs.

One of the oldest knotting techniques is macrame, originally used by sailors I believe. I thought I'd offer up a tutorial using the classic macrame knot, the square knot.

**If you are not sure about a lark's head knot, check out my blogtomorrow**

{I accidentally jumped from step 5 to step 7.  There isn't a missing step, I just left the number 6 out by mistake! Oops.}

***Can you see the cord coming over itself on the LH side, where I have drawn with green pen? This means the following half-knot must start with a LH loop. Similarly, if this bit of cord was on the R, I would begin the next knot with a RH loop. I find it useful to check this if I have to put my work down whilst knotting.***

I finish off the silk cord by tying a bow, and then double knotting it. 

Have a look at some other bracelets using the same technique.

Beading by Malin de Koning
Malin has used cord to knot and shows how beads of different shapes and sizes can be combined using square knots. Check out her blog for many more square knotted pieces.

Erin Siegel
This photograph really whets my appetite for Bohemian Inspired Jewelry - just look at those beautiful colours and contrasting textures! Erin shows how even a thicker ribbon can be used for knotting.

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in Edinburgh, capital of her native land. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Monday, May 18, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Tribal-inspired Beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

Hello all! It's another week of tribal-inspired beads here at Amuse the Muse. Are you enjoying this month's theme? I've got to say, it's really opened my eyes to working with different colours, shapes and textures - even bead artists! - than I usually do. I'd love to see your finds too! Leave your links in the comments below. 

This week, I thought I'd see what the Art Bead Scene team have in terms of tribal-inspired beads. I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I wasn't disappointed, and I know you won't be either!

Kokopelli Button - Tari Sasser

Haiti Totem Bead Set - Tesori Trovati (actually inspired by March's challenge, but pretty perfect for this month's theme too, don't you think?)

And now for the BeadBlogger Links. Have a great week!