hand-made sterling chain and vintage trade beads

Witness Hand-made Chain, a Joyful Bead Evolution at Fall Tour

I find the pounding and forming of each chain link mesmerizing. In addition I’m drawn to playing with focals that range from natural stones like pyrite and rhodonite to Herkimer diamonds and kyanite.

In the past ten years, I transitioned my jewelry from stringing and bead embroidery to hand-crafted chain of sterling silver. The process didn’t happen overnight. Early into my beading adventure,  I made 100 pair of earrings in an effort to practice wire wrapping. It was my third year in the Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour. Each person who came to my studio received a pair of earrings.

To expand my experience and improve my techniques, I signed up for countless classes. At conferences, such as the well known Tuscon Bead & Gem Show, in local bead stores, and wherever I went, my theme was learn, expand, grow.

In 2016 I enrolled in beginning metalsmithing, a class offered locally by The University of New Mexico Continuing Education, UNMCE. Although the torch seemed scary (I had ongoing difficulty in getting the torch lit!), I completed the projects and advanced to the intermediate offering. I continued the commitment, enjoying the environment, the instructor, and studio participants.

With practice, I began to create s-hooks and small closure pieces for my projects. Chain links weren’t on my horizon, until 2019 when I experimented with an entirely hand-formed necklace named Catifact. The door to expansion beckoned and I never returned to the same space. My sense of wonder infected my customers, many of whom had purchased beaded objects from me in the past. They now admired the lightweight chains and exclaimed over unusual pairings of mixed metal and beads.

This September, I’ll join 35 artists in the 19th annual Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour. Paired with the talented and well-known acrylic artist Lynda Burch at stop #6, 2880 Brushwood NE. Learn more about other artists or download a copy of the brochure online.

My hand-crafted chains frequently indulge my love of a metal mix — sterling silver and red brass, which turns a beautiful copper when heated. A juxtaposition of wire, backplate and beads calls out my inner collage artist. The new look beckons me repeatedly, and then an old pattern emerges in a different presentation. For example, beads (especially vintage African trade beads) return to my necklace elements in a new way – with a nod to my fiber stitching background, I’ve used wire as thread and dangled special beads and shapes in whimsical additions that call out one’s appreciation for imagination.

Many of these changes add a relaxed feel to my jewelry. It’s as if I was given a pass to experiment. Not only did I experiment, but I expanded! The result is a combination of all that feels good and the satisfaction that comes from appreciating the process.

We invite you to witness the creativity of 36 artists in the 19th Annual Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour, 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18. Will you notice my beaded evolution at Stop #6?