Monday, January 4, 2010


 Through-out time, humans have use talismans to symbolize spiritual aspects of character, religious beliefs and meaningful traditions. As someone who compulsively creates and collects amulets, I thought it would be a great exercise to further my sculpting skills by finding a symbol I could flesh out in clay.

 Each month of the new year I will focus on a special meaning, whether the current season or the holiday of the month. From this focus a certain word comes forth and I use this word, its use and definition, to help sharpen my concentration on what is important to me. After a little research, I decide what symbol should accompany the word and sketch out a design that I can turn into clay. A little acrylic wash, a decoupage of the word in one of my favorite fonts and many, many coats of a matte varnish and I have my own art bead talisman!

  I have started the new year with the word "Begin". What an awesome powerful word! It seems so small, so inconspicuous, but it can be the hardest thing to do. Whether it's to stop smoking (been there and beginning was the most difficult), losing weight (it's always next week with me), starting a new project (what if I can't finish?),  'Begin' is a fantastic word to meditate on  and make concrete in my head, my thoughts, my actions, my daily life.
  I choose a doorway to symbolize beginning. A doorway shows opportunity, a portal to something else; something greater. A movement from one place to another. It symbolizes action to me, a change. This is something I personally wrestle with, perhaps you can relate?

The bead itself measures approx. 20mm long by 18mm wide. The front of the doorway is crafted from the faux wood clay technique and decorated with a tiny door knob and hinges. After baking the bead, it is given an antique acrylic wash, decoupaged with the tiny word and sealed with several coats of matte varnish. The hole can accommodate a 20 gauge wire. I created a necklace with one of the doorways and took pictures along the way to demonstrate one way to use this art bead.

I saw a tassel of sorts, using left over beads and chain in a haphazard, tumbling way. I love this technique but it can sometimes be difficult to make left over beads look good together. I test my selection by laying out chain and small links of beads out this way;


Using both oxidized and bright sterling silver helped bring the different elements together. Once I was happy with the arrangement of the links and chain I formed a loop in a piece of 10" wire, approximately 4" from one end. This loop needs to be large enough to accommodate all the elements you will be adding. The example below shows a loop that is 1/4" in diameter and I added a total of 14 dangling elements.
Once all of your danglings are on, continue the wire-wrap to enclose the loop. Slide on a bead cap and then slide on the art bead. Form a second loop above the art bead and create a messy wrap with the remaining wire.
I wanted to pull the beige color from the door down to the tassel and add a bit more bulk so I added a small section of wire-wrapped leather strap. This gave the tassel a fuller look.

  Now that the tassel was complete and it needed an asymmetrical necklace. Again, I used left over beads; iolites, peridot and aquamarine to make up one side of the necklace. These beads are caged in oxidized sterling silver wire to help them look more cohesive. The opposite side of the necklace is a piece of warm brown faux suede that has 2 different colors of pearls wire-wrapped to both top and bottom in order to create links that will connect to the lobster claw clasp and the top of the doorway tassel.
So there it is! My first hand sculpted art bead in its very own one of a kind creation! I hope this post inspired you to create a talisman of your own and of course, I have made a limited edition of 11 doorways to share. You can purchase your own "Begin" bead here. Check back at the end of this month for the second installment of my next art bead. February's beads are very special to me as my daughter inspired and helped create the batch.  I have all 12 months completed, but I'm not listing them all at once even though I want to. I have to be patient for the Unveiling.


  1. You put such a lot of thought into the concept and the finished piece is charming :-) can't wait to see the next months piece.

  2. Shannon this is gorgeous! I love it!

  3. This is EXCITING! Can't wait to see each month!

  4. I was wondering what your first word of the year would be and I think 'begin' is just perfect!

    Beautiful piece of jewelry. Not only is it extremely cool looking it is the perfect symbol for the new year.

    Those little doors will open and begin many new and exciting journeys for you Shannon, as well as for anyone who chooses to wear one!


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