Beau Dangles

Handcrafted Jewelry — Designed to be Different

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Queen of Dragons

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you’ll recognize the name Daenerys. That’s the title of this piece that I’m donating to the Legacy Land Trust Society.

The rich fire opal Swarovski crystals, set with delicate Japanese seed beads, form a one-of-a-kind necklace.

604 - Version 2

Legacy Land Trust is holding its second annual fundraiser June 4 at the Eagle Hill Community Hall and Daenerys will be part of the silent auction.

The Society was set up to conserve land in and around Mountain View County —a worthwhile cause I’m happy to support. 🙂


Create 5 Art Challenge — Day 5

Friend and jewelry maker Aims Abson also joined this Art Challenge. This is her first piece, featuring her colourful polymer beads, including the pendant. You can see more of her work here.

Aims Abson

Here is my final piece in the Challenge. It took me longer than I anticipated — 7 days instead of 5 — but I’m pleased with the results.

Golden Girl is an old-meets-new necklace — combining repurposed parts from other pieces with new cord, gold beads, and my hand-forged jump rings and clasp.

The pendant came from an earring. Although it looks heavy, looks are deceiving — it’s made mostly of paper. An intriguing composition.

Golden Girl closeup


Deck Your Neck

Here are several of the necklaces I’ve made recently. Three of them include repurposed pieces from older jewelry. It’s always fun finding ways to incorporate unwanted or abandoned bits into new work.


A Change of Mind

Sometimes, well, sometimes a good idea really ain’t.

Last year I found a small bag of brightly coloured beads in the back of my drawer. They’d been there so long I forgot where they’d come from. I thought they’d make a great bracelet. So that’s what I did. Added a handmade red clasp. Put it up for sale. Nada. Nope. No one expressed interest in it.

And I had to agree. I wasn’t that keen on it either. It wasn’t a bad piece, it just wasn’t a great piece. For one thing, the wire clasp wasn’t as strong as it could have been. To my eye (and maybe to others) it didn’t look substantial enough for the design.

A few weeks ago I was about to take it apart when I had an aha! moment — what if I turned it into a necklace?

I added some extra chain and a swivel lobster clasp. Much better. Put it up for sale at our local farmers’ market.

A woman came by, admired my work, looked at the necklace and said, “I bet that would look good against black.”

“Let’s see,” I said, placing it on one of my black displays. It looked great. I couldn’t believe the difference.

I thanked her for the idea. She wandered off to other booths. I made a note to photograph the piece on a black display when I got home. But I didn’t have time.

When I looked up a few moments later, the woman was back. “I want to buy that necklace.” She smiled. I smiled. The piece was paid for, wrapped up and the deal was done. Happy times. 🙂

Mi Corazon

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Solitary Heart

I found these beautiful glass beads in southern Arizona. Depending on how the light hits them, they display various shades of blue and green. I planned to combine all three pieces in the necklace but after trying several designs the large heart seemed to work best on its own. Mi Corazon Hearts

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Old jewelry often finds its way into thrift stores and yard sales. It’s like a small tarnished treasure, waiting to be rediscovered. I made each of these from left-behinds — pieces that no one was interested in anymore.

I love the hunt! You have to look beyond the missing pearl, the broken clasp, the twisted chain and ask yourself What if …?

I’ve found some beautiful necklace clasps that outshine (no pun intended) many of the versions available today. Even covered in grime the workmanship is evident. A little gentle Ivory dishwashing soap, some warm water and voila! Its beauty is suddenly apparent.

I lucked out at a recent yard sale — I picked up nearly 20 pieces of lovely work for next to nothing but my time. Gonna have fun working with these! 😉


A Necklace of Light

Thin-film physics, anyone? I never thought I’d write about that but — as it turns out — that’s apparently what gives dichroic glass its fascinating properties of light and colour.

Last winter I bought several pieces of dichroic glass from the husband of a beading friend. It was hard choosing only a few from so many beautiful ones. I planned to use them as cabochons in beaded necklaces.

But none of my ideas seemed to work. This week I finally realized they would look their best as stand-alone pieces, without the distraction of intricate beadwork.

Dichroic glass is beautiful and these handmade pieces are truly one of a kind. As you turn each piece light catches it at different angles and the colours seem to change as if by magic. It makes for an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

The most famous piece of ancient dichroic glass is the Lycurgus cup, a rare 4th century Roman cage cup. It changes from red to green depending on whether light is shining on it from the front (the cup appears green) or from behind (the cup appears red).

Today’s dichroic glass is made using a different technique. According to Trezora Glass:

Dichroic glass does not use paints, dyes, gels or any standard coloring agents to create color anymore than a prism does. The fantastic colors are created through the manipulation of light. The multi-colored effect is the result of complex light interactions called “thin film physics”. Thin-film physics are also responsible for rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, the swirling colors of an oil slick floating on a puddle and the dramatic reflections in dragonfly wings. 

Ain’t it grand when science and art collide. 😉


Wire Swirls

I’m no Wire Whisperer.

I’ve made a few pieces with wire over the years, but wrangling with it was hit and miss and before long I’d find myself returning to beads, my first love.

Maybe it’s all the rainy weather these past few months (and watching the garden turn into a rice paddy) but I dug out several spools of wire, some tools and set out to see what I might see.

Winding wire is always an easy place to start (it makes me feel like I’m actually doing something). Next I wondered how I might add some beads. Okay, maybe just one. Hmmm. What would that look like as an earring?

Not bad. I kinda like it.

Pink Swirl Earrings

My work surface always looks like a toddler’s playpen. Stuff everywhere. Sometimes this is a good thing. I laid one earring swirl down beside a coil of cotton cord. Shazam! Another idea. What would this look like as a necklace?

One swirl didn’t quite seem enough. Three seemed too much. Two, now that, as Goldilocks might say, is just right.

Pink Swirl - Necklace

P.S. The earrings sold at the Bergen Farmers’ Market yesterday. Hey, this is fun! 😉

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Arts Festival

It’s time again for Airdrie’s annual Empty Bowls Arts Festival! This fundraiser for the Food Bank is a popular event featuring a wide variety of artists, each of whom has donated a piece of work to the silent auction.

I’m donating Country Garden, a beaded cabochon necklace. This strap is 17 inches (43 cm), with a 3-inch (7.6 cm) drop for the double cabochon. The decorative toggle clasp is lead- and nickel-free.

Country Garden

I found the stones on a trip to Quartzsite, AZ several years ago. The pale pink and faded green colours in the stones reminded me of an old-fashioned rose garden.

The Arts Festival runs Saturday June 22 from 11 to 5 pm at Nose Creek Park in Airdrie. It promises to be a lot of fun, no matter what the weather. You can find a list of the artists here and the scoop on the activities here.


The Red Queen

I remember reading a quote somewhere about beading — when you think you’re done, so something more. Then do something more again. And again.

The gist of the message? Don’t be satisfied with your first effort, it’s seldom your best.

I made a necklace in diamond stitch using Swarovski crystals. It looked fine but it wasn’t anything special. After a few days I decided to push the design further.

The piece went through several incarnations. I documented each stage with a photo which was helpful. It let me compare versions and finally choose the one I liked best.

The original “ends” of the necklace became the front, where I added the focal concept. The original middle of the necklace was now at the back of the neck — which meant taking it apart so I could insert the clasp.

Fiddly work but I like the final result much better than my first attempt.

The Red Queen

Pushing the creative process does have a downside. I knew an artist once who continually reworked his paintings, never quite capturing what he was looking for. He sold very few pieces and was often frustrated.

The trick is knowing when to stop. I found a design that pleased me. Was it the best I could do? For now, yes. So I stopped. There’s always another design waiting to be discovered. 😉


Garden Beauty

Garden BeautyAlberta’s late snow and cool spring meant a slow start to the garden so I had to look elsewhere for something to brighten up the days.

This necklace features stone beads and a gorgeous stone focal. The bead string reminds me of those candy necklaces that you could wear around your neck and whenever you felt like it you could nibble on the “beads.”

I shot this outside this afternoon when the sun — once again — was playing hide-and-seek behind a thick blanket of grey.

I usually take pics inside, setting up the display on the kitchen table. Today it was so much easier and faster to take everything outside. The light was also mostly shadow-free. Gonna try this again. 😉

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Come Again

Thrift stores are one of my favourite places. I almost always find something unusual when I visit one. An afternoon browse through one in Sidney, BC last summer turned up an interesting brooch. It said “steampunk” as soon as I saw it.

It was languishing underneath some other prettier pieces, forgotten by most. Lucky me! I brought it home and left it on my workbench.

Time passed. A month or so later I took it apart — it had several pieces attached to it giving it a bulky look. I took them all off and began playing with possibilities. Nothing worked. So I set it aside again.

A couple of weeks ago I dug it out and draped some chain around it. Aha! I found my design.



I reattached one of the original pieces — the metal heart — to balance the look. And instead of having the clasp at the back I used two lobster clasps at the front. I like it. 😉

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Colours to Dance To

Winter still hanging on? Icicles on the eaves? Snow in the driveway? Mitts and toques still your clothes of choice for a trip to the store?

Luckily I find myself in warmer climes right now — but we’ll soon be back in The Great White North. So maybe that’s why I picked the brightest colours I could find for this necklace. Can’t help but smile each time I pick it up to work on it.

The pattern is my variation of one of Varvara’s from her book Coraling Technique. 


Both the colours and the pattern remind me of the bright flowing skirts of the Mexican folkloric ballet dancers.

I’m enjoying working with this palette so much I may just have to do some earrings. And perhaps a bracelet. And if there are enough beads, maybe an anklet … 😉

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Bead Drops

Simple says it all with this necklace and earring set. The figaro chain and brightly coloured beads make a pleasing combination that could go casual or dressy.

The glass beads are hung on silver-plated chain and ear wires. The necklace is adjustable with a handmade S-clasp.

The colors make me think of sunshine and berries with a hint of creme de menthe thrown in for good measure. 😉