Beau Dangles

Handcrafted Jewelry — Designed to be Different


The Possibilities of Less

Do you ever long for a bigger stash of beads? More wire? Better tools? Do you dream of all the things you could create if only …  ?

I do.

But something weird happened lately that changed my mind.

My first show of the season was quickly approaching when a dreadful truth hit: I don’t have enough new pieces. 

But that wasn’t the worst part.

I had only a skimpy supply of materials with me: wire, a few pieces of old jewelry, some glass beads, and a couple of Swarovski pearls. A gloomy prospect.

Why, oh why, I whined, hadn’t I brought more stuff? 

Like Mother Hubbard, I gazed at my almost-empty cupboard. Impending doom settled on me.

I needed new work. And I needed it now.

Out came the hammers and pliers and wire cutters. I hammered and texturized. I twisted and bent. I strung beads and coiled wire.

It took awhile, but after several mistakes I got into a creative vibe. Where I’d seen limitations I began to see designs. Lots of them. It was like someone sprinkled magic dust in the air.

By the time I finished I had 10 different pairs of earrings. Amazing. Who’da thunk all those pieces could have come from so little?

Best of all? At the show last weekend those earrings got the most attention — and brought the most sales.

Go figure.  Sometimes less really is more.   🙂


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Hamster Brain

Scientists tell us we have three brains — the lizard brain (lust and anger), the dog brain (love and loyalty) and the human brain (thinking). Overly simplistic but it conveys the basic idea: different parts of the brain handle different functions.

Somewhere along the way those folks in the lab coats missed the hamster brain. If you have one, you know whereof I speak. You start to make a decision and suddenly you can’t. It’s not even a hard decision or one of those things you really should sleep on (or a least take a nap) before you commit yourself.

No, hamster brains make you fumble and stumble around on decisions that a normal 3-brained person would have dealt with last week (or yesterday). Yet here you (and I) are mentally spinning round and round on that wheel like a deranged rodent.

My hamster brain took over this morning. I was trying to describe where I make my jewelry. How hard could that be? Hard, apparently. My hamster brain ran amok.

Studio? No, no, no. Far too pretentious. It sounds like you’re much better than you are. How about work bench? Doesn’t that sound more like you’re repairing cars? Or building cabinets? Okay, what about table? I sometimes bead at a table. Are you using veggies in your work? What’s wrong with you? This is so simple. Be creative! Think outside the box!

By the time I’m a few minutes into this inane conversation the hamster brain has won. I’m indecisive, undecided and hoping my dog brain will eat the little rat for lunch.

All this nattering did have one good outcome: I’m heading to my studio/work shop/shed/table/work bench/whatever to make something pretty.

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Pearl Is A Beading Gem

There are so many wonderful online beading sites that it’s hard to choose which ones to follow. One of my favourites is The Beading Gem’s Journal.

The site is run by Pearl (yes, that’s her real name), a Canadian beader who shares her love of all things “bead”. Each morning I find an email from her with the latest blog post — what a creative way to start the day.

Pearl’s site is filled with free jewelry tutorials, tips and trends. One of the things I really appreciate is that each post is cross-referenced to related ideas on the site — a boon if you don’t have time to search through previous posts.

If you’d like to browse further check out the Archives. Be sure to leave yourself lots of time for this — it’s a treasure trove. Looking for a seasonal design idea for Hallowe’en or Christmas? Thinking of buying some beading books? Want to learn more about gemstones? Interested in metal work? It’s all there and much more.

Pearl warmly welcomes new contributors.

Do you have an idea you’d like to share with other jewelers? It could be something that has already appeared on your own site. (Pearl recently featured my idea for combining a business card with an easy-to-make earring display.) She’s also looking for ideas created especially for The Beading Gem.

If you’re looking to jump start your creativity, check out the site. 😉


Looking Beyond Beads

Where do your ideas come from? It’s natural to look at what other beaders are doing — in magazines, online, at shows.

But is the work of beaders the best place to generate fresh approaches to our own work?

During the metal working course I took this summer our instructor, Linda Chow, suggested that instead of looking at what other jewellers have produced we look further afield — to nature, to books on architecture, to everyday objects like chairs or tables or parking meters.

The morning after her suggestion I found myself at the kitchen table sketching cross-sections of kiwi and bananas — discovering in the process some clever ideas for earrings. After class that day I wandered around campus, picking up leaves and some unusual seed pods — and doing more sketching.

Last weekend at Culture at the Creek in Airdrie’s Nose Creek Park I found myself studying the work of self-taught artist Becky Kundert whose booth was near mine.

These three pieces — particularly the red and blue — intrigued me. Ideas began to tickle my imagination. A day or so ago I pulled out several kinds of blue beads and soon found myself with a lovely necklace design that I probably wouldn’t have found but for Becky’s piece.

So, stuck for ideas? Take a look at what artists in other fields are doing. You might just find the inspiration you’re looking for. 🙂