Friday, August 03, 2018

Kazuko Inspired Wired Gemstones

When you admire a designer that has passed away you can’t help but wonder about their life and art. I would have loved and been honoured to meet Kazuko Oshima.  Would she have taught classes?  Would she still work at Barney’s?  Would she have embraced Instagram?  Did she have plans to write a book?  These are questions I will never get answered because she died in 2007, before the social media boom, which would have probably given us all access to her creativity and life.
So, in my own small way I am attempting to put a spotlight on her work, her style and her memory.
Beloved designer Kazuko Oshima was not the first person to wrap stones and crystals but she was legendary for the simple style she created. She had a worldwide audience at Barney’s New York where she could be found designing pieces on the spot calibrated to the needs of the client. Owning a piece of her hand-wrapped jewelry was special because she was exclusive to one store and did not have her designs manufactured.
In Ms. Oshima’s most characteristic designs, crystals and semiprecious stones are wrapped in webs of gold wire and seem to float above the body as they encircle a wrist or neck. Ms. Oshima believed passionately that the materials that she worked with possessed great healing powers, something she often discussed in interviews. – Margalit Fox October. 4, 2007 
My personal Kazuko pendant

I was very lucky to receive a piece of her jewelry and it is a prized possession. From the moment I received it, I was mesmerized.  Afraid to lose it, I open and close the box it came in often, making sure it is still safe.  Kazuko enclosed a handwritten description of the stones she used to make my pendant.  Even that tiny card feels magical.
Kazuko holds court at Barneys, dressed, usually, in all white. She’s the unofficial soul of the Barneys staff, each of whom has a piece of Kazuko calibrated to his or her karmic needs. After 9/11, every single Barneys employee got a little piece of pyrite. “After that, they changed,” 
she says. -NY Mag

Working at John Bead Corp has given me the opportunity to explore the attributes of many gemstones and incorporating them into jewelry is a joy.  It felt like the right time to put a spotlight on a designer who inspired me.  I also wanted to credit her for the this style of wrapping. It makes her jewelry stand out for its simplicity.
I have written a step-by-step so you can create a simple wire-wrapped pendant.  I have also demonstrated this technique dozens of times in the last two months and have learned that this simple and effective wire wrap makes people happy.
No skills required.
Virtually no tools needed.
Just wire, gemstones and good intention. 

This is the beautiful Kazuko.  If you create anything with this step-by-step, please remember to call your projects “Kazuko Inspired” so you can help me to honour her memory.
How to Make Your Own Kazuko Inspired Pendant

21 or 22 Gauge Wire (gold)
Earth’s Jewels Semi-Precious Stones
One or two small crystals (if you like them)
A small gold pin
Very few tools are needed: 
A wire cutter and round nose pliers

Cut about 12 -14 inches of wire and add your stone leaving about three inches of a tail. Wrap the longer wire around the stone and back towards the tail.

Wrap the long wire once or twice around the tail wire. 

Position the long wire up the opposite side of the first wire and tuck the longer wire under the first like the picture shows.

Then run some wire up another side of the stone and create a loop at the top of the bead around the tail.

Run wire again down the side of the pendant. 
You can also make loops in the wire as you go. 

You can create loops and add a crystal at the bottom of the wrapped stone at this point. Then, you will need to get the longer wire back to the top of the bead.

Wrap the wire around the top tail again.

At this point you can stop wiring the pendant or add more wire along the sides.

Cut the wire and with round nose pliers create loops to hide the wire ends.

The “Kazuko style” includes adding a pin to create a bail or clasp feature.

Add a chain and write a short note explaining why you selected this particular stone and you have a wonderful and meaningful gift!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spelling Secrets with Semi Precious Stones

In the current issue of Perles et Cetera, a premier French publication for jewelry makers, we have a new semi precious project step by step.  This is the English translation.
Designed by Carmi Cimicata for John Bead Corp. and Perles et Cetera.

Spelling a word by using gemstones is a style of jewelry called “acrostic.” Similar to acrostic poetry, when the first letter of each sentence creates a word, acrostic jewelry uses the first letter of a gemstone to also create a word. It creates a hidden meanings or messages in the design.
As an example, LOVE in an acrostic jewelry piece might be a Lapis bead next to Opal, next to Verdite next to an Emerald. In England, one of the most popular words to spell out was REGARD, which usually featured Rubies (2), Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, and Diamond. They also used DEAREST or the name of a person in sentimental jewelry for engagement rings or anniversary gifts. Antique rings, bracelets, brooches and pins featuring unique gemstones may in fact be acrostic jewelry and you would have never known.
Napoleon Bonaparte designed the jewelry that ultimately exposed me to acrostic jewelry. He worked with a jeweller in Paris and always enjoyed marking special occasions with both large and small keepsakes. The Nitot jewellery house became the official jeweller of Napoleon in 1802. (They eventually were renamed the House of Chaumet.) The son of the founder, François Regnault created jewelry, crowns, sword hilts and more for Napoleon, both his wives and his court.
It is the gifts that he created for his second wife Marie Louise that caught my attention. He had the jeweller spell out his birthday, her birthday and their wedding anniversary in three beautiful bracelets. From the moment I saw these bracelets I was enchanted. I can’t think of a more romantic way to memorialize an important day. It becomes a secret between the gift giver and recipient and when worn, a constant reminder of their private celebrations.
Napoleon 15 Aôut 1769
Natrolite, Amethyst, Peridot, Opal, Lapis, Emerald, Onyx, Natrolite [15]
Agate, Opal, Uranite, Turquoise [1769].
Marie Louise 12 Decembre 1791
Malachite, Amethyst, Ruby, Iris, Emerald, Lapis, Opal, Uranite, Iolite, Sapphire, Emerald [12]
Diamond, Emerald, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Malachite, Beryl, Ruby, Emerald [1791].
27 Mars 1810, 2 Avril 1810
[27] Malachite, Amethyst, Ruby, Serpentine [1810], [2]
Amethyst, Vermeil, Ruby, Iris, Limestone [1810].
Creating an acrostic jewelry piece is a lot less expensive today than the pieces jewellers created in the 1800’s. Designers, jewellers and weekend hobbyists have access to many semi precious stones by simply visiting a local bead store or by placing an order online. Sometimes gemstones are even less expensive than glass or resin.  I work for one of the largest distributors of gemstone beads in Canada and we even have an Outlet attached to our warehouse that has many of these strands ready to purchase, at great prices.
For this project I decided to create a set of jewellery that features my own name. It will be a secret just between you and me. People will only notice the pretty gemstones and will never know that it carries significance. I have a plan to create sets of acrostic jewelry for friends and family using their names or special dates. I can’t wait to see the look of surprise when they read the notes I’ll include explaining why I used the gemstones I did for their gifts.

My project began with a review of the Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. I wanted to make a list of gemstones that had first letters linking to my own. The first letter of my name “C” was simple; Carnelian is a favourite. The last letter of my name “I” was a little harder. This letter is usually a descriptor for a gemstone such as Indian Topaz or Iris Opal. I then wrote my first alphabet gemstone-shopping list.
I settled on these strands after reviewing all the possibilities in our semi precious bead category at John Bead.
Carnelian for the C,
Amethyst for the A,
Rainbow Agate for the R,
Mookaite for the M and
Iron Zebra Jasper for I.
Once I knew which gemstones I wanted to use, I started to select the shapes. This took some thinking. Did I want big square beads, rectangles, rough cuts, round or chips? Sometimes having too many options makes designing very difficult. I settled on three shapes; ovals, rondelles and round. I knew that these would work well for a set of jewelry that also included earrings.

I also selected round wood beads for the body of the pieces. Wood is lightweight, fairly inexpensive and would allow me to just use a few semi precious beads per project. My stash of beads to match the alphabet will need to include one or two strands per letter of the alphabet. That means I have twenty-one more gemstones to select to complete my alphabet and the hunt is part of the fun for me!
Last but not least I gathered rhinestone rondelles. Who can resist a little extra sparkle? In the bracelets Napoleon designed, the diamonds and gold created the most beautiful frames. I wanted to bring some of that glamour to these simple stringing projects. 

Once my gemstones were in the right order, spelling out CARMI, I made several sets for a necklace, bracelet and two earrings. I used various sizes of stones and spent some time deciding which colours worked best. All gemstones strands have various shades throughout, so I was able to select lighter Mookaite beads and even one that looked marbled. The necklace I strung with bead wire. The bracelet was made with elastic cord and the earrings feature the semi-precious beads stacked on a headpin and added to a pre made earing shape.

My jewelery set is unique, lightweight, sparkly and it was fairly inexpensive to make. Now I just need to decide which family member names I will work with next. Happily, that will mean more trips to the bead store for gemstones!
All products shown are from John Bead Corp.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Courage and Creativity Necklace

Earlier this summer UK Bead and Jewellery magazine published my courage and creativity necklace.  I wanted to share it with you on my page as well.  They did such a wonderful job photographing and showcasing my necklaces.  I couldn't be more proud.
Courage and Creativity Necklace

With the arrival of summer there are numerous concert and weekend events that generate image after image of bohemian and vintage style dressing.  The looks often feature hand crafted clothing and jewelry with a spiritual influence.  The jewelry is both authentic yet stylized and I made an effort to figure out why I liked it so much.  It was at this point I heard the word “mala” for the first time.

The mala bead necklace is based on traditional Buddhist prayer beads.  “Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity.  Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads.  A decorative tassel is often attached to the beads, flanked by talismans or amulets depending on one’s local tradition.”  Via Wikipedia

Since Mala bead necklaces are considered a Buddhist rosary I wanted to acknowledge that I was aware that these necklaces have spiritual importance to many people.  The necklaces I started making are influenced by the symmetry in the traditional mala necklace.   I have gone out of my way to create a necklace with an even number of beads that is not a real mala.   I also wanted to spend more time learning about semi precious stones and why so many people use them as part of their daily rituals.
There are many wonderful ideals associated with a Mala necklace.  There are also many wonderful properties associated with semi-precious gems and crystals.  The more you learn about crystals, the more confidence you will have in selecting beads to create with and wear. If you would like to create your own mala necklace, learning about both will help you to make a necklace that holds a great deal of personal meaning.
My symmetrical necklace features the semi precious stone carnelian in a round bead shape.  Making and then wearing a piece of jewelry with a gemstone you select based on its healing or helpful properties will give you a great deal of pleasure. 
In the Crystal Bible I discovered some of the carnelian stone’s many attributes.  “Carnelian grounds and anchors you in the present reality. A stabilizing stone with high energy, it is excellent for restoring vitality and motivation, and for stimulating creativity. It also gives courage, promotes positive life choices, dispels apathy, and motivates for success in business and other matters. Carnelian improves analytic abilities and clarifies perception.”   

I think we can all use a little more courage and any extra creative energy I might derive is truly welcome.

Step by Step

This necklace requires no tools!  Just the ability to count to ten and sew your beads together with a silk cord that already has an attached needle.  It is long enough to pass over a head, so no clasps are required.

You will need:
2 Strands of Semi Precious Carnelian Beads (50 beads per strand) 27600623-02
10 Fire Polished 8mm Lantern Beads Crystal/Copper 27001615-01s
1 Agate Slab (Brown for this project) 27602500-00
1 Dazzle-It 100% Silk Bead Cord (Available in six colors) 74422068-03 

To begin count your beads into piles of ten.

If you work better seeing everything laid out you can also set up a bead board with your beads.  The fire polished lantern bead is used as a pretty spacer.  There are so many options available for anyone with a bit of a bead stash.

If you work better seeing everything laid out you can also set up a bead board with your beads.  The fire polished lantern bead is used as a pretty spacer.  There are so many options available for anyone with a bit of a bead stash.

String the first side of the necklace.
1 Crystal lantern Bead + 10 Carnelian Beads (repeat five times)

When one side of your necklace is done you need to think about your pendant.  I used a slice of agate, which was easy to attach with a jump ring.  You could add the jump ring later but I like to add it now so I know the jump ring is settled into place.  If you are not sure what you would like to attach add a jump ring anyway.  You can always attach the pendant to it later.

The first half of the necklace is done.  Match the first side now by following this reminder:
10 Carnelian Beads + 1 Crystal lantern Bead (repeat five times)

Make sure both sides of your necklace are the same and then tie a good knot!  If you want to keep your knot secure you can add a dab of glue.  Also, if you do not want to see the knot you can cover it with a crimp cover.

All you need to do now is enjoy wearing this necklace or perhaps gift it to a friend.  I fully expect to feel a little more courageous wearing it because I will wear it on the day I need to make a big presentation at work.  It will be a constant and comforting reminder.

Here is the exact same necklace made with amethyst stones.
Amethyst is said to be extremely beneficial to the mind, calming or stimulating as appropriate.  Amethyst enhances memory and improves motivation, making you more able to set realistic goals.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Craftivism With Simple Safety Pins

It doesn't take much to make a statement.
It also doesn't take much to show support or encouragement.

I believe that I can send a message to anyone who might need it 
by the simple action of wearing a pin on my jacket.

Safety pins have a long association with various movements.
They are an inexpensive way to show involvement in a cause 
or show a wish for a cure for a major health issue.

Since the last American election, safety pins without embellishment have been a way to signal to others that you will support them if they are harassed, that you will sit with them on a subway or that you will stand up to bullies.

I do understand that many people think safety pins are not enough.  
That people may wear them without understanding their real meaning or that this is too small a gesture.

I only make them for myself.  

I will stand up for the underdog.
I will not let you harass someone because you do not like their clothing.
I do support human rights for everyone.
I will document and share with police anything I see that is criminal.

My pin is a visual warning that I am watching.
I also hope my pins give people a little hope.

I usually have a pin of some sort on all my jackets.
You can find them in many different sizes.  
The best place to locate them is in sewing/fabric stores.
These can go by the name of skirt pins or kilt pins.

Kids have been crafting with safety pins and beads forever.
They are a classic summer camp project.
Adding beads can be quick or slow depending on the size of the bead and the pattern desired.

Here is one of my pins.

I like them jumbled together too.

Pins are great for special events and I see lots of people wearing them during marathons and fundraisers.

I hope you make a pin than is meaningful for you.

This month is all about PRIDE so I'll wear my pin to show my support this month.