What’s new? Creative Spark Summer 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged.  I still make quite a bit of jewelry, but the opportunity to write about and show off my creations seems to slip by so quickly before I am on to the next project. Le sigh…

That’s why I love the challenges from Znetshows.

The last time I blogged I was playing a bit with wire and wire-wrapping.  Since then I’ve taken a class and I’ve been practicing more.  I still have a long way to go but I am having a lot of fun and I hope it shows in these projects.

For this challenge, Znetshows was introducing some new styles of their sea glass. I chose some of their fancy drops, large-hole pebbles and free-form fancy ring pendants.  I wanted to make something that was not jewelry.  I have seen lots of beautiful sun catchers on-line and I wanted to try my hand.  Thinking of summer and looking at all the beautiful colors of sea glass, I was drawn to the beautiful shades of red, white and blue.  Woot! I have a theme!

I made my American Tree of Life sun catcher first.  I have made one jewelry-sized so enlarging it seemed to be pretty easy.  I used 22 gauge silver craft wire for the tree and 16 gauge silver craft wire for the frame.  The only thing I would change is I might have used 14 gauge or 12 gauge wire for the basic frames for all of these projects to make them sturdier, but I used what I had on hand.

American Family Tree 4

The fancy drops from Znetshows made terrific leaves.  I wish I had more to fill out those branches. For my tree, about 6″ in diameter, I used most of a single strand of each color of the fancy drops in medium and small sizes.  I could have used a couple of more strands of each color.   I added the blue chinese crystal rondelles to add some sparkle (also available from Znetshows!).  The lava star was a gift from a friend as was the bird charm. This piece is my favorite.


The next sun catcher, Stars and Stripes, is more like a mobile. It’s hard to catch in a photo, but the lava stars and the red, white and blue ring pendants are meant to invoke the American flag.  Now, in my head, and with an unlimited budget, I would have had enough beads to make an ACTUAL FLAG out of beads and chain!  …ahem… I am really happy with this mobile, but it was a lot of work.  Each donut-shaped pendant had to be individually wrapped.  The sizes vary a little with each piece so be prepared  to adjust the lengths of the chains to balance the mobile. This piece is definitely my favorite.

stars and stripes 1

What’s the Fourth of July without fireworks? The last sun catcher was difficult for me trying to maintain the wire curves and still give the feeling of a firework bursting in mid-air with lots of shine and sparkle. The large-hole pebbles in sea glass in red and blue were so easy to use.  Some, I wrapped onto the wire, but the large holes made it easy to thread on the 16 gauge wire and anchor that way, too.  These beads are so versatile.  I really want to get some more to make a bracelet using leather or threading them on chain.  It was difficult to stick to my theme.

I ran into some trouble, because my “final” product looked more like a patriotic cloud or a stumpy tree and did not have the pizzazz I wanted.  Digging through my stash, and my friends’ bead stashes, I found a length of funky blue chain.  Perfect!  Using some of the drop pendants I created the streamer trails you expect to see in the best bottle rocket. This is truly my favorite!


Fireworks 2


Thanks Znetshows for another fun challenge!  Make sure you take a look at the other designers and see their wonderful creations with some of the of the other new products available from Znetshows.  I’ve linked to the latest issue of Creative Spark so you can see for yourself.  Everyone had such great ideas and I plan to try a few of them myself.

CS Cover July 2016




Pssst!  Check out the designer corner on the Znetshows site.  I’m one of the featured designers!!



Summer at the Beach 2015

Votives (view of both)

Serving SpoonsHere in the sunny south it seems as if summer is winding down. The pools are closing during the week. The kids are going back to school. The temperatures are a scorching 90 plus degrees. Oh, wait. There are still a couple of months of the season left. Because of this sweltering hot weather, I still dream of a beach vacation with the sand and the salty surf and vivid sunsets.

Alas (does anyone still say that?), my beach vacation is not to be this year, but I can still enjoy a bit of the beach life in my own home.

I have a new challenge from Znet Shows.  This summer’s challenge was to use their wonderful cultured Sea Glass to make non-jewelry items.  My first instinct was to make something that (while not jewelry) was similar in nature, but I like to stretch.  I have been playing a bit with wire wrapping and a year ago I had seen someone wrap serving spoons using wire and some small gemstones.  I had wanted to try this ever since.  That gave me the idea to create my own table decor using the cultured beach glass as my theme.

Table setting 1

I went to a discount store to find high quality (and highly discounted) serving spoons.  I chose a pattern that was plain and reasonably flat.  From the Znet Shows website, I chose cultured glass items that resembled shells, starfish, fish, and some irregular pieces that look like sea glass anyone might find.  I love the color choices, so I had to show real restraint to avoid selecting the whole rainbow, instead choosing warm colors for my beach table.

IMG_0385 2

The next items for my table were votive candle holders.  A table at the beach is not complete without a little candlelight.  I lucked out in this area.  My friend was in a local dollar store and found two glass holders that sort of resemble tiny hurricane lamps for a dollar each!  This project was coming together.

Votives (view of both)

The next element is napkin rings.  Even a beach table can be elegant and refined.  Some of the best hosts I know always cloth napkins on their tables.  I don’t entertain very much but I knew I wanted this to be part of my decor.

Napkin Rings

I had one more item that I attempted.  I will bring it up now, because someone else may be tempted to try a centerpiece.  Hopefully you can avoid my mistakes.  I bought a large glass vase with the idea that I would use it to hold a pillar candle and sand.  In the sand I was going to decorate along the vase with the cultured glass pieces. I was envisioning an underwater tableau in a glass “aquarium”.  I had everything I needed, but as soon as I added the sand the glass pieces became buried treasure.  It didn’t matter how I fixed the pieces, the sand filled all the available space and covered the beads.  I wanted the beads to be the star not the candle or the vase or the sand! so I ditched this idea.

For the votives and the spoons I took a rather simple approach.  I used a small gauge wire (22g) using a non-tarnish silver wire.  I did NOT use sterling or argentium because of the trial and error aspect of my beginner efforts and, frankly, I didn’t want the added expense if it wasn’t needed.  I used the small gauge because the wire had to fit through the holes of the beads, although I did use a larger gauge (16 g) around the votive to provide a base to wrap the wire around.  I did not try to match each piece exactly.  If I had to change anything I would have used flat wire on the spoons so that the wire would get a better grip on the handle, but I only had round wire in a fine gauge.  The photos also showed some wire ends that I thought I had tucked completely, but this is easily fixed.

The napkin rings were my favorite project for this round.  I found a small cylinder for a base and 16 g wire and created the basic napkin ring.  This took a few attempts to get something that would work.  After a little careful hammering to work harden the wire in strategic places so the circular shape wouldn’t bend too much and I was ready to wrap the sea glass pieces.  A larger gauge wire, 14 g or 12 g, might have been a better choice for the base, but 16 g is readily available at most craft and bead stores.

Overall, this challenge has been one of my favorites.  The cultured sea glass from Znet Shows is inexpensive and easy to to use.  The variety of shapes and colors was another plus, even though I kept my palette relatively small–green, gold and tangerine.  I am also a beginner at the wire wrapping and I didn’t find this to be too challenging.  I am sure the more skilled artisans could give this a more professional flair, but I was happy with the results.

IMG_0371 2

Now all I have to do is set the table and light the candles.   Ahhhh….can you hear the surf?

Please take a look at the Summer 2015 edition of the online magazine Creative Spark.  I’m on page 104! My work is featured as well as many other artists who took on various challenges using the cultured sea glass from ZNet Shows.  A quick note about Creative Spark, if you are using Mozilla Firefox, you will have to allow Adobe Flash and for that reason you cannot view on most mobile devices.  Also check out the website for ZNet Shows.  They have a great selection of beads including gemstones and Chinese crystal.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.24.28 AM


Up-cycle, Upgrade–Making New Jewelry From Old or Found Pieces

My booty for the fall challenge.  Znetshows has such great beads.
My booty for the fall challenge.  Znetshows has such great beads.

My booty for the fall challenge. Znetshows has such great beads.

I just finished another Znetshows challenge and I cannot wait for you to see what I made. Woot! Woot!  If you like, check out the latest issue of Creative Spark and see all the great jewelry and then come back here for the full story!  I’ll wait for you.

This round was SO much fun.  I really stepped outside my comfort zone.  Usually when I make jewelry I start with a great set of beads and inspiration leads me on a merry dance.  This time, my challenge was to take a found piece or an old piece and up-cycle or upgrade it into a new and fabulous piece of jewelry using some of the great beads from my friends at Znetshows.  Piece of cake–right?  Okay, okay–it was, but I had an unexpected head start.

A few months ago, my friend Sandy had given me some crystal pieces from a chandelier her husband had taken apart.  At the time I had visions of making some earrings and had grabbed some graduated sizes of the crystals.  I didn’t notice at the time they were double-drilled from the top down.  I played around with a couple of styles , but I was not thrilled so I put them away for another project, another day.

I also had another dilemma.  I had made a necklace for a potential new client, but she did not like my choice of pendant, so I was left scrambling trying to find something else that would reflect her style and fit the necklace I had made.  I was not having much luck until my bestie, Susan, suggested we visit a bead store she had found in Decatur, Georgia, called The Bead Shoppe.  What a great store!  What was surprising to me was that I was not drawn to her selection of beads which was pretty terrific.  Instead, I found myself going back to a couple of vintage pieces that I told myself could use in the necklace, but (honestly) I wanted to make something completely new.  See what I found!


This was probably an earring from the 1970s.  I wish I had its twin

This was probably an earring from the 1970s. I wish I had its twin


This was on a necklace and was really nice as is, but I wanted to do something more.

This was on a necklace and was really nice as is, but I wanted to do something more.



When Hope (Craftyhope@gmail.com) sent out this season’s challenge I was ready with these pieces.  Notice that the metals are in good shape.  They were already clean and I didn’t notice any pitting.  Both pieces had places for me to add stones and/or break it down into different components.  That is exactly what I did.  Check it out


Let me show you what I did with the chandelier pieces first.  (Sorry for no before photo–the crystals just don’t show up well in pictures by this amateur photographer.)

Crystallne bug closeup

If it looks like a bug to you, then you’re right!  I love this crystalline bug, fancy enough to wear to any ball.  The graduated size of the crystals worked to my advantage as a pendant. I added some crystal rondelles in olive green and made a necklace of some soft, milky moonstone.  The antennae is a bit of vintage chain and a couple of more of those olive rondelles.


Next up is what I did with the diamond-shaped pendant.

Flower Drop Earrings

I deconstructed the diamond into square units of four flowers.  I wired some of the units together–again using some of the lovely crystal rondelles in olive from Znetshows.  The earrings would not hang quite the way I wanted so I moved some of the floral units around until I came up with what you see above.  They are perfect for every day or night.  I’ve got a few of the flower units left over.  I may make something else with those, too.

Now I saved the best for last.   Drum roll, please!  Ta! Dah!!

70s to 20s in progress

In the magazine, Creative Spark, I made the mistake of taking the picture with the pearl side down.  I really want you to see the glass pearls I wired to the front of the piece.  I removed the spangles and added crystal rondelles in a fire red and more pearls.  The necklace (not shown) is some gold chain with some of the same crystals and pearls added in for interest.  This is a simple yet GLAMOROUS piece.  My photographic skills do not do it justice.

Please make sure you check out this issue of Creative Spark online magazine.  You’ll find these pieces and many more gorgeous items.  I share with you some of my ideas for finding some of these types of great items when you want to turn some of your old, tired pieces into new, wearable art.

My links:

Znetshows:  http://znetshows.com/

Creative Spark Online Magazine:  http://joom.ag/Q8Tb

The Bead Shoppe:  http://www.thebeadshoppeatlanta.com/

And email me:  swash139@icloud.com









Summer Days and Nights

Summer days drifting away

to, uh oh, those su-ummer nights….

If you ever saw Grease you know you’re singing along with me now.  Hopefully YOU are in tune!

It’s time for another ZNetShows challenge and this one was possibly the best yet.  This time around designers got to choose a couple of colors from the array of cultured sea glass in the ZNetShows catalog.  Take a look at all the different choices and you will understand why I had such difficult time selecting only two!  Red, amber, black, green….  I finally focused on the other part of the challenge– to create two different summery looks, one for day and one for evening and finally narrowed my choice down to tangerine and a lovely shade of pacific blue. And I waited to see what kinds of surprises were in store for me.

Here’s a peak at the treasures I got.

Summer challenge Before

I could not wait to get started.  I have so many lovely beads with which to play!


In this challenge I had four looks to create, two for day and two for night.  The purple barrels were a natural choice for me for an evening look, but I wanted to see what I could do first with the tangerine and the blue.

Summer Days

Digging into my stash of beads, I found some turquoise colored African glass seed beads and some seed beads in complementary colors.  My beading buddy, Susan, had given me a lovely, large jasper pendant stone in shades of blues and oranges and  a round orange agate.  From the ZNetShows beads I used the tangerine bottle-lip beads and some of the rondelles.  This necklace almost made itself.

Day look Tangerine Full view

This necklace has an island feel to me.  I could just see this done in bone and shell, but using the tangerine glass (instead of teeth! lol) creates a cute look perfect to be worn with jeans and a t-shirt or even with dressier office wear.  The clasp is a simple hook, made by me, but this piece is long enough to go over your head without unhooking it.  This was my favorite look until….

I picked up the blue beads I got from ZNetShows.  I started playing with some of the beads that are free-form.  I noticed that some were drilled at the top and the bottom and some were just drilled at the top.  I started wiring them together and created a focal for my next daytime look.  I made a necklace using the barrel beads and bone spacers.  As usual I made my own clasp.  Go ahead.  Take a look.  See why it’s my favorite.

Day Set Pacific Blue and Turquoise Bay

The matching earrings use the squares hung vertically.  The picture hides a twist in the wire to give it a little extra interest.

Summer Nights

After I finished the necklace and earrings in the Pacific Blue colors I was almost out of blue beads–not enough to create a full evening look so those purple barrels kept drawing my eye.

I once again searched through my bead stash and found some lovely champagne and amethyst colored crystal faceted rondelles.  This was a sea-glass challenge but ZNetShows has some Chinese crystals in gorgeous colors, too, including champagne!  I made a bar style focal mixing the purple barrels, a couple of vintage amethyst rounds and a rough cut natural crystal in that same shade of gold.

For me, an evening look requires a little sparkle–okay, a LOT of sparkle. Adding the crystals to the matte purple barrels elevated the piece into something perfect for an elegant soiree.  Does anyone have Angelina Jolie’s number?

Evening Look Amethyst


The evening look in tangerine was probably the most difficult to make.  I knew I wanted to add crystals to the pebbles to add glamor and glitz, but I couldn’t find a focal that did those beads justice.  I had some large Chinese crystal nuggets and hexagons so I started playing with combinations before settling on making another bar-shaped focal.  For the necklace I used the pebbles like pearls, finishing out with tangerine rondelles.  This look demands that little black dress where the necklace makes the statement!  Here in the South during summer you will often hear the question “Is it hot enough for you?”  Take a look at my Tangerine Dream  and answer that question!

Evening Look Tangerine


What a fun challenge this turned out to be.  I cannot wait for the next one!  Please let me know in the comments which piece was your favorite.


Please check out the summer edition of Creative Spark, the online magazine that features the creations of all the members of the ZNetShows Design Team.  (I’m on page 42!)  There are some gorgeous creations in this magazine that have already “sparked” my imagination.


ZNetShows :  http://znetshows.com

Creative Spark Summer Edition 2014:  http://joom.ag/55CB

Contact me at swash01@gmail.com











7000 Bracelets for Hope

For the past few months I’ve been fortunate to participate in challenges for ZnetShows.  My last blog was a partner challenge.  This time, the challenge is from the heart.

According to the Global Genes Project there are over 7,000 rare genetic diseases.  Families with loved ones with one of these rare diseases don’t have a large support community on which to rely, and they have the same need for research and development of drugs and treatment processes.  7000 Bracelets for Hope was a campaign to bring recognition and support for these causes.   Bracelets are donated to families in shades of blue, representing “health, healing and faith.”  If you want to know more about the Global Genes Project and 7,000 Bracelets for Hope, then follow the link.

On to the challenge…

For this challenge, ZnetShows generously donated two different choices of blue beads from their catalog.  I chose a navy blue glass pearl in an 8mm size and Sapphire’s Blue mix of Chinese crystal rondelles.  I probably spent an hour online picking out just the right beads.  ZnetShows has SO many beautiful choices.  Fortunately for me, my best beading buddy is also part of this design challenge.  We decided early on to choose complementary beads and share the wealth.  Susan chose a navy blue glass pearl in the 6mm size and some beautiful sea glass rounds –surprise!-also in blue.

The photo is not great, but look at the lovely beads I received.

bluebeadsYou’ll have to trust me and not the photograph.  The glass pearls are simply beautiful–a rich shade of navy.  The crystals have at least three different shades of blue.  I started digging in my stash of silver right after that picture was taken.  This challenge was going to be fun.

My first bracelet uses one of my favorite mediums –chain maille.  I have a stash of shiny aluminum rings that were just crying out to be used in this project.  I made several Moebius rings and connected them to some of the pearls.  A simple charm I made using a pearl and a silver heart finding  completed the look.  I didn’t use much blue for this one–next bracelet would be different, I decided–but I like the look.  What do you think?

chain blue

The next bracelet I mixed more of the heart findings and both sizes of pearls to make a simple strung bracelet.  I made the hook clasp and finished with a bit of chain so that the bracelet will be adjustable in length.  Simple and sweet.    I am on a roll now!

blue heart

shake rattle 1   The bit of chain I used on the last bracelet inspired me.  This past season I’ve seen a lot of chunky pearl-charm bracelets in fashion magazines.  Why not use some of the two different sizes of pearls and wrap them on a simple chain.  This is my favorite bracelet so far.  This bracelet is a fun piece that makes you want to shake your wrist and show off.  Shake, rattle and roll!!

shake rattle 2

Yep!  That bracelet is my favorite.  Oh wait….  There is another contender here.  In pieces I make for myself, I love the look of leather with gemstones.  This look is so versatile.  I took three pieces of 2 mm Greek leather and made end pieces out coiled wire.  Using knots placed at somewhat random intervals to separate groups of wire-wrapped pearls and other charms made from findings in my stash and those gorgeous crystals and cultured SEA GLASS (love it), I was able to get the look of a wrap bracelet.  Did you see my little man in the moon charms?  I LOVE this style.  I may have to make another for myself using beads from my stash.  –‘Course the blue IS pretty…. hmmmm….

leather wrap view 1

leather and charms pic 1

I had time to make one more bracelet.  This time I wanted to use the crystals .  I grouped three together for a subtle ombre’ effect.  I am particularly proud of the hook clasp I made.  This bracelet is pretty and princess-y.  I hope whoever gets this bracelet feels special wearing it.

blue princess

Looking at my photos, I have to laugh a little.  I kept trying to correct the “red-eye” in some of the photos–until I realized it was my reflection in the beads (I was wearing a red shirt).  lol

I can’t end this blog without a final shout out to ZnetShows.  I so appreciate the opportunity to do something I love and give back at the same time.

And, finally, please check out the Global Genes Project.  Think about how alone some of these families must feel, needing research and funding and hope.  Please help in whatever way you can.

ZNETShows Partner Challenge

partner challenge stash

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to participate in a partner challenge using products from ZNETShows.  I jumped at that chance right away!  I have followed ZNETShows for a few months now and I have seen lots of artists creating beautiful pieces of jewelry using their Cultured Sea Glass.

This chance was even better!  My partner in this challenge, Michelle,  and I were given an extensive list of gorgeous items from which to choose to send to the other person.   Our theme is the BEACH!  I quickly emailed Michelle to find out what she liked about the beach since I have never met her.  Hello Michelle!  I told her I loved the colors in the sunset.  A few days later, I received a package in the mail containing the sunset from ZNETShows.  I received Cultured Sea Glass Round Beads, silver metal disks, teardrop shaped glass pearls in a lovely champagne color, Chinese crystals in a vibrant orange, orange jasper ovals and strands of aqua-terra shaped jasper nuggets, and cystals in shades of sea foam and other shades of green.  As Anne of Green Gables would say,”Such scope for the imagination!”

Of course, my first piece had to be the sunset.  My local bead store provided the chain.  I wire wrapped the some of the orange jasper on the center of the chain and used some of the more golden crystals to create the effect of the sun sinking into the ocean.  The Cultured Sea Glass finished my sunset on the beach.

sunset beach

I am not the best photographer.  But I like this view of the necklace the best.

sunset beach 2

What to do next?  I love working with pearls and these glass pearls are so nice.  Champagne is a beautiful color.  It made me think of pirates burying their treasure on a tropical island.  I added some more of those multi-colored crystals–so very versatile–using odd counts of pearls and crystals.  I wanted to save some of the crystals and pearls for a future project but I wanted length, too.  So I added some Greek leather cord and tied a couple of sliding knots.  Okay maybe this is my favorite piece!

beach treasure

beach treasure 2








I really wanted to use the chunky aqua-terra jasper but I was having a difficult time.  The shape and color is so much fun, but I am not used to working with that size bead.  My instinct was to create a choker length chunky, sparkly piece–Bedrock Beach!  Fun!


bedrock beach

The picture makes the necklace look longer than it is.  It measures about 16 inches.  Again, my photo does not show how cute this looks on someone.  Would you like to try it on?

The last piece I made is my FAVORITE!  (You’ve heard that before from me?)  Those cultured sea glass rounds in that delicate shade of green just were calling out to be made into a bracelet.  I love the leather wrap bracelets and I had an idea of using macrame but I didn’t have the right bead–until now!  I found the S-Lon in orange–made me think of the sea and the sunset at the beach– and a button from my stash and a length of Greek leather in a sandy shade and started playing.  This took the most time and I still have some bugs to work out with the clasp but I am thrilled with the result.

glass in the net

Thanks ZNETShows for allowing me to play!  I can’t wait for the next challenge!  Follow ZNETShows on facebook.

Conch Shells!

I love sea glass.

Unfortunately I do not live at the beach.  I’ve never seen real honest to goodness sea glass on any of the beaches I have visited.  Where is that wonderful treasure hiding.

For me–the wonderful people at ZNETShows offered me the opportunity to play with some of their cultured sea glass conch shells.  (Say that 3 times fast– I dare you!)

This is what they sent me:Conch Shells

The picture doesn’t do justice to the colors.  They are so vibrant and rich.

I made earrings with three pairs of the shells, but one pair is still in the “I don’t know if I like it” stage.  I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with the rest.  I think I’ll use fiber.

For the black I practiced my wire skills. I used German beading wire, a nice alternative to sterling silver.  The metal pieces are borrowed from another challenge from ZNETShows.

black conch earrings

The next pair is I added a bit of Byzantine chainmaille to accent the Emerald-colored Cultured Sea Glass.  I think this is my favorite pair.

green conch earrings

If you like the the Cultured Sea Glass, follow ZNETShows on facebook.  They have so many amazing items!  Wait until you see what’s next!