Author Archives: lilruby jewelry

About lilruby jewelry

My name is Joan Williams and I'm a self taught jewelry designer and mixed media artist. I was born and raised in the Chicago area, and I now live in the Missouri Ozarks with my husband, son and jillions of beads - along with lots of ephemera and stuff that my packrat ancestors saved (and I'm so glad they did)! My passion is creating jewelry that bears the patina of time and travel, using a blend of new components and found objects. I'm also crazy about antiques, horses, flowers, rusty hinges and chipped paint, so you never know what I might be inspired to talk about. I hope you'll stop by from time to time to see what I'm up to! Click below to visit my Etsy shop and my Facebook page, and to see additional photos on Flickr.

Look Homeward, Angel

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Way back in high school I read “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe. I don’t remember the specifics of the story ( it was a long time ago!) but I do remember being captivated by it, and I suddenly thought of it again as I fashioned this sweet little angel.

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The antique doll used here is called a “frozen Charlotte”- these tiny ceramic dolls are dug up by the thousands from the ground by the German factories where they were once made. I was fortunate to receive several of them from my partner in the Bead Soup Blog Party a couple years ago ( thanks Gretchen!). It’s rare to find one that’s completely intact, but I don’t think the imperfections take away from their beauty – the missing arms just give opportunity for wings to sprout, and that’s exactly what happened here!

I used rusty black filigree pieces from B’Sue Boutiques to make these wings, and added some very old lace scraps along with what I believe to be the oldest (and my favorite) button in my collection. A little wire and some tiny rhinestone spacer beads are the finishing touch, and she’s strung on vintage cuckoo clock chain.

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This little angel doesn’t need to look any further for her home – I’m keeping her with me!

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Looking for magic

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It’s the reason why I’ve gotten into the habit of taking my camera everywhere I go – even if my only planned destination is Walmart or the gas station. I never know when something will catch my eye – the way the sunlight hits a leaf or a field of dandelions, the quiet dignity of an abandoned house or my favorite! – the glow of the plump full moon as it suddenly appears over the hills. I’ve come to think of it as looking for magic, and I never know when it’ll happen. When it does though, my heart beats faster, I jump out of the car and lose myself in trying to capture it.

I don’t have an expensive camera, and I have so much to learn about photography but now and then I manage to get a shot that sparks my imagination and gives me a little feeling of that magic. Here are a few of my favorites-

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Weeds decorated with caps of frost.

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Sunday morning sunlight bursting through the trees.

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Just some cows in a field, but the sun and the mist give it the look of an old painting.

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A suddenly bright sunset reflected in the rain slicked street right after a thunderstorm.

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The sun rising through heavy lake mist, making it look more like a full moon.

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The sunset lighting the window of an abandoned farmhouse, making it look lived in again, even if just for a moment.

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Huge fluffy dandelions!

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And the moon – always the moon!

BSBP8 reveal!

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The time has come and it’s reveal day for Bead Soup Blog Party #8! My partner this year is Kim Paige of Red Tree Studio. Kim is a very gifted artist who specializes in metal clay, and *wow* is her work amazing!

Before I show you the fabulous soup she sent and what I did with it, here’s what I sent to her-

Soup #1

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This was the first soup I sent to Kim – a handcarved mother of pearl pendant, some large irregularly faceted cut glass beads in the palest shade of pink, three kinds of pewter beads, tiny garnets, a moonstone and sterling clasp and silk ribbon.

And here’s soup #2. While the first one was all soft and pastel, this one was darker and more rustic-

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I sent wood agate and bone beads, metal studded wood cones, vintage white hearts, an oversized toggle,  large ceramic focal and a sweet little Czech glass owl. Two soups, two very different looks!

 

Now for the soup I received from Kim – wow!

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Leather cords, bronzite, bone, wood and shell beads, copper beads and chain, a beautiful copper S hook clasp – and Kim’s specialty – exquisite metal clay leaves and branches. The detail is incredible on these! Kim told me that she used blueberry leaves from her backyard for the texture.

 

….And here’s what I came up with-

 

First off I paired one of the leaves with pretty copper beads, tiny cobalt blue agates and a bird charm that I painted to match.

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Next, I used one of the little branches along with some fire agates for a bracelet that reminds me of Springtime in the woods-

 

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Then, I used another of the leaves along with Czech glass, a rusty metal flower, sari ribbon, cuckoo clock chain and a vintage skeleton key from my grandmother’s basement for a rustic boho necklace.  This will be a favorite that I’ll wear often!

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Next up, I decided to use the S hook clasp as a bail for an amazing rough cut amethyst from Plum Bazaar, which is the wonderful bead shop in downtown Branson where I started working a couple of months ago – yes, it’s definitely a dream job!

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OK, on to the exquisite curved leaf focal – this was the biggest challenge for me. I tried several different chains, silk ribbons, beads of all colors – but in the end I decided to keep it simple and just let the beauty of the leaf speak for itself. I threaded it with some copper micro ball chain and three strands of tiny jade tubes. Simple and lovely!

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Another great find from Plum Bazaar led to this bracelet and earrings – these are vintage copper coins from India. I punched holes in them, painted them with cobalt blue Vintaj patina and then sanded them back. The bright copper beads and chain from Kim add just the right accent along with tiny blue agate beads.

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Finally, I used the same process on a couple of the white bone beads – painted them and wiped it back – for one more pair of earrings. These are strung with some pierced sterling silver beads I’ve had forever. I think they have a nice summer-y look to them!

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So there you have it – 8 pieces for the 8th BSBP! As always, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it, and I so appreciate Lori Anderson’s hard work and dedication for putting it all together each year. Now, go check out all the other bead soupers!

Here’s the link:

http://www.prettythingsblog.com/2014/05/welcome-to-8th-bead-soup-blog-party.html

 

It’s Bead Soup time again!

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Once again I’ve signed up for Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Blog Party, which is the major event each year in bead/blogging world! This is the 8th year for the party, and my 3rd year participating. How it works is this – Lori pairs up the participants and you then swap bead soup ingredients for each other to create with. On reveal day you do a blog post showing what you designed with the soup you received from your partner. It’s lots of fun and a great way to challenge yourself to create with beads and components that someone else chose for you. My partner this year is Kim Paige of Red Tree Studio. Her metal clay work is elegant and simply amazing! Before I show you the incredible soup she sent, here is what i sent to her-

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I’ve been hoarding these oversized pale pink cut glass beads for a few years – I love the way they’re cut, but because I’m “pastel impaired” I haven’t been able to decide what to do with them! (I saved a few just in case I ever figure it out though!) I paired them with a hand carved mother of pearl pendant from Plum Bazaar, which is the awesome bead shop in Branson where I just started working.

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Next I gathered up some pewter beads – some with dragonflies, and some that remind me of ocean waves, along with a pair of large filigree beads. I added some tiny garnets, some hand dyed silk ribbon and a sterling and moonstone clasp. I sure hope Kim likes what I’ve chosen – it’s surprisingly hard to decide what to send to someone you’ve never met!

One thing I do know is that I’m absolutely thrilled with what Kim sent – just look!Image

A great assortment of stone, bone and wood beads, copper chain, leather cord and two fabulous clasps! That in itself would be a wonderful soup, but now for the really exciting stuff!

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Aren’t these amazing? Kim made these from metal clay, using blueberry leaves from her yard for texture. And finally, this stunning focal –

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I’m so excited to start working with these gorgeous pieces – I only hope I can somehow do them justice. Thanks, Kim, for a truly wonderful soup!

A frosty fog morning

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When I looked out this morning and saw that it was both foggy and frosty, I forgot all about my coffee and grabbed my camera. Knowing it wouldn’t last long, I drove to Swan Creek, which is just a few minutes away. It was so pretty and I hoped I could get some good shots!

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There was a wonderful thick, white coating on everything – transforming even simple weeds into beautiful little sculptures.

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The fog gave the creek a monochromatic dreamlike look – these look like black & white photos but they’re not!

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Even barbed wire looked like it had grown soft white fur-

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I so enjoyed taking these photos, and I’m glad I did – an hour or so later the sun came out and it all disappeared!

Arkansas getaway

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My husband and I took a much needed mini vacation last weekend and headed down the road to nearby Arkansas, taking our time and stopping  here and there on the way to our hotel. First stop was Eureka Springs, where I did a little bead shopping (Czech glass, yay!) and where we saw two very different deities –

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The Christ of the Ozarks, a seven story tall statue high atop Magnetic Mountain that overlooks the town below, and

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the Goddess of Feminine Cosmic Energy, also known as Aza, or Adora Zelina Astra. Each was equally impressive in their own way!

As we continued on our way to Bentonville I spotted one of my favorite things to photograph – a fabulous abandoned farmhouse-

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It’s hard to explain, but somehow I see a dignified beauty in the skeletal remains of old falling down buildings and always feel compelled to take their picture before they’re gone forever.

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After a couple of days of relaxing (comfy hotel bed – yesss!) we headed back home – but on the way out we spent an afternoon at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I’d heard a lot of good things about it, and they were right – it’s amazing! I’ll show you about that next time – stay tuned!

The welcoming committee

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My husband and I took a few minutes this evening to walk by a nearby lake and enjoy the sunset. As we were headed back to the car, a  trio of snow white ducks got out of the water and walked over to where I was standing. I assumed they were looking for a food handout and that they’d start squawking at me when they realized I didn’t have anything for them.

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When they got to me though, they stopped.

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And they just stood there, calmly regarding me with their dark eyes and cheerful orange feet. This went on for several moments, with me snapping picture after picture and with them just silently watching.

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Then, they turned to each other and had a lengthy conversation amongst themselves while I stood there and laughed  at how cute they were.

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Finally, as quietly as they came, they turned in unison and headed back to the lake while I walked back to my husband feeling utterly charmed by my encounter with the welcoming committee of Rockaway Beach!