Eureka 14

Ever wonder how artists go from idea to product? Me, too.

On Friday, I took photos of a new idea to see how it developed. Here’s what happened:

Eureka 2

Idea! As I was gathering supplies in my studio to work outside, this hematite circle and blue fossil bead in a random dish o’ beads caught my eye.

Eureka 6

I also wanted to use porcupine quills with these materials.

Eureka 3

Three quills, to be exact. This is a good start, but I don’t like the way it hangs.

Eureka 4

Eureka 5

Eureka 7

It needed something in the middle to stabilize it. And it needed more color. However, the triplet of quills didn’t slide over the beads, so I took off the bottom jump ring. Definitely not the look I was going for. Added a new jump ring at the bottom, but it was too big so the quills slid all the way down to hematite.


Pshoo! (that’s the sound of beads hitting the floor). I dropped the whole thing. Beads EVERYWHERE. Just a few seconds before I thought, “I should put tape on the top of this in case I drop it.” Should have listened to myself.

Eureka 9

Back on track and figured out a different way to get the quills over the beads.

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Don’t like the beads, so go with turquoise heishi. Roadblock! Heishi holes aren’t big enough to slide onto headpin.

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Found a different turquoise heishi that fits on the wire


Finished earrings! I love that the quills can spin around the heishi, so the earrings change as you move. What do you think?

If you really like them, you can buy them at my Etsy Shop.

Class Act

Class Act 01

Class Act 02The first day of June saw four friends come away from Out of Our Hands with handcrafted pairs of porcupine quill earrings. Above, Melanie and Ann Marie work on gluing and adding the ear wires.

I taught a Porcupine Quill Jewelry Workshop at the Emmaus, PA, store on Sunday, the first of many workshops to come at Out of Our Hands.

Each lady created a unique version of my single quill earrings with stone chips. We had a lot of laughs and learned a little about porcupines and porcupine quillwork while chatting about growing up in the area. Two of the women and I graduated from the same high school. We’re amazed that Emmaus has turned from the “boring” town of our youth to a quaint little place the people come to visit!

Shannon knots the thread before adding ear wires.

Class 04

Coryn threads the needle for one last pass through the beads.

Class Act 05

The women had such a blast, they want to take the horse hair earring class. I will be offering a Horse Hair Earring class at Out of Our Hands, as well, hopefully in July. If you’re interested in learning how to make horse hair earrings, contact me or Out of Our Hands to sign up. I’ll post more about the dates and times as the information becomes available. Click on my events page to find out more.

Porcupine Quill Earring Class

Amethyst Single Class

You have a chance to learn how to make these porcupine quill earrings.

Out of Our Hands will be sponsoring my Porcupine Quill Earring Class on Sunday, June 1 from noon to 2 p.m. The class costs $40 and all supplies are included. You’ll come away from the class with a pair of earrings made with porcupine quills, silver or gold-plated earwires and semi-precious stone chips. Amethyst chips are featured above, but you can also choose from peridot (green), citirine (yellow) or aquamarine (blue).

Classes like this give artists and customers a chance to meet and chat. I get a greater understanding of how the rest of world sees my pieces. The results are sometimes very surprising. Customers get a glimpse of the creative process and working with the materials, giving them a greater appreciation for handmade items.

So come join the fun. Space is limited, so sign up soon with Out of Our Hands, Emmaus, PA, by contacting or 610-965-4806.

In other news, my Vanilla blog post is featured on The Crafty Crow today. This fun site is tagged “a children’s craft collective.” Created by Cassi of Bella Dia as a way to wrangle interesting kids crafts from all over the Internet, it’s a great resource if you’re stumped on how to keep the wee ones busy today.

Making vanilla gets kids involved in cooking at the very beginning of the process and helps them see that all ingredients come from somewhere, not just the store.

The vanilla beans went into the bottleBottled Vanilla beans almost 6 weeks ago. Today the liquid is the color of strong tea, a beautiful golden brown, but it still has a mightty vodka bite, so it needs a little more time. Visuals on that to come, as my husband just walked out the door with the camera.

Check out Crafty Crow’s other posts for the day, too, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Shop Update

Black Horse Hair and Garnet Earrings

I’ve added some new items to my Etsy shop and not just any items, but my two favorite pieces I have in stock right now.

First up are these horse hair earrings above. I love the earrings. The hammered bead cone on top of the horse hair and garnet just makes these look so classy. Hopefully I can get some more of these bead cones and add them to most of my horse hair earrings.

Black HH with HornOften I use a variety of bead to finish off the earrings, which give the earrings a rustic feel, like those at right. But these shiny hammer sterling tops really kick it up a notch, as Emeril would say, and give it the flash and sophistication needed for a more classic style.

The other reason I love these: the photo actually captures the color of the garnet drops. I really need to invest in an SLR camera and macro lens. Not in the budget today, so I need to figure out the intricacies of my current camera, and I’m not exactly an ace. I snap lots of photos and hope for the best. The stars aligned, or maybe the lighting was just right, when I took that picture.

Next up is this pair of quilled earrings.

Quilled TearDrop Earrings

I love these because they are my second “break out” piece (I’ll be posting my first break out piece later this week). By break out piece I mean I finally made the craft my own and did my own thing.

Porcupine quillwork is a very old art and much of what is know about it was collected by a Smithsonian scientist in the early 1900s.By the time he talked with quillworkers who’d learned their craft from generations of other quillworkers this technique was falling out of favor among most Native American Indians. There isn’t much information on quillwork, and it makes you wonder how much of craft was lost along the way.

I’m not of Native American descent (at least not that I know of) and had no one to teach me the techniques, so for years I’ve been teaching myself porcupine quillwork by reading books, looking a museum pieces and using classic trial and error. The designs and techniques I’ve done up until recently have been literally by the book, or the way people interpreted the creation of quillwork, so I could learn the techniques. With these earrings I decided to do a different shape with the quills and the leather. An artist was born.

This was reinforced yesterday while listening to a CraftCast podcast interviewing Thomas Mann. Imitation is how we learn, he said, and once you move beyond the imitation you can become your own artist. Mann goes on to explain how imitation as learning manifests itself at craft show where in a certain time period all the work looks similar. (An interesting note for you locals: Thomas Mann embarked on his art-laden path at 8 years old when he began attending the Baum School of Art in Allentown.) The podcast is worth a listen, as are most of Alison Lee’s CraftCast podcasts.

I’ll keep you updated as I add more pieces to my shop in the next few days.

In the meantime, I took a little fieldtrip into my beadbox to make a few gifts for Mother’s Day and birthdays. Here are the results:

Hematite and Porcelain Necklace

Hematite and porcelain bead necklace with…

Porcelain Earrings

…matching earrings.

Bead and Pearl Earrings

A pair of bead and pearl earrings.

Red Porcelain and Suede Earrings Polka Dot Cylinders

My friend picked out the red porcelain beads and pink cylinders with black polka dots and I made them into earrings for her. Hope she likes them.

New Inspirations

The turtle has arrived!

Turtle Done, Phase 1

He’s a bit flashier than I imagined, with the white around his shell, but that’s okay. This is my first quillwork turtle (that looks like a turtle), so he should be flashy. My projects usually don’t turn out exactly as drawn/imagined because I try to go with the flow. Although I drew a sketch for the turtle, I didn’t outline the design on leather. I usually freehand the whole thing right there as I’m quilling. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t.

I’d say it worked this time.

Closeup of Turtle Done Phase 1

The turtle is done–he looks like he’s going to crawl right off the leather, doesn’t he?– but I still have to whip this into shape with leather tie, leather backing and quilled border. I have a few days left before the Powwow. Pressure is a wonderful thing.

While quills soak and soften, I pull together other porcupine quill pieces.

Silver Quill Loop Earrings

My tradition-style of porcupine quill earrings on the right; on the left are some new ones I envisioned in the middle of a bead store this past weekend. They are more stunning than they appear in the photo.

Friends and I checked out Beadnik in West Chester, PA (along with a fabulous dinner at Vincents and coffee/gelato/pastries at Sprazzo. We should have gone to Sprazzo first. Life is really too short to save incredible desserts for last).

I’m sure I’ve seen these silver tubes before since they’re among the many silver beads made by the Karen Hills Tribe in northern Thailand. I love Tribal Hills Silver and order it whenever I have money burning a hole in my pocket. But there in the bead store, these two little tubes spoke to me.

I have visions like that in bead stores.

In fact, I often have a take a deep breath and remind myself to focus when I go into a bead store. I get very distracted by, “Wow, I could pair this bead with that bead and have and fantabulous new thing.” Too many dollars later I have more beads to take up space alongside the other fantabulous beads I purchased before. This year, I’m aiming to use all those beads in projects so by year’s end my bead boxes are empty and I’ll have to buy new stuff. Then again, don’t all of us collectors-of-inspirational-bits-n-pieces dream of burning through our stash? If only we had enough hours in the day.

Ante Up For Charity!

Red-Tailed Hawk CloseThese are the final days of the charity auction at Out of Our Hands, a shop of fine handcrafts in Emmaus, PA. I have my items on sale there, and I’ve donated porcupine quill earrings to the auction. You buy raffle tickets at $1 each and they pick the winners out of the hat this Friday, January 18, 2008. Call the store if you’d like to get in on the action. Artists have donated more than $1,500 worth of merchandise to the auction.

Proceeds from the raffle go to each of our chosen charities. My charity is Lehigh WildCare Wildlife Education Center. This nonprofit organization is near and dear to my heart as I have volunteered there over the past few years. As a wildlife educator I take non-releasable wild animals out into the public sector to educate people about wildlife and wildlife issues. Hence the red-tailed hawk pictured at left.

I have been involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education since 1996. I’ve worked with all sorts of animals over the years, from herons and owls to squirrels and rabbits to turtles and snakes, but one of my favorites is the red-tailed hawk. This beautiful bird inspired the name for my business. I’ll save the full story of how that came about for some other day.

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve finally made the jump to the blogging world. For those of you, who have been to my web site before, you’ll notice a new and improved web site with blog component, plus a link to my Etsy shop. I’ll have horse hair jewelry, porcupine quill jewelry and fabric items up for sale in Etsy soon!

Hello world!

ID Horse Hair Bracelet on Sea Glass

I’m finally here, in the blogging world. After lots of encouragement from several people I’ve decided to take the plunge.

Although I’m by not means a techno-phobe, I’m usually a little slow to embrace new technology. I tend toward the skills that have been around for a while…things like jewelry making, embroidery and tanning. But here I am, ready to take you a wild adventure that is what I create.

My main business products right now are jewelry, specifically horse hair jewelry and porcupine quill jewelry. I plan to have them up on my Etsy shop soon so you can buy something new and exciting.

Plus I also create custom pieces. Click on the horse hair and porcupine quill tabs at the top of the page. For the horse hair jewelry, like this ID bracelet above, I use hair that a person sends me from their horse and create a very unique piece. It’s lot of fun for me and the people who get to wear always have a reminder of their horse around.