Category Archives: Pendants



After running the Christmas gauntlet of jewelry shows, I wondered if I would have any ideas left for starting anew. I shouldn’t have worried since the holiday’s usually close with renewed inspiration to create again. This year, I’m making an honest effort to add some different looks to my pieces.

One new idea in particular resulted from a metal disc my son-in-law hammered while showing me how to use my new leather sandbag.  While the family tried to rest after Christmas dinner, the two of us sat on my studio floor and hammered. Oh what fun . . . Later, I picked up the disc he made and turned it into a shield.


This shield is on the top left. It has multiple dimensions and weavings and is adorned with turquoise and lapis. The challenge for this piece was adding extra pieces of wire and trying to keep the weaving even. I wasn’t completely successful on the latter.

The shield on the top right sports a sterling silver bezel on textured copper. I added both sterling silver and copper wire to support the weaving.

The bottom piece was simple to make and may need more embellishment before it is complete. I used dimple pliers to create interest on the disc.

The challenge for now is how to best hang these pieces to enhance the look. It would be easy for me to end up with a box full of pendants, but these need to become necklaces soon.

The final photo is of a shield that did become a necklace. It’s too bad that close up shots not only show the flaws in the wire work, but also those on the face! Oh well, I earned every one of them.



I enjoy making handmade chains. If my hands would hold up, I could sit for hours twisting “S” links and making jump rings; yet I wanted something a bit different for the design below. As it developed, I began to picture a vine running along one side toward the wearer’s neck. First I made the chain without beads on the vine, but now I think it’s better adorned with them. See what you think.

vine sweet pea

My friend from Magpie Gemstones , made a few suggestions and I think the design is working now. Another friend named the above necklace “Sweet Pea”.

Below is another version. You can also see that I’ve played with the use of different size jump rings to add a bit of interest.

vine lapis

My analogy for the initial necklace may be a stretch, but here goes any way. As so many of us gather with family members and/or friends this special time of the year, it seems to me that we are vining. Vines often reach toward their nourishment whether it is sunlight or water and it seems that people do the same. We lean towards those who nourish us by listening, caring and sharing our lives. While we may originally “vine” in one direction, later that part of the growth may wither and we vine in another direction depending upon our needs. I watch my ivy houseplant do the same thing. It grows well in one direction and then I notice it withers and needs trimming. Once trimmed, it angles off toward something else. It doesn’t seem to inhibit the plant as it takes the process in stride. As we traverse our own growth including changes in relationships and in families, it may be important to consider new directions or perhaps to better nurture those old ones. I think we just need to keep vining.

Fishing for Ideas

If you’ve ever worked with preschoolers, I’ll bet you’ve enjoyed magnet fishing. You put a paper clip on the ends of paper fish and a magnet on the end of a homemade, kid-sized fishing pole and then “attract” fish. My grandson likes to put his fish in a bucket and use it as a fishing pond. We’ve been playing this for over a year and it doesn’t seem to get old.

G fishin

Many times, I end up “fishin” too, but it’s usually not in a bucket. It’s usually in my head when I’m fishing for ideas. I may be looking for something new and different to add to a design or for some way to solve a problem. This week it was the latter.

I’ve been stuck on making birds lately and have explored how to do it with embossing and torch enameling.

torch bird

After making a couple of these, I realized that the two don’t mix real well. For embossing, we need a light gauge metal and for torch enamel a heavier metal. When I use the gauge I need for embossing and then enamel the piece, it curves a bit toward the back. Yesterday, while fishing for ideas, I tried riveting another piece of metal to the embossed one and then enameling. It was NOT a good idea. Much of the heat was lost between the layers and I completed a very rough and ugly bird. No, you cannot see it because it’s in the trash. So, I guess I’m going to need to get my idea fishing pole out and try again.

I did, however, have one bird that turned out well. He/she is a sample piece that combines elements from several of the classes I teach, soldering, riveting, wire wrapping, forging, etc. Although you can’t tell from the photo, I used tube rivets to help the bird stand about 1/4 inch away from the back plate. The bird is mixed metal including copper sheet, 1/10 silver wire and brass wire for the nest. Today’s issue is how to make it smaller.


I asked my spouse if he thought I needed eggs in the bird’s nest, but he didn’t think so. We decided that bird was just too young to mate. After all it did just hatch at Dreamcatcher Designs.

Here’s hoping you catch whatever you are fishing for.

Fun with Fiber

From time to time I have attempted to add fiber to my designs, but haven’t had much luck. I’m not sure whether I just don’t like the look of fiber or I don’t like the look of fiber the way I use it. My bet is on the latter! Yet, seeing the fiber adorned designs of other jewelry makers participating in Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup, mentioned a few posts ago, I decided to try again.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Britex Fabrics (  in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. My daughter and I had allotted ourselves 45 minutes before we needed to hop a trolley and move on. It wasn’t enough time! There are multiple floors to this shop but I went straight up to the third floor filled with notions. I was pretty overwhelmed by the ribbons, trims, cords and buttons and had to keep talking to myself about remaining focused on what I needed. The pieces below utilize a couple of the ribbons I purchased.

The pendant for the blue piece below is polymer clay and made by Nora Pero of Austin, TX. I intended to use the ribbon around the back of the piece, but used too many beads and then realized it wouldn’t show. I’m pleased with the colors.


The bright piece below is whimsical and initiated with the torch enameled owl. I like the amber in it and appreciate the lightness it brings both in color and weight. I also used some faceted carnelian which hangs from the handmade chain. I thought the ribbon was a good match.


The challenge for me with fiber seems to now be how to do something besides a side bow. The additional challenge is to find one of the boutiques I serve or an independent customer who will like the look of fiber.




I made the pendant on the above necklace in preparation for the upcoming Cold Connections class that I’m teaching. It has a nickel silver back disk and I used a scrap book punch to cut the star hole out of a light gauge piece of copper which was dunked in liver of suphur. I riveted this to the silver. Then I got a little carried away with this star idea. I riveted a couple of other disks and wired more stars to the piece. I wanted a “Texas” Starry Starry Night. The beads are turquoise briolettes and spiney oyster barrels. The components hang from a purchased black chain.

Part of the difficulty with a piece like this is figuring out when to stop. I prepared more riveted stars and considered using more little silver components, but enough was enough! Two of those pieces are now earrings. I’m trying to learn that one consideration is designing a piece is the size of the person who will likely wear it. I wanted to wear this piece and since I’m only 5’1’’ I can’t have anything too big. This is about all the dangle my neck can handle!

This is the first time I’ve made a true “theme” piece. I supposed as a Texas necklace it might have included boots and an armadillo, but that’s just a bit too themey for me – don’t you think? Would Van Gogh be disgusted by the idea?

Simmering with Bead Soup

One of my favorite Christmas presents was given me by brother and sister piano students Amy and (now doctor) Mathew Bridges) one year. It was a dry bean soup that their father (Dr. Bob Bridges) put together and it included a recipe for use of the contents. I so enjoyed the resultant soup, that I’ve made and given the mix many times as gifts to others.

Recently, I decided to engage in another type of soup making and joined a group organized by Lori Anderson . This is the 6th time she has organized Bead Soup for those of us who wanted to stir things up. Briefly, she partnered each jewelry designer with another beader and the two of us exchanged beads that included a minimum of a focal piece, a clasp and some other beads. each of us sent our soup mix to our partner and are currently working to make something with the mix.

I’m fortunate to have Dr. Laura Demoya of Dallas as my partner. She writes a blog called The Bead Therapist ( ) and when she’s not wrangling patients or family, she makes beautiful jewelry. Below is a set of photos of what Laura sent me.




I’m a bit embarrassed that I just sent her the soup I mixed in a bubble envelope when she created such a pretty package. I guess I’m just more of a bubble envelope kind of gal.

In the next couple of weeks, I will work with the contents shown in the last photo and create one or two pieces of jewelry. We’re set to reveal our makings on July 28th; so keep your eyes out for what’s on the back burner simmering right now. It’s smelling pretty good . . .

This is definitely a different type soup from that given me so long ago by my students. For one thing, there was no recipe included in Laura’s package. Yet, the mix still holds promise for satisfaction and it’s likely that some idea generated while using this soup can be passed on to others as I create new things.

The Independent Jewelry Maker

There are some weeks when I wonder why I keep making jewelry and learning new skills. This was NOT one of them!

The independent jewelry maker can make his/her own policies when needed rather than visiting the “company” voice. I no longer string or restring beads for people unless I made the piece in the first place. I used to do this, but now it seems I’m unable to get new design work in and and trying to find that valuable commodity – time. This week, however, a man I didn’t know phoned to see if I could help him with a broken piece of jewelry. My first instinct was to say “NO”, but for some reason I listened. His girlfriend had lost one of her favorite earrings and he wanted someone to make the remaining one into a small pendant for her birthday. We talked for a bit and he finally told me that no one else would discuss it with him. All the stores he called told him “we don’t do that.” Since I was going to a town near him the next day, I agreed to meet him and see what I might do.

On the appointed day, I took all the needed tools, wire and findings and met the man. The earring was a pretty sterling silver back with two small pieces of turquoise set in bezels. The ear wire was soldered to the back. I managed to turn the ear wire into a closed ring and put it on a sterling silver chain for which I had made a clasp. Then we picked out turquoise to match and made a new pair of earrings using a bit of the matching chain. I had the man put the headpins in the stones and then polish the piece in order to be able to say he helped make them. We wrote on the card “Custom Made by “(the man) and Karen.” Did I mentioned how pleased he was?

The neatest part about this episode is that during the course of our conversation we realized that his lady is my Mother’s nurse where she lives. Neither of us had any prior idea of this.

The moral of this story is . . . you never know when in an attempt to make someone else happy you make yourself even more pleased. I like being an independent.

Pass It On . . . and On . . . and On

It’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I like to teach. I tend to grab most any “teachable moment” whether you want me to or not. With adults, I try to curb my appetite for devouring those moments, but little children need to beware!

I’ve truly enjoyed the two jewelry classes that I taught last week, one in Wimberley, TX and the other in San Marcos. I worked with seven women as they learned to make a wrap bracelet in Wimberley and then four more who worked on wrapping cabachons. I enjoyed hearing from the first group about who some of them planned to pass their bracelet to as a gift. I regret not getting a photo of that group, but note the happy intensity on the faces of the second.

cabs girls

It’s common for someone to ask a designer ideas come from. I have no doubt that many of mine come during preparation for teaching. I think that is why it takes me so long to get ready to teach a class. There’s something about this pre-planning that gets my creative juices flowing. I used to fight this urge, trying to stay on task, but now I just go with it. I do, however, have to resist my propensity to want to teach the new idea instead of that which was designated for the class. I just keep wanting to pass it on.

As an example, a couple of gals came over for a little assistance in starting their journey into soldering with a torch. They hardly got off the ranch before I was cutting and planning the piece below. Yes, I know it’s a bit bird-like, but it wasn’t planned that way – oh well, it’s definitely different!


I’ve also done a new soldered design that someone on Facebook suggested is Bohemian. The legs on this piece are soldered to the bottom half of the arc and then wire wrapped. I was tickled that the very first sale of this went to my good friend who often calls and says “is the Dreamcatcher Designs shop open?”  (Of course you know I don’t have a shop!) Sometimes she just runs out to the ranch and gets what she needs. This piece was gifted from her to a co-friend of ours and I’m pleased for her to have it. Do you think you can wear “Bohemian” at the Lutheran Church?


As you read, many things, both concrete and ideational, were passed on last week. From teacher to student, student to teach and friend to friend. I think life was very productive.

A Season to Remember

It often seems that Easter is the “lessor” of the two main Christian seasons. This is largely because merchants spend months reminding us that Christmas is coming and we’d better get out and make those great sales. There is less “hoopla” surrounding Easter; yet it’s just as important in Christian heritage.

I like Easter! It reminds me of standing in my little short white choir robe with the big bow at the neck waiting in the wings of the sanctuary for our turn to advance down the isle and sing. I can still smell the starch in that bow and feel the pinch on my toes in my new Easter shoes. My Mom usually led the children’s group and then waited for us to arrange our wiggly selves while she adjusted her music at the piano. We were advised to smile and sing or vice versa and I could never quite do both at once. I just remember be glad to get that itchy robe off!

We usually ate deviled eggs and ham for our Easter dinner. When I got a bit older, I made cake with icing, green colored coconut and jelly bean decorations. Much later, I became the one at the piano for my own little choir.

Now, I enjoy singing with my grandson and making crosses for the Easter season. I know these aren’t just for Easter, but it is a fitting time to create them and remember their meaning. I’ve been preparing crosses for a class I’m teaching in San Antonio. You’ve seen these photos before.

scroll cross

I wanted to try some other styles and have a couple of new designs.


The first is simply multiple pieces of wire wrapped to hold together. I found this to be tricky, but liked the result. The cross on the right is made from the same soldered base cross design as the filigree crosses, but features weaving and the use of bead embellishment without the filigree piece. It has a small copper disc on the back, like the filigree crosses, which covers the wrapping that secures the beads.

I’m hoping to spend more time “near the cross” in the weeks before Easter and will show you if anything else “hatches” on the design table.

Making Cold Connections

Thinking of the word cold could lead us to a conversation about weather or about personalities. Have you ever heard someone say that a person is cold? Of course that usually means that the person isn’t very friendly. In that case, aloof might be another term to describe the person. Most of us prefer friends and acquaintances who are warm! By the way, I also prefer weather that is WARM!

I’ve been making cold connections for the past couple of weeks. No, I haven’t been meeting cold people and the weather here has been quite warm. Instead, I’ve been making cold connections with metal. When we join things to metal in a way that doesn’t require heat, usually through soldering, we say we’ve used a cold connection. This week my cold connections have been through riveting.

It was my turn to lead and share a technique at our monthly Faux meet up. Yesterday, we had about 20 in attendance and I think most of us got a little better at riveting in the time we spent together. I was determined to have some new projects that my fellow designers could try and thus the reason for the past weeks of making those cold connections. I thought you might enjoy seeing a couple of the pieces I designed.

The first is the easier of the two and is just a simple variation of the wave necklaces that I’ve made. This one features a riveted charm in the center. This charm utilizes both a copper disc and a nickel silver disc with the center cut out. I riveted these two together and also riveted a pewter finding in the middle. I used a headpin that I balled with the torch for the center rivet. The other rivets were purchased from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. I wired the charm onto the wave necklace armature.

wave rivet

The second necklace is a bit modern looking, but it’s definitely different. I used alcohol ink to color some copper discs and then riveted them together with nickel silver discs. Again, I used balled headpins for the rivets. I also riveted some big hole rose quartz beads that I got from Magpie Gemstones ( onto a couple of the discs. Although you only see two rose quartz beads on this necklace, it took four to make it if you count the two I broke while trying to rivet them. You really have to be careful when riveting a gemstone.

rose rivetedI demonstrated how to make a few other riveted charms, but haven’t yet used all of these in a particular design.

Riveted Charms and LinksI really enjoyed working with my friends yesterday and helping them initiate or hone their riveting skills.  Although they were making cold connections, thankfully none of them were cold!

Here’s hoping all your personal connections are warm and that if you end up with cold connections, you’re riveting!