Lark Jewelry & Beading in late February 2011; back row, left to right: Kathy, Carol, and Abby; front row, Marthe, Ray, and Nathalie

Last Monday we took our team photo, which we do now and again. We all agreed to wear stylish accessories for it. For my teammates on Lark Jewelry & Beading that meant wearing mostly metal or beaded jewelry, naturally. For me, that meant wearing a favorite tie and my wedding ring.

Which brings up some issues for me. (Blog posts can be therapeutic, after all.)

Lark Jewelry & Beading team members have a remarkable collection of jewelry from author-designers. Nathalie Mornu wears stunning earrings gifted from Maggie Meister and Laura McCabe, for example, and Marthe Le Van just received a breathtaking necklace from Talya Baharal, juror for 500 Silver Jewelry Designs, a book almost as exquisite as the piece.

But somehow our authors never quite picture me in jeweled accessories. I voice my jealousy to my teammates more often than you’d likely guess, if for some reason you regard me as the least bit courteous and measured. “Time for a book about tie pins and cufflinks!” I grumble.

Still, my core jewelry fashion statement every day, like many men, is my wedding ring. On my right hand I also sometimes wear the spinner rings my wife, Loree, and I exchanged during a challenging period three years ago and a beautiful (oops, I mean manly) ring made by Terry Taylor, a former Lark artist and editor.

I married Loree in winter 1998. We went to a downtown Bellingham, Washington, jewelry store — GB Heron Fine Jewelry — to pick out Loree’s gorgeous ring of gold, platinum, and diamonds.

Bear Ring by Lloyd Wadhams Jr.

For my wedding band, we commissioned Lloyd Wadhams Jr., a British Columbia First Peoples artist of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwagiulth) Nation. I’d seen his work at Hill’s Native Art, a shop right near the steam clock in Vancouver’s Gastown in British Columbia. Wadhams comes from a family of master carvers, and he carves contemporary interpretations of traditional native designs into his gold and silver jewelry.

We commissioned a piece featuring a raven, moon, and eagle. Loree is native (Cree-Blackfoot) and raven clan. Hemachandra means golden moon. And the eagle is deeply spiritual to most Pacific Northwest natives and to Loree’s family. The ring, a gold band with the carvings resting atop a sterling-silver band, looks much like the one by Wadhams pictured to the right, which is among his jewelry available at the Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery in Vancouver.

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Twelve Days of Twelves: Part Eleven

February 28, 2011, 09:07 am  Posted by needlearts

As we near the end, it’s time for day eleven of our celebration of Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge! For those of you just joining us, each day for twelve (business) days, we’re interviewing one of the talented quilt artists who contributed to the book. For more information on the book, click here. For more information on the Twelves, or to join them on their current group challenge, visit their website.

Today’s Guest: Francoise Jamart

Location: Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

How do you describe your own quilting? Has being part of the Twelves group changed your perspective on your own work?

Although my quilts often look colorful, geometric and simple, there is a lot of thinking and dreaming going on before I start sewing. I’m aiming at making my art look serene and, dare I say, refined. I believe that being part of Twelve by Twelve has made me value my work more. It has also helped me start producing a cohesive body of work.

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Black Walnut Ink Giveaway

February 28, 2011, 09:04 am  Posted by Lark

Black walnut ink is a beautiful, deep yet translucent, brown black primarily used in calligraphy, but also used for ink drawings or even as a wood stain. I’m not a calligrapher, but I love painting with lots of dark rich textures and couldn’t resist the look of this ink. I wanted to make my own and discovered it is a simple yet long, and sometimes smelly process. If you aren’t interested in the labor of making your own ink but would love to have some, Lark Crafts will be giving away six one-ounce bottles of my 2011 batch. If you don’t win the ink up for grabs here, don’t worry, there’s a handful of Etsy sellers offering black walnut ink listed at the end of this post.

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Every Friday, I post a set of project instructions.

etal clay is an amaaazingly cool invention, and what’s even neater are the things artists are dreaming up to make from it. Take Sara Jayne Cole, for example—she’s folding sheets of metal clay into delicate origami constructions, firing them, and then making jewelry from the components.

Directly at the left is an example of a bracelet called Twisted Beads, from her book Metal Clay Origami Jewelry. Whether you’re a brother or a sister, you can get the instructions for this twisted project by clicking here.

Finally, check out Sara’s website, where you’ll find all kinds of nifty stuff, including some mind-blowing jewelry designs, some of which you can see in the row of photos shown at the bottom of this post.

These photos show medallions, pendants, earrings, even a brooch. Sara’s incorporating precious stones into her work, too. As you can see, this is versatile technique!

Now, go forth and fold.


Twelve Days of Twelves: Part Ten

February 25, 2011, 09:26 am  Posted by needlearts

Time for installment number ten of our celebration of Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge! For those of you just joining us, each day for twelve (business) days, we’re interviewing one of the talented quilt artists who contributed to the book. For more information on the book, click here. For more information on the Twelves, or to join them on their current group challenge, visit their website.

Today’s Guest: Diane Perin Hock

Location: Healdsburg, California

How do you describe your own quilting? Has being part of the Twelves group changed your perspective on your own work?

At this point, I’d describe my quilt style as “eclectic.”  When I’m being hard on myself, I see my work as scattered and unfocused.  But if I am more generous to myself, I know that I am experimenting with a lot of different techniques and I enjoy exploring the wide variety that quilting has to offer. It’s funny to me that I can see a strong cohesion in the works created by the other Twelves, but I don’t see it in my own work.  Because quilting is truly all about enjoying the process for me, I am less concerned with trying to define a particular style than I am with having fun with whatever I’m doing.  So maybe I’ll just continue in this “eclectic” vein!  I can also say that seeing the first group of my challenge quilts together  has made me view my quilts, for the first time, as a body of work.  It has been very satisfying to see a collection of my work all together.  Seeing a set of pieces made for a consistent purpose has caused me to think about what I want my work to be and what the work as a group shows about my fiber art.

You’re in the middle of the second group challenge, with a Colorplay theme. How did the first challenge affect the work you’ve done for the second one?

Each time I undertake a new challenge piece, I’m affected by all of the challenges that have come before.  This process has been a very enlightening one on so many levels!  I’ve learned a lot about the way I work, and where my comfort zones are.  I have realized, for example, how I most immediately think of representational images rather than abstract ones.  In these Colorplay challenges, I am trying to head in a more abstract direction.  (I haven’t always ended up with an abstract piece, but at least now I’m thinking about it more!) I’m also getting more familiar with the 12 by 12 inch format – after this many quilts in that size, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?!  I often want to do too much detail for that small size, and continue to learn that doing less in that space can be stronger.



Were you inspired to try a new technique that one of the Twelves used in their work? If so, which one?

Seeing the work the other Twelves do and hearing about how they do it has definitely caused me to try some new things!  This has been one of the best aspects of this project, how wonderfully inspirational these women are.  For example, Helen’s fearlessness and creativity in thinking outside of a flat quilt format inspired me to think 3-dimensionally when I made my “Color Counts” abacus for the Mathematics theme.  I never would have thought to make a fiber abacus if I hadn’t been thinking about Helen’s structural pieces.  Another example that comes to mind is how Terry Grant has talked of using photo and drawing software to digitally draw some of her imagery or design her quilts.  When I wanted to make a book cover for my “Crime of Passion” quilt in the Passion challenge, I was reminded that I could use software to create a more realistic cover.  In every challenge, I see my Twelve compatriots doing things I want to try one of these days.  Brenda’s work with shibori, Karen’s deconstructed screen printing, Deborah’s amazing hand-stitched detail, Gerrie’s thermofax printing – these are just some of the things that excite me and make me want to jump in and experiment with these techniques.

If you could have changed one of your quilts from Twelve by Twelve, which one would it have been, and why?

There’s no question: I would have changed the piece I did for the theme Community, which was titled “All Together Now.”  I liked the idea that I had in my head.  I was thinking about how communities are a jumble of similar and different people and things, often created by happenstance, but still unified despite the differences.  And I was trying to illustrate that unified jumble.  I think I was a little too successful on the “jumble” part!  I had drawn the square shapes and little lines with brown ink, and now I just don’t like the combination of colors against the brown.  I tried to rescue the jumble by coloring circles in the background (can you see them?) But I still can’t tell whether it helps or adds to the chaos.  I ultimately decided to submit this as my challenge piece because communities are often messy and not perfectly aesthetically pleasing.  But still, this is the piece I like the least of all of my challenge contributions.


"Wings" (detail)

We heard there were “awards” given out to you all after the completion of the Theme series…what was your award?


I was given the “Most Colorful” award for using the most color in my quilts.  And I was delighted that Karen bestowed this award on me, as I love color and it is frequently the starting point for my quilts.  I suppose I locked in that award as soon as I made the multi-colored abacus!  Terry Grant and I also share the “Separated at Birth” award), as we made quilts with surprisingly similar imagery in two out of the first twelve challenges.  For the Identity theme, both of us used close-up fingerprint imagery (as did Gerrie).  For the Illumination theme, Terry and I both worked with images of Asian lanterns.  We’ve proven the “Separated at Birth” label even more true since then, too.  In the Kilauea color challenge, we made both made quilts based on underground molten lava, with layered construction and flowing horizontal lines.

How was writing your portion of the book similar and different to blogging about the quilts as you made them?

Diane's Studio


When I write my blog posts about the challenge quilts, I consider myself as writing to the other Twelves, and it is easy to chatter on to them about what I did and why.  I know that our Twelve by Twelve blog now has a wonderful following of friends and fans, but when we started blogging, we were writing primarily to and for each other.  And while I am delighted at how many people follow our blog, I still see it first as something that is for us a group, and about our own growth and development and enjoyment.  When I wrote my portion of the book, I knew I was writing to others, many of whom might not have seen our blog or website or heard about our challenge project before picking up the book.  So it caused me to think about the Twelve by Twelve challenge and my focal piece in a somewhat new way.  Writing my parts of the book was truly fun, knowing that we would be able to share our project with so many quilters.  I was excited to be able to encourage others to find some like-minded quilters and try a challenge together.


The Enchanting World of John & Fish

February 25, 2011, 09:10 am  Posted by Lark

Like many here on the East Coast, I have spring fever. Not just a little, but a lot. In these parts of the Appalachians December and January were particularly brutal and February started out dicey, but the last 10 days or so have been mild and heavenly.

I may be jumping the gun a bit but with spring being less than a month away I fully intended on celebrating by posting about birds, feeding birds, and bird feeders. For some visual inspiration, I visited one of my most favorite sites ever, John&Fish.  I’m not alone in my attraction to their site as their flickr album has received over a million clicks in just over two years! If you’re not familiar with John and Fish, they are a remarkable brother/sister ornithology photography duo living in Taiwan. Monday through Friday they work in software information in John’s software technology company,  but most every weekend they spend photographing the fascinating birds of Taiwan. Their work ranges from ethereal beauty to whimsical and heart-warming. The more I browsed through their photos, the more I realized that their pics are what I wanted to post. These photos make me happy and help me remember that spring is just around the corner.

1. #535 叮噹粉景 (Pink Scene), 2. #625 白翁覓蜂 Oh Oh !!, 3. #614 冠羽櫻雨 Eating in the Rain, 4. #406 黑鵯櫻招 (Look! I can fly on one wing!), 5. #579 青背珠落, 6. #565 冠羽仰櫻, 7. #554 冠羽雙葱, 8. #483 黃山童眸 A Cute Fairy!, 9. #546 小綠榕朧 Just Like a Prayer


A Call for Color!

February 24, 2011, 15:08 pm  Posted by admin

Are you using some inventive, low-tech coloring techniques for your metal jewelry? Do you have a piece you’d love to show the world?

Well, now’s the time to LET YOUR COLORS FLY!

Lark Jewelry & Beading is publishing Heat, Color, Set & Decorate, an exciting new book by Mary Hettmansperger that teaches readers how to transform their metal designs with color using an array of easy techniques and common materials. Author of the books Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop, and Fabulous Woven Jewelry, Mary is an accomplished mixed-media fiber and jewelry artist and teacher with a sharp imagination and a keen eye for cutting-edge coloring applications.

Heat, Color, Set & Decorate teaches coloring techniques that yield breathtaking results. For jewelry skill levels from beginner to advanced, Mary explains techniques that span from simple coloring with basic paints, pencils, and dips to more complex heat patinas, keum boo, and enameling. Twenty projects reinforce the technique lessons.

If you have a design that you feel fits with the book’s themes and techniques and would offer inspiration to readers, please send it to us for consideration in the book.

To be considered as a gallery artist for Heat, Color, Set & Decorate, submit your images by March 15, 2011. All details, guidelines, and entry forms can be downloaded here.

Please share this opportunity with your colleagues and professional associations, as well as students.

We look forward to seeing your colorful creations!


Twelve Days of Twelves: Part Nine

February 24, 2011, 09:09 am  Posted by needlearts

Nine!? That means we’re somehow 75% of the way through our celebration of Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge! For those of you just joining us, each day for twelve (business) days, we’re interviewing one of the talented quilt artists who contributed to the book. For more information on the book, click here. For more information on the Twelves, or to join them on their current group challenge, visit their website.

Today’s Guest: Kirsten Duncan

Location: Pompom Rouge, Queensland, Australia

How do you describe your own quilting? Has being part of the Twelves group changed your perspective on your own work?

My quilt-making process is always a very organic one. I start with a colour palette and maybe some simple images or forms in my thoughts and go straight from there to the cloth. I don’t know what the quilt will look like until it’s nearly done. The anticipation is often what keeps me going through the more tedious parts of construction. Being a Twelve has had one huge impact on my view of my work (and of myself). I am less inclined these days to berate myself for being a procrastinator, because I now recognize that a significant part of my design process happens as I spend hours, days, weeks thinking. By the time I come to make the quilt, it often happens very quickly because much of the trouble-shooting has already happened inside my head.

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Here are images that illustrate some of the most basic and most common mistakes in jewelry photography and image editing. Though these were created for a presentation three years ago, the issues are just as relevant today.

Note: We manipulated images from our own books to illustrate the following points. No jewelry was harmed in the creation of these photos.

The photo on the left has a good exposure. The top right image is too dark, and the bottom right image is too light. Some images can be lightened or darkened by the printer, but not all. It is always better that the original image has the correct exposure.

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A Lark Jewelry & Beading team photo, taken on Monday: back row, from left to right, Marthe Le Van, Ray Hemachandra, and Kathy H.; front row, Carol Morse Barnao, Nathalie Mornu, and Abby Haffelt

We’re launching a brand new Facebook page for Lark Jewelry & Beading. Please click here to “Like” the new page and to join our community, and please pass along word of the new page on your Facebook and Twitter feeds and other electronic media.

We’re excited about having vibrant, interactive conversation and community on the new Lark Jewelry & Beading page, and we welcome and encourage your participation. Post photos and videos, and let us know about the work you’re doing and the work you’re seeing in the world.

For Facebookers currently in the Lark Jewelry group: We’ll parallel post on the new page and the current Lark Jewelry group until early March, and then put the group in hibernation, at least until we discern how Facebook’s functionalities will continue to evolve.

Please join us!