Build A Line Challenge from B’sue Boutiques, Mary Craig of Jewelry Alchemy, Part Three

Cleopatra Imagine if Cleopatra were magically transported to 2015 with nothing but the gown on her back. What would she do first? Go shopping, of course! But what would she buy?

A Little Bit of History It’s well known that Cleopatra loved bling. Luckily for her, Ancient Egypt was rich in precious metals and minerals. Cleopatra took advantage by adorning herself in fabulous jewelry of gold and gemstones. Among her favorites were lapis lazuli (which symbolized the color of the night sky) and carnelian (which symbolized life with its rich, blood red color). scarab The jewelry of ancient Egypt tended toward clean, geometric lines and vivid colors. Familiar motifs from nature included the sun, lions, falcons and scarab beetles.


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My line called Cleopatra Reimagined combines the style and colors of ancient Egyptian jewelry with modern wearability.

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A winged scarab takes flight in the first necklace, called “Moths to a Flame.”

The mother beetle is joined by four small beetles. All are headed toward two antique Venetian Red Heart beads from the 1800s, and triangles of lapis lazuli. The necklace closes with a handmade lapis blue toggle. Price: $65

Materials: B’Sue Vintage Style Egyptian Beetle, fig04121 B’Sue Heavy Patterned Circlet, fig04568 B’Sue Bead and Link Connector Chain, CHN0117 B’Sue Beetle Connectors, BROX01370 Antiqued brass hook Antique Red Heart barrel beads Contemporary lapis lazuli triangle beads


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This necklace is called “Rising Sun” because the Egyptian god of the rising sun, Ra, was often depicted as a scarab beetle. A bright blue scarab sets off four antique Venetian millefiori (“thousand flower”) glass beads, probably from the 1800s. The millefiori beads are interspersed with rounded barrel-shaped lapis lazuli beads, and accented with small antique carnelian beads. The necklace is given a substantial look with a second row of chain to match the scale of the millefiori beads. Price: $80


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Materials: B’Sue Brass Beetle, FIG01542 B’Sue Bead and Link Connector Chain, CHN0117 Antique Venetian millefiori beads Antique carnelian round beads Contemporary lapis lazuli beads


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The third necklace is called “Watch & Wait” in honor of its centerpiece, a beautiful blue and gold wading heron. Herons symbolize patience and determination. They will stand motionless indefinitely, waiting for the moment an unlucky fish swims by. The heron is flanked by two antique Venetian millefiori barrel beads. Each millefiori features a lapis lazuli disk bead as well as a butterscotch amber nugget. The necklace is strung on memory wire for easy on and off. Price: $45

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Materials: B’Sue brass heron pendant, FIG02007 Antique Venetian millefiori beads Antique blue Dogon glass donut bead (on end of pendant) Contemporary butterscotch amber beads Contemporary lapis lazuli beads Contemporary brass disks Memory wire Seed beads


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“Got the Blues” (left) These lightweight earrings are made with B’Sue connectors that have been patinated. The connectors are finished with antique Dogon donut beads in cobalt blue and clear white, and suspended from gold-filled french hook earwires. Price: $20

“Let’s Dance!”  (right) These 1-1/2 inch, gold-filled hoop earrings feature fun brass drops that were originally part of a vintage necklace. They dance between round lapis lazuli beads and round coral beads, which add the color of carnelian but keep the overall weight light on your ear lobes. Price: $20


What have I learned from the Build A Line Challenge?

This has been one of the most challenging, and most rewarding, projects I have taken on in recent memory! I couldn’t possibly list all of the revelations I’ve had over the past 3 months, so I’ll just list the first five that come to mind:

1. Focus is Critical: My incessant curiosity and love of new challenges can sometimes get in my way because it keeps me from really finishing things. Having one focus for my jewelry creations over the past 3 months has definitely helped me be more productive and produce more cohesive pieces.

2. Understand the Customer: I’ve spent time mulling over who my ideal customer is. As a result I have a much clearer idea of what designs are most likely to be successful.

3. Use the Pricing Pyramid: In the past I haven’t focused much on the lowest tier of the pyramid. But now I understand the value of focusing on all the pricing levels in order to take advantage of impulse purchases.

4. B’Sue Boutiques has “best in class” merchandise, to be exceeded only by their “best in class” customer service! Special note to Javi: You rock, girl!!

5. Finally, thank you, Brenda Sue for making this experience possible. Your knowledge, you humor, and your generosity are truly exceptional! You have made one more lifetime customer in me.

Now, I can’t wait to see what my fellow participants have been up to, and I’m prepared to be blown away by their work! Please join me in visiting them:

Let’s get to it!      The final participants are: Marcia Tuzzolino Aurora Designs Jann Tague Clever Designs by Jann Judy King Apt to Wander Studio Linzi Alford Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales Cynthia Wainscott Exotic Peru Carole Carlson Beadsophisticate Lynn Stinten Dragonzwench Marica Zammit Bead Lovelies Catherine Shattuck VRBrose Michaele Collie The Vintage Gem Mary Craig Jewelry Alchemy Lee Koopman Strega Jewelry Erin Whitacre Shattered Time Jewelry Monica Casady MJCasady Copper Works Leila West Leila Nicole Designs Cindy Peterson Howling Dog Jewelry Leila Belcher Leila Bee Designs Gloria Allen Wings and Beads Pamela Anger Novegatti Designs Tammy Adams Paisley Lizard Lynda O’Mara LOmara Creative Elizabeth Hildreth MadScientistsDesigns Dana Hickey Wind Dancer Studios Janet Calardo Jan Lea Designs Maria Clark Sweet Willow Designs Lori Beekman B. Accessorized Jennifer Kroeger Relic Charm Amy Jorgensen Hoarder’s Corner Robin Reed Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs Ingrid Anderson Lilis Gems Louise O’Shields Desire Divine Jewels Susan Killam Killam Creative Mary Katherine Deis The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry Nike Bottalico Nike Bottalico Susan Bowerman Woodside Wireworks Kristy Le Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs Jan Peters Stylized Vintage Mitzie Crider Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog Gina Hockett Freestyle Elements Linda Anderson From the Bead Board Alexandra Sefton Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art Melida Boman The Journey of Pens and Things Teresa Shurter TreeZ’s Treasurs Melissa Latimer Smithed Up Renee Hong Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art Nadine Edris Moondance Jewelry Lori Meyer Parisienne Girl Jennifer Merrill Williams Artists of All Stripes Denise Lussier Poirier Jewelry by Denise Renee Allen Small Stuff Design  Autumn Adams Autumn Dawns Elizabeth Owens 1996 Shabby Lane Kat BarronMiller Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry Sandra Ballard Mama San’s Mojo Coral Law ab:coraldesign

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Build A Line Challenge from B’sue Boutiques, Mary Craig of Jewelry Alchemy, Part Two

Welcome back to Jewelry Alchemy! I’m excited to show you my progress over the past month, and to read about what my fellow participants have accomplished.

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The month since our last blog hop has been a challenge. I like certainty. I like having a plan and working the plan. But creativity doesn’t want to work on my schedule, and I’ve spent more time than I care to imagine being frustrated over that reality.

I started the month with lots of concepts and design directions. By writing things out and talking with friends, it became apparent that, in fact, I had too many ideas. I needed to simplify, to streamline, to pick one direction and go for it. So that’s what I’ve done. My design brief (below) outlines my current approach to the B’Sue Build a Line challenge.

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The name of my jewelry line is Cleopatra Reimagined. The inspiration is Cleopatra and the jewelry she might wear if she were suddenly transported to 2015.

My color palette is lapis blue and gold, with accents of carnelian red:

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The components that I am using are a mixture of raw brass and antiqued brass. To add a sense of history, I’m mixing in antique African trade beads and accents of lapis lazuli.

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Lapis Lazuli was among the most highly prized tribute paid to Egypt, obtained from the oldest mines in the world, worked from around 4000 B.C. and still in use today. In the dry, barren land of the Egyptians, this deep cobalt blue color was a spiritual contrast to their arid desert hues. The gold flecks were like stars in their night-time sky and by meditating on these colors they felt supernatural forces would transform their lives. (www.crystalvaults.com)

I have been experimenting with patina on raw brass with some fun results. Below is a picture of B’Sue’s large beetle in raw brass, and then the same beetle after his transformation. He’s been joined by a couple little brass frogs that have been tucked away in a drawer, but now have earned their freedom!

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Below is a preliminary assembly on my first necklace. It features B’Sue’s beetle, circlets, and chain, in combination with African trade beads from the 1700s and contemporary lapis beads.


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I’m currently experimenting with patinas on several other elements, as well as trying some etching. If all goes as planned, they will be combined with more African trade beads into two more necklaces as well as an assortment of earrings–all of which I’m hoping would do a modern-day Cleopatra proud!

Please visit my fellow participants (listed below). Happy Hopping!  ~Mary

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Build A Line Challenge from B’sue Boutiques, Mary Craig of Jewelry Alchemy, Part One

Welcome to Jewelry Alchemy! My name is Mary Craig, and I’m thrilled to be here with you for the first part of the Build A Line Challenge from B’sue Boutiques.

This is Part One of the Build A Line series of blog hops, where I will tell you a bit about myself and my background, and why I decided to be part of this challenge.

The challenge is really a master class of sorts, and will span three months. There will be a total of three hops and we have 58 participants.   All of us will be working hard to create a cohesive line of jewelry and pull our look and thought process together.   At the end, we will reveal a complete line of jewelry with a minimum of five pieces all in our chosen style.

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Trade Bead Necklace comprised of stylized turtle beads from Karen Hill Tribe in Thailand; antique red skunk trade beads and pale pink gooseberry trade beads; contemporary small striped red and blue beads, and satin glass barrel beads.

Although I’ve spent my career working as an instructional designer and program manager for a large corporation, I’ve always searched for ways to be more creative. This search was pretty hit-and-miss until about 5 years ago when a dear friend and I took a basic jewelry design class at a nearby bead store. An addiction was born! This bead store recently went out of business, but my drive to learn more about designing and creating jewelry has never been stronger.

I plunged into the world of beads and jewelry pretty indiscriminately, wanting to try my hand at everything. Bead stringing? YES! Wire wrapping? YES! Bead weaving, bead knotting, kumihimo? TRIPLE YES! I love it all.

But during this headlong plunge into all things jewelry, I began to develop a special love for the old beads. By old I mean not just early 20th century Art Deco and Art Nouveau, but also the really old stuff like carnelian faceted barrel beads made in the mid-1800s in Idar-Oberstein, Germany:

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These tiny, exquisite black-and-white zebra stripe shell beads from Morocco:

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Layered chevron beads, which first appeared in Murano, Italy, around 1500:

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These beads are so special to me because they carry the stories of the ancient people who made them, wore them, and traded them.

“When one looks at a bead, it is hard not to think about who previously owned it and how far through time and distance it has traveled to reach its current destination.”
–Robert K. Liu, author of Collectible Beads

And Now for My Theme…

I plan to combine my love of antique and vintage beads with stampings and components from B’Sue Boutiques that suggest a connection to history. My goal will be to create a line of jewelry that has a definite ethnic feel and sense of history to it, yet is affordable and wearable with today’s styles.

Here are some of the B’Sue pieces that I’m playing with so far (and I’m waiting for some to arrive in the mail):

  • I love all scarab designs, since they bring to mind the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (approximately 2000BCE):

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  • This very cool moth pendant reminds me of motifs often seen in Arts and Crafts designs of the early 1900s. (I can’t wait for him to arrive in the mail!)

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  • These B’Sue components should work as links to tie the designs together, both figuratively and literally:

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Thank you for stopping by Jewelry Alchemy. I’d love to read your comments, and I look forward to visiting my fellow participants’ blogs on January 23!

Please continue the hop by visiting my fellow participants listed in the post directly below.

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Here is a list of my fellow Blog Hop participants:

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Jann Tague

Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King

Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford

Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson

Beadsophisticate

Lynn Stinten

Dragonzwench

Marica Zammit

Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck

VRBrose

Michaele Collie

The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig

Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman

Strega Jewelry

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady

MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West

Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson

Howling Dog Jewelry

Leila Belcher

Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen

Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams

Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara

LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth

MadScientistsDesigns

Dana Hickey

Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo

Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark

Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman

B. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger

Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen

Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed

Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields

Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam

Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis

The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman

Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le

Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters

Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider

Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett

Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson

From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman

The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter

TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer

Smithed Up

Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris

Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer

Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier

Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen

Small Stuff Design 

Autumn Adams

Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens

1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard

Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law

ab:coraldesign

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I’m so excited to be part of the Build a Line Challenge!!

This is my first foray into the blogging world, and I feel like such a newbie!! But when all else fails, I default to my Fur Babies. Here is a picture of my lovely muse, Chloe. I hope she sends me lots of inspiration in the coming weeks!

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