Sep 29, 2012

Sequintastic September Blog Hop and Reveal

Welcome to the Sequintastic September blog hop hosted by Sarah of  "Saturday Sequins"!

When I saw Sarah post the idea of creating with sequins, I was excited to join in because the hop allowed us to create anything with sequins, not only jewelry. This sparked wonderful ideas of embroidering again as I had years ago, creating sequin embellished quilts, and giving a go at making cool sequin jewelry.

I began with a big bowl of sequin soup and three projects in mind:

1) embellish a beautiful bag gifted to my daughter for her birthday with hand embroidery and delicate, lovely AB sequins and beads

2) create a fantastic I-don't-care-if-it's-a-cliche-cause-I-know-I-look-festive-and-feel-like-a-hoot pretty sweater with an embellished Christmas tree made entirely of stacked sequins

3) create hand-sewn vintage cotton drawstring bags, embellished with sequin flowers, to hold the various colors of gemstone and bead treasures for my wonderful partner in the Pantone Fall /Winter 2012 Colors Bead Swap (the awesome Lori Anderson!! :)

And then I got the flu ....
I haven't had the flu in years, and it really knocked me down. It took a week and a half of my precious beading time. Chills, a terrible cold, and a painful cough. With it being so early in the season, I know many others have also been unexpectedly hit with the illness, and so first of all, I wish everyone well!

So I'm trying to be proud of my accomplishments, however simple. I love to quilt, and in many ways not completing my three projects (plus a sparkling surprise quilt thrown in) is a little disheartening. But I thank Sarah for the inspiration, the fun of the projects, and all the ideas. With Sarah's Sequintastic September blog hop for inspiration, it just might be a Sequintastic Holiday at my house too! Now that I've begun crafting with sequins, I'm happy to keep on sparkling up my world.

I started by creating  hand-sewn bags from vintage cotton fabric: a happy, Floridan pattern in orange and pink with cute lady bugs for good luck.

I spent several nights watching "Little House on the Prairie" while sewing as if I lived in one: very s-l-o-w-l-y by hand. And while I occasionally thought about how easily and quickly I'd have sewn my vintage cotton bags using my beloved, sophisticated modern machine, I enjoyed the ritual. 

I created split sides and added a wide drawstring of organza ribbon to open and close the bags easily.

I added sequin flowers in pink and orange to embellish the bags.


The vintage cotton felt good to hold and sew, and smelled so nice and clean washed up and ironed. The rhythm of the stitch work was meditative and the bags were made with love, imperfect and yet with care. I enjoyed creating them.

The blossoms have lots of dimension, and can be easily be made larger or smaller, using various sized sequins. The seed beads make the simple flowers bloom. The sequintastic flowers could be used in so many ways: in floral motif jewelry, as hair accessories, to sparkle up clothing. 

The tutorials I used to create the sequin flowers are "How to make sequin flowers Part 1" and "How to make sequin flowers Part 2"  by Susi of "sillyshysushi" on youtube. I used 8mm sequins and size 6 Czech silver lined seed beads.

Thank you for sharing a Sequintastic September Saturday blog hop! Enjoy the wonderful sequin creations from all the participating artists:)



Karen W...




Dawn Marie...
























Rita...    < --  You are here :)

Namaste, TJ

Toltec Jewels is an author by day and jewelry artist by night. Her literary work is housed by the San Fransisco MOMA in a permanent collection of mixed media art and is published internationally in popular magazines, literary quarterlies, and university publications. She has won a number of awards for both her literary and jewelry art.

She is also the creator of Jewel School Friends, a community of expert and emerging jewelry/ bead artisans taking inspiration from each other and Jewel School. JSF features jewelry designers and bead artists, and supports entrepreneurship for independent artisans. Join her at Jewel School Friends on Facebook for Beads of Courage fundraisers, blog hops and giveaways, and of course beautiful gems, beads, and jewelry by the jewelry arts community.

Sep 26, 2012

Bead Table Wednesday: Sewing and Sequins

It's bead table Wednesday, and I'm running behind after getting hit hard with the meanest cold (flu?) I've had in twenty years. It seriously hurt to breath, and a week later, I'm still not recovered, but the bead goes on! And we all know the next few months only get busier and busier, so I'm crossing my fingers that with the quiet, cozy early Autumn mornings and my fuzzy warm slippers, I shall  keep on moving and groovin' towards my jewelry making goals.

This week I have sequin soup on my bead table. I'm preparing for the Sequintastic September blog hop by Saturday Sequins upcoming on September 29, and my sweet spouse went shopping, bringing me a big bag of sequins -- all sizes and colors. I'm keeping it simple, and that's ok. It feels nice to be working with sequins, embroidery thread and a wooden embroidery ring this week. And I'm so glad to have found some cool youtube tutorials on creating sequin and bead flowers! 

Which brings me to the next nurturing activity on my bead table today: sewing. 

My machine is history, and so I've spent several nights watching "Little House on the Prairie" while sewing like I live in one. Very s-l-o-w-l-y by hand. And while I have occasional thoughts about how nicely and quickly I'd have sewn my vintage cotton bags using a modern machine, I've enjoyed the ritual. The pattern is summery, or rather Floridan, with colors of pink and orange and happy lady bugs. The vintage cotton feels good to hold, smells so nice and clean washed up and ironed, and the rhythm of the stitch work is meditative. Made with love, and imperfect, I like my project :) 

Florida September days are bright, sunny days :)

I also have very important beads on my bead table today: Pantone beads! Right now the ten colors in gemstrands are in one big, wild pile, waiting to be chosen as finalist beads (actually they're in a cool box), and they sorta look like I feel: indecisive and panicked! 

I had a wonderful time swapping beads with Tina Holden in the  Summer Pantone bead exchange, so why am I so silly nervous about the fall bead exchange? Because I am Pantone Bead Swap partners with Lori Anderson herself! She is the host of the Pantone Bead Swap and the Bead Soup Blog Parties, which means I am swapping beads with the Queen of beads and art jewelry. I am honored and nervous and excited and hope to send beads she will like to use!

Lori's book, "Bead Soup" arrived in the mail today, and I can't wait to relax and read it tonight, and then attend the blog hop for the contributors of the book next week. The Bead Soup Book Blog hop runs October 1-8, and will be a great way to learn about style, different designers and techniques using wire arts, metal work, gemstone beads, art beads, and seed beads.

And finally, working from bed has been inspirational for the upcoming Holiday Bling Blog Hop on October 6th hosted by the gifted Marlene Cupo of "Amazing Designs by Marlene" and Shelly Graham Turner of "Fabric of My Life" because I look out my window every day. This has been right on target for the Holiday swap projects Shelly and I decided on as partners in the event.

I just received shelly's Holiday bling, and it is awesome! I love it! we stepped outside the box for our exchange and it rocks. I won't spoil the surprise, so visit Marlene and Shelly's Holiday Bling Blog Hop on October 6th to find out the mystery. 

So, there you have it! My bead table this Wednesday. What's on your bead table?

Sep 24, 2012

Play Date Artist with Shelly Graham Turner

When I saw Shelly Graham Turner of Tori Sophia post this pic ...

noun, Informal .
I was intrigued! 

Firstly, this is Play Date Artist, Turner's brilliant new feature on her blog, "Fabric of My Life," and that means Shelly and I have both created jewelry. We've both used the same bead kit: a beautiful mix of Shelly's handcrafted clay lavender "Silly Rabbit" beads from her shop Tori Sophia, matte AB purple glass beads, and green wood rondelles. The jewelry I was moved to make is rooted in the idea of play, and completely inspired by the idea of being a weirdo in the best way.

The idea of being a weirdo has always been a part of me. As an adult, I know being a weirdo is a good, good thing ... and the minute I saw that picture of a little girl, I saw myself as a child. Only as a child, the weirdo part never seemed good at the time.

I was a weirdo in my school: looking at the picture of the girl, memories of being the only Mexican American kid in a very suburban, comfortable middle class school come to mind. I see the Hispanic child in me behind those eyes looking out at the world. And I remember always being the extra good kid to compensate for being the extra unusual Hispanic weirdo in my class. 

Much like the basic feminist ideology that as women climbed the glass ceiling, we would have to do twice the job to be considered half as qualified, I was twice an angel and twice the honor student.

They were tough years for school systems, and tough years for me. The idea of diversity was non-existent both to me and to the institution of education, and 1970's attempts at addressing and dismantling stereotypes about Hispanics were iffy at best: I simply was what I was: a weirdo, and the possibility that that was ascribed to me never crossed my mind.

Looking at Shelly Graham Turner's picture, I also see another little girl: one who loved justice, one who dreamed of becoming an attorney, one who felt deeply valued and loved in her family and wished that same respect for others. I see the artist.

Masakatsu plays his "Eight Melodies"

I see myself as the 4th grader who started a petition right then and there when my classmate, a sweet little boy returns late from lunch and is paddled with the long, wooden weapon with holes that hung in every classroom of the school.

As the sound of his tears and cries echoed throughout the cold, empty, rose colored, linoleum lined hallway, my trembling heart and hand began: "We the people ..." I wrote.

Mr. Driver and the tardy classmate returned to the room and I set about collecting signatures. We would end the atrocity of corporal punishment once and for all. Together, we the people could make it so. 

No one would sign it but Benita. She was tough and brave. I liked her for the rest of my life. I continued to pass around my shaking paper, eventually being caught by Mr. Driver. For a brief moment I wondered if I might be physically punished to, but Mr. Driver would find it rude to spank a girl. 

He took my paper and said nothing. He began our science instruction, unwrapping deli paper across his desk. I could hardly believe the injustice I'd addressed was being ignored. He took out a scalpel and speaking of the wonders of the eye, explained his butcher was kind enough to provide our class with a cow's eye for our science lesson. 

Mr. Driver proceeded to open the organ, jumping when suddenly liquid squirted directly into his eye and then slowly dripped across his face. Strange, darkly tinted fluid. He pulled out a white handkerchief from his jacket. And like the little boy he had spanked, I felt compassion then for him too as I noticed then that Mr. Driver's hands were shaking as much as mine.

It was the end of an era and a time of awakening.

Mother (EarthBound)

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -- Pablo Picasso

When I was a kid, boys in school were spanked and girls probably were not; Hispanics were odd, the world was one way; for fun we played kickball in the street. Video games had yet to be invented.

As a grandmother, I have little skill at electronic games. But the stories, the emotions, and the challenges today's games hold intrigue me. Boys cry, girls manifest justice, love wins.

Recently, the soundtrack for the video game Zelda played across our nation. "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses" was an astounding, popular fine arts event that sold out in city after city. 


[ahrt] noun
1.the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles,  
of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

The story lines, cinematic features, computer programming, music, and wonder of many modern video games today make them nothing less than art forms. With this in mind, I've longed to tell the story of a video game in jewelry, to honor that which my grandchildren and children love: the art of video games today. 

My Play Date Artist jewelry is based upon the video game, Mother (Earthbound),  a tale that begins with a weirdo, our hero, a little boy who saves the world with love. It's an intense, mature children's story: the boy who cannot love, who has been made cold from lack of love, must be saved by the boy who loves. Unlearning sexism, unlearning violence and redefining what it means to be a person are at the heart of the game. In the game, The Eight Melodies must be obtained. They come from a doll, a bird, a monkey, a piano, a cactus, a dragon, Eve, and lastly, a gravestone. In the end, "The Eight Melodies' are sung to save Mother, our home, our earth. The song, sung to him when he was very little, brings the antagonist his childhood memories; reminding him, transforming him, and finally freeing him to love. Originally written in Japanese, here is the English translation of the song:

 The Eight Melodies from Mother sung by St. Paul's Cathedinal Choir

The Eight Melodies lyrics:

Take a melody,
Simple as can be
Give it some words and
Sweet harmony
Raise your voices,
All day long now, love grows strong now
Sing a melody of love
Oh, love

Love is the power
Love is the glory
Love is the beauty
And the joy of spring

Love is the magic
Love is the story
Love is the melody
that we can sing...
Mother: The Eight Melodies Necklace
Mother was not released in the US, but made it's way here, carried by a strong devoted fan base. Mother is a treasure, a special video game that arrives like a discovery, with a special cult following by higher energy, gentle and caring gamers. 

When I realized Shelly had sent 8 special "Silly Rabbit" beads, I knew they were to create special jewelry -- jewelry I've thought long about, wanting to honor my grandson and all he loves. Similarly, Andrew Thornton's gentle focal interconnects on the necklace with a sea glass wheel, becoming a beautiful Tibet prayer wheel bead. As I've learned from Erin Prais-Hintz in her "Challenge of Travel; Nepal," when the prayer wheel spins and the mantra "OM MANI PADME HUM"   is spoken, one is "equal in splendor to a thousand Buddhas."

 The Tori Sophia beads Shelly sent me are so gorgeous. the bead mix is ethereal, with soft shades of purple and green, and beads of various rich textures. I'm so honored to receive such a beautiful gift! 

I'm in love with Tori Sophia beads, Silly Rabbit series.

My clasp is in honor of Tori Sophia art! My favorite, the "Silly Rabbit" series.

They are the perfect beads for beads of courage, perfect for memory and reconstruction. I added Swarovski crystals, carved fluorite and peridot rondelles, and created a scallop of silver chain that runs along side the necklace as a frame.

I'm not surprised that Shelly Graham Turner is the friend and artist who made my dream of creating "video game jewelry" come true; Shelly is magic like that. She is in tune, intuitive, giving and funny. We share busy lives as grandmothers, matriarchs, and jewelry artisans. The beautiful art, and empowering, special clay art beads Shelly creates (owls too :) inspire and impress me. I'm excited to see what she has created too today because as I watch her create, read her wonderful blog, and visit her shop, I am moved by her success, generosity, and talent. And I'm more grateful than words can express for being her playmate artist today! Being friends and artists together with Shelly Graham Turner is a gift.

Thank you Shelly!


a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.
a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods: food artisans.

Mother Melodies. Beads by Tori Sophia

Sep 23, 2012

Jewel School 2012 Design Contest Winners

Congratulations 2012 Jewel School Design Contest Winners!

Category Winners 
receive $500 cash & $500 in jewelry making supplies

 Western Flair by Debra Timms
Debra Timms' jewelry on Facebook, Designs by Star

Armor Candy by George Swanke 
George Swanke's jewelry on ArtSlant

Under the Sea by Donna Spiker 
Donna Spiker jewelry on Facebook, Buffalo Creek Gallery

Take a Walk on the Wild Side by Holly Presley
Holly Presley jewelry on Etsy, Holly Presley Handmade Jewelry

Grand Prize Winner
receives $2,500 cash & $2,500 in jewelry making supplies 

2012 Jewel School Grand Prize Winning Design by Holly Presley.

Holly Presley
Take a Walk on the Wild Side

"I have been making wire wrapped pieces for several years now and it truly is my passion. I wanted to create something exotic and wild and this is my interpretation! This pendant is made by starting with a large Amethyst briolette bead, then making a frame, wire wrapping the pattern into the 3 piece wire frame using 26g wire. After the pattern is weaved, I manipulated 18g and 20g silver wire into patterns of swirls. The length of this pendant is 1 3/4" and is hanging from a sterling rolo chain."

2012 Jewel School Grand Prize Winning Design by Holly Presley.

2012 Jewel School Grand Prize Winning Design by Holly Presley.

Congratulations to all the 2012 Jewel School Design Contestants. Jewel School honored suggestions, and created several categories for this year's contest. The jewelry in all categories was beautiful. I do hope that Jewel School considers broadening the wonderful new category "lampwork" to include polymer and ceramic beads -- perhaps calling the category "art beads"  next year. Congratulations to all the 2012 Jewel School Design Contest winning artists!

Sep 13, 2012

In the Pink for Lori Anderson

"Love yourself.  The rest comes after." -- Lori Anderson

This summer, I went pink!

I went pink to honor Lori Anderson, the amazing author, bead artist, Bead Soup Blog Party host, and jewelry designer with the cool pink hair!
Author, artist, designer Lori Anderson

Participants in Lori Anderson's "Bead Soup Blog Hop Party 6" were invited by jewelry designers Shelly Graham Turner and Sandra McGriff to a secret Facebook group celebrating Lori Anderson for all she does in the community, and to thank her for her group, the  "Bead Soup Cafe" on Facebook, and for hosting the 400 person 6th Bead Soup Party

Join us at Lori's Facebook group, "The Bead Soup Cafe'!

The idea: go pink for Lori by dying our hair pink for a surprise online book of participants' sentiments of appreciation and pictures of everyone's pink hair. The "in the pink" online tribute is a great way to let Lori know how dearly she is appreciated and loved for being the generous artist she is! Additionally, today is "In The Pink" day for Lori!


The "In The Pink" group was wonderful! Thank you for your hard work and technical savvy, Sandra McGriff, and for the online keepsake you've created. And thank you Shelly Turner for your hard work organizing and mediating the secret group and project! Likewise, special thanks to  Ambra Chicandfrog,   Lea Avroch, and Audrey Bélanger for all their hard work too! You all did such a wonderful job and gave so generously!

Lea Avroch's special in the pink goddess "Lori" bead !

 Going pink with Lori as a way to honor her courage and creativity has been a great experience. The wonderful community of jewelry and bead artists made it so much fun. 
The incredibly talented and lovely Lea Avroch of LA Jewelry designs even created a beautiful goddess bead with pink hair just for Lori! Isn't it awesome? 


As friends posted pictures of their pink hair in the secret "In The Pink" group, people cheered each other on and a spirit of freedom and courage and fun touched everyone. Pictures were shared as friends "went pink" -- including some adorable furry friends! My chihuahua also wanted to "go pink" so Pancho is happily playing with his pink hair puffle today :) I'm so glad that we all get to go pink and pay tribute to Lori today! 

Lori Anderson is the reason for this very blog! I created it just so Jewel School customers could know about Lori's Bead Soup Parties:) Lori is an uplifter who inspires people to create, connect, and grow. She cheers emerging jewelry artists on to try new techniques, to publish their work,  and to believe in themselves. Lori treats all artisans  with honor and respect, and she is kind and real. She is physically challenged, and makes being differently-abled Ok. Many artists, like me, with disabilities find courage from Lori; she exemplifies that persons with disabilities can do!

 Lori Anderson's blog, "Pretty Things" is the heart of the jewelry and bead artisan community! It's beautiful literature that changes life for the good. One of my favorite posts is entitled, "Evaluating What's Important." It's powerful: Lori encourages new jewelry designers to publish their work, to know that many people are amazing, to avoid cliques (who by nature will inevitably love some and reject others) and most of all, she encourages us to love ourselves.

My Pink Tribute & Reveal:

Thank you for your creativity, for your encouragement, for giving people the courage to believe in themselves, to try, to become more than they might have imagined.                 
Thank you for sharing success, and being real. Thank you for your humor, your kindness and love. Thank you for being a writer, for interpreting heart songs onto paper, for telling your story -- in words, in art, with time, with consistency, and with grace. Thank you for being you -- special, brave, imperfect, perfect, brilliant, multi-talented, multi-cultural, caring, considerate and one of the most amazing artists of our time. Thank you for creating and sustaining an incredible community of jewelry and bead artists - with blog hops, the Bead Soup Cafe, and all the art, events, and friendships that come from them. 

Thank you for being a leader, a winner, a mother and sister -- and most of all -- a friend!

Namaste, Toltec Jewels

It's going pink everywhere for Lori! Sharing the love & appreciation are many more pink reveals for Lori! Enjoy :)

IN THE PINK Tributes & Pink Reveals
Gail Vanderster-Zwang

Kelley Katherine Hagerty-Fogle

Jennifer Chasalow VanBenschoten

Mary Howell Govaars

   Lynnea Perry Bennett

Alicia Marinache

Courtney White Breul

 Andrea Beth Trank

Emoke Schmidt 

Sandi Marinaro Volpe

 Audrey Belangér

                     Shelley Graham Turner

Big Hugs, TJ