Along with semi-precious stones, silver and freshwater pearls, my favorite beads to work with are Czech glass. These beads have an interesting origin that starts with Lenka Bindzar of Seattle, Washington. Lenka is Czech and travels to the Czech Republic to the tiny town of Jablonec where two factories have been producing glass buttons and beads for 3-400 years. Jablonec is 1 1/2-2 hours north of Prague, in a poor rural area that happens to be rich in silica (sand). Glassblowing emerged as an craft, industry and art that would make Bohemia famous. Lenka is one of the five top importers of Czech glass into the U.S., but her beads are special. Lenka is also a designer. She creates new bead designs and chooses the color palettes. The beads are pressed, sanded, painted, and fired by the skilled craftspeople of the region and then imported into the U.S. by Lenka's small company called Raven's Journey. It is such a joy to create wearable beaded art from Lenka's enterprise. The beads are new and old at the same time, imparting a wonderful, light-filled quality. Click on the photos below to see up close, more of the necklaces the incorporate Czech glass beads.
Many things in nature excite and inspire me. Here you can see some pictures of the development of a small art quilt from sea urchins. These urchins I collected in a Norweigan fjord near Trondheim when I was 20 years old and backpacking and Eurailing across Europe for three months. I went out in a boat on the fjord with a long pole with a plastic milk jug that had the bottom cut off. I scooped up the sea urchins and then they were eaten and cleaned in the home of the family with whom I was staying. Norway was my last stop in the 3 months of travel, otherwise, I don't know how they would have survived my backpack and the youth hostels! I've always cherished these urchin exo-skeletons and here they've become a small quilt with a radiant pattern.