Keeping It Local

We here at Blue Door Beads are lucky enough to be a part of the incredibly vibrant and lively business district of Piedmont Avenue, and we thank our lucky stars every day that we have been able to make wonderful connections with so many local artists! Although our main focus is selling beads and other jewelry materials for others to create their own jewelry, we do feature a selection of finished jewelry. Most of said jewelry is created by our in-house staff, but many pieces are created by local artists. Although we wish we could feature tons of finished jewelry by every local artist with whom we make connections, we decided we would do the next best thing and have this week’s blog post be about all of our favorite local artists. So here’s a big, collective shout-out to all you talented Bay Area peeps!

Photo courtesy of ArtfulHummingbird on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of ArtfulHummingbird on Etsy.

Oakland resident Martha Preble’s gorgeous Etsy store, ArtfulHummingbird, is an amazing testament to her talents of fusing fine silver, wire-wrapping gemstones, and creating inspiring combos of color and texture. The gemstones she chooses to use in her pieces are incredible — we want one of everything!

Photo courtesy of MarmarSuperstar on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of MarmarSuperstar on Etsy.

Mark Poulin of Oakland has three (count ’em — THREE!) Etsy stores dedicated to his love of creating whimsical jewelry. How whimsical? Not only does he create adorable pendants and charms — including a sloth, a platypus (pictured), and a triceratops — but his introduction to his store MarmarSuperstar starts out, “If I had a unicorn I would feed it whole wheat carrot muffins.” Awesome!

Photo courtesy of J. Fein Designs.

Photo courtesy of J. Fein Designs.

Jessica Fein of J. Fein Designs may be an Alameda artist, but she travels all over selling her one-of-a-kind rings and other cool jewelry. Her urban-yet-organic designs are created with vintage close-out jewelry findings and sustainably harvested wood ring shanks imported from Bali. We feature her rings here at Blue Door Beads, and Jessica has also been featured in New York Magazine, Eco Fabulous, and Everyday with Rachel Ray. She’s a busy gal!

Photo courtesy of StudioRhino on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of StudioRhino on Etsy.

StudioRhino from Alameda, CA features an wonderful selection of handmade sterling silver jewelry, combining cute critters with fun shapes and beautiful accents made of Japanese chiyogami paper. We find StudioRhino to be one of those Etsy stores where, come the holidays, we will be able to find something for literally every jewelry-wearing lady on our gift list!

Photo courtesy of VelvetOtterhound on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of VelvetOtterhound on Etsy.

VelvetOtterhound, also of Alameda, combines her love of steampunk style and vintage jewelry with delicate wire-wrapped accents and unusual chain. All of her pieces are one-of-a-kind, and it is obvious that she takes great care in selecting quality (and funky!) components for her jewelry. Very cool!

Photo courtesy of NouveauMotley on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of NouveauMotley on Etsy.

Oakland-based NouveauMotley is just the right combination of funky, macabre, and cool. Whether you are looking for watch-part cuff links, a weevil-and-labradorite necklace, or victorian button earrings, chances are you will find something amazing in this Etsy store. And with over 1,700 five-star reviews, NouveauMotley is obviously an artist worth supporting!

Photo courtesy of QueenBeader on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of QueenBeader on Etsy.

For those who enjoy colorful jewelry with fun themes — such as sugar skulls, Rockabilly & roses, or Bay Area sports teams — Queenbeader on Etsy is right up your alley. Oakland resident Brianah Burns’ wide variety of funky pendants, rings & earrings are fun for any occasion, but her Bay-Area-team-themed pieces are perfect for showing some #1 fan pride at the next big game!

Photo courtesy of Hrvst 3D.

Photo courtesy of Hrvst 3D.

Blue Door Beads was the first to carry the 3D-printed Bay Area Landmark series of pendants and charms by Harvest Design, and we love the new designs they keep coming up with! However, our first love will always be their version of the Oakland tree. The fact that the trees come in purple and pink just makes them that much more fun!

Photo courtesy of ColdhouseDahlia on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of ColdhouseDahlia on Etsy.

We have known Karri Jose of Alameda for many years, and although she is currently taking a break from making jewelry, we can’t get enough of her adorable handbags and messenger bags! We know her Etsy store ColdhouseDahlia has nothing to do with jewelry, but we love purses almost as much as we love necklaces & earrings, so we wanted to give her a shout-out anyway!

P.S. Did you know that Etsy has an option where you can shop locally? Here’s a link! Now you can shop locally and support artists in your area, even if you are feeling too lazy to actually leave the house. Racking up good karma while staying in our pajamas? Yes, please!

P.P.S. Have we inspired you to start selling your own work? We hope so! Interweave Press (publisher of Beadwork, Stringing, and Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazines) has some great reasons why you should start a jewelry business right now. Check ’em out!

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(K)NOT Your Average Jewelry

The technique of knotting between beads (most often pearls) has been used practically since the dawn of jewelry-making; not only does it provide attractive spacing and prevent beads from rubbing up against one another, but it also prevents more than one bead from getting lost if/when the jewelry pieces breaks. We love adding knots to the jewelry we create here at Blue Door Beads, and we are always intrigued by the incredibly unique (and often amazingly complex) jewelry designs people can come up with by using just a few well-placed knots! We teach a knotting class here at the shop in which students learn to create not only decorative knots, but functional knots as well. The possibilities are endless when it comes to knotting, and we wanted to share a few of our favorite knot-based designs with you. Enjoy!

We love the simplicity of these knotted bracelets! Photo courtesy of The Bead Gallery in Honolulu. Photo courtesy of The Bead Gallery in Honolulu.

We love the simplicity of these knotted bracelets! Photo courtesy of The Bead Gallery in Honolulu. Photo courtesy of The Bead Gallery in Honolulu.

This lovely gemstone necklace was knotted in a traditional style, with knots between every bead. Photo courtesy of www.sundancecatalog.com

This lovely gemstone necklace was knotted in a traditional style, with knots between every bead. Photo courtesy of http://www.sundancecatalog.com

A close-up of the Sundance gemstone necklace.

A close-up of the Sundance Catalog gemstone necklace.

This incredible micro-macrame bracelet includes prehenite and rhodochrosite accents. Photo courtesy of www.andtoad.com

This incredible micro-macrame bracelet includes prehenite and rhodochrosite accents. Photo courtesy of http://www.andtoad.com

We are always in awe of folks who create intricate, lace-like micro-macrame designs like these. Gorgeous! Photo courtesy of www.thebeadingyogini.com

We are always in awe of folks who create intricate, lace-like micro-macrame designs like these. Gorgeous! Photo courtesy of http://www.thebeadingyogini.com

Amazing earrings! Photo courtesy of www.micro-macramejewelry.com

Amazing earrings! Photo courtesy of http://www.micro-macramejewelry.com

We were obsessed with hemp jewelry in junior high, so we always enjoy a jewelry flashback! Photo courtesy of JackZenHe,mp on Etsy.

We were obsessed with making hemp jewelry in junior high, so we always enjoy a jewelry flashback! Photo courtesy of JackZenHemp on Etsy.

We love the combination of woven beads and macrame knots in this bracelet. Photo courtesy of www.knotgypsy.blogspot.com.

We found the combination of woven beads and macrame knots in this bracelet very intriguing! Photo courtesy of http://www.knotgypsy.blogspot.com.

In the case of this statement necklace, the bigger the knot, the better! Photo courtesy of ElfinaDesign on Etsy.

In the case of this statement necklace, the bigger the knot, the better! Photo courtesy of ElfinaDesign on Etsy.

Soooo many bracelets! Photo courtesy of www.peacefulpeople.com

Soooo many cool knotted & woven bracelets! Photo courtesy of http://www.peacefulpeople.com

If you get too tangled up in your cord, take a cue from this little guy & take a nap!

If you get tangled up in your cord while knotting, take a cue from this little guy & take a nap!

What Have YOU Done With Beads Lately?

The Piedmont Stroll is happening tomorrow night, and one of our customers, Danielle Schlunegger (www.schlunegger.com), will be featuring her artwork at the fun & funky Resurrect vintage clothing store just a few doors down from Blue Door Beads. She came in a few days ago asking if we had findings that she could use to suspend her handmade moths from the ceiling of Resurrect, and after we played around a bit with some ideas, we were able to send her home with some crimp ends and jump rings that worked perfectly! (See the photos of one of her cool moths below.) As we were discussing the possible findings options, we expressed how we are always so intrigued by what types of non-jewelry-related uses people find for our beads and findings. That got us thinking: what other amazing items have people used our materials for?

Below are just a few wonderfully creative ways our customers have used our beads & components. We’ve included other photos of more super cool sculptures, handy items, and more!

One of Danielle's uber-cool moths, soon to be hung in Resurrect!

One of Danielle’s uber-cool moths, to be hung soon in Resurrect!

A close-up of the findings Danielle used on her moth.

A close-up of the findings Danielle used for her moth.

One of our crafty customers creates decorative oragami stars and orbs, and she uses our beads for the fringe! Lovely!

One of our crafty customers creates decorative oragami stars and orbs, and she uses our beads for the fringe! Lovely!

We were blown away by this customer's hand-knitted belt, complete with beaded accents and geode slices!

We were blown away by this customer’s hand-knitted belt, complete with beaded accents and geode slices!

We loved how this customer mixed beads with a funky piece of driftwood to create a very unique mobile.

We love how this customer mixed beads with a funky piece of driftwood to create a very unique mobile.

What's better than a chic pair of fingerless gloves. A BEADED pair of fingerless gloves -- obviously!

What’s better than a chic pair of fingerless gloves. A BEADED pair of fingerless gloves — obviously!

This customer created a lovely window hanging out of one of our recycled bottle pieces and sopme other beads & charms. Well done!

This customer created a lovely window hanging out of one of our recycled bottle pieces and some other beads & charms. Well done!

This customer found a new use for kumihimo bobbins: cord wranglers. Genius! Plus, at only 60 cents to 80 cents each, you can by one for literally every single one of your gadgets!

This customer found a new use for kumihimo bobbins: cord wranglers. Genius! Plus, at only 60 cents to 80 cents each, you can by one for literally every single one of your gadgets!

We can only imagine how much time it took for the artist to get each branch to look juuuust right. Photo courtesy of CassandraZ on Etsy.

We can only imagine how much time it took for the artist to get each branch to look juuuust right. Photo courtesy of CassandraZ on Etsy.

In addition to just looking cool, this beaded gourd is also a musical instrument. Photo courtesy of www.orgs.usd.edu

In addition to just looking cool, this beaded gourd is also a musical instrument. Photo courtesy of http://www.orgs.usd.edu

We can't tell if the artist applied beads to a pencil, also, or it it's made of solid beads. Either way, this sculpture is amazing! Photo courtesy of www.artfulhome.com

We can’t tell if the artist applied beads to a pencil, also, or it it’s made of solid beads. Either way, this sculpture is amazing! Photo courtesy of http://www.artfulhome.com

Beaded skull photo courtesy of www.lovemaegan.com

Beaded skull photo courtesy of http://www.lovemaegan.com

Christian Louboutin beaded stilettos. A girl can dream, right? Photo courtesy of www.lovemaegan.com

Christian Louboutin beaded stilettos. A girl can dream, right? Photo courtesy of http://www.lovemaegan.com

Tagua Nuts: The Eco-Friendly Ivory Alternative

Lydia recently went to the annual Alameda Art & Wine Faire, and while browsing through one of the various jewelry booths at the faire, she came across some funky, chunky rings that she thought, at first, were made of wood. However, when she tried one on, she realized the rings were made of something that almost looked like bakelite. When she asked the vendor about the material, the vendor explained that the rings were made of tagua nuts, a material commonly used as an alternative to ivory.

Here at Blue Door Beads, we carry several different styles of beads made from tagua nuts, but we realized we didn’t know that much about the material itself, so we decided to do some research! Tagua nuts are actually the very hard insides of Phytelephas (“ivory palm”) seeds. The “nut”, a.k.a. “vegetable ivory,” starts out covered by two layers: a coconut-type shell on the outside, followed by a brown, flaky skin that covers the “nut” on the inside. Tagua nuts are harvested by either being picked up from the ground after they have fallen from palm trees and forest animals have taken care of the shell, or harvested when ripe and the shell is manually removed. The hardness of the “nut” is very similar to ivory, so it is a very popular material for carvings/sculptures, beads, and buttons. Not only does “vegetable ivory” stimulate local economies in South American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador by providing an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming, but it also prevents elephants from being killed for their tusks.

Check out some of the amazing things people have created out of tagua nuts!

The life cycle of a tagua nut, from its original form to a gorgeous tree frog carving! Photo courtesy of waynesword.palomar.edu

The life cycle of a tagua nut, from its original form to a gorgeous tree frog carving! Photo courtesy of waynesword.palomar.edu

We have lots of different tagus beads here at Blue Door Beads. We can't get enough of them!

We have lots of different tagus beads here at Blue Door Beads. We can’t get enough of them!

Vegetable ivory absorbs dye really well, resulting in vibrant beads and pendants, like these tagua slices. Photo courtesy of keyka.typepad.com

Vegetable ivory absorbs dye really well, resulting in vibrant beads and pendants, like these tagua slices. Photo courtesy of keyka.typepad.com

Tagua nut rings, in a vibrant array of colors. Photo courtesy of alpacasilver.com

Tagua nut rings, in a vibrant array of colors. Photo courtesy of alpacasilver.com

We love the variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of these tagua slices. Photo courtesy of artisansintheandes.com

We love the variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of these tagua slices. Photo courtesy of artisansintheandes.com

Isn't this detailed carving amazing?! Photo courtesy of sporadesign.blogspot.com

Isn’t this detailed carving amazing?! Photo courtesy of sporadesign.blogspot.com

What a hoot! Photo courtesy of desilvaimports.com

What a hoot! Photo courtesy of desilvaimports.com

We love these little guys! Photo courtesy of earthshinenature.com

We love these little guys! Photo courtesy of earthshinenature.com