Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's in a name...

Work has been progressing slowly on the new, as-yet-unnamed necklace (inspired by this piece). Not necessarily because the work is particularly hard (although it is time-consuming) but because I just haven't had much time available to work on it. I'm thinking hard on a name for this piece - any ideas?

So, I have the first section completely beaded!

First, I covered the entire piece in freeform beadweaving...

Then I added a peyote ruffle that runs from top to bottom. It's a little hard to see in 2-D but here are a few shots...
Let me know what you think so far! Questions and comments are welcome! :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Morning Coffee - The King's Singers

My husband and I have recently formed an a cappella vocal group. We are just starting to learn some Christmas carols (traditional and jazz arrangements) and are also looking at a Renaissance piece by William Byrd - The Mass for 5 Voices. We are far from our first appearance at Carnegie Hall but it's fun to sing with friends even if you never appear outside of the living room.

So, for Morning Coffee today, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite a cappella vocal groups, The King's Singers, performing one of my favorite Christmas songs... Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

...and we're off!

So, work was started in earnest on the new necklace last night starting by salvaging beads from the grouping of vintage jewelry and such that I had gathered to be part of the "bead soup".
Here are photos taken throughout the evening as I worked on the piece - check the captions of each for more info re: what's happening in each step:
The salvaged beads!
A super-duper bead soup made by mixing most of the seed beads together
The sections of the base necklace I plan on using for the piece
First, I trace each piece onto the reclaimed leather backing
Here are all the pieces traced
The pieces cut out and numbered in the order I will bead them - in case I run out of one color of seed beads, I can add in more. This will create an ombre effect in the piece rather than looking like "Hey, she must have run out of that color bead right here!" type of thing. :)
The start of the beading...
First trip around, finished!
Gluing the necklace piece to the leather.
Where I stopped for the night - the edges are worked in peyote up the sides and I've just started adding the "special" beads.
Side view
So, I'm off and running! Let me know what you think so far! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New (and Improved!) Bead Soup - Now ALL RECLAIMED!

OK, so... yesterday I shared a new bead soup with you but was being apologetic about the bronze size 15/0 seed beads. You see, I am trying to make all of my jewelry creations using truly second-hand and salvaged beads and components but I had bought those particular beads in a bead shop so they didn't really "count". Then, while cleaning off my studio table, I found a vintage necklace (part of a jewelry lot bought on eBay) made of size 15/0 seed beads in a color so perfect for the bead soup! Yay!

So, it was out with the bronze metallic beads and in with the pretty taupe ones! The only trouble with that is that there was suddenly a real lack of color and contrast so I forged ahead and continued to dig through my stash.... and found another perfect necklace to salvage and add to the mix!

This necklace, from the same lot of jewelry as the taupe necklace, was made from multiple strands of beads: seed beads in several colors, amber glass chips, sage green glass rounds... absolutely perfect for this bead soup! Now the bead soup is made up of entirely reclaimed materials and the variations of color and texture will make for an interesting piece with lots of depth and contrast...
The palette is mostly gold, amber, taupe, and brown with silver, shades of dusty purple, sage green and maybe just a dash of orange thrown in...
The new and IMPROVED bead soup! :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Bead Soup - Almost all RECLAIMED!

Here is a new bead soup pulled together expressly to cover the new Lucite necklace base that just arrived on my doorstep a couple days ago. While pulling this soup together, I pulled as much as I could from reclaimed and second-hand sources. Here's a peek:

From left to right are the materials and the source for each:
- The bag of mixed silver metal beads was a thrift store find.
- 4 tubes of seed beads - only one of which was bought in a bead shop. The others were found at thrift stores or garage sales.
- A seed bead necklace and earrings (with the large silver beads) - bought as part of a lot of necklaces from eBay.
- The freshwater pearls (a necklace and stretchy bracelet) were found at a garage sale.
- 2 bags of seed beads, also found at a thrift store.

So, of all the items I intend to use in this piece, only one was purchased by me from an actual bead shop: the bronze metallic size 15/0 seed beads. While you can find tons of jewelry from which to salvage size 6/0 and size 11/0 seed beads and sometimes you can find size 8/0 seed beads, size 15/0 seed beads just don't show up very often, unfortunately.

Here are a few more shots of the bead soup:

I'm looking forward to getting to work on this new piece and super excited to be using mostly reclaimed and second-hand beads. I would love to hear about any projects in which you have used reclaimed materials - and is certainly doesn't have to be beadwork or jewelry. Please share your story in the comments and be sure to include links to photos or blog posts about those creations! I'd love to hear more about them... and you! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Morning Coffee Quotes

"The man who says he is willing to meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance."
- Laurence J. Peter

"Most people have the will to win; few have the will to prepare to win."
- Bobby Knight

"The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears."
- John Vance Cheney

"Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics: It is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates the victim from reality."
- John Gardner

"So often in time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key."
- The Eagles, 'Already Gone'

"How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it."
- Marcus Aurelius

"People don't plan to mess up their lives. They just don't plan not to."
- Andy Stanley

"Between the great things we cannot do and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we shall do nothing."
- Adolph Monod

"Wait until it is night before saying that it has been a fine day."
- French Proverb

"Be not proud of race, face, place or grace."
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"Less is more."
- Mies van der Rohe

"An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. The truly wise person is colorblind."
- Albert Schweitzer

"Woe be to him that reads but one book."
- George Herbert

"Folks who never do more than they're paid for, never get paid for any more than they do."
- Elbert Hubbard

"What we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope."
- George Eliot

"Many who deservedly attribute great dysfunction and societal harm to lawyers apparently never labored alongside Ivy Leaguers. One never fathomed silver spoons could sap common sense out of so many seemingly intelligent folks."
- R. E. Bell

"During my eighty-seven years I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them have done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think."
- Bernard M. Baruch

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."
- Bob Dylan, 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thrift Shop Booty! Lots of jewelry and beads, beads, beads!!!

An itty-bitty booty sample :)
Anyone who shops at thrift stores does so because they're hoping to find some cool booty at a sweet price. Some days are just too lucky! Some kick-ass treasure is starin' you in the face and you just can't (and shouldn't) say "no". Whatever that treasure may be, I can almost guarantee it will not be there tomorrow. Sometimes you just gotta say "What the heck..." and mean it! Right?

Well, I had one of those proverbial what-the-heck lucky days! Now, typically, I don't spend more than a few dollars at a time 'cause I am the world's biggest cheap-skate but I found oodles of FANTABULOUS booty that I just couldn't leave the store without. You will have to forgive me but I simply have to share the news with all of you!

First off: Two gallon bags chock full o' tangled jewelry goodness that, you guessed it, went home with me!
Here's one of the lot bags before I dug into it!
Here are some shots of the "keeper" jewelry, chain, beads and bits I found...
Some to sell...
...and some to salvage.
A little more to sell...
Lots of chain!
Two big, beautiful beads! I love that amber one!
The gold and sterling I found all tangled up...
...and this Thai silver ring (which I am keeping for myself!)
As if this weren't enough, they also had bins full of loose beads, jewelry findings and pendants - ooooh, what fun they were to dig through! Somebody made jewelry, then decided to NOT make jewelry anymore and donated everything!

Here's a peek at the beautiful haul... Jealous? I know I would be if these pics were on your blog! It's time to get makin'!! :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Special Delivery

Close-up shot of "Tidepool" necklace by Cindy Caraway
I have been selling online for many years - since 2001, to be exact. I started on eBay with vintage art pottery - McCoy, Frankoma, etc - but didn't like worrying about breakage during shipping (and there was some need to worry about breakage, as it turned out!). Then there was a time in there where I simply sold anything vintage that I thought was cool - clothing, home decor, collectibles, furniture.... Yes, you heard that correctly... furniture! I once shipped a desk chair to Japan, for example, and a set of 4 Eames chairs to Toronto. Thankfully, I never got beyond chairs and the occasional lamp or 2 but even so... looking back, I have to admit, that was a little crazy! Finally, I landed on vintage clothing - the perfect thing to sell as it was easy to pack and ship and, at the time, easy to find (although nowadays, not so much - I was dealing in vintage clothing at just the right time, it would seem).

Although I do still have a seller account on eBay, I use it only sporadically when I have something to sell that can't be sold on Etsy. I do still purchase some items on eBay, though. Last week I was contacted by someone with a custom necklace request. What they really wanted was to purchase "Tidepool" but I had to break the news that it was now living somewhere near Chicago with it's new owner.

"Tidepool" was made several years ago by covering sections of a vintage Lucite necklace in freeform peyote beadwork. So, I went in search of another necklace that might work for the project. I found this one on eBay...

Now, I know this seems like a long, drawn-out story (and it is, sorry about that!) but, the necklace I ordered arrived today! And I was enchanted by the presentation.

AS a seller and customer on Etsy, I am used to special touches added to the packaging. Etsy sellers are known for the extra care they put into the packaging and shipping of items - eBay sellers, not so much... but Rita of kgvrw on eBay certainly went the extra mile!

Here's what I found upon opening the envelope...
Such a pretty note card...
...and fancy bamboo wrapping paper!
A handwritten "Thank you" note...
... and this beautiful necklace!
Soon these little Lucite sections will be covered in lovely freeform beadwork!
Rita rocks! I am a die-hard supporter of Etsy but I hope you will check out Rita's listings on eBay 'cause she's doing a great job! :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Morning Coffee Quotes for November 17th

Me, the morning of my 50th birthday (Nov 14th) on the shores of Lake Michigan - photo by Dan Caraway

“There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.”
- W.E.B. DuBois

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
- Charles Dickens

“Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.”
- John W. Tukey

“Blessed are those with cracks in their broken heart because that is how the light gets in.”
- Shannon L. Alder

“You're only lonely if you're not there for you.”
- Phil McGraw

“The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”
- Milton Friedman

“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom a good one.”
- Benjamin Franklin

“I will not take ‘but’ for an answer.”
- Langston Hughes

“He flattered himself on being a man without any prejudices; and this pretension itself is a very great prejudice.”
- Jacques Anatole

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”
- William Penn

“There is no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.”
- William Hazlitt

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
- Harriet Tubman

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“You never find yourself until you face the truth.”
- Pearl Bailey

“Forget what other people think. Screw the hype. A job title is only a title. Money pays bills; it does not create happiness or move us to tears. Earn enough, give some away and stop believing it is the friggin’ authority on value.”
- Amy Selwyn

“The greatest gift you can give is just being present.”
- Rasheed Ogunlaru

“Prejudice is a form of untruthfulness, and untruthfulness is an insidious form of injustice.”
- Miroslav Volf

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Urban Boho with a touch of Cowgirl - Polyvore Playtime

Tried my hand at Polyvore - not sure what I think about it but it was fun messing around for a little while! I got rid of all the product links except for the Etsy seller that offers the "door art" - is that legal, I wonder?? Probably not. Oh, well... if you really want to know who made the $1200 black silk jacket, just click on the collage. :)Urban Boho with a touch of Cowgirl

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lime Amber and Magenta Necklace - Finished!

Finally finished and so pretty! The necklace straps and dangle earrings were made using beads and bits from two vintage necklaces (which you may remember from the bead soup post)- one fashioned from the faceted amber Lucite beads of one necklace and the other, a bead chain necklace of wound glass beads in lime green, magenta pink and chocolate brown. As usual, the pendant is backed with reclaimed leather from my custom boot-maker friend, Paul -

Anyway, I really hope you like it! If you like it enough to make it your own, please visit my shop on Etsy -

Feel free to let me know how you feel about this piece by leaving a comment - Thanks!