Tag Archive | Bohemian

Blending the Centuries

Lately, I’ve been going through my personal belongings, organizing them, and giving away what I really don’t need, because how much “stuff” does a person really need? Sentimental things aren’t a consideration. They stay. I need them.

One of those sentimental things is a necklace that belonged to my great-grandma. I have a black-and-white picture of her wearing this necklace sometime in the 1940s, sitting in the backyard, cleaning string beans, her head wrapped up in a printed scarf, and the necklace just barely discernable between her dress’s open collar.


The necklace is a string of tin cut faceted 1910s or 1920s-era Czech crystal beads, in graduated sizes, with the original brass spring ring. My understanding was that it went through a couple of re-stringings in years past before I inherited it in high school. The medium back then was black cotton sewing thread, and when I restrung it in high school, I followed suit, using a doubled-up length of white cotton thread, needle, and patience, and a lot of knots.
Over the years, the thread turned green where it met the brass rings, yet the thread itself was in good and seemingly strong condition. However, it was time to restring it with more a reliable material.


Taking it apart was fairly easy work, but the knots were a little difficult to remove from the rings. Once done, I cleaned the brass with dry cotton swabs.


Next, since the beads were hazy, I gently cleaned them and rubbed them with a cotton terry cloth to bring back the brilliant sparkle. Going through each bead, there were two mismatched glass beads with an unusual – maybe antique cut? – shape. Nonetheless, I kept them and used them at each end so they would only be seen from the back if I wear my hair up.


Taking 49-strand AccuFlex, brass crimp beads and crimp bead covers, and wire guards, I restrung the crystals and glass spacer beads, and added three extra vintage era new old stock (NOS) tin cut beads (purchased from Beadtopia Vintage in Flushing, New York) to make the necklace a touch longer. The old and new old stock beads are barely discernable. They look natural.


Now my great-grandma’s necklace is more solid, and I don’t have the queasy feeling that, Heaven forbid, it comes apart while I’m wearing it.


In the past, I wore it for my high school graduation picture, my wedding picture, and countless other special occasions. I’d like to think that Great-Grandma would get a kick out of how her necklace survives and how I’m making sure it lasts for decades to come.

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

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Pièce de L’élégance

Here at my studio, this seems to be the season for patrons and customers commissioning me to create pieces for them. I’m creating bracelets and wall art, and all this is keeping me busy every day.

One commissioned work in particular stands out for this week.  I was asked by one of my longtime customers and art aficionada to create a purse charm based on a metal bookmark I recently designed. Looking through my supplies, I carefully handpicked Swarovski crystals, Czech glass beads, and a two-tone hand carved Czech glass melon bead. I arranged them in groups for their most aesthetic appearance, and hand wrapped them in delightful clusters with gold plated wire.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

To make the chain, I fashioned my oval-shaped jump rings as the base for this piece. Then I added each cluster of beads to it, starting at the end with the largest, a cube-shaped peachy hued Swarovski crystal, end capped with crystal Swarovski caps and marguerite flower beads.

I continued adding each cluster to the chain, connecting them with smaller oval jump rings. At the opposite end, I attached a small lobster clasp and tiny wrapped bead cluster.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The purse charm in its final incarnation is pretty! It sparkles and shines, and adds just the right amount of interest and effervescence to make this a conversation starter. The lady who commissioned this purse charm recently bought a new purse, and this charm is just the ticket to add that pièce de l’élégance and je ne sais quoi to her ensemble.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

Most of all, I hope the charm brings joy and that little something to my customer/patron.

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Know Your Beads

Last month, I attended a bead show. As I am always in the market for vintage and unusual beads, I was pretty excited that there would be a vendor who had quite a bit of beads, stones, and other components scarfed up from closed bead shops, and at fairly good prices to boot.

There were glass, crystal, mineral stones, clasps, and whatnot. The vendor and I spoke, and I mentioned that I was in the market for cathedral shaped beads.

Yes, there were some –a few strands of multi-colored 6mm.

“Czech?” I asked.

“Yes. But notice that a few beads on each strand were put on the string as filler. Those aren’t exact shapes of cathedral beads because they’re fillers.”

Hmmmmmm . . . that didn’t sound right, if these were, in fact, genuine. On closer inspection, only a very few of the beads were well-shaped cathedrals. The others were obvious very poorly made imitations. Then I definitely knew that these beads were of Chinese origin.

In fact, looking at the other glass beads closely proved that what was being sold here was mostly poorly made Chinese imitations of high quality Czech beads. Looking through the other bins, I saw that the clasps were cheaply made, the mineral stones were seconds, and most of it could be found in a big box store, but packaged differently.

I’m thinking that the vendor really didn’t know what beads were what. I’d like to think that this is a case of not a well-informed vendor, rather than a vendor who was out to fool beaders.

In a nutshell, caveat emptor.
©Designs by Susan Marie Molloy for Miss Poppy’s Boutique

I’m Conducting a Contest!

It’s Contest Time at Miss Poppy’s Boutique!

Everything is going very well with both my design and bead supply businesses. I want to share my happiness of these successes by holding a contest to win this pretty necklace I hand beaded from a design by Renee Kovnesky.

If you would like to win this necklace, all you need to do is like my Facebook page, and comment on the post that announces my contest. The contest ends at midnight Pacific Standard Time (PST) on Saturday, April 30, 2016. I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on my Facebook page, Miss Poppy’s Boutique — Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, on Sunday, May 1, 2016.

This is a simply elegant necklace. I used black and white Japanese and Czech glass beads to give this necklace the classy style of Art Deco jewelry that can be worn year ’round. A silver trailer hitch clasp with wire guards keeps this piece securely on your neck. It sits just below or at the collar bone; it’s total length is approximately 18 inches. This is a Renee Kovnesky design beaded by me, Susan Marie Molloy, for Miss Poppy’s Boutique.

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©Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s B outique, and all works within.

Heartfelt Art Show

You never know how an artist will touch the lives of others.

Sure, an artist might create art with someone particular in mind.  The artist might do it, with the hopes that someone will like the creation enough to buy it.  And then the artist might create the work for the love of art and not give a second thought as to the who or why.

My latest passion, as it were, is designing and creating rosaries.  For years, I wanted to learn how to make them but was intimidated by wire wrapping.  The closest I ever came to making devotional prayer beads was sacrifice beads.  In fact, when I was teaching at my parish school, one of the art classes I taught in conjunction with religious education was showing my students how to make a string of sacrifice beads with cord, pony beads, and a religious medal.  (My inspiration came from one of my favorite saints, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who used such beads to count off her sacrifices and good deeds.)

Here's a sample of sacrifice beads I taught my students how to make.

Here’s a sample of sacrifice beads I taught my students how to make.

Then, after all these years, something dawned on me.  My confidence with wire wrapping came, I had a lot of beautiful and unique beads, and why not?

I created a couple of rosaries and showed them to my friends.  Before I knew it, I was taking custom orders.  This portion of my studio and shop was taking off, and it still is going like gang busters.

This past weekend, I was in an art show held at The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pensacola, Florida.  I was happy to sell some of my beaded/sewn jewelry and wire key chains.  What I didn’t expect – but was thrilled nonetheless – was the popularity and selling strength of my rosaries and chaplets.

What touched me greatly were two sales in particular.  One became a gift for a little girl who is making her First Holy Communion this spring.  Her aunt told me, “You can never have enough rosaries, and this one will be her first.”

A young married couple with a several-months-old baby girl bought a rosary for their baby for her christening, which is being celebrated today at the Cathedral.  They were happy to find just what they wanted to present to her.

I felt happy, and frankly, sentimental about those particular sales.  I have every rosary I ever received – from my first plastic glow-in-the-dark one to a real silver one Handsome bought for me in Mexico.  I can only hope that the two little girls who will receive the ones I made will treasure them and remember for what occasion they received them. And I hope they will use them.

And you never know how a buyer will touch the life of an artist.

©Designs by Susan Marie Molloy for Miss Poppy’s Boutique

Creating Anew

Since February 2016, I have been creating something a little out of the ordinary in my studio:  rosaries.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and finally got around to doing.  The whole idea intimidated me and sometimes overwhelmed me, but one day, I just said, “Do it!”

One of the things I discovered is that it’s not as difficult as I imagined.  Sure, it takes concentration, a good understanding of counting beads, and patience.  These rosaries take hours to create.

I sold a good number of them so far.  Being the flexible artist, I accommodated about half of those sales and created rosaries according to my customers’ wishes.  One of the requests was to use 6mm bicones for the Hail Mary beads, and 8mm round Czech pressed beads for the Our Fathers.  I didn’t think the size, nor the color combination, would result in an attractive piece.  Yes, I was unconvinced, but as the old adage goes, the customer is always right.

I went ahead and made the rosary.  Starting off, I had a lot – a lot – of trepidation.  Yet, as each decade of beads grew, I started to like what my customer wanted.  He had some good foresight as to what the final product would look like.  Even his choice of a centerpiece – a fleur de lis – was the pièce de résistance.  I couldn’t have guessed how beautiful this rosary turned out.

I like it.

SWRosary53

That is the conundrum of artistry:  order and balance is good, quirkiness is in the eye of the beholder, and create what you feel that expresses your soul.

©Miss Poppy’s Boutique, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, The Rosary Shoppe, and all works within.

Crochet Beadwork

We took my class offerings to a new medium last week – beadwork a la crochet.

Crochet beadwork is a technique with which I busied myself several years ago, during a time when I couldn’t get enough of crocheting.  Wanting a little uniqueness to some of my doilies, I strategically placed tiny seed beads within the stitches as I worked them.  Adding beads to my work added the texture and visual interest for which I was looking. They turned out beautifully.

It came across my thoughts again several weeks ago when I was developing and scheduling my classes.  Why not offer this, a little “something different”?

This time, during my class, my friends and I decided to make some summertime beach-worthy bracelets.  My pattern is simple and basic enough for the beginning crocheter, and incorporates single and half-double crochet stitches with size 10 crochet thread in ecru and inexpensive glass or wooden beads.  It does work up fairly quickly, but still, it takes about two hours to complete, depending on how fast or slow you are as a crocheter.

Three of my students chose to create their pieces using glass beads; one chose colorful round wooden beads.  My friend who chose the wooden beads took my pattern in a little different direction.  She added a few extra rows, sans beads, to one of the edges:

CrochetBracelet1

The others completed their bracelets with glass beads, and they also turned out pretty.  (I think my photograph of them turned out pretty nifty, too!)  I think they would look good with black thread, too, don’t you?

CrochetBracelet2

Notice that a matching bead does its work as a “clasp” that blends in nicely.  They are ready for the pool or beach!

I plan on writing out the tutorial for my pattern that is public-worthy, and will announce its availability here when I get it written.

Enjoy your creativity!

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.