Bead or Pendant

This weekend, while I was finishing up a few items for the upcoming Bead Bazaar, September 8-9, I started thinking about the difference between a bead and a pendant.  What makes a bead a “bead” and a pendant a “pendant’?  Most of the items I’ve submitted for sale at the Bead Bazaar are one sided, flat backed, but pierced through like a bead.

Merriam Webster defines a bead as ” a small piece of material pierced for threading on a string or wire” and a pendant as “something suspended: as an ornament (as on a necklace) allowed to hang free”.  So, the hole is the important thing that defines a bead.  So I guess a bead could also be a pendant, but a pendant might not also be a bead.



Studio Snapshot – Susan Kaplan

Artist name: Susan Kaplan
Location: Alaska



Website: Kaplan Creations Jewelry

Blog: Kaplan Creations

My Space: Denali Beads

Do you have a dedicated studio/artistic space? Yes, I have a terrific space!

Where is it located? In a separate structure located behind my house.


Is it a large or small space? It is about as large as a standard bedroom, about 12′ by 14′

What medium(s) do you work in? Do you have a separate area for each? I work in glass (lampworking and fusing), PMC, polymer clay, and metals. I have a large area for all of the glasswork. The PMC, polymer, and metal work all share an area. Most of the time I’m working on glass pieces, so I’ve let those supplies spread out all over the place. I also have a separate area in the house where I work on designing jewelry and fabricating the finished pieces. In this area I have a worktable and lots of storage for beads and other items.


What one word would you use to describe your studio? Inspiring


What do you think is the best feature of your studio? large windows overlooking a wooded area


What would you change if you could? I would put in tanked oxygen instead of using an oxygen concentrator so I could work on boro glass.


Can you share an organizational tip? I frequently go to thrift shops and garage sales, and buy anything that might work as an organizer for my tools or supplies. For example, I found an old CD holder that I use to hold relatively small sheets of glass (organized by color); an old multi-drawer storage unit holds bits of dichroic glass (organized by color); desk drawer or eating utensil organizers hold polymer clay canes, and a variety of old glasses hold glass rods (organized by colors and length).


Describe the usual state of your work table? A cluttered mess consisting of bits of glass, pieces of clay, metal scraps, and other odds and ends.


Does your work table face out into the room or toward the wall? I have 3 work areas. The main area faces the windows and the view is gorgeous (especially in the winter).


What’s one drawback of your studio/artistic space? There is no running water. I get around this by keeping large water jugs of water inside. However, this is inconvenient, especially in the winter when the snow going out to the studio reaches about 12″ in depth.

Do you have any studio mascots (pets, mannequin whatever)? I have part of my turtle collection (glass, ceramic, stone, anything but real turtles) on the window ledge.

Do you have an idea wall or inspiration board? I have a place on the fireplace mantle where I keep some inspirational items. Most of these are things made by other artists, usually small glass sculptures and small blown glass vessels.

Do you listen to music in your studio? What kind? I have many CDs out in my studio, but almost always listen to Boston, Meatloaf, or Queen.

Do you display your own work in your studio? Other artists’ work? I display some of my own work, and some beads that I have purchased from other artists.

What’s one quirk or unusual feature of your studio? I have had moose come to visit (see picture of mom and baby moose).


What’s the best thing about working in my studio? Usually everyone leaves me alone!


Studio Snapshot – Janice Abarbanel

Artist name: Janice Abarbanel


Location: Massachusetts


Naftali Etsy

Crocheted Bracelets


Exploring the Art of Polymer Clay

Do you have a dedicated studio/artistic space? yes

Where is it located? In my basement

Is it a large or small space? It’s a pretty good size.



What medium(s) do you work in? polymer clay, metal

Do you have a separate area for each? yes The metals studio is the size of a bedroom. There I have my workbench, my soldering station, and a finishing station.


What do you think is the best feature of your studio? I have a good amount of storage space.



In the room with my polymer clay stuff, I have two large closets. As you can see, they’re great for storage. When we originally finished our downstairs, I had made a large craft area. The picture where you see the three stools still has remnants of some of the “artwork” done there. I just can’t seem to take them down! Next to that area is a large utility sink where I do all my sanding.


What would you change if you could? Rather than carpet, I would have some sort of tile.

Can you share an organizational tip? I use rare earth magnets to hold stuff so it doesn’t get lost on my bench and for easy access.


Describe the usual state of your work table? pleasantly messy!

Does your work table face out into the room or toward the wall? It faces a wall.


What’s one drawback of your studio/artistic space? Because it’s in my basement, there’s not much light. I would love a studio with a view!

Do you have any studio mascots? My pet dog Luca.

Do you have an idea wall or inspiration board? Yes, there are pictures pretty much all over the walls.


Do you listen to music in your studio? What kind? Yes. Classic rock, James Taylor, Lucy Kaplansky, Indigo Girls, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs, Sarah McLachlan, etc.


Scribble Beads, a progression

Judy Dunn has a great post on artistic progression. I had a post contrasting something I really liked very early in my polymer clay work with something from my current work, but it “poofed” with that block of 4 months of posts. The publication of my PolymerCAFE article had me digging through my photo archives to see the progression of my work with “scribble” designs.

The earliest photos I could find of any kind of TLS designs are from Fall 2002:



Not very well defined designs. My goal at that time was to mimic lampwork beads.


Throughout 2003 into 2004, I played around with the technique. I learned how to keep the lines from spreading. But, I had persistent problems with base beads cracking. It was so frustrating. I switched brands of clay, conditioning methods and ovens, and I still got cracks in about a third to half of my base beads. I also started playing around with a couple of different variations:



By 2004, I came up with the idea of glazing the base beads with tinted pearl liquid sculpey to seal up small cracks, mainly because I was tired of throwing away base beads. I loved the look. Tinted pearl liquid sculpey has become a staple in my studio. It gives the surface a soft shimmer a bit like a pottery glaze and highlights texture beautifully.

Beads from the Scribbles In Sand necklace:


I entered that necklace in Bead & Button’s 2004 Bead Dreams competition and came in second in the polymer clay category. Altogether I spent 2 – 3 years refining my technique. During that time, I had a few pieces featured in books. I thought about submitting an article to one of the magazines, but I never got around to it. I’m glad I finally did. Although I still use tinted glazes a lot, I don’t do much with scribble designs anymore. It was fun looking back through the photos and seeing my learning curve and variations. The photos don’t convey the frustrations along the way though. I was obsessed with this for a couple of years, but the process was very worthwhile. It was the first polymer clay work I had done that felt moderately distinctive. You can see a few more photos at Flickr.

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