Wednesday, September 10, 2014

From Ugly Duckling . . .

Picture (snagged from online source) of a large, faceted tigerskin quartz bead.

Dull, bland and totally lacking character.  These were the words going through my head as I inspected my last remaining tigerskin quartz pendant.   It had been on a short strand with seven other trapezoidal (like a triangle with the top cut off, creating a stone with 4 corners) shaped stones but unlike the other stones that boasted eye-catching patterns and vivid swirls of fiery reds and rich gold and browns, this one lone stone was dull, bland and totally lacking any interesting detail.   It was merely a translucent, quartz trapezoid with a small cloud of white in its middle, along with a smudge  or two of  brownish tan.
Unfortunately I did not take a photo of my tigerskin pendant bead but found this photo online showing some tigerskin beads that have very little pattern and color - my bead would have been similar to the last bead on the right side of this picture.  Clear and uninteresting.
Back when I purchased this pendant bead I was new to the game of  bead shows and wholesale buying and admit that in those  tenderfoot days I made some bad purchases.  Certainly some of the less honorable vendors could see my inexperience and took advantage of my naiveté  but most were honest and helpful. Even back then I was reluctant about this purchase but it was a local bead and gem show, small in comparison to most national shows, and the show was on its last day of a 4 day  event.  Naively I roamed the exhibition hall looking for treasures and vaguely aware that most had been snatched during the show's first couple of  days.  What I was  now looking at were the dregs, the leftovers. 
When I spotted the  Tigerskin pendants they were new to me and I was fascinated by them and asked the vendor what they were.  He replied that they were Tigerskin Quartz.  There where were only 3 strands remaining, 2 of the strands had pendants that were badly chipped and the 3rd strand had the ugly duckling bead.   Hoping for a discount I pointed out the chipped pendant beads.  The vendor shrugged and indicated that the 3rd strand didn't have any chipped beads.  Obviously he wasn't interested in cutting me a deal so I was left with 2 choices; walk away and not purchase any of the strands or opt for the strand with the ugly duckling.  You've probably guessed which option I chose.
The ugly duckling sat in my supplies for several years, all of its siblings had been used in one or another of my necklace creations.  Reluctantly I took it out and studied it debating if I should just toss it.  Since there was little to lose, I began to experiment with it and attempted polishing it with my Dremel tool and polishing compound to buff out any scratches, trying to give it a high, gloss shine. After hours upon hours of polishing, ugly duckling looked as pathetic as ever.  On the verge of throwing it into my wastebasket I suddenly remembered I had a small assortment of patinas and glazes.  So began another experiment. 

Photos above and below shows my enhanced tigerskin quartz pendant with beaded bezel in progress.

Gold alcohol ink was gently dabbed on the back side of Ugly Duckling.  After the alcohol ink  dried,  I was impressed with the transformation but decided to carry it further.  The next coat was a light dabble of copper alcohol ink and then a coat of African bronze patina.  The layers of glazes and patinas created wonderful depth to this pendant, which is, unfortunately,  hard to perceive in my photos.
To protect this finish I applied a couple of coats of epoxy resin.  Once the resin was thoroughly cured, the task of creating a beaded bezel began.  Using dark bronze, metallic glass beads and Swarovski crystal pearls to create and embellish the bezel.  I then fashioned a rope necklace with lush Czech glass seed beads using a twisted herringbone stitch.  The beaded pendant bail is rich with a fringe of more Swarovski pearls, bronze glass beads, seed beads and Czech firepolished beads.
I do believe the Ugly Duckling has become a graceful swan or maybe it's a butterfly.  What do you think?


  1. It's stunning!!!! Great idea using those inks!

  2. Most likely it has blossomed into a beautiful flower with your love and care, Anna :) Just goes to show how the humblest of components can become a star! Well done (and congrats for being so persistent) :)

  3. Absolutely gorgeous! I had no idea you could use patinas and inks on a stone in the first place but what you did with the stone is a miracle! The beaded bail with the fringe is so beautiful, it's one of the things I have to learn to make :)

  4. what a transformation! stunning beadwork, and the stone has some great depth of color now! well done

  5. It's certainly never going to be called an ugly duckling again. I'm glad you found a way to make it a stunner.

  6. Great work and an inspiring story- persistence does pay off.

  7. Really Beautiful work Anna :)

    I had no idea so much went into caring for a stone. Like I have said often you must have the patience of a Saint, 'cuz the work and attention to detail that goes into your jewelry making is amazing :)

    Have a wonderful Friday, cheers, T. :)


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