Monday, January 24, 2011

The origins of Bracelet Workshop

I have a new Etsy shop- called "Bracelet workshop".
For 10 years or more I've been making a particular type of bracelet- They are made of many different bead like components (that I design and craft by hand) and strung on a leather bracelet strap with a buckle closure.

I started making them when I was in Italy,
I came up with the idea in a funny way- first, I have to say I have never been able to wear bracelets- they drove me crazy- I just simply disliked having metal on my wrists. Well, one day I noticed that my cat's collar was looking a bit scruffy...I decided that I needed to replace it- so (instead of measuring it) I put it on my wrist to remind myself to go buy a new one.
My sweet kitty, "Chet" 1991-2002

And then I went on my way, tra la la throughout my day...going to the workshop, stopping at the Irish Pub for a Guinness on the way home (only a wee one, I'm not much of a drinker), doing some errands...then home, dinner, and sleep.

The next morning, I realised that I had worn that silly cat collar all day and night- never remembering it was even there. HMMMMMMM, interesting...that got my little metalsmith's mind clicking away...

Maybe it wasn't the bracelet that I disliked on my wrist- it was a matter more of comfort and flexibility.. after all, the cat collar did have studs of metal on it- but it didn't bother me at all!
hmmm, veddy intervesting! I started to think of how I could use this information in designing comfortable, wearable bracelets.Then I had my ah-hah moment.....

I guess being away from the southwest gave me permission to do something so blatantly southwestern. *shrug* who knows-
close up of buckle closure and concho slide backings on a "vegan"rubber strap bracelet

basically, I thought of a riff on a concho belt- using the same type of "slide" backing that enables the piece to be slid onto a belt. This would make the pieces independant of each other, allowing space for leather (or rubber/ fabric) to break up the metal backings- making the bracelet less "metal" feeling (while still being very much metal on the front side of the bracelet)plus, it added the flexibility I loved, and the leather (which reminded me of my many years as a horse back rider).Additionally, the buckle closure on the bracelet made it possible for these bracelets to be completely adjustable for most sizes of wrists.
some components and straps available at "braceletworkshop" on etsy

The components that make up these bracelets became "slide bead" conchos- I make them as little sculptures, sketches, technical explorations....they are unique to themselves, and I still find them to be incredibly satisfying to make, because each one of the handmade ones are an exploration. (either technical , material or artistic) 

Whew- I just wanted to do a short blog post today! LOL-
 all of this origins of the bracelet is my way of introducing my latest project- my new store "Bracelet Workshop" ( ) Where I am now selling my bracelet straps with buckles and slide bead concho components separately, as Build-your-own bracelets.
I'm excited about this venture- I think that the store is unique and will appeal to many people- bead collectors, artists, people searching for unique gifts...and anyone who wants to have a truly unique piece of designer jewelry that they helped design themselves.

OK, I've had enough typing today- I'm heading to the studio to make some cool stuff-
please feel free to share this blog post on twitter/facebook and help me get the word out about my new shop- I'd really appreciate it
ciao for now- Maureen BZ

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Tucson Arizona-
It's a beautiful day here today- blue skies and sunshine- and a peaceful sensation of hope and healing.
Last night, I walked to University Medical Center- less than a mile from my home- to visit the memorial shrine and to pray with my fellow Tucsonans for the healing of the victims and their families.

The president arrives in Tucson in about an hour - to attend a memorial service for the victims and to offer words and leadership to begin the path to healing and recovery. I pray that his words are heard by Gabrielle, and that they give her strength in her road to recovery.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

and another thing

As I continue to process all that has transpired here in Tucson, I search for reason and solutions.
It's plain to see that the young man who "allegedly" went on this rampage has a deeply troubled mind- and that his actions in the previous years have been clear indications of someone who needed mental health support.

My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this tragedy- I personally know more than one of the wounded. Fine people, going about their business, in their attempt to make this world a better place. In the coming days the shock of the events in Tucson will slowly diminish- and we will continue our lives as before-

However- My hope is that during the healing process we can also see and acknowledge that our services for the mentally ill are inexcusably underfunded - and that in the healing period that follows our priorities for funding are re-examined- with a concentration on helping our troubled citizens find the wellspring of healing that they -(and we as human beings and as participants in modern society)- so desperately need.


my thoughts on senseless acts of violence

I'm home again in Tucson- just getting our feet under us, we hear of our friend and congresswoman being shot by a confused and twisted youth.
I mostly blame TV- and it's power to influence minds in a hypnotic manner. What we have now (on Fox) amount to hatred pep talks- speeches and propaganda that twist facts and incite hatred and violence.
There is an amount of responsibility on cable news media that has been whittled away, using the first amendment not as a support of freedom, but a weapon of freedom.
 It is a sticks and stones mentality that needs to be re-thought. Names DO hurt people- we as a country (and the world) need to create a more respectful dialogue within our disagreements, otherwise senseless acts of violence will continue, with ugly words and ideas being the root cause.
As my son's Kung Fu teacher says at the end of every class- "Use words to uplift and create, not to destruct and put down"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

these are some people in the neighborhood....

Here are a few images of people in the neighborhood where we live in Florence-
Classic Florentini- in a colorful setting- just off the tourist track- a few steps from Palazzo Pitti
This gentleman has been selling books at this shop for decades-always open!

if I want to chat, I go visit Gianni Morganti in Piazza Santo Spirito- a great place for specialty items for the kitchen  

Che c'e di bello?

What is beautiful here?
reflections in the fish pond at Boboli gardens
Florence is a city of contrast- there are certainly problems, as with most cities, but she also has much beauty. Today I thought I'd share some of the beauty- (after all of my griping about the brutto- ugly- graffiti)so- here are a few of my favorite images of la Bella Firenze.....
the Neptune Fountain in front of Palazzo Vecchio

Sunday, January 2, 2011

lets hear it for the Nonne!

Today we went to visit with Guido's mom, who lives outside of Florence in a hillside village.
Guido grew up there, and it is where we still find his childhood friends and their mothers.
Today it was pretty mild out- not raining or too cold, so we brought Nonna Itala (Guido's mom) out to visit with her neighbor Eleanora (who just turned 92 on New Year's day). Two independent souls, growing old in Settignano. Three cheers for the Nonne (Grannies)!


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