Lately I’ve been “shopping my stash” for new design ideas–going through my countless drawers of goodies (beads, findings, wire, chain) to see what inspires me. It’s a concept that’s become popular in home decorating, seeing what’s already on hand that can be repurposed/rearranged/upcycled.

I have some examples today, riffs on an older design. I’m using tiny, tiny hand rolled silver beads culled from strands of Thai hill tribes silver beads. I used these a couple years ago, alternating the silver beads with turquoise chips.

But this week I’m using tiny, tiny, tiny turquoise chips. And teensy tiny pearls. And very, very small faceted crystals of smokey quartz.

How tiny? Well, the pearls are about 2mm. The turquoise chips, about 3mm. I cannot even imagine how the holes are drilled in such tiny beads. (For reference, I’ve put a #2 pencil in one of the photos.)

I thought working with these 4mm pearls would be tough, til I saw these 2mm versions!

My thumbs hurt from picking up such tiny things, and when my eyes began to swim a few minutes ago, I decided to take a break and write instead.

But it’s worth it. Because I love the extreme delicate look of these. And I especially love how the tiniest of my artifacts (stones, otters, birds, bears, horses) look with them.

The weird thing is, sometimes as my brain struggles to wrap itself around this miniscule work, I can feel my thoughts narrow down, too. For example, this is what popped up as I made a little stone for one of these necklaces today.

I realized I’ve always hesitant to show my work in “real time”–as I’m making it, etc. So much of my work has been copied over the years. A “crafter” here in NH actually “borrowed” my popular Sea Stone and Pearl designs a few years ago, to make her own line of jewelry with the same colors, identical components, even a similar-sounding name. She was on my mailing list for awhile, so she either bought some from me or visited my booth the year I introduced them. She now sells them at smaller fairs in the region. Ow. Last year, a customer came in who’d bought a piece from her and raved about her work, saying that I would really enjoy it, because “she does stones, too.” I had to bite my tongue….hard. I see some evidence she is evolving in her designs so that it’s more her own work.

I console myself with the idea that I must be one of her artistic “heroes”. And pray for her to evolve faster….!!!

My lizard brain wants to dwell here, nursing old hurts and grudges. But I try to let go.

After all, I can’t control this. And though it’s painful, I’m trying really, really hard not to give it too much energy anymore.

We are ALL inspired by others. I am. I just try to make sure that, as an idea comes to me from someone else, it gets substantially transformed into something that’s truly mine.

It also happens that different artists work through different ideas from different directions, and innocently converge onto similar territory. That’s happened to me a lot, too. There are, after all, very few truly new things under the sun.

Whatever. It happens. It’s time to move on. And so, in that light, there will more images in my blog from now on.

Who benefits? YOU do! You get to preview my new work for the show. You get to sneak a peek at the less messy parts of my studio.

Hopefully, I benefit, too. I get to spread the joy as I work.


Older version of silver and turquoise with bird below, newer, more delicate version above!
Elegant neutrals--tiny faceted smokey quartz crystals, old silver, faux lava artifacts with a tiny faux bone accent. Pretty!
Tiny smokey quartz and little tuquoise pearls, with artifacts...
Tiny antique red white heart glass beads, made in Venice and traded around the world. I love how they look with the old silver, my red faux coral artifact and my little ancient horse (with real coral).

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.


  1. I have to admit that the delicate stuff is pretty but I do like the bigger stuff better. Now and then I work with very teeny beads… I have worked I think with 2mm and 3mm garnets for example. They come out really pretty but OMG it does drive you nuts doesn’t it? Keep up the beautiful work, and keep posting pics for us. I can’t decide what I covet precisely but I love to see it all. I have horse earrings, and my son has a loose bear, and I have sent a bear to a friend who was sick. Now I am sick. But do I want a bear, another horse, or what? Have I not also seen small items with spirals and little hand prints? I love it all. viva Lascaux! and Les Trois Freres.


  2. I love these posts–where you have the grace to come forward and show us that grace is hard work! (Was it you that commented that copycats can only go where you have already been?)

    Looking forward to seeing more of your designs in real time. Loving the tiny delicate work.


  3. recently I found my artwork on another persons website. That was a very odd feeling…my first thought was…hey- that looks familiar…then I had that weird out of body experience when I realzied it was actually my own work I was looking at. The artist didn’t claim to make the art, but posted it with out permission and didn’t use my name. When I emailed her, she did remove it…
    I can imagine how you must feel to see your work copied so exactly by another artist…there is a fine line between inspiration and out right copying…


  4. It’s mighty hard when someone is “inspired” by your work so much that their work starts to look like yours. But moving on is such a state of grace, and so important. Good for you! And gives those eyes a rest, that teeny stuff can take a toll.


  5. you’re a better woman than I. I may have had to say something along the lines of how she was a customer on the mailing list before she came out w/ ‘her’ work.


  6. Really, if there was anyone I would copy, it would be you. I’m searching for my style, but could never, would never reproduce your work. What must people think who do that? Where is their inner artist? Where is their pride? And how can they look in the mirror?


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