Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tamara Did What with Washers?

One day a few years ago, I was aimlessly strolling through Wal-Mart. In fact, I was aimlessly strolling through Wal-Mart last week. What a coincidence. On the fateful day in 2009, I got bored and started looking for jewelry components in the plumbing section. Voila! Univeral valve handle!!! (That's the flower looking thing on the right. Used for things like gas tanks and water hoses.) Down the aisle, there was a washer plumbing kit. I made this piece in just 17 hours:

Photo courtesy of Lauren Miller

Fire Powered Plumbing won finalist in the 2009 Fire Mountain Gems beading contest. That was the same year I won Grand Prize Silver with Demeter. Anyway, Fire Powered Plumbing is one of my all time favorite designs. It only took me two years and this illustration of Jenna's for me to realize that I have found a creatively unique niche.

Generally, I know when ideas are good, but sometimes I need a little help. So, I promptly found every washer in the apartment and amassed them into a pile and created this cuff a few weeks later. I used the color scheme of Lavender, Pea Pod, and Silver Cloud so I could enter the piece in the Fashion Colorworks 2011 beading contest. It is called "Pastel Twilight."

The toggle is a personal accomplishment, since I don't make very many that are multi-layered. There are two rows of peyote stitch in size 11, with bugle beads and rocailles as accents.

Each washer is a different size or shape and is embellished in a unique manner, according to whim. The thread is exposed where it anchors the beads in place.

I am proud of myself! I have accomplished the oh so difficult feat of branding myself. (Sounds painful.) I have a style! Woooo!!!! More to come.

Tune in next time for:

Whose Got Balls?


Whose Got Balls?


  1. i love your piece, and I love shopping the hardware section too! I learned that you could find a lot in the hardware section for a lot cheaper then they sell the same thing for in the craft section. You must written an article about this a few years ago. I remember reading it and buying the washers, but they are still sitting there. Seeing your beautiful pieces reminded me and makes me want to get them out and play!

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring :)

  2. oh wow, this is really beautiful! What a fab idea to make something really unique

  3. Thanks ladies! These washers have endless possibilities.

    Liss, I always try to find supplies locally before ever ordering them from a catalog. Helpful tip if you don't already know this one: A 125 yard spool of Fireline will cost you roughly $13 at Wal-Mart instead of $27 at Fire Mountain Gems. If you prefer white Fireline, go to Bass Pro Shops, since Wal-Mart doesn't carry it. My favorite washers are the free ones I pick up off the ground! I even found a squashed aluminum grommet yesterday. :-)

  4. Just blew me away! Beautiful piece!

  5. I hereby declare you "Maven of the Plumbing Department"...too bad my hubby just left Home Depot!!! LOL...That's OK I've been raiding his tool chest and workroom ALOT lately!!
    I betcha if done right the guys would LOVE to have a necklace or bracelet or ring(Hmmmm...light bulb goes off)made from this totally awesome line you've developed!!

  6. I appreciate the honor Donna!I've been thinking about a line for male customers myself. As long as it's simple and the colors are subdued, there might be a market for it. I've also decided to purchase washers by the box from now on. :-)