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423 Southeast 69th Avenue
Portland, OR, 97215
United States


Filtering by Category: Beads

Jo's Spring '14 events: BUCKMAN Art Fair, MT. TABOR Art Walk & 3 all new Art CLASSES!


MARCH 8 (11-7) & MARCH 9(11-5), at Buckman Art Fair: I am pleased to be selling at Buckman again and hope you will join me in supporting this great arts elementary school. 30% of every sale goes to the school's arts programming! Come and find my table and shop for new Jo Brody jewelry!   MAY 17 & 18, 10-5 on the Mt. Tabor Art Walk: a wonderful way to see inside artists' homes and studios and shop extremely local! Mark and I throw open our doors wide, and share our passions for 3-D mosaics and handmade silver jewelry! 

CLASSES: register at ErasersBasic Beading and Found Treasures


Volunteer Today!


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A year ago I was laid off from a job I had for six years, a job I created because I felt a need in the community. (You can read all about it in the Healing Arts section of my website.) It was sort of an accident that I ended up getting paid for work that felt so good to my core. The Healing and Empowerment Program at Quest Center for Integrative Health served many people but it also served a need in me, the need to express gratitude for having made it through cancer treatment and for getting a big reality check every day about how lucky I was /am to still be here, living my life. That's what volunteering can be like! Not only are you helping others, you are getting something out of the bargain! 

CHAP Volunteers! from Celine O'Malley on Vimeo.

  Recently I have been volunteering at Portland's Children's Healing Art Project, a very cool organization that brings the joy of art making to sick kids in area hospitals and their families who are needing support too. You might think that I am working directly with kids, stringing golden beads with them for the Million Bead Project or getting messy with paint and glue side by side with smiling kids hooked up to IV's. Nope! The way CHAP differentiates those people who just need some extra community service or school credits and those who are going to be able to make longer term connections with the kids is to have volunteers make a 6-12 month commitment to working on projects in the CHAP art-y offices, gathering up art supplies, splatter painting their signature envelopes for event invitations or, and this is the fun activity everybody loves, gluing sequins on the brightly kid-painted items to be auctioned off to further support CHAP's mission. My 16-year old son has started accompanying me to volunteer, needing to do some volunteer hours for his High School Honor Society Club. I am trying to model how it's not the glamourous work that really needs the getting done but the behind the scenes work that any service organization runs on. And it's fun!   SO.... here's my pitch: Want to feel good about a couple of spare hours during the week that you weren't using any way? Volunteer Today! Maybe at CHAP or maybe at some organization whose mission you can really get behind. It feels good and makes the world a better place.

Getting My Gem Geek On


This weekend I am teaching a workshop at my home studio, "Let's Get Knotty", focusing on perfecting the art of knotting gemstones and pearls on silk thread. I love this technique because the softness of each silk knot really highlights the beads and the spaces between each bead allows the piece a gentle movement.I love sourcing gems from all over, but I especially love getting my inner Gem Geek on by going to the gem and rock fairs around the Portland area that pop up in County Fairgrounds and other quirky locales. These Fairs are often held in parking lots encircled by chain link fences and featuring other glamourous trappings like craft tents and fry bread!This weekend will find me at one such event, the Tualitin Valley Gem Club show, where my Gem Geek will be raging and my wallet will be frequently opening to purchase some really special gems and stones.Ordinarily I would give you a hyperlink to the show here, but these Rock Hounds are so serious about their rocks and gems that they simply have NO time to update their skeleton of a website. Anyway, if you want to go, meet me there on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at the Washington County Fair Complex

It is at these fairs that I really learn about the stones I am buying. I can usually see an example of the stones in their natural form and I can often meet the people that carve the beads and stone pendants themselves. This proximity to the stone's source adds a great deal of character and connection. Then, when I am stringing the beads or knotting them on silk, I have a better idea of the journey the bead or stone has made to get to me, and then to the buyer of the piece I am making. Another wonderful place to learn all about stones and gems is the fantastic Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. I was first introduced to this cool and extensive museum located in Hillsboro (very near the site of the Tualitin Valley Gem Club show!) on a 5th grade field trip with my son's class. I think I had the most fun of all the kids, seeing the endless rooms of a former private home in the forest encompassing vast quantities of examples of all kinds of fossils, petrified wood, huge meteorites, amazing fluorescent rocks, and a wonderful agate gallery. My personal favorite is the display of giant chunks of amber with real bugs inside! One of the highlights of the museum is "Alma Rose", the rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Colorado. Rhodochrosite is one of my favorite stones, having a lovely pink hue and many shades and forms to choose from.  

Kiffa Beads-Design for the Ages



I have been fascinated with these colorful beads from Kiffa, Mauritania since I set eyes on them at a bead show years ago. I bought a whole strand simply because I loved the story of how they are made using the most rudimentary techniques and yet look incredibly complex and modern. They are valued as representing the highest level of artistic skill and ingenuity among bead makers anywhere.    "Kiffa" beads (a name only attributed to these beads in the second half of the 20th century by bead dealers) are made by women using a wet inlay technique, in which monochrome, imported glass beads are crushed to powder, creating a palette of powdered colored glass. This powder is then transformed into a moist paste by mixing in a binder. This binder can be made of sugar, gum arabic or, most elementally, the women's own saliva. The colored powder is then spread with a needle over a core bead made from plain glass. This process, kind-of like needle felting, allows the designs to be carefully controlled, resulting in beautiful, intricate striped or dot patterns. Each bead is heated in a simple charcoal oven and sometimes polished after firing.

The result is a bead with a depth and personality as unique as it's maker.   These beads have been collected and traded for centuries. Each bead is described by a vocabulary that includes descriptions of color, material, shape, decoration and size. Many of the Kiffa beads have a polychromatic color scheme of blue, red and white and are decorated with triangles and chevron stripes. Eye-like circles are a common design feature. The diamond-shaped beads are often made into bracelets or sewn onto strips of leather in a specific ratio of blue to red to polychrome. Some of the patterns are believed to increase the fertility of their wearers.   Bead collectors are in love with Kiffa beads, because they represent what is special about old beads: they are/were made using simple techniques to achieve stunning and timeless designs. Click here to eavesdrop on bead collectors geeking out in an online discussion about Kiffa beads.  

Bohemian Rhapsody


Bohemia Map

I start with the beads that come from Bohemia, of course! This European region, now called the Czech Republic, is famous for colorful, richly textured glass beads in such vintage hues as coral pinks, cerulean blue, and jadeite green. Old Czech glass beads(and German glass too) are some of my favorite beads ever! I am a hoarder, an obsessive seeker, of these colorful little glass creatures and I am charmed beyond measure when I find a new bead that I know can only have been made in the past, when time was more plentiful than now, and fine craftsmanship was deeply valued.  Made in CZ Beginning in the 1560’s, a glass industry developed in the lush, green riverside villages of Jablonec and Nisou, near Prague. Hulking glass furnaces fueled by nearby forest timber and a plentiful supply of quartz deposit with which to create molten glass and press into molds allowed this region to enter the already thriving glass bead trade industry, centuries old, between Italy and Africa. The factory molds were used to create innumerable fantastical shapes including flowers, faces, feathers, animals and insects.   Vintage beads are by definition rare, and I like beads that play hard to get. Of course you CAN get them and the hunt is part of the fun. More on this later. For a start, visit my favorite local bead store, Dava Bead and Trade and ask them to lead you to Bohemia!  

I Love Old Beads!


african trade bead detail

Sometimes beads get a bad rap in the jewelry design biz. There are so many beads in this world, a vast swath of them crappy and cheap, that their value can seem diminished. I am not ever going to talk about the cheap, crappy beads here. I will only ever talk about the rare beads, the sexy beads, the old beads and the stunning beads. I will tell you about the time I paid too much for this one, or the odyssey I went on to see the place where that bead came from. Beads are a form of armchair travel, not just geographically but through time, stretching back thousands of years, to Neolithic times. If you have ever wondered why so many beads have a magical eye staring back at you, or would love to peek into a window on women in Mauritania making polychrome Kiffa glass beads using their own spit, I will take you there!  

Jo Brody's Studio Sale




  Friday, December 9th, 6 pm -10 pm Saturday & Sunday December 10th and 11th, 10 am - 6 pm

  Each piece is richly textured, hand forged & oxidized for an awesome new look! In addition to the new silver line, Jo has a slew of new jewelry in her signature style, rich with vintage beads, sexy gemstones and funky vintage brass dangles. As always, Jo will serve you delicious snacks & sips while you shop for gifts, and mingle with friends old and new.