Welcome to my blog. I am a Histotechnologist and a Jewelry designer/maker. This blog is my way to tell you about my life and my art. I love art and science. Finally, my jewelry is bringing them together. I am inspired daily by the art and science I see under the microscope. Come with me on this fascinating journey as we explore the blending of art and science. Thank you for coming. Please come back. contact me: mdpraetATgmail.com

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Special Stains - What does that mean?

Thought I would take a minute and explain a little more about histological special stains and what they have to do with jewelry making.

Cell constituents and intercellular material are mostly transparent. They require a coloring agent to distinguish them from each other under the microscope. General biological stains use one, two, and three different dyes to differentiate the nucleus from the cytoplasm of cells and to differentiate between tissue types. Special stain procedures for example demonstrate collagen, elastin, fungus, or the disease process, etc.

There are artificial and natural dyes used in histology. Artificial dyes are produced through chemical means from substances in coal tar. Natural dyes are from plants or insects, Hematoxylin (which requires a metal mordant) is the most common and valuable to histology, is obtained from the logwood tree.

I have been working with these dyes and stains for many years. Seeing the way they react with the tissue components in various ways has always created such an artistic display on my slides, I just had to find a way to translate that to my art form of jewelry making. So now, I put together color combinations I see in a particular stain. Then I think about the tissue / constituents it demonstrates and I decide if I have a bead, stone or wire component that could depict them. After that is done, the hard part begins, designing the stitch or stringing pattern I want to use to reflect the stain.

When it all comes together it is truly amazing!  It certainly has widen my horizons. I was stuck in boring color combinations. Over my next few posts, I will explain in more detail the stains I already have in my collection.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Patterned Wire Cuff

Here is the bracelet I made in the class on Sunday. It is so beautiful. I had such a great time. I love wire working. I wish I had discovered this form of artistic work many many years ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday June 26, 2011 Jewelry Making Class

Linda and I took a wire working class  "The Patterned Wire Cuff" on Sunday at Bead & Art in Lighthouse Point time with instructor Matt McNeil. He was just so awesome, talented and very knowledgeable. He was an excellent teacher, making sure we understood how to make the bends in the wire and explaining how to use the various tools. We could not have been happier with the class.  Thanks again, Matt.

It was also, a pleasure to meet two more of the ladies that went with Linda on the Swarovski cruise a couple of months back. Fin McNeil, co-owner of Bead & Art and Barbara McCarthy were also in the Second Place winning group the Crystal Mermaids who along with Linda, Mega and Terri designed the jewelry "Sunshine on Seaspray".  I hope to someday meet the other members of this winning group, Gerri Churchill, Marjorie Bailey and Susan Lowell.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Surprise Visit

I had a surprise visit today from a customer who came by the lab to let me know how much his wife liked the bracelet he purchased from me at the Florida Histology Meeting. That makes me feel so good when a customer is happy.  I think he was a little surprised that she liked his taste. I really try to make the men understand how many brownie points they'll get if they pick out a piece of jewelry, purchase it (and of course I help them by providing the wrapping) all without her knowledge.

Tonight I am finishing up a bracelet using black tila beads with black 11, 15 seed beads and drops. It will be fun to have a new one to show Linda when she get here on Friday.

Special Stain Collection

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Special Stain Collection, a set on Flickr.

I uploaded this collection in a photostream so you can click on any photo and enlarge it to see more details.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 18 & 19th, 2011

Well, this weekend was not nearly as much fun as last weekend. I had to bead alone. As you can see, I was able to accomplish quite a lot. I completed two new necklace, the Steiner and the Trichrome. I am particularly please with the Trichrome. The colors are so very vibrant. The 12mm twisted bulge beads used in it made it come together very easily.

My sister, Linda is coming to visit this week so we can go to a bead show and take a class together to make a Patterned Wire Cuff. So, I am going to "slide" into the weekend by starting some projects early. The process of designing a piece of jewelry can take many twists and turns. Frequently, the final design is determined by the components I have on hand. I try to keep a farily large supply of beads and findings but it seems like I am constantly in need of something more. Therefore with a bead show coming to town, I need to line up my projects ahead of time. Maybe for once I can have a complete shopping list with me when we go to the show. Have a good weekand keep looking for your inspiration.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Award Winning Designers

Oh my goodness, I really messed up big time. My sister, Linda and her group came in second on the Swarovski Challenge during their cruise not third! I am even more impressed!  Here is the link to the Swarovski website with their winning design pictured. Take a look. It is  truly beautiful. http://www.create-your-style.com/Content.Node/events-and-stores/events/anchors_away_Cruise_2010.en.php#Winning

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creating is Soul Therapy

My soul and my hands become desperate to craft if I get too busy with other things. It's like therapy for me. When life becomes hectic and stressful I retreat to my craft room. Sometimes it is about saving money by making and fixing things but oftentimes it is only about creating. Creating beautiful jewelry is my soul therapy!

Designing Jewelry

My ability to design jewelry has grown through the years. I started out learning a stitch and then a pattern (frequently from a beading magazine).  I always tried to make it my own. I never want to copy it. The choice of beads, colors and components available make it easy to change the pattern a good deal. In the picture below, I made the brooch in the center similar to the one published in Beadwork Aug/Sept 2006, Crystal Radiance Brooch by Tina Koyama. The ones beside it are my variations.

Now, I try to push myself to find the right technique and materials to express life at the microscopic level.  By thinking about the stains we use in the lab to depict various tissue structures and disease processes, I have begun to step outside my box when choosing color combinations and components in my designing and making jewelry.  I realized recently, we all get too comfortable in our choices staying with the same colors and styles, in jewelry as with many aspects of our life.

Perphaps, it is time to step outside the box, mix it up a bit and try something different. If you usually wear small and dainty - try something big and bold!  If you usually wear studs - try some long dangle earrings.  If you have to wear them around the house for several days before you get up the nerve to wear them out, that's okay! Try a different color. You might be surprised at the response you get. 

I truly love watching someone try on my jewelry and seeing them fall in love with it. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Weekend Fun

Mega, Linda and Terri sharing their expertise with me.
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Weekend Fun

Over the years, it has been my pleasure to share my crafts with others and none more than this past weekend. My sister, Linda also has a passion for beading and making jewelry. We spent almost the entire weekend together beading. This time she was the "master" sharing patterns she had learned with me the "grasshopper". We tend to trade those rolls often. Sunday was spent with Linda, and her friends Mega and Terri in Terri's lovely home. Terri was the "master" Sunday helping all of us to wire crochet a necklace. You would think with all the sewing I have done through the years, crochet would be easy for me. However, that is so far from the truth. I felt like a real clutz. What a blast we had sharing and laughing all day.

Linda, Mega and Terri just returned from a beading cruise to the Bahamas. I am so proud of them. They are now award winning designers. Their group won third place in the Swarovski crystal challenge. Their necklace will be  pictured on the Swarovski website and in BeadStyle magazine. Doggone it, I had to stay home and work! Work just really gets in the way of my beading.

I am hard at work on adding to my Special Stain Collection. I have put together beads of different colors and shapes ready to depict quite a few new stains. I hope to work on the actual designs this weekend. I want to continue trying to make the designs reflect the tissue structures as well as the colors. The one I am mulling over is the Trichrome Stain. I think to use red bugle beads to depict muscle will be cool.

Weekend Fun

Linda and Mequita beading together
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Affairs To Remember

May 20, 21, 22, 2011 was the Florida Histology Meeting in Tampa where my Special Stain Collection was introduced to my professional colleagues. Rita Lovshe of LabStorage gave away the AFB Stain Necklace as their vendor giveaway. Rita and the winner Heather are in the top photo. Heather was so excited. She has been the supervisor for a Special Stain lab for 9 years. Thank you, Rita for making Heather so happy.

Feb. 8, 9, 10, 2011 my sister, Linda, and I went to the Tucson Gem and Bead show. It was Bead overload. However, we really had a great time being inspired and shopping till we were ready to drop.
I hope to go again next year. It makes a really good side trip when visiting my youngest son, Lance, and my grandsons, Jett and Dylan.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update on How It All Began

I forgot to tell you, my Mom (who is well into golden years) made me a Princess Belle costume for my granddaughter's fifth birthday party in April. The birthday party had a princess theme. Notice the pin holding my shawl in place. That is one of my jewelry pieces.