It's new issue time again - I have a cute, heart charm bracelet in this one, using colorful plastic hearts and my Ace of Hearts charm. This is one of the Short One's favorites. He always likes to inspect packages that arrive at the house (he still thinks they are all for him). When the bracelet was shipped back to me from the publishers, he spent several days admiring the hearts and putting it on his stuffed monkey. Hey, even monkeys need accessories now and then, right?
This ends my current run in Step by Step Beads - I've had projects in this magazine since last September. I'm so grateful to the editors - thank you! As usual, the photography is beautiful, and the projects are stunning (including one of my all time favorite pieces by Lorelei Eurto) - I really love the cover piece on this month's issue.
Well, my blog posts may be a little spotty for the next week or two. I'd sort of resolved not to enter any contests this year, due to my limited work time right now. However, last night I had a brain wave, spent a couple hours sketching furiously, and, like an idiot, I've decided to rush around and try to complete two pieces for an imminent deadline. Ugh. Why do I do things like this? Why? So, if I'm not around that much, that'll be, well, why.
Here's the Short One's rendering of a nice, spring green bowler hat (why, what did you think it was?). We're grimly hanging on to thoughts of spring, here, with snow expected over the weekend. (I know that we are not the only region in the U.S. expecting the white stuff - I hope you stay warm, wherever you are.) I'm sure the SO will be delighted to see it, as he still periodically wakes up in the morning, looks out his window and says, "Where did the snow go?"
I hope everyone has a great weekend. In the meantime, here are you intriguing bead and jewelry links:
Welcome to Ornament Thursday! This month's theme is "Celadon". I initially thought I would be working with a piece of jade, but I found this slab of chrysoprase when I was rooting around in my stash and ended up getting distracted (a common occurrence in this household, for various reasons).
This was an interesting exercise for me. Usually I pair chrysoprase with white or pastel colors - that tends to be my immediate inclination. However, I thought it would be interesting to combine it with more of a brown tone, here. I purchased the taupe-colored twisted cord specifically for this project. To be perfectly frank, I hardly ever design with this shade, as it has a tendency to clash with my skin tone. However, I think it actually works quite nicely with the pale green of the chrysoprase here. I added copper rose colored potato pearls above and a slightly brassier shade of biwa pearl below.
Interested in seeing other celadon-inspired projects? Please visit these links to the other OT members projects:
Celadon Dreamer Michelle Zimmeman creates a dreamer box from one of her molds and Helen Bradley grabs another for her jewelry project.
Embellished Ear Wires Lynn Kvigne of Beading Help Web shows you how to create these embellished ear wires in spring colors (like Celedon!)
The results for Scarlett Lanson's first Use the Muse contest are now up, so I can share my piece with you. I have to admit, I visited the grand prize winner's (Cynthia Newcomer Daniel) blog before the results were posted, and I could tell just from the sneak peek photo she had posted of her piece that I would not be in contention for a prize. It is drop dead gorgeous. Why take my word for it, though? Go view the results here, including all of the lovely winning pieces.
Nevertheless, I had a fun time with this contest. The Muse component was a lovely piece of brass filigree. Brass filigree is not something I usually use - in fact, this was the first time I actually tried to design with a piece of it. I really love that about design challenges - it often forces you to think outside of your usual design box. (And yet the end result was still typical of me. How strange. Hmmm.)
Anyway, this was all a case of serendipity. The ornate filigree reminded me of a harem gate, so I wanted to create a piece that suggested a seraglio. You may recall that I had recently purchased a hoard of resin beads at one of my local bead stores. One of the pieces was a huge cola-colored resin donut. I felt it went beautifully with the brass Muse and decided to pair them up. I glued ornate brass clasps to the back of the donut to act as connectors. The swag at the bottom (which uses the contest kit beads) is suspended from a seven-hole brass end bar. I used orange resin rondelles and Czech glass leaves to suggest miniature oranges. I found a bunch of brass clapperless bells to add a gentle jingle to the piece. I added a different kind of resin - ocean amber - for texture. I finished the piece with big brass barrels, Czech glass and more resin.
The level of this contest was really high - all of the entries are beautiful. In fact, Scarlett has added a Participant's Choice category, and I am having a terrible time narrowing down my choices so I can cast my vote. If you missed entering the contest, there will be another one running in April. Be sure to check Scarlett's blog if you would like to enter.
Hey, even a young techie's fancy turns to thoughts of love in the springtime. That's my premise, here, at least. Here's my Geek Love pendant (which spells out the word "love" in binary code) framed by a cool Fly Eye Tab by Sarah Moran on one side and a clean square toggle clasp on the other.
The Short One had a play date today at local indoor play area (despite thoughts of spring, it's back in the 30s here where we live, sigh). After half an hour of frenetic but amicable play time a boy we didn't know (but who appeared to be about the SO's age) came up to the SO with a smile on his face. I thought I was about to view a cute interaction, so I watched them - to see the little so-and-so spit a mouth full of water square in the SO's face and then smirk at him.
The SO was quite distressed by the whole encounter, not to mention wet, but unfortunately, the boy's mother either didn't notice the exchange or didn't care, and I was left with the dilemma about what to do about the whole situation. I didn't feel right about presuming to discipline a stranger's child, but I didn't want the SO to think this was acceptable, either. (Frankly, I don't think I would take all that well to having water spit in my face, either.) In the end, I simply informed both of them that spitting was very rude, stayed with the SO until he calmed down and told him to ignore the boy and go play with his friends. Which he did after a little coaxing.
He came home happy and said he had a good time (although he did request to change his wet shirt, which seemed quite reasonable to me), so I kissed him and told him I was proud of him. Still, I must confess (outside of the SO's hearing) that I'm still pretty annoyed at that little squirt and his parent. But I suppose that's motherhood for you, eh?
I was flipping through my workbook last night when I came across this. Although I didn't date this entry, as you can tell by the heading (if you can read my handwriting - my mother claims it hasn't improved since I was about seven), these were my preliminary sketches for entries in the first Bead Star contest held last year. I thought this was a pretty clear illustration of my design method, so I thought I'd share it with you. Now, sometimes, I just get out the bead board and start playing with shapes and colors of beads, without doing any preliminary sketching, but I often find this the most efficient way to design my pieces.
At the time I drew this, I owned a strand of center-drilled keishi pearls and a variety of loose freshwater pearls and that's about it. I had never made a medallion shaped-dragon heart pendant or related clasp at that point but thought it would be interesting to try. (This is kind of embarrassing, but I had also never wire-wrapped a horizontally drilled teardrop-shaped bead, either - I had been creating jewelry for less than a year at that point - but that's a different issue. I often find that my designs are more ambitious than my limited technical skills, but I feel that it keeps me on my toes. And you never know what you can do until you try, right?)
As you can see by my notes, I felt that a drop-shaped bead would work well dangling at the bottom of the focal, but I didn't have an idea at that time what kind of bead I might be able to use. With this draft in mind, I went shopping during a local bead show and found some nice faceted onyx drops. (And I opened my copy of Stringing to the basic skills section, and learned how to wire-wrap them. Ahem.) I also found a larger faceted round onyx bead to string immediately above the dragon heart pendant. In the end, the piece turned out like this:
As you can see, the over-sized drops I found didn't need any further embellishment (and I only needed three of them), and I changed the clasp from a toggle to a button (and fiddled with the scale of the pendant). However, overall, the design came out pretty similar to the initial concept, right? In this case, using a preliminary sketch helped me focus the design more quickly and streamlined the whole process.
Of course, it doesn't always turn out this smoothly - you can probably also see a partial sketch of one of my double koi pendants on that page. That necklace design didn't quite work out for me, and I never completed it. Still, putting the concept down on paper first helped me determine that I didn't want to take the process further with that particular piece.
Oh, and how did I do with my entry? Well, I did make the finals last year, but I didn't end up placing. This piece ultimately appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Stringing, instead. However, if you are not already aware - Bead Star 2009 is underway! Go here for more details.
Here's the SO's "March comes in like a lion" artwork from cooking class (we do art projects as well as cook in that class, yay). Cute, eh? He loves making a mess with craft glue (and then complaining, in some surprise, that his hands are all sticky - one of these days I hope he'll make the connection between the two).
I've been busy finishing up my taxes - not much else going on here right now, although I'm itching to do a little beading. Maybe a quick project tonight... Hope all is well with you.
Without further ado, here are your intriguing links for the week:
About.com Jewelry Making Jewelry and taxes, ick! But maybe these tips will help you navigate through this beader's nightmare.
Art Bead Scene We all need a little bit more organization. Here's a nifty organizer for your tools.
I needed some 22 gauge sterling silver wire in a hurry, so I took the opportunity to drop by one of my favorite local bead stores, Chelsea's Beads, while the Short One was at his Mom's Morning Away class earlier this week. While I was looking around, Dawn, who is a huge bead enabler (okay, okay - my bead enabling threshold is pretty low) was showing me some of her recent beautiful creations, including a cute bracelet on stretchy cord with little stone dangles when she paused and asked, "Have you actually seen this chain yet?"
I hadn't, but I was immediately smitten when she showed it to me. There were a few different options there - peridot, amethyst (I think the third choice was amethyst) and iolite, and I ended up bringing a bit of the iolite home with me. This is 4mm faceted iolite wrapped in vermeil.
Chelsea's is well-known for having a copious amount of chain in various metals (they have a ton in different link styles - I believe a decent amount of it is available on-line as well), but I'd never seen anything like this delicate wire-wrapped stone chain before, so I thought I'd share it with you. Now, could you buy the components and wire-wrap something like this yourself? Yes, of course you could. Does it take the charm away from this chain? I don't think so. This is gorgeous, gorgeous stuff, very versatile and, of course, extremely fast and easy to use. The bracelet Dawn showed me was incredibly cute and used just a single ring from this chain (with the stones dangling from it - I think her version was tourmaline) strung simply with small circular beads. (If you want to have a closer look at the chain, click on the one of the above images.) I'm excited to use this, and I can see trying out different stone versions in the future. (By the way, if you, like me, drool after this kind of thing, I believe it is available on-line through the store's website.)
Here's one of my new pendants. I spent two years living on the south coast of England in a flat located about two blocks from the shore. Because I grew up in land-locked areas, I really enjoyed being so close to the ocean. In the summertime, I used to love going down to the beach at night and listening to the waves.
I'd like to say that I spent the time making this pendant thinking of Hemingway or Edgar Allen Poe or some such, but, well, in fact, I spent most of it humming that old Alan Parsons Project song, the one with the crooning refrain "To the sea, foreeevvveeerrr." Embarrasing but true.
I'd been debating whether to make this a simple line drawing and filling the spaces with resin or adding a little more texture and then patinating it. Ultimately, I liked the way the textured version looked. It's pretty simple, but I like it. (And, as you can probably guess from the fact that it's already attached to a wire-wrapped pearl, I already have plans for this particular one.)
We've finally had a break in the weather here. It's been mid-50s and sunny for the past two days (maybe that's not warm to some of you, but we'll take what we can get here), and the SO and I just returned from a jaunt to our local park/playground. What a relief it is to have all that space to run around in! Now I'm looking forward to shedding a few more layers of clothes and wearing short sleeves again.
We happened to be having lunch across the street from one of my favorite local bead stores over the weekend. I told the Husband that I wanted five minutes to "just look around", as I hadn't had a chance to see what they had brought back from Tuscon this year. Erm, about fifteen minutes later I walked out with the above strands of seed pods, as well as a variety of deep brown, rust and green tone beads. (Whom was I kidding? I wonder if H. believed me? I think I did pretty well to wrap up in fifteen minutes, actually...)
So, yes, with spring finally on the way, we've been thinking about autumn in this house. At least as far as jewelry design is concerned. I really love this strand of seed pods - the textures, the colors, and the shapes are all completely appealing. Every now and then I see beads that look so good in the strand that I'm reluctant to cut the them open, and I think this set definitely qualifies. Can't you just imagine a forest sprite wearing something like this around her neck?
In the end, I did cut the strand open and used a few of the beads last night, but I took this photo first, for reference. They're so tactile, it's hard to resist running them through my fingers. And the eucalyptus pod is still slightly fragrant, but not overwhelmingly so. Here's a sneak peek at what I did with them:
This little guy is a Japanese kokeshi doll - probably part of a nesting set, although I have no recollection of having any other kokeshi but him - and he really doesn't have anything to do with beads at all. I've had him since as far back as I can remember, at least since I was 4, and like the wooden beads I showed you earlier in the week, he arrived on our doorstep in a package of toys that my mother shipped up to give to the Short One.
Cynthia Thornton has a wonderful post on her blog about a set of beautiful kokeshi she recently painted. It reminded me of my own childhood, although the little guy above is obviously a much cruder specimen. Cynthia's are completely gorgeous, so you should take a look, if you have time. (Being a collector by nature, it's all I can do not to start amassing a grouping of kokeshi, but I'm trying to resist mightily at the moment, as every spare spot in our house right now is taken up with, well, with BEADS.) Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate to show him to you today, since my bead blog post for the week is about the lovely shibuichi clasps that Green Girl Studios creates.
With no further ado, here are your intriguing links for the week:
Art Bead Scene It's March and the snow is beginning to thaw. Color comes alive in Red Fish for this month's challenge.
Carmi's Art/Life World Carmi turns a gift of hand felted beads into some lovely new rings! Perfect for spring.
About.com Jewelry Making New Lucky Earrings Project - Hot off the jewelry press table, here's a new earring project just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
Yikes, I completely meant to post this last night but ended up going to bed with the Short One, instead. Remember this piece?
And this one? (Actually, I'm not sure I ever posted a photo of this one to the blog - the necklace appeared in the Gallery of the July 2008 issue of BeadStyle. It's not a great photo - one of these days I will re-take it.)
We went to eat at our local Chinese restaurant yesterday, and I scored a couple of really nice fortunes. I now have a collection of about 6 good ones (it's amazing how difficult it has been to collect really positive fortunes recently, and I only use ones I actually find in the fortune cookies from my local restaurants - call it a little quirk on my part. Although to be fair, I did ask my waiter to if I could buy a dozen one time I was visiting the restaurant about a year ago. I got peculiar looks from the wait staff for a while after that - and I didn't get any usable fortunes from that bunch, either...).
Anyway, I have a completely new necklace design in mind for one of them - now it's just a question of, well, making the bezel, firing it, burnishing it, sealing the fortune and sinking it in resin. So, er, knowing me, it could take a while (sigh). Anyway, it's what I've been pondering for the past few weeks.
Also, I have two new bead designs in the works, yay! I cut the initial stamps for them on Wednesday. I'm having trouble deciding the right level of detail for the pieces, though. Hopefully, I will have something to show for them by early next week.
I'll be back later with the week's bead and jewelry links. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your day.
My friend Alexa Westerfield (see her cool earrings on the cover - they are second from the top on the right - the cool blue ones with the peach background color) alerted me to the fact the above book, earrings, earrings, earrings! (Softcover version) by Barb Switzer, is now available in bookstores. As you can probably guess from the title, this book is full of very lovely (and very clever - I kept muttering "darn, why didn't I think of that?" while I was reading it - a sure sign of designer envy if there ever was one, eh?) earring designs.
I put together three sets for this book - two earring and necklace sets and one earring and bracelet set. One uses my mischief charms, one uses my binary code Geek Love charms and pendants and the final one uses my koi. Here's a pic of the final one, entitled "Summer Festival":
(This is the photo I used to submit the project - the actual photos in the book are completely stunning.) If you are interested in earrings, please do give it a look!
Every now and then, I am reminded that I come from a family of pack rats. My mother periodically sends up boxes of my old toys for the Short One to play with (she even still has my baby teeth, I believe, although I doubt she'll be sending those up to us - I hope not, anyway). This was in the latest shipment. I'd forgotten all about them. My father gave these to me when I was about 7 or 8 - my mother said he found them at Saks Fifth Avenue when he was on a business trip to New York. So I guess I do have a little bead stringing in my far background, after all. I certainly do remember stringing them on stretchy cord and wearing them occasionally.
One of the things that strikes me about these beads as an adult is how incredibly well-finished they are. I wonder who made them? My family has always had a love affair with German-made wooden toys, so I'm kind of wondering if these are from Germany as well. Oh, well - I doubt I will be able to find out now. I'll just let the SO enjoy them (which he has been, all over the carpet).
Did everyone have a good weekend? I spent mine using my Muse (see my post on the Use the Muse contest, if you are confused), and a happy experience it was, too. I'll save my stories of the piece until the contest has been officially finished, but I will say that it was one of those pieces that ended up just designing themselves (although I did have to go shopping for very specific components). Yay for good design days!
Happy Monday, everyone.
ps. The bead bowl is one of the SO's paint-a-pot masterpieces, by the way.
Here's a pic of the Short One's stash of Mardi Gras beads. It's always surprising to me how much kids love these shiny, cheap beads - every small visitor we've had to our house, whether boy or girl, has zeroed in on this pile with the accuracy of a jackdaw. The SO enjoys having me hide them around the house and then playing pirate to find his "buried treasure".
For myself, I remember at my very first Bead & Button Show several years ago, a vendor walking the show, exclaimed "You're not wearing any beads!" (this was back before I started beading - I attended the Marketplace to look for buttons for my knitting projects) and put a strand of these around my neck. I remember I wore them for about an hour before noticing I was getting a bunch of peculiar (in some cases horrified) looks from other attendeees. I finally realized they couldn't figure out why I was wearing such terrible beads at such a high-level show. I have to admit, though, I definitely have a fondness for them, myself.
I'm going to try to go back to my old posting schedule (ie, posts during the week with weekends off), so here are your bead and jewelry links to enjoy this weekend:
Candie Cooper Candie's back with some beading adventures...check out some earrings she made with her editor!
I am not a scrapbooker (it's embarrassing, but I haven't even organized my own wedding photos yet) and I don't really stamp, except for well, you know, using stamps on metal clay. The commercial stamps I do use these days are really pretty much limited to texture sheets and letter stamps. However, I was browsing in a local stationery store last month, looking for gift wrap paper for the Short One's birthday gifts (I ultimately found some cute wild animal print paper) and came across this set of graphic circle stamps (there're a bunch more in the box - I didn't take them all out for the photo). Isn't it cute? I found myself walking out of the store with it.
Me, being me, I haven't actually used them yet, but I can see that one could make simple circle charms with these and then fill them with cheerful colored resin for a pretty (and pretty easy) summer bracelet. (I know it's difficult to tell from the photo, but the circle stamps are about the size of a penny, maybe a touch larger.)
I went bead shopping in a big way over the weekend. As you can tell from the fact that some of the strands are open, I've already used a variety of these in new projects. I've always loved resin beads, but I've been quite determined recently to start incorporating them more prominently into my designs. I really love the root beer colored tube-shaped ones, above. I also picked up a bunch of larger Czech glass beads in autumnal colors. Umm, although, frankly, I'll just be happy if spring finally makes its way here. The weather here is sunny and in the 40s and everyone is walking around optimistically...
To my mind, when designing a piece of jewelry, selecting a clasp is as important as, and in some cases more important than, designing the focal (and, of course, in some cases the clasp is the focal). I'm always looking for unusual clasps and ways to finish my pieces. I thought I'd share a few beautiful finds, all made by the lovely folks at Green Girl Studios.
If you are a beader (and if you aren't, I hope you feel entirely welcome, but - how in the world did you find me?), you have probably already heard of Green Girl Studios and, chances are, you may already have a number of their beads in your collection. However, if you are like me, when you visit their booth at a show or surf their on-line catalog, your palms sweat, your vision blurs and you are so completely overcome by the sheer volume of beautiful beads in front of you that, inevitably, the circuits in your brain overload and you miss a few things. If so, might I suggest adding a few of these beautiful shibuichi clasps to your list, for the next time you shop with Green Girl Studios?
I love all of these - they are perfectly thought out, beautifully executed (not to mention just plain beautiful) and supremely functional, all at the same time. (Expect to see these in my finished jewelry in the near future.) They make my fingers itch to bead. In fact, I think I'll go get my beading board right now...
I've been meaning to show you these beads for weeks. Aren't they cute? I had a hard time limiting myself to just three of these Day of the Dead beads, as each one in the bowl was painted a little differently. I was going to say, "Guess where I found them?", but since the title of this post sort of gives it away, I suppose I'll resist the urge.
As part of his extended birthday celebrations, we took the Short One down to Chicago to visit a couple museums, including The Field Museum. Both the Husband and I were avid dinosaur enthusiasts in our shorter days (and, of course, I had a great interest in gem and minerals, too). We're both hoping the SO will take after us in this respect - and, really, have you ever met a little boy who didn't like dinosaurs? Oh, and before we get off the subject of dinosaurs, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has the coolest dinosaur puppet roaming the halls - I would love to see this in person:
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, the beads, the beads! So, we went down to the natural history museum in Chicago, and I decided to check out the gift store for any interesting rough cut stones I might be able to use in my jewelry. As it turns out, I didn't buy any stones, but I did find a surprising array of unusual beads - cat goddess beads from Egypt (Bastet or Bast, I believe she is called), Day of the Dead beads from Mexico. There were a few others, but they escape me, unfortunately. I know not everyone who reads this lives near The Field Museum, but I suspect many museums, especially the larger ones, may yield such interesting finds (if you know of any near you, please do leave a comment). So if you live near one, or will be traveling to an area that has one, be sure to check it/them out for beady finds, along with your usual array of bead stores (and rock shops, of course!).
Here's a pic of my favorite mug. Since the Short One's pottery class ended, he's been painting pots every now and then at the local paint-a-pottery. (I have not yet introduced paint into our house, as we don't really have an adequate work area set up for this sort of thing. It's a bit of a dilemma. At the moment, I'm pondering the merits of a child's folding table set up in the kitchen. Although, to give the SO his due, he has never been inclined to draw on the walls, which I take as a good sign. Either that, or the thought hasn't occurred to him yet....) At any rate, call me a fond mother, but I think his eye for color is actually pretty good. My morning coffee certainly tastes better in this cup than in any other.
Yes, it's that time of the week again - even more intriguing bead and jewelry links! I hope everyone had a good weekend.
I am an intellectual property lawyer by training and have a background in English Renaissance literature. I love science fiction. I primarily watch Sesame Street these days and find myself humming "Pop Goes the Weasel" at odd moments (guess why). I can happily eat ice cream in the middle of winter when the wind chill is 20 below 0. I have been making beads and designing jewelry since 2007.
2010 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Other Finished Bead Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2010 - Grand Prize, Gold Medal Winner, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Jewelry-Making Contest
2010 - Finalist, Bead Star, Stones, Plastics and Designs with Heart Categories
2009 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay
2009 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Beyond Glass, Handmade Beads and Components
2009 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Arts Awards, Necklace
2009 - Finalist, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist, Bead Star, Pearls
A quick note
Welcome to my blog (my "virtual home") and thanks for visiting. I love to hear from people, so please do feel free to leave comments. I'm also quite open to friendly discussions and even constructive criticism. Please note, however, that I will not approve of any rudeness or profanity here and any comments containing same will be deleted. Thank you!
A word about copyright
As indicated in the copyright notice, the contents of this blog are copyright by me. To the extent that instructions to make jewelry, beads, knit items or other instructions are included in this blog, they are free for you to use to make the projects for personal use. They should not be used for commercial purposes, ie, to make items for resale.