Friday, February 24, 2017

Making Wrap Bracelets

I have been having fun making these wrap bracelets from a tutorial by one of my favorite bead artists, Nancy Cain. They are so much fun that I've been making at least one of them every week. I love seeing how they look in different colors.

Even though I use the same basic stitch on every bracelet, each one is a one-of-a-kind project. That is because using different beads for the accents makes each bracelet unique.

This pink bracelet, for instance. I knew that I wanted to use the rectangle pink beads with the gold design for my main focal beads. Then I rummaged around through my bead storage and pulled out all the beads I have that are 3 to 6 millimeters in size and that are in the pink color range. I have pearls, Austrian crystals, rondelles, druks, Superduos, fire-polished crystals, wooden beads, and more. As I was making the bracelet, I decided which of these beads I wanted to use for each section. Making these is a great way to use up small amounts of beads left over from other projects!

The seed beads in this bracelet are Miyuki Permanent Gold,  #P0471, size 11/0. I am using Fireline thread, 6 lb. The stitches are a combination of RAW, herringbone, a modified daisy stitch, and picots. There are six sections, broken up by the five main focal beads, and each section has its accent beads added with a different stitch.

I've been using magnetic clasps on them, which has been working out beautifully. They are just as much fun to wear as they are to make! I've been wearing the bracelet that I made for myself for about a month now, almost 24 hours a day, and it is holding up well. I always get compliments on it. I feel confident with the quality of these bracelets and am going to go ahead and list them in the Bead Street Studio Etsy shop for sale. Give me a few days to write up the listing and take more photos and then they will be in the shop for you to get a closer look at them.


The blue dragonfly is the one I've been wearing. It's not for sale.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Spiral Earrings Tutorial by Sasha Si

If you do not already own Sasha Si's Spiral Earrings Tutorial, run over to her Etsy shop and buy it now. The basic earring is a quick and easy make, not to mention that it produces a beautiful pair of earrings, but this tutorial lends itself to tons of ways to vary the earrings and put your own spin on them. You don't need any prior beadweaving experience for this tutorial. Sasha explains every step thoroughly. If you can thread a needle, you can make these, yet because of the endless variations, they are great fun for advanced bead lovers as well.

I am having so much fun playing with this tutorial and trying different things! I'm going to show you a few of the variations that I played around with, and I'm sure there are tons more that I haven't tried yet. But I will!

(all bead-weaving in photos is complete, though in some I haven't put the ear wire on the earring yet)

Using different sized beads
Increasing starting bead count
The basic tutorial uses only two sizes of beads, 8's and 11's, (middle earring). I made a larger version using 6's and 8's (right) and a smaller version using 15's and 11's (left). I also made an extra long version of the earring by increasing the bead count at the beginning of the tutorial.

Then I wanted to see what I could do with color. Here is the red, white, and blue striped result of that experiment. I think it looks pretty cool. I'd like to see what else I can do with just color to make them look different.

I've also been substituting other beads for the 8's, and getting great-looking results! Here are the photos, captioned with the type of bead I substituted.
3mm crystals
3mm pearls
Super-Uno Beads

Miyuki Tiny Drop Beads
 I'd love to hear what variations you tried with this tutorial and how they worked out. Now, I think I see some daggers on my shelf that I want to try out with these earrings...


Sunday, January 08, 2017

10 Easy Jewelry Care Tips

After spending some of your hard-earned money on a special piece of handmade jewelry for yourself, don't you want to keep it looking beautiful as long as possible?  It's easy to keep your jewelry looking good for a lifetime if you follow some easy practices when caring for it.

Most of these jewelry care tips, such as removing your jewelry at night or putting jewelry on after applying makeup, will become habit after a while and you will do them without even thinking.

  • Remove jewelry before showering, bathing, or swimming. Any prolonged exposure to water can weaken your jewelry, and swimming also exposes it to chemicals in the water.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean your jewelry. All you really need is some warm water and a drop or two of mild dish detergent. Rub gently with your fingers or a soft cloth, pat dry, and lay flat on a towel to dry completely.
  • Use a polishing cloth to shine metal jewelry. A polishing cloth, such as the Sunshine Cloth, is good for shining and removing tarnish from metal jewelry. It does a great job while still being gentle.
  • Store metal jewelry with a tarnish strip. Keep your jewelry from tarnishing in the first place! A tarnish strip absorbs moisture from the air that causes metals to tarnish. Store your jewelry in a small plastic baggie with a tarnish strip. If you are out of tarnish strips, a piece of white chalk will work in a pinch until you get more.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleansers while wearing your jewelry. Remove jewelry before doing household chores.
  • Remove jewelry when doing heavy work. When cleaning the yard, gardening, or even doing some types of crafts, remove your jewelry so that it doesn't get caught on something and break.
  • Don't sleep in your jewelry. I have to admit, this is tempting and I have done it, but then I have the tools here to fix my jewelry when it gets weak and breaks from sleeping with it on. Best to take it off before bed.
  • Apply makeup, perfume, and hair spray before putting on your jewelry. This keeps powders and sprays from coating your jewelry.
  • Inspect your jewelry regularly for breaks or weak spots. If you see a spot that needs attention, ask the maker to repair it before it gets worse. There may be a small charge for this, but that's better than losing a piece of jewelry if it breaks and falls off.
  • Wear your jewelry often! Don't save it for special occasions. Even a pair of earrings will make you feel special every day!

Do you have any favorite jewelry care tips that I haven't mentioned here? Please share them with us in the comments.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Just a short post today to say merry Christmas and happy whichever holiday you celebrate. I'll be back with more posts after the new year.

You can purchase a tutorial to make these cute trees here


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Book of Beaded Fairies

I'm always looking for something different to make with beads.  So, when I saw a book called Mini People available from The Beadworkers Guild in England, I knew I had to buy it. And I have certainly not been disappointed with my purchase. I am having so much fun with it!!/The-Beadworkers-Guild-book-of-Mini-People-Rest-of-World/p/64913750/category=5705017

The instructions in the book are fairly easy to follow, but you should have some beadweaving experience if you buy it. That is because there aren't any line-by-line tutorials. The author, Ann Mockford, calls her instructions "recipes", which feels accurate. There are brick-stitch graphs for the clothing, and the individual doll recipes say to use this or that skirt, jacket, arms, etc. for a particular character, so you are thumbing back and forth through the book. They aren't difficult to make or put together, so if you are adventurous, give it a try!

There are eight different characters in the book, plus a baby doll sized fairy.  They are all put together in basically the same way, but there are different ways to make their clothes which turns them into different characters. Once you've made a couple of these, you can expand on the ideas in this book, and make hundreds of different styles of fairies, elves, and more.

I have made two figures so far. I really enjoyed making both of them.

The first one I made was this little fairy. She is based on the fairy that you an see on the cover of the book, above. She even has a petticoat under her skirt, but you can't see it in this picture.

The next one I made was this elf in Christmas colors. He is very loosely based on one of the elves in the book, the one that you can see on the cover, above, holding the umbrella.

I made both of their faces myself by using Sharpie pens to draw on a wooden bead.

I hope you enjoyed my book review. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My new kitty!

I can usually play with kittens and resist bringing one home. Booger has been enough cat for me. But my neighbor had a small litter of feral kittens, and one of them just broke my heart. This little tortoise-shell is the one who broke and then captured it.
The first day she was so scared! But she was also very hungry, so I hand-fed her little bits of cat food at a time. It was only a couple of days before she would happily run to me whenever I called her.

I named her Pippa. I had been calling her pipsqueak, so I just shortened it.

She was about 10 weeks old when I got her. Now she is about 14 weeks old. She loves to play and she follows me everywhere I go in the house. No animals allowed in the bead studio though (for their safety and my sanity), so she sits outside the door when I'm in there. I've been leash-training her, and it's actually going pretty well. She's been getting her shots, and she has an appointment to be spayed on Dec. 20. The animal league here, Peggy Adams, does the spay, microchip, and rabies shot for $75. Oh, yeah, we're going high tech, she's getting a microchip!

And now both Pippa and I say goodnight and sleep tight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The BEST Fireline Cutting Tool!

One question that is always being asked on beading forums and chat groups, by new and old beaders alike,  is "What do you use to cut your Fireline thread?". And up until now, the consensus was to use a pair of children's Fiskar-type scissors. They do work well. At first. But if you bead with any regularity then you know that they get dull almost immediately.

So, I had way too many pairs of those scissors laying around, then I spent way too much on a super-duper scissor sharpener, and then I ruined a wire cutter thinking I'd had a great idea. But I still couldn't get a clean cut on a piece of Fireline thread. And it was really making me mad.

I saw a review in one of the bead magazines of a new fishing line cutter sold by the Boomerang Tool Company. So, of course I ordered one. They had a choice of small blades, small blades with a light, or long blades. Not knowing if this thing was even going to work, I chose the long blades, for $15.99 plus $5.00 shipping.

Can I just say...WOW!!! These really are the best thing since sliced bread! They cut Fireline effortlessly. I'd bet that I could throw a piece of Fireline in the air, snip it with these things as it floats down, and still get a clean enough cut to thread a needle!

Everybody, and I mean everybody, needs to buy themselves one of these things immediately. It is always at my side. I can tell it will not go dull because it has serrated blades, not smooth ones. So no sharpening them either. You can thank me later, just go buy yourself one of these things NOW. Here is a link to their search page with the different cutter styles. All you have to do is pick one.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why, hello there!

Hi everybody. *Yawn* I feel like I've just woken up from a long hibernation. What's the date of that last post? June 2015? ?!?  Well I'm awake now, and I'm posting. I just will not give myself impossibly lofty goals for myself and the blog this time. I'm going to post at least once every other week, and in between if I think of anything else interesting. I should be able to handle that much without going off schedule.

Along with coming out of blog hibernation, I'm giving my Etsy shop a new push. I renamed it - Bead Street Studio - and I've been photographing and adding a new product every day or two. If I spread them out like that, then later I'll be renewing every day or two also, so constantly having new activity in the shop. I don't really need the income, but I bead all the time anyway. There is only so much that I can wear, or even give away, so I'm hoping to make some scratch for more new beads by selling some of my projects. We'll see how it goes.

I made a new shop logo. I gave up on trying to think of cat names for the store, so named it for what it is, and just added a cat byline underneath. I like it now.

And I renamed my Facebook page to match the Etsy shop, so pop on by and say hello to me over there.

And...that's it for now! See you in a week or two!


oh, yeah, P.S. - how could I forget? I got a new little kitten too!  Her name is Pippa. Pics and story coming in a future blog post.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Happy Equality Day!

I don't know which is more cool...

That our Supreme Court today affirmed the right of all our citizens to marry whomever they want, whether a member of the same or the opposite sex, in all fifty states, beginning immediately!


That this is the White House in Washington DC tonight:


Saturday, March 07, 2015

Gourd Stitch - Discovered!

I always knew that gourd stitch and peyote stitch are two very different stitches, I just didn't know what the difference was. But every time I googled gourd stitch, all that I came up with were peyote stitch tutorials.

But not this time! I finally found a tutorial that shows the difference, at a website called Native American Beadwork. They describe peyote as being a "unit of two" stitch and gourd as being a "unit of three" stitch. You can see the difference in these two pictures from the website.

Gourd stitch on the left, Peyote stitch on the right
Gourd stitch gives a much sharper diagonal line than peyote stitch does. This allows for a wider range of designs in your stitched creations.

The Native American Beadwork website also offers some blank graph paper so that you can design your own patterns. There are two types - one with spirals descending to the right and one with spirals descending to the left. To get you started, here is a page at another website, Pow-Wows, that offers graphed patterns for some traditional designs. 

I haven't used the stitch yet, but I have the tutorial on my "to-do" list, because I really want to give it a try.