Monday, March 20, 2017

Journey To Design

I love beading, and I also love making someone else's design my own by putting different finishing touches on a pattern. One thing I have always wanted to do, though, is to design my own beadwork. I am so in awe of those who can just sit down with a pile of beads and emerge with a beautiful structure.

I think that's why I enjoy beading Nancy Dale's Summertime Wrap Bracelet so much. Even though I'm following a pattern, I feel free to go my own way with it and change things up so that each one I make looks very different from the others.

The question is, how do I start learning something like designing? Can it even be learned, or is it something you have to have inside you from the start? I don't know, but I intend to find out. I have a craving inside to design beading projects. This leads to a lot more questions.

Do I just sit down with a pile of beads and start beading? How will I know what to do? Should I buy Karen Williams books on freeform peyote to get myself started? Will freeform eventually lead to design? If nothing else, it will make me more conscious of what the beads can do.

Do I start by designing something on paper first, then trying to bead it? Even though I know I want to design, I don't have jewelry ideas floating around in my head. Maybe I should look at pictures of vintage or antique jewelry, then try to design some of the same styles.

The one thing I have designed is my Superduo ring. The way I came up with that idea is I wanted a beaded ring, but Delica peyote rings were too flimsy, so I decided to try peyote with Superduos. It made a nice sturdy ring, and I made a tutorial out of it. I've even sold a couple of them.

So, I need to choose a first step. As stated above, I'll look for pictures of old jewelry to get a taste of which styles I like. We'll see where it goes from there.

If you have any ideas that will help me get started, please let me know in the comments. I could use all the help I can get with this project.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Big UFO Reveal

So, today is the day. We have to show the world how many UFO's (UnFinished Objects) we have, projects waiting to be finished. I think I have way too many. So many that I had to buy a drawer system for them. A small drawer system, but still...

I have no idea why I haven't finished this one. It's going to be very pretty, and it's from one of my favorite books. The Beaded Sphere, by Judy Walker. I even have an autographed copy of it. But I put this project down about a year ago, and haven't picked it up since. It will only take a day or two, then I'll have a beautiful pendant.

This one is a great bracelet. I tried to pick it up the other day, but it's been so long that I can't remember where I am or what comes next. It's a shame, because it's a beautiful design by Beads Gone Wild. I really need to take the time to go over the pattern and figure out where I am so that I can finish it.

Now, this one, I know why I haven't finished. Because it's a PITA. Even though I know I will love it when it's done. It's a little "pod purse" by Idele Gilbert. First when I ordered it, for some reason I thought it was peyote stitch. Then I got it and it is square stitch, ugh. With 30 colors. In size 15 beads. I've been trying to make myself do a row a day, but I'm actually doing about a row a week. I may have it finished sometime in 2025.

And then there are a few more: a pair of earrings for a friend, another bracelet, and a few "beginnings" of 'I don't know' what. And I keep starting new projects, instead of finishing these. I need help. And that's why I'm glad that Karen Williams, of Skunk Hill Studio, has started a support group for us on Facebook. Maybe I'll finish one or more of these projects with support from the group. Maybe.

To see all the blogs and unfinished projects of other members of our group, or to ask for an invite to join us, hop over to Karen's blog at


Monday, March 06, 2017

Cute Little Bunny

Thread-a-Bead is a website from the UK that has really cute beading patterns for peyote and brick stitch.

I bought this little Easter Bunny pattern last week and beaded it up the other day. The instructions said it would take 3-4 hours to bead. It took more like 6-7 hours, but it was fun. It turned out so darling!

I'm going to send it to my grand-daughter for Easter. She always appreciates any beaded items that I make for her, and I know she'll just love this little bunny!


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 Dale. 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.