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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making a Princess Feel the Part!

My niece is getting married next summer to a wonderful guy. They've had a tough couple of months and have complicated lives so the wedding plans keep getting put on hold. But - finally - there is a date set for all the bridal party to get together to go dress and flower shopping. I thought it would be nice to start the day off with a little treat so I made bracelets for the bride-to-be and the merry maids in her wedding colors of pink & navy -
I just wanted something simple, so I went with the classic round ceramic beads. I love the brides sparkly crown toggle and the merry maids smaller crown toggles. The charms are a nod to the location which is on the beach in Maryland.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jumprings - DIY

There is something satisfying about making your own components, whether its the clasp, the beads or the connectors. If you've never tried making your own jumprings you're in for a pleasant surprise - it's not that hard and there are an endless number of ways to get just what  you need.

There are a ton of gizmo's out there to make your life easier.

These little mandrel sets are probably the easiest - its pretty self explanatory, wrap the wire around the mandrel, slide it off cut the rings apart. The problem with this is what kind of pliers do you use? You want a really flat cut so the ring will close as seamlessly as possible.

The obvious choice is the Double Flush Cutter. There are problems with pliers - if you need a lot of rings for a large project this is going to take forever! The shape of the head on the double flush cutters make it hard to cut smaller rings, but if you're doing say, 9mm or larger and you only  need a few at a time these are great.

Me - I like BULK - I don't want to have to stop in the middle of a project to wrap and cut jumprings.

So, I went the semi-pro route -
I have a complete cutting system - the Pepe coiler is awesome.

It can make any size jumpring you can dream up simply by inserting the correct size mandrel in the handle and winding right off the wire spool. In a couple of seconds you have a wire coil about 4" long.
The second step is as easy as the first. I have what my son calls the "Uber Dremel" - its a Flex Shaft cutting and grinding tool. The handle has a very thin (.008), VERY sharp blade, you operate with a foot pedal.

The coil goes under the metal plate, tighten the nuts to hold it snug, place the shaft flat on the plate, press the pedal and slide forward at a steady pull. It only takes a couple of seconds to cut the coil into lovely, perfect, flush closing jumprings!

Before you know it, you have a zillion rings in a rainbow of colors!
You can purchase jumprings in a fair number of colors at better bead stores but it's usually near impossible to get a variety of gauges or anything more then two or three sizes. What are you supposed to do when you want to have a hook that's the same color as the jumprings or maybe you need a 20mm jumpring? I love having the option of sizes, shapes and colors.

You don't need anything expensive - you can use anything for a mandrel, a pen or a knitting needle are good choices. Get creative! Get exactly what you want - don't settle for what you can find - and as always.... have fun!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Retro Remake

My Aunt came to visit in September. She loves antiques, so while she was here I took her to a huge (5 barn sized buildings!!) antique place in Fayetteville, PA. I didn't really expect to find anything - it's not really my decorating style. I thought it would be a nice day for her...

Was I ever wrong?? One of the vendors in the first building had cases and cases of vintage jewelry! It was awesome! I bought several brooches and pins for a bouquet I'm playing around with. I also got a couple of long necklaces that were made out of lucite. You know, that stuff your mom wore in the 50's? The beads were that typical salmon kind of pink that was so popular back then.

Anyway - I stupidly did not take a photo of the necklaces before I cut them apart - sorry!! But I did want to share with you a couple of pieces that I've put together.


This one has the white sparkly lucite rounds and the pink inverted barrel shapes that turned out to be perfect with my favorite component - rubber O's!!
The hook is my own creation using 18g black wire, a bead cap and a bead.
The necklace uses more of the pink barrels, which I think paired perfectly with Donna Millards hand made vintage caps.The ribbed turquoise rounds were a great spacer and the color has that vintage feel.
The etched lampwork lozenges came from IMakeBeads on Etsy. The hook is, of course, my creation. I used sterling 18g wire and one of the ribbed turquoise rounds as an accent. I love the fun, light hearted feeling of this piece.

So - get yourself to an antique mall! They're loaded with fun vintage stuff at pretty good prices.

I even managed to find myself an awesome new desk chair!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Create Space

For years I've dreamed of having a big, bright space all to myself. Space that I could use to make stuff. Where I could start a project, and if I didn't finish it, I could leave it set up and come back to it later. Instead, I've worked at the kitchen table, in the laundry room, at the dining room table - having to set up, start, run out of time, pack it all up, store it out of the way - wasting all my 'create time' getting ready or cleaning up!! GAK!

When we bought our new house, I thought that maybe I'd be able to convert some space in my garage. As it turns out, its too hot or too cold or too stuffed with stuff that we're storing for the kids (who no longer live at home!) ~ sigh ~

BING! The light goes on (finally) - we have a H-U-G-E unfinished basement. So, thanks to Angie's List, we found a local handyman who did the electrical and the framing. We hung the drywall, moulding, trim. Lowe's put down some fabulous carpet and viola! (mostly) - I have this awesome space to set up for CREATING!! It's very much a work in progress - my brother, who is a pretty awesome carpenter is making shelves that will hide my hot water tank and the HVAC. I still need lights and tons of other stuff but I'm getting there!!
I love that I have the doors out to the yard. Lots of natural light, and I hope to have a little patio and garden space out there! (future project!)
I love these base cabinets. I get them at Lowe's. So cheap! They make the perfect work station - slap a section of counter top on them - bang! done!
The sewing corner - these cubes are going to do double duty - fabric storage and I'm planning to top them with a large counter piece for cutting.
Now for the fun part! Gathering all the stuff from all the closets and hidey holes all over the house and getting it organized!
A place to bead - probably need some more shelving or cabinets above - but its a good start!
Fabric storage and cutting table - I like that its tall enough to work around standing up without killing my back!
A nice, big table with a drawer for sewing - just have to figure out the ironing board situation.
A sturdy new home for my favorite tool! the Flexshaft and Pepe coiler - awesome power!!
Made this nifty cork board for ideas out of a frame I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby for $10!

There you have it - the start of something big! Still needs a bit of work, a bit of polish - a few more storage ideas and definitely paint - who could live with all that white???  Anyone who has some awesome storage ideas - feel free to share!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oh, the Shame!!

I'm always happy to show people my creations. I know that my work isn't for everyone, but I'm always pleased with what I put in my shop. That's not to say that I'm always pleased with everything I do - case in point, my first attempt at  making lampwork beads.

I've wanted to learn this amazing craft for several years and finally had the opportunity to take a class from an incredible artist - Bronwen Heilman - at Bead Fest. Bronwen is a great teacher, patient and fun to work with.

What I learned about working with glass is that it's much like patting your head and rubbing your tummy! There are a lot of things to be paying attention to at the same time. I think that you have to do a hundred of the same type of bead to develop the muscle memory needed for this craft. In my case, I might need to make 1000 of the same bead!!

In the eight hours I spent in class, I managed to make about two dozen beads. This is all that survived a night in the kiln. Apparently, you have to get them into the kiln while they are smokin' hot! I didn't move fast enough - sadly! The little blue one on the right was my very first bead - its about 9mm.
As you can see, I had a little trouble keeping things balanced and even! I also had a problem keeping the beads level on the mandrel, which is why they look like gourds!!
The green and black with the little dots was my attempt at learning to use 'stringers' - a little wonky but not a complete failure! Can't even begin to tell you what happened to the weird orange one!
Will I continue to try to make beads? YES! This was such a challenge, but so much fun. I love to learn new things, to expand my knowledge base is always a good thing - I might not become an expert, but as I progress I'll be sure to share my attempts with you!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cool Tool!

One of my favorite things about going to bead shows is getting to talk to so many experts. I was chatting with one of the sales people at the Jewelry Tools booth where I got an awesome pair of Wubbers pliers when I saw this...
     It's called the Double 3rd Hand. It's my new favorite tool. Everything on it is adjusts and swivels in every possible direction and is removable. The clips are strong enough to hold just about anything I need to hold onto and the magnifier is perfect for really close up work on tiny pieces. Here's the best part - it was only $5.95!!

What's your favorite handy gadget in the playroom?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bead Fest ~ Day 2 ~ Lamp Work!!

So in my first post about Bead Fest I left you with this picture. Today, I learned that it's actually called a 'marver' ~ so much smarter already!

I spent over eight hours with the incomparable Bronwen Heilman, artist extrodinaire! A delightful, patient woman who taught the twelve of us in her basic lamp working class how not to set ourselves on fire while attempting to make beautiful glass beads.

Bronwen came all the way from her studio in Tucson, Arizona!

We started the day by learning about the equipment, safety and prepping our stations. We each made twenty mandrels and coated them with bead release.
Ready!! Set!! GOOOOoooooooo!!!

All of our equipment was donated and set up by Ross Thackery of ABR Imagery - this included all the torches, hoses, propane, table plates, glasses, marvers etc... Thanks Ross!! Ross was at the show working and handing out advice all week - It was awesome!! If you need supplies, instructions or advice he's the person to help you out!

Bronwen showed us basic things like making rondelles, different shaping techniques, how to center the bead and getting our creations into the kiln. As if this wasn't enough (it was!!) she also showed us some more advanced techniques - adding embellishments like spots, making heart shaped beads, making and using stringers and twistys (no, I can't do that!), encasing a bubble (what?!) and feathering. 
It was an amazing day - I made many, very crooked, lopsided, strange looking things - I don't think any of them will actually turn out to be beads. They spent the night cooling in the kiln and will be shipped to me soon. When they arrive - if I'm not completely ashamed of my work - I'll post the pictures.
If you've always wondered what it would be like to try working with molten hot glass - I definitely recommend going to one of Bronwen's classes. She is patient, amusing and an absolute expert. You'll come away with a whole new appreciation of this wonderful craft.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bead Fest Philly ~ Day 1

   For those of you who weren't able to attend Bead Fest this year - here's a taste of what you missed! There are a lot of great sponsors - The Urban Beader provided our badges and Metalliferous gave us these great totes for hauling our loot! Thanks Guys!!

   After checking in I headed straight to the Exhibition Hall -  this is where all the shopping fun takes place!
This is a look up the first aisle - there are over 300 vendors selling beading products from all over the world. Normally, I go to Bead Fest with my DIL - she's awesome at keeping me focused, organized and grounded. Sadly, she wasn't able to go with me this year so I might have run amok a little, ok - a lot!

There are so many vendors that I HAVE to get to! Usually on the top of the list is seeing Yvonne at MyElements - I have to get my fun, color fix. There will be picts further down of what I bought!
I also have to get to the wholesalers who come and take up as many as a dozen tables that they heap with piles of long strands of every kind of bead you can imagine. These are at least 75% less then you can get them anywhere else and the dealers always have show specials.

The very first purchase I made was from Harry and Heather Boardman of HMB Studios. I just loved all the fun color combinations of these disks. Heather was so nice - she let me break up a set so that I could get just the right number of disks with orange. Harry is a truly talented portrait artist - check out their website!

At Julie Miller's booth I added these nifty little spacers that I use in a lot of my work.
Finally got to Yvonne's booth which is an absolute explosion of juicy, fun colors and shapes. I had to pick up some of her hand painted plexiglass pieces in my favorite boomerang shapes. I added some chain and lots of odds-n-ends in bright colors.
One of my favorite things about Bead Fest is that I can stock up on all those little bits that you have to have - bead caps, spacers and filler inners that you use in every piece you make. Bulk is awesome!! Each of the bags of pewter components only set me back $3.00!
Found a whole rainbow of these little glass circles (75 in a bag) for only $5.00 each!
Another of my favorite stops is the Parawire booth where I picked up a pile of 18 and 20 gauge wire to add to my stash. I love this wire - I make my own jumprings, clasps, hooks and toggles as well as using the wire to add that extra element to my colorful jewelry.
One of my last stops was ABR where I picked up this graphite paddle thingy. I have no idea what one does with such a thing but its on my list of supplies that I have to have for my lampworking class. I'll be spending Saturday learning how NOT to set my self on fire while making non-lopsided beads - I've been practicing by patting my stomach and rubbing my head simultaneously - I'll post the results soon!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hoard Blog 2013!

I hoard, therefore I am

I hang on to stuff, pile it up, stack it, sort it, push it around, play with it and just plain keep it --- is this bad? NO! No I say! It's necessary. One day, I'm going to be making a necklace with the very fun but oddly shaped little bead cups that I got and I'm going to remember that a year ago, on a whim I bought these funny little glass bead caps .... and yes, they are going to be the perfect marriage and I'll end up with this really adorable little necklace.

 If I didn't hoard things then when I sit down to start something that is just a little tickle in the back of my brain, not exactly clear, not quite focused, just that fuzzy sort of feeling, a color combination that I think might work or shapes... how am I going to make it coalesce into something clearly amazing if I don't have a hoard of stuff to poke at, seeking the perfect shape, color, size?

 What am I supposed to do??? Try to purchase only the components I need to make a single piece? How crazy is that? Bah! It's impossible. So, yes, I hoard. Personally I like the term 'stock pile' better - sounds more productive, less loony.

But for this Blog Hop - I decided that I would try to use some of my stock pile and at the same time do something fun and creative with all of it. For those of you familiar with my work, you know that color is my thing... I like lots of it and I like unusual combinations of it.

 The challenge to myself was ONE color for each piece. That way I would be able to clean out a little bit from a lot of my stock pile, but I would still end up with a beautiful rainbow of work.

I was a little nervous because I'm not normally a monochromatic type of gal... but once I got rolling with it I was having a ball! It was much easier then I expected and I had such a good time playing with the shapes and color variations that I got to wondering why I hadn't thought of this sooner!!!

 I tried out different shapes and styles of hooks --
            I didn't worry too much if the shade or hue weren't the same --
                       I kept the metals to colored copper so I didn't detract from the single color --
                                    Each unique but the same but not the same at all!

I had so much fun with the color challenge - that I decided to try something a little different. I tried to use as many beads as I could from one artist. Lately I've been buying up lamp work by Tanya MGuire like a crazy woman. I have a serious pile of it! She makes these really amusing odd little shapes in really fabulous colors.

I wasn't able to use as many of Tanya's beads as I could have.... I'm not quite ready to release them to the world just yet but I did manage to make these two necklaces which I'm really happy with. Maybe in a few weeks I'll be able to use more of them... but for now they will have to remain in my stock pile.... my precious.... heee heeeee hee heeee!!

PS - Check out all the amazing work of the other hoarders....

1.  Lori Anderson, Pretty Things  Our lovely hostess :-D
2. Nancy Dale, NEDBeads
3. Roxanne Mendoza, Roxi Designs
4.  Melissa Trudinger, beadrecipes
5.  Rana Lea, Rana Lea Designs
6.  Leah Tees, My Beady Little Eyes
7.  Rita Avila, Jewel School Friends
8.  Linda Anderson, From the Bead Board
9.  Sharon Palac, Sharon’s Jewelry Garden
10.  Erin Guest, Renlish
11.  Joan Williams, lilruby jewelry
12. Diane Hawkey, Diane Hawkey
13.  Jo-Ann Woolverton, It’s a Beadiful Creation
14.  Sue Kennedy, SueBeads
15.  Lisa Cone, Inspired Adornments
16.  Kari Asbury, Hippie Chick Design
17.  Nichole Byers, Nichole Byers
18.  Lori Jean Poppe, Adventures in Creativity
19.  Linda Landig, Linda’s Bead Blog and Meanderings
20.  Lori Schneider, Bead Addict
21.  Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
22. Cece Cormier, The Beading Yogini
23.  Niki Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
24.  Elsie Deliz-Fonseca, Eliz-Eliz and All That Craft
25.  Amber Dawn, Inventive Soul
26.  Heather Powers, Humblebeads
27.  Sarah Goode, Pookledo
28.  Monique Urquhart, A Half-Baked Notion
29.  JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
30.  Cheri Reed, Creative Designs by Cheri
31.  Robyn, Museiddity
32.  Catherine King, Catherine’s Musings
33.  Jacquie, Bead Gypsy
34.  Janet McDonald, Singing Woods
35. Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreations
36.  Tanty Sri Hartanti, TJewellicious by Tanti
37.  Hannah Rosner, Good River Valley
38.  Rochelle Brisson, A Creative Chelle
39.  Nelly May, Smelly Nelly
40.  Skylar Bre’z, Brising Beads
41.  Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool
42.  Christie Murrow, Charis Designs
43.  Leanne Loftus, First Impression Design
44.  Valerie Norton, Hot Art
45.  Judy Riggs, Rigglettes
46.  Crystal Thain, Here Bead Dragons
47.  Terry Carter,  Tapping Flamingo
48.  Sue, Mid-Life Great Expectations
49.  Nan Smith, Wired Nan
50.  Miranda Ackerley, MirandAck Arts
51.  Marie Covert, Creating Interest
52.  D’Arsie Manzella, This Here Now, Mamacita
53.  Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
54.  Lori Bergmann, Lori Bergmann Design
55.  Johanna Nunez, The Lovely One Design
56.  Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
57.  Becky Pancake, Becky Pancake Bead Designs
58.  Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things
59.  Debbie Rasmussen, A Little of This, A Little of That
60.  Nat, Grubbi Ceramics
61.  Marjorie Savill Linthwaite, Bennu Bird Rising
62.  Cheryl McCloud, One Thing Leads to Another
63.  Heather Otto, The Crafthopper
64.  Candida Castleberry, Spun Sugar Beadworks
65.  Tracie Dean, Dean Designs
66.  JuLee Wolfe, The Polymer Penguin
67.  Ginger Bishop, Lil Mummy Likes
68.  Karen Mitchell, Over the Moon Design
69.  Jeannie K Dukic, Jeannie’s Blog  You’re Here
70.  Dini Bruinsma, Angaza by Changes
71.  Birgitta Lejonklou, Create With Spirit
72.  Shalini Austin, Jewellery by Shalini
73.  Jayne Capps, Mama’s Got to Doodle
74.  Ile Ruzza, Ilenia’s Unique Beaded Jewelry
75.  Jackie Marchant, Fiddledeedee Jewelry
76.  Annita Wilson, AW Jewelry 
77.  Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame
78.  Hannah Trost, PZ Designs
79.  Linda Inhelder, Must Haves Jewelry
80.  Miri Agassi, Beadwork
81.  Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
82.  Dyanne Cantrell, Dee-Liteful Jewelry Creations
83.  Susan Bowie, Susan Nelson Bowie
84.  Megan Milliken, MaeMaeMills
85.  Menka Gupta, Menka’s Jewelry
86.  Ambra Gostoli, Chic and Frog
87.  Lori Lochner, Bloghner
88.  Gerda Jurimae, Gerda’s Crafts Blog
89.  Susan, Mistheword
90.  MaryLou Holvenstot, MaryLou’s time2cre8
91.  Mary Shannon Hicks, falling into the sky
92.  Karin King, The Sparklie Things Blog
93.  Christa Murphy, Adventures of One Beady Woman
94.  Jenny Davie-Reazor, Jenny Davies-Reazor
95.  Donetta Farrington, Simply Gorgeous
96.  Mallory Hoffman, Rosebud 101 – For the Love of Beads
97.  Danielle Kelley, Imbue the Muse
98.  Kym Hunter, Kym Hunter Designs
99.  Dolores Rami, CraftyD’s Creations
100.  Marcia Dunne, 13 Alternatives
101.  Marlene Cupo, Amazing Designs
102.  Emma Todd, A Polymer Penchant
103.  Wendy Holder, Jewelry by WendyLea
104.  Michelle Escano, The Cabby Crafter
105.  Louise Glazier, Lily and Jasmine Treasures
106.  Dana Hickey, Wind Dancer Studios
107.  Lennis Carter, windbent
108.  Anne Betenson, Crystal River Beads
109.  Audrey Belanger,  Dreams of an Absolution
110.  Lisa Stukel, Carefree Jewelry by Lisa
111.  Janine Lucas, Travel Stories
112.  Claire Lockwood, Something to Do With Your Hands
113.  Kathy Engstrom, Catherine’s Dreams
114.  Paula Hisel, Simply Beadiful
115.  Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
116.  Mischelle Fanucchi, Micheladas Musings
117.  Kim, Cianci Blue
118.  Linda Sadler, Ida Louise Jewelry
119.  Karen, Spokalulu
120.  Jennifer LaVite, Dry Gulch Bead and Jewelry
121.  Andrea Glick-Zenith, ZenithJade Creations
122.  Karen Martinez, Fairies Market
123.  Robin Reed, Artistry HCBD
124.  Amy Bright, LABweorc
125.  Jasvanti Patel, Jewels by Jasvanti
126.  Tammie Everly, TTE Designs
127.  Karin Slaton, Backstory Beads
128.  Natalie Moten, Running Out of Thread
129.  Sharyl McMillian-Nelson, Sharyl’s Jewelry & Reflections
130.  Jenny Kyrlach, Wonder and Whimsy
131.  LiliKrist, Handmade by LilK
132.  Jessica Klaaren, The Truth Space
133.  Cynthia Abner, Created Treasures
134.  Beth Emery, Stories by Indigo Heart
135.  Heather Davis, Blissful Garden Beads
136.  Jeanne, Gems by Jeanne Marie
137.  Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe
138.  Laren Dee Barton, Laren Dee Designs
139.  Steph, Confessions of a Bead Hoarder
140.  Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations
141.  B. R. Kuhlman, Mixed Mayhem
142.  Patty Miller, Cabari Beads
143.  Elizabeth Bunn, Elizabeth Beads
144.  Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
145.  Lizzie Clarke, The Need to Bead
146.  Christina Miles, Wings ‘n’ Scales
147.  Patricia, The Color of Dreams
148.  Marde Lowe, Fancimar
149.  Ev Shelby, Raindrop Creations
150.  Sarah Small, By Salla
151.  Perri Jackson, Shaktipaj Designs
152.  Laurie Vyselaar, Lefthand Jewelry
153.  Pam Traub, Klassy Joolz
154.  Lisa Harrison, Daisy Meadow Studio
155.  Anzia Parks, Anzi-Panzi’s Work Shoppe
156.  Ingrid, Lilisgems Handcrafted Jewelry Inspirations
157.  Andra Weber, Andra’s Joyful Journey
158.  Kelly Hosford Patterson, The Traveling Side Show
159.  Adlinah Kamsir, Dreamstruck Designs
160.  Marci, That Nothing Be Wasted

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