Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wheely Fun :: Barn Bonsai

Janet from Honey from the Bee asked a couple of us back in July if we'd be up for a challenge to create with a wooden wheel. 

I'm always up for a challenge, but I admit when I saw the wheel I was more than a little stumped. I had originally thought I might create something nautical like a ships' wheel, but I just could not get my mind around how to create that as a necklace.

So on to plan B. It did just look like a wagon wheel to me, and I wanted to leave it that way. So off to the art store with my daughters who helped me pick out a few things like a shadow box, tiny hay bales and a cute little watering can to use as a planter.

Anne, my apprentice, was right by my side as I started to play around with the shadow box. She painted each individual board on the barn (aka Popsicle sticks), and helped me out with craft paper for the field. There was much gluing to bring this to life! She also picked out the miniature weather vane.

Once everything was dry we stained the shadow box (note to self; stain it before you start assembling). I had to re-paint much of it due to the wood stain seeping into everything.

When it was finally done we headed out to the yard to find a Japanese Maple seedling to plant in our little watering can. I have absolutely no idea how to tend to Bonsai, but that didn't stop us. I had in mind that we would be gifting this to a friend Melinda Orr, who said the moment she saw it that it looked just like her barn. I knew that, LOL. The little tree did not make the first round. We had to grab a second by the time we were off to Bead Fest where we were meeting up with Melinda. Anne was so excited to gift this to her and immediate started showing her all the tiny features. I'm hoping that Melinda has a knack for Bonsai. Although I have a yard full of spare seedlings just in case.

Please check out all the other artist's creations: Janet (our host), Christine, Bobbie, Therese, Sally and Hope

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Spoils of Shelling

One of my favorite things to do when I'm at the beach is to walk along the water picking up shells. I've done it my whole life as I grew up on the coast and have always lived next to the ocean. The only exception being the 4 years I was in college. For me, I can't imagine living anywhere but next to water. I'll take a lake when it isn't the sea!

Last February we spent some time down in Mexico by the sea. It was a wonderful 10 days in sunshine when the rest of my world seemed to be covered in snow. You can see my favorite little lunch spot here where I grabbed a fish taco (or two, or three) along with a cerveza for lunch. Yum. Then off to the water to comb the shore for some shells. I could seriously do that forever.

Anywho, I did bring back quite a collection of local shells off the beach where I spent my afternoons just walking through the lapping waves. Did I mention that it was wonderful? And the best part is that many of the shells had a natural hole in them, which is perfect for beading. A beader's little secret.

Months later, I grabbed some of those shells, along with a piece of suede and some seed beads, and got stitching. The suede made for the perfect band to attach my shells and beads into. I also included some trade beads that look and feel like mud, which were the perfect complement to my design.

The suede feels soft and comfortable on with this bracelet. And the ball clasp was the perfect choice to tuck up under your wrist and not take away from the drama of the shells. I left it just a little loose so it would have some sway to it and give that wonderful sound of shells cascading. 

I included it in the last issue of Bead Chat Magazine and posted a picture on my Facebook page. I sold it inside of a day, and then another friend asked if she could buy it. So I needed to make a second one, which surprised me as I really wasn't expecting that kind of response for my little beach boho bracelet.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beadweaving :: Tubular Netting

I have a bead book that I've used through the years with dogged eared pages called Your Seed Bead Style by Bead & Button Magazine. I don't use it often, but there are quite a few beautiful patterns in this book that make it worth the purchase.

One that I've meant to try for some time now is by Marla Gulotta called Web of Silver that uses large beads to create a tubular shape with netting up over the top of the pattern. I've always loved how it looked, but never got around to trying it. Until this past summer when I had some time to bead out on the porch of our summer camp. Nothing like beading next to the lake with only the sound of the wind in the trees. I think that might just be my favorite place to create.

I decided to use the pattern as a large beaded bar as making the entire bracelet with this pattern would have been too much, at least in my opinion. It is fairly stiff, which would make it tough to get this thing to bend for a bracelet. The pattern actually uses two of these bars with a large center focal bead. I just went a different way with this one. I added a bit of chenille in a simple silver to finish it up with a small magnet closure. The netting was enough drama by itself so I didn't want to add more to the bracelet.

It does feel really nice on, and has a bit of romance to it. I had this listed in my store for less than a week, and sold it. I wasn't sure it would appeal to many as it has a tad old fashioned, sort of Elizabethan, Renaissance Faire look to it. But it really turned out to be a pretty pattern, and not difficult once you get the rhythm of the stitch.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beadweaving :: Lentil Beads

At Bead Fest this year I noticed there were many vendors there selling beading patterns. I can't actually tell you if it is more than usual as I don't recall looking for them last year, but I noticed a lot this year. 

One in particular, Bead Dreamers, had us mesmerized for some time looking at all the beadwork. I was shopping with Melinda Orr and Linda Younkman and when we spotted a pattern for two-hole lentils called Lentille. We decided that we'd all give this pattern a try. Linda has been most industrious beading this up in several colors already which you can see over on her Facebook page Lindy's Designs

It took us a few attempts to get started as we didn't realize the inside of the bracelet encases the lentil beads as you stack them up in the pattern. But once that was worked out, this actually beaded up very quickly.

The Bead Girl, aka my youngest daughter Anne, went in search of a clasp for the piece once I was done. Not sure I'm loving the sunflower clasp for this, but she was quite insistent that it was perfect. I guess I'll settle for perfect, and I added the clasp to the piece. It really is so much fun to bead with friends even when it is in a virtual way sharing pictures back and forth. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beadweaving :: Simple Flat Spiral

I guess I thought I had done a simple flat spiral stitch. I've done so many types of spirals I figured I'd must have. But once I saw the actual pattern I realized that I had never actually done this stitch the right way.

I know I've mentioned this before but I bead like I cook .... I open several books to the same recipe and improvise. So I suppose it is no wonder that I 'thought' I was already doing a flat spiral because the stitched looked ... well like a flat spiral. 

It never occurred to me to look for the pattern because every time I've seen this pattern in a finished product it was with crystals. And most of you who know my style would know that crystals aren't really my thing. 

This month there was a challenge to use this very simple stitch and so I decided to actually read it. And now that I see this spiral with some deep, dark colors .... it is likely one I will use more often. I really loved how these hematite stones look with the whisper of blood red micro beads (size 15 for those that care about sizes). 

Now that cooler weather is setting in, I've got the bead table in full swing. I have several pieces to show you that I'll be posting over the next week or so, so be sure to stop back by.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Anchors Aweigh :: Finding True North

Back in July I saw a post from Rita over at Jewel School Friends for a blog hop. Boy has she been on a roll lately with some of the hottest hops of the summer! This one was featuring some cute little blue anchor beads from Diana of Suburban Girl Studio

So what do you call a hop about anchors? Anchors Aweigh of course. I was just a bit curious about the saying ... what exactly is to 'weigh' an anchor? 

Apparently it means to bring it aboard so that it is clear of the bottom of the sea. Therefore the ship is officially underway. I know, I know, I always get side tracked when I start looking for the history. But I'm just curious that way. The other thing I found was that it is commonly misspelled as 'anchors away' which actually means to drop anchor. So don't mix it up or you'll be stopping that ship short!

Ok, on with the hop. When I saw the post over at Rita's blog, I realized "oh hey, I have those beads in my stash!" Yes, I'd been hoarding them. Who wouldn't? I have an entire little chest of draws full of artisan beads because, well I have a problem with buying every artisan bead I love. I personally don't see it so much as a problem, but my husband does. 

Since I already had the beads, I emailed Rita and asked if I could just join. She is so sweet. She is always expanding her hops to include more people. Love that about her. When I pulled out the beads they of course shouted out to be earrings. But that just didn't seem like much of a challenge for this hop. What I really wanted was to create a piece with a bit of a story .... some well, ahem ... history to it. Yeah, yeah I hear you all laughing.

I remembered these great wood focals that I had from Marie over at Skye Jewels. The ones I have are maps, but I was thinking wouldn't it be great to find a compass? Quick trip to her Etsy, and there it was, and in blue! Check, check! 

I went nautical with shells, pearls, anchors and my newly purchased compass focal. My anchors have a little sway to them. I suppose real anchors shouldn't 'swing' exactly .... but they are 'aweigh!' 

I decided to name my piece True North which depicts navigation through life. So many times we find uncertainty in our journey, but leaning on friends can help steady us when we need it most. The full definition goes like this: True north differs from magnetic north, which varies from place to place and over time due to local magnetic anomalies. A magnetic compass almost never shows true north. In fact over millions of years, magnetic north wanders considerable and occasionally reverses so that the magnetic north pole has been near the geographic south pole at some periods in the earth's history. In the arctic region, a magnetic compass is not very useful. To find true north from a magnetic compass you have to know the local magnetic variation and how it is varying over time. Hence the metaphor. In life's journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going and what is the right path for us personally. Knowing our true north would enable us to follow the right path.

Rita told us to 'let nautical inspiration be your guide as you navigate the end of your summer journey.' That is exactly what I did with this piece. Now for the rest of the hoppers in this challenge:

Guest of Honor and Featured Artist: Diana Ptaszynski  
Diana's Shop: Suburban Girl Beads, Diana's Blogs: Suburban Girl Studio and Art Jewelry Elements

Monday, September 1, 2014

The End of Summer :: From the Dock

Each year we spend a few wonderful weeks up at a lake in the northern part of the Adirondacks. Its a place to get away, and a place to relax.

We were up over the holiday this past weekend for our annual closing of camp. Our little cabin on the lake is a summer house with no insulation which means we only spend warm weather months there. 

So in the winter we board it up and wait for next year. I'm always sad when we go up to close, but we had an absolutely glorious day on Saturday and enjoyed every last minute out on the porch until the sun set.

By Sunday morning the rains had set in as we got busy with all the various tasks it takes to close up the camp. We did get out for a couple of great pictures before the rain. We had a nice showing of the local birds. My older daughter got a shot of the mergansers sitting on the end of the neighbors dock. And we heard lots of loon calls, which are my absolute favorite.

The girls got a last look at the lake before the cold sets in and the lake completely freezes over for winter. So, until next year...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bead Fest :: A Look At The Loot

I'll try to be heavier on pictures and lighter on words because I know you guys just want to see the loot. So let's get to it. First stop for Bead Fest is always Artisan Alley. I tried not to go too wild because I shop so many of my favorite artisan Etsy sites throughout the year that I really just wanted a chance to meet many of the people behind the beads. It was so fun to see Linda Landig selling her beads this year - go Linda! And one of my favorite Artisans to buy from flew all the way from England to join the show; Lesley Watt. What fun to meet her! She is just as nice in person as I thought she would be.

I also have a tiny thing ... ok kinda a problem with findings. I am absolutely in love with the ball clasp thingies. Can you tell? And then there were these cute little fish and bird clasps ... the bird ones open when you push down the tail. How cute is that? My young assistant, aka The Bead Girl, just had to have those. My absolute favorites were the fish with hooks in that yummy patina. Can't wait to match those up with some turquoise or something.... hmmmm

Ok, where next? Oh right, seed beads! Oh the seed beads. I could spend hours upon hours just digging through the colors, and sizes and shapes! There are so many new shapes these days with tilas, and duos, and superduos and what have you. I picked up beads by the half tube, the full tube, the hank, the strand and cluster. Look at those ones in the center called Picasso (right next to the half tubes). Aren't those gorgeous!

I got completely distracted by the stones, as I always do. I lost my bead show partners in crime (Melinda Orr and Linda Younkman) more than once. You know when you try to call or text a serious beady lady at Bead Fest they don't pick up? whatsup with that? I absolutely HAD to check out the jasper again this year. I picked up quite a lot of it last year, and seriously didn't need any more, but I couldn't help myself! Look at the reds in that Red Creek jasper. Then I found a total steal on strands of stone at 75% off. Say what? I picked up some green turquoise, lemon chrysoprase and I think that was picasso, but I completely forgot what the others were. I just love those rich earthy colors! The pendants aren't stones, but they sure are sweet. 

Ok just one more set to show you all. It wouldn't be Bead Fest without a little swapping. You can see all the people swapping in the pictures I posted over at Creative Bead Chat on my article Behind the Scenes of Bead Fest. I got these awesome closures from my friend Linda Younkman and that cool leather snap closure from Melinda. The rest of the swap items were The Bead Girl who was running around handing out beads to everyone. A beader in the making to be sure. Bead Fest can be a bit overwhelming, to say the least. We were all talking about the 'Bead Hangover' come Monday morning. But I wouldn't miss it for the world. It is so much fun to meet everyone in person.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stones :: Beadweaving with Jasper

A jasper focal I had kicking around in my stash for the last year is one that I've been wanting to use, but kept getting distracted with other projects. 

But this focal was calling me, and I've been dreaming about what I'd do with it. I just love it's Southwestern vibe.

I decided that what I really wanted was a necklace that could stand up to the size and substance of that focal. So I pulled out some howlite rounds. The color of sand. Perfect. Substantial, but not too colorful to overwhelm the jasper.

Next I pulled out accent beads in gold that I think brings out the veining in the howlite, and the flecks in the jasper. I really just love the banding in the top half of the focal.

But, what to do? Simple stringing? Multiple strands, or graduated? I just didn't think the focal would hang right. Then it hit me. A classic right angle weave alternating the large howlite with the seed beads. This would give a nice, substantial band for the necklace. 

The pattern was a little lose with the size of the howlite, so I decided to come back through to both tighten it up and add one more row of the gold seed beads that creates beautiful little squares between the larger beads. I had not planned that, but I love how it turned out.

I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out. And absolutely love how it lays when you wear it. I might have to try this pattern again with a different set of colors and stones.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beadweaving :: Herringbone Tutorial

A few weeks back my beady friend Linda Younkman and I were playing around with herringbone. I had pulled out these large square wood beads (size 8) to practice this weave. But I really like how the angled squares turned out in this pattern.

I was pretty technology challenged at the time as I was up in the Adirondacks for a break from work. I was trying to snap a picture to send to Linda, of which it took something like 20 minutes to upload to Facebook (insert swear word ... then multiply). Anyway, once I did upload Linda was game to give it a try. And as usual I got the BRB message as she high tailed it to her LBS .... that would mean she would 'be right back' after heading to her 'local bead shop.'  She pinged me later with her own stash of square beads and off she went to try out the pattern. 

And man, I love how she added a leather closure to her version. Check out her post called Needle, Thread and Beads, but don't forget to come right back because we then decided to write up a quick tutorial on this simple weave and show you a few closures and variations. I whipped up a second cuff, this time in reds, to show you a slide closure. You can check it all out in this month's Bead Chat Magazine, or read the full article on the BCM site. Either way, give this one a try for a quick cuff that feels really nice around your arm.

Oh, and btw (I'm just full of acronyms today) Linda's post (featuring several different beaded cuffs) caught the eye of one of the editors over at Beading Daily and they gave one of her pieces top billing on their recent post! Go Linda! bead on my friend.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beadweaving :: Wedding Ring

I saw an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous bracelet a while back over at Backstory Beads where Karin showed us a beaded bracelet with circles for the last ATTS hop (A Time to Stitch). I could not stop thinking about it. I really wanted to try this pattern by Rachel Nelson Smith featuring the O. Mosaic Cuff. I really should just break down and buy the book Seed Bead Fusion, but I thought I could figure out this pattern. I did eventually work it out, but I completely lost count of how many times I pulled out all the stitching .... was it 15 times? sigh. Just buy the book.

I went with a mud-brown color and gold circles. I wanted the circles to stand out, but not over power it. So I did not fill in any of the circles. I had a couple of people tell me the pattern looked like the classic quilt Wedding Ring pattern. I agree it does, or maybe the Olympic Rings? The first time I wore this out I had at least 4 different people ask if they could see it and pulled it off my arm. It really is kind of a stunning pattern. One person even mentioned how cool it would look as a choker. Hmmmm, now that's an idea. Might be next up.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Choosy Chicks Choose Chicklet Hop

Back in June Rita from Toltec Jewels Jewel School Friends posted that she went a bit nuts buying these cute Chicklet beads from Sue Beads. Can you blame her? They are pretty awesome, and they really do look like those Chicklets I remember from childhood ... except, well they didn't have the sweet flower imprinted on it.

What fun little beads these are. So when I saw the post from Rita, I took about 2 seconds to raise my hand to create with some Chicklets. But then here's the thing. Somewhere in my head I was thinking we'd be getting a few of them to create a pattern. When my single bead arrived I thought, huh just one? What in the world do you do with one bead? 

What I do is make it the star of the show and create a pattern around it. I decided to use it as a charm on a bracelet. I have been wanting to figure out how you bead a right angle to a peyote stitch. I figured how hard can this be? So as my husband would do .... I didn't ask for any directions. Yeah, not so smart.

I kept trying to bring together two ends of a peyote strip and it looked like a complete mess. Not even worthy of a picture to show you just what a disaster it was. So I broke down, and turned to YouTube. What in the world did we do before we could google anything we needed? I quickly found a tutorial on a Peyote Stitch Triangle. Of course a beading tutorial on YouTube wouldn't be complete without a Russian accent. A few pauses, and rewinds and off we go.

I wanted to bring out the orange in the bead which meant not over powering the rest of the bracelet with the same color. I used it only as an accent. This beaded up in under an hour once I had figured out the peyote triangle part of it. Yeah, I should'a started with the tutorial in the first place. Next time.

Apparently I was not the only one that found these sweet little beads a fun challenge to try. Originally Rita was looking for 20 people to join in on the hop, but she had so many people respond she actually expanded it to 44 people. This baby is going to be a big hop! So let's get on with it. Here are all the other artists working with Chicklets today:

Guest of Honor & Featured Artist:  Susan Kennedy
Sue Kennedy's blogs:         SueBeads...A Beady Girl's blog
                                    Art Jewelry Elements
Sue Kennedy's website      SueBeads
SueBeads Art Beads          SueBeads

Saturday, July 26, 2014

CC7A :: Celebrations

We began our journey in Canada with Monique and her challenge of the National Gallery of Canada. And now we end our series of the Creative Continuum of 7 Artists in Canada with the polymer extraordinaire Emma of A Polymer Penchant

This month Emma sent out a stash of beads including a beautiful pendant of polymer that she made which looks a bit like fireworks. She's sending us off in style.

Her challenge for July is just the perfect final celebration for our group of seven. I decided to string it with some simple silk thread and knot the stash of matching beads Emma sent.  I created a faint braiding with the thread which I think gives it a bit of a romantic look.

To finish up my set, I used some unusual beads that Emma sent that are hoops with balls along the outer edge. I stacked them to look a bit like a burst of fireworks. At least that is what I saw as I stacked and twisted the ensemble together.

I'm going to miss our monthly get togethers with this group. We've had a lot of fun trying out all sorts of beads and styles. Thank you all for a great ride!

Check out the rest of the crew's final projects: Alicia (our host), Emma (this month's featured artist), Therese, Christine, Monique and Sally

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summertime Orange

I mentioned Fernhill Glass Studio in my last post as one of my new favorite places to buy unique cabochons. 

These glass pieces were not made for that purpose, in fact when I was digging through the large dish of discarded glass the owner curiously asked what in world I had in store. 

I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to tell him since I still had yet to get the price, and perhaps bargain a bit with him. But once I realized it really wasn't going to cost me much, I let him know they were going to be turned into beaded pendants. Still, with the quizzical stare, he just raise an eyebrow and said 'huh, interesting.'

This piece of orange glass I had a certain person in mind. A young friend of mine is very partial to orange, and I could tell as I began to bead it that it was going to end up going home with her. I know this will look absolutely wonderful on her. Her mom gifted me some orange silk thread, which I think looks perfect with it, along with brass beaded accents in multiple sizes for the threading and around the top of the bezel.

I still have a bag full of this beautiful glass in a rainbow of colors that you will be seeing more of in the coming months. Lots of pattern ideas floating around in my head that are becoming sketches. I have them prepped and ready to go, now if I could just stop scooting them around to match them this way and that, I might actually get a few more pieces finished. Soon, I promise.

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