Saturday, May 24, 2014

Waxed Linen Cord Blog Hop

About the only thing I've gotten out of my Facebook profile lately is being able to check out the Bead Soup Cafe site.  Recently, while perusing that page, I saw an announcement for a blog hop involving waxed linen cord being hosted by Suburban Girl Beads (Diana Ptaszynski).  I've been hoarding cord for years now and just never had time to read up on techniques or really use it much so I thought "Ah ha!  What a great way to force me to finally use all that cord I've been storing in that bag for so long."

And thus a monster was born.

Yeah, I kinda went a little overboard working on this so I'm just warning you now that this is a LONG post.  You might want to take your bathroom break and get your beverage/snacks of choice now LOL!

Because this is a new area for me, I didn't focus much on coming up with dazzling designs, but more on experimenting with techniques, mastering certain knots/patterns and playing with color combos.  I started out with bracelets and made quite a few of them - most of which I'm not totally happy with, but I did learn a little something along the way with each one of them.

I started out with this set of ceramic beads from Gaea, a few additional ceramic beads from my stash to create enough length, 4 ply waxed linen cord in a "natural" color, a pewter seahorse button from Green Girl Studios, and a few size 8 seed beads for accents.  There are two pieces of cord running through the center of all the beads and then two more that run outside and then knot around the center cords in between each bead.  I then tied overhand knots all around the loop section to strengthen it and left the tails dangling as accents with some seed beads tied on for color.  Things I learned:  these beads have large enough holes that this might have worked better with 7 ply cord (I didn't have any on hand - my stash is all 2 ply and 4 ply), the knotting on the loop started off a little wonky until I figured out what I was doing (should've practiced on scrap cord first!), and I'm not sure the cord will hold up over time with wear and tear.  However, I wore this bracelet out running errands last weekend and got compliments on it so it can't be too terrible. 

This bracelet uses 4 ply chocolate brown cord, a ceramic bead in shades of brown and blue, matte denim blue seed beads and a pewter button from Mamacita Beadworks.  I'd be totally happy with this except that the beaded loop that goes around the button came out a smidgen too small.  It was perfect when I initially tied it, but as I added the half-hitch/bead treatment around the loop, it stiffened up and got a bit smaller.  It still works as a's just a little bit too tight for real ease of use.

So, I decided to try again and this time I left plenty of room with the loop.  A little too much, in fact.  This loop is too big.  ARRGH!  Materials are a ceramic handpainted bead with two cute owls on it, gold 4 ply linen cord, deep blue seed beads and a copper button from Second Surf.  I like the copper button and the way the frayed cord ends look against it...just need a smaller loop and...hmmm...maybe that cord color wasn't the best choice (although it matches the gold owl color in the ceramic beads in real life - not so much in the photo)

Then, I decided enough with the fancy knot techniques - let's just use some simple overhand knots and play around with color.  I really wanted to see how colored cord worked with clear beads so I used some lavender 2 ply cord with the clear wing beads and then added some other Czech glass beads to this.  Part of my frustration with this design stems from really wanting to use 4 ply, but not having very many beads with holes that will accommodate it.  Even in the 2 ply, I was still a bit limited which is why this bracelet has weird shapes and, now that I look at it through the camera's eye, strange colors.  I do like the clear beads with the colored cord, though, so that's worth more exploration.  I feel like I am on the verge of something good...if I can just get the right elements to pull together.

This is getting closer to what I wanted.  I used the gold cord with some clear, pink, purple and lavender/pink swirl beads.  The swirl beads are ceramic, the large purple is vintage Lucite, the small purple is dyed jade, the frosted pink are vintage German glass and the clear beads are glass that has a crackled center so it gives off a bit of a rainbow look (hard to see in the photos).  I did have to add some copper daisy spacers as, for once, the holes in the clear beads are TOO BIG (this whole hole size thing is wearing me down!)
Ah ha!  Now we are talking!  Everything is working together - cute wood flower beads, large vintage Lucite blue floral focal, and YES!  I finally found a use for these tri-color (yellow, green, blue) glass nuggets that are one of the first bead purchases I ever made back in 19mumblewhatever during my first trip to a bead store.  I've had a whole bag of them sitting in my stash ever since then waiting for the perfect project.  It just goes to show that if you hold onto the beads long enough, inspiration will eventually find a home for them.  They have more blue in them (to match the focal) than shows in the photo.  4 ply gold cord and a copper rope toggle finish things off perfectly.
So, enough with the bracelets.  I decided to start focusing on earrings, because how badly could I mess that up?  They had to be easier than bracelets, right?'s where the insanity really took over. 
I started with just some simple lark's head knots to attach 4 ply cord to white shell rings and then I used overhand knots to add some shell leaves.

I thought this would make a nice, light, swingy summer earring design.

Then, as long as I was playing with rings and knotting, I decided to try square knots in between size 6 seed beads as a dangle.

I had these orange tagua nut rings and bright green ceramic rounds and they made a lovely tropical combo with the gold cord and turquoise seed beads.
Then, I got kind of obsessed with that half-hitch/bead around a loop idea from the bracelet closures and thought that maybe what was needed was a solid ring that would hold its shape. I happened to have some brass rings sitting on my work station so I started with those.
In this first attempt (sorry for the blurry photo - I took this with my cell phone camera), I started and ended with overhand knots before and after doing the half-hitches and...I wasn't crazy about the idea. Just didn't seem secure (and in fact, one of them fell apart even after I glued it!) So, I put on my thinking cap and tried to figure out a way around this. I thought if I created a loop of thread at the top (to hook the earing finding on) and then ended up at center bottom and did some kind of fringe/tail thing, it might work.  You can see one of my early attempts here that was kinda sorta only okay.  Things got better after that.
I used 4 ply dark chocolate cord, brass rings, size 8 teal seed beads and the accent beads are apple green dyed howlite rondelles and orange/white striped lampwork rondelles. 

There are three half-hitch knots between each seed bead on the ring and I tied some seed beads on the tails as accents.

This version uses the same cord, but some frosted olive green druk glass beads and rose Chinese crystals.  I also experimented with the number of half-hitches between beads - using 2 instead of 3 to put more beads around the edges and let the brass rings show a bit more.

Then, it occurred to me (see what I mean about "obsessed") that I could go the other way...start with a seed bead at center bottom and end up at the top with an accent bead and a cute fringed knot to hold the earring hook on.  I used the same brass rings, 4 ply gold cord, pink gilt size 8 seed beads and some olive green resin disks.  I only did one half-hitch between seed beads on this pair. 

This might be my favorite pair out of all of them - gold cord again (I'm surprised how much I liked this color!) with royal blue size 8 seed beads and carved coral flowers.  One half-hitch between beads. 

Then again, these might be my favorites.  I bought these wonderful ceramic stick dangles from our hostess, tied on salmon 4 ply cord with lark's head knots and then did two half-hitches around the brass ring using frosted yellow AB Japanese drop beads until I reached the top where I tied a knot with both ends, strung a frosted pink vintage German glass bead and a lime green seed bead for an additional pop of color and then tied off the ends, trimmed and frayed them. 
And then I went out and bought more colors of cord and am looking for a wider selection of beads with larger holes to accommodate it. 
It's a sickness.
Send help.
Here's the list to the rest of the participants:

Friday, May 23, 2014

May Bead Porn

I'm not intentionally making this a once a month thing, but it seems to be working out that way just naturally.  I didn't want the month to end (holy crap, it's almost June!) without at least one porn post and the Friday before a 3-day weekend seems like a good time to do it.

Before I get to the goodies, though, just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the reveal for the Waxed Linen Cord Blog Hop so be sure to stop by and check out the adventures I've had using this new (for me) material!

Okay, no more delays!  On with the porn:

Brass sand dollar pendant with verdigris patina and...

...Mykonos silver ceramic dangles from Linden Avenue.

Floral bracelet bar...
...starfish bracelet bar...

...and big orange starfish bracelet bar all from Captured Moments

Red patina rings...

...large violet patina rings...

...and aqua patina rings all from Miss Fickle Media.

Tiny pink Czech glass rounds... Picasso rounds...
...and green/aqua Picasso lentils from both from Arte Bella Surplus.
Lavender/gold Czech glass flowers from Aloha Bead

Purple tagua nut slices...

...chocolate brown tagua tube beads... tagua nut "claws"... tagua nut "claws"...

...and gold tagua nut "claws" all from Eco Beads Tagua.  I bought all of these "claws" when I was putting together my "Hungry Like the Wolf" pieces for the Challenge of Music Blog Hop.  I did not end up using them, but used some other tagua nut pieces that were purchased at the same time.  These are so cool, though, I must figure out something to do with them!

Painted stone beads from Plymouth Rocks.
Enameled bird charms...
...leaf charms...
...and filigree pieces all from Gardanne.  All of these bright green pieces came about when I was looking for inspiration for the April "We're All Ears" Blog Hop.  They didn't arrive in time for me to use them, but I'm still happy to add these pieces to my stash for a future project as I don't have very much of this bright green.

Lampwork glass...hmmm...I don't know what to call this shape...from Atlantis Glass & Bead.

Beautiful summery, beachy lampwork set from Julsbeads.
 Enjoy and have a great holiday weekend!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

7th Winner Announced

Okay, this has gotten really off track - too much going on with the Bead Soup and life in general.  So, let's get it back on track, shall we.  I took a look back at the blog and it appears I hit the 700 post around November, 2010.  From 600-700, there was a lot going on.  I had started playing with resin, I had my first published pieces in "Stringing" magazine, we added a tank of hermit crabs to our household, and of course, there was lots of bead porn.
Here's what the 7th winner will receive:

"Creating Crystal Jewelry" by Laura McCabe.  Even if you're not a seed beader/crystal afficionado, this book has lots of gorgeous eye candy.  Laura's designs are stunning and unique (you wouldn't believe what she can do with a glass eyeball!)

Clockwise from top:  purple organza ribbon, multi-colored fiber bundle, pink silk string, and another bundle of bright fibers.

Clockwise from top:  gorgeous lampwork bead from Julsbeads, patinated red metal filigree pieces, polymer clay bird charm from Second Surf, and copper/black large link chain.

Clockwise from top:  strand of lampwork beads, aqua ceramic bead, trio of ceramic heart charms, bronze clay butterfly goddess pendant

Set of ceramic rose beads

Clockwise from top:  two ceramic beads from Gaea, Czech glass iridescent "pebble" beads, green Czech glass bead mix, Swarovski crystal cosmic oval rings (jet and dorado).

Clockwise from top:  fiery orange crystal flatbacks, dark wood rings, turquoise crystal flatbacks.
And the winner is:  Rock Creek Creations!
Please contact me with your email address and I will get your package in the mail to you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Turtle Power

Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments on my "We're All Ears" reveal.  I really was not fishing for compliments, but just being honest about how I thought the project turned out.  Still, it was nice to know that perhaps I was being overly harsh on myself.  I did some more playing around with that technique over the weekend and I think I have resolved what was bugging me about it.  Results will be revealed this Saturday as part of a waxed linen cord blog hop I am participating in so stop by to check it out.

In the meantime, remember that amazing turtle adventure I had last summer?  If you don't, you can go here to read about it and see the video.  As a result, I started collecting turtle-related beads, pendants, etc. and here's the first design I completed as a result:

I saw this cute ceramic turtle link at Pajego Art House and asked if she would be kind enough to make me a pair and she was!  Aren't they so cute?

Accent beads are some small carved wood rounds and pink shell ovals both from Michael's.

The teal rondelles are dyed jade and I used brass wire and brass earring hooks.
Now the turtle curse is well and truly broken as I can take turtles with me wherever I go!
P.S.  I will get back on track with the 1,000 post winner announcements later this week.