Friday, June 27, 2014

More Linen Cord

I had so much fun playing in the Waxed Linen Cord Blog Hop that I just couldn't stop creating more pieces and continuing to work on my techniques.  One item that I had an issue with was getting a loop on a bracelet to be the right size for the closure so I made a few more to practice that technique:

This bracelet started with a hand-painted ceramic bead from my LBS and then I used gold cord and size 8 aqua seed beads for the bracelet.  The button is brown coconut from Michael's - they come in a box in all different shapes and sizes for like $3.99 which is perfect because you get enough buttons that you could make 20+ bracelets and the neutral brown color goes with pretty much everything.  There's another box where the coconut buttons are all different jewel tones (emerald, ruby, sapphire, etc.) with a few brighter pinks and greens thrown in.

This version started with a Kazuri bead in swirls of denim blue and lemon yellow.  I added denim blue cord, orange size 8 seed beads and a textured copper button from Second Surf.
I still don't think I got the loop size completely right on the first bracelet - it's a little tight.  But the orange one is perfect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pretty Palettes - June Reveal

My dear friend, Miss Erin Prais-Hintz, from Tesori Trovati recently asked me to participate in the Halcraft USA "Pretty Palettes" blog post.  Each month, Erin selects a photo for inspiration, selects beads based on the color palette in the photo and chooses a fellow blogger to work with the same photo and beads to create some finished pieces and blog about the results.  This month, I was lucky enough to be selected to participate and I'm thrilled to share the results.
Here is the inspiration photo that Erin selected and a link to her introductory post about this month's palette:

 I had several initial impressions when looking at the photo.  I love the bright, juicy colors and the weathered condition of the wood immediately gives rise to thoughts of sunny, windswept beach cottages. 

However, it also reminded me of countless summer vacations spent with my grandparents in Santa Fe, NM, where it is quite common to have brightly painted doors and gates against a reddish orange adobe or weathered wood background like in the above photo.  So, I was starting to think more of a Southwestern theme, initially, but of course I needed to wait to see what beads Erin selected and sent to me.

I think she did a fabulous job by selecting pale green jade disks, darker green agate rounds (the center one has rhinstones embedded in it!), sparkling aqua faceted beads, juicy orange jade, millefiori disk beads (which in Erin's photo look silver, but the ones I received have a lavender cast to them), and yes! small coral rounds and silver disk spacers do bring that Southwest flavor to the mix.

However, as I find to often be the case, what comes in through my eyes and gets swished around in my brain, often looks very different by the time it comes out my hands.  Or, you could say the beads have a mind of their own LOL!  My Southwest idea totally went out the window! 
The first piece I made has more of a Gypsy vibe to it - I think due to the use of copper instead of silver.  I added antiqued copper cones, clasp and butterfly charm.  From the palette beads, I used the millefiori disks, a strand of the coral rounds, and most of the strand of faceted aqua beads.  From my own stash, I put in a strand of copper size 6 seed beads and a strand of faceted Czech fire polish ovals in a "confetti" color that ranges from aqua to green to a pale lavender.
I love to use up leftover beads to make matching earrings so I used the last two millefiori disks, coral rounds and copper butterfly disks to whip up a pair of earrings to go with the bracelet.
This left me with the green and orange stone disks and rounds.  While I really loved the bright colors together in the inspiration photo, I couldn't escape the thought that they might be a bit much all in one piece when it comes to wearability.  I always try to take that into consideration when I'm designing a piece - can it actually be worn? 
After taking a closer look at the inspiration photo, I noticed some of the darker wood peeking through the bright paint and thought Ah Ha!  This color scheme needs something neutral to "ground" it and I wanted something dark so that the bright silver spacers would pop a bit more.

 I found these wonderful dark wood carved tubes at Michael's and thought they would work perfectly.  I don't often do multi-strand necklaces, but seeing all the beads laid out together when they came out of the package inspired me to keep that going and I knew I wanted to feature that green/rhinestone bead in the center.  Silver cones, chain and clasp from my stash helped finish everything off.


 Here's a closeup of the beaded strands.  I really like how the silver and wood work together and the cool, almost mint tones of the lighter jade beads help to balance out the brighter, more intense colors.

 I had a few odds and ends left on my beading board so I whipped up one more necklace to finish things off:

I had just a few of the faceted aqua beads left and I had pulled this butterfly pendant out of my stash because it picked up the orange and green color scheme, but I did not end up using it in the main necklace.  I added some copper wire, chain and a small toggle clasp and this very simple, sweet necklace is the result. 


Here is a closeup of the pendant.  The butterfly started out as paper applied to a wood cut out, but when I started playing around with resin a few years ago, I wanted to see if I could preserve the finish on this piece by coating it (and, okay, so I was also kinda putting resin on everything in sight) and I was really pleased with the results.

I hope you've enjoyed my creations and I'd like to thank Erin for selecting me to participate in this fun project.  Be sure to check out Erin's reveal on the Halcraft blog to see what she and some of the other designers came up with.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

We're All Ears - Earrings Everyday June Challenge

I can't believe it's time for the June reveal already.  Where is the time going?

Here is the inspiration photo for this month - it's from the Guggenheim museum.
Honestly, I had some trouble with this one.  The color scheme is very neutral:  cream, caramel, black and silver.  The shapes are circles, spirals and a spiderweb skylight at the top.  After a couple of weeks of struggling with this, I came to the conclusion that it is the darkness and lack of non-neutral colors in the photo that was throwing me.  I think I tend to respond more immediately to bright colors than I do to shapes or other elements.  Every pair of earrings I made, I desperately wanted to throw in a turquoise or red bead LOL.
Then, I tried to do something with the spiderweb shape and I had a cool idea of taking white and brown hoops and weaving silver wire in between them all the way around to sort of attach them to each other and make them look kinda spiderwebby...but I just didn't have the time to devote to that much experimentation.
I ended up going very simple and sticking very closely to the color scheme and circle shape:
I tried to make up for the lack of color by going with some sparkle.  The black rings are tagua nut and the center beads are black Czech glass with some...well...I call them "disco dots", but they kind of look like oil on water with some metallic silver in them. 
In keeping with the color scheme, I grabbed these cream-colored shell rings and "tiger" glass beads.   I wanted to make a bead or another ring "spin" inside of the shell rings, but I didn't have any smaller rings the right size to fit.  The tiger beads do spin, but I couldn't get a picture of that LOL!  I added a couple of Bali silver daisy spacers to pick up the silver from the photo.
Then, I found these fun, spiral beads at Michael's and they fit perfectly within the shell rings and they totally spin.  

They remind me of those old, spinning spiral designs that you would see in TV shows when a character was being hypnotized.
So, that's it for this month.  I am definitely in need of a color fix - I think I'll go make another pair of these with some red spiral beads in the center LOL!
Here's the code to the rest of the hop:  An InLinkz Link-up


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Birthday Bead Porn

Woo hoo!  It's my birthday!  This begins the 1 year countdown til I reach the half-century mark - I CANNOT BELIEVE that I will be 50 next year.  I really need to plan something awesome to celebrate that number.  Maybe I'll finally make it to the Tucson bead shows, or Bead & Button...or Paris!  Something that will require a full year to plan LOL!

But in the meantime, for this year, I thought some bead porn was called for:

Strawberries 'n cream faceted rondelles... Picasso teardrops...
...and pretty blue flowers from Arte Bella Surplus.
Purple Picasso Czech glass with sunburst designs...

...and pink Czech glass flowers from Aloha Bead.  They have great Czech glass, beautiful bracelet kits and some truly gorgeous lampwork as sure to check them out!

Hammered copper teardrops with lavender patina...

...smaller teardrops with aqua patina...

...and, my very favorite, these gorgeous crescent moons with a verdigris patina.  These are all from Miss Fickle Media.

I found this unusual raku dragonfly and leaf oval focal and...

...raku starfish pendant at Spinning Star Studio.

These beads are also raku, but a whole different color spectrum with lovely coppers, golds and blues.  They match perfectly...

...with this starfish pendant.  Both are from Star Spirit Studio.

This beautiful ceramic floral toggle pendant is from Mary Harding.

Turquoise frit lampwork head pins from Havana Beads.

These pretty green glass headpins are from Gardanne Beads.  They look like lime lollipops!

Brilliant violet teardrop headpins...

...and a variety of leaf glass headpins from Nadin Art Glass.

Delicate floral lampwork bead pair...

...and this wonderful and unusual set of lampwork ovals and spacers are from Pinocean.
Thanks for visiting my birthday bead porn party.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Check It Out

So, here's something exciting.  I was approached by Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati to participate in a fun project this month.  In addition to her many other bead and jewelry related outlets on the Internet, Miss Erin writes a monthly "Pretty Palettes" post for  If you're not familiar with Halcraft - they are the company behind the "Bead Gallery" products at Michael's (among other things.)

Erin chooses an inspiration photo and a corresponding color palette, selects beads representative of the palette, and picks a lucky partner for the month to play with materials and colors.

And this month...she picked...ME!

I'm so excited for the opportunity and Erin has fabulous taste so the beads are, of course, absolutely delicious.  I've already gotten busy designing with them and it's been so much fun.  I'll be doing a reveal of the results later this month so be sure to check back to see what happened.  The other great thing about this is the chance to show that, while we all (of course) love our art beads dearly, that's no reason to overlook the really great selection of cost-effective materials available at places like Michael's. 

You can make really wonderful pieces by using these materials.  Hit the store during a sale or when you have a coupon and you can save even more money...which leaves more of the budget left for those art bead splurges!  When it comes to selling finished pieces, using more economical materials also allows more flexibility in setting price points thus allowing one to appeal to a wider range of buyers.

If you'd like to read more about this month's palette and the design challenge, here's a link to Erin's post on the Halcraft website.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Okay, I somehow had it in my head that the end of the school year would mean things slowing down for me.  Obviously, I was delusional because not only has it been NON-STOP around here, I would say that the pace of things is even increasing.  I at least thought I'd get a break while the kid was at 5th grade science camp at the Pali Institute:

Here we are at a ridiculous time in the morning getting ready to leave (and check out my new car in the background!!!)

Just before the bus departed...

Hanging out with a friend at camp and (allegedly) learning sciency-y stuff...
Yeah, it was more like the kid went on a paid vacation to the mountains...meanwhile, back at home, I expected to have some free time, but instead ended up working overtime EVERY NIGHT while he was gone and not getting home until 8 or 9 o'clock.
I need a trip to the mountains now.
And it's only gotten worse since he got back with way more end of the year school stuff than I was expecting combined with more overtime than I was expecting (or wanting LOL).
I did manage to squeeze out a couple of designs, but only because I had some leftover, partially completed beaded sections on my board that I had pulled from other designs and I decided to just whip them into completed pieces instead of leaving them to languish.  One of them was really ugly so I re-did it multiple times (soooo not my favorite thing to do and usually, I give up and can't be bothered but every once in a while I get a "I will not be defeated!" thing going and am compelled to keep working...which this time resulted in this one piece sucking up all my available beading time (which was NOT MUCH) for the last two weeks which is why I have so little to show for it). 
It resulted in a very long necklace - another thing I hardly ever do.  I can't wear or even test out long designs on myself because my chest is too big and gets in the way.  I actually made Ryan model for me LOL!  He really loved that (not).
And then I realized how problematic it was going to be to take photos so these are not the greatest, but hey, it's something, right?
I had the abalone pendant, pink lampwork beads, seafoam lampwork disks and the beaded turquoise stick/rose quartz sections all laying on my beading board leftover from different projects.  I tried multiple ways of combining them all and it just was NOT working.  Then I decided it needed some dark wood to ground it so I went for a longer length with a dark wood/seed bead section at the back.  That didn't work either so off came the seed beads the middle of the night one night, I woke up and thought "chain...this needs chain."
I had this great textured cirle link chain in a dark copper finish in my stask so I interspersed sections of it at the back with a few of the beads sprinkled in and took out the toggle clasp that was originally part of the need for it due to the longer length.

Here's a closer look at the front section with the turquoise sticks and rose quartz rounds.

Originally, I had the pendant hanging directly from the necklace, but the proportions seemed off, so I moved one of the pink lampwork dangles to go right above the pendant.

It starts out symmetrical in the first two sections and then becomes asymmetrical after that.

Here's a closeup of the wire-work I did on the disk beads in the asymmetrical sections.

And here's what I did with the leftover wood/seed bead sections, the clasp and the last of the pink lampwork spacers.

I had just made a trip to Michael's for another project I'm working on and came home with a strand (40% off - yay!) of these cute copper butterfly disks...the perfect way to add some pizzazz to an otherwise ho-hum design.
So, that's I deal with leftovers at my house :-)
I hope to get back to regularly blogging here shortly.  I still have (yikes!) three prize packages to give out for the 1,000th post contest, I have this month's "We're All Ears" challenge to post about next week, there's bead porn for June (of course!) and I have a special project to reveal at the end of the month.  So, lots to come - stay tuned.