Don't miss our book giveaway, running until November 30! Visit the link above to enter.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book review: Veranda - The Romance of Flowers

If you are familiar with the magazine Veranda, you know that it's all about gracious beauty.  Well, here's a coffee table book for you that will help you to drift away into that romantic, gracious, and stress-free zone as the holiday season descends upon us!  The Romance of Flowers, by Clinton Smith, and published by Hearst Books, an imprint of Sterling, is an enormous book that you can just fall into and forget all about life for awhile.  And don't we all need that from time to time?

There are photos of flowers in close up, floral arrangements set in beautiful rooms, and flowers in lovely still lifes.  There is also a running commentary by Clinton Smith about the flowers, the fashions, and the fashion makers...but to be 100% candid, I haven't read it all yet!  I got so mesmerized by the flowers that I decided to look first and read later.  This is a book that I think I will find myself dipping into a little at a time when I need to refill my well or just grab a few moments of relaxation.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Recent publications: November 2015

A few new books to get you ready for a new year, featuring a new stitch and some new markets!

Introducing Albion Stitch: 20 Beaded Jewelry Projects by Heather Kingsley-Heath

2016 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market by Mary Burzlaff Bostic

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Book review and giveaway: Resin Alchemy

Books don't have to be brand new to be good choices for holiday gift-giving!  Resin Alchemy was published in 2013, but there are still a lot of people who are excited about the techniques it teaches.  My original review is at the link.  So, who would be interested in maybe winning a copy, for yourself or to give to someone else?


I've got a copy that needs to go to a good home!  Here's what you need to do...please read this carefully. Leave me a comment here and include your email address. If I don't see your email address, I won't be able to contact you. No contact, no win, and I simply have to go on to the next person. You are welcome to spell it out if you'd prefer, for example, cyndi at mazeltovjewelry dot com. If you tweet or post on Facebook or other social spots about the contest, you can leave a second comment and be entered twice! Deadline: November 30, 2015

Resin Alchemy: Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists
By Susan Lenart Kazmer
Interweave/F+W; $24.95

Join award winning artist and trusted mixed media master, Susan Lenart Kazmer in this jewelry making book about one of the hottest trends: resin. Advance your skills as Susan takes you through all the steps for working with resin, from basic mixing and pouring advice to more involved techniques including resin casting. Unlock the design potential and take your resin jewelry to the next level with this comprehensive book bursting with inspiration! Create projects that highlight stunning artistic effects with color, found objects, texture, casting, collage, and more! Discover how versatile this material is as you uncover all of Susan's resin secrets.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a great book for holiday gift giving, Resin Alchemy by Susan Lenart Kazmer. What a fabulous book to own and learn from!

Jingle Bell Wreath Ornament
Jingle bell wreath ornaments are fun and easy ornament to make from wood curtain rings, hot glue & bells. They make great gift toppers or wearable pins too.

Get Edgy 
This video review talks about a new book for crochet edges.

DIY Ninja Stars...or Suns... 
This video shows you how to make a Ninja Star. Terry made these for a gift exchange on a recent cruise and everyone loved them. One person told her she was excited to use it in her scrapbook of the trip

Art Bead Scene
Claire interviews Kathrin Kniedl - take a peek behind the scenes at her stunning clay work! 

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book review: Chain Mail + Color

Do you love chain maille, or do you find it intimidating?  Do you love the sleek minimalism of it, or do you wish there were a way to jazz it up a bit?  No matter what your opinion of classic chain maille, I think you're going to be enchanted by Vanessa Walilko's book Chain Mail + Color, published by Kalmbach.

Never fear if you've not tried chain maille before.  Vanessa introduces you to three very simple weaves that you will be able to master quickly.  She teaches you all the little tricks and techniques to working successfully in the Basics section, and (YAY!) gives you a list of suppliers who carry the various materials that she uses.

The main body of the book is broken into three sections.  Once you've learned the weaves, you can then choose to add colorful aluminum scales, disks, or washers to make your designs really pop, but without adding a lot of weight.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the jump rings themselves that you'll be working with are also aluminum?  Intimidation gone!  You don't have to worry about messing up a precious metal anything.

The colors range from eye-searing and super-fun to more subdued and elegant.  Vanessa's style runs more towards the fun, hip, happy pieces.  If you do a lot of chain maille work already, I still think you will enjoy seeing how she integrates these shots of color.  You can think about adding some of it to your own work.  And if you are the type who prefers more quiet color schemes, don't let the bright cover turn you off: you can stick with the metallics and neutrals if you like!

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Book review: Beautiful Elements

I love Heather Powers's work, especially her glorious polymer clay beads, but also her finished jewelry which she puts together using a lot of her own wire and metal elements.  In her new book, Beautiful Elements, published by Kalmbach, Heather brings it all together in a delightful celebration of designs from the heart.

Even though I would consider this an intermediate book, the thorough Basics section in the beginning, covering materials, tools, and techniques for making jewelry, working with polymer clay and metal, mean that a beginner can play too.  If you like Heather's style, grab this book and learn from the very beginning how to make your own findings, links, drops, pendants, and beads, rather than buying manufactured ones that everyone is using.

Heather's book will teach you how to "sketch" on metal, add amazing texture and personal imagery, create your own charms and drops, and make custom beads from polymer clay.  Throughout, there are projects to help you practice your new skills.  All are made with minimal tools, including all cold connections, so there are really no worries for a beginner!

Check out my review of Heather's earlier book, Jewelry Designs from Nature

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book review: Jewelry Design with Knitted Wire

Nealay Patel has put together some lovely projects for this new Kalmbach book, Jewelry Designs with Knitted Wire.  You might remember that I shared a project with you, using metal mesh as a design element in a necklace named Midnight Sky of Distant Stars.  We also looked at using it in the third chapter of Bored By Back Stitch again as a design element.  Nealay's take on this material is broader and slightly different from mine, so I was very interested to see what he was doing with it.

Wire mesh in three forms is explored in this book: hollow (flexible, the type I used), flat (stiff), and mesh filled with leather cord.  There is a good basics section included, with the tools and special findings you will need to add this material to your repertoire.  You probably already have most of them!

There are 32 projects included.  Most treat the mesh like an armature: stitch through it, fill it, treat is like soutache braid.  But other treatments push a little further: slip it over wire, use it as necklace straps, form it into bezels.  This last idea is pretty exciting, don't you think?

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Starting an amulet bag

I've become convinced that some people are not finished with making amulet bags quite yet!  When I asked that question a few weeks ago, it got me to thinking that I had never shared with you how I start my bags, and I really think it's a technique worth knowing.

I am not a fan of stitching a flat peyote stitch piece and then zipping it up when finished.  I find it too limiting, and there is absolutely no room for freedom or error.  Yes, you will end up with a perfect little bag...IF you get all the counts exactly right.  No, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way, but here's the method I prefer and why I prefer it.

1. Start by picking up an odd number of beads.  Pick up another bead and pass through the third bead from the end of the first row, pulling the last bead of the first row sideways.  Stitch back towards the beginning of the first row, and when there are two beads left, pick up one more bead and stitch through the tail end of the first bead added in the first row (the last bead before the tail) and through the second, turning the first bead sideways like you did at the other end.  Stitching through the second bead in the turn is your step up.

 2. You will continue to add beads, stitching around the outside of the shape, up one side and back down the other, adding beads between each up bead.  In every other row, you will have a bead that sits sideways at the end, and you will need to step up each row.

3. Now here's the great part: after you get the base established, as many rows as you want, you can switch up your beads, increase, or decrease, switch to odd count so that you can simply stitch in an upward spiraling fashion...whatever you want.  No worries about zipping up later and not being able to match the sides!

Here is a little bag that I started recently, just for fun.  It's not finished yet, but you can get the idea.  I used Delicas, because their tube shapes fit together so wonderfully:


Copyright 2015 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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