Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book review: Celtic knot jewelry

Suzen Millodot is the author of this gorgeous book. She has created jewelry from real three-dimensional Celtic knots, embellished with beads and pendants. Suzen demonstrates techniques such as button and braid knots, plaits and Turk’s Head knots and shows how to use them to make eighteen different projects, including necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches and earrings.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Book Review: The Art of Jewelry ~ Wood

I made this necklace all the way back in February, specifically for Terry Taylor’s new book on wood jewelry, published by Lark. It features vintage rulers and yardsticks, and little wood-related images and definitions from a vintage dictionary. When I received my contributor’s copy of this book, I was mesmerized…I never would have imagined all the different styles of wearables that can be achieved with wood. Carved wood, turned, inlaid, found objects, just on and on. The book is gorgeous, and I am extremely proud to have a project included in it!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Artist Profile: Leah Hitchcock-Ybarra


Artist: Leah Hitchcock-Ybarra
Business name: Michon
Location: Berkeley, CA

Website & Blogs:
Michon Designs
Michon Design blog
LeahMichon on myspace
365 Pendants
Michon on Etsy

How do you describe your work, Leah?
My work is very freeform and has often been described as “organic”. I love pearls and flowing designs that have a natural looking assymetry. I would say my signature style is freeform pendants made from silver and pearls, but I also like to experiment with different materials and techniques. Besides pearls, I use a variety of semiprecious stones in my work, and I have a line of resin pendants with found objects embedded in them, as well as a line of picture pendants that incorporate images from my husband, Chris Ybarra’s, acrylic paintings. I chose Michon as my business name because it’s my middle name, and I’ve always liked it. I think I had named my business before I was even sure I wanted to have a jewelry business.

What is your creative process like?
Most of the time, my creative process starts with the materials. I’ll take a piece of silver and form it, then find the perfect pearl or stone to complement the shape. Sometimes it’s the other way around – I’ll have some beads out on my table and come up with a nice metal shape to show off the beads. I’ve collected beads, rocks, and shells as long as I can remember, and I love just looking at them and arranging them in different ways.

When I’m in a very creative mood, I can work for hours without really thinking about anything else, so I try to take advantage of those times. If I’m feeling less creative, I’ll work on production – making some of my simpler designs, or a bunch of earwires or head pins. I try to work a little bit every day, even if I’m not feeling creative, because sometimes the act of getting out some materials will jumpstart my creativity.

I do sketch sometimes, usually if I’m away from my materials and I get an idea that I think is good. I carry a small notebook in my purse so that I can jot down ideas whenever they come to me. I also have one by my bed for brainstorming before going to sleep or first thing in the morning.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I take jewelry making classes occasionally – I started with beading classes as a teenager, then took a basic wire class, and since then I’ve taken basic metalsmithing and some mixed media jewelry classes. Classes are very useful for learning techniques, and I especially recommend them for anyone who wants to start using torches, chemicals, and power tools. It’s good to learn proper safety measures from a pro.

I haven’t taken any design classes – design is something that I learned gradually from experimenting on my own. Most classes that I find focus on a project and the techniques needed to complete that project. I like to take what I’ve learned from a class and then see what I can come up with to use the technique in a different way.

I have no formal business training, so I’ve learned the hard way about how to run a business and make it profitable. After starting my business, and not making any money at first, I bought a couple of marketing and business books and read all I could online about being a successful entrepreneur. Running a business is a lot of work, much more than I expected when I got started. Today, my business is part time but profitable. I’ve learned through experience how to price my work, places to sell it, how to network locally and do local shows, and how to spend my money so that I’m not wasting all my profits on supplies or tools that I won’t use.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Pearls. I don’t know of anything more beautiful, to me anyway, than pearls. If I didn’t know how to make jewelry, I’d probably carry them around in my pockets to look at.

What inspires you to create?
The ocean, the desert, trees, creative people, art, architecture, vines, shapes, color, texture, my husband, rivers, pretty shiny things, fire, rivers….inspiration is everywhere.

A few jewelers who inspired me when I first started making jewelry are Michael Good and Arline Fisch. Michael good does these gorgeous flowing designs using anticlastic raising techniques. Arline Fisch uses textile techniques with metal sheet and wire, and makes really wild jewelry with those technqiues. Now that I’ve been making jewelry for a few years, I’ve discovered many other amazingly talented jewelry designers, but those two were the first that really made me want to make jewelry.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I think I’m one of those people who likes a challenge. I have my share of motivation problems and frustrations, but then I think “so-and-so did this, I can do it too.” And I mentally yell at myself to get over it and quit being so lazy, which usually works. I’m definitely better at motivating myself to do the creative work than the business aspects of it though!

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Do something creative every day. Even if you only have a few minutes, write in a journal about things you’d like to create, or sketch something.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My day job, sleep, and my marriage/social life. Luckily I’m married to an artist, so we spend a lot of time in the studio together.

What’s your favorite comfort food? (Or book, or color, or other hobby…)
Cheese, or chocolate. My comfort hobby is knitting/crocheting. Knit and crochet projects take so much time, and are very repetitive/meditative, which helps me slow down.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Making a sparkling pin for the holidays

The pin shown below, Elegant Sparkles, is really easy to make, especially if you start with a pre-formed pin with drop loops. It’s certainly possible to fabricate your own pin, or to twist one up with sterling silver wire, but if time is limied and you’d like to make some fast a easy gifts for the holidays, starting with a pre-made pin form is NOT cheating. Really. It isn’t.
I got my pin form from Rings & Things. Besides that, I used a couple of Bali silver beads, vintage rhinestone ball beads, and several different sizes of vintage crystals with an aurora borealis finish. You will also need silver-colored beading wire, size #1 and #2 silver crimps, and a couple of tools: wire cutters, flat nose pliers, and a ruler. That’s about it!

1. Cut 2 pieces of wire to 2 inches long each. Cut 2 pieces to 3 inches long each. Cut 1 piece to 4 inches long.

2. Attach each piece of wire to a drop loop using a #2 crimp. Fold the wire in half (or into unequal “halves” if you prefer), feed it through the loop, and insert both ends down through the crimp. Flatten the crimp. Use the longest piece in the middle and the shortest pieces on the ends.

3. Divide up your beads and place a #1 crimp beneath each bead to anchor it in place. Add two or three beads to each wire, depending upon the length of the wire and the size of the beads.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. 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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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Artist Profile: Penny Purdie

My Name is Penny Mae Purdie and I live in Mackay, Queensland….Australia.
At present I have one website,  Penny Purdie. My eldest son is working on another site for me, he is at Griffith University studying this very subject in Brisbane.

Family and friends ask is there anything I haven’t tried when it comes to being creative with your hands. I have done alot of different things but the ones that have really clicked with me are Jewellery Making and Silk Painting.

It started with Sewing then came Fabric Painting, Folk Art Painting, Decoupage, Paper Tole, Mosaic, Silk Painting (which is so stunning with its colours and feel), Glass and Ceramic Painting, then the greatest Jewellery.

Never thought I would be a teacher though, after learning with my Silk Painting Teacher for more than a year she announced she was leaving town and wanted to know if I would take over the classes. My answer was no, that I could not see myself ever teaching, I just wasn’t confident enough. Then our kids got older and were at school and Spotlight opened a new Store and they were asking for tutors. My friends and family were telling me to do it, so I submitted my resume and photos. Talk about nervous, but I got the job and taught most of the above at Spotlight for 4 years. Adults were who I taught during the week and children over the School Holidays. Kids are fearless when it comes to colours etc, they come up with amazing things.After having a year off from teaching I was asked if I would teach Jewellery Making Classes at the Bead Store in town called “Just Bead It”, I accepted and enjoy it immensely.

Teaching…it’s a great way to meet new people…get them addicted…swap ideas…help and inspire each other…just socialize.

When it comes to formal qualifications I have none, though I have done Workshops on such things as Silver Smithing, PMC Clay, Lead Lighting and LampWork Bead…..Wonderful, loved it all. Some I have taught myself by doing alot of reading, trial and error, and Practice Practice Practice. As long as you enjoy yourself the hours will fly by. [Editor's note - Penny's work looks like she's plenty qualified to me!]

My creative process usually starts with me imagining something in my head. Which can be inspired by a shape I’ve seen or a colour combination I see in nature or just about anywhere, sometimes it just simply comes to me. Then I draw it, which is another thing I love to do. While drawing I write notes about materials to use, ideas in general to make the piece hold together etc. I might make and remake the piece a few times until I am pleased with the end result.

While designing and actually making the piece I like quiet and no distractions. This is sometimes hard to get with a husband, son, nephew, 2 dogs and a cat around. But the humans are pretty good and know when to leave me alone, can not say the same for the animals. Most of my creative time is when the family is at work and I am home alone, my teaching is part time only. Don’t get me wrong I might need peace and quiet to create and design, but I love music and I like it loud, which is the only way to enjoy good music even at 46 years old. I love modern music, county rock, rock and roll, Latin and just about anything that makes you feel and want to dance.

Another thing I enjoy is reading, such things as Creative / Jewellery books and Novels, especially at night when I can’t get my brain to shut down so I read thrillers and Science Fiction, this usually makes me sleepy. Though I have come up with some good ideas while trying to get to sleep. Keep a note book and pencil on your bedside table.

For some time now I have been hooked on Wire Work Jewellery, love love Wire especially with Czech Beads and Vintage Buttons. The things you can create are endless, some times I get so involved that when I look up at the clock the hours have just flown by. If it’s a piece that requires say alot of repetitious wiring or lots of Brick or Ndebele stitching etc I will pace myself and take breaks so I don’t get a sore back or neck.

Recently my youngest son Graduated from grade 12, his school days are over, and he is having a year off then on to University. For his Graduation Formal I decided to wear this Green Silk dress I already had but had never worn. But I wanted to dress it up. So I hand painted some Silk, made a band for under the bodice and a shawl. The Bodice Band needed something so I made a Jewellery Piece for the center and a pair of Earrings. The Silk turned out beautiful I was very pleased with it, and I did not spend a fortune on a dress I would probably never wear again, I just dress up a good casual one. Making complete Accessory sets like that would be my ultimate dream occupation. When people commented on my outfit I even did a little bit of boasting.Silk Painting took up alot of my time before Jewellery. With the help of my husband I even designed a Silk Painting Frame/Stretcher. It has folding legs, the frames length was adjustable and level on all four sides and for awhile I had a Patent on it, never thought I would do something like that. Unless you know something about painting silk this description may not mean much. But I myself was not 100 percent satisfied with the frames available in Australia, so I designed one. Necessity being the mother of invention.

They say (whoever they are) “it pays to advertise”. My friends and family are always telling me I need to wear my own jewellery. I don’t wear much jewellery because I live in a very humid climate and it annoys me. But I am starting to wear mine, and people are asking me about it. So flaunt it girls, it does pay to advertise.

A former student, and now great friend, and I had a Jewellery Party at my house with Wine and Cheese etc. It was on a Saturday afternoon we sent out Invitations, and it was great. Caught up with friends, met some new people, sold plenty of jewellery it was a complete success. Give it a try ladies.

IMAGINE……..CREATE……..ENJOY…………My motto for Sanity.

The photos I have included are some of my favorite pieces at the moment, the girl in the photo is not me. Wish I could say I’ve held my age well, but this a friend Rachael Kaye. Thanks Rach. Rachael also modeled my bracelet that Cyndi (editor) admired from the Swarovski competition. The Peach and Gold Cuff has a Vintage Czech Button as its centerpiece, so does the Blue Shell and Chain Bracelet. The Seahorse is done with Rondells and Japanese 2 cuts. The Purple Cross I call “Heart and Soul”. The Silk Painting of the Frog’s Journey is a favorite of mine because of the style of background, I never know what I am going to end up with when I do this technique.

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Book review: The Art of Bead Embroidery

I received my copy of The Art of Bead Embroidery, co-written by Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini, and I just immediately fell right into it. Honestly, I did not learn as much from this book as I have from several other embroidery books, but it was highly inspiring. I was intrigued by how much variation in looks can be achieved by the use of only a few different stitches. I was also inspired to think about adding fringe to some of my pieces…ok, well, probably not. I love the way Heidi and Sherry’s pieces look with all the fringe, but I am just not a fringe type of girl. I add fringe to almost nothing, and it’s pretty likely to stay that way. But boy, is it ever pretty!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Making your own beads

Often times, the jewelry pieces that I admire most are the ones that use the artist’s own handmade beads. Nothing else will ever be exactly like that piece.

If you want to make true one-of-a-kinds, you should probably think about learning to make your own beads and findings. We’ll just cover the beads today. Here’s a list of links to sites that cover lampworking, clay, paper, wire, and much more!

Lampworking ~ the allure of the flame

An excellently photographed introduction to the steps involved in making lampworked beads.

Frequently Asked Questions

All kinds of information about hot glass.

Making Glass Beads by Cindy Jenkins
Beads that are multicolored, grooved, feathered or foiled, and decorated with spots, dots, eyes, and stripes: no matter which of these designs in glass you choose, the results will be beautiful. Detailed instructions and magnificent photos, along with scores of valuable tips and tricks, guide you through an awesome array of techniques, making this the best guide to glass beads ever.

Polymer ~ let’s play with clay

Polymer Clay Central
Lessons, projects, and instructions from some of the finest polymer artists, all gathered in one place.

Beads By Hand
Clay beads and more!

The Polymer Clayspot
Frequently asked questions about what it is and how to use it.

Making Polymer Clay Beads by Carol Blackburn
A comprehensive introduction to making beads from polymer clay that also provides inspiration, demonstrates the range of effects that can be achieved, and teaches how to incorporate these beads into jewelry designs.

The New Clay by Nan Roche
This book has been around a while, and for a good reason. It’s one of the best books for learning polymer clay techniques like millefiori and bead making.

Paper or Cloth Beads ~ rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Partz Paper Beads
How to make them, and what to do with them once you have!

Cloth Roll-Up Beads
Louise Duhamel shares her technique.

Creating Extraordinary Beads from Ordinary Material by Tina Casey
It is possible to make colorful beads of one’s own from craft materials. Casey’s beads are often humorous items made from glued strips of cloth, yarn, or paper and finished off with clear nail polish.

All wired up and no place to go

Wig Jig Wire Beads
A few lessons and many supplies for making twisted wire beads.

Make Wire Beads by Lisa Van Herik
Concise and detailed how-to instructions for making a wide variety of different wire beads. All 44 beads in this book are fully illustrated both in color and black and white and along with the individual instructions.

PMC ~ squishing silver and gold?

PMC and Art Clay Silver

An online manual for success with the new precious metal clays.

Making metal beads
Register with the ArtJewelry site and receive a free download of Nanz Aalund’s tutorial.

The Art of Metal Clay by Sherri Haab
Artist and instructor Sherri Haab demonstrates metal clay’s remarkable versatility, showing how it can be textured, molded, carved, and sculpted to create gorgeous beads.

Metal Clay Magic by Nana Mizushima
Packed with color photos showing each step of working with metal clay. Covers more than just beads, but has lots of techniques that can be used in making beads.

Ceramics ~ the other forms of clay

Beads of Clay
Celebrating the world of ceramic bead artists. Artists working together to promote the art form.

Mystic Spiral Studio
A tutorial on different bead shapes and how to make them with clay.

Ceramic Bead Artists
Tutorials for both the beginner and the more experienced artist.

Ceramic Bead Jewelry: 30 Fired & Inspired Projects by Jennifer Heynen
Scheduled for release in June 2008. Can be pre-ordered now.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. 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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Monday, December 10, 2007

My favorite bead & jewelry forums

Here are a couple of wonderful online places to gather with other jewelry artists! You will find like-minded, similarly obsessed people to hang out with, trade tips, share sources, and swap stories. You have to register to participate at each one, but it is well worth it! It’s great to have lots and lots of bead and jewelry lovers to schmooze with!

Jewelry Making at About.Com
Friendly and knowledgeable, Tammy Powley guides this lively forum.

Bead Art Forum
Very personable and talented group. Lots of off-topic community building discussions.

Bead and Button Forum
Well organized forum with lots of talented and helpful members.

Wet Canvas Wearable Art Forum
Wonderful community with on-going projects, daily show and tell, and “wear” it’s at threads.

Beadwork at
Nice community with some serious beaders!

All About Beads Forum
A friendly forum with lots of lively discussions.

Creative Wire Jewelry Forum
Learn how to give your designs that “extra something” here.

Bead Collector Network
A not for profit web site dedicated to the sharing of accurate information about beads.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Artist Profile: Amy E Fraser

Artist: Amy E. Fraser
Business Name: Exalted Beauty

Website and blog:
Amy E. Fraser
Exalted Beauty

How do you describe your work, Amy?
I would describe the Exalted Beauty Medallions as exuberant, fun and funky, boldly beautiful with a charismatic personality, just like the Exalted Beauties who wear them!The name of my business was inspired by the beautiful women in my painting series entitled EXALTED BEAUTY. Each Exalted Beauty Medallion is an Amy E. Fraser One-Of-A-Kind Original sculpture. The medallions range in a wide variety of styles and techniques. They are hand painted with acrylic glazes or made with colored polymer clays that have been specially mixed with my *secret* formula, creating gorgeous luminescent color. Some medallions also contain added materials such as Swarovski crystals, glass, metal and seed beads, as well as archival prints (of my own work) and resin. Each Exalted Beauty Medallion collection has its own unique theme and style.

The primary goal of both my painting and jewelry has always been to create meaningful work for and about women that celebrates their inner and outer beauty: to inspire and empower women. It probably sounds corny but the medallions are my small way of trying to make a difference for womankind, one woman at a time. Each piece is unique, created as a means to celebrate individuality and to encourage self expression. I make the medallions with my friends and family in mind so each piece I present is meaningful and made with the utmost care. Many of the women who wear my medallions light up as they share the stories of the conversations the medallions started. Often it is a fleeting moment, a quick, shy comment about the medallion from a passing stranger, but sometimes it’s those unexpected positive human interactions that can really make someone’s day. Wearing an Exalted Beauty Medallion says something about the individual, it says she’s brave and adventurous and has an appreciation for art and life. Sometimes in this busy world it’s nice to be reminded that we exist to others and that we are noticed, that we matter. I can not express how much it means to me to be able to share a piece of myself with others while also doing a little something to generate a positive energy that helps to increase self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth in women.

What is your creative process like?
Since early childhood I have always been someone who *makes things*. There has never been a question to my identity as artist, nor has there been a material/medium that I have come across that I didn’t attempt to turn into art. I am eternally optimistic about bending materials to my whims and visions. My mind is in a constant state of processing emotions and visions and translating them into art. In all things I am a thinker, a philosopher, a dreamer, and a creator. Life is my creative process. I have a voracious appetite for information. Inspiration comes to me in many forms; art, art history, my wildflower meadow, my family and friends, my animals, cooking, reading, movies and walks in the woods. Mother Nature is my primary muse but anything can inspire my creative thoughts. I often imagine my brain as a giant computer that I am able to plug in as many diverse sources of inspiration as I wish and as often as possible. This constant intellectual feeding keeps my work current and continually evolving but I always remain true to myself and my personal visual language.

My physical creative process (when I actually sit down to work), happens in the wee hours of the morning while my son is asleep. I usually fit in 40-60 hours a week and most of that work time is spent in silence (with the intention of keeping my son sleeping as long as possible). With my paintings I tend to conceptualize a bit more and do a lot of sketching and reworking before I commit to a final piece. But with the jewelry I feel freer to experiment and let the subconscious take over. When starting a new medallion collection, I usually have a few guidelines, like a predetermined color palette (that I have mixed and selected based on current/seasonal fashion trends) as well as a general design concept or theme. Overall, I just allow myself to *get in the zone*, and let the medallions flow. I never know how they will turn out (until it’s too late).

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have had absolutely no formal training as a jeweler. My training is in Fine Art. I have a BFA in Illustration with a minor in Art History from Parsons School of Design as well as a Masters in Liberal Arts from Dartmouth College with an independent study focus on painting. In other words, I’m trained to think creatively with words and concepts and translate them into a 2 dimensional visual form. However, I feel that these skills easily translate to create art jewelry from a fresh perspective.

How did you transition from creating jewelry to selling jewelry?
I started my jewelry making business shortly after we moved into our new house in October of 2005. I was in the midst of working on my Exalted Beauty series when we moved. Our new house was a live in it while you build it situation so I wasn’t able to have a painting studio in the way I was previously accustomed for quite some time. Continuing the Exalted Beauty series was out of the question. One day I began digging around in the basement in the guise of *unpacking* and came across a large sampler set of polymer clay in a box of art supplies. At the time I was desperately in need of a creative outlet and still deeply immersed in the Exalted Beauty concept so it was a natural evolution for the polymer clay to become jewelry that reflected (and was inspired by the designs I created for) my Exalted Beauties. It basically just started out as an activity to keep my creative juices flowing while my son played with his play dough. That is until my Mother-In-Law stopped by and fell in love with the first batch and suggested that her co-workers would also love to buy them. And so it began. My Mother-In-Law, my friend Lynn and my husband became the first Exalted Beauty Representatives and they started having *On-The-Job-Exhibitions* for me. Other friends participated as well and pretty soon the medallions became so popular people began to request home parties. The home parties were quite successful so I continued to make collection after collection (after collection) and eventually the medallions got picked up by some retailers and I also expanded into on-line sales. A year and a half and 1,600 medallions later, I still haven’t unpacked!

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My imagination! I don’t have a single professional jewelry or sculpting tool (not even a pasta machine).

What inspires you to create?
Everything. I have always had an abundance of ideas, combined with an obsessive drive, desire and ambition; so one has no choice but to create. I wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t express myself through art. The creation of art is what has always defined and fulfilled me.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Art is my therapy so the more frustration I have, the more art I produce.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Keep working. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Follow your passion. True passion will lead you in the right direction. Most importantly, do not listen to anyone who is not already successful in the field that you would like to become a success in.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My Family. I am a full time work at home wife and mother with a 4 year old wild monkey child and a very patient and supportive husband. We are very close so most of our free time is spent together as a family. The past few years we have invested a lot of our free time on home improvement projects. We seem to have traded *socializing* for hard labor. However, creating and designing every aspect of our house/land from the ground up has been a rewarding labor of love and something we are all very proud of.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
I think I have developed a secret fantasy of being this old fashioned grandmother type who always has something baking in the oven and has fabulous smells wafting from the kitchen. I cook roasts, create elaborate sauces and bake every week. Most of my friends are baffled by me, it’s hard for them to imagine the mighty feminist slaving over a hot stove (in fact, the image takes me by surprise as well), but cooking is another creative outlet for me and it satisfies my emotional need to create a home environment that is warm and nurturing.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Making Champagne Bubbles

Champagne Bubbles

Exactly how many strands and dangles you’ll put into your necklace will depend upon what type of beads you choose. Since my Lucite beads are from a vintage necklace, I can’t give you an exact count. But what I’d recommend is that you find a strand with graduated sizes, and use that as your base. To the base beads, add some sparkling facetted rounds or even Swarovski crystals if you’ve got the budget for them. I bought some clear facetted Czech glass rounds in 6mm and 3mm sizes. Here are the rest of the basics:

1. Cut as many stands of gold-colored beading wire as you desire. I used three. Crimp them to a soldered or split ring on one end, and hide the crimps under a gold crimp-cover.

2. Space the base beads out along the wires with a size #1 crimp on each side. Once you've got your beads spread out in a pleasing fashion, flatten each crimp with chain nose pliers to hold the beads in place.

3. Cut short strands of beading wire, from 3 to 4 inches each. Thread these pieces through the holes of the larger beads on your base strands. On each end, place a facetted bead, surrounded by size #1 crimps. Flatten each of these to hold the beads out on the tips of the wire. I used larger beads in the middle and the smaller ones up the sides.

4. Bend the wires down lightly to encourage the facetted beads to hang downward.

5. Crimp the other three ends of the beading wires around a clasp. Hide the crimps under a crimp-cover. How easy was that?

This post contains affiliate links

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. 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.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Seed bead suppliers

My favorite on-line sources…
Delicas and other Japanese seed beads in all sizes, fancy shapes
Empyrean Beads
Many antique and vintage seed beads
Seed beads with dichroic coating ~ fantastic!
Great selection of Japanese seed beads with quantity discounts.

…and my favorite catalogs
Rings and Things
A huge selection of larger seed beads and mixtures

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hi again!

I have enjoyed writing Beading Arts since 2005!

If you're a new visitor, welcome! Come travel with me through a bead and jewelry wonderland, where no item is considered too strange to use in making something! Especially if that item has a hole in it.

My constant cry as a young child was, “Please Mommy! Don’t throw that out. I can make something out of that!” No surprise that years later, it became the cry of my daughter as well (pictured above). It’s wonderful having a kindred spirit to share with. I hope that you each have someone in your life to share your passions with, and I hope that you’ll come and share them with me as well.

If you enjoy Beading Arts, please feel free to also visit my other websites and blogs:
Mazel Tov! Jewelry Treasures
Wildest Dreams Designs
Why Not Art
Mixed Media Artist
Real Food Fast!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Artist Profile: Kelly Alvarez Mace

Artist: Kelly Alvarez Mace
Business Name: K. A. Mace Jewelry
Location: Southern California

K. A. Mace Jewelry
Online store
K. A. Mace Jewelry blog
Etsy Shop
Mindt Shop
Indiepublic Profile

How do you describe your work, Kelly?
I focus on fine, handmade jewelry that is inspired by nature. My designs incorporate colors and textures from the beach, from local vineyards, from my hikes in the foothills. I love to work with colorful gemstones, and love to bring colors together in unexpected ways. I create thematic collections around specific inspirations, so my Ocean Treasures Collection focuses on lampwork sea creatures on strands of colorful gemstones and freshwater pearls. I want my jewelry to be fun, to be something that can be worn at work, for a speical event or at play, and my work transcends trends or demographics. I have teenage girls who wear my anklets, I have grandmothers who order my huge cocktail rings! I love that so many different kinds of people connect on that visceral level to my jewelry!

What is your creative process like?
I have sketch books and note books that I use to track my thoughts, my inspirations. I include a lot of visual clues as well, photos I have taken, dried leaves, a shell, a piece of beachglass that is this perfect blue that I have to find in a gemstone, etc. I find that I am constantly writing down ideas and bouncing them off of people that I trust: my fiance, my family, my friends. I really leverage my suppliers and am constantly challenging them to help me find new colors, new cuts, new shapes, new findings. When the sketches come together with the color plan…and the gemstones and findings start rolling in from my suppliers, that is the time that I try to shut off the world, turn up the music and just start to let things come together in my studio. I love to listen to music, it almost helps to pace me and keep me on track! Then, honestly, it can be impossible to turn me off! I lose myself in that process and can create for days and days…pausing to take pictures, post things on my website and/or blog and gauging interest and reaction to the pieces. I love the internet, you can get instant feedback and that is an exciting part of the creative process for me! Virtual Validation!

What kind of training did you have?
I took a jewelry design course in college, and took a couple of classes from a beading shop in Laguna Beach. Other than that, I am pretty much self taught! I did learn the basics of wire wrapping, from there I experimented and taught myself new techniques. Same with hand-knotting. I knew that I wanted and needed to take it to the next level when I would wear my pieces into retailers and people would stop me and ask me where I bought that piece of jewelry! I have had some of the greatest sales pitches to retailers when their own customers tell them…I want to buy what she has on! At this point, it is now kind of on-the-job training! I am constanting creating things and challenging myself to take it to the next level, to learn a new method or medium.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Silk bead cord…I hand-knot almost all of my necklaces, so without my beloved silk, I would be in trouble! I love the process of touching each gemstone, each pearl. I love how hand-knotted necklaces lie on the throat, how each gemstone is featured, how the light can play off of the piece.

What inspires you to create?
The natural world around me inspires me all of the time. I am inspired by the business side as well. After 15 years in retail, I really love and understand the entire process of creating something, marketing it, selling it, and…let’s face it…profiting from it! I have friends who are highly creative but hate the business side! I am inspired by that process as well, and stretching myself to create beautiful, wearable and sellable jewelry!

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
The prospect of going back to that retail career??!! Well, that is part of it! I love the fact that I can work from home, that I can drop off and pick up my kids, and that I am here to do homework with them. I love that I get to do that and do what I love…creating jewelry…making people happy with their jewelry creations. I worked 16 hour days in retail. I sometimes work 16 hour days designing, creating and marketing jewelry. But…those are my 16 hours, they are around my kids, my family, my volunteer work. So, when I get stuck on something, when something feels frustrating, I remind myself and that I am the CEO of my company and I am blessed to have that title, and need to take that title seriously. I have two kids who depend upon me taking it seriously, and I just love that!

What is your best piece of advice?
Innovate and they will come. As soon as you have created an amazing piece that simply stuns even you…stretch yourself even further. It is important to know and understand your niche, and with whom you are competing in that niche. Find what they do well, and you do it better! Get a step ahead, innovate with new color combinations, new textures, new designs, new whatever! I find on the forums that people are frustrated by their sales, by how others are selling more…well, my challenge is to get that feeling of “What am I doing wrong?” into a challenge of “What can I do better?”! Get online, find some tutorials, join groups, take classes, expand your knowledge and know your niche inside and out.

Also, this is a business. While you are asking about rising in their artistry, there is a business component to this as well. Write a business plan, present it to people you trust, and create a focus group to discuss and brainstorm over it. Know what will make you profitable, as those profits can and should be reinvested so you can continue to learn, grow, buy new tools, take new classes, and expand your artistry and your business!

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My family, I really enjoy time with my kids and my fiance. I love to read, and read at least a book a week! I also love needlepoint and cross stitch, and always try to find some time to work on my current project. I enjoy the beach, the outdoors, and travel.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Sushi…yes, to me it is one! One of the reasons that I love sushi, besides the fact that I love fish, is that making sushi is such an artform. So, I enjoy that artistry, watching the chef create the orders…the colors, the combination of flavors, the innovation…love it!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Artist Profile: Wendy Van Camp

Artist: Wendy Van Camp
Location: Yorba Linda, CA
Website & Blog: Indigoskye Bead Fashions

Wendy, how do you describe your work?
I am a jewelry artist. I wire wrap semi-precious stones and handmade art glass into women’s jewelry. My designs are unique but simple, jewelry that everyone can wear.

When I was searching for a business name, I knew that I wanted to include the word “bead” in it since back then the search engines put much weight in the name of a webpage or a business. I also wanted a word that would be unique to me so that if people were googling me, it would be easy to find me. So I took two email handles that I was using at the time, indigo and skye, and put them together. The blue skies connotation seems to put a smile on my customer’s faces and the name stuck. I even answer to indigo or indigoskye on occasion!

What is your creative process like?
I start by going through my stash of stones and picking out combinations that appeal to me. Then I just put them together. Sometimes I start with a wire technique that I want to use and then put it with my stones until a design emerges that I find pleasing. I never write anything down or plan…whatever flows from my pliers is what I make.I sometimes play music, but usually I put cooking and gardening shows on the TV and let it play in the background. If a good recipe pops up, I stop and watch for a few minutes and then get back to work! I tend to work in small chunks of time and alternate my tasks. An hour or two on the computer for marketing or minding online sales, an hour or two with the pliers, an hour or two at tending to the house or running household errands. The only time that I am focused on jewelry for a long period of time is when I’m in my booth at a venue, and then it is jewelry for a good 6 to 8 hours at a time since I tend to make things in my booth in between sales or make custom orders in the night.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
The only design training I had was as a florist wannabe. I was the co-host of a television program on flower arranging. The program was the florist teaching the viewers how to be a flower arranger and it was my job to ask questions to prompt him into the next step in a natural manner and to assist with the flower arranging as the cameras rolled. Over the course of a year or two of production, I learned many design concepts from this man and later discovered that many of the principals of flower arranging also hold true in jewelry making. At the time, I didn’t do crafts at all. I was too busy teaching high school English during the day and doing television production at night and on weekends.

I took up jewelry for the first time during my wedding preparations. I made my own bridal veil and the jewelry for my bridesmaids in order to save money on our wedding. I enjoyed the jewelry making and decided to sell it part-time after the wedding. I found that jewelry got busy during TV production’s slow time so the two professions merged together well time wise. However, as the years went on and I started to do bigger jewelry venues, I discovered that jewelry was more profitable to me than freelance TV production and I started to concentrate more of my time there. I still like production and writing, but now production is more my hobby and jewelry my profession, the exact opposite of what it was a decade ago.

Currently, after eleven years of selling my jewelry on the festival circuit, I am starting to take formal lessons in jewelry making. My favorite instructor is Connie Fox and I am simply in love with Eni Oken’s wire wrapping tutorials. I am also taking fabrication lessons via CD produced by an instructor named Don Norris. I’m not sure what my jewelry is going to morph into, but it has been an exciting time for me. I am grateful to these instructors for sharing their time and expertise with me.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My hands, eyes and my heart. Everything else is replaceable.

What inspires you to create?
Either you are an artist and MUST create, or you are not. Inspiration comes from everything around me in the world and from within.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
There are times when I feel blue about jewelry making. When I have a bad show and barely break even, when I apply to venues I would dearly love to enter and am told “no jewelry need apply” or have people come into my booth and try to tell me how to run my business. Sometimes being alone with only my dog for company in the studio can press in on me too. I wonder what the heck am I doing with my life. It is then that I ask myself, is there a single profession on the planet when you don’t have days like this? I don’t think that anyone has it easy out there. I just remind myself that overall I love being my own boss, making my own destiny and creating things that bring a smile to people’s faces. If that is not enough, what is?

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Be willing to take risks. Find a mentor to help you figure out what reasonable goals to set for yourself. Ask questions and be willing to listen. Take lessons and improve your technical skills.

So that we’ll know a little more about you personally, what takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Gardening and cooking. I grow exotic hot chile peppers and use them to make powders for my cooking and I spend time tending my roses. I love to provide homemade meals from scratch to my husband. Most of my meals take an hour or two to cook so I spend a lot of afternoon time in the kitchen.

And Wendy, what’s your favorite comfort food?!
My favorite comfort food is just about anything that can come out of a crockpot. Crockpot cooking is one of my favorite methods since it is one of the healthiest and easiest ways to cook.

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Book review: Enameling on Metal Clay

My friend Pam East has written a new book on combining two great media into stunning jewelry pieces! I have to be honest here and tell you that I don’t work much with either medium, so I’m not really in a position to tell you whether or not this is a good book. But from the reviews that Pam has received, I’d have to say that people who do know what they’re talking about agree: Pam’s book is a good ‘un! So if you’re looking for the next step in jewelry making, this might just be it.

From the publisher:
Enameling adds a whole new dimension to metal-clay jewelry. The striking, exciting projects in this book range in skill level from beginner to advanced and include earrings, pendants, pins, beads, and a ring. A tools and materials section, as well as metal clay and enameling basics, introduces key supplies and techniques. Easy-to-follow step-by-step directions are illustrated with detailed photos, and tips, tricks, and troubleshooting help ensure success. Some projects can be completed without a torch or kiln, making them even easier and more rewarding for those just starting out with jewelry-making.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'm baaaaaack!

Sleep deprived, pumped up, full of hope for the younger generation!

And now I have two announcements instead of just one. First, the business announcement:
I have accepted a position with b5Media to write their Jewelry & Beading blog! I am extremely excited about this, because it will enable me to continue what I've been doing on this blog, but also to be able to do so much more. Artist profiles. More tutorials. Compile a library of basic techniques. Yay!!

I hope that all of you who read this blog regularly (or even just from time to time) will visit and subscribe to the new blog. It will take me awhile to transfer content, and for the foreseeable future this blog will not be going anywhere. But I also won't be posting many new things to it either. Eventually, everything here which is worthwhile will be transferred to the new digs.

And now for the second announcement, which I wasn't expecting to make just now:
My son is getting married!!!

Not that I'm particularly surprised, but I am just totally thrilled for them both. The wedding will be June 2, so it's time for me to go pick out a beige dress and practice keeping my mouth shut ;-)
Nate & Lizzie

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

A long weekend away

Once more, a small handful of crazy adults and a not-so-small handful of even crazier teens will be leaving the frozen northeast to travel to Ocean City Maryland, where it's not quite so frozen. But it's not exactly warm either!

We're going to Winterfest, our annual youth conference. My daughter is coming home from college tonight to go as well, as a chaperone. Her second year in this position :-)

When I get back, early next week, I expect to be making a HUGE announcement! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Close up of "Dreaming of Spring"

I sent "Dreaming of Spring" off yesterday as a submission for the new Altered Couture special issue that Belle Armoire is planning. The deadline for entries isn't until June 15, so you've got plenty of time to think about it and plan your entry! Don't let me do this all alone :-)

Anyway, when I finished embellishing the brim of this vintage hat, it still seemed to be missing something. And there it was, sitting right on my work table, waiting...this cute little vintage rhinestone bee pin. I had already come up with the name I wanted to use, "Dreaming of Spring". Obviously the name was referring to the bee...I just hadn't quite figured it out yet!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Native Dance" has come home

Native Dance was in my mailbox yesterday. This piece is supposedly going to be in the "Altered Couture" section of the next issue of Belle Armoire Magazine. Publishing schedules can change rapidly, however, so I can't swear to it! When I think about the logistics of putting together issue after issue of a popular magazine, it makes me so happy that I just write for them instead of edit or publish them :-)

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shows sponsored by BeadWork & Lapidary Journal

Many new shows have been added to the powerhouse lineup of shows sponsored by BeadWork, Lapidary Journal, and Step by Step. Check out the locations and dates here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Call for entries: Altered Couture

"Dreaming of Spring"

I finished embellishing a vintage hat last night that I'm going to send off to Belle Armoire Magazine. Maybe I'll wear it for awhile first!

From their website:

Altered Couture (Volume 3!) (Newsstand Date:
November 1, 2007)
A hand-me-down sweater … a raggedy old skirt from the thrift store … a plain T-shirt … Using just a few tools coupled with your creativity, all of these items can be transformed into fantastic works of wearable art! The publisher of Belle Armoire and Somerset Studio invites you to submit your own altered and embellished clothing and accessories to be considered for the third volume of this exciting publication. Chapters will include Skirts & Dresses, Pants & Overalls, Jackets & Vests, Shirts & Tops, Children’s Wear, Sassy Shoes, and Accessories.

Deadline for artwork to be received: June 15, 2007. Please read submission guidelines before sending your submissions to: Stampington & Company · C/O: Altered Couture · 22992 Mill Creek, Suite B · Laguna Hills, CA 92653

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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Enamelist Society

I haven't done any work with enamels since those little projects that we used to do in Girl Scouts so many years ago. Do you remember the little copper shapes and how you'd lay some enamel frit on them and they'd be fired for you? It was fun, but it never captured my imagination.

However, seeing works like this by David C Freda, leaves me in awe!

You can find a link to David's site on the website of the Enamelist Society. Enjoy browsing some or all of the members' galleries!

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