Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How to make time…

Well, how to make the Time to Run necklace at any rate! Wish that I knew how to make more time in each day :-)
Time to Run

Materials - Metal parts from Beadaholique
3 copper discs, 26 mm
4 hammered oval links, 20 mm
Copper curb link bracelet, cut in half
5 ” piece of heavy brass chain, cut in half
12 ” piece of small copper curb chain, cut in three
4 brass jump rings, 8 mm
12 copper jump rings, 6 mm
Miscellaneous watch parts
Two-part epoxy resin

Flat nose pliers
Wire cutters

1. Attach oval links together with copper jump rings as shown. Add dangling 4 ” pieces of small copper chain and copper discs with jump rings.

2. Attach oval links to the brass chain pieces with large brass jump rings.

3. Attach copper bracelet chain to each end of the brass chain with large brass jump rings , with the clasp on the outside to use as a necklace clasp.

4. Stir up some epoxy resin and use to adhere watch parts to copper discs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The best of the basics online

In the ocean of information that is the world wide web, there are a few websites that rise to the top when it comes to covering the basics of beadwork. Not surprisingly, one of them is the Beadwork Site at About.com. Paula Morgan has compiled the very best tutorials on just about every aspect of beading that you can imagine: bead weaving stitches, stringing, wire work, and loom weaving. So really, this is the place for you to start.

One other brilliant site has made my list of the best of the best: Beads East has animated tutorials on many of the most popular off-loom bead weaving stitches! This is one of Ann Benson’s sites, and if you haven’t seen Ann’s beadwork before, prepare to be amazed!There are a few additional sites that each have great tips to offer:
Bead Jewelry Making
Some harder-to-find seed bead instructions
Beading Help Web
Well-written articles and tutorials geared mostly for beginners
Jewelry Making at About.com
Tutorials and tips on all aspects of the art, including business
BeadStyle Magazine
Some good tips on working with wire

Bead&Button Techniques
Pdf downloads of instructions available
Ruby Fischer’s Tutorials
Well-illustrated instructions for lots of designs

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Artist Profile: Bernadine Stoopman

Artist: Bernadine Stoopman
Location: Brisbane, Queensland (East Coast of Australia)

Websites and Blog:
Bridal Jewellery & Hair Accessories by Bernadine
Designs to Love: Bernadine’s gallery
Handcrafted Jewellry & Special Occasion Creations
Hooked on Wire blog

Bernadine, your work is so unique. How do you describe it?
Inventive and inspired are probably the first words that come to mind when describing my wirework.

What is your creative process like?
Sometimes I pull bits and pieces out of my storage boxes to see what goes together but that’s not always successful for me as I don’t have an unlimited collection, so I leave it for a couple of days and surf the net for interesting beads and components or go to a trade show if there’s one on and from there I’ll pull the design together. I sometimes design on paper for customers who’d like a couple of different options, but mostly I’m given a few descriptive words such as, Black, Crystal and Glitzy and left to my own devices. Many of my designs just kind of evolve as I go along. I like to listen to music whilst working, usually just the classical radio station. Some of the pieces I’ve created, e.g. my free form wedding Tiaras, take several days to complete, sometimes I have to put them aside and work on other things as wrapping 26g wire for a couple of hours at a time is painful on the fingers particularly in winter.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have no formal training in jewellery design, I did study art in high school though. I’ve been creative from a very early age, painting and drawing, sewing, mosaics, and later on Photography when I did a short course. Above all I love colour, texture, and shape.

I also spent 26 years or so working in corporate environments in Office Management and Finance. During that time I project managed several commerical office renovations where I got to play with colour and reasonably big budgets among other things.

In Sept 2005, the International Mining and Resources company I worked for decided to relocate its divisional office from the East coast to the West coast of Australia. I walked away with a large redunancy and thoughts of a nice holiday and a new start . In March 2006, I went along to a basic stringing class just for the fun of it and was instantly hooked. From there I started making earrings, (basic techniques learnt from a book) and then really got hooked on Wire. (that could be a good title for a book…lol) The more I played around with it, the more I discovered that there’s not much you can’t make out of wire. In Nov 2006 I hosted my first jewellery viewing, with 50 or 60 people attending and did fantastically sales wise as well as collecting some wonderful repeat customers. I got alot of practice making a couple hundred pieces of jewellery for that party, as well as using my artistic skills and photographs (taken in Tasmania on that holiday I mentioned) to create swing tags and a website or two.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
That’s a really easy question… Wire. Playing with wire is my passion and I’d be lost without it.

What inspires you to create?
I’m inspired by Nature. I adore Frogs, Geckos, Lizards, Rainforests, The Beach and Ocean and all that it holds. Many of these things can be seen in my jewellery creations.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
My will to succeed and knowing that if I give up, I’ve let it beat me.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Read, Read, Read….as much as you can get your hands on. Most techniques can be learnt from books so join a Library, join a Beading Forum or group, enter as many competitions as you can afford. Experiment with new techinques, make things up as you go along, who knows what you might stumble on. Submit photos of your work to Beading magazines, get printed. One or two might ask you to write projects for their publication. Worked for me.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My beautiful Border Collie Pup – Bojak Mister Remarkable or Remy as he’s known and oh yes that dreaded housework.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Love Italian Food… My mum’s parents came to Australia from the Province of Brescia – Lombardy in Northern Italy. That might have something to do with it.

What’s your favorite color and other favorite things?
That’s a truly difficult question for me to answer. Love colour of any tone or description generally. But to say I’m not overly keen on Yellow. Its a difficult colour for most people to wear.

My other Hobbies are Photography, Gardening – I grow orchids, Painting with Acrylics and Cooking.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Getting Started with Wirework
A nice basic article with good overall information
Wonderful Wire Jewelry Projects
Lots of projects with lots of pictures to get you started by Tammy Powley. Also links to Tammy’s informative articles on types of wire.
WigJig University
Supplies and instructions for making jewelry with beads and wire
Rings & Things
Argentium Sterling silver. Learn about Argentium Sterling Silver at The Artful Crafter’s blog.
Rio Grande
Tons and tons of metal and wire information and supplies
Creative Wire Jewelry Forum
A place to hang out, talk, and learn about…what else?…wire!

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Book Review: Making Polymer Clay Beads

Making Polymer Clay Beads
by Carol Blackburn

Don’t hate me because I’m not a polymer clay person! Please!

If I decided tomorrow that I wanted to make polymer clay beads, this would be the book I’d choose to take me on that journey. I almost fell victim to polymer clay fever as I read through this gorgeous book! Carol Blackburn starts with the most basic of information that a polymer newbie would need to know, including information of the various brands and additional materials that you might want to use, tools that are nice to have, and basic techniques and baking instructions. She then leads you step by step through additional techniques that you will need for making all the blended colors, special shapes, canes, inlays, transfers, and other special effect beads you could want. Each technique is beautifully photographed.

But wait, there’s more. So much more.

The second half of the book is devoted to faux techniques. This is where I almost lost my resolve and started making a list of colors to buy! Carol shows you how to make wood, ivory, amber, leather, abolone, malachite, turquoise, and so so so much more. I was astounded. I wanted to play with clay.

I wanted to buy Carol’s beads, but I’m not sure she sells them!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The best seed bead books

There are literally hundreds of books that you could buy on the art of working with seed beads, and most of them are good books, with something good to offer. And since I’m a book and magazine junkie, I own most of them. The ones that I don’t own, I’ve read, courtesy of the local library. It was hard, but I’ve whittled the list down to the very few books that I think are really the best of the best. The first two are excellent books that cover many techniques. The rest are specific to a particular stitch and go into an amazing amount of detail.

The Art of Seed Beading
By Elizabeth Gourley
The author emphasizes the how-to in this book. Every one of the more than 25 projects focuses on a specific tool or technique, complete with color graphs, a list of materials, size and measurements, a color photo, and diagrams.
Making Designer Seed Bead, Stone, and Crystal Jewelry
By Tammy Powley
Beginners will find enough detailed instructions to get started while more advanced jewelry makers will find it provides new ideas for using stitches in different ways.
Beading With Brick Stitch
By Diane Fitzgerald
Focusing solely on brick stitch, this unique guide presents 10 exciting beading projects-from tassels to necklaces-along with detailed, illustrated instructions.
Beading With Peyote Stitch
By Jeannette Cook, Vicki Star
Here is everything the beader needs to know about using peyote stitch to create both flat and three-dimensional pieces. Thread, beads, graphing techniques, and five projects are thoroughly explained, and a brief history, with photographs.
Beading With Herringbone Stitch
By Vicki Star
The herringbone stitch is a versatile and unique off-loom bead technique. This guide offers a thorough historical and cultural background of the stitch, along with complete instructions for creating beautiful beaded projects.
Beading with Right Angle Weave
By Christine M. Prussing
The right angle weave stitch is demystified in this beading handbook. All projects include easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations for both single- and two-needle techniques.
Bead Embroidery
By Valerie Campbell-Harding, Pamela Watts
Emphasizing how beads add color, texture and beauty to a piece of work, they guide the reader through a variety of traditional and contemporary techniques, including bead weaving; sewing “trapped” beads; stitching beads onto mesh and canvas; and adding them to fringes, edges, cords, chains, and tassels.
Beaded Embellishment
By Amy C Clarke, Robin Atkins
Beaders, quilters, and fiber artists will find this book invaluable for its solid technical information about how to apply beads to cloth, resulting in unique creations that will stand the test of time.

This post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Treasure Chest: a basic bead-embroidered project

After finishing my monster embroidery project Andromeda’s Pearls, I thought that it might be a good idea to share a really basic tutorial on bead embroidery, a project that can be finished in a few days (or even possibly one long day). Treasure Chest is the name of this piece.

More and more often, modern jewelry is being influenced by techniques from other mixed media art forms. That is how Treasure Chest came to be: although I originally bought a set of watch-maker’s tins to use in some assemblage work and altered books, it occurred to me that a tin would also be a perfect little niche on a pin or pendant. Just the right size to hold a favorite token, the glass-topped tin can be sealed to make it permanent, or left loose to allow for an ever-changing display!
Watch-maker tins
Rub and Buff
4x4 piece of buckram
4x4 piece of ultra-suede
Selection of seed beads to coordinate with button ~ delicas, 11/0, and 8/0
Cabochons, pearls, other beads, and charms to coordinate
Nymo 0 beading thread
2 metal loops
Fabric glue
Beads of your choice for the necklace strap. I used:
8x4mm fire-polished Czech crystal rondelles
4mm and 8mm fire-polished Czech crystal rounds
8/0 seed beads
Soft Touch beading wire, .019 inch diameter
4 crimp tubes
Lobster claw and jump ring
Bullion wire

Sharpie pen
Long beading needles
Fabric scissors
Wire cutters
Chain nose pliers

Creating the Pendant

1. Use Rub and Buff on your tin if you wish to change its color. Do not apply the colorant to the back.

2. Choose the beads, cabochons, and charms that you wish to use in your pendant.

3. Cut out a piece of buckram, approx 4 x 4, and draw the shape of your completed pendant's border with a permanent marker if you want to. I usually do not do this as I like to see what shape the piece will take naturally, but many people feel more secure with a plan.

4. Arrange the large focal pieces, and glue down the ones that won't be stitched into place, including the tin, using E6000.

5. Create beaded bezels around your tin and cabochons. First, encircle the tin with a row of back stitching. Place 5 or 6 seed beads on your needle and stitch down through the buckram where the line of beads ends. Come up between the 3rd and 4th beads, and restitch through the rest of the line. Add more and repeat all the way around. When the first row is finished, run the thread back through the entire circle, pull snug, and stitch back into the buckram to prepare for the next step.

6. Begin to weave upward with peyote stitch, continuing to encircle the tin for several rows. Take the thread through one bead in the bottom row, add a bead to the thread and skip the next bottom row bead, taking the thread through the following bead. Repeat all the way around. When the bezel is as tall as you want it, run your needle and thread back down to the bottom of the stack, following a thread path from row to row.

7. Continue beading with back stitch outward from these focal points using different styles of beads until you fill the buckram just to the inside of your border, if you drew one. Use back stitching, small stacks of beads, and any other bead embroidery stitches you like. Use some higher dimensional stitches, especially close to the tin so that this taller piece will be more fully integrated into the design.

8. Back stitch a final row of 8/o seed beads completely around the border.

9. Run a thin bead of fabric glue just outside the last row of beads. Let it dry.

10. Clip the buckram close to the last row of beads, being careful not to cut any threads.

11. Determine the placement of your metal loops and stitch them into place on the back of the buckram, hanging over the edges.

12. Using just enough fabric glue to create a slight tack, attach the wrong side of the beaded buckram to the wrong side of the ultra-suede. The glue will only be holding them together while you do the final stitching. Don't use much or you'll stain the ultra-suede where it seeps through. Let it dry.

13. Cut the ultra-suede even with the beaded buckram.

14. Cover the raw edges with beading. There are several ways to do this, but here's one of my favorites:
Take a few small shallow stitches to anchor the thread between the two layers, close to the edge. Needle up to the top, exiting behind the border row of 8/0s. Pass the thread between the two closest beads in the border row, pick up one 8/0 bead, and needle up from the bottom through all layers of fabric, exiting again just behind the border row. Then pass the thread between the border beads again and down through the bead that was just added. Pick up another 8/0 bead, needle up from the bottom, and repeat the sequence for the entire shape of the pendant.

Creating the straps

1. Determine how long you want your straps to be, and cut two pieces of beading wire, each 5 to 6 inches longer than the intended finished length. I made each of mine about 10 inches long.

2. Slip a crimp tube and a short piece of bullion wire over one end of the first piece of beading wire. Pass the end through one of the metal loops on the pendant and back through the crimp. Tighten and flatten the crimp with your pliers.

3. String your Czech glass beads in a pattern that pleases you, alternating with 8/0 seed beads. I strung about 9 inches of beads for my necklace.

4. At the other end, string a crimp bead and another short length of bullion wire. Pass the end of the wire through the lobster claw and back down through the crimp tube and several more beads. Pull snug and flatten the crimp. Clip the wire end close and push any raw edges into the next bead.

5. Repeat for the other side, taking that end through the jump ring.


Copyright 2008 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, April 10, 2008

Artist profile: Dulcey Heller

Mary of Burgundy, created for Beading for a Cure

Artist: Dulcey Heller
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dulcey Heller’s Beadwork
Buy the Kit

Rubber Gaskets Bracelet
Published in the June/July 2006 Beadwork

Dulcey, would you tell us how you describe your work?
My work is mostly driven by shapes, and to a lesser extent, colors, of things I observe. I am most interested in creating interesting shapes, and finding the seed bead technique that will give me the result I want. For example, I wanted to modify herringbone to get a different profile of the stitch, so I experimented to get the points of the seedpod set and the cuff bracelet that I sell on Buy The Kit. I recently made a mushroom, and it was a combination of peyote, herringbone, and brick stitch that resulted in the shape that I want. I’m still trying to figure out how to get a smooth, controlled, increasing, self-supporting, three-dimensional curve that I really like…

What is your creative process like?
My creative process mostly begins with an idea of a shape. Sitting on my work table right now are some rose montees and a drawing of a Celtic knot-inspired border. I’d like to get the two to meet in a necklace; keeping the diagonal slant of the knot will require modification since I work with thread and not wire.

A recent piece reveals the extent to which I will go: for a swap of small beaded hearts for Valentine’s Day, I started with a picture I found of Pakistani embroidery that I used for both motif inspiration and colors. Then I learned that the national language of Pakistan is Urdu, and how to draw “mohabbat” (love) in script. I made the arches of heart pointed, to reflect the arches often seen in architecture of the area. I am a web-surfing librarian in my day job — it helps. I usually don’t go quite this far!

For a fun piece I entered in the 2005 Minnesota State Fair, I brought home the stick from a giant pickle-on-a-stick that I had eaten at the 2004 Fair, and then recreated a beaded pickle with right angle weave over a form on that stick. It greatly amused the judge, even though he thought it was a corndog totally covered in mustard.

My beaded figure that I made for Interweave’s Beaded Figure was first inspired by a beautiful French bead that is a milky white, reminiscent of marble. Then I went to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts to figure out stances for Ancient Roman statues. I decided one arm should be partial to reflect the damage often seen in these statues.

If Ancient Romans used beads
Displayed in The Beaded Figure show

Mostly, I work in small chunks of time towards any project, small or large. I keep lists and rough sketches, take pictures of all sorts of things for inspiration, and then try to assign myself working time. I have more things to do than can possibly be done, so I make lists for each month of 3 or so items related to my beadwork, whether it’s writing an article, planning a larger project, or actually doing the project. I try to give myself at least a few minutes of “bead appreciation” time daily, so that I can at least play with combinations of color even if I’m not picking up a needle.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have learned technique mostly from reading instructions in books and magazines. I have been fortunate to take two week-long Split Rock Arts programs through the University of Minnesota. The first was with Joyce Scott, and the second was with David Chatt. I learned so much from both of them, both are excellent and enjoyable teachers. Beyond learning about their techniques, sculptural peyote and right angle weave, respectively, I learned about the working life of an artist. How to present a piece for judging, for example. Or valuing a piece. Setting aside studio time to work. Things like that.

Pearl Beaded Bottle

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
I have a lot of thread. A LOT of thread. An embarrassing amount of thread! Seed beads are the mainstay of my work, so I have those too, of course.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I’ve tried a variety of methods. That smooth, increasing, three-dimensional curve? I’ve given that one at least a dozen attempts, it’s now set aside until new method inspiration strikes. I tend to like to bead my own designs. Sometimes it’s relaxing and rejuvenating to bead someone else’s design, then I can just enjoy the process, and appreciate someone else’s hard work. Also, I’m an advocate for finding inspiration in other mediums — going to a museum, reading coffee table books, enjoying the local nature center.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
The best idea can’t be fully realized until your technique is immaculate. Good craftsmanship and finishing is essential. Ask for and accept constructive criticism.

Beaded Cockroach

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I am married with school-age children, so family is where I happily spend an important amount of my time. I also am a public librarian, with my hours averaging about half-time. I also read voraciously.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Beyond family, beading, and reading, I like to cook a fairly wide variety of foods; I bake our bread. Family, food, beads, and books. Good stuff!

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Making a Cherry Donut…necklace

Cherry Donut

Cherry Donut is constructed with beading wire, so it works up really quickly and easily!  An updated version of the original tutorial is at the link above!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Artist Profile: Melissa Lee

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Artist: Melissa J. Lee
Location: Illinois

Website & Blog:
Strands of Beads blog
Melissa J Lee etsy shop

Kissing Bandit
Button in the focal piece by Sarah Moran

Melissa, how do you describe your work?
I like to think of my jewelry as being a little bit quirky, often reflecting my odd sense of humor and almost always reflecting my rather eclectic interests. In my personal life, I tend to be a bit quiet. In business (I am a lawyer by training, although I am not currently practicing), my demeanor has to be conservative and professional. My jewelry provides a “voice” for other aspects of my personality that I might otherwise be too shy to articulate.

What is your creative process like?
My creative process is informed primarily by the fact that I am first and foremost a mother. Before my son arrived, I spent fairly long hours in the office or on the road and the timing never seemed right to pursue any type of jewelry-making beyond really basic stringing project. Plus, at the time, I was leery of working with a lot of unfamiliar equipment. I was frightened of the torch. I was worried that I would burn down the house if I bought a kiln. It all seems a little funny in retrospect. Staying at home with my son gave me the opportunity to try my hand at making beads and jewelry. Plus, although I really loved (and love) having the opportunity to watch my son grow up, I wanted to try something new, something that didn’t directly involve being a stay-at-home Mom. The time seemed right. To my surprise, I found that I loved it. I started with lampworking and a few months later moved on to metal clay. I now work pretty much exclusively with metal clay.

Nowadays, once I have an idea in mind, I sketch it out as soon as practicable. Ideally, I sketch in my notebook. However, really, I’ll use whatever comes to hand, including my son’s crayons and art table, if that is what is available to me.

The next step for me is technical planning. I still consider myself a beginner in this medium, and it’s important for me to work out the best way to execute my concept based on the skills I have, before starting. Once this plan is in place, I’m ready to start working on the actual piece.

I do not have a dedicated studio space. I keep all of my metal clay tools in project boxes which I haul out when I’m ready to use them. As a result, I work with the clay only after my son is safely tucked in bed. Practically speaking, this means that I can only devote a couple hours a day to my jewelry.

Dragon Eye pendant

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have no formal design or art training. When I first became interested in working with metal clay, I purchased one of Tim McCreight’s PMC videos, Sherri Haab’s book, The Art of Metal Clay, and a starter kit. That’s it. I learned over time by trial and error. Frankly, my learning curve is still pretty steep. However, I continue to make progress, and that’s a great feeling.

Having said that, I will admit that I’ve always loved working with my hands. I knit like a fiend. I took pottery lessons at a local studio for a couple years (only wheel-throwing, no hand-building, alas). These experiences may not have had a direct impact on my jewelry making, but I believe that being creative in one medium lends itself to being creative in other media.

Geek Love pendant
Spells out “love” in binary

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Well, I primarily use PMC3. Without the metal clay, none of my work would be possible!

What inspires you to create?
Everyday people and items inspire me. I recently made a pendant based on a traffic light. That was fun. I am also an avid reader. I have an M.Phil. in English Renaissance literature and love the works of writers such as Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert and Herrick. These writers have inspired many of my pieces. At the same time, I also read genres such as science fiction and Japanese manga and find inspiration in this reading, as well.

Something Wonderful

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I’m fortunate in that I always seem to have multiple ideas running around my head at a time. My notebook is filled with initial concepts that I just haven’t had time flesh out yet. If I get frustrated while working on one piece, I put it aside for a while and start something fresh. I always find my next project inspiring, and that keeps my interest level high. After time, I’m able to re-visit my problem piece with a fresh eye and perspective, which usually helps.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Well, I’m sure most people would find it completely cheeky for me to be offering any advice of this kind at all! I will say that I think it’s important to create your designs around what you love, rather than trying to follow what’s popular or someone else’s trend.


What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My son! He’s an active toddler and getting faster on his feet every day. He seems to be artistically inclined, judging by the copious amount of crayon drawings we have in the house now. I’m looking forward to mother and son art classes with him in the future.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love ice cream, particularly Ben & Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide. Yum. In fact, I think I’ll go have a scoop right now…

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Online jewelry design tools

Help, help! I know nothing about formal design theory! What do balance, unity, line, color, movement, and contrast have to do with making jewelry? Don’t despair. If you don’t have time or funds for a college-level course on design, check out some of the best the web has to offer:

Formal Visual Analysis
A good introductory article by Jeremy Glatstein on the elements and principals of composition.

Art, Design, and Visual Thinking
An entire online design course by Charlotte Jirousek.

50 Ways to Become a Better Designer
Tips supplied by various artists.

The Color Wheel and Itten’s Color Theory

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