Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Antique and trade bead suppliers

African Accents
Beautiful handmade beads available from a number of African nations
Rita Okrent
Ancient and ethnographic beads. Sadly, Rita died in 2005, but her website is remaining open.
African Crafts
A wide selection of African trade beads
Crazy Crow
Native American and mountain man style beadwork supplies

I have no affiliation with any of these sites.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Making an assemblage style necklace

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Time

Parlsey, Sage, Rosemary and TIME began with a vintage fur clip. Too interesting to throw away, but patinaed with age and not in good enough shape to be used as is. It had some lovely large deep aqua rhinestones which I knew would match some other beads and flatbacks I already had. Staying with the floral theme suggested by the clip proved to be more difficult than I expected! I auditioned quite a few charms, found objects, and broken bits before the broken watch pieces caught my eye. Here was the answer! The watch parts were also worn and stained with time, like the clip. Juxtaposing those parts with some sparkly flatback acrylic "stones" would echo the stain and sparkle of the clip.

Maybe you have a piece like my fur clip, just begging to be given new life as the focal piece of a treasure necklace. You don't have to make your necklace as massive as mine turned out. In fact, I'll warn you ~ this piece is heavy! So please feel free to scale back, or even up if you are brave enough, or if you have really strong neck muscles!

Here are the basic steps that I took to create Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and TIME necklace shown above. With a few modifications, the instructions can easily be adapted to any themed set of treasures you wish to use.

Polymer clay (I used gold-colored Sculpy)
Large focal piece of jewelry ~ pin, dress clip, etc
Flatback rhinestones or acrylic stones
Broken watch parts
Assorted charms ~ small mirrors, broken jewelry, screws, etc
Seed beads
Larger beads and crystals (8-10 mm)
Assorted beads for straps
Chain, hook, wire, jump rings or split rings
Headpin (for dangle)
E6000 or 2-part epoxy
Glitter, pearlex, paints if desired
Nymo thread
Beadalon or Softflex

White towel, small bead dishes, etc
Tape measure
Alligator clips
Wire cutters
Chain nose pliers
Crimping pliers, if desired
Beading needles
Small metal file

Create a base
Roll out polymer clay into the base shape of your choice. Poke holes through it and bake according to the brand's directions. Make your holes big enough to accomodate seed beads, and don't forget to add some at the top for the neckstrap!

Create the fringe
Sew seed bead and crystal fringe to the bottom through the holes. Run seed beads through the holes themselves to prevent the rough clay from fraying the thread.

Add base for neckstraps
Although I didn't string the neckstraps right away, I wanted to get the wires in place now so that it wouldn't be difficult to find the holes later after all the bits 'n bobs were added. String some seedbeads on beading wire both in front of and in back of the hole, and crimp the two strands together. You'll bury the short end later. On this necklace, I chose to have two strands on each side to help hold the piece securely and not put too much weight on each strand. The long end of each of my strands was about 12 inches, left to be beaded later.

Create the assemblage
Plan out your mini-assemblage. It may help to trace the shape on paper and move the items about, marking their spots when you are satisfied. Then you can transfer them and glue them to the base.

Mix up your epoxy or uncap your E6000. Use good ventilation and glue your pieces to the backing. Remember to build in layers from the bottom up.

More embellishment
Add any glitter or pearlex or paints you desire.

Finish off the neckstrands
Bead up the neckstrands, crimping at strategic points if needed for the weight. Crimp around a chain and the clasp of your choice. I like to wire a beaded dangle to the end of the chain. Choose a hook or clasp big enough to balance the size of your necklace.

Copyright 2004 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, May 26, 2008

Do you want to design for yourself? Materials

Materials: Building a palette

I usually like to build my working palette and choose my materials after I’ve decided upon focal point, theme, and color, but it can be fun to try it the other way around. Some designers like to use this method most of the time, sorting through their beads and treasures, and letting the raw materials "tell" them what to choose. I’ve personally never had the stones speak to me. My more practical method to building a palette works well for me, whether it is my first step or somewhere further down the designing road. I’ll share it with you in case you want to give it a try.

I usually take my focal piece (or the first item to catch my fancy if I haven’t chosen a focal piece yet) and place it on a white towel. After gathering up all the possible beads, stones, buttons, and other treasures that might look good, I "audition" them by laying out small piles of each candidate near the focal pieces. Keeping my theme in mind as well - if I’ve already picked one - I look at how the colors, sizes, shapes, and textures interact. There is no right or wrong answer to this part of the process, but it often takes a lot of time. Do not let yourself be rushed! If any beads seem too prominent, you may want to remove them, or at least place them judiciously in the mix. keep in mind also whether your idea calls for a variety of shapes and textures or for a more uniform selection. Each choice you make will narrow down future choices, so sometimes you might have to start all over again if it isn’t going the way you want.

Sometimes you will find that you just don’t have everything you need to proceed with beading. Don’t look at this as a problem! Instead, this is the perfect justification for buying more beads!

Next Monday: Structure!
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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Monday, May 19, 2008

Do you want to design for yourself? Color scheme

Color Scheme: So many colors, so little time

Color is one of the basic elements of design, and many designers start off with just knowing that they want to make something purple. Or green. Or green and gold. Choosing your color scheme first is a perfectly natural pathway into designing. You might find that making your color decisions overlap your decisions about focal point or theme. Sometimes the focal point and color scheme develop together, one from another. Other times your theme will suggest or limit a color scheme. And still other times…you just simply want to make something purple. It’s all good. Usually I will choose the focal piece first and let the color scheme develop from that, but I’ve certainly also been known to do it the other way around.

This piece is an example. I was participating in a year-long project headed up by Dulcey Heller and Mary Elter, called Bead Art Exploration. One of our assignments was to pick a color scheme that we wouldn’t normally use.

Nomadic Treasure

We all have our favorite colors and color schemes, but sometimes it’s nice to stretch a bit and see what else is possible. I have discovered that, using my focal piece to start, I will most naturally gravitate toward a monochromatic (tints, tones, shades, and pure color of a single hue) or analogous (several hues in close proximity on the color wheel) scheme if I make the choices intuitively. These are just combinations that I find naturally attractive. I will usually add a metallic color or a neutral (black, white, or grey) which best suits the warm or cool undertones of the main colors. But in the case of Nomadic Treasure, I chose to use a triadic scheme. Ouch! It didn’t feel natural at all, but I liked the results.

Another method I have used to choose colors is to take my cue from a painting that I admire. Not surprisingly, the color scheme still most often ends up being monochromatic or analogous! I like to have a lot of textural interest in my work, but to avoid a cluttered look, and I’ve always felt that these two schemes allow me to achieve that. Still, it’s fun to play sometimes.

In another attempt to stretch my safe and predictable color schemes, I read a book that I would highly recommend to everyone: Exploring Color, by Nita Leland. Although it was written for painters, Nita gives wonderfully clear explanations (with glorious full-color examples) of different color schemes and also of different ways of achieving contrast through color choices. She points out that the color wheel palette you use does not have to be based upon primary hues. The wheel could consist instead of tints, earthy shades, high intensities, muted tones, transparents, opaques, etc. Maybe this will seem obvious to you, but since I’m not primarily a painter, and was raised on the primary color wheel in school, this was very exciting stuff to me!

Next Monday’s design element: Materials!

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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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Swarovski crystal suppliers

Nothing even comes close to comparing with the sparkle and beauty and color selection of real Swarovski crystals. Many other faceted beads are called “crystal”, but true crystal glass has a high lead content that gives it that extra shine.

Here are a couple of good sources for all the colors and styles of Swarovski crystals:

The Beadin’ Path
Many vintage and hard-to-find styles

Jewerly Supply
An amazing selection

Best Buy Beads
All the contemporary shapes and colors

Rainbows of Light
Incredible selection and organization

Create Your Style
Swarovski’s own site, with design ideas, a design tool, links to events and stores

Bead Stuff
Fabulous color and shape charts

Jerry Smith Beads
Charts and easy shopping

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Turning a geode into a beaded pendant

On a trip to Arizona, I found some small cut geodes in a gift shop and promptly bought ten, having no clear idea what I was planning to do with them. Looking at them later, I decided to make a freeform beaded setting, which would cover the less-attractive back and leave the cut and polished flat side exposed. Since the first geode I chose to work with was small (the cut face is 1 by 1 ½ inches), I decided to turn it into a pendant. Here are the basic steps that I took to create the beaded pendant shown above. With a few modifications, the freeform beaded setting could be adapted for use with any other small object that you wished to encase ~ a small slab of agate, a found object, etc. The instructions for a simple spiral beaded rope to hang your pendant on are also included.

Small geode (not bigger than 1 ½ inch diameter recommended)
Variety of seed beads, delicas, and tube beads in chosen palette
A few 3-4 mm crystals, druks, pearls, stones, etc in chosen palette
Four to five inches of 20 gauge sterling silver wire
Four 2-3 mm round beads (make sure they fit over the wire)
Two sterling silver cones
Sterling silver hook set
Nymo O

Pack of size 10/13 stiff beading needles
Beading or embroidery scissors
White towel, small bead dishes, etc
Tape measure
Wire cutters
Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers
Small metal file

Choosing Your Palette
Choosing colors is a very individual matter, and every artist has a favorite method or two. My work usually involves either a monochromatic or analogous color scheme. For this particular piece, I chose beads based on the subtle colors of the geode, rather than looking for contrast. I laid out all the beads that I was considering, and removed any that seemed to stick out. The resulting palette included delicas, #11 and #8 Czech seed beads, tube beads, a few 4 mm crystals, druks, and a fresh water pearl. The colors included bright matte white, off white, ivory, clear, pearlized, aurora borealis finish, silver-lined clear, and peachy pink. I chose silver findings to match the palette.

Creating the Peyote Casing—Part I

String enough beads (I used all #11 seed beads) to encircle the geode close to, but not directly at, the rim. I made my first circle of beads to fit about 3 mm below the rim of the geode’s cut face. Pass the thread through all the beads in the circle a second time. You can tie, glue, and weave in the tail if you like. My preference is to weave all tails in later, changing direction several times, and not using glue.

Add two rows of peyote stitch to your circle to make a narrow band (Figure 1). In most cases, this band will not stay on your geode without slipping unless the shape is very irregular, so I just completed the band in my hand and then slid it onto my stone (Figure 2).

Holding the band firmly in place, string beads of any sizes or color mixes to criss-cross several times across the back of your geode (Figure 3). Flip the geode over so the cut surface is facing you, and decide where you want to anchor the casing across the front. Try not to cover too much! Depending upon the shape of your geode, two or three small anchors across the front will hold it securely in place after all the fill-in peyote work is done. As in the back, run a strand of beads across the front in each of your chosen spots (Figure 4), anchoring each firmly to the peyote band by weaving in and out of previous work.

Creating the Peyote Casing—Part II
At this point, you can probably still slip the geode around inside the beaded framework of its casing. Hold the framework firmly in place as you start the next step of filling in the casing. Work along the anchor strands in the back first, filling in with peyote stitch, using a mixture of different beads. Add more anchor strands to work off of so that the beads run in many different directions and take on the look of a Victorian crazy quilt (Figure 5). For even more variety, try adding some patches in brick stitch instead of peyote. Vary the sizes and colors of beads as you work on one small section at a time. Add some larger beads for accent in strategic spots. Keep the work tight to prevent the geode from slipping around in the casing.

Next, work from the original peyote band up towards, and even over, the rim of the geode’s cut face. You can overlap the rim by decreasing your peyote stitch or by using smaller beads. Make the edge uneven for more interest. Widen or fill in around the anchor strands that you’ve run across the front. Keep this work tight too. If you are going to turn this piece into a pendant, work a large-holed bead into your peyote casing at the spot where you will attach the spiral rope. Weave through it several times to make sure it stays tight against your work.

Creating a Spiral Bead Rope
Perhaps you don’t feel the need to be able to wear everything that you make the way I do. If so, you could skip these next steps and declare yourself done! Or you could add more embellishments to your geode and park it on a shelf. Not me—I wanna wear what I make, or see someone else wearing it!

I chose #8 Czech seed beads to create a simple spiral bead rope. It took four 16-inch strands of beads to make the rope in my sample. The core is an opaque ivory, and the spiraling outer beads are silver-lined clear, pearlized white, and aurora borealis clear. Here’s how to do it.

Step One—String four beads, all the same color (this will be your core color). Pick up three more beads of different colors. Leaving an 8 to 10 inch tail, take the needle back up through the first four core beads to form a lop-sided oval. Pull it tight (Figure 6).

Step Two—String one core bead and three more outer beads (Figure 7). Take your needle back up through the last three core beads of Step One and pull the work snug (Figure 8).

Step Three—Take your needle up through the new core bead that you just added in Step Two (Figure 9) and pull snug. You are now ready to repeat Steps Two and Three until the rope is the length your desire.

Note—Make sure that each new set of beads you add falls to the right of the last set of three if you are right-handed. This will result in the visual effect that the groups of three outer beads are spiraling up the rope.

I made the first half of my spiraled rope about 10 ½ inches long. Then I added a tiny 2 mm sterling silver bead and passed the thread through the large-holed bead on my pendant. On the other side, I added another sterling silver bead, and began a new spiraled rope for the second half. To reinforce the connection to the pendant, it’s a good idea to weave a thread back and forth through the rope on both sides, passing through the large-holed bead several times. .
When the two halves of the rope are equal, it’s time to finish it off with your chosen findings. Leave an 8 to 10 inch tail of thread at the end.

Adding the Findings
Using your round nosed pliers, create a small loop on the end of your wire. I made a small wrapped loop for extra security since my cones were large enough to accommodate and hide it. Thread your needle with one tail and pass it through the loop about four times, weaving down through a couple of beads each time (Figure 10).

Finally, work the tail down through the rope and bury it. Pass the free end of the wire up through a cone and a small sterling silver bead, and create a wrapped loop around your hook. Cut the wire flush and file it smooth. Repeat these steps for the other half of the rope.

Copyright 2002 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, May 12, 2008

Do you want to design for yourself? Theme

Theme: Your guiding concept

Suppose that you have an idea or a concept that won’t leave you alone…you just must design something with that theme in mind, but you can’t find the notion of theme on your list of design elements and principles? Never fear, theme is a wonderful potential pathway into designing. Many many of my necklaces started out as a concept or theme, and then hung around my brain or notebook just waiting until the right focal pieces and materials fell into place. I made several Hand of God necklaces that started out this way. Here’s one:

For Such a Time as This

I knew what I wanted this necklace to convey long before I had the items to make it. In this case, I made the focal beads specifically for the necklace, after having chosen the name and all the symbols that would be included, including the colors.

When you chose to enter a contest, you are often called upon to create something to fit a theme. This is a great way to stretch your creativity, but you can easily set your own concept challenges. Practically anything that is important to you, from the sublime to the ridiculous, can be the inspriation for a conceptual piece of jewelry. The grandeur of the earth and heavens, or the minute detail in a seashell…Creation itself is very inspiring to many artists. Places you’ve traveled to, especially places much different from home. Favorite hobbies and pass-times. Lines from a favorite poem. Verses of sacred scripture. Family and pets. Ancient, antique, or ethnic styles. Look anywhere and everywhere for the things that stir your soul.

We’ll be continuing this series with color scheme next Monday.

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, May 08, 2008

Artist Profile: C.A. Therien

Artist: Charlene (“Cat”) Therien
Business name: C. A. Therien Polymer Clay Arts
Location: Peoria, IL, USA

Website: C. A. Therien Polymer Clay Arts

How do you describe your polymer clay work to people, Cat?
Well, that’s a good question. I tend to try a lot of different ideas and styles. However, a majority of my work is feminine and floral. I’ve loved flowers ever since I was a little girl, and quite a few of my pieces have millefiore flowers as the main subject. My earliest memory connected to flowers was at six years old. I noticed my neighbor’s geraniums and was fascinated by them. All through my childhood and into adulthood, flowers consistently surfaced in my creative hobbies, whether it was watercolors, salt dough, face painting, beading, embroidery, cake decorating, etc.

What is your creative process like?
My creative process has been in a constant state of evolution. I began working with polymer clay in 2001, greatly inspired by the work of Lisa Pavelka, Sarajane Helm, Candice Matthewson, and a host of others that there just isn’t room to mention. I played with my clay at the coffee table in my living room, in the evenings after the kids were tucked into bed. Initially I had the goal of making jewelry and accessories that matched my clothes. Being a homeschooling mom, we lived on a single income and I didn’t have much in the way of money to spend on myself. Polymer clay solved that problem in a wonderful way, and I was able to make coordinating jewelry, barrettes and pins to go with my clothes. I still wear a few of those early pieces. Generally I would just pull out all my supplies and make things up as I go along.

When I make complex millefiore canes, though, I usually follow a diagram I’ve sketched. I’ll do that especially for the more intricate designs, like roses or cats or doves. It’s nearly impossible to get the shading to go the right directions every time, if I don’t have a plan. So I have a sketch book, that holds all my designs in one place. I also have a year-long schedule of suggested cane subjects to work from if I get stumped for subject matter. And in some cases, I’m working on cane designs that have been requested by customers. (Readers can purchase my handmade millefiore canes on my website.)

Sometimes I get really focused and can work 8 or 10 hours at a stretch without a break. I try not to let myself do that too much, because it isn’t very balanced. But there are times when I have a deadline to meet that I allow my world to just narrow down to the project, magazine article, cane, or whatever. My studio is in my home, which has a very open floor plan and a minimum of walls. So the family has access to me even if I’m engrossed in my clay.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I haven’t had much formal training, really. I have yet to experience a class by another polymer clay professional, although that is on my list of goals. In high school I took art courses every semester, and had a couple semesters of painting classes in junior college. But I’m a fairly quick learner, and a voracious reader, so when polymer clay captured my attention I read everything I could find on it over the internet and checked books out of the library. There is a wealth of resources, websites, and articles about using polymer clay on the internet alone. There are also books readily available and a good selection of instructional dvd’s and videos. I emailed people, asked questions, and joined a message forum, Polymer Clay Central. I experimented, shared what I made, and received a lot of encouragement. It spurred me on to keep trying new things.

I began teaching in 2002, and just simply fell in love. I get the biggest adrenaline rush from teaching! I love the interaction with students as they go through the process of experiment and discovery. At the same time, I started getting really good feedback from my classroom handouts, so I wrote my first published tutorial article for PolymerCAFE’ Magazine in 2003, and then Bead Unique Magazine in 2007. I’d always enjoyed writing, both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve recently branched out into self-publishing my tutorials in PDF format, and printing them as booklets to sell in my booth at shows. (Readers can purchase my tutorials on my website, too.)

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Oh yes, there are two tools that are indispensable for me. The first is a food processor. I put the clay into a food processor and chop the clay up into little granules. Next, I press the granules of clay into a pancake that I feed through the pasta machine to blend the colors the rest of the way. Of course these tools are totally dedicated to my clay and not used for food.

What inspires you to create?
It seems like inspiration comes from everywhere. I could be in a restroom at a department store, and be inspired by the wallpaper. My husband and adult daughter are very good when it comes to design, and they often make sketches for me of jewelry or canes. Oftentimes I will get inspiration just as I’m waking up. I’m dreaming a piece, or a cane, and as soon as I wake up I have to sketch it or it will be gone. So I keep a pen and pad on my nightstand, since this is a fairly regular occurrence. I’m also inspired by the work of other hobbyists and professionals in the medium. There are just such a wealth of ideas when it comes to polymer clay that the possibility of getting bored with it is remote.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Well, there’s an internal pressure, I’ve noticed. Things like receiving an invitation to exhibit at a show. It creates this tingly excitement inside. I love doing shows, even though they’re physically and mentally exhausting sometimes. Generally that just means I need a nap, or a good night’s sleep. The next day is a new day. Usually when the work is frustrating and tough is when I have a lot on my plate, and the deadlines are piling up. My husband is my business manager as well as my biggest supporter, and he reminds me to step back and take a break when I feel like my head is going to pop off. My daughter is good at this too, and she’ll pull me away from it to go shopping, go out to eat, watch a movie, go for a walk, or whatever. Generally I can come back to work with a good attitude and a fresh layer of energy the next morning.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
The three P’s are indispensable: Practice, Practice, Practice! Paying close attention to finishing and detail, and striving toward making every piece as close to perfection as you can will raise your level of work. But it is just that – work. It takes time dedicated to the three P’s to really advance with any medium.I highly recommend networking with other artists in your medium. Is there a guild in your city? Join it! Many cities have polymer clay guilds, and there is a US national guild as well. Join a message board on the internet – many instant message and blog services have message boards and groups dedicated to a specific medium. I recommend US national guild as an excellent place to connect with other polymer clay hobbyists and professionals from around the world.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I work part-time as an area administrator for a youth organization, plus my husband and I have a very close, affectionate, and large family. So between work and my art business, laundry and dishes and grading homeschool papers, I’m usually pretty busy. I love to read, and like to just sit in a hot bath with a mystery or sci fi or fantasy novel. Our kids are older teens and young adults, and there’s often multiple friends or significant others visiting, so it can be a madhouse around here with a dozen young adults playing games or watching movies or chasing each other around the house. (Of course Allen and I can’t resist and we have to get in on that, too.) It’s a joy to be around our kids and we do a lot of things together. In the warmer months we love to go hiking, fishing and camping. We have a table tennis and dart board at home, and sometimes we’ll have impromptu tournaments against each other. We have a re-emerging interest in golf, and we’re lucky enough to have a public golf course less than 1/4 mile from our house. We do crazy things together – watching ballroom dance instructional videos in the living room and taking turns dancing with each other. I think sometimes people are a little intimidated by us, because we’re kind of loud and it seems like chaos reigns. But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d choose this life without a doubt. (Readers can keep up with my wacky family through my blog,

What are some of your favorite things outside of art and family, Cat?
I love oriental food. I love to read. I really enjoy a bike ride (bicycle or motorcycle, I like them both). Someday I’d like to get back into making my own greeting cards. I’m not a half-bad painter and there’s a number of canvases waiting for me in the basement to pick up painting again. I enjoy writing fiction with my hubby – we both can really get into a story together and just immerse ourselves in it. I like to grow flowers and vegetables (even though I’m not terribly good at it). I like to go sit in the mall at the Auntie Anne’s pretzel place and have a pretzel and watch people walk by, making up little scenarios about them based on their expressions and the way they carry themselves. I love to swim, but have a fear of deep water. I love the beach, and whenever I have a chance to go to one, I always make some sort of elaborate sand sculpture.I think I’m just basically in love with life. I hope that comes through. I want to reflect those things about the world that are lovely and beautiful. Hope fills me every day, and if I have a chance to share that with someone else through my art, then it’s been a very good day indeed.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Book Review: Semiprecious Salvage

Semiprecious Salvage
by Stephanie Lee

This is a book for adventurers! With very little preliminary, other than a list of needed tools, the reader is launched right into the thick of creating. Stephanie Lee invites us to join her on an epic adventure, a journey that took place long ago and far away. As she journals her ethnographic and archeological finds, she introduces us to each new project.

The book is divided into two parts: cold connections and flame joins. All techniques are well-explained and quite accessible for the person with some basic tools skills. This is an excellent inspiration book for those who would like to make found object jewelry, whether you have a little experience or a lot.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The versatile spiral stitch

There are so many wonderful things that you can do with a basic spiral stitch. If you’ve never tried it before, start with the basic steps that I’ve illustrated below. After you have gotten the rhythm, let your imagination go wild!

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5
Repeat from Step 2

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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Monday, May 05, 2008

Do you want to design for yourself? Focal Point

Focal Point…show me where to look!

Just as it does in a painting, the focal point in a wonderful piece of jewelry captures your gaze and directs your eye where to settle. Additional focal points can create a sense of movement by guiding your eye around a piece. Having a strong focal point can create a sense of dominance and unity in your piece.

Choosing your focal point first is a common way to start for many designers: you have a beautiful cabochon, a treasured charm, or a stunning glass bead. It’s not good enough just to own this treasure…you want to be able to wear it!

The greatest challenge in designing when you start with a focal point is to feature your speical item, show it off, without overwhelming it. I often start my own design work with a focal point. I am captivated by an object and it inspries me to build it a home. My Beaded Geode Pendant, shown above, is an example of following this pathway into design. The geode was beautiful and meaningful to me, but the back was ugly and the silly thing didn’t have a hole in it, so I needed to find a creative way to be able to wear it. In this case, I chose a color palette that harmonized with the geode, and a pattern for the strap that consisted of a simple repetition that wouldn’t draw attention away from the focal point.

Here's the tutorial for how to make a beaded geode pendant similar to the one above. Next Monday, we’ll have the next installment in the design series, this time discussing theme :-)

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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Do you want to design for yourself?

A New Design Series

Learning the basics of beading and jewelry making by following how-to instructions is a good way to develop a repertoire of techniques. But sooner or later, the day comes when you find yourself wondering if it would be ok to modify that pattern just a bit. As you tweak a bit here and a bit more there, you eventually end up abandoning other people’s patterns altogether. You’ve become a designer, an explorer of uncharted territory…and you are loving it!Whether you like to work intuitively or from a carefully structured plan, there is always a magical spark at some point that starts off your creative process. Maybe you simply feel the need for a green necklace to go with a specific dress. Or maybe you have picked up an incredibly cool ammonite fossil and you must figure out a way to wear it. Perhaps there is a new stitching technique that you’ve been wanting to try, or a song lyric is stuck in your head and needs to come out in another form.

There are many different ways to enter into designing. A basic understanding of the elements and principles of design will do any artist a world of good when it comes to creating a pleasing piece, whatever the media, and over the years I have found that certain combinations of these elements and principles are of particular importance to me when I’m working on a new design. This is not an entirely logical process when I’m in the middle of actually doing it, but I’ve still been able to tease out some preferences that influence my work. Probably nobody other than you will be able to look at your piece afterwards and pick out exactly what your motivation was for designing your treasure. But they probably will be aware of the impact of your finished piece as all the elements work together to create a piece that is much more evocative than the sum of its parts.

I want to share with you the entry points that I most often use in designing my pieces. I hope that some of these concepts will be helpful to you. I really want to avoid turning a discussion on creativity into a “paint-by-numbers” kit, but am hoping instead that you will find it liberating to consider your own preferences and play with the process. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section…I’d love to know if any of my ideas ring true for you too.

Next time, we'll start with focal point!

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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