Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Metal clay resources

Elaine Luther
An extraordinary list of everything you need to know

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.

Getting started with BronzClay
A wonderful video by Tonya Davidson.

CoolTools videos
A series of videos on many aspects of metal clay work.

Metal clay lenses at Squidoo
The very best informational and instructional lenses you’ll find anywhere.

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.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Right angle weave bezel and bail

So last week we made the beads, this week we’ll make the bezel and bail…they’re really easy too! I promise.

I used single-needle RAW (right angle weave) for the base rows, and then eased my way into peyote stitch to cinch the bezel around the stone. Here’s how:

1. Stitch a flat strip of RAW, just a scant 1/8 to 1/4 inch shorter than the stone’s perimeter, using 11/0 seed beads. This little bit of stretch will keep the stone snug.

2. Turn your strip and add 3 or 4 more rows of RAW, enough to cover the edge of your stone and extend past just a bit. Stitch the ends together to make a loop.

3. Switch to peyote stitch. Still using 11/0 seed beads, add one row of peyote stitch on one of the bezel edges. Slip it on the stone and pull the thread snug. Remove from the stone again.

4. Add one row of peyote stitch using 15/0 seed beads. Slip it on the stone and pull the thread snug. Work the thread to the other bezel edge and repeat the two peyote rows on the other side.

5. Work the thread to the middle of the bezel and set it aside.

6. Create a beaded bead according to the directions from last Technique Tuesday.

7. Use the thread and needle from step 5 to stitch the beaded bead onto the bezel to form a bail.

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, July 23, 2008

Book review: 1000 Jewelry Inspirations

by Sandra Salamony

[Wicked big disclaimer: I've got 7 pieces in this book, so of course I think it's really good!]

OK, that being said, it is really good! Page after glorious page of beautiful
designs. Some so simple that you say, “Yes, of course! That’s all it needs.” Others are complex enough to make your jaw drop. I will be leafing back through this book over and over and over…

One of my pieces even (sort of) made it onto the cover! There it is - a teeny piece of it anyway - in the lower righthand corner. Here’s what it looks like on the inside:

So you know, this is purely an inspiration book. Although there are a few pages in the back of instructions on some basic techniques, it cannot be called a project book at all. There are no explanations or even materials lists for any of the pieces shown. But as an inspiration book, I think it hits its mark…I know I’m inspired by looking through it!

Polymer, clay, and porcelain bead suppliers

The Spirited Bead
Beautiful polymer beads by Karen Lewis, aka Klew

Mia Rox’s polymer cane beads

Beyond Beads Gallery
Porcelain beauties by Jean Christen

CF Originals
Spectacular critters and more by Christi Friesen

Columbine Beads
Raku beads and pendants by Linda A Hendrix

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to make two-drop peyote beaded beads

These beads are extremely simple to make, so they’re a great place to start in learning to weave beaded beads. Start with a 24 inch single strand of Nymo 0 on your needle, and two different colors of seed beads, preferably Delicas or some other cylinder-style of seed beads. I used a dark galvanized amethyst and bright gold to match a Tigerskin Jasper cabochon. In 2-drop peyote, you stitch the same as in regular peyote, except that you pass your thread through 2 beads each time. Check my post on the basics online for instructions if you need to. Here’s the pattern for these little beads:

1. String on 12 beads, alternating colors, two of each color at a time. Start with 2 gold and end with 2 purple. This will be the 1st and 2nd row after you complete the next step. Leave a 5-6 inch of thread.

2. Weave the following rows in single colors, following this pattern:
3rd row - gold
4th row - purple
5th row - gold
6th row - purple
7th row - purple
8th row - gold
9th row - purple
10th row - gold
11th row - gold
12th row - purple
13th row - gold
14th row - purple
15th row - purple
16th row - gold

3. Wrap the bead into a cylinder so that the “in” and “out” parts mesh. Use the thread still on the needle to weave back and forth, “zipping” the two edges together. At the top, tie the two thread ends together, and work them both back through your work to bury them.

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, July 16, 2008

Metal bead suppliers

Hands of the Hills
Glorious Hilltribe silver and Khmer gold

Nina Designs
Bali, Indian, Thai, and Hilltribe silver

Beads of Bali
Wholesale Bali silver, direct from the producers

Huge selection of exquisite silverwork

Anne Choi
American artist with an international background, Anne creates silver beads like no others!

Green Girl Studios
Silver and pewter fairy-tale beads. Wonderful!

Tarak High Karat Gold
Wholesale only ~ beads, chains, and findings

Wholesale only ~ brass

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tips for making lariats

The loop
The loop can be made from quite a number of different jewelry parts. I’ve used earrings, pendants with holes in the middle, toggle rings, charms with holes, and a plain loop of seed beads. The most important thing is to make or choose a loop that is large enough to accommodate whatever dangling bits and decorative beads you wish to use. The strands must be able to fit through the loop at the same time, at least up to a point.

Consider what beads will rest against the back of your neck. Try to make that section, maybe 5 to 6 inches, from smaller rounder beads for comfort’s sake!

Again, there are many choices for what to add to the ends of your lariat. Just make sure that they are going to fit through the loop. For a little extra movement, I like to have these dangling bits attached via head pins or bails of some type so that they swing freely.

Miscellaneous tips
Use the finest diameter beading wire that will still be strong enough for your beads, and chose a brand with the softest drape possible. Stiffer wire may be less expensive, but your piece will not hang nicely. Cut the piece too long. Longer is better with lariats!

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, July 10, 2008

Artist Profile: Amy Clarke Moore

 Apple (2001)

Artist: Amy Clarke Moore
Location: Lakewood, Colorado

Website & Blog:
Amy Clarke Moore
Six Swans Flying blog
 Hannah in Helen’s Hands (in progress)

Amy, how do you describe your work?
I describe my work as bead embroidery. In greater detail, it is bead embroidery using size 15 Japanese seed beads.

What is your creative process like?
New pieces percolate constantly in the back of my mind. They pop up unexpectedly and I try to jot them down while they are fresh. I keep notebooks and sketchbooks handy for that reason—but I also rely on my camera to help me capture ideas (since I start with a photograph that I’ve taken). Some ideas are harder to capture in a photograph than others.

Light of Mine (2003)

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I grew up in a nurturing environment where creativity was encouraged. My mom—a watercolor artist—rather than sitting us down in front of a TV, put crayons, paints, and clay in front of us. As a result, my brother is an artist (working in watercolor, oil, and acrylics), my sister is a photographer, and I am into everything fibery—from spinning, knitting, weaving, and felting, to embroidery and beads. I studied art and fibers at Cornell College (under bead artist Mimi Holmes) as an undergraduate, and earned my MFA in fibers from Colorado State University under the embroiderer, Tom Lundberg.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
I rarely leave home (even to go to work) without my bead case.

Tell Tale Apple (2003)

What inspires you to create?
Fairytales, mythology, children’s stories and books I’ve read generate most of the fodder for my work. I love stories that resonate throughout generations and across cultural divides.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Beadwork is what I do to relax—it is what gets me through days that are frustrating and tough. If I’m struggling with a piece, I set it aside and start another one. I let my subconscious work on the troublesome piece—and usually work it out while I’m sleeping.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Make things that please you. It is really easy to get caught up in trying to make things that other people will like—but if you can make things that make you happy, then that happiness and contentment will show in your work.

Heidi’s Iris (2005)

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I’m a full-time working mother (and wife)—so there’s always a lot to do. My husband and I have a three-year-old daughter who is an amazing source of inspiration and so much fun. She’s already learning how to bead. During the day, I’m the editor of Spin-Off magazine published by Interweave Press. I love my job.

What’s your favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and all seven of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Book review: Beadalicious

Beadalicious: 25 Fresh, Unforgettable Jewelry Projects
This beading book is in a category all of its own: I don’t know quite how to categorize it other than FUN FUN FUN!! Lighthearted and bold, frivolous and functional, all of Sonya’s pieces will evoke memories of why you started making jewelry in the first place. The projects can be tailored to use the types of beads that you like and that you may already have collected. She also places a great emphasis on recycling old jewelry pieces, which I think is just grand since that’s something I love to do myself.

This book is not so much about technique as about inspiration, and that includes recipes that Sonya thinks relate to each of the projects! Fun :-)

Here’s a pair of earrings that I made, following Sonya’s directions…well, mostly following them. I’m not too good at sticking to the directions, so these have my own spin.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Making a knotted turquoise necklace

Here are the items I used to make Breezy. You can vary the ingredients to your heart’s content!

3 pieces of teal green cord, 60″ each
3 pieces of teal green cord, 12″ each
6 turquoise ovals, 12×18mm
9 turquoise rondelles, 13mm
12 turquoise rondelles, 7mm
9 turquoise rounds, 4mm
Bronze 8/0 seed beads
Antiqued copper bail tube with loop
Antiqued copper 3-holed end bar and clasp set with chain

Tape measure
Fray check
GS Hypo-tube cement

1. Use fray check on all the ends of your cord pieces. Fold the 3 long strands in half and attach each one to one side of the clasp set, using a lark’s head knot.

2. Knot the beads in place, criss-crossing strands occasionally. Use two strands to attach each large rondelle, lacing strands through the hole from the opposite sides. Add the tube bail in the middle and continue knotting up the other side.

3. Knot the loose ends by pairs around the loops in the other half of the clasp set.

4. Fold the three short strands in half and create a lark’s head knot around the bail loop. Add beads to the ends and knot in place.

5. Glue all end knots and trim the ends.

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, July 03, 2008

Artist Profile: Morwyn Dow

And I Ran
Beaded Cuff

Artist: Morwyn Dow
Business name: AnotherCountry BeadWorks
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Website & Blog:
AnotherCountry Etsy shop
AnotherCountry blog

Bead Journal Project for May:

Morwyn, how do you describe your beadwork?
I refer to my work as beaded art, wearable and/or superfluous. I’m a folk and I make art, so what I do is folk art. From Another Country.

AnotherCountry: I gave this name to my studio when I started doing bead art in earnest. It’s the home I have made for myself in a world where I have never felt at home. All of us have experienced a sense of alienation, of not belonging, at some point in our lives. I have felt this always. I have loved being on the move, to the point of being an addict to change, always searching for that home outside of myself. I love being here in the Southwest, but as always I never feel a sense of belonging to the physical place where I am. When I am deep in the creation of an art piece, whether it’s jewelry or an art doll or a bead journal page, then I feel at home. Home for me is within, not without.

Garden at Big Sur

What is your creative process like?
I don’t have a set way of beginning, as I get my inspiration from all over the place. Each piece has a different genesis, but once I start a project with a generalized sketch, it goes like this: pick out a bunch of materials I think will express the concept I’ve formed, thin it down to something manageable, then begin assembling the piece, with a lot of discarding, rethinking, replacing and reworking as it progresses. I’ll keep at it until it’s what I want it to be. If I’m having problems, that’s when I really dig in my heels and beat my head against a wall until I solve whatever design issues I’ve run into. I work in short bursts and in marathon sessions and I usually set a (flexible) deadline for completion. I work best when I’m at the dining table with episodes of old sci-fi shows running on the DVD player – Star Trek TNG, Firefly, Babylon 5 – doesn’t really matter which. My favorite medium is bead embroidery, with freeform peyote running a close second.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I’ve been a crafter all my life. When you grow up poor, you have to make your own fun. I loved my Barbie doll and taught myself to sew, knit and crochet when I was 12 so I could make clothes for her. I’ve been blessed with the ability to read directions and teach myself just about anything from a book. I took advanced tailoring classes in high school and worked for a while as a seamstress. I taught myself embroidery and needlepoint, paper arts and book making. I took up wire wrapping, jewelry making and eventually beadwork about 14 years ago. I did my first craft fair 12 years ago and had so much fun, I just couldn’t stop.

Valeria Gloria

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
For materials, I can’t imagine not having my seed bead stash. I’ve been building it for a very long time and it’s substantial – over five hundred colors in various sizes and finishes. I can’t say that there’s any one tool that I couldn’t do without. I have my preferences, of course, like most beaders – Dritz beading needles (the short ones), Nymo thread, Thread Heaven, an emery strawberry to sharpen my needles, a leather thimble.

What inspires you to create?
I’m not so much inspired as compelled to create. It’s a way of communicating in a different dimension. Through art we share something deeper than opinion or attitude, the minutiae of the mundane or our surface lives – we share our individual, unique visions that come from a deep, communal wellspring of creation. It connects us. When you throw everything you know, every skill and every ounce of passion you have into the creation of a piece, just knowing you gave it your all can be reward enough. But, when someone really understands your work and appreciates it, there’s no way to describe that feeling of vindication, of acceptance, of joy, of connection.

The Aeolis Cuff

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I’m the person who sits down with a box of twisted necklace chains and picks them apart, no matter how long it takes. I have been known to do this for hours. The challenge of unraveling puzzles, solving problems, it’s exhilarating to me.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
I think the real key to improving one’s level of artistry has to do with raising one’s level of personal investment in that art. It’s the difference between sunflower patterned wallpaper and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Get out of your own way, don’t be afraid to fail, and just let the work take you over.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Running a used bookstore, which I own with my partner Asa.

La Vida Rosada

What are some of your other favorite things?
I love books with incredibly complicated plots, like Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind. I love smooth jazz, strong coffee, Japanese gardens, Chinese food and California wines.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Book review: Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories

With a very few simple tools (many of which you probably already have in the workshop), you can make these delightful necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and pendants that Lisa Bluhm demonstrates. The same techniques are used over and over, so once you’ve mastered them, you’re all set to make all the projects that Lisa suggests…and there are a lot of them!

The strengths of the book as a wonderful introduction for beginners may be a problem for those who already know the basics of soldering. This book is a beginner’s guide, so don’t expect advanced techniques. It is beautifully photographed, as are all Lark publications, and the step-by-step instructions are flawless.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Vintage Treasures from Elastic Bracelets

Vintage Hearts

Over the years, I have managed to acquire a couple of really ugly expansion bracelets as a part of some vintage jewelry grab-bags I purchased. They were not signed pieces, and the elastic was worn out. Honestly, I wouldn't have worn them (and probably couldn't have sold them) even if I were to restring them on new elastic. Because, as I said...they were UGLY! So they sat and they sat, collecting dust for a long time, since I just never got around to putting them away.

But one day, as I was playing around with some multicolored baroque-style glass pearls, I noticed that the cut glass hearts of one bracelet seemed to pick up some of the colors of the pearls when they were mixed together. That was it! I decided to make a collar-style necklace out of them. As you can see from the pictures above, I did not stop at just one. While I wouldn't necessarily suggest taking apart a bracelet that is signed or otherwise valuable, this is a great way to recycle some of those old 70's and 80's elastic two-holed clunkers.

Here are the basic steps that I took to create the VintageHearts necklace shown above. With a few modifications, the instructions can easily be adapted to any set of large two-holed beads you have.

Elastic expansion bracelet with large two-holed beads (or any odd number of such beads)
Variety of 4-6mm beads in chosen palette, enough to make double strand necklace of desired length
2mm and 3mm round metal beads, silver or gold-filled
Toggle set, silver or gold-filled
4 crimps, silver or gold-filled
Beading wire

White towel, small bead dishes, etc
Tape measure
Alligator clips
Wire cutters
Chain nose pliers
Crimping pliers, if desired
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 stumbled upon the combination, because my eye seems to most naturally be drawn to subtle harmonies rather than contrast. I laid out all the beads that I was considering, and removed any that seemed to stick out too much. The resulting palette included 6mm baroque glass pearls in bronze, olive, gold, and off-white; 2mm and 3mm round sterling silver beads; and the clear cut-glass hearts in their silver-toned metal prong-cup backings. I chose a silver toggle and crimps to match the palette.

Stringing the Inner Strand—Part I
You'll need to start with the inner strand in order to make sure it will be comfortable around your neck when completed. Using an odd number of the two holed beads, lay them out on your towel, spaced the way you think you will want them. My heart bracelet had eleven beads, but one was damaged, so I ended up just using nine. While I will give you the measurements for my necklace, yours will probably vary. I wanted my heart beads to be approximately an inch apart, so that they wouldn't reach all the way to the back of my neck. I also wanted the inner strand to be approximately 18 inches long.

Cut a piece of Beadalon or Softflex 6-8 inches longer than the inner strand length you desire. Use an alligator clip to keep the beads from rolling off the other end, and begin stringing from the middle of your piece. First string the middle two-holed bead, your spacer beads, and another two-holed bead, repeating this sequence until you have used one-half plus one of your two-holed beads. If you double this measurement, from the center bead to the last two-holed bead you added, will it come to where you want it to on your neck? I wanted to have approximately 3 inches of smaller beads at each end of the necklace, so I really didn't want this measurement to be more than about 6 inches. It may take a few tries to get the measurement to work out right, but that's why I like to start from the center and work outwards--less to have to restring until I get it right! My heart beads are 7/8 inch apart, and are separated by three 6mm baroque glass pearls alternating with 2mm round sterling beads. When you get the spacing the way you want it, alligator clip that side and string the other half. Finally, add enough beads evenly to each end to bring the strand to the finished length you desire. Don't forget to take the crimps and toggle into account when planning this measurement.

You should have several inches of Beadalon or Softflex left at each end of your first strand. String each end through a crimp bead, through half of the toggle, and then back through the crimp and several more beads. Pull firmly, and squash the crimp bead with either your chain nose or crimping pliers. With sterling silver crimps, I prefer to just flatten them with chain nose pliers and round the corners gently with a small metal file. Clip off the extra stringing wire and poke the little end into the next bead.

Stringing the Outer Strand—Part II
Your outer strand will be longer than the inner one, not just because it's farther out, but also because it scallops a little to make the necklace curve gently. I added one extra glass pearl to each section between heart beads and at each end, and used 3mm round silver beads instead of 2mm. Each spacer section is 1 1/4 inches long on the outer strand as opposed to the 7/8 inch length on the inner strand. This is enough of a difference to make the necklace curve nicely around your neck, but not enough to make it start twisting up on itself. It takes a little trial and error to get this part right, so again, I suggest that you start from the middle.

Cut your second piece of string wire 12 inches longer than the first. Using an alligator clip and starting from the middle, string your spacer beads up one half of the necklace. Check the tension--does it curve nicely or start to twist? Will it drape nicely around your neck? Take your time and try various combinations of beads until you are satisfied with it. Then bead up the other half, and check the tension again. Add beads to each end of the strand and crimp it to the toggle as you did for the first strand. You'll probably have lots of wire left over at each end, but better too much than not quite enough. Believe me on this one!

This post contains affiliate links: Beadaholique

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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