Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book review: Ceramic Bead Jewelry

What makes Jennifer’s beautiful (and colorful!!) book really unique is that she spends time covering both the making of ceramic beads AND the construction of finished jewelry that features them! I love this book. I don’t do any ceramic work at all - just a little bit with polymer clay - but Jennifer has got me convinced that I can. And that I want to! Her pieces are so vibrant and fun, and her writing style is so friendly and inviting that I’m really tempted to try.

If you’ve ever had the urge to try your hand at ceramics, or if you’re a ceramicist who’d like to try your hand at jewelry making, this is the book for you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twisted peyote spiral necklace

Tubular peyote stitch is really easy to do. You can find basic directions at many of the links listed on my Online Basics post. Try Beadwork at to start. The first place I ever personally saw the twisted peyote spiral was in Carol Wilcox Well’s The Art and Elegance of Beadweaving, in a bracelet designed by Suzanne Golden. Since then, I’ve seen many variations on this simple idea, including a recent article in Beadwork Magazine (Jun/Jul 2008). If you want a true step-by-step tutorial complete with illustrations, I would recommend one of these two sources. However, if you’ve already got familiarity with peyote stitch, and odd-count tubular peyote in particular, you won’t have any problem figuring this out on your own with my simple instructions below!

Twisted tubular peyote stitch is also very similar to Cellini stitch, which is simply an even count variation.  

Materials and Tools

At least three sizes of seed beads
in different colors
Beading thread
Beading needles
70 inch strands of C-Lon cord
Accent beads for knotted strands
Bar clasp with chain and lobster claw
G-S Hypo Tube cement

1. I used size 6/0, 8/0, and 11/0 seed beads to construct my beginning circle. I started with several colors of 6/0s, 2 beads of each, several colors of 8/0s, also 2 beads of each, and almost twice as many 11/0s, all in one color. Make sure that your beginning circle has an odd number of beads total. Tie the circle together and go around it again, exiting through the first size 6/0.

2. As you work your way around the circle, you will be doing tubular peyote stitch, adding the same size and color bead as the one you just exited. Your last 11/0 will be a step-up. I made my beaded bead 5 inches long.

3. To finish off each end of your beaded bead, use 11/0s and decrease the rows until you have just a narrow opening to string through.

4. Cut cord strands to 70 inches, and use a long piece of scrap wire to thread them through the beaded bead. Construct the necklace strands the same way as Breezy.

5. Knot the strands to the bar clasp; glue the knots and clip close when they’re dry.

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, August 20, 2008

Book review: Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer Clay Beads
by Grant Diffendaffer

This is the book that polymer clay artists have been waiting for! Not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for beginners, Grant takes you on a whirlwind tour of what’s next. The book is gorgeous, and all techniques are well-documented, but it still took me only moments before I realized that I was way out of my league! Which is fine…lots of gorgeous inspiration is not a bad thing, even if I can’t hope to make any of them (at least not yet!).

Truly, this book picks up where the others leave off. Grant explains mica-shift and how to achieve it, lathe-turned beads, recursive molded beads, hollow-form beads, and mandrel-formed beads. Seeing what beautiful, beautiful objects he makes, I almost want to play with clay.

Beginners, drool over this book. Intermediates and advanceds, buy it now!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A simple square stitch bail for a donut pendant

Materials & Tools:

Large donut of desired color (40 - 60 mm is a good size range)
Brass mesh necklace, 18 inches (Fire Mountain Gems and Beads)
11/0 Delica seed beads
Beading thread
Beading needle

Basic directions for square stitch can be found at many online sites.

1 Using a mixture of bead colors, square stitch a small band that is long enough to wrap through the donut hole and around the mesh wire necklace, with just enough slack to keep it from rubbing or binding.

2 Continue following the square stitch thread path to attach the ends to each other.

3 Enjoy different color combinations!

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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Starry Night…making a cigar box handbag

My inspiration picture

My friend Dee recently asked me about cigar box purses, so I thought I’d dig this one out! Starry Night started out as an old cardboard cigar box. I considered several different techniques for creating beaded pictures on it before I settled on my old favorite method, but with a new twist: the beads are embroidered directly on the box, using wire and a couching technique.

Materials and tools:

Black gesso
Black acrylic paint
Foam paint brushes
Awl or nail
24 gauge silver-colored wire
Wire cutters
Chain nosed pliers
Lightweight paper (like tracing paper) and pen (optional)
Beads in appropriate colors and sizes for your design
18 gauge silver wire
Interfacing or quilt batting to line the box
Fabric for the lining
1 Coat the entire box, inside and out with black gesso. Let it dry. Apply two thin coats of black acrylic paint. Let it dry overnight.

2 If you want to have a pattern for your work, cut a piece of very lightweight paper to the size of each side you plan to bead. The paper must be able to tear away easily. Sketch your pattern in as much detail as you need. As you begin to bead, set the pattern in place and work right through it. Your first few stitches will hold the paper in place.

3 Cut off a few dozen 2 inch sections of wire. These will be used to couch your work in place. Bend each piece in half.

4 String your selected beads onto the end of your spool of wire. I keep the spool in a small baggie to keep it from unrolling completely as I work.

5 Using a small awl or a nail, poke a hole every few inches along the pathway that your beading will take. Make them closer together on the curves. Anchor the beaded wire in one of the holes by bending it tight to the inside. Begin to lay out your beadwork, securing it as you come to each hole with one of the 2 inch couching wires you cut in step 3. Make more as you need them. Tear away your paper pattern as you finish each section.

6 Create a handle out of heavier 18 gauge silver wire. Wire on a loop and large bead for a closure.

7 When you have finished embroidering the entire box, you’ll have a lot of wire ends to hide on the inside! Cut a piece of interfacing or quilt batting slightly smaller than each side. Cut a piece of lining fabric (I used shiny black) larger than each piece of interfacing. Wrap each piece around the interfacing and glue the edges to the back. Let them dry. Glue each piece of liner inside the box.

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, August 06, 2008

Book review: Wire Wrapping

Wire Wrapping
by Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey

Pages and pages of wirey goodness! This book will lead you step by step through the skills you need to tackle advanced beginner and intermediate wire projects. It’s wonderfully organized so that each new skill builds upon the previous ones, making this book similar to actually taking a course in wirework.

Small confession…I am by no means a skilled wireworker myself, but these beautiful bracelets, rings, and pendants make me want to break out my pliers and start my own collection of bangles :-)

The fabulous writing team of Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey have two other wire books already, a few years older, but still very worthwhile and still in print.

Getting Started Making Wire Jewelry and More is their beginner book. Beautifully photographed step by steps take you through all the basics. If you haven’t done much with wire, this is a great first book.

The most advanced of all their books is Woven Wire Jewelry. This book is amazing: it takes you from the basics of weaving with wire through making all different types of jewelry with the results. There is an advanced section on incorporating PMC into your wire projects as well. Some of the projects are simple enough for a determined beginner to accomplish; the rest will stretch your skills and leave you inspired to improve! This book presupposes that you already have basic wire and metal skills, so read the description carefully.

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