Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book review: Seed Bead Fusion

Seed Bead Fusion
by Rachel Nelson-Smith

Rachel Nelson-Smith
has decided not to be bound by the usual rules about beading. Instead of starting with one stitch and sticking with it, she invites us to mix them up. The results are 18 projects of stunning beauty. Rachel likes to add bumps, waves, ruffles, and other textures to her work, which takes each of these projects from merely nice to amazing. She also likes to showcase several different color schemes, so that you'll never feel hemmed in by just one choice.

The highlight of this book for me is that I can heartily recommend it to readers who are only a bit better than beginners. As complicated as the projects appear, they are all based upon a few very basic stitches and wirework, all of which are profiled in the techniques section. Even if you've only started beading recently, if you are willing to practice the basics, you'll be able to follow along with Rachel's instructions. There are very clear illustrations and photos to take you through each and every step.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Wire wrapped beach rock

My friend Beth's daughter was getting married and Beth needed a necklace that would suit her casual and outgoing style. The problem was solved by a trip to Maine were we found some nice rocks on the beach.

I glazed this one that Beth particularly liked with Future floor polish so it would keep its wet glow, and then wire wrapped it for her, using a variation of the directions for the Hippy Twist (the old link is dead now, but I think you can see easily enough how it's done). I didn't use quite as many twists, but did use more kinks and bends. The mother of the bride was happy with it, and that's what counts!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

A Bead A Day

If you are "mousing" all day and still want to wear a bracelet, memory wire rubber tubing is a simple and comfortable option. Jewelry Making
Tammy is already thinking about and making Halloween jewelry so she can wear it next month. What about you?

Art Bead Scene
Keep misplacing your ruler? Get one for free!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
29 Days of Giving starts with a Japanese book giveaway.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi discovers Free Trade Kazuri beads from Kenya.

Cindy Gimbrone
Cindy imagines a movie and writes a script.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie congratulates Jean Cambell and shares the beautiful piece she made for Beadwork Magazine using an Earthenwood face stone

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done
Jean reviews Big and Bold, a really pretty book of jewelry designs culled from BeadStyle Magazine

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off her new "Twilight" choker made with Swarovski crystal from

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
The pace is picking up for Andrew and his BIG SALE. Check out where he'll be next and celebrate his birthday with a special 15% off promotional code!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Artist profile: Liliana Cirstea Glenn

Artist: Liliana Glenn
Business name: LilianaBead
Location: Natick, MA

Websites & Blog:

How do you describe your work, Liliana?

My business name LilianaBead reflects my dedication to expressing my aesthetic ideals in glass. Each bead is a result of my journey alongside glass and fire. My commitment to the process, the medium and the design underlies everything I make.

My Heart

Color and form dominate my collections. The finished pieces continually remind me how much I love color. Color in glass is particularly rich because of its interaction with light; the possibilities of layering are limitless. The eternity of glass is partially determined by its roundness, as it shapes how you encounter the colors. Light envelops the glass piece; it has depth, dimension, and movement; it is truly “round color” (a concept evident in the curves, prisms, and layers in my designs).

What is your creative process like?
I started working with glass in 2000 in a workshop with Caitlin Hyde. Slowly, I got to know glass while perfecting techniques shown by Caitlin as well as those revealed in the Lampwork ABC book by Cindy Jenkins, Making Glass Beads. I developed a rigorous schedule. I lampworked 6 hours each day for many months on a map/hot head set-up. This was my self-imposed boot camp, after which I was ready to begin refining my own style.

The next few years I practiced and practiced, working on several techniques which started coming together in curious-to-me ways. Interesting combinations and possibilities came in dreams, conversations, observation and interests, including fine art and crafts. The aesthetic preferences of my customers played a role in how I presented and assembled my work as well.

Apple Cores

These days I stay faithful to my style simply because it appeals to me the most. Nevertheless, I often stretch my designs and challenge my style by doing custom orders, by participating in concept-driven projects (e.g., recently I’ve been playing with metaphors of “doors” and “windows”) and by letting myself play at the torch.

Themes can move me but most often my process is triggered by an emotion or feeling that results from images, relationships and moments of serendipity. While I’m grounded in knowledge of and skill behind a technique, to some extent my work – especially my vessels – also emerges from improvisation and happenstance. Books of ancient and modern arts containing beautiful imagery and visual chronology represented by development of design are important resources for me.

Some of my products are in ongoing collections and some (like vessels) are one of a kind. Currently I have several collections which include Galaxies, Aurora Borealis, The Apple Core, and The Berry Extraordinaire. The Berry Extraordinaire Collection consists of four designs I’ve developed over time: the Berry, the Berry with Seeds, the Berry Flower and the Berry Blossom.

On average I work every day :-) , like most people. The voice of National Public Radio is my most desirable companion. About 5pm the programs start over again so I either turn to WERS – The Emerson College Radio Station, or an audiobook on my MP3.

Reef Jewel

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I was an artist-in-residence at the Worcester Center for Crafts when they asked me to teach two lampworking classes. The thrill (and the anxiety) of sharing my knowledge and skill with people as excited and sometimes more excited than me felt wonderful. At the time I was also teaching public speaking courses at Emerson College and Suffolk University. Seeing my students nurture and push their love for glass and the lampworking process had a lot to do with me dropping my public speaking engagements to stick with glass completely and more relentlessly than before.

Selling my work in galleries and shows, the delightful one-on-one relationships with my customers, in addition to my enjoyment of the process, all provided a clear affirmative answer – I wanted to do this full-time and every day.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Glass and metal, fire and oxygen, good health and brain matter :-)

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Process. Process. Process.

Work gets frustrating more often than I care to admit. Unfortunately, it happens when I have deadlines. Before, I would push to try to complete the task at hand. Now I often go back to basics and allow myself to be a beginner so that I can get back in touch with the material and the process.

Playing at the torch sometimes results in what I call carbohydrates; These are pieces that are so big that the wearer is guaranteed to stay on the ground on a very very windy day. I will keep working on a piece till I absolutely have to stop because I need to use the restroom and can’t hold it anymore :-)

A source of relief for me is designing and making jewelry. I spend as much time designing with wire as I do with glass. Most of the connections have to be cold so I devote much time engineering and creating them. This process can be quite entertaining, especially when I succeed.

I like taking breaks and looking through books and magazines.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Sense of humor and perseverance are two important traits one should acknowledge and practice at all cost.

It is very easy to doubt and question one’s work and process. I’ve certainly done my share of that and still do. I’ve learned over the years to
1. acknowledge the artisans before me by learning the history and the techniques behind their work.
2. understand the reasons why I’m attracted to the medium and why I chose that medium for expression.
3. find my voice and articulate it in ways that are intelligible to me. I should be able to recognize that voice over and over again by accentuating primary factors that drive my expressions.

Arabian Nights

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My entire family, including my parents, my sister and her two boys, has moved in with us over the last three years from Moldova. Attending to family needs and working harder than ever to increase income have been taking most of my time.

Whatever time left :-) I like to spend traveling with my husband Phil. I like to read. I love to walk. Once in a while I enjoy a noisy and fun party where there is lots of laughter and great food. Speaking of food.…

What are some of your other favorite things?
If I could have a thousand hobbies I would. Every time I see something beautiful I want to make my own version of it.

My favorite food is Moldovan potato stew. I also love food made with curries.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book review: Contemporary Copper Jewelry

Contemporary Copper Jewelry
by Sharilyn Miller

I love Sharilyn Miller's work. Primarily known as a wire jewelry artist, Sharilyn also works in many other media. She was the original editor of Belle Armoire magazine, which I adore. This new book contains a great techniques section, followed by page after page of Sharilyn's one-of-a-kind designs. The best feature of this book is the photography. There are a gazillion photos, one for each major step in the process of creating your own wire and metal pieces.

Several other designers have contributed projects to this book. I love many of them, a few I'm not so crazy about, but that's the way it usually is with a project book like this. A few of the projects didn't even use copper, which sort of surprised me, but you could certainly make your piece with copper wire instead of steel. Simple metalwork and cold joins are the basis for the projects, so even a determined beginner could do most of these, although over all I think it's geared more towards folks with some wire experience.

Check out The Bookshop for lots more links to books about jewelry-making in addition to this unique volume!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Online sale!

My friend Andrew Thornton just let me know that he is having a big sale in his online shop in order to lighten the load for an upcoming move. Andrew's loss could be your gain ;-)

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Making a beaded bauble

Pick a large lightweight wood or plastic bead for the base of this fun project. Since my wooden bead was painted blue, I decided not to fight against fate, but picked a good selection of blue beads in various sizes for most of the covering. I also threw in some contrasting beads for fun!

Materials & Tools

Large wood or plastic bead to cover
Nymo 0 thread
Delicas and/or Czech seed beads in sizes 15/0, 11/0, 8/0, or even 6/0 as desired
Beading needle

1 Loop the thread through the hole of the large bead several times, and tie a knot. These threads will be covered as you work.

2 String on beads to reach from hole to hole, tie off at the top, go back through the hole and repeat several times.

3 Begin to weave beads off of the foundation strings, using peyote, square stitch, or whatever you wish. I used peyote.

4 When all the strings are several rows of beads wide, begin to connect from string to string with peyote stitch.

5 Use different sized beads to fill in all spaces except for the hole through the large bead.

6 Here are a few shots of the finished bead from different angles. It's hard to see the hole through the large bead, but it is still there. You can now add a wire through the hole to create a pendant, or you can string the large bead as part of a necklace.

Copyright 2009 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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Friday, September 18, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Art Bead Scene's September prompt is Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 23. Andrew shares the piece he created in response to the painting. Check it out!

A Bead A Day
Bead-wiring vs. bead-weaving...which do you prefer? Jewelry Making
Loving some filigree, check out these new filigree jewelry projects.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene shows off her top art bead picks for this month's Kandinsky Challenge.

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe goes crazy over Mixed Metals book

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmis creates a necklace using canvas and leather.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy makes more Through the Looking Glass Nuggets Charms that match perfectly with Frost Links.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares her uncertainty about a new dragonfly pendant design.

Jewelry & Beading
Why wouldn't we talk about fashion on a jewelry and beadwork blog?

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Bead cones can be used in more way than one and Lorelei shows an example!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beaded cabochon pendants

An easy way to create a quick pendant necklace is to find a gorgeous fused glass cabochons or bead (these beads are from Jeanne Kent at New Terra Artifacts) and add some simple bead embroidery around it. But who can stop with just one?

I added seed bead bails done in square stitch to the backs of these beads, and they are all set to hang on a rubber or cord necklace, alone or as a set!

Materials & Tools

6 inch square piece of ultrasuede or non-woven synthetic material
Nymo O, black
3 fused glass top-drilled beads, 25x15 mm
Seed beads, 11/0: peacock iris, cobalt ab, silver-lined red violet
Seed beads, 15/0: hex cut champagne
8 Swarovski 4mm bicones in amethyst 2xab
Fabric glue
Beading needles, size 13

1. Glue and/or stitch a fused glass cabochon or bead to a small piece of ultrasuede.

2. Use backstitch to outline around the cab, making sure to use an even number of beads. Build up a few rounds of peyote stitch on that base row, switching to sparkly contrasting beads for the last two rows.

3. Add a row of flat brick stitch around the cab.

4. Add decorative stitching like picots or whip stitch to the brick stitch base.

5. Clip the ultrasuede close to the stitching, leaving between 1/16 and 1/8 inch. Glue the piece lightly to another piece of fabric.

6. Clip the base layer of ultrasuede even with the top layer and stitch together using edging brick stitch.

7. Stitch picots around the outer rim of brick stitch, adding small Swarovski crystals where desired.

8. Stitch 6 beads (back stitch) to the top of the back. Make sure each bead is anchored to the ultrasuede. Add enough rows of square stitch to curl around and create a bail.

9. Stitch the last row of square stitch to the first row.


Copyright 2009 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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Friday, September 11, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is having fun using lots of Lynn Davis components in her designs this week!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean comes across her "Digg it" necklace--far out! She's like an archaeologist!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Matcha green tea from Matcha Source defeats the doldrums and inspires Andrew to create a new bracelet! Jewelry Making
Copper is hot right now! Find out about a new book review just posted concerning copper.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene's September Challenge is Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 23.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi uses chessboard crystals to create a floor for her ballerina necklace.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy's obsession with bronze metal clay continues. She shows off her new Art Nouveau floral charms.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares a sparkly crystal and brass pendant that she unearthed while cleaning her studio

Jean Campbell
Jean reviews the new Crystallized Swarovski Elements #5328 bicone

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Artist profile: Lea Avroch

Artist: Lea Avroch
Business name: LA Jewelry Designs
Location: Long Island, NY

Websites & Blogs:

Lea, your beads are beautiful! How do you describe your work?
I make handmade wearable glass art and unique jewelry. I started out as a jewelry maker (self taught), mostly stringing and simple wire work and most recently to beadweaving. I’ve always been fascinated with glass. I have a collection of some lovely art glass sculptures in my home so when I saw that a local art league was offering lampwork classes, I quickly signed up. It was a beginner class, which gave me the basics. I since have taken 2 additional classes at Beadfest Philly for working with boro glass. I wish there were more local classes to take advantage of.

I had a very hard time coming up with a business name I liked. LA are my initials. Pretty simple when you think about it. And Jewelry Designs is fairly self explanatory, though I have expanded beyond just jewelry making.

What is your creative process like?
I first decide which COE (coefficient of expansion) glass I want to work in that day. It’s important to keep glass of different COE’s from getting mixed up or the beads will crack. COE is really just a measure of the rate at which a particular type of glass expands when heated. When you have glass expanding at different rates, the beads will crack, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Imagine spending all that time shaping & decorating a bead only to have it crack….not a good thing.

After that, I sometimes have a particular style bead that I want to work on, but more often that not, I just let the glass “talk to me”. I’m not particularly fond of making sets, preferring to let my creativity flow, creating one of a kind beads. Though, oftentimes when making a particular bead that I like and picturing how nice it would look in a necklace design for instance along with others in the same style, I’ll just get into a zen like mode & fire off dozens of the same bead. This is where having the jewelry making background comes in handy as well.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I took a basic lampwork class at a local art league….and I do mean basic. LOL! But it helped me get over my fear of how to light the torch, taught safety precautions and some basic beadmaking techniques. I knew from the start that I loved working with glass so I saved my pennies & as soon as I was able to, I went out & bought whatever equipment I needed. I joined several lampwork forums & poured over the all the information. I found some great tutorials and just went ahead and played. I find it a fun medium to work with because it’s ever changing & you have no choice but to try new things. Even if a particular session doesn’t turn out well, I still learn a lot, whether it’s how certain colors react together or how to shape my beads better.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Great question. With lampwork, there are several tools that are required, but I just love my torch. Since working with boro, I upgraded to a “big girl torch” that has an inner ring and an outer ring that’s helpful for larger pieces. And though I don’t often work that large, there have been numerous times when I’ve found myself turning on the outer rings to get that extra boost of heat needed for a design.

What inspires you to create?
I love working with all the different colors of glass available today. I find that for me, the glass itself is what influences my work. There are many new silver infused glass rods that are currently on the market that create beautiful special effects, which I love to experiment with. And then using tools in different ways to get special effects. It’s all fun! :)

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Knowing that tomorrow is another day. Some torch sessions I can do no wrong & others I can do no right even if I’m trying to duplicate a bead I’ve already made. So, though some days are very frustrating, I simply love seeing the outcome the following day when the kiln has cooled down. Even if the bead doesn’t come out as planned, I may come across a new color reaction that I can use in subsequent beads.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
PPP (practice, practice, practice), which is something I still need to do a LOT more of!

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I love to read and have recently taken up knitting again. And, of course the internet. ;)

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Chocolate is the hands down winner. I wish I liked dark at least, but I never developed a taste for it. I love milk chocolate with some almonds or caramel or both. YUM!

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Artist profiles - part seven

Fortune Teller Carnelian and Copper Charm Choker
by Puakea Soares-Mercado

Four more brilliant bead and jewelry artists for your viewing pleasure. If you'd like to be featured, please leave me a comment here with your email address or email me directly at cyndi @ (remove the spaces). I'd love to talk with you :-)

Beth Cummings

Karen Leslie

Tammy Powley

Puakea Soares-Mercado

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Monday, September 07, 2009

CopprClay ammonite pendant - part two

Using the CopprClay pendant that we made last week, I want to show you what I ended up doing with it. It was tempting to simply hang it from a plain black cord, but I wanted a bit more shine and contrast. And something a bit more interesting too!

Materials and Tools:

Large jump ring
Sliding tube bail
2 pieces of beading wire, 24 in each
22 assorted beads
40 size 1 crimp tubes
4 size 3 crimp tubes
Toggle and bar set

(Sources: Vintaj, Auntie's Beads, SoftFlex)

1. Attach a sliding bail to the pendant with a large raw brass jump ring.

2. Center the two pieces of SoftFlex wire through the bail, and use the size 1 crimp tubes to space the assorted beads along the length of each. Leave several inches free at the end of each wire.

3. Slide a size 3 crimp, a large holed bead, and a second large holed crimp onto both wires at each end. Take the wires through half of the toggle set and back down through the first large crimp and the bead. Flatten the crimp closest to the toggle, clip the ends close to the bead, and flatten the second crimp in each set.

Copyright 2009 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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Friday, September 04, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

Jean Campbell:
Jean's got a cool job--check out what she's been working on!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
While in Philadelphia for Bead Fest, Lorelei met up with Andrew Thornton and he gave her some presents!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews Contemporary Copper Jewelry by the wonderful Sharilyn Miller

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew and Diana Ptaszynski of Vintage Blue Studio have a throw down! See how Andrew uses Heather Powers of Humble Beads' Polymer Bird-Head Pendant! Jewelry Making
What's in a name, the name of your jewelry pieces that is? Here are a few tips to consider when naming jewelry you sell through the web.

Art Bead Scene
Wondering how big 20mm really is? Here's a handy size chart to keep by your computer. It'll help you out!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Tool talk-this time its hole punching pliers & wire cutters

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi shows off her unexpected bead finds from a store in Little Portugal.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy brings some color to her new bronze floral medallions.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

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