Friday, November 30, 2012

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!


Art Bead Scene
Gaea guides us on a Fall Walk with this autumn themed bangle bracelet tutorial.

Resin Crafts!
Vintage seventies imagery and a simple bezel results in a very pretty pendant series.  

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews the incredible life changing book we all need, The Shameless Art of Self Promotion. by Margot Potter, and has even more super news a la Margot the Great! Jewelry Making
Have an affair with jewelry? Consider this latest book store find.  

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beading Arts for your Kindle!

Did you know that the Beading Arts blog is available for your Kindle?  Unfortunately, it's not free (Amazon sets the price), but it's only 99¢ a month.  Is technology great, or what?

My other two blogs are now there as well:
Mixed Media Artist

Real Food Fast!

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Ever thought about beading your car?

Beaded Car

Well, someone did!  Can you even imagine...?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book review and giveaway: Classic Style - Fresh Look

Do you know Irina Miech's work from Bead&Button magazine?  If so, I know you'll be anxious to see her new book Classic Style - Fresh Look.  Using only simple stringing and basic wire work, Irina shows you 30 classically styled projects along with 30 more up-to-date variations...60 projects in all!  How fun!

This is a great book if you're feeling a bit stuck.  Irina keeps emphasizing adaptability...taking a traditional design and technique, and tweaking them in a way that will allow endless variations, modernizing the look.  Most of the the techniques are really so basic that you'll need no instructions.  But fear not if you're a beginner.  This is a Kalmbach book, so you can expect to see clearly rendered instructions for the few things you may not know.

My personal favorites are the updates that Irina does with multi-strand necklaces.  Very very cool.

***Free Stuff Alert!!!***

Would you like to win a copy of Classic Style - Fresh Look?  Just leave me a comment below and you'll automatically be entered to win.  If you tweet or post on Facebook or other social spots about the contest, you can leave a second comment and be entered twice!

Please make sure that your link will lead me to an email address, or else I won't be able to contact you.  No contact, no win, and I simply have to go on to the next person.  Deadline: December 4, 2012.


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Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Maruti bead necklace for spectacular gift giving!

I really enjoyed reading through Lori Anderson's new book, Bead Soup, as I told you before in my review.  The very first project reminded me about a technique that I've used often, but perhaps haven't given enough credit to: making wired links out of a selection of one-of-a-kind beads, and then attaching them all together with jump rings to make a beaded link chain.  Thank you for the memory jog, Lori!

This turned out to be the perfect technique to use with the gorgeous Maruti and Kashmiri beads that I received from Maruti Beads.  I received one single bead of each style.  In this necklace, I used mostly Maruti beads (the ones with the large silver bead caps built in), and supplemented with a few Kashmiri beads (without the large bead caps).  I used a mixture of silver, brass, copper, and gunmetal to pick up all the flashes of color that the beads contain.  Fun!

Maruti vs Kashmiri beads

1. Add small metal beads at both ends of your Indian beads if desired, and turn wrapped loops.

2. Arrange the beads in the order you like. 

3. Use a jump ring to attach all of the links.

4. Use a jump ring to attach a length of chain to one end.

5. Use a jump ring to attach a lobster claw or other clasp to the other end.

As regards FTC disclosure guidelines: I have received beads free of charge from in order to write a review and/or create a project free of charge for you.  I have not been paid for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received.

Copyright 2012 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 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, November 23, 2012

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up! Jewelry Making
Still looking for the perfect gift to make? Jewelry or otherwise, see this list of hand-made gifting possibilities. 

Art Bead Scene
Erin Siegel reviews an exciting new book full of fun ideas for making Leather Jewelry.

Resin Crafts!
The classic resin glazed scrabble tile is explained in this mini tutorial.  

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean gives you the low down on Rio Grande's program concerning accepting your silver scrap! Do not throw it away!!! 

A Bead A Day
Yippee Skippy, Lisa's doing giveaways each week through Dec. 26! Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a jewelry making kit!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book review: Beading Artistry for Quilts

Thom Atkins has finally graced us with a book about his wonderful bead embroidery, and what a book it is!  Published by C&T PublishingBeading Artistry for Quilts is full from start to finish with lushly exotic and emotionally evocative works like the one on the cover.

You need to know right up front that this is not a project book, although it certainly gives you all the information and tools you'll need to create your own.  Rather, it is a book full of inspirational overload and clear instructions on how Thom does what he does.  Trust me, it well worth finding out!

"My quest became to find the balance between the fabric and the beads and to give both a voice in the design, rather than to use beads to embellish the design. Why? Because I liked beads, and I wanted a larger canvas to use them on.  Having painted with watercolors and inks, with oils, and with acrylics, painting with beads was a logical step in making pictures, with fabric as the canvas." p 10

Thom uses a lot of pictorial elements from various fabrics and then enhances them with beads, but he also sometimes takes a piece of fabric and heavily beads it into whatever image he desires.  An example is his iguana in the quilt The Lotus Eater, 2003, shown above.

There were several ideas that Thom shared that I found particularly helpful.  He favors the Nymo thread that I also prefer, and he mentioned that with Nymo, unlike other threads, you should thread the end that you cut to prevent tangling (because of the twist in the thread).  I never knew that!  Another thing about Thom's style that really struck me was his "casual" approach to the frame area: he often has elements that flow over into the binding or frame area of his quilts and also likes to add fringe or other elements that stick right out of the frame.  This gives some of his quilts a very dynamic feel. 

Beading Artistry for Quilts is primarily a visual feast.  There are other books with more info on bead embroidery stitches and on quilting, but none that express so well the design sensibility of combining the two in the way that Thom does.  You will not be disappointed.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book review: The Spirit of Bead Embroidery

What to say?  You all know that I am primarily a bead embroiderer, so I'm bound to get excited anytime a new bead embroidery book comes out.  This time is certainly no different, and I waited for Heidi Kummli's new book, The Spirit of Bead Embroidery with a decided lack of patience.

I feel that my wait has been amply rewarded with beautiful images, inspiring stories, and even a few new ideas that I feel will enhance my work.  There is good instruction, beautiful projects, and an amazing gallery of work.  There is even some instruction on loom weaving, and how to integrate that into your work.  The instructions are thorough, but not so rigid that you would be unable to make substitutions in materials.  In fact, Heidi readily encourages that, so the piece you make will be truly your own.

My caveat is that some readers may not feel as inspired as Heidi does by Native American beliefs.  Her heritage is her influence, and this book is Heidi's exploration of  how it guides her work.  There is a section on animal totems and the stones, colors, etc that are associated with them.  Another chapter covers healing stones and colors, and another focuses on the four elements and the stones and colors associated with them.  While it's interesting to me, it's not a worldview I share, so very little of this information will make its way into my pieces.  However, it is interesting, and the beadwork that Heidi shares as examples is just exquisite.

So of course I recommend the book for its inspiring beauty and embroidery information.  Whether or not you recommend it to yourself for its spiritual inspiration is up to you.  The same can be said of any book that focuses on inspiration, right?        

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book review and giveaway: Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!

You've got to remember Shrinky Dinks, right?  Shrink plastic has been around for decades now, but Kathy Sheldon wants you to give it a another look.  Kathy's mission is to get you to think about stylish and modern jewelry that can be made from shrink plastic.  Ok, I'll bite!

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! contains over 30 fun projects, all of which would be easy enough for complete beginners, and many of which would be fun to do with kids too.  My favorite is a little airplane pendant, shown below.

Want to try before you buy?  Lark Publishing has made one of the projects (airplane earrings) available at the link above.  

***Free Stuff Alert!!!***

Would you like to win a copy of Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! ?  Just leave me a comment below and you'll automatically be entered to win.  If you tweet or post on Facebook or other social spots about the contest, you can leave a second comment and be entered twice!

Please make sure that your link will lead me to an email address, or else I won't be able to contact you.  No contact, no win, and I simply have to go on to the next person.  Deadline: November 27, 2012.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Book review: Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes

I have always been crazy about beaded ropes, because I think they're such a great way to feature a special focal bead without overwhelming it.  But even though I've always loved them, I've never really gone beyond some very simple twisted spirals, tubular peyote, and right-angle weave variations.  That's all about to change, because Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes has now got me thinking about tubular netting and herringbone, which I have not played with beyond just making a few samples to see how it's done.

I love the way this book is organized.  All the stitches and basic techniques are introduced in the first chapter, and then Jill moves on to dedicate a chapter to each stitch, more or less in the order of difficulty: spiral, peyote, netted, herringbone, RAW, and ending with a special bonus.  The last chapter features a few stitches that are much less common, and are very very cool looking: Oglala stitch (butterfly stitch), chevron stitch, and a complex variation on peyote.  All good stuff.

The projects are beautiful.  I've found several that I really want to try, and you know that when someone like me who is primarily a bead embroiderer says that, I'm really hooked!  Lark Publications is responsible for this gorgeous book, and if you'd like to try before you buy, Lark has made that possible.  There are two projects available at each of two links!  Four free projects in all!  

Flirtation Bracelet

Bohemian Earrings

French Quarter Lariat

Ray of Light Bracelet

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!


A Bead A Day
Have you ever see similarities in jewelry pieces now and from days gone by? Love when that happens! Jewelry Making
Re-purpose a vintage pin into a pendant for a new necklace that has a vintage look.  

Art Bead Scene
November's Art Bead Scene challenge is a graphic illustration by MC Escher, bound to inspire wintery jewelry designs.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean discusses her great love of Basha Beads!   

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book review: Great Designs for Shaped Beads

Anna Elizabeth Draeger has already written one totally stunning book (Crystal Brilliance), so it should come as no surprise that her newest, Great Designs for Shaped Beads is...well, great!  Anna is a beadweaver, so she writes wonderful books for beadweavers who want to move ahead with their designs.

There is a short introduction which shows examples of many of the new shapes: tilas, daggers, peanuts, lentils, drops, and berries.  What I really appreciate is the information about how some of the beads differ depending upon country of origin.  Then it's straight into the projects!  And what a great group of projects they are.  Anna breaks it down into Tiles and Tilas, Peanuts and Berries, Daggers and Drops, and Creative Combinations.  This last chapter is especially enticing, with  six projects that combine the shaped beads in really fun ways.

As with all Kalmbach books, there is a section which reviews all the basic stitches and techniques for you.  The payoff with this book is, though, that you've never seen the stitches looking quite like this before!  The new shapes of beads will inspire you to pick up that needle and try stitches that perhaps you previously thought you were tired of.

I don't think this is the first beadweaving book that you should buy, since the skill level looks to be more on the order of intermediate.  However, a highly motivated novice beadweaver could follow the instructions and clear illustrations with very little difficulty, so I'd have to say that this is a book that many levels will enjoy.  There are also lots of tips given for changing it up a bit, so the 24 projects easily become many many more.  I think that all the beadweavers out there will really appreciate this book.  

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book review: Bead Soup

By now, most beaders have heard of Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Project.  Each designer who participates swaps a focal bead, a unique clasp, and some coordinating beads with a partner.  They then set out to create a wonderful new piece of jewelry, supplementing as needed from their own stash.  I have been a participant in this ultra-fun project and blog hop, and I can tell you from experience that it's definitely a blast!  But there's a book...

Bead Soup is Lori Anderson's new book, sharing 32 fabulous projects of her own and by other participants in the swap.  Kalmbach Publishing calls Bead Soup a "recipe for success!" and they are completely right.  The recipes, I mean instructions, are easy to follow and allow for lots of substitutions.  Just as in cooking, you might not always have the exact ingredient on hand, and it's nice to know that you're being encouraged to make these projects your own.

Lori has arranged the book into four chapters, each based upon the method used to create the projects.  While I loved the two chapters on how to use random beads, and the chapter on working in a color palette, I really fell totally in love with the chapter on creating a necklace around a special focal bead.  Don't we all have issues with that from time to time?

If you have been a part of a Bead Soup swap with Lori's group, or perhaps even more so if you have not, you will enjoy Lori's lighthearted humor and warm writing style in this book.  And of course, you will love the projects!   

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yay for Beth M!

Beth M, who writes Meandering Threads, has won the copy of Making Fabric Jewelry!  Congratulations, Beth!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book review: Working With Polymer Clay

I have seen a lot of books on working with polymer clay, and I've even been asked to create a few beginner projects myself (scary thought!), so you'll have to pardon me for telling you about yet another polymer clay guide.  THIS IS THE ONE YOU NEED!  Lori Wilkes has written Working With Polymer Clay as an entry into the popular The Absolute Beginners Guide series by Kalmbach Books.  Yes, folks, it is a winner.

So many of the polymer clay books look alike.  You'll see pretty much the same techniques, advice, and even styles.  Not so with this book.  Plus, what you almost never get are projects of this quality.  If you need to be convinced, just spend some time looking through Lori's websites: Millori and Lori Wilkes on Etsy.

Faux Turquoise...amazingly realistic!  You need to
see a larger version of this on Lori's website.

Oh yeah...this is definitely someone that I want to learn clay from.  Just because the techniques are for beginners doesn't have to mean that the projects are same old same old.  Trust me, I know about that, because basic and same old is all I can do!  I'm so happy to find a polymer clay book that has such beautiful beginner projects that I might just be persuaded to dig out my clay and try again!

One of my favorite styles, which Lori was kind enough to send me pictures of, is the transparent jelly roll cane earrings.  I don't want to make earrings...I want a whole batch of cabochons for my bead embroidery!  

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!


The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been hard at work creating four new Premium Mixes! 

A Bead A Day
Do you ever challenge yourself to see a pendant as a bracelet? Lisa shares her latest project using a large metal pendant as a bracelet focal. Jewelry Making
Tammy interviews luxury jewelry designer Rebekah Lea.  

Art Bead Scene
Erin Siegel takes us on a blog hop full of creative and gorgeous earring designs.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi continues to explored the endless ways to incorporate t-shirt yarn into her projects!   

Resin Crafts!
An unusual copper bezel is the inspiration for this "Coronation" themed resin beauty.  

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Book review: Stitch Workshop - Herringbone Stitch

Herringbone stitch intimidates a lot of people for some reason.  So I was happy to see that Kalmbach decided to do a Stitch Workshop series book on it.  Herringbone Stitch is the third in the series, and like the others, it consists of projects that have previously been published in Bead&Button magazine.  What that means for you is that the instructions are excellent and editor-tested.  And it's so nice to have all the projects gathered together like this.

You'll learn how to use all different types of seed beads to create flat, tubular, and twisted tubular designs.  This volume will totally demystify herringbone for you, and the wide variety of designers guarantees that there will be projects to suit all tastes!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My "Hope" bracelet for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

My apologies for posting this after Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, but better late than not at all, I hope!

This project is dedicated to the women and men that I personally know who have been affected by cancer.  And in addition it is dedicated to all those whom I don't personally know.  You are all in my heart. 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all
~ Emily Dickinson
Most of the materials and tools for my Hope bracelet came from ImpressArt, and you can read about them at the link above.

Materials and Tools

Copper and brass blank
Black acrylic paint
Brass jump rings, 7mm and 5mm
Short length of brass chain
Lobster claw clasp
Metal hole punch
Metal alphabet stamp set
Other decorative metal stamps (I used a song bird, awareness ribbon, and heart)
Chain nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Wire cutters

1. Use a metal hole punch to add holes to any of the blanks that don't already have them.  Use the alphabet and decorative stamps to add your message to the blanks.  Use the positioning tape to mark where each letter or symbol should go.


2. Treat each blank with fire if desired to bring out some interesting colors.  This heat treatment will also soften the metal a bit and make it easier to gently bend the pieces to better fit around your wrist.


3. Use a very fine black marker to darken the symbols and letters.

4. Use jump rings to attach the blanks together and to the chain.  Use another jump ring to attach the clasp.

5.  Give it to someone you love or wear it yourself!  Don't just wear it in October :-)

As regards FTC disclosure guidelines: I have received tools and materials free of charge from ImpressArt in order to write a review and/or create a project free of charge for you.  I have not been paid for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received.

Copyright 2012 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 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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Calls for entries and submissions

Altered Couture
Deadline: 12/15/12  

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Book review and giveaway: Making Fabric Jewelry

Making Fabric Jewelry was formerly published in hardcover format as Stitched Jewels, so it's possible you've already seen this book.  If not, though, you're definitely going to want to give it a look if you enjoy incorporating fabric into your work.  Twenty different designers contributed 23 projects that will stretch your preconceived ideas of how fabric can be used in jewelry.  Yes, there are pieces that are sewn and stuffed, but that barely scratches the surface of the techniques that are used.   Wrapping, gluing, fusing, shredding, stitching, tying, and transferring images...this book brings a full range of mixed media techniques to bear.

***Free Stuff Alert!!!***

Would you like to win a copy of Making Fabric Jewelry?  Just leave me a comment below and you'll automatically be entered to win.  If you tweet or post on Facebook or other social spots about the contest, you can leave a second comment and be entered twice!

Please make sure that your link will lead me to an email address, or else I won't be able to contact you.  No contact, no win, and I simply have to go on to the next person.  Deadline: November 13, 2012

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Bridging the Gap

Chapter Three of Some Assembly Required is ready to go, and the chapter title is Bridging the Gap!  If you've been following along with this project, you know that I've been writing about how to create a bead embroidered necklace out of smaller components, as opposed to the large solidly beaded collars that many of us learned to make.  Well, we've finally gotten to the point in the journey where we have to start doing something with these gorgeous components!

Enter, Bridging the Gap.  In this 66 page chapter, you'll learn five different methods for creating bridges between components to hook them all together, each of which includes multiple variations.  In addition, I decided that you might like to have some techniques for creating even more dimensional texture on your bridges, similar to the texture we added to the components in Chapter Two.  While you will not want to add this extra texture to every necklace, when it is appropriate, it can help to unify your piece across all the components and bridges.

You can see information on both of my e-books at this link, or visit this direct link if you already know you want a copy!


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