Monday, September 28, 2015

Why take a class?

The piece I learned to make in a class taught by Nancy Eha

I like to take a class from time to time, but I haven't taken one for awhile.  So I've been mulling over what I might like to do and thinking back on the classes I've taken in the past that I think were really successful.  A number of years ago, my friend Debbie emailed me to suggest that we go take a beading class together, and my first thought was that it would be a pleasant way to spend the day with her, but not much more.  Wrong!  It turned out to be one of the best classes I've ever taken.  

Although I’m used to teaching myself whatever technique interests me, either by the brute force of trial and error or by reading about it, I’m not a total stranger to the classroom.  Usually I like to take technique-based classes to improve my learning curve, or when the subject included expensive equipment that I wanted to try out before launching into buying it.  But here was Debbie, suggesting that we take a project-based class.  No way!  No how!  But still…I wanted to spend the day with her, and it might be fun.

Well it was fun, and all of my reluctance was misplaced.  The first thing you need to consider very carefully when choosing a class to take is the reputation of the teacher.  Many people can be brilliant bead artists without necessarily being good teachers.  Especially if you are a beginner, I would recommend that you check to see that the teacher you’re considering has a reputation for being organized, patient, and creative.  Organization without creativity is boring.  Creativity without some level of organization is chaos.  And patience…well, I think we can all figure out why that would be important!

Debbie working on her piece
The class that Debbie and I went to take was being taught by Nancy Eha.  I had long admired Nancy’s work, and I knew from various discussions on the internet that she had an excellent reputation as a teacher.  But I was still disappointed that we’d be taking a project-based class instead or a techniques-based one.  By the end of the day, however, I had changed my mind.  Here’s why.

In taking a project-based class, I was under the impression that I would be bored waiting for everyone to finish each step.  Not so.  Nancy’s project was  not going to be finished by the end of the class; instead, she introduced each step and gave us enough time to become familiar with it and try it out before moving on to the next part.  We ended up learning many more techniques than I had expected during the course of the project too.  The class moved at a good pace, and there was still much to be finished at home later.  When choosing a project class, this is something that you’ll want to find out, because not everyone is thrilled about leaving class without a finished something-or-other.

Another piece I made later, using the techniques I learned in class

One of my other arguments against project classes had always been that I could learn the thing perfectly well by myself from the book.  Well, that may be true for some and not true for others, but even so, there are still reasons to consider taking a project class.  There are most obviously the visual aspects of learning a new skill; sometimes it just helps to see someone else doing it.  And then there are the social aspects.  It’s fun to meet other people who are crazy about the same things that you are!
There are also the additional tips that come to you with no extra charge as your teacher talks about many things beyond just the project at hand.  And finally, you will get to try new products that you may not have considered using before.  For me, I got to try out Silamide thread, when I had only ever used Nymo thread before.  Nancy also had us working with an embroidery hoop, which I also don’t usually use.  The Silamide made a hit with me, the hoop didn’t!

The final objection that I’ve had in the past to project classes was that I didn’t like having to make the exact same thing as everyone else, doing it in the exact same way.  Well, as Nancy explained right up front, the uniformity of the pieces we were going to make was for crowd control, and nothing else!  It makes perfect sense.  You are free to go off and use the techniques that you learn in the project in any way you want, stretching your own creativity and adding the new ideas to your growing repertoire.  If the thought of not being able to do your own thing totally turns you off, you would probably be much happier in a techniques-based class.  Just don’t discount all the wonderful things you can learn in a well-run project class!

Nancy Eha’s work and class schedule can be seen at Bead Creative

Copyright 2015 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.

Friday, September 25, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Repair Clay Sculpture DIY
Is this clay sculpture beyond repair? Eileen's puppy smashed it; then ate some of the pieces!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Looking for easy crafts to make for the upcoming holiday season? Jean reviews the fun-filled felt crafting book, 'Tis the Season to Be Felt-y ! Don't miss this one!

My Grandmother's Fruit Salad
Here's a recipe that has been popular in our family. Over the years, friends and in laws have enjoyed it and continue to make it for their family.

Halloween Square Pattern
Connie's added a free Halloween-themed chart that will be a treat to trick out with buttons, beads, or charms.

DIY Tassel Necklace
This simple necklace can be made in about five minutes from a tassel keychain. Easy and on trend for fall!

Book Review
A new video-based book review is up on the Crafty Princess' YouTube channel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book review: 26 Quick Stitched Elements

This is the kind of book that I just love!  Lots of little motifs or elements, as Thomasin Alyxander calls them, endless possibilities for combining and recombining into lovely jewelry!  26 Quick Stitched Elements is published by Kalmbach, so you know you will get the well-illustrated basics in the back, and the easy to follow instructions and illustrations throughout the whole book.

Alyx wants you to be able to take her elements and use them as in all sorts of projects, so she shows many different colorways, variations in details, and suggested uses for each one.  The book focuses on shaped beads, and on integrating them with seed beads, rounds, and bicone crystals.  There are lots of rounded elements included, which can be used in so many ways: as earrings, bracelet pieces, charms, pendants, part of a more complicated necklace, etc.  There are complicated-looking jewelry projects included, but after you've read through the elements portion, you'll see how straight-forward it is to combine elements into these more complex designs.

Galaxy Medallions in different colorways

Be aware, though, that only one brand of Czech shaped beads is used throughout, and that is the Czech-Mate system of beads.  Other brands of Czech beads or Japanese shaped beads are not recommended because the hole spacing and exact shape may differ, causing bead counts to be unreliable.  If you are an experienced stitcher, you can probably make the adjustments yourself, but it may be frustrating for less experienced bead workers.

This post contains an affiliate link

Monday, September 21, 2015

Copper and turquoise necklace

I love the colors turquoise and copper together.  Since blue and orange are complementary colors on the color wheel, both hues seem to pop out when they are used together

Whenever I make a heavy necklace, I tend to make it longer to help balance the weight.  If you follow the instructions here exactly, you will end up with a very long necklace that adjusts from 27 to 30 inches.  I like to twist the necklace up to wear it, which shortens it somewhat, but it is still a very long piece.  If this will be too long for your frame, shorten it up accordingly.

Materials & Tools

40” beading wire, brick red, .019” diameter
5’ copper chain, 21 gauge
Copper end bars with chain and clasp, 3 hole
56 copper open hex beads, 8mm
77 copper bicones
78 turquoise rounds, 4mm
43 carved MOP leaves, mix of turquoise, light and dark amber colors
Turquoise donut, 40mm
6 hammered copper disks with hole, 10mm
Copper bail tube with loop
15-20 seed beads, size 8/0
75 copper jump rings
43 head pins
3 crimps

Chain nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Wire cutters
Measuring tape
Alligator clips

1. Crimp a 30" piece of beading wire to the middle hole of your end bar.  Alternate copper bicones with open hex beads.  Slide a 4mm turquoise round into the middle of each hex bead as you string.  Place the copper bail at the mid-point of your strand.  When it is long enough to suit you, crimp the loose end to the other end bar.

2. Use jump rings to attach copper chain on each side of the central strand, running from end bar to the opposite end bar.  Divide each half of the necklace into four equal parts, and anchor the chain in place to the nearest hex bead with jump rings.

3. Prepare all of your leaves by creating wrapped loops on the head pins.  Add some decorative turquoise or copper beads to each dangle.

4. Divide up the leaves and space them out along each chain.  Reserve a few leaves to hang in front, near the bail.  Attach each leaf dangle with a jump ring.

5. Prepare your central turquoise donut pendant.  Fold a 10" piece of beading wire in half loosely, and create a larks-head knot through the donut.  String both wires through a copper bicone.  Separate the wires, and string 7 to 10 seed beads on each.  String one wire through the loop on the copper bail.  Bring both ends of the wire through a crimp bead from opposite directions.  Snug up the wire, flatten the crimp, and trim the wire ends.  Attach 6 hammered copper discs together with jump rings, and embellish the donut pendant with them.

6. Attach 3 hammered copper discs together with jump rings, and embellish the end of the clasp and chain unit.  To wear this necklace, hold by one end and spin it until the chains are wrapped around the central strand to your satisfaction.  The tighter you twist it, the shorter the necklace will be and the more the leaves will stick out from the piece.

This post contains affiliate links: Beadaholique

Copyright 2015 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.

Friday, September 18, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Silhouette Word Art Stencil
Design a Silhouette word art stencil on cheap self-adhesive shelf liner. Links to free font downloads used and how to ungroup, weld and slice letters in Silhouette Studio.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean continues to be interested in making 5 wrap bracelets and shares some thoughts and tips!

Bead Crochet
The Crafty Princess reviews a new book about bead crochet.

Art Bead Scene
Do you like a beady challenge, asks Michelle!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Labradorite was the inspiration for the Warrior Stone Challenge. See what the participants made with this lovely kit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My most recent book reviews - part two

See part one from last week at the link.

Metal Fabrication
Soldered Alchemy by Laura Beth Love

Seed Beads
Stitching with Two-Hole Shaped Beadsby Virginia Jensen
Beautiful Designs with Super Duos and Twin Beads by Carolyn Cave
Bead Metamorphosis by Lisa Kan
Beaded Ropes and Chains by Karin Van Vorhees
Bead Play with Tassels by Jamie Cloud Eakin

Monday, September 14, 2015

Re-doing a bead embroidered pendant

Back in the Spring, I made a bead embroidered pendant with ribbons as the background.  Once Spring was over, I started thinking that the Easter egg shape wasn't as versatile as I wanted for long term wearing.  I put a lot of thought, work, and time into the original design, so I was kind of hesitant to change it and possible "ruin" it.

But, as it turns out, change can be a very good thing!  See my update here.

Copyright 2015 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.

Friday, September 11, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a fab book by Keiko Sakamoto on wrap bracelets: DIY Wrap Bracelets, 25 Designs using beads,thread, ribbon,cord and more. So fun!

Blue Mood
Connie's added a new chart to her Etsy shop that will be easily adapted to any holiday or season. Find links to all her pattern sources in the blog as well.

Get Colorful
Coloring intricate designs is a new trend for adults and a great way to relieve stress. The Crafty Princess has a free downloadable image from a new coloring book available on her weblog.

Art Bead Scene
Check out Claire's inspiring take on this month's challenge painting - and her art bead selections to whet your appetite!

Chalk Paint Plaque — Something Wonderful
Recipes for chalk paint and how to use it to create an inspirational wall plaque.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
This just in! Pantone has announced the Fashion Color Report for Spring 2016! What's your favorite choice for Color of the Year?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

My most recent book reviews - part one

I get to review a lot of books each year, and I thought it might be helpful to list the ones I've done so far in 2015 by topic.  Here's the first half of the list...part two will be next week.  These are good books for you to consider for gifts or for yourself!

Modern Chain Mail Jewelry by Marilyn Gardiner
Soldered Alchemy by Laura Beth Love
Decorative Wire Findings by Melody MacDuffee

Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop by Karen Karon
Freeform Wire Art Jewelry by Gayle Bird
Handcrafted Metal Findings by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson

Crafter's Guide to Patterns by Jessica Swift
Easy Jewelry Making by Bead Style magazine
Jewelry Making 1-2-3 by Karin Van Voorhees
18 Beaded Jewelry Projects by Dorothy Wood


Fiber & Cord Jewelry by Ashley Bunting

Part two will be posted next week!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Free form beadweaving and bead embroidery

Calypso ~ total necklace is 24 inches in length, central pendant is 3-1/2 x 3 inches

1. Glue 3 ammonite slabs (or other cabochons) onto ultra-suede. Bead embroider around the slabs, adding seed beads, freshwater pearls, and coin pearls.  I used many vintage seed beads in this piece, including rare French cut steels, but easily available Delicas can be substituted.  The instructions for stitching back stitch and stack stitch, used here are in the free first chapter of my e-book, Every Bead Has a Story.  

2.  Back the embroidered pieces with another piece of ultra-suede to hide the stitching, and stitch beads all the way around each piece to cover the raw edges.  I used edging brick stitch, which is also taught in the free chapter linked above.  

3.  Create 2 freeform peyote pieces with seed beads, pearls, and lampworked beads (I used my own), which are stitched to the embroidered pieces in order to join them.

4.  Free form beadweave a collection of coordinating lampworked beads, pearls, and seed beads from the top edges of the embroidered pieces up to 2 pieces of looped gold wire. When the strands are completed, insert the wires through gold or vermeil cones and finish off with a clasp.  

This post contains affiliate links: Beadaholique

Copyright 2015 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.

Friday, September 04, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean discusses the beauty of wrap bracelets and shows her most recent creation!

Decoupage Outdoor Furniture
Products and techniques to decoupage outdoor furniture including step-by-step picnic table directions.

Art Bead Scene
Check out September's gorgeous new challenge piece from artist Vanessa Bell!

Necklace Tutorial
Crystals, Pearl beads, and chain make up with colorful necklace that has an antique feel to it.

SAL Diamond Three
Connie's posted the latest Diamond section for the free SAL (stitch-along) and she shows two different examples of how it could be stitched.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Soldering is fun and Andrew has been obsessed with making rings. But... he took a short break to whip up a pair of earrings!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Book review: Handcrafted Metal Findings

by Denise Peck & Jane Dickerson 
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

Commercial findings are great, and can save you time when you're constructing a piece of jewelry, but there are plenty of times when nothing but your own handmade design will do!  Do you really want to see the piece you spent 40 to 50 hours on sporting the same popular clasp as everyone else's piece?

Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson have teamed up to edit and present Handcrafted Metal Findings, published by Interweave.  They use both sheet metal and wire to craft 30 different findings.  And almost as a bonus, there is a step-by-step project included to showcase each finding being used.  In the back are basic techniques, materials, and tools sections, just in case you're not familiar with all that the projects entail.

Joy of joys!  There is a "Resources" box for each project, telling you exactly where you can get the materials used.  If you want to substitute, that's great, but many beginners will really appreciate the extra help.  See those cute little rosette hooks and eyes above?  Instructions for those are by Cindy Wimmer... you will find more of her designs and several by other metal workers you are sure to know!

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