Monday, November 30, 2015

Yay for PK!!

PK is the winner of our giveaway book, Resin Alchemy!  Congratulations!!

My crazy quilt block is finished

I told you a few weeks ago about the basic crazy quilting online class I signed up for with Kathy Shaw.  Well, I'm here to tell you now that it was great.  The last part included adding beads, buttons, lace, and other embellishments.  It was a lot of fun, but then I found myself balking a bit.  Even though I admire really jam-packed CQ squares, it's just not my style.  I like space between the elements and to allow the fabric to speak as well.  Go figure, because I'm certainly not like that with my bead embroidery!  Here's what I added:

Antique sequins


Two tri-colored butterflies

I decided to fill the corners with a templated version of blanket stitch, which is what I use (the plain variety, that is), to finish all my hand-stitched quilts.  You can see the dots in the photo below.  I finished the block by turning it under, setting it on top of a larger piece of wool felt with some cotton batting in the center just to plump it out a bit.  Then I wrapped muslin around from the back and slipped it under the edges of the block.  This method is sometimes called "wrap and tuck", and it's the one I use most frequently.  I show it in more detail here on Mixed Media Artist.  You don't have to miter the corners, but I think it looks nicer.

Since I didn't feel like adding any lace to the block itself, I added a small piece to the bottom of the quilt frame.

Blanket stitch and cross stitch around the edges.

Finished.  Not quite as bowed as it looks in the photo, but not perfectly straight either.  Who wants perfection?

The pattern of the block, seam stitches, and flowers are all taught by Kathy Shaw, and the overall design is her copyrighted pattern.  Please think about taking this course with her!

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.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
In her ongoing series of great gifts for the holidays, Jean reviews Heather Powers' lovely new book, Beautiful Elements.

Easy Mold Making for Resin or Clay
Do you know how easy mold making is? Eileen duplicated a 3/4" diameter metal pendant of a frog on a lily pad after losing one from a 3-piece set of jewelry. Can you tell which of the 3 is the copy?

Art Bead Scene
Michelle is hosting a challenge - and she wants YOU to play along!

Crochet Pattern Review
Here is a video review of Lion Brand's free wristers crochet pattern.

December Diamonds
Connie's posted the next two section of the free SAL. There's still plenty of time to get started!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book review: Veranda - The Romance of Flowers

If you are familiar with the magazine Veranda, you know that it's all about gracious beauty.  Well, here's a coffee table book for you that will help you to drift away into that romantic, gracious, and stress-free zone as the holiday season descends upon us!  The Romance of Flowers, by Clinton Smith, and published by Hearst Books, an imprint of Sterling, is an enormous book that you can just fall into and forget all about life for awhile.  And don't we all need that from time to time?

There are photos of flowers in close up, floral arrangements set in beautiful rooms, and flowers in lovely still lifes.  There is also a running commentary by Clinton Smith about the flowers, the fashions, and the fashion makers...but to be 100% candid, I haven't read it all yet!  I got so mesmerized by the flowers that I decided to look first and read later.  This is a book that I think I will find myself dipping into a little at a time when I need to refill my well or just grab a few moments of relaxation.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Recent publications: November 2015

A few new books to get you ready for a new year, featuring a new stitch and some new markets!

Introducing Albion Stitch: 20 Beaded Jewelry Projects by Heather Kingsley-Heath

2016 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market by Mary Burzlaff Bostic

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Book review and giveaway: Resin Alchemy

Books don't have to be brand new to be good choices for holiday gift-giving!  Resin Alchemy was published in 2013, but there are still a lot of people who are excited about the techniques it teaches.  My original review is at the link.  So, who would be interested in maybe winning a copy, for yourself or to give to someone else?


I've got a copy that needs to go to a good home!  Here's what you need to do...please read this carefully. Leave me a comment here and include your email address. If I don't see your email address, I won't be able to contact you. No contact, no win, and I simply have to go on to the next person. You are welcome to spell it out if you'd prefer, for example, cyndi at mazeltovjewelry dot com. If you tweet or post on Facebook or other social spots about the contest, you can leave a second comment and be entered twice! Deadline: November 30, 2015

Resin Alchemy: Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists
By Susan Lenart Kazmer
Interweave/F+W; $24.95

Join award winning artist and trusted mixed media master, Susan Lenart Kazmer in this jewelry making book about one of the hottest trends: resin. Advance your skills as Susan takes you through all the steps for working with resin, from basic mixing and pouring advice to more involved techniques including resin casting. Unlock the design potential and take your resin jewelry to the next level with this comprehensive book bursting with inspiration! Create projects that highlight stunning artistic effects with color, found objects, texture, casting, collage, and more! Discover how versatile this material is as you uncover all of Susan's resin secrets.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a great book for holiday gift giving, Resin Alchemy by Susan Lenart Kazmer. What a fabulous book to own and learn from!

Jingle Bell Wreath Ornament
Jingle bell wreath ornaments are fun and easy ornament to make from wood curtain rings, hot glue & bells. They make great gift toppers or wearable pins too.

Get Edgy 
This video review talks about a new book for crochet edges.

DIY Ninja Stars...or Suns... 
This video shows you how to make a Ninja Star. Terry made these for a gift exchange on a recent cruise and everyone loved them. One person told her she was excited to use it in her scrapbook of the trip

Art Bead Scene
Claire interviews Kathrin Kniedl - take a peek behind the scenes at her stunning clay work! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book review: Chain Mail + Color

Do you love chain maille, or do you find it intimidating?  Do you love the sleek minimalism of it, or do you wish there were a way to jazz it up a bit?  No matter what your opinion of classic chain maille, I think you're going to be enchanted by Vanessa Walilko's book Chain Mail + Color, published by Kalmbach.

Never fear if you've not tried chain maille before.  Vanessa introduces you to three very simple weaves that you will be able to master quickly.  She teaches you all the little tricks and techniques to working successfully in the Basics section, and (YAY!) gives you a list of suppliers who carry the various materials that she uses.

The main body of the book is broken into three sections.  Once you've learned the weaves, you can then choose to add colorful aluminum scales, disks, or washers to make your designs really pop, but without adding a lot of weight.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the jump rings themselves that you'll be working with are also aluminum?  Intimidation gone!  You don't have to worry about messing up a precious metal anything.

The colors range from eye-searing and super-fun to more subdued and elegant.  Vanessa's style runs more towards the fun, hip, happy pieces.  If you do a lot of chain maille work already, I still think you will enjoy seeing how she integrates these shots of color.  You can think about adding some of it to your own work.  And if you are the type who prefers more quiet color schemes, don't let the bright cover turn you off: you can stick with the metallics and neutrals if you like!

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Book review: Beautiful Elements

I love Heather Powers's work, especially her glorious polymer clay beads, but also her finished jewelry which she puts together using a lot of her own wire and metal elements.  In her new book, Beautiful Elements, published by Kalmbach, Heather brings it all together in a delightful celebration of designs from the heart.

Even though I would consider this an intermediate book, the thorough Basics section in the beginning, covering materials, tools, and techniques for making jewelry, working with polymer clay and metal, mean that a beginner can play too.  If you like Heather's style, grab this book and learn from the very beginning how to make your own findings, links, drops, pendants, and beads, rather than buying manufactured ones that everyone is using.

Heather's book will teach you how to "sketch" on metal, add amazing texture and personal imagery, create your own charms and drops, and make custom beads from polymer clay.  Throughout, there are projects to help you practice your new skills.  All are made with minimal tools, including all cold connections, so there are really no worries for a beginner!

Check out my review of Heather's earlier book, Jewelry Designs from Nature

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book review: Jewelry Design with Knitted Wire

Nealay Patel has put together some lovely projects for this new Kalmbach book, Jewelry Designs with Knitted Wire.  You might remember that I shared a project with you, using metal mesh as a design element in a necklace named Midnight Sky of Distant Stars.  We also looked at using it in the third chapter of Bored By Back Stitch again as a design element.  Nealay's take on this material is broader and slightly different from mine, so I was very interested to see what he was doing with it.

Wire mesh in three forms is explored in this book: hollow (flexible, the type I used), flat (stiff), and mesh filled with leather cord.  There is a good basics section included, with the tools and special findings you will need to add this material to your repertoire.  You probably already have most of them!

There are 32 projects included.  Most treat the mesh like an armature: stitch through it, fill it, treat is like soutache braid.  But other treatments push a little further: slip it over wire, use it as necklace straps, form it into bezels.  This last idea is pretty exciting, don't you think?

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Starting an amulet bag

I've become convinced that some people are not finished with making amulet bags quite yet!  When I asked that question a few weeks ago, it got me to thinking that I had never shared with you how I start my bags, and I really think it's a technique worth knowing.

I am not a fan of stitching a flat peyote stitch piece and then zipping it up when finished.  I find it too limiting, and there is absolutely no room for freedom or error.  Yes, you will end up with a perfect little bag...IF you get all the counts exactly right.  No, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way, but here's the method I prefer and why I prefer it.

1. Start by picking up an odd number of beads.  Pick up another bead and pass through the third bead from the end of the first row, pulling the last bead of the first row sideways.  Stitch back towards the beginning of the first row, and when there are two beads left, pick up one more bead and stitch through the tail end of the first bead added in the first row (the last bead before the tail) and through the second, turning the first bead sideways like you did at the other end.  Stitching through the second bead in the turn is your step up.

 2. You will continue to add beads, stitching around the outside of the shape, up one side and back down the other, adding beads between each up bead.  In every other row, you will have a bead that sits sideways at the end, and you will need to step up each row.

3. Now here's the great part: after you get the base established, as many rows as you want, you can switch up your beads, increase, or decrease, switch to odd count so that you can simply stitch in an upward spiraling fashion...whatever you want.  No worries about zipping up later and not being able to match the sides!

Here is a little bag that I started recently, just for fun.  It's not finished yet, but you can get the idea.  I used Delica seed beads, because their tube shapes fit together so wonderfully:

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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, November 13, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a how-to book of quick-to-knit, soft and fluffy, chic and fabulous cowls!

Color Scheme Creation
Three popular online applications for creating a color scheme. Fine-tune one, create one from an image or just have fun playing with color.

Crochet a Flamingo
In this video review, the Crafty Princess looks at a crochet pattern for a cute flamingo named Gordon.

Beaded Lanyards
Terry shows some of her new lanyards from her Etsy shop. These fun pieces have a duel purpose, not only can they be worn as a lanyard, but also as a long necklace, short necklace or bracelet.

Art Bead Scene
Take a peek at the beautiful palette that Heather has pulled from this month's challenge to inspire you!

Get Diamond Eight Today
Connie's posted Diamond Eight, the next section of the free 2015-6 SAL from Connie Gee's Designs.

DIY Dreamcatcher from Crafty Leftovers
It's always fun to use what you have lying around for a new project, and this dreamcatcher uses a mason jar lid, some yarn and beads for a cute and meaningful craft.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Book review: Introducing Albion Stitch

If you've ever bezeled an irregular (or regular!) cabochon like this...

...then you already understand the basics of albion stitch.  Heather Kingsley-Heath has developed this into a versatile new beadweaving stitch.  And for that, the whole beady world should thank her!

In her new book, Introducing Albion Stitch, published by Kalmbach, Heather takes us through all the variations that we expect of a beadweaving stitch:  flat, flat round, tubular, lace effects, and 3D structures.  Increasing, decreasing, and varying the stitch length is taught in each section through a delightful set of projects.  Though you don't need to do all of them, following through in order will allow you to build skill upon skill as you master the stitch.

Heather wants you to be able to explore on your own too, so she has included projects that add the new shaped beads and multi-hole beads, and she also gives tips for trying different sizes, shapes, and colors of beads.

This is the first truly new stitch in quite a while, and I don't think any of you seed bead fanciers are going to want to miss it!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book review: Fast & Easy Earrings

Fast & Easey Earrings, edited by Erica Swanson and published by Kalmbach, is a great beginner's book and is perfect for holiday gift-giving also!  There are more than 100 projects by 47 different designers, in all types of materials: crystals, glass, metal, wire, stones, pearls, and mixed media.  The projects are culled from BeadStyle magazine by Kalmbach.

Right up front, basic materials are identified and explained.  Step-by-step basic techniques are taught with lots of clear photos and illustrations.  Many of the designs could be made in under an hour, so seriously, think about this book not just for holiday giving, but also for holiday gift-MAKING :-)  I am especially enamored of Jane Konkel's spiraling dangles, shown below, which are made with crystals, chain, and bead caps!

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Book review: Handcraft Wire Jewelry

Do you want to add beautiful handmade chains, clasps, and pendants to your work?  Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin shows you how in Handcraft Wire Jewelry, a new book by Kalmbach.  You will need to have some experience working with wire before tackling this book, unless you are an exceptionally determined beginner.  Information on the materials, tools, and basic techniques are right up front, including how to use a bobbin for weaving longer pieces of wire.  But the projects become advanced very quickly.

There are some simple wire motifs that Kimberly turns into complex-looking chains.  There are instructions for wire-wrapping pendants with beautiful unique results.  The book contains lots of alternative and variant design ideas for you to try.  But this is not just components: there are some complete finished piece projects as well.  I am especially a fan of Kimberly's pendants, because they don't look like everyone else's.  You may already be familiar with some of her work from her book Build Your Own Wire Pendants (review at the link).

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Monday, November 09, 2015

Earrings for an elaborate necklace

I love making fancy dangle earrings, and I love making elaborate necklaces.  What I don't like are the two of them together.  They fight for attention as far as I'm concerned.  Yes, I know that some people love to pile it on, but I'm more of a minimalist.

Therefore, I don't usually make earrings to "go" with the necklaces that I stitch.  Instead, I wait until the buyer comes along and tells me what she wants to pair it with.  This may not work for everyone, but it works really well for me.  I almost always have a few spare accent beads left over from making the necklace, and often I will just toss them into the bag along with necklace in question.  Then, when the buyer tells me what she wants for earrings, I will have the appropriate beads handy.  Or, even better, I can pull them out and tell her what I think she should want :-)

Here is an example of a really simply pair of earrings that I just made to accompany a bead embroidered necklace.  This necklace isn't my fanciest, but it draws attention, so my customer agreed that I should keep the earrings really simple, with a gold tone, and by the way, she likes leverbacks!

Check out my post on how to make a wrapped loop...that's pretty much all you need to know for making these.  The head pins are extremely thin in order to fit through the drilled pearls.

And here is a tutorial on the necklace itself.

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.

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Friday, November 06, 2015

heART beats from other blogs!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's Beading to be done!
Jean reviews a marvelous new book by Nealay Patel, Jewelry Designs with Knitted Wire. It is very original and totally cool!

Crafting Update
Crochet, knitting, jewelry making, catch up on the crafting action from the Crafty Princess on the latest video podcast.

Art Bead Scene 
Take a peek at our new November challenge!

Thumbprint Penguin Bar Towel
Kids can help make these thumbprint penguin bar towels. They make charming housewarming gifts and fun keepsakes for grandparents, aunts and uncles.

David's Puzzle
Check out the model Connie's cousin Cindy stitched for the David's Puzzle pattern from the Connie Gee's Designs Etsy shop and learn the story behind the pattern name.

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
Leftover Halloween candy isn't exactly a problem, but if you want to do something with it aside from just eating it as candy, try these easy and yummy cookies.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Book review: Beadweaving - Beyond the Basics

Fons & Porter/F+W; $24.99

Yay!  I have been wanting to learn how to do diagonal RAW, and it is included in this new book!  Beadweaving - Beyond the Basics, by Kassie Shaw teaches some new intermediate variations on right angle weave through 24 beautiful projects.  There is a progression through the projects of idea building upon idea, but it's not absolutely essential to work straight through.  Kassie wants to inspire people to use the ideas as jumping off points for personal design work.

There are three chapters, each featuring a different variation.  First, double diamond RAW starts with a base of RAW but adds a second pass of beads, one in each "corner".  Second, faux RAW, which is also known as "modified RAW".  You add a bead between each RAW unit so that you don't have to switch directions in stitching.  And third, layered RAW, which produces double sided ropes with the heft of cubic RAW, but more flexibility.  Other stitches are included in the book (herringbone, peyote, and St Petersburg chain), but these take a back seat.

The illustrations and directions are excellent, and basics are included in the front to refresh you on the basic stitches before you take off with the variations.  One of the most exciting things to me is that this book presents so many new bezeling possibilities.

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Monday, November 02, 2015

Book review and project: DIY Wrap Bracelets

By Keiko Sakamoto
Fons & Porter/F+W; $24.99

Everyone is crazy over these wrap bracelets, and the interest doesn't seem to by waning at all!  I've shared several tutorials in the past (links at the bottom of the post), but DIY Wrap Bracelets by Keiko Sakamoto has TWENTY EIGHT designs...and if you add in the variations, that should keep you beading for a very very long time!

These designs incorporate techniques that include wrapping, twisting, braiding, beading and macramé.  Once you master the techniques, go beyond bracelets with coordinating necklace, earring and brooch designs made from a variety of materials, including leather, gemstones, pearls, beads, fabrics, and thread. Be inspired to fashion a new design for every outfit in your wardrobe—and dare to be bold and layer the bracelets together so you can wear them all!

Here's a variation on one of Keiko's designs that I made with C-Lon cord and some vintage beads.  Instructions are found on page 91 of the book.

Back view of button closure

Beading Arts two-part wrap bracelet tutorial
Beading Arts wrap bracelet with ribbon tutorial

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