Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Work in Progress: So Tropical

This week I’ve got two necklace projects on the go, plus a necklace tutorial on the back burner that’s coming along slowly but surely. This week’s mini collar features long magatamas and large dagger beads. I’m trying out a new layout for drops, and if it works it might become a new favorite.

Tropical Necklaces in Progress

The fringe necklace with coconut daggers is still underway. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any scalloped St. Petersburg chain – if forgot how long it takes to add all those individual loops of fringe. I have a feeling that this necklace won’t be finished for quite some time, but it’s nice to have a back-up project to work on between other pieces. I did have the beginnings of a new ugly necklace for that, but it’s been all but forgotten thanks to all of the new inspirations I’ve found in the past few months.

Tropical Blue Bead Palette

I'm really enjoying the palette for this week's mini collar, although I did end up having to add in a second seed bead color to make the netting work. It's still very early in the challenge, but I'm already having trouble decided how to proceed. Should I comb through my drops stash and just start building palettes around the wants I want to use up, or pick accents and random and see what happens? There are just so many choices it's hard to know where to begin, which is really why I wanted to do this challenge in the first place!

What are you making right now?


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Bead Color Ideas: Tropical Delights

What with my latest blue coconut dagger project and the cool spring weather we’ve been having in my area, I’ve really been in the mood for warm colors and anything that will make it feel like summer. Tropical themes are always great for adding a little spice, and offer plenty of options for inspiration. There are colorful flowers and fruits, and gorgeous blue waters to draw on – everything looks better and brighter when it’s illuminated with bright sunlight. This week I wanted to capture that warmth with seed bead palettes.

Tropical Island Lei Bead Color Idea

To start I went with florals, using three sweet, saturated colors. To make Island Lei I combined a most cheerful shade of purple - wisteria lined crystal – and aqua white-hearts for that touch of intense light and ocean blue. Gel sol pink topped everything off with just the right amount of sugariness.

Tropical Passion Fruits Bead Color Idea

Naturally, I had to start at least one palette with intense yellow, so I grabbed some opaque canary 8/o’s. I wanted some equally bold hues to go with it, so next came opaque vermillion red. I haven’t really had a chance to use this color yet, but it’s a perfect match for the yellow. Passion Fruits is finished with lustered orange sherbet, though I would have preferred a more peachy or pumpkin-y orange.

Tropical Coconut Lime Bead Color Idea

Finally, I had to go with a palette to represent my favorite tropical flavors. Coconut Lime includes some transparent lime green long magatamas, and opaque white 8/o’s. The lovely brown of transparent dark topaz seed beads looks gorgeous with the green and definitely brings out the coconut in the white beads. Delicious!

What’s your favorite tropical inspiration?


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

5 Ways to Use Leftover Beads

Ways to Use Leftover Beads

It’s rather unfortunate that we can’t devise a way to have all of our favorite beads on tap, with a never-ending supply of them ready to use at the touch of a button. Because even bulk beads come in a finite quantity, only to be replenished on our next trip to the bead store, leftovers are a common occurrence. If, like many beaders, you also tend to purchase new types of beads on a whim, they are even more common. The last few grams of seed beads, or the last bead or two on a strand have a tendency to hang around, too low in quantity to make their way into a design. Even if you purchase beads specifically for each project, leftovers can happen.

There are two major downsides to having leftover beads: they take up room in one’s stash, and they have a tendency to drag down our reserves of creative inspiration. Leftover beads can seem to call out “why haven’t you thought of a way to use me, yet?” Short of sweeping all leftovers into a broom bead box and shutting them away in a dark cupboard, the only solution is to just go ahead and use them up. Here are 5 fun ways to put those pesky hangers-on to good use.

1. Make a Charm Bracelet

All you need is a bit of chain and a pile of headpins, and you can eliminate almost any assortment of random accent beads from your stash. They don’t even have to match! In fact, the more eclectic, the better. Of course, if you do want to turn a motley crew of beads into a polished looking ensemble, you can always sort them by color, shape, or size and attach them in a pleasing pattern.

Sea Glass Charm Bracelet Tutorial by KeepsakeCrafts.Net
Paisley Daydream Leather Charm Bracelet by

The sorting method would also work for a quick pair of asymmetrical earrings. By creating a visual relationship between two piles of beads, you can make a pair of earrings that looks like a match with a twist.

2. Do Some Bead Embroidery

Whether it’s traditional bead embroidery, soutache, or shibori, random beads are perfect for these kinds of projects. If you have multiples of some beads, you can make matching earrings. Otherwise a pendant or cuff is the perfect place to showcase not only your leftover accent beads, but those random few grams of seed beads as well. In any embroidery method, one or two accent beads is plenty, so this is a great way to use up just a handful of leftovers.

Shibori Ribbon Embroidery Tutorial by Cyndi Lavin at
Augustine Soutache Earring Tutorial by Beadaholique

3. Colorblocking and Patchwork Patterns

Seed bead addiction is no laughing matter, especially when it means that we end up with so many packets and tubes of colors that lost their appeal after the first project. When these seed bead leftovers start to pile up, it’s time to make use of stripes and geometric patterns. Luckily, abstract designs and multicolor palettes have become super trendy for jewelry lately, and of course the possibilities are endless.

Blocked Up Bracelet by
Our own Patchwork Cuff Tutorial

When mixing and matching multiple bead colors without even glancing at your color wheel, a strong neutral can really help to bring everything together. Try incorporating opaque black or white for at least a quarter of the beads in your project to get a nice, cohesive look.

4. Make Bead Soup

Few things are more satisfying than tossing a bunch of beads together to make a lovely mélange of color and sparkle. If you happen to have lots of leftovers in monochrome or analogous colors, all you need is a package to mix them in and you’re halfway to a gorgeous project. Bead soups are great for adding interest to plain stitches, or for making…

5. Freeform Projects

Many beaders feel a bit intimidated by freeform beadwork. It’s hard to work without a net, but the results can be amazing. The nice thing about leftover beads is that we’ve already lost some of our attachment to them – otherwise we’d be restocking and they wouldn’t be leftovers at all. Use your random beads – alone or in a soup – to create a freeform project. Peyote stitch cuffs are a great place to start, and there are tutorials for them everywhere. Netting and right angle weave can be easy to work in freeform if you don’t mind breaking the rules. Flat and circular brick stitch also allow for lots of tweaks that make freeform beadwork possible.

Freeform Peyote Cuff Tutorial Video by
Our own Striped Brick Stitch Tutorial

Do you have a favorite treatment for leftover beads?


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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Collar a Week: Golden Soup

I’m two projects in to the new Collar a Week challenge and I’ve already encountered my first snag. I was able to finish and photograph this week’s necklace in plenty of time, but now here we are on the last day of the week, and I’m much too tired to edit photos and put the piece up in my shop. I’ll have to save all of the technical work for a less full day, but I can share the design with you!

Golden Sand Mini Collar

I had a lot of extra things added to my plate this week, so when it came to choosing colors and patterns for this collar I had to go with something quick and carefree. I snagged the custom gold and brown seed bead mix that I made for the bead soup demo a while back and added some black and white Rizos for the trim. The soup allowed me to have a little variety without actually having to plan or choose a pattern, and the Rizos helped to add a little more of an Egyptian flair, which is always welcome.

Collar number three won’t begin for another day or two, but I definitely want to play with patterns a bit next week. I was pondering adding in some peanut seed beads somehow, but I’ll save those until I’ve made some more progress with drops.


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Friday, April 22, 2016

Giveaway: Chunky Herringbone Necklace Tutorial

For the past several weeks I’ve been puttering away at a brand new PDF tutorial for one of my favorite herringbone necklace designs. This project is great for showcasing larger accent beads and heavy fringe. I’ve used it to display everything from lampwork beads to beaded flowers, and it is the basis for some of my all time favorite designs. Even after many fun projects using this design, I've only just begun to explore the fun possibilities in dressing up the fringe. It's a great stash-busting project and a fun way to display a variety of beads.

Chunky Herringbone Fringe Rope Necklace Tutorial

The PDF tutorial for the Chunky Herringbone Fringe Necklace is finally complete, and is now available in my shop for instant download. The tutorial project features a striking colorblocked rope and bold wood bead accents. To celebrate the first of many new tutorials this year, I’m giving away one copy to a lucky reader!

How to Enter

To win a free copy of the Chunky Herringbone Fringe Necklace tutorial, simply leave a comment on this post letting us know what kinds of beads you would use in the fringe. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Important: Please make sure to include an email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win!

One winner will be drawn on Friday, April 29th. This giveaway is open to all international readers.

Good luck, and happy beading!


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