Thursday, January 29, 2015

Watches: From Function to Fashion

The personal time keeper we know as a watch was developed around the 15th century, and was typically worn as a pin or pendant. These early “clock watches” had no minute hands or glass faces like those we’re familiar with today. Eventually the design would evolve into the “pocket clock”, worn almost exclusively by men after the waistcoat became a fashionable garment. By the 16th century, the pocket watch was a common accessory for telling the time.

Emerald Bewitched Pocket Watch by youmin
Emerald Bewitched Pocket Watch by youmin

Though wrist watches also developed at around the same time, they were considered a women’s accessory until around the 1880’s, when they became a crucial tool for military engagements. Since then, the wrist watch has evolved and developed into a fashion accessory for both men and women that we almost take for granted. Watches quickly became a part of our culture, and have even been important items in fiction throughout their existence - from the pocket watch in “The Gift of the Magi” to Penny’s computer watch on Inspector Gadget.

Penny and Her Computer Wrist Watch

With smart phones now being so common, personal timepieces are no longer the essential functional item they once were – though they continue to be worn as accessories. As beaders, we have the advantage of being able to design and make one of a kind watch straps with any materials that we desire, so they’ll never go out of style. Here are just a few projects for handmade watches that you can try:

Tile Watch Band by 2GoodClaymates
Tile Watch Band by 2 Good Claymates

Watch Me Now Bracelet Tutorial
Watch Me Now Bracelet by

Time for Fruit Salad Necklace Tutorial
Time for Fruit Salad Necklace by Beadaholique

I don’t carry a phone to help me tell the time, but I’ve also never had such a need for a watch that I seek them out for style. Plus going metal free with my beadwork means I’m not up to making my own watch. Often I’ve just carried an old digital watch in my purse for the rare occasions when I need to know the exact time. Still, once in a while something comes along that I can’t resist putting on. Right now, the watch that I wear to work is a quirkier fashion statement that sort of clashes with my jewelry, but I love it anyway.

LEGO Star Wars Stormtrooper Watch

I bought this Lego Star Wars stormtrooper watch just to get the matching minifigure inside for my son, and decided I might as well make use of it (even though I had to get a second set in order for it to fit my adult wrist). The strap is made entirely from Lego links, and I definitely love the palette. People often ask me if it actually works, which seems to imply that one could certainly wear a watch that doesn’t tell the time, so long as it looks awesome.

Do you like to wear a wrist watch? How does it fit into your style?

Many thanks to for inspiring this post. Check them out on Twitter to see more watch inspirations and stories.

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Work in Progress: Cobalt Rope

This week I’m having a great time working on a new fringe necklace with some cool striped elements. I had been craving a design with black and white stripes and a single chromatic color, but the design I wanted to do is a lot different than what I ended up with. At first I was thinking of seed bead strands with single-bead black and white stripes, but as I started to develop the idea, I ended up with big color-blocked patches instead. I still want to find a way to make the little stripes happen, but I’m really enjoying the current project.

Cobalt Fringe Necklace in Progress

I’m almost ready to add the fringe, which will also have some big black and white stripes, and probably some yellow white-hearts. Meanwhile, my son and I have started on our first medallion of the year, featuring a teal and copper Czech coin. When I did my bead clean up, I moved all of my coin beads from my overflowing “Assorted Glass” tray to the mostly-empty “Cubes, Hexes and Triangles” tray. This prompted him to choose emerald green Toho triangles to go with the coin, and so far it’s looking gorgeous.

Blue Cobra Necklace

The blue fringe necklace from a few weeks back turned our really great. I ended up using the red white-hearts after all, and they definitely work well with the turquoise strands. I had enough of the 8/o blend to add a few of each to every strand with a nice pattern. I did end up with about 5 gunmetal beads leftover, which I’ll probably add to a bead soup at some point.

What are you making right now?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Culled Bead Soup Experiment

As I get ready to start taking inventory for this spring’s tax returns, I’m doing a lot of sorting and reorganizing. While I was cleaning my work space and putting away a lot of stray bead packages, I discovered that I had several baggies and tubes of culled beads built up from the past few years.

I always drop misshapen beads into a designated tea-light cup on my bead tray, and when it gets full I’ve been in the habit if pouring most of the beads into the nearest empty package. I always leave a few behind to act as stop beads, and then forget about the rest. The result is a sprinkling of these little mixes all over the place.

Culled Seed Bead Mixture

During my cleanup, I decided to consolidate all of the culled beads into a single large bag. It occurred to me that I probably have other tubes and baggies stashed somewhere else from ‘the early years’. I thought it would be interesting to catalogue this batch, and then check back later this year to see how the quantity and colors have changed.

Right now the mixture is mostly black 11/o seed beads – partly because I used it so much, but also because after switching to Czech seed beads, I got a lot picker. I’ve tried to reduce the waste a little bit by setting up a second cup for culled beads. In it I’m saving all of the beads that are just really tiny, but not weirdly shaped. They’ll come in handy for fringes some day.

Culled Bead Soup 2014

When it’s time to take a look at the mix again, I’m hoping to use it in a new purge necklace, while also using up some UFOs and unwanted beads.

Do you save your culled beads? Have you come up with a special use for them?

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Victorian Filigree Inspirations

Another giveaway draw has come to a close! Congratulations to Greta, who will be able to learn some amazing wirework techniques from the Filigree Jewelry with a Twist series of lessons by Melody MacDuffee. Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and to Melody and everyone at Craftsy for the amazing jewelry class!

Filigree Jewelry with a Twist Class

For this giveaway, I asked how you would use the floral filigree techniques in your jewelry designs. Greta’s favorite inspiration is Victorian style filigree, which would definitely be fun to recreate with Melody’s fun wirework florals. I can see it embellishing cameos and smooth cabs, or decorating a bracelet in pretty pastels. From cosmetic tools to momento mori, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in Victorian antiques. Here are just a few examples of the lovely shapes of the era!

What’s your favorite Victorian trend?

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Inspired Beaders: Ta Meu Bem

Blue Glass Necklace by Ta Meu Bem

Today’s guest beader is Mika of Ta Meu Bem, who creates stunning beadwork jewelry designs - including some very exciting netted broad collars. She has a flair for using bold colors and one of a kind patterns that stand out from the crowd.

Inspirational Beading: When did you first get started with jewelry design?

Mika: I began designing jewelry when I was 8 years old. My mom bought me a bag of seed beads and a loom. I took to it very quickly, and soon the sounds of beads getting sucked up by the vacuum cleaner became commonplace in my home. I couldn't put it down. It would be years before I began doing stringing. I beaded on and off until about 15 years old when I found a Michael’s by my house with an excellent seed beads section. It was like no one else bought beads there except me, so I had a field day.

Inspirational Beading: Do you remember your first piece? Where is it today?

Mika: My first piece was a loom woven bracelet. I remember it had triangles and was in a primary colors scheme. I have no idea what happened to it, seems so long ago now. I do however still have some earrings and bracelets I made about 15 years ago. These earrings are made from tiny matte Czech beads. I made a matching bracelet that’s disappeared, but the earrings remain. Back then my best friend Erin was the only person besides my mother who knew I beaded. She was, and still is a big supporter, and also a robber. “Let me borrow this you can make a new one” are words from her I’ll never forget.

Inspirational Beading: What kinds of beads and materials do you like to use the most?

Mika: I love and use only glass and gemstone beads, and I LOVE seed beads. I've recently become obsessed with vintage seed beads which I use a lot – French, Czech, African. They just don’t make some colors like they used to. If I had to delve into it, I love Czech seed beads the most. They’re the authority and continue to innovate. I actually enjoy using non-uniform seed beads as well. I've had several people chide me about it, but I think the misshapen beads add character to my pieces. I love to use this vintage silk thread that gives my necklaces this amazing lightness and drape. I’ll be sad when my stash runs out because I found it at an unbeatable price. Honorable mention to Toho because they make some of my favorite colors these days.

Gothic Choker by Ta Meu Bem

Inspirational Beading: Where do you look for your favorite inspiration?

Mika: The past! I am a vintage fiend. Traditional stitches - African, European, Colombian have been my biggest inspirations. The colors, the layers, the fact that a lot of them never use printed patterns leaves me in awe. Another inspiration for me is the ancient Egyptians. They loved netting (I do too), and the more pictures I find from museums and books continues to drive my work. Also, everything from the Embera tribe. They’re native Colombians and their use of color and the breadth of their pattern making will blow your mind. I’m also part of a great and supportive community on Instagram where I’m most socially active. The ideas that my clients on Instagram, especially regarding color have been my favorite projects. I can't forget that Inspirational Beading, Poé gyöngyei and NemVal are the first beading blogs I found, and definitely helped me discover what I like to do.

DJ Stilleto Wearing a Ta Meu Bem Necklace

Inspirational Beading: What’s the most interesting or unique thing about your design process?

Mika: Color. Everything starts with color to me. I tried to write/draw patterns but I never follow them. I start with a color and work from there. I enjoy monochromatic color schemes the most, and the pieces always evolve as I go, even when I use a pattern. For the most part, although I invest in patterns and books, I rarely use them. I want to get all of this creativity that’s been laying latent in me out before I begin following more designs.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color to work with?

Mika: Favorite color? GREEN, green and more green. It’s easily accessible in a plethora of hues, both seed beads and gemstones. I really like Purple too, but it’s not easily accessible in regards to seed beads.

I Love the Rainforest Necklace by Ta Meu Bem

Inspirational Beading: What are some of your other favorite materials?

Mika: Vintage stampings, fringe material and Druzy are a big part of my work. I don’t want to spread myself too thin because there’s already too few hours in the day, but I really like chainmaille and I’ll be taking my first wire-wrapping class, and first class ever, at the end of the month.

Inspirational Beading: What is the most exciting design in your shop right now? What makes it special?

Mika: Actually I’m really bad at updating my Storenvy and Etsy websites. Most of my pieces are sold through Instagram or in person at art walks and bazaars. The most exciting thing I have is coming soon! Also a large percentage of my projects are custom work, so they never make it to my websites. What makes my work special is that people always tell me it feels good to wear my jewelry, that they can feel it. You can always find me on Instagram, that’s where the magic is. It's my favorite website, and there are beaders from all walks of life there- Native, Ukrainian, Japanese, and more. We’re all there under one roof supporting each other in a way I never imagined. The community there is a big part of why I bead, they are a reflection of the passion I feel, and I’m so thankful for them.

Vintage Seed Bead Necklace by Ta Meu Bem

Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?

Mika: Every person who thinks for a moment “I could never do that”. We are a sisterhood and brotherhood of beaders, it’s important never to forget that. I began doing hand woven pieces 9 months ago when I saw a girl wearing a beaded collar for the first time. I saw it and thought “I have to do that, I can’t do that. Of course I can do that!” I was lucky enough (in a way) to be unemployed at the time, so I was able to spend 5 hours or more online researching every day, and another 10-16 hours beading a day. Yes it was that serious, I literally would bead for hours on end. I wasn’t good, and I lacked direction so I worked slowly and made mistakes, many a mistake. This went on for months. I would not be swayed from my journey, and slowly but surely things began to change. I got better with the encouragement of others and my continued dedication to research. Anyone who wants to begin beading, feel free to contact me on any of my social media accounts, I’m here for us.

Inspirational Beading: Tell us a little more about you.

Mika: I’m Jamaican American and live in Southern California. I’ve been beading for 20+ years now. Ta Meu Bem (tah may-O bane) is my company that I began two years ago while living in Brazil. It is a Brazilian expression that people use when they are giving into someone, or when someone is looking particularly fierce fashion wise. My Brazilian friends are the ones who pushed me to begin selling my jewelry after goading me with comments like “did you get that from the fashion district?”, when I angrily would respond “I DID NOT” they would always say “Ta meu bem” as if to soothe me.

Native Fire and Twilight Sky Necklace by Ta Meu Bem

You can see more exciting jewelry designs by Mika by following Ta Meu Bem on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading and Ta Meu Bem
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