Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bead Spotlight: Multisided Dice

Multicolored Multisided Dice

Anyone who is familiar with tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons is no stranger to the multisided die. From the versatile d20 to the pointy tetrahedron d4, each one has it’s own special purpose. Like beads, these unique dice come in an amazing array of colors and finishes. And, like beads, they can be used to make fantastic jewelry.

If you do a search on any handmade site for geekery, chances are you’ll discover some of these little treasures. There are lots of different ways to use them in beadwork. The dice can be drilled for stringing, or glued into settings. They can be wire wrapped, or caged within beaded beads. Some shapes are even suitable for beadwork bezels.

The charm of tiny numbered shapes is irresistible. For some great examples of dice jewelry, check out the d20 charms by Paw and Claw Designs. The best thing about using dice in beadwork is that you don’t have to buy new. They’re always turning up at garage sales and thrift stores, and make great ‘found objects’.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poster Sketch: The Power of Sunshine

I was recently honored with my second Sunshine Blog Award, from Teresa of T.Rusk4u. I think that the award is very well named, since sending out nominations is a great way to brighten someone’s day. There is nothing like a burst of sunshine to inspire new energy and creativity.

The Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world. The rules for accepting the award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.

2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.

3. Link to the nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

This time around, I am nominating some of my favorite, newer bloggers, who are working hard to create memorable articles and journals for everyone to enjoy. My newbie Sunshine picks are:

Sunshine Blog Award

Little Bear’s Mom
act natural * feel good
Joanniel Creations
Tres Belle Knits
Craft Dinner!
Gothic Soul Retreat
KSK Designs
Lovelies From Mihana

And a few of my favorite veteran bloggers:

Cutie Patootie Beads
Enchanted Beads
bstudio designs
The Art of Zen Crochet

To celebrate the Sunshine Award, this week’s Poster Sketch is a collection of bright and sunny designs. Many of these pieces are inspired by different solar deities such as Apollo. Others feature distinctly sun inspired shapes and colors.

Etsy Picks: Beauty of the Sun



Row 1:

Sun Man Brooch by Marynickydesigns
Apollo Earrings from XquisitebyLadyM
Garuda Earrings by Kezzmit
Distant Sun Lampwork Focal by EithneGlass

Row 2:

Inti Raymi Necklace by 7oh1jewelry
Surya Chandra Beaded Necklace by moondogtreasures
Antiqued Sun Shine Goddess Cabochon by sculptedwindows
Sterling Silver Sun Moon Necklace by abeadonawire

Row 3:

Grandfather Sun Ceremonial Necklace from theluckyfish
Colors of the Sun Lampwork Focal by WhitneyLassini
Swirly Sun Necklace by EquosDesigns
The Beaded Suns Dreamcatcher Necklace by Mariquez

Row 4:

Sunshine Ceramic Pin and Pendant by firedupladies
Topaz Sunflower Pendant by StickLizardDesigns
Red Sun Goddess Amulet by mysticorb
Rising Sun Medallion Necklace by TheJewelryChateau

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Etsy.com


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Basilisk Bracelet

Basilisk by kd matheson
Basilisk
Image Credit: kdm3000.

One of the most forgotten creatures of mythology is the fearsome and deadly basilisk. Known as the king of seprents, this creature has made appearances in many legends of ancient cultures, and has even been mentioned in the Bible. Although it's killing gaze and terribly potent venom were feared by many over the centuries, it rarely appears in modern fantasies - not nearly as often as dragons or unicorns.

The basilisk did make a brief return to the spotlight in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in which a giant snake terrorized Hogwarts School. In earlier legends, the basilisk had characteristics of both a snake and a rooster. It was the counterpart of the terrible cockatrice - a gruesome halfbreed with features of a cockerel and lizard.

The Inspiration:

The basilisk that I know best is the fantasy interpretation - a deadly blue-black snake that can kill with a single stare. Lately, my interest in strange and obscure creatures has been renewed, partly because my son has been so interested in the pictures of monsters and beasts in our family library. I wanted to create a piece of jewelry to represent the mysterious and scaly basilisk, with it's hard skin and dark colors. Although it is one of the least pleasant monsters of mythology, I like a challenge of making something terrible look beautiful.

Dark Serpent Bead Palette

The Beads:

To mimic the shiny hardness of a magical snake's scales, I started with a mixture of dark metallic seed beads in 11/0 and 6/0. To these I added 8/0 seed beads in metallic hematite and matte gunmetal. The combination of colors and finishes created exactly the effect that I was looking for. Each one could represent a different side of an endless, slithering monster.

The Basilisk Bangle - The Sage's Cupboard

The Beadwork:

To achieve the look of many tiny scales, I used my bead selections to create a hollow right angle weave bangle. First, I created a long strip from the 11/o seed beads, with a single row of black 8/0's at the edge. When it was long enough, I stitched the ends together to form a loop, and added a few rows of the grayish matte gunmetal to either side of the ring. Once these were added, I pulled the edges together, and stitched them shut using the colored metallic 6/0 seed beads.

The larger beads along the middle of the bangle create a ripple effect. For this piece, I like the way it looks - there's no need for perfection when you're recreating a fearsome myth - and the changes in texture look more like a real serpent. If I were to make another bangle with this method, I would stick to two sizes of beads to make the beadwork smoother. I wasn't sure how much the beadwork would shrink once the edges were cinched together, so I cautiously made the first strip of beads quite long. I discovered that there is very little change once the bangle is assembled, so it is larger than most bracelets. I have declared this piece to be my first guy-friendly accessory.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inspiration Tip: A Deck of Many Things

Poker by jystyn
Poker
By jystyn


Artists and writers are often known to keep a notebook of ideas and scribbles for future reference. Some of us even have pen and paper handy for those middle of the night inspirations that we don’t want to slip away. Although a notebook is great for keeping track of future projects, a deck of ideas can be a great way to help keep beader’s block away.

Whenever I think of an idea for a complete project, I write it on a square of paper. I include colors and styles, and even a name for the piece if one comes to mind. Then, if I’m stuck for something to make, I shuffle all of the ’cards’ I have and pick one at random. To make the paper squares, I cut pages from an old desk top calendar into fourths, so I can be green and inspired at the same time.



The inspiration deck is a great way to save ideas, and to maintain a steady supply of projects to-do. It’s also a way to prevent a really good idea from being forgotten or lost in the margins. Any card in the deck of ideas could pop up!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Poster Sketch: Angels, Demons and Deities

No matter how long or how fiercely a civilization worships their deities, once that culture has been forgotten, the gods and goddesses enter the realm of mythology. When Jupiter and the rest of the Roman pantheon was replaced by Christianity, it was the start of a great many changes to come. Although some of the traditions that would follow were often influenced by local legend, the far reaching influence of the Roman Empire would eventually bring an end to the pagan way of life.

While the age of technology has changed many things, art continues to be largely influenced by faith, new and old. This week’s Poster Sketch is dedicated to some of the more magical and legendary themes of earlier times, as well as the pagan themes that still thrive beneath the surface.

Etsy Picks: Angels, Demons and Deity Jewelry



Row 1:

Brass Wing Earrings from EspressionsByCheree
Pink Bead Embroidered Goddess Pendant by LaDeeDah2
Angel Brooch by janetkemp88
He Loved Me Brooch from StoriesByStarlight

Row 2:

Voodoo Devil Doll Pendant from ByAngelCake
Angel’s Heart Patina Brass Wing Necklace by AnechkasJewelry
Angel Wings Organza Earrings by jewelera
Devil Girl Earrings by artallnight

Row 3:

Spear Maiden Beaded Goddess Pendant by caraway
Darling Fairy / Angel Earrings by TheEarringBoutique
Angel Charm Necklace by SparklePeach
Blue Moon Brooch by AutumnSkyAdornments

Row 4:

Recycle Bicycle Earrings by butternutsquash
Dark Faerie Necklace by Marynikydesigns
Day of the Dead Ceramic Heart Necklace by gaea
Steampunk Angel Wing Necklace by SteampunkVintage

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Etsy.com


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quetzalcoatl Necklace


Yao Chi Portrait by thegryph

Like many ancient cultures, in Mesoamerican myth, deities often took the form of great, magical beasts. Each god or goddess was represented by a creature that was known for specific traits. Kind gods took on the form of gentle animals, and angry gods took on the form of fierce ones. One of the most interesting and beautiful of these was the Quetzalcoatl.

Worshipped by many groups, including the Mayans and the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl was generally represented by a feathered serpent. Over time, he gained humanoid features, and became a reptilian man with colorful plumes. Quetzalcoatl was considered at different times a god of air and agriculture.

The Inspiration:

The Quetzalcoatl I know best is the fantasy version - much like a dragon with beautiful multicolored wings. Perhaps because of rainy winter weather, I have been craving rainbows. Rather than make something really upbeat and whimsical, I wanted to use a rainbow palette for something with a little more edge. The first thing that came to mind was a Quetzalcoatl serpent.

Rainbow Reptile Bead Palette

The Beads:

I started with a few green beads for a base, choosing emerald green hex cuts and a transparent green seed bead mixture. I also grabbed some yellow lined black 11/0’s, which have an amazing reptilian quality to them. To this I added transparent 11/0 seed beads in yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and aqua.

Quetzalcoatl Necklace - The Sage's Cupboard


The Beadwork:

I wanted to make something that would look like wings, with the feathers on the underside spread wide. Using the green beads, I made a base of St. Petersburg chain, then added scalloped loops to the top. For the serpent body, I started with the transparent green mixture, and slowly increased the size of the loops. Eventually I added the colored beads in groups of four, and increased the loops with each new color. Green finished off in the middle again, creating a continuous loop of color.

Although the brightly colored stripes are clearly rainbow inspired, I think I succeeded in making something that wasn’t at all juvenile in mood. It reminds me a little of souvenirs from South and Central America, which is almost what I was going for!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Inspired Beader: Jewels Harper

Garden Party Amulet Bag by Le Beadoir

Throughout history, many different cultures have valued the magical properties of everyday objects, which can be contained and harnessed with the help of amulet bags. Made from a tiny pouch on a long cord, amulet bags are worn over the heart, and contain assorted talismans that are significant to the wearer. They can be used to carry herbs, medicines or tobacco, or crystals and minerals that have healing powers. Other types of magic can also be found in mementos and gifts from loved ones, locks of hair, or even animal bones.

Today, many people enjoy wearing amulet bags, sometimes for their beauty alone. Many artisans create them from cloth or leather, while others weave them from tiny seed beads. A common style is the tubular peyote bag, which can be created with beautiful graphic patterns. Julie, also known as Jewels of Le Beadoir, uses knitting techniques to create her stunning seed bead pouch jewelry. The pretty, scalloped texture of the bead knitting gives them an elegant look not often found in traditional amulet jewelry.

Under a Lock and Key Amulet Bag - Le Beadoir

Inspirational Beading: When did you first discover beadwork?

Jewels: I was first introduced to beading by my grandmother. To this day, I am convinced that this introduction was her method to keep my 8-year old self from getting underfoot. I still remember the old wire loom and the tiny seed-bead filled ‘Sucrets’ tin she plopped in front of me on the kitchen table. I stuck to simple loom-woven patterns of bracelets, chokers and anklets for quite a few years before discovering other off-loom bead weaving stitches, the first being Square Stitch; more than likely because the finished result looked the same as my loomed the pieces, so I could use the same patterns I had already graphed.

Inspirational Beading: How did you come across your amulet bag design?

Jewels: A dear friend of mine, Kirsten, had been making some for so long. She got the pattern from an old ‘Housewives’ magazine from the late 1800’s. She more or less taught me how to make them by letting me watch her work on her own. She kept saying “If you can knit, you can make them”, but since I never was too good at following knit patterns, I simply improvised and put my own spin on the design. My mood pretty much dictates the shape of the bag itself, from scalloped to straight edges, and figuring out how to embellish them is also quite a lot of fun.

Turquoise Amulet Bag by Le Beadoir

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite source for inspiration?

Jewels: Hands down Mother Nature has the upper hand where color palettes are concerned, so I gather a lot of my inspiration from Her. She also has a knack with textures, which I’ve often tried to replicate in my pieces. My interest in passing trends is mostly fleeting, but I having been influenced by them on occasion. Sometimes it’s nice to know what’s “In”, like necklace lengths, cuff widths, or even which metals are de rigueur.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have an all time favorite bead color?

Jewels: I can’t say I do. But I do have a particular fondness for matte finishes, and iridescent too. Matte iridescent finish in any color would certainly please me.

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

Jewels: Well, if I were setting out to inspire, I suppose it would be to inspire people to own and wear my pieces. My main goal whenever I make something is its “weareability”. I want my work to give that “I simply MUST have it” feeling. Nothing touches me more than seeing someone else love my work as much as I loved making it.

Black Amulet Bag by Le Beadoir



Orange Amulet Bag by Le Beadoir

Jewels has strong artistic roots, and received a lot of creative influence from a family of painters, dancers, musicians and seamstresses. One family member even worked as a milliner, who once made a hat for the Prime Minister’s wife. She also learned about the value of recycling and using resources as much as possible. She is now passing on these standards to her daughter - also an aspiring artist. When she’s not creating or working on her shop, Jewels enjoys belly dancing.

In addition to Le Beadoir, Jewels also has a knit and fiber accessories shop called L’Atelier JLB. You can learn more about Jewels and her work on her blog Le Beadoir & L’Atelier JLB. To stay up to date on her shop news, follow Le Beadoir on Facebook.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Le Beadoir


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Spiral Rope Chain

Pastel Spiral Rope with Peanut Beads

There is something very captivating about a coiling, whirling spiral shape. Perhaps because it is so often a part of nature - right down to our DNA - we are drawn to spirals in our furniture, hairstyles, and jewelry. One of the easiest ways to incorporate spirals into beadwork is with the easy and versatile spiral rope stitch.

I often recommend this technique for new beaders. It’s not a difficult stitch to master, and once the basic concept is understood, the possibilities are endless. It can be done with seed beads of any size. It can be increased, decreased and embellished with ease.

A basic spiral rope is made up of two sections - the core, and the outer spiral rows which wrap around the core. Many how-to’s for spiral rope use an equal number of beads for each. Although the results are pretty, there is usually a fair amount of thread peeking out between the core and the spirals. To make a really polished looking rope, I like to make the outer rows one bead longer than the core.

How to Make a Basic Spiral Rope:

Spiral Rope Tutorial


To make a rope with hidden thread, select two colors of seed beads in the same size. One color will be used for the core, and one for the outside of the spiral. Thread a needle with a comfortable length of beading thread, and pick up 5 core beads, and 5 outer beads.

Slide the beads down until there is a six inch tail. Holding the beads in place on the thread, stitch up through the core beads again, and gently pull the thread snug until the beads form two side-by-side stacks. Hold the beadwork so that the spiral beads are to the left.

Spiral Rope Tutorial

Pick up 1 core bead, and 5 spiral beads. Stitch up through the top 4 core beads from the previous step. Gently pull the thread snug, and nudge the new beads to the left so they are snug against the first spiral row.

Stitch up through the new core bead and pull the thread tight. Repeat these steps, adding 1 core bead and 5 spiral beads. Stitch up through 4 core beads and so on. Remember to stitch the new core bead into place at the end of each new addition.

Spiral Rope Tutorial

As a variation, you can use larger beads in the core. Determine the right amount of beads for each section by stacking the outer beads you want to use on a head pin until you have the desired length. Stack core beads on a second head pin until the length matches, then remove one bead.

Basic spiral rope is wonderful for lariats or to dress up an art glass focal. You can also create different textures by increasing the number of beads in the outer rows, or adding different types and sizes of beads.

Peppermint Pixie Spiral Rope Bracelet

To make my “Peppermint Pixie” bracelet, I started with 5 pink beads in the spiral, then increased gradually to 13 beads per row, and back down to five to finish the rope. The accent beads replace seed beads that are equal to their length.

For instance, the cat’s eye ovals are about 6 seed beads wide, so I would omit 6 seed beads each time I added an oval to a row. The Czech glass leaves take up about 3 seed beads, but I only omitted 2 for each leaf, because their weight and size adds a little more length to the row. Try out different combinations of beads with spiral rope chain for different textures!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

I would like to thank Artbeads.com for providing the Cat’s Eye beads used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including Artbeads.com products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poster Sketch: Beads, Potions and Trinkets

Any beader will tell you that a vial of beads is like a magic potion - open it, and wondrous things will occur. From the moment we spill those beads out onto our work surface, our imaginations soar. When we finally complete our creation, the magic continues to dazzle.

Beads themselves can be used to make all manner of coffers for treasures and trinkets. This week’s Poster Sketch is dedicated to marvelous bead containers - from beaded bowls to potion necklaces. These beautiful vessels are just as beautiful and magical as the items they carry.

Etsy Picks: Bead Vessels



Row 1:

Live Moss Terrarium Pendant by shesthatgirl
Glass Stash Bottle Focal Pendant by InfiniteCosmosGirl
Dichroic Glass Vessel Pendant by ZenArtGlass
Specimen Vial Necklace by sheathandpulp

Row 2:

Serenity Vessel by NEDbeads
Captured Monarch Butterfly Wing Necklace by heartworksbylori
Transitions Beaded Vessel by SalamanderHouse
Upcycled Confetti Bear Needle Case by thefrogbag

Row 3:

Red, Brown and Blue Knick Knack Bowl by homebycamille
Romantic Keepsakes Jewelry Box by enchantedbeads
Purple Mix Fairy Dust Necklace by FairyPrincessShoppe
Island Rhythm Beaded Textile Bowl by thekeepershouse

Row 4:

Energy Vampires Vessel by gothB4play
Mini Ruby Red Vessel Pendant by chickadeebeads
Power Goblet by njema
Glass Vial Necklace with Chalcedony by DreamsandJewelry

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Etsy.com


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chimera Necklace

When Zeus banished the Titans to Tartarus in the Greek myth, the giants took their revenge by sending forth their monstrous children to terrorize the realm of the new gods. Gaia gave birth to the serpent Typhon, and though he would also be defeated by Zeus, he was able to wreak much havoc on the world, and sired three more terrible creatues: Cerberus, Hydra and Chimera.

These three-headed beasts are well known in Greek legends, and are still favorite monsters in many fantasy stories. The least well known is the Chimera, though it is arguably the most interesting of Typhon‘s children. With the heads of a dragon, a lion, and a goat, this monster is often depicted as female. In some versions of the legend, the Chimera was the mother of the Sphinx.

In modern art and stories, the anatomy of the Chimera has taken on many different forms. A Chimeric Creature is a blending of three monsters and animals, sometimes with multiple heads, and often bearing the wings and tail of a dragon.

The Inspiration:

Before I took up bead weaving, I collected vintage acrylic and lucite beads, and used them to create tapestries of bead strands to decorate my home. After many moves and encounters with kids, some of them are a bit disheveled. One that has survived completely intact is made entirely with red and black beads. It’s one of my favorites.

Like any decoration that hangs around for a long time, I had started to take my bead tapestries for granted. The red and black strands caught my attention one day, and I wanted to refresh my interest by making a piece of jewelry with the same elements. When I thought of the red and black together, I thought it would be fun to create a tribute to the mythical Chimera, using the traditional three headed version as inspiration.

Chimera Bead Palette

The Beads:

I started with three shades of 11/0 seed beads - light amber for the lion, Siam ruby for the dragon, and opaque black for the goat. For accents, I combined two mixtures of Fire Designs Furnace Glass beads - Queen of Hearts and Strawberry Shortcake. I selected my favorites in red, black and brown from this new mixture. I had a hard time choosing, and took a long while to create a balance between the single colored beads, and those with striped accents. I also added mixed strands of Czech fire polish beads in amber, jet and garnet, and a homemade mixture of hex cuts and Toho™ triangles in my Chimeric color palette.

Chimera Necklace Pendant Detail

The Beadwork:

I have always been a huge admirer of Margie Deeb’s Rainforest Cascade necklace, with it’s luscious strands of beads. I think most bead lovers can relate to the intense craving that thick strands of beads can induce. Although I love to look at them, I’m usually reluctant to use bare seed bead strands in my designs. My seed beads call out to be woven! So I sketched out a design that would have the same cascading feel that I liked, but used the tiny beads in a more structured way.

Chimera Beadwork Necklace - The Sage's Cupboard

To create a pendant, I used black hex cuts to make a tapered base, then added 17 strands of wide fringe. Each of the 17 strands ends with a cane glass bead, and has long fronds of seed beads ending with hex cuts or fire polish beads. To add some depth to the fringe, I mixed my original three seed bead colors with color-lined seed beads in dark amber brown, mauve and jet black. The lion colored fringe is at the center, so that the outer colors match up with the tubular peyote rope. I love the way the wide fringe has elements of both beadweaving and multi-strand, and the furnace glass adds just the right amount of texture. I almost don’t want to let this piece go!

I would like to thank Artbeads.com for providing the Fire Designs beads used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including Artbeads.com products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Friday, February 5, 2010

Poster Sketch: Unforgettable Unicorns

Of all the mythical and magical beasts in popular lore, the unicorn may be the most loved, second only to dragons. Like horses, unicorns are a favorite among girls, probably because the only thing better than a pretty horse is a magical one.

There are many different incarnations of the unicorn in modern media. The most common is a white mare with a golden horn. Often they are depicted with goat-like beards, and feathered hooves similar to Clydesdales. These beautiful and gentle beasts are a great departure from the first unicorn legends. The creatures that are described by the explorers of ancient times were huge, dangerous beasts with unpleasant features. Like most mythical animals, the unicorn’s traits can usually be traced back to actual species that were mistakenly identified as supernatural. The unicorn that we know today was likely born from different tales of the rhinoceros, oryx and narwhale.

Although we know that early sightings of unicorns are mere exaggerations, even adults don’t mind imaging a world where horned white horses watch over the innocent and live peaceful, secret lives. Today’s Poster Sketch offers a glimpse of these lovely beings, through the eyes of Etsy artisans.

Etsy Picks: Unique Unicorn Jewelry



Row 1:

Unicorn Ceramic Necklace by Surly-Ramics
White and Teal Unicorn Necklace by artallnight
The Last Unicorn Ring by Aprilbella
Silver Unicorns and Golden Dragons Pendant by WaterHawksMetalwork

Row 2:

I Will Save You Unicorn Necklace by Pamela Henderson
Unicorn Horn Magic Wand by GimmCat
Mystic Charmer Unicorn Statement Necklace by magandajewelry
Rainbow Glitter Unicorn Buttons by airportlovestory

Row 3:

Enchanted Unicorn Pendant by superfumi
UniCorn Vintage Porcelain Cuff by RetroAtomic
Steampunk Unicorn Robot Pendant by buildersstudio
The Last Unicorn Ring by goodfriday

Row 4:

Wood Unicorn Pendant by MuddyFeet
Unicorns in a Pink Night Sky Resin Necklace by MySugarSkull
Pink and Purple Unicorn Pendant by lusterstudio
Pink Jellyfish Unicorn Horn Earrings by CMandMJewelry

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Etsy.com


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bracelet for a Mermaid

The legendary sea creatures known as merfolk have been a part of many cultures for centuries. The half human, half fish beings are known for their beauty and mischievous antics. In fact, before being softened by popular media, mermaids in particular were considered somewhat villainous. They were thought to be dangerous, killing sailors and swimmers either by accident or for spite.

Whether mermaids and mermen are vicious or not, they are often considered to be protectors of the sea, defending other creatures from the dangers of fishermen and the like. In many stories and legends, these rangers of the ocean live in beautiful underwater cities, far from the eyes and influences of humans.

Ochre Sea Star, North Nanaimo Beach - Martin Smart Wildlife Photography

The Inspiration:

When I decided to rethink my entry for the Etsy BeadWeavers Ocean Challenge, I thought of what the theme really meant to me on a personal level. What came to mind were the plump, colorful starfish that dwell all around the Nanaimo Waterfront. The resilient little things seem to flourish, even though the environment is less than ideal. On any given day, one can see pink, orange, and purple starfish ranging in size from tiny coins to enormous dinner plates.

With the amount of oil, garbage and other detritus that ends up in this little stretch of seashore, it’s amazing that anything can live there at all. It was with this thought in mind that I started designing a bracelet for the EBW Challenge. I wanted to create an ocean scene that was fit for all aquatic dwellers, including something as fantastic as a mermaid.

Ocean Bead Palette

The Beads:

I started with the starfish, using orange and purple 6mm cat eye rounds, and matching 15/0 seed beads. For additional accents, I also grabbed some green cat eyes, white CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Pearls, and Czech glass scallop shells in blue and yellow. For the beadwork, I selected an assortment of blue 11/0 seed beads, and added a touch of gray lined crystal to help blend them together.

The Beadwork:

After deciding on embellished herringbone for the base of the bracelet, I spent a lot of time working on a pattern for the accent beads. I had considered placing them along the beadwork at random, but I wanted to make sure that each bead was evenly spaced and well represented. Using graph paper, I sketched out a pattern of diagonal rows for the assorted sea beads.

The Mermaid Path Bracelet - The Sage's Cupboard

Once I had started stitching, it occurred to me that the larger shell beads might cause the beadwork to appear crooked if they weren’t all together in the same row. I had to modify my pattern, but what happened was even better than my original design. The layout of the accent beads moves symmetrically in all directions, including on the diagonal.

The waves created by the bridges between herringbone rows really brings the ocean theme to life. I looks so much like tide swept sand that it’s almost possible to hear the waves themselves. Incredibly, if I hadn’t been so dissatisfied with my original challenge piece, this bracelet might never have been made. Sometimes failure is a great thing.

Voting for the Etsy BeadWeavers Ocean challenge opens on February 9th. Stop by to see all of the amazing team creations and vote for your favorite!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Spotlight: A Bead in Time

A Bead in Time - Lisa Crone


Beader’s block is a predicament that can effect all beaders at one time or another. One day, you’re breezing through projects, and the next you’re completely stumped for inspiration. Sometimes this occurs when we’re not sure what colors to use, or because we’re tired of using the same old techniques. Many beaders flip through back issues of magazines, searching for that creative spark. In her book, A Bead in Time, Lisa Crone reminds us that inspiration can be hidden in the things that we see every day.

In her warm and friendly written voice, Lisa guides designers through a creative journey from photographs, to the daily commute, and on through the unexplored aisles of the craft store. Each chapter begins with an overview of combining inspiration themes with techniques and materials. The 35 fun projects are divided into four categories: Metro Mixes, inspired by architecture and interior design; Outdoor Ideas, inspired by nature and all it’s beauty; Life’s Pleasures, with pieces that resemble comfortable locales and delicious treats; and Funky Finds, a look at how unique objects and materials can make for stunning jewelry designs.

A Bead in Time is a must read for anyone who enjoys designing jewelry. In addition to a wealth of advice and tips for designing memorable pieces, each project encourages creativity and experimentation. Even expert beaders will be delighted by the jewelry projects, which include stringing and wirework techniques, with a bit of light bead weaving as well. It’s a great introduction for beginners, as well as a valuable resource for intermediate beaders.

Each of the 35 tutorials includes step-by-step color photographs, and a tip for finding your own inspiration within the same theme. These tidbits are also great reminders of the beauty that is all around us, from our favorite foods to familiar neighborhood settings. With Lisa’s encouragements, readers will discover a new wealth of motivation for creating.

A Bead in Time - Lisa Crone

My favorite project from A Bead in Time is “Summer Salad”, which incorporates a thrift store find into a delightful bangle. This design proves that with the thousands of bead styles available, it is possible to recreate almost any object in the universe and make it wearable.

I was also tickled by “Ribbon and Chain” which inspired me to keep an eye out for interesting jewelry materials. The very next time an object strikes me as beautiful, I will really examine it’s potential as a beading component.

“Box of Chocolates” is also an eye-popping design. Imagine using bicone crystals to recreate the familiar crinkled paper in a tray of bon-bons! The result is an instantly recognizable bracelet that is fun and wearable.

If you find yourself bumping into beader’s block, A Bead in Time is an essential resource. It’s not just a collection of projects and techniques, but a guide to creative design that will help you to keep your creative to-do list full. For daily inspiration, stop by Lisa Crone’s blog, A Bead a Day, with new projects, beading ideas, and fabulous materials to spark your imagination.

I would like to thank North Light Books and Lisa Crone for allowing me to preview A Bead in Time. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for featuring products in this blog. I have shared my honest opinions and enthusiasm about this book.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


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