Monday, October 31, 2011

April’s Army Favorites

For the past few months, I’ve been having a blast creating items and donating tutorials for the fundraising efforts of the April’s Army Etsy team. Every month when the shop opens, I look forward to browsing through the amazing donations from other members, and sharing my favorites with you. The variety of items is always delightful and creative!

The April’s Army shop is on a sort of vacation for this month, and will hopefully be returning soon. So, instead of showing you my favorite designs from the shop, I wanted to share with you some of the fantastic items that I’ve been able to purchase from talented April’s Army members during previous fundraisers.

Halloween Balloon Magnets by tamarakraft

I’ve started to build quite a collection of unique Pithitude magnets from tamarakraft.
Last month a fantastic set of Halloween balloon magnets was up for grabs, and I was really exited to scoop it up!


Don't Poke Me Pin Cushion by Gloomstopper

I know my fellow beaders will appreciate my all time favorite find - a quirky and adorable pincushion from Gloomstopper.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry whenever I poke this little guy with a beading needle. What a face!


Upcycled Golden Book Journal by paperdiva

As a book lover, I was really delighted to get my hands on an upcyled vintage storybook journal from paperdiva.
Made from a Golden Book, it still has the entire story intact, with blank pages added for notes, sketches and whatnot.


Crocheted Cotton Facial Scrubbies by selkiecrochet

I’m also really fond of these handmade cotton face scrubbers by selkiecrochet.
They are amazingly gentle, but clean really well - my face has never been happier!


Do you have a favorite handmade or vintage indulgence?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Inspired Beader: RAWRmonster

NES Controller Necklace by RAWRmonster

For many beaders, our love of tiny materials began at a very young age. From some of us, it started with grandma’s button jar, a strand of love beads, or a vending machine trinket. Many beaders also got their first taste by creating 2 dimensional bead art with Perler and Hama beads.

These fun little craft beads allow kids of all ages to create interesting pixilated images by arranging an assortment of colors on a peg board and melting them with an ordinary household iron. Boards of different shapes provide the base for lots of unique creations, and coming up with new patterns and playing with piles of tiny little plastic tubes can really ignite the beading spark in new crafters.

Today, I want to show you some truly incredible Perler bead creations by RAWRmonster. The artist, Shelby, turns these simple little beads into some of our favorite characters from the world of 16 bits. Her magnets, coasters and jewelry can really bring out the kid in you!

Inspirational Beading: How did you first get into bead crafts?

Shelby: Last year, I switched my major to Mathematics and in the process made a lot of new friends. Being a typical broke college student, I had NO idea what I was going to get everyone for Christmas gifts. I had an Etsy account, and was poking around looking for ideas and potential gifts, when I first saw coasters by iamadecoy, and I fell in love! I bought my first set of Perler beads off of eBay, and got to work.

Super Mario Item Chest Magnets by RAWRmonster

I had no idea what I was doing - I never played with Perlers as a kid. I searched the internet, and found an incredlible forum of wonderful, talented people who made really awesome things out of Perler and Hama beads - Pixelgasm-forum.com. I read everything I could, and learned from some of the best.

Inspirational Beading: Do you remember your first project?

Shelby: Oh boy... yes, I remember my first project.

Like I said, I was making Christmas gifts for maybe 15-18 people, so I needed a game plan. The first thing I did was to make a sheet with 8 different 'sets' on it, featuring Space Invaders, Pacman, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Tetris. I told people to pick a set, and tell me if they wanted coasters or magnets. Each set had about 4-8 sprites on it; 'ambitious' is definitely an overstatement!

Before I could make everyone's gifts, though, I needed to make a few practice runs. I beaded two little aliens from Space Invaders in glow-in-the-dark beads with green backgrounds. I didn't have any ironing paper, but I had just bought a pack of stickers, and they come on non-stick paper, so that should work...right? No. Not by a long shot.

Very First Sprites by RAWRmonster


I felt a little discouraged, but more determined than ever to master these beads. So, I made the three magnets you see at the top of the picture (from left to right: Boo with a glow-in-the-dark outline, Blooper, and Bob-bomb). I only had maybe 4 pegboards, so I would work in batches; I'd lay down a sprite, iron it, let it cool while I laid down another sprite, iron the back of the first sprite, iron the front of the second sprite, and so forth. It was a very long month. However, I managed to get presents done for everyone at school before the semester let out for winter break, and finished presents for everyone else in the following week.

Huge Sprite Collection by RAWRmonster


I hadn't really thought of selling anything I made until one of my friends asked if they could buy some magnets from me, and it took off from there.

Inspirational Beading: Where do you like to look for new inspiration?

Rainbows Magnet and Key Chain Set by RAWRmonster

Shelby: Honestly, most of my inspiration comes from my customers. The Minecraft coasters and Creeper keychain, and the Mega Man coasters are all the result of someone asking "Hey...think you can do this?". Jewelry was never on the game plan until Jeni from grimmlynn saw my early mustache magnets and messaged me excitedly about making a rainbow necklace. I love doing custom work, and I love hearing back from people who share their fond video game memories with me.

Besides that, my inspiration comes from my own childhood. I once left my NES on for 8 months as a kid so I could beat Super Mario Bros. 3 from start to finish. I have more items from that game in my shop because it had the biggest impact on my life growing up.

I think people have had a very negative stereotypical view of video games and gamers for a long time, but it's slowly starting to change. I think it has a lot to do with the how quickly smart phones are becoming a part of our culture, since playing [games like] Brick Breaker is now a totally acceptable usage of time. People are embracing their inner geek, and it's awesome.

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

Shelby: It's difficult to say. I try to make my items as true to the game as possible, which restricts my color usage, and I try to make my background colors compliment the sprites. I love bright, funky colors though. I always enjoy making things with Lime, Turquoise, Purple, Hot Pink, and anything that glows in the dark!

Inspirational Beading: What’s your favorite thing about working with Perler beads?Perler Beads 6,000 Count Bucket-Multi Mix

Whimsicle Mustache Magnets by RAWRmonster

Shelby: I've only been working with Perler beads for about a year now, so it's been really cool to watch my technique improve with time. If you were to go back and look at some of my very first pieces, they weren't so great. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out the little things that make all the difference: finding what's the best temperature to set the iron, how long to iron for, how to keep the different colors melting at the same rate, and how to lay down the sprite as quickly as possible.

Besides that, my favorite thing is always hearing back from people. Seeing people's reactions as they look at my stuff - there is this gleeful excitement, almost like they're eight years old again and unwrapping a new game. I also secretly love the idea that there are people out there in the world, people I don't know, who have my coasters on their table, or my magnets on their refrigerator, or my necklace around their neck. It's like there are these little pieces of me floating around out there. In a metaphysical way, not in a creepy gross zombie way, of course.

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

Shelby: I don't know if I'd say my work is inspirational. I'm just a college kid trying to share her love of video games with the world. But maybe that's the inspirational part? It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what talents you think you have or don't have. Just do what you love, and love what you do, and be awesome.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and RAWRmonster
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red in the Spooky Woods

Halloween is so close that we can start counting down the hours! I am so excited for this year's dress up - the weather might even stay nice enough for some traditional trick or treating. I've always thought that the image of little Red with her pale face in a dark wood was delightfully spooky and perfect for this time of year. In anticipation of Halloween, I gathered up some dark and moody picks with lots of dark reds.

Little Red Riding Hood Collection


Do you have a favorite Halloween story?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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A Bracelet a Week: Blazing Colors

Fall Colors Cuff

Inspiration can come from a lot of different places, and sometimes it sneaks up on us suddenly and inexplicably. I can’t quite explain why, but this week’s bracelet was inspired by coloring books.

At some point, I was musing about something or other, and had a flash of a coloring page done in gradually changing shades of green, yellow, orange and beige. It was a tree line of sorts, and reminded me of the AMAV art coloring books that I used to love during summer road trips. The images started out simple, and got more complex and interesting with each page. I’ve searched high and low for them in recent years, but it seems that they are either no longer in print, or not available as single books like in the good old days.

I had a hard time shaking the image of the billowing colors, so I decided to build the palette, even though the time for fall inspirations is quickly passing by. I wouldn’t be able to completely mimic the shapes that I had imagined, but I came up with a pattern that would work well with the blend as well as the structure of herringbone weave.

Using an all transparent palette of emerald, lime, lemon, tangerine, sherbet, light topaz and dark topaz, I was able to capture the look of an autumn tree in the sun.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review: Make Wire Beads

Make Wire Beads

Although the variety of beads available to us, and the ways that we can combine them is nearly limitless, there comes a time for every beader when inspiration expands beyond ready made beads. The desire to create our own unique materials and components is a large part of the creative process, and allows us to explore possibilities that make our designs completely unique.

The materials and products available to bead makers are nearly as abundant as those used by large bead manufacturers. We can melt glass, forge metals, pour resin and sculpt clays. Though every bead maker’s materials and techniques make their creations unique, some of the most interesting and exciting beads are created with objects that we already have in our studios.

It was this desire to do what the big bead factories weren’t that inspired Lisa Van Herik on a journey to create lightweight metal beads using wire and simple tools. In Beadifferent: Make Wire Beads, Lisa has shared recipes for a wide variety of beautiful wound and coiled wire beads that can make any jewelry design stand out.

Make Wire Beads gives readers an in depth look into crafting and creating with different types of wire, and provides plenty of information and encouragement to beginners. After a thorough explanation of the materials and tools used to make wire beads, the basic techniques are described in easy to follow steps. Diagrams can help beaders follow along and get started on their own beads right away.

There are over 40 bead designs to try, each worked on the basic principles of wrapping and coiling wire to create the desired shapes and textures. By changing the types of wire and tools used, and manipulating the finished piece, a wide variety of beads can be created. Lisa provides lots of inspiration and tips for shaping, texturing and hammering wire and wire beads to create unique freeform and structural designs.

If you already enjoy working with wire and want to try something new and creative, or you want to get started with gratifying wire projects, Make Wire Beadsis an excellent guide!

Beadifferent: Make Wire Beads is an independently published book. I would like to thank Lisa Van Herik for giving me the opportunity to enjoy it! Inspirational Beading has not received compensation for this feature. I have shared my sincere thoughts about this book.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and Lisa Van Herik
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Favorite Beads: Turquoise

Vibrance Turquoise Necklace by Kasuallery Design Jewelry

Today my guest is Tanisha of Kasuallery Design Inc. who shares her passion for one of history’s most classic gemstones: turquoise. This sometimes blue and sometimes green stone has been valued and prized by many cultures, and can easily transform the beads around it into a classic or nostalgic design.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all-time favorite bead?

Tanisha: Turquoise.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite technique or method to use them?

Tanisha: I have none, I do everything.

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you’ve made with these beads, which one is your favorite?

Tanisha: Vibrance turquoise (shown at right).

Inspirational Beading: Do you have any tips for making the most of these beads?

Tanisha: The best thing to do is use that in small amount in all of the creations you make. turquoise is beautiful with everything.

Inspirational Beading:
What is your favorite bead or material to pair these with?

Tanisha: Red coral, Green Jade, Any brown beads or crystals they give the turquoise life.

Inspirational Beading: If you were stranded on the moon, and you could have only one kind of bead with you, would you choose these?

Tanisha: Yes I would. Why, because I could find new moon beads and create all day and night.

Inspirational Beading: In your opinion, what is the best source for these beads?

Tanisha: The best source for these beads is Fire Mountain Gems or Bead FX. Fire Mountain Gems, Bead Style magazine and Lima Beads have great tutorials to help any beader.

You can see lots of beautiful jewelry designs with turquoise and more at Kasuallery Design.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bead Color Trios: Swamp Water

One of my all time favorite trendy color palettes is a quartet of vibrant hues: black, orange, aqua and lime green. Ever since I saw these colors used together about ten years ago, they’ve been a source of inspiration when intriguing colors are needed. I’ve used them in everything from spiral ropes and treasuries, all together or in variation.

Swamp Water Color Palette


As a set, these colors are very unique and charming, and grab a lot of attention. Take away the aqua blue, and suddenly you have a fantastic palette for Halloween and quirky fall designs. As a trio, these colors could be made to look rather sophisticated. Add a dash of purple, and you’ve got the makings of a youthful Halloween palette. With dress up day just around the corner, I wanted to experiment with black, orange and lime green, and see what kinds of moods could be created with them. Would they be silly, cute or even spooky?

Witch's Brew Bead Color Palette


The first palette has a lot of punch, and is the one with the most whimsy. I started with pumpkin orange 8/o seed beads and transparent lemon lime 11/o’s. Although pairing up opaque and transparent beads doesn’t always work, these shades go together really well, and the lemon lime picks up enough light for both of them. For black, I added some Czech glass skulls to make a Witch’s Brew.

Storm Drain Fall Bead Color Palette


Darkening the green a little bit creates a whole new look. In Storm Drain, I paired Christmas green vitrail leaf beads with transparent tangerine 11/o seed beads. As a pair, these colors look just like a bowl of fresh oranges, or some fancy party punch. The addition of shiny jet black 8/o seed beads creates a spooky vibe that’s just right.

Frog Spawn Bead Color Palette


Frog Spawn is very similar to the first palette, but the changes in shape add new dimensions. The lustered coral 11/o seed beads aren’t quite as bold as the pumpkin orange, but they do have a kick. I paired these with lemon lime magatamas, and a sprinkling of jet black druks, which blend together nicely with their smooth rounded shapes.

What colors get you in the Halloween mood?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and COLOURLovers.com
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Treasury: Fall Colors

I had honestly hoped that this new inspiration segment might truly be a daily feature, but things don't always go as planned. The good news is that I am loving the new job! But, since things are a little hectic around here, we'll have to pretend that "daily" means a few times a week.

Today's treasury is a lovely selection of fall colors and leafy shapes by Jane Priser Arts.

Fall Colors Treasury


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Leopard Print

Leopard Print Bracelet

This week I was in the mood for some more medallions. After experimenting with brick stitch and stick pearls, I wanted to take things a step further and combine lots of medallions into a single piece. To create a theme that would go with lots of circles, I chose a palette of black and topaz, with tortoiseshell druks for the medallion base.

This bracelet was a lot of fun to make. I added a loop of seed beads to either side of each medallion while adding the picot finish, and connected them together as I stitched. The best part was being able to incorporate a button clasp seamlessly into the design - it exactly matches the smaller circles in the chain, and completes the pattern as well!

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Crayon Color Experiment

We’ve covered the inspiring qualities of crayon colors before, as well as the beauty of the primary colors that are so important to basic arts and crafts. Recently, I had an inspiring experience with crayons that I wanted to try to recreate with beads.

One of my favorite crafts to do in the fall is making window art with leaves and crayon shavings. After spending some time collecting various leaves and ferns, the little guy and I sharpened several wax crayons to collect the shavings. We used two shades each in a palette of four fall colors: green, yellow, orange and red.

Colorful Waxed Crayon Shavings


I was struck by how pretty the shavings looked all mixed together in their containers, and the way the pairs of colors looked together, and against the other hues. I wanted to try and capture this look with beads, just to satisfy my curiosity. Would it be possible to get this vibrant, cheerful look with just seed beads?

I combined pairs of similar colors - one transparent and one opaque for each set. Although the palette is interesting, and would make for some beautiful beadwork, it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as those colorful bits of crayon.

Fall Colors Seed Bead Palettes


How to Make Crayon Window Art

To make your own fall pictures you need some dried leaves, ferns and other thin, flat nature finds. Arrange them face down on a sheet of waxed paper, with the sticky side facing up. Sprinkle generously with wax crayon shavings.

Leaves and Crayons Window Art


Place a second sheet of waxed paper over your picture, then carefully press it with an iron on the lowest setting. Move the iron quickly outwards from the center until all of the crayon is melted and the waxed paper is fused together. Tape your creation to a sunny window and enjoy the colors!

Leaves and Crayons Window Crafts


Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Healing Power of Beads

Today is giveaway day! Congratulations to Carla and Sally, who were both drawn for a copy of my new beaded buttons and toggles tutorial. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

For this giveaway, I asked what aspect of beading you are most grateful for. The responses were overwhelming and often moving. Many of you agree that beading has a special power to heal, whether it’s relaxation at the end of a stressful day, or providing hope and joy during a difficult time or illness.

The conversation reminded me of all the wonderful organizations and movements that use beading and jewelry to change the world, one person at a time. Today I want to give a little tribute to some of these special people and causes. Many of them will be familiar, but they deserve recognition as often as we can give it!

Soul of Somanya Sustainable Employment Project

Soul of Somanya


The Michala Riggle Beat Autism Foundation

Beading to Bead Autism


Bead for Life Fair Trade Organization

Bead for Life


The Andean Collection Fair Trade Jewelry

The Andean Collection


Also check out:

The Global Genes Project 7000 Bracelet for Hope Campaign and Beads of Courage.

How have beads influenced your view of your community, and your planet? If you know of another great cause, organization or movement that is making a difference with beads or jewelry, leave us a link or story in the comments!

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wear It Twice: Jewel Tones

This month’s fashion inspiration is jewel tones - intense shades of ruby and emerald. The challenge is to pair up these greens and reds without looking like Christmas. By including soft shades of teal and adding dramatic black, the saturated palette looks right at home for fall.

Jewels in the Rain


The multi-strand cord necklace is very warm, not only in color but in texture as well. For both outfits, I paired it with classy trench coats and bold statement rings. The chunky black and red resin bangle adds a bit of fun.

Wicked Jewel Tones Treasury

What’s your favorite jewel tone?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Daily Treasury: Show Offs

Today's selection was inspired by the never ending task of finding ways to organize one's hobbies and life. Just when you think you've got your beads, books and jewelry stored in just the right way, something always comes along that makes you want to rework it all over again.

Show Offs Display Treasury


What's your favorite thing to reorganize?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bead Wish List: Lovely Leaves

Pressed leaf beads are an accent bead staple. They work well with both beadwork and stringing projects, can be used as accents, focals, and even in large, lush quantities. Most function as drops, with top drilled holes, and some are center drilled. In short, leaf beads are a delight to work with.

Like flowers and other natural elements, leaves also provide inspiration for other bead styles, including lampwork and polymer clay designs. This month’s wish list is full of lovely leaves for fall!


Brown and Turquoise Lampwork Leaf Headpins
by Star Girl Jewelry



Red Tiger Eye Czech Glass Maple Leaf
from Artbeads.com



Multicolor Turquoise Leaf Pendants
from Auntie's Beads



Brown Polymer Clay Leaf Beads
by Tina Holden Designs



Carved Red Horn Leaf Beads
from Fusionbeads



Ezel Orange Filigree Leaf Pendant
from Beadaholique



Peach Czech Glass Leaves
from Garden of Glass



Fire Leaves Lampwork Pendants
by Silvia Art Glass


Pink River Shell Leaf Pendants
from Beads Direct



Spearmint Ruby Czech Glass Leaf Drops
from Lima Beads


What's your favorite kind of leaf or leaf bead?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Daily Treasury: Sanguine Delights

Today's deliciously red treasury was inspired by The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde. Thanks to Wrens Nest Creations for this lovely set!

Sanguine Delights Treasury


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World Beaders: Romania

This month I’d like to give a big welcome to readers from Romania!

Romania is the ninth largest country in Europe, and is nestled between Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Once a part of the Roman and Ottoman Empires, and occupied by the Soviet Union, Romania is also thought to be the home of one of the earliest human settlements in Europe. Some of the oldest human remains known were located in Pestera cu Oase, or The Cave with Bones.

the girl who sells beads

Sighisoara

Romanian traditional Easter eggs


Romania is also home to the region of Transylvania. Long associated with vampires and the occult thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Transylvania in fact has a rich and vibrant culture. Formerly ruled by Hungary and Austria, the literal meaning of Transylvania is “The land on the far side of the forest”. It is home to one of the largest gothic churches in Europe - The Black Church.

Romania Photo Collage

1. Sighisoara, 2. #014 - A Locally Owned Store (non-chain), 3. The bust of Queen Mary of Romania in Alba Iulia, 4. Romania,
5. Traditional Romanian Dress, 6. Lenutsa (L) and Petrutsa (r) Estr flwr sales, 7. Romania, Bihar area, 8. Hand-made beads from the souvenir lane


Happy beading, Romania!

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Papyrus

Green Stripes Cuff

This week I picked up on my mission to remake old designs in new colors. I was craving something ‘easy’ - a design that I could just make and meditate to without having to map out a complex plan or count stitches. I’ve been meaning to use up the last of my bugles, so I mixed together black and ivory in a striped cuff.

I love the look of bright colors against black and white patterns. For this bracelet, I went with peridot and apple green. The bugles had me thinking of papyrus reeds, and the color combination turned out just right. It’s sort of electric and fresh, and I much prefer the subtle shade of ivory to a stark white - it seems to complement the greens very well.

This cuff, and the original blue version both turned out so nicely that I’m really looking forward to making more. I suppose I’ll be keeping an eye out for more bugles in the future!

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