Friday, November 30, 2012

World Beaders: Holland

Today I want to extend a very warm welcome to Inspirational Beading visitors from the Netherlands! As one of the few countries that I’ve had the privilege of visiting more than once (does it count if you were to young to remember?) I was very excited to see Holland on the list of this month’s top visitors. This beautiful country is home to tulips, windmills, and some very talented jewelry and fashion designers, not to mention a source of rare bohemian glass beads.



































Happy beading, Holland!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time Capsule: Found Objects

Way, way back in November of 2009, the theme on Inspirational Beading seemed to be found objects. There were only a few designs to share that month, and two out of three featured unusual, non-bead components like river rocks, napkin rings, and bamboo placemat tiles. That was the year that I tried to tie every month's post together in a neat little bundle, and it was a great challenge to come up with designs to match.

Gaia Found Object Necklace


My favorite design from the Found Object marathon is the Gaia necklace. The entire piece was an experiment, from netting a river stone in seed beads, to creating straps with right angle weave and freeform embellishment. I am still in love with the combination of colors, and the abundance of Picasso finish. When I retired this design from my shop, it went immediately to the top of my to-wear list. I've never been able to recreate the look of that necklace - my next few attempts at the technique were disastrous. I suppose it must have been one of those lucky accidents.

Bamboo Tile Necklace

Found Object Pine Cone Necklace


Looking back, I can’t recall very many designs in the past three years that featured other found objects. Apart from this year's Halloween pendant, I’ve pretty much steered clear of unusual components. Perhaps it’s only because nothing has come across my path that shouts “Bead me!”. Since I had to work so hard to "find" the right objects for this series of necklace, it's more likely that I’m just too enamored with seed beads to view everyday things in a jewelry frame of mind.

Do you ever work with found objects? What’s your favorite subject to date?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bead Color Ideas: Blue Christmas

A beader can never have too many ideas for holiday color palettes, so I’m going back to bead trios for this month’s round up of palette possibilities. But, since it’s only November, I thought we’d go a little light and do things with a twist. The challenge: to create three-color palettes with blue instead of green, which look totally festive and not fourth-of-July. It was trickier than it sounds!

I started with an easy blue, and one that reminds me of classic outdoor Christmas lights. After choosing some delicious cobalt white hearts, I naturally went for some ruby red ones in size 4/0. The boldness of the transparent glass is enhanced by the white cores, which have their own festive vibe. To give Feliz Navidad a dash of cheer, I topped things off with a hint of antique gold Swarovski Elements pearls.

Feliz Navidad Bead Palette


Sugar Plum Fairy started with some pretty aqua lined peanut seed beads. I paired these with more peanuts in pink, creating a palette like a non-traditional - though totally trendy - department store tree display. Just imagine a silvery artificial spruce with vintage style glass ornaments. All this palette needed was a dash of snow, played by opaque crystal AB seed beads.

Sugar Plum Fairy Bead Palette


For the final trio, I chose some intense blue tagua slices. These immediately had me thinking of holiday postcards from tropical locales - the kind with palm trees decked out in Christmas attire. Soft white mother of pearl chips seemed like the perfect frosting, and ruby AB druks add a hint of Christmas punch to Coconut Snow Cone.

Coconut Snow Cone Bead Palette


Do you have a favorite decoration in non-traditional colors?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ultimate Digital Beading Giveaway

There are a great many talented and passionate beaders out there who got their start by trying out an enticing project from the pages of a beading or craft magazine. With so many fantastic and inspirational publications out there, anyone can give beading a try by learning from experienced artists and editors who love to bead.

Many of us have carefully cultivated collections of our favorite beading magazines, but with so many issues to choose from, we can’t always have every project at our finger tips. At least, until now. If you have a smart phone or eReader,chances are you’re already taking advantage of digital magazines, and the convenience of instant project downloads from your favorite publishers. If not, now is your chance to give it a try!

Beading Magazines from Zinio


The world’s largest digital newsstand, Zinio, is having a sweepstakes giveaway for an iPad mini, to help connect avid readers with their favorite digital books and magazines. Everyone who enters will receive $5 to spend on a subscription of their choice, plus access to half price subscriptions. To celebrate, Zinio has also offered a handful of free magazine subscriptions to Inspirational Beading readers!

How to Enter

For your chance to win a free digital magazine subscription from Zinio, simply head over to the Zinio newsstand and check out their selection of over 5500 publications. Then, head back here to Inspirational Beading and leave a comment on this post, letting us know which magazine you would choose.

Comments must be made here on Inspirational Beading to qualify - you do not need to have an account to comment, but please make sure that you include a contact method if you do not have a Blogger account with email contact enabled.

Craft Magazines from Zinio


Nine lucky readers will be drawn at random on Saturday, December 1st. The free subscription giveaway is open to all international readers! Readers from Canada and the US can also enter the iPad Mini giveaway on Facebook (also ending December 1st). You do not need an eReader or tabletto enjoy this giveaway - your subscription can be viewed on most devices, including your home computer.

Good luck!

I would like to thank Zinio for allowing me to try one of their digital publications. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation or additional merchandise in exchange for this post.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Zinio
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Cute Cluster Rings

I’ve been learning new things and gaining plenty of insight throughout this year’s destash beading challenge. This month, I gained the knowledge that ending a challenge in the busiest two months of the year is probably not a great plan. I should have figured this out sooner, since I’ve had multiple challenges end around the month of November, but this year it really hit home. Luckily, it looks like the destash challenge is going to wrap up nicely, and the no-deadline approach to individual projects has been a big help.

For the most recent destash project, I took a little detour. Rather than try to completely use up some beads, I started a project that would make a tiny dent in several items from my stash. I wanted to return to the fun cluster ring design from March 2011, this time using some leftover beads.

Cluster Ring Beads


I started with the remaining magenta E beads, and of course some mother of pearl chips. Even if I made dozens of rings, I’d still have plenty of these left, but they are perfect for chunky embellishments. I also grabbed some 3 mm Swarovski crystal rounds that have had no home to go to during the challenge, and the remains of some rootbeer lined topaz 6/o’s that are too few for anything else.

Destash Cluster Ring Trio


I had planned to make 5 rings in all, and use up all of the crystals, but I discovered half way through ring 3 that this set just didn’t have the same appeal as the originals, which included African Christmas beads. I can’t say for sure what went wrong, but I decided to call things off and move on to a more rewarding project. I’ll be keeping these rings for myself – they’ll be fun to wear for the holidays!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bead Giveaway: Earthbutter Beads

Yesterday we got to meet a fantastic ceramic bead artist from South Africa, and see some of the beautiful creations of Earthbutter Beads. Today is your chance to win a custom set of holiday beads to try!

These cheerful red, white, and green ceramic beads are hand rolled by single moms in Wellington, South Africa, then glazed and fired in the Earthbutter studio. The set includes seven 15-20 mm ceramic rounds, perfect for a festive necklace or bracelet.

Handmade Ceramic Christmas Bead Set by Earthbutter Beads


How to Enter

For your chance to win all of the beads shown, simply visit Earthbutter Beads on Etsy and peruse the selection of handmade beads. Then head back here and leave a comment with the name of your favorite bead set!

Comments must be made here on Inspirational Beading to qualify - you do not need to have an account to comment, but please make sure that you include a contact method if you do not have a Blogger account with email contact enabled.

One lucky reader will be drawn on Tueseday, Nov. 27th. This giveaway is open to all readers internationally.

Good luck!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Earthbutter Beads
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bead Shop: Earthbutter Beads

Ceramic Beads by Earthbutter Beads

There’s nothing like handmade beads to make a jewelry design truly unique, and beads with a story are the best of all. Today my guest is Desiree Malan, the designer behind Earthbutter ceramic beads. With the help of local moms, her studio in South Africa is a source for fabulous focals and accent beads.

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

Desiree: I started making beads at the end of 2009 after having seen pictures of Egyptian paste beads in a very old pottery making book. Something clicked and I realized that I could use pottery clay to make beads and jewellery. I use terracotta clay which is dug from soil deposits in my hometown to make tiles, and my bead making journey started with this terracotta clay.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite thing about working with a team?

Desiree: I enjoy listening to the bead makers stories and I learn so much from them about life in general. Despite their circumstances (they are single moms with little support) they always see humour in life and make the best of what they have.

Inspirational Beading: Has outsourcing some of the process changed your designs?

Desiree: Yes, definitely. I get bored doing the same thing over and over again and then loose interest. The bead ladies roll the beads by hand, make holes and tidy them up before they’re fired in my pottery studio. I do the decorating of the beads which is the part I’m enjoying and good at. I have lots of ideas for special art beads with a distinctive African flair which I’ll do in the near future.

Inspirational Beading: What’s the most interesting or unique thing about the bead making process?

Desiree: For me the magic starts when a piece of clay is shaped by hand into a perfectly round bead without the use of a mold.

Inspirational Beading: How long does it usually take to make each bead?

Desiree: The bead ladies can roll a lot of beads quickly but firing and glazing is very time consuming. Once the beads are bone dry, they’re fired to remove all moisture, thereafter painted with underglaze, fired again and painted once more with transparent glaze before it goes into the kiln for the third firing. From start to finish it takes about 10 – 14 days.

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

Desiree: I absolutely LOVE turquoise but are also keen on bright orange and cherry red.

Inspirational Beading: What is the most exciting bead design in stock right now?

Desiree: Difficult to say as I’m in love with all our beads…but probably the turquoise raku beads.

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

Desiree: I hope to inspire the bead makers to make the most of life for them and their children despite their difficult circumstances. It gives them so much pleasure and hope when they hear that people from faraway places are buying the beads they’ve made here in South Africa.

You can learn more about Desiree and the bead makers behind her fabulous ceramic creations on the Earthbutter Beads blog. Handmade ceramic beads are also available on Etsy. To see the latest creations and get news about upcoming designs, follow Earthbutter Beads on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Earthbutter Beads
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Bead Wish List: Christmas Delights

They may be weeks away, but when you make things yourself, the holidays are practically around the corner all year long. If you haven’t begun thinking about Christmas and holiday inspired beading projects already, now is the time to get jolly! Here are just a few of my favorite December themed beads.



As a rule, I always go artisan made when it comes to lampwork beads,
but there’s no reason not to ogle these cute strands of Santa hats from Artbeads.com





No love for the traditional red, white, and green? No problem!
This Swarovski Elements Christmas mix from FusionBeads.com is festive but sophisticated.





These holly berry and leaf lampwork beads are almost too gorgeous to use.
Perhaps just one or two at a time? A beautiful set, created by Serena Smith.





There’s something so nostalgic about big outdoor Christmas lights.
I’m especially fond of the red, yellow, green, and blue variety.
A whole rainbow of colors is available in resin charms from Beadaholique.





I love the rustic look of this mis-matched ceramic bead set from Lima Beads,
entitled When My Heart Finds Christmas.





The combination of transparent green and opaque white in these lampwork beads from
Auntie's Beads makes them look good enough to eat.




Speaking of tasty, these lampwork peppermints by Stone Designs are so realistic,
they’d look right at home in a candy dish.


Do you have a favorite holiday theme to use in your beadwork?

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inspired Beader: Ellie’s Bijoux

Today my guest is Suzette of Ellie’s Bijoux jewelry, whose fun designs have been featured in Bead Trends, Bead Style and Stringing magazines.

Inspirational Beading: How did you first get into jewelry design?

Suzette:
I first learned how to make jewelry just 3 years ago while visiting my parents on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. My step-mother had been learning how to knot pearls, and of course I was so interested she showed me how to do it. I knotted my first necklace and since then I fell in love with everything about jewelry design/making and have begun to advance my skills even more.

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

Suzette: Yes, it was a knotted pearl necklace...it has been taken a part several times to perfect my skills.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite kind of bead or jewelry component?

Suzette: Some of my favorite materials to work with are chains, charms, crystals, enamels, semiprecious and precious gemstones, glass, metals, and pearls.

Inspirational Beading: Where do you find the most inspiration?

Suzette: Everywhere...and especially in nature

Inspirational Beading: What was the inspiration behind your favorite design?

Suzette: I make one-of-a-kind pieces so they are all my favorite.

Inspirational Beading: Is there a material or technique that you would love to work with, but haven’t tried yet?

Suzette: Over the past few years I have learned several jewelry making techniques including soldering metal, which is more of what I want to do.

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

Suzette: I want to make my jewelry line personal where I can connect my true passions (counseling & jewelry design/making). I want to create a line of jewelry that inspires women and gives them the confidence to pursue their dreams.

You can see more of Suzette's jewelry designs on her Ellie’s Bijoux blog, or on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Ellie's Bijoux
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wear It Twice: Winter Lava

Unless you happen to attend a lot of holiday parties, winter isn’t exactly the best time of year for statement jewelry. In colder climates, we spend so much of our dressed-up time in heavy coats and layered clothes, where large and bulky jewelry has no place to stand out. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t pretend!

For this month’s fashion collage, I decided to do a little fantasy dressing, by combining a big and colorful statement necklace with winter fashions in warm cream and red wine. The bright turquoise and lava bead multi-strand piece that I found was the perfect way to rebel against the cold! With some simple garments, sassy boots, and a lot of leather, the necklace looks right at home - like a ribbon on a Christmas package.

Winter Matte


Whether in natural colors or brightly painted, lava beads add a lot of fun texture to a jewelry design. Here are some fun lava bead projects to try:

Bead Embroidered Lava Necklace by Beading Arts
Knotted Ceramic and Lava Bead Necklace Project by Vicki O'Dell
Crystal and Lava Bead Necklace Tutorial from About.com Jewelry Making
Volcanic Bloom Lava Necklace Project by Artbeads.com
Jurrasic Necklace by Beadaholique

If you can’t find lava beads at your usual bead shop, you can also make your own faux lava beads from polymer clay.

Here are my favorite Polyvore collages featuring this month’s picks:

Turquoise Eyes




Hot Stuff




Black leather




Color Illusion art with fashion set



Do you have a favorite necklace style to wear in winter?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rivoli and Wine Collar

I recently returned to a favorite technique to tackle one of the remaining two rivolis in my destash tray. With only a few weeks left in this year’s challenge, I didn’t want to waste any time fiddling with experimental techniques. After all, I can only do so many ugly necklaces in a row.

I started with a crystal purple haze rivoli, and some of my leftover purple E beads. The colors go together quite well, but what to pair them with? To save time, I went to the 15/o beads first, and chose a color that would also look good with the multicolor crystal. After picking some transparent lemon lime, I had a long debate over a base color.

Wine Grape Bead Palette


Finally, I chose matte purple - a very grape-y shade that I hoped would work well with the other colors. I was surprised by how much the lime green altered the overall look of the purple. It was transformed from an almost juicy color to a more velvet burgundy. Looking back, I don’t think it would have hurt to add a few brown branches and beaded leaves. This piece has a relaxing vineyard mood.

Grape Rivoli Collar


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Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Pinspiration

I must admit that compared to some artists and bloggers, I seriously neglect Pinterest, even though I know what an amazing source of inspiration it can be. So many pictures - so little time. But when I do visit, I always find something worth collecting. Here are just a few of my favorites of late.
























Do you have a favorite Pinterest board to keep you inspired?

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