Friday, January 29, 2010

Eleanor of Aquitaine Necklace

Eleanor Of Aquitaine
by Mark Satchwill on deviantART

One of the most infamous queens in history, Eleanor of Aquitaine left many marks on the kingdoms that she helped to rule. At the age of fifteen, she became the Duchess of the French region of Aquitaine. The area was coveted by many, making her one of the most sought after brides in Europe. Soon after taking her title, she was married to King Louis VII. Together they led the unsuccessful Second Crusade, which turned many opinions against her. Because she had been unable to provide a male heir, she and Louis had their marriage annulled.

After only a few weeks as a divorcee, Eleanor married Henry Duke of the Normans, who would soon become the King of England. They had several children together, including Richard the Lionheart. Though the marriage was tumultuous, Eleanor and Henry remained a royal couple until his death in 1189. After Richard ascended the throne, he placed the care of England in his mother’s hands while crusading in the Holy Land. Eleanor of Aquitaine would bury all but two of her children, living to the then incredible age of 82.

Herringbone Birthstone Rings

The Inspiration:

Recently I created a pair of birthstone rings for my husband and me. Though we have always talked about getting tattooed wedding rings instead of gold bands, I wanted something for each of us to wear, and beads seemed like a great alternative to the traditional. I matched each of our birthstones - garnet and pearl - with contrasting seed beads, and used herringbone weave to make simple bands for the glass ‘stones’.

Something about the silver and garnet ring, and the way the herringbone rows curve around the stone, made me think of a jeweled Coptic cross. I was instantly inspired to create a beaded cross using a variation of the same technique. Once I had the idea sketched out, I had an image of an elegant necklace - something a king might bring back from the crusades for his mother.

Black and Silver Seed Beads

The Beads:

I used silver lined crystal seed beads and a 6mm faceted round garnet crystal to make the cross pendant. I had already decided to use netting for the necklace, and I considered using a white palette to give it a lacy effect. Eventually I decided that I wanted something to strongly contrast the cross, and went with an all black palette instead. I chose shiny opaque black 11/o and 6/o seed beads, hematite 8/o’s, and black bugles.

The Mourning Queen Necklace

The Beadwork:

Although I had Eleanor of Aquitaine in mind when I designed the collar, the cross and black lace has a very Victorian appeal. I can picture it on a beautiful queen who has plunged herself into a deep black fugue. To incorporate the pendant into the beadwork, I finished the top row with a black 6/o seed bead, and picked it up at the centre of the necklace like any other row. The button clasp also features a CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski garnet, embellished with circular brick stitch and picots.

I was fairly pleased with the way the cross came out, but if I were to make another, I think I would try another approach. By starting with circular brick stitch, and then moving to herringbone on all four sides, I think the cross would have more of the gothic elements that I had first imagined.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Poster Sketch: The Sunshine Award

Earlier this month I was treated to the Sunshine Award for inspiring bloggers, courtesy of Carolyn Good of 2 Good Claymates. It’s always exciting to receive an award from another blogger, and not only because of the compliment behind it. Following the trail of links left by each award is a great way to find new and interesting blogs to read and enjoy.

The rules for accepting the Sunshine Award are:
- Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
- Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

I also love blog awards because it gives me a chance to have a good look at my reading list, visit my favorite blogs, and trim those that seem to be forgotten. These are some of the blogs that really stand out in the crowd:

The Sunshine Blog Award

A Little Precious
Jan Roger’s Blog for Mixed Media Art
Additions Style
Krafty Max Originals
Angelque Creations
Artful Living on the Bluff
Triz’s Beading Mania
Christine’s Beadworks
Foxan’s Beading Blog
Jesse Kate Designs

In honor of the Sunshine Award, this week’s Poster Sketch features 16 items from some of my favorite Etsy bloggers. This collection includes a few goodies that handmade sellers of all kinds would love.

Etsy Picks: Great Etsy Bloggers

Row 1:

Purple Pansy Buttons - by 2GoodClayMates
Zaggle Doll Beaded Rope Necklace - by daxdesigns
Art Deco Burgundy Candle Holder - by arosebyname
Green Arrowhead Pendant Necklace - by ambrosianbeads

Row 2:

Man in the Moon Pendant or Pin - by beadbabe
Lilly Pads Dichroic Glass Cabochon - by beadsforever
Wood Gift Tag Set - from cabin + cub
Orchid Brooch - by SFBeads

Row 3:

Blue Button Necklace - by beadsandbobs
Flamenco Flowers Choker - by Kerrie Slade
Gold Dip Star Dish - by Amy Esther
That Old Black Magic Necklace - by HauteIceBeadwork

Row 4:

Polka Dot Party Choker and Earrings - by Margot Potter
Copper Rose Necklace - by Kate Tracton
Spirit Doll - by The Bead Doodler
Life Collection Droplet Earrings - by The Beading Gem

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Classic Daisy Chain

There’s something wonderful and feminine about a delicate chain of tiny flowers. Whenever I see a white and yellow daisy chain necklace, I think of the poet Sappho, singing with friends and weaving flowers together in the warm Mediterranean sunshine. A strand of beaded daisies can brighten up any outfit with it’s springtime charm, and it never needs watering!

The basic daisy chain stitch is probably the simplest bead weaving technique ever created, and it is often taught to children in art class and at summer camp. Perhaps it is because of this that it is often over looked in the realm of serious beading. Although mastering the technique may be child’s play, once you know how to do it, you can incorporate it into even the most elaborate projects. It’s great for fringe and embellishment as well as making chains.

To make a classic daisy chain, start by adding a stop bead to a comfortable length of beading thread. Pick up one bead, slide it down until there is about a 6 inch tail, and stitch back up through the bead to secure it.

Next, pick up six white seed beads. Slide these down to the stop bead, then pass the needle up through the first bead added, moving towards the other five beads. Hold this first bead in place close to the stop bead as you gently pull the working thread snug. The beads should now form a tiny ring.

Pick up one yellow seed bead. Pass the needle up through the fourth white bead picked up in the previous step. To double check your thread path, count the white beads to make sure that there are two on either side of the first bead and the one you are stitching through.

Gently pull the thread snug, and nudge the yellow bead into place at the centre of the ring of white beads. Tug the working thread to make sure that the daisy is secure.

You can now repeat these steps and add a second daisy against the first, continuing on to make a tightly woven chain of flowers. To help distinguish each flower from the next, try using two or more sets of colors and alternate them with each new daisy.

Another variation is to add spacer beads between each flower like stems. Simply pick up one or more beads in a contrasting color before adding a new daisy. Make sure that the new flower is snug against the stem beads as you stitch to keep the tension even. You can also add accent beads or leaf fringe between daisies for lots of pretty texture.

Although the white and yellow flower is instantly recognized as a daisy, there are lots of other natural color combinations that you can use. Try using yellow and brown for Brown Eyed Susans, purple and yellow for violets, or pink and yellow for wild roses. The round shape of the daisy chain can also be used to make fruits or berries when all seven beads are the same color.

Daisy chain is a great technique to use when you need a quick project. You can use up leftover beads from other projects for an instant gratification necklace or bracelet. If you don’t shy away from the ordinary, you never know what you might come up with!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inspired Beader: Margaux Lange

Barbie Profile Smile Brooch - Margaux Lange

On March 9, 1959 a young woman called Barbie was born. Made of plastic and perkiness, the first adult doll for girls was soon to be one of the most popular toys of all time. Over the years Barbie has gone through a great many transformations, from her looks, to her career and even her social circle. Sometimes Barbie would go with the flow and embrace new ideas, and sometimes it was her actions that would help to influence the world’s thinking.

Like any major phenomenon that spans the decades, Barbie has a staying power that can last far beyond childhood. Although the target market for the doll is young girls, men and women of all ages spend time collecting all of her various incarnations, accessories and sidekicks. Barbie is a major player in Western culture, and can be found many different art forms - some in tribute, and others not so friendly. There was the controversial Food Chain Barbie, by artist Tom Forsythe, and the unexpected Distorted Barbie. The famous portrait of Barbie by Andy Warhol is currently on display at the real-life Malibu Dream House.

Even jewelry artists can’t help being drawn to this icon of fun and fashion. In her Plastic Body Series, Margaux Lange captures the essence of the infamous Barbie Doll. Like many art forms, each piece can be interpreted according to your own ideas and feelings. Love her or hate her, Barbie makes an awesome pendant!

Barbie Yes Necklace - Margaux Lange

Inspirational Beading: When did you first discover jewelry design?

Margaux Lange: My first introduction to metalsmithing was in high school in Lake George, NY - a public school very fortunate to offer jewelry classes to its’ students. However I didn’t know I wanted to become a professional jeweler until college (BFA: The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD 2001.) I was a General Fine Arts major and bounced around in various mediums until I decided to concentrate on metals my junior year. For me jewelry was a way of getting Art off of the wall and on to the body so it could be more intimately shared, experienced and literally felt.

Barbie Hand Hinge Bracelet - Margaux Lange

Inspirational Beading: How did you decide to use Barbie for a muse?

Margaux: I used to be obsessed with Barbie dolls as a kid. I would spend hours crafting precious details for their miniature worlds. Playing with Barbie dolls helped to develop my dexterity from a young age and strengthened my attention to detail; skills imperative to the craft of jewelry making.

Barbie made her debut in my artwork in high school and then again in various incarnations throughout college (drawings, sculptures, etc) I became interested in incorporating found objects into my jewelry work and because I had done other artworks with Barbie in the past, it felt natural to try her out in the jewelry realm. It was an unusual idea with a strong personal connection for me, so it felt right. The Plastic Body Series continued to grow from there.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite source for inspiration?

Margaux: I know it sounds cliché, but everything inspires me! I am most often inspired by pattern & repetition, colors, textures, pop culture, feminism, nature, art, music, human behavior, facial expressions, humor, etc. Of course I am also continually inspired by other artists as well.

Inspirational Beading: If you could master any new material, what would it be?

Margaux: In addition to broadening my current skills, there's a ton of things I would still love to learn how to work with. Here's the short list: fine gold-smithing, woodworking, large scale welding, resins/plastics, glass cutting… the list goes on and on.

Barbie Smiley Necklace on Torque - Margaux Lange

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

Margaux: My hope is that people will recognize the humor in my work. There are various levels one can read into any given piece in my Plastic Body Series and that's part of the fun. Good art is meant to engage, but who ever said good art can’t also be humorous or irreverent? I hope to inspire individuals to consider thought-provoking wearable art jewelry and perhaps even inspire them to be bold and brazen enough to wear such conversational accessories.

Margaux Lange - Jewelry Artist

Margaux Lange’s Plastic Body Series art jewelry collection utilizes salvaged Barbie doll parts in combination with sterling silver and pigmented resins. The series is a result of Lange’s desire to re-purpose mass produced materials into handmade, wearable art meant to examine and celebrate her own, as well as pop culture’s, relationship with the icon known simply as: Barbie.

Margaux has been creating work in this series and exhibiting extensively for nearly 10 years. Her jewelry has been published in numerous books and has garnered international press coverage in the world’s top Art, fashion and design magazines. She is represented by Art Jewelry galleries and boutiques across the US and abroad. The Plastic Body Series is sought after by Art Jewelry collectors, Barbie nostalgics, and bold individuals alike.

You can see even more of her unique designs in her Etsy shop, and on her website, Margaux Lange Unique Handcrafted Jewelry. To catch up on her latest creations and inspirations, you can also follow Margaux Lange Jewelry on Facebook and on Twitter.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Margaux Lange

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Poster Sketch: Team Oh Canada

Canada is an interesting place. It’s an enormous country, in terms of land mass, but the habitable terrain is limited. Compared to countries of similar size, our population is tiny. When Canadians travel abroad, people say the most curious things to us. When we visit the United States, we dread the inevitable “Do you know Bob Smith from Toronto?”. When we visit Europe, people are shocked that we’ve never been to cities on the other side of our own country.

Although we are few, we aren’t exactly as connected as people may think we are. And that’s why it’s so great to be able to interact with other Canadians over the internet. Recently, a new Etsy Team was formed that is open to Canadian sellers of all kinds - giving us all a chance to meet each other, offer support, and share our experiences.

The Oh Canada Team is still in it’s developing stages, but there are already a great deal of unique and interesting sellers in the group. This week’s poster sketch features just a handful of the amazing bead and jewelry designs from team members.

You can see even more great designs by adding the tag “OhCanadaTeam” to your searches on

Etsy Picks: The Oh Canada Team

Row 1:

Iridescent Rainbow Ring - by gilstrapdesigns
Blue Sky at Night Necklace - by emmsgems
Spring Leaves Variscite Earrings - by bellabijoujewelery
Small Blue Polka Dot Feather Earrings - by MountainManCreations

Row 2:

Sweet Whimsy Necklace - by 72studios
Silver Heart and Garnet Chip Necklace - by flutteringdesigns
The Inside of My Heart Pendant - by Emburr
My Purple Valentine Necklace - by Arly

Row 3:

Pretty Blossoms Chiyogami Pendant - by Chicki
Romantic Fuchsia Earrings - by stringmealong care of brynnalex
Fire and Ice Bracelet - by boomerville
Beaded Botany Freeform Necklace - by KaleidaEclectics

Row 4:

Abstract Fused Glass Pendant - by glasscircus
Rose Quartz Necklace - by GracieJewellery
Pink and White Silk Flower Brooch - by bstudio
Pastel Cluster Earrings - by akane

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helen of Troy Necklace

Helen of Troy - Anthony Frederick Sandys c.1867

Like most ancient tales, the story of Helen is never told the same way twice. The most common threads in the myth are that Helen was a daughter of Zeus, married to Menelaus, and the reason for the Trojan War. Some versions of the story are romantic; seduced by Paris, she flees with him to Troy to start a new and happy life. In other, darker stories, she follows Paris to Troy under the influence of the goddess Aphrodite, and eventually returns to Sparta with Menelaus after murdering her second Trojan husband, Deiphobus.

Whether she was a villain or a heroine, Helen of Troy is still known as a great beauty - the face that launched a thousand ships. As a queen of many countries, she would likely have owned some of the most wonderful treasures to compliment her legendary good looks.

The Inspiration:

When I learned that the theme for the January Etsy BeadWeavers challenge was the ocean, the first thing that came to mind was red coral. The material has been stirring up more controversy than usual of late. CITES - the organization responsible for the care and catalogue of endangered species - is considering adding red coral to the list of taboo creatures. This would essentially put an end to the use of red coral in art and jewelry.

For my challenge entry, I wanted to create a piece in tribute to the fight to save this amazing species. Coral of all kinds are so important to ocean habitat, and protecting them is a worthy cause. As I considered how to incorporate seed bead ‘coral’ into a piece of jewelry, I had thoughts of exotic, Mediterranean necklaces. I decided that I would create something worthy of a Greek queen.

Ancient Mediterranean Bead Palette

The Beads:

To represent red coral, I chose some ordinary opaque red 11/0 seed beads. To make the palette regal and luxurious, I added 8/0 seed beads and hex cuts in various jewel tones like sapphire and emerald. To add a touch of gold, I grabbed some sandy colored light amber seed beads. Although I was making a necklace for Helen of Troy, I also wanted it to look somewhat primitive - something you could find in a seaside stall in Ancient Greece. I hoped that this mixture would help create the rich elements of royal jewels, and the rustic look of archaic craftsmanship.

Helen's Treasure Necklace

The Beadwork:

I sketched out an arrowhead shaped pattern for a bib necklace, to which I would add fringes of red coral branches. After creating the sketch, I decided to add a freeform pattern within it - a line of loops and whorls for the jewel toned beads to follow. As I stitched the necklace, the changes in bead sizes caused the beadwork to take on a new shape which had the rustic look that I had hoped for.

Once the base of the necklace was complete, I added the coral branches. Although this had been my main focus, when I stepped back to look at the finished piece, I realized that it had been better without the fringe. I don’t think that the shapes or the colors compliment each other. If I were to do it over again, I would replace the amber beads with blue, and stitch a structured base to allow the fringe to play on it’s own.

In the end, I decided not to include “Helen’s Treasure” in the EBW Challenge. And, since I’ve been wanting a bib necklace for myself, I put it straight into my jewelry box!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Inspired Beader: Louise Ingram

Woman of Willendorf Limestone Figurine, 30000-25000 B.C.

In 1908, archaeologist Josef Szombathy discovered a figurine that would come to be known as the Woman from Willendorf. The limestone carving depicts a woman with ample curves and a smooth face. The accentuation of her motherly attributes - hips, abdomen, and breasts - suggests that she is a talisman of fertility, or perhaps a symbol of a mother goddess. The actual purpose of figurines like these are unknown, but the abundance of similar carvings found throughout Europe suggests that ancient people treasured and revered a woman's power to create life. These little sculptures are commonly referred to as Venus statues.

The symbol of the Earth mother has continued to be used throughout the ages, and is even now easily recognized in modern works of art. The strong feminine qualities of the goddess are popular symbols - gracious curves and smooth features. Many of today's lampwork bead makers create their own version of the Venus, which make wonderful necklace pendants. Louise Ingram's handmade beads depict a charming version of the goddess, with unique shapes and gorgeous colors.

Phoenician Style Lampwork Beads - FireSeed

Inspirational Beading: How did you first discover bead making?

Louise Ingram: I first discovered bead making one day while I was online. I found glass beads with frogs on them, and the more I looked the more amazed I became at what I was seeing. I really felt like it was something I had to try. I fell in love with a bracelet and earring set at a craft show because it was made from lampwork beads. I asked the seller if she made the beads herself - I was desperate to learn all I could about this art form. She told me that she hadn't made the beads, but I bought it anyway. I now realize the beads were most likely made in China and not good quality, they probably weren't annealed and are showing their weaknesses with cracks in the glass.

Within a year or two of seeing my first lampwork beads, I had purchased a beginners kit and started to create my own. Since then I've upgraded to a torch that uses propane and oxygen, and also have my own kiln so that I can anneal my beads as I go.

Early Goddess Bead - Fireseed

Inspirational Beading: When did you become drawn to the goddess form?

Louise: In part I was inspired by a bead in a Cindy Jenkins book; it was a bead by Sage Holland, which had a Goddess form on it. I was intrigued by the way she had created the body by shaping a dot of glass into a triangle, and how she had placed another dot on top for the head. It was clearly a Goddess, but the thing I liked about it was it's primitive form. It wasn't a voluptuously figured Goddess, it was something that to me was much more spiritual.

My first Goddess beads were based on this design of Sage's. I'm very conscious of not wanting to just copy another artist's beads, so bit by bit my Goddess' grew into a design that I think is pretty uniquely mine. I embellish ivory glass with silver foil, which gives a wonderful organic look to the base of the bead, and then from there I build up my Goddess figure. She's lost her triangular shape and now has a more curved, feminine body that I will often decorate with murrini (a slice of glass cane that has an intricate pattern running through it).

Lampwork Goddess Beads - FireSeed

Many bead makers create incredible sculpted Goddess forms. I feel like I bring something a little different with my design. They can be worn on a chain or cord, and hang by the hole that runs through the top of the bead. This has become my favorite bead shape, as the right face of the bead is always facing forward, it's not going to flip around while you are wearing it.

Monkee Lampwork Bead - FireSeed

Inspirational Beading: Where do you find the most inspiration?

Louise: I'd have to say that most of my inspiration comes from the past, from history. I love looking at ancient beads and jewelry, even architectural shapes. I find it very exciting to think of how people created such beauty hundreds and thousands of years ago. Of course, there's also a wacky side to my bead making - my Monkeys and inspiration for them can come from anywhere!

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

Louise: Dark Ivory glass is one of my favorite colors, it reacts in wonderful ways with many of the other colors. Sometimes it will cause another color to feather into it with a delicate tracery of lines, and other times it will react with a color and create a totally new shade where the two come together. Dark Ivory also tends to curdle when it is cooked in the flame, it is the most magical base to work with.

Egyptian Necklace - FireSeed

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

Louise: If my work inspires one person then I'd be happy. If I inspire someone to find out more about lampwork, and maybe take the plunge themselves, that would be exciting -- who knows how talented they may end up becoming.

At one of my shows a lady was looking at my Goddess beads. She was trying to find a particular color, so I pulled some more beads out of my box for her to see. There was one that had open arms with stars slipping between them. For the lady this bead really meant something - one star was beyond the reach of the Goddess. I was extremely touched when she bought it and explained that the one star was for a child that she lost, while the stars within the Goddess' grasp were her other children.

The process of making my Goddess beads is very pleasing, and there are several steps. Each one takes time, thought and a little magic to bring everything together just right. To know that one of my beads had touched someone on such a personal level was very humbling.

Lampwork Goddess Bead - FireSeed

Louise Ingram creates her one of a kind beads from her studio in Merrickville, near Ottawa, Ontario. She shares her creative space with her husband and cat. Originally from Bristol, England, Louise has always dreamed of doing something creative for a living. After making beads for three years, she is proud to say that she has earned the title of Artist. She works with soft glass and a propane-oxygen torch, making goddesses, monkeys, and a new line of creations inspired by beads in history. You can see her glass creations on her website, FireSeed. Visit her Artfire shop during the month of January for a special New Year's sale. To catch up with her latest inspirations, and learn about her January giveaway check out her FireSeed blog and Facebook page.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Louise Ingram

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poster Sketch: Handmade Artists Team

Being a crafter in the internet age is a truly remarkable thing. We have access to an endless supply of materials from all over the world. We can learn a new skill by downloading a PDF or watching a video. We can create and print patterns from our favorite images. And the best part - we can meet with other crafters to share ideas, knowledge, and support.

One of the most active teams in the Etsy community is the HAF Team. The group is made up of members of the Handmade Artists Forum - a place to meet with others who make and sell handmade products. Though they may create different things, these crafters and designers have come together to share, learn and promote handmade.

This week’s Poster Sketch is a delightful collection of bead treasures from HAF Etsy sellers. You can also see the team’s other unique creations by searching for “HAFTeam” on

Etsy Picks: HAFTeam Jewelry

Row 1:

Black Onyx Macrame Bracelet - by MelanieMiljan
Snowflake Geometry Bracelet - by Foret
Japanese Vintage Flower Earrings - by YukoDesigns
Sterling Silver Byzantine Bracelet - by lasuzcreations

Row 2:

Double Time Steampunk Earrings - by AmongTheRuins
Amazing Phantom Quartz Set - by cjgrand
Red Heart Pendant - by CutiePatootieBeads
Fire Crab Agate Convertible Necklace - by trusk4u

Row 3:

Pink Cherry Blossom Porcelain Necklace - by shendoe
Purple Spiral Sparkle Necklace - by moonlightbeadworks
Wire Wrapped Blue Heart Bracelet - by debrasdesigns
Beachcombers Necklace - by Eiriel

Row 4:

Rainbow Chainmaille Bracelet - by ToraJewelry
La Loba Wolf Woman Art Doll - by heathershaven
Yellow Rainbow Butterfly Wing Pendant - by fusedelegance
Blue Dangle Cluster Earrings - by Collettesboutique

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bead Spotlight: Cowry Shells

cowrie spiral

With all the hundreds of different types of seashells in the world, it’s interesting that only a few of them really stand out in our imaginations. It’s possible that these favorite seashells have become icons of the ocean because they are so beautiful, or because they are often found in very beautiful places. Some of these celebrity shells include the scallop, and the conch. And then there is the cowry shell.

Although they can be found in an array of sizes shapes and colors, it is the unique shape that makes the cowry so special. With it’s rounded back and flat, lipped bottom, it looks almost like a folded pastry or a mermaid’s coin purse. Many cultures throughout history believed that the cowry shell was a symbol of womanhood, and used cowry shells as charms to promote fertility.

One of the most traditional ways to use cowries in jewelry is to include them in hemp macramé jewelry with other natural beads and shells. Necklaces and bracelets made in this style have a carefree quality that makes them ideal for summer wear. They seem to say “vacation time”.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Monday, January 11, 2010

Emily Carr Necklace

Cha-atl, Field with Pole - Emily Carr 1912

Canadian icon, Emily Carr, was born to English parents in Victoria, BC. It was 1871, and British Columbia had just become a province of Canada. It was still largely isolated from the rest of the country and colonies, and unspoiled beauty was everywhere. More than 40 years later, Emily Carr would take it upon herself to paint the abandoned native villages around British Columbia, creating a visual record of the cultures that were being swept away by encroaching development.

Most of Emily Carr’s paintings depict distinct west coast images, including native artwork and artifacts, as well as breathtaking scenes of nature. These pictures are still some of the most recognized works of Canadian art, and are greatly valued as markers of our history. Emily is also considered a feminist role model, because of her strong determination to perfect her craft in a world that saw little use for a woman painter.

The Inspiration:

I recently purchased a handful of pretty ceramic focal beads from The snowy white finish and leaf design struck me as feeling very Canadian. The leaf design painted on each bead has qualities of both pine and maple, and I was instantly inspired to use them in a distinctly west coast project.

I had first thought of making a First Nations style piece, with plenty of natural color and opaque beads. As I was musing on what to create, I started thinking about the paintings of Emily Carr. I had visions of evergreen trees, rocky beaches, and totem poles.

West Coast Bead Palette

The Beads:

Before I could begin the task of capturing Emily Carr’s art in beadwork, I needed a sensational focal bead. With the help of the Etsy Alchemy system, I was able to obtain a gorgeous eagle totem face, carved in wood by Dave Buckles of The Casual Carver.

To complement this treasure, I selected some deep jade green and root beer brown seed beads. I also grabbed some top drilled shell coins in a wonderful warm gold. The shells would add an ocean element to take the overall design from “just any old trees” to a distinctly BC coast tribute. They had me thinking of the Fraser river of long ago - teeming with salmon and untouched by pollution.

West Coast Woman Beadwork Necklace

The Beadwork:

It didn’t take long to choose a technique for the base of the necklace. I wanted to make good use of the shell coins with their asymmetrical holes, and decided on Dutch spiral, which would allow the shells to dangle and dance without looking out of place. I haven’t used Dutch spiral in ages, so I was very excited to see how it would turn out. I finished the ends of the rope with basic tubular peyote stitch, and capped them with some of the ceramic leaf beads.

The totem bead is embellished with circular brick stitch, with opaque white seed beads and black hex cuts to tie all of the colors together. I added straight fringe around the edges, with looped dangles and accent beads along the bottom. The pendant is suspended from the necklace with simple seed bead loops that blend in with the existing fringe.

This is another one of those projects that turned out almost exactly as envisioned. In particular, I think that the mixtures of themes - nature and history, forest and ocean - blend together just right.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Poster Sketch: CafeMoms

Ask any beader what he or she loves about the craft, and they will most likely tell you that it is a relaxing - even Zen-like - experience. Beading and creating jewelry is a meditative art that allows us to escape into a world of pretty, shiny things. Busy moms are often the most appreciative of beading time, and most of us would rather play with beads than read a book or indulge in a bubble bath. As an added bonus, we can use our hobby to earn a few extra dollars for all the things we need for our little ones.

There are a great many Street Teams on Etsy that are dedicated to busy moms who make and sell just about anything you can imagine. This week’s Poster Sketch features some of the wonderful jewelry designs of the CafeMoms Team. You can see more of this team’s creations by searching “CafeMom Team” on

Etsy Picks: CafeMom Team Jewelry

Row 1:

Harvester’s Ritual Necklace - by stoneblisstudio
Fuchsia and Black Bracelet - by Katherinescreations
Fun and Funky Red Heart Earrings - by ALNJewelryDesigns
Juicy Orange Heart Earrings - by chica123

Row 2:

Multicolored Pearl Bracelet - by PattysPrettyThings
John Deere Tractor Bracelet - by ButterflyGem
Pin Cushion Ring - by LuminousMom
Spring Flower Ring - by MithrilDreams

Row 3:

Colorful Crocheted Spiral Necklace - by mariahscreations
Winter Lights Necklace - from TBSCreations
Aqua Blue Cupcake Earrings - by ventichai
Beautiful Chaos Earrings - by HannahsHands

Row 4:

Not Your Grandmother’s Pearls Set - by LauraStaley
Peaceful Ocean Charm Necklace - by MsRiosOriginals
Purple Polymer Heart Pin - by CarsClayArt
At the End of the Day Teal Earrings - by rockerchic

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nefertiti’s Collar

Queen Nefertiti Limestone Bust c.1348-1335 B.C.

If asked to think of an Egyptian Queen, it’s very likely that one will see an image of the long-necked beauty known as Nefertiti. The time-worn sculpture of Akhenaton’s wife is one of the most well known Egyptian artifacts, along with the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun, and the sculpture of Rahotep and Nofret.

Very little is known about Nefertiti, apart from the fact that she was married to Akhenaton, who tried unsuccessfully to introduce a new form of religion to Egypt. Some of the mystery is due, naturally, to the span of time between her life and the discovery of artifacts at Tel el-Amarna. Many details about the life of Nefertiti are unclear because so little of it was recorded at all. It is possible that she was the mother of Tutankhamun, and she was known to have had six daughters before disappearing from view completely.

The Inspiration:

The lovely sculpture of Queen Nefertiti is a personal favorite. The collar she wears is one of the quintessential forms of Ancient Egyptian jewelry, which has been copied by artisans and crafters time and again. I wanted to have a go at recreating Nefertiti’s collar with my own style, as a tribute to one of history’s greatest beauties.

Egyptian Seed Bead Palette

The Beads:

Since I would be working without gold, carnelian or lapis, I had a tough time choosing just the right seed bead colors to use. I had a look through my stash and tried to select shades that were slightly muted, to represent the faded, ancient necklace I would be imitating. I went with my favorite abalone lined crystal for blue, then chose some other lined beads to match. With white lined peridot and red lined sapphire in the mix, I chose some pretty transparent light amber 11/0s for the muted gold. For accent beads, I chose Siam red pinch bicones, transparent sapphire hex-cuts, chartreuse 8/0s, and rootbeer lined topaz seed beads in 8/0 and 6/0. To add a fun twist to the design, I also grabbed some black vitrail daggers to embellish the outer ring of the collar.

The Beadwork:

After studying the design of Nefertiti’s necklace, I decided to drop the last ring of the pattern, to keep things simple. The inner ring has a repeating pattern - blue-red-blue-green - and each segment is ringed with gold. Outside of this are two fan shaped rows, and a smaller ring between, with the colors spreading outward from the center. Since I had already decided to go with netting to recreate the necklace, I had to decide how to represent each color and it’s place in the pattern, while trying to imitate the gold between each segment.

Nefertiti Sculpture - Necklace Detail

In the end, I decided that it would be easiest to simply add a touch of gold within a colorful pattern, rather than attempt to make each individual shape in the original necklace. I kept the blue-green-blue-red pattern for the top row, alternating accent beads between the loops to tie them together. To represent the smaller, third section of the necklace, I used loops of blue beads instead of points, with dagger beads adding a little extra sparkle.

Princess Nefertiti Beadwork Collar

For a clasp, I used peyote stitch to create a little bowl of seed beads. Many Ancient Egyptian necklaces featured talismans on the back, to ward off evil from behind. Perhaps my little beaded cup clasp could be used to collect good energy instead.

After putting everything together, I found that although the seed bead colors I chose were faint and smoky in nature, the entire palette is actually very vibrant. It has a sort of exuberance to it that does not exist in the original collar - and probably didn’t even when it was new. I like to think that my necklace is a younger, spunkier version - better for a princess than a queen.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Birthday Treasuries

As we grow older, it becomes important to appreciate the little things in life. It keeps us young, and keeps us sane. To celebrate my birthday today, I ordered pizza and made a treasury. Perhaps it says something about where my focus is these days, but it was a real treat to find that the treasury clock was almost at zero today, and I was able to create a collection of my favorite things.

Although the weather has been very warm for January, it is awfully gloomy and gray. I don’t mind staying in doors in bad weather, but it does put a hold on photography when there isn’t any good sunlight. So I filled my treasury with warm, green things to remind myself that spring is just around the corner.

Dreaming of Spring Treasury

As an extra birthday treat, I was also featured in two amazing treasuries this week.

You Never Bring Me Flowers Anymore is another great collection that can take our minds off of the weeks of winter ahead. Each of these beaded flowers was created by a member of the Etsy BeadWeavers team. Team member kraftymax did an amazing job putting this garden together.

You Never Bring Me Flowers Treasury

Why Not is one of my favorite treasuries to date. At first glance, it looks like a random collection of favorites. But upon closer inspection, you can see a theme of shapes and colors. Its slinky, and blue, and beautiful! This treasury was assembled by SFBeads.

Why Not Treasury

Happy Birthday to all Capricorns out there!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Marilyn Monroe Necklace

Marilyn Monroe

In 1999, People Magazine declared Marilyn Monroe the “Sexiest Woman of the Century”. Although she appeared in 30 films, and had her own production company, her legacy is of the being the pin up girl that drove men crazy. Marilyn Monroe won several acting awards during her career, and would later be named the 4th greatest movie star of all time by Entertainment Weekly; yet decades later, it is her face and her shape the people remember most.

The stress of living life in the spotlight has often been blamed for the star’s untimely death - preserving her perfection in history. Like all stars who leave us too soon, we will never know what heights she could have reached. Marilyn Monroe once said “That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. But if I'm going to be a symbol of something, I'd rather have it sex than some other things we've got symbols of." She is known for being a sensational beauty, and has inspired countless works of art, performance, fashion, and jewelry.

The Inspiration:

While I was working on a checkerboard pendant in black and white, I became really drawn to the classic colors. With silver lined crystal seed beads thrown in, the palette has the look of pearls, velvet and diamonds. The combination is reminiscent of 1950’s fashions - the classic, chic style of icons like Marilyn Monroe. I was instantly inspired to create something that would be worthy of someone from history’s red carpet.

Black and White Beads

The Beads:

I started with a few Swarovski crystals in silver shade and white opal. These would be my diamonds. I also picked up some glass pearls, and a mystic black pear shaped pearl drop. To fill in the spaces between these beauties, I grabbed some 8/0 Tohos in Ceylon pearl and metallic hematite.

Black Pearl Necklace

The Beadwork:

I wanted a slinky necklace, and something that could easily be split into two colors so that the black and white could remain separate. I decided to go with St. Petersburg chain, which would put the crystals to good use, and provide a nice V-shaped necklace.

I used the black and white 8/0’s on either side of a double St. Petersburg chain, with the crystals sparkling in the center. I’m really pleased with the way the black pear shaped pearl stands out at the point of the chains. I think the entire piece turned out exactly as I had hoped - simple and elegant.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Friday, January 1, 2010

Poster Sketch: Etsy BeadWeavers

Happy New Year! Isn’t it interesting how the hope of a bright future seems just a little more possible at the dawn of a new year? And with a new decade also just beginning, the possibilities for change and success are even greater.

To celebrate the first day of 2010, I have put together a colorful collection of items from one of my favorite groups of beaders - the Etsy BeadWeavers Team. When I joined this amazing group of talented artists, I was looking forward to participating in challenges. I have discovered that belonging to a great Etsy Team can also bring encouragement, inspiration, and so much more.

You can see even more of these incredible beaded works on by searching for “EBW Team”.

Etsy Picks: The EBW Team

Row 1:

Angel’s Touch Bracelet - by trinitydj
Frog Prince Bracelet - by carmenesque
Elemental Summer Cuff - by arosebyname
Leafy Malachite Bracelet - from BettyStephanBeadwork

Row 2:

Fishing for Purple Netted Cuff - by njema
Cube Cluster Bracelet in Lavender - by adri33
Blue Balls Vase - by EPOriginals
Caribbean Surf Collar - by nemeton

Row 3:

Double the Pink Necklace - by teasebeads
Martian Landscape Necklace - by BeadsForever
Bit of Pink Chevron Pendant - by BeadazzledofOregon
Enchanted Bracelet - by CieloDesign

Row 4:

Hand Beaded Starfish Pendant - by pjlacasse
Strictly Orange Necklace - by Lauralia
Fire Lotus Beaded Flower - by hands2heal
My Funny Valentine Bracelet - from MadeByOlga

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

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