Monday, May 31, 2010

Harvest Moon Pendant

Harvest Moon by forf
Harvest Moon
Photo Credit: forf.

Every month, the Etsy BeadWeavers team challenges it’s members to create a piece of beadwork inspired by a specific theme. For the month of June, Isabella challenged the team to use their favorite phenomenon as a muse. Using the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano in Iceland as a model, Isabella suggests that we are all affected and connected by the major happenings around us. With this idea in mind, many EBW Team members have been creating their phenomenal entries.

The Inspiration:

I cycled through a few different ideas for my “Phenomenon” entry. At first I wanted to do a necklace mimicking Angel Falls. I have always adored waterfalls large and small, and this amazing spectacle of nature is definitely a beautiful phenomenon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to design a piece that I liked using the falls as inspiration.

Next, I thought of straying from the natural phenomenon, and creating something to represent the pyramids at Giza. Ancient Egypt has often been a favorite muse of mine, and the pyramids are definitely a phenomenon, regardless of when they were built. But again, I couldn’t think of a design that I really liked, and most of my ideas involved patterns, which I dread.

Finally, inspiration struck. I thought of another favorite phenomenon - the harvest moon. Whenever I step outside to see that giant golden orb, I wish that I weren’t living in a city full of light pollution that obscures so much of the night’s beauty. As soon as I thought of the moon, I knew exactly what to do.

Harvest Moon Bead Palette

The Beads:

I went through my entire stash of seed beads - even the shaped ones - and pulled anything and everything that could be considered moon-colored. I ended up with quite a nice collection of white, yellow, amber, gold and ivory. To give the impression of nighttime - and make sure the moon was not mistaken for a sun - I also grabbed some dark teal and matte black hexes for accent.

The Beadwork:

To create a big, bold, beautiful harvest moon, I used one of my favorite techniques - circular brick stitch. I started with a 10mm CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski pearl in gold, then added rounds of seed beads in alternating colors and sizes. I ended up omitting the pure white beads - I felt that they looked too stark against the other colors. I had to stop myself from making the pendant absolutely huge - I wanted it to be as large as possible without the risk of it folding over itself like a doily. To make a rope for the pendant, I used twisted tubular herringbone and the dark hex-cuts, finishing it with a black button clasp.

Harvest Moon Pendant by The Sage's Cupboard
Harvest Moon Pendant

The color combination is so strange - at first I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The four basic colors - yellow, ivory, black and blue - seen to have difficulty working together. If any two or three of them were combined, they would look great. But together, they almost repel each other. I think that it’s hard to decide how to pair off the colors - my eye wants the ivory to be pure white so that the palette can be divided into “yellow and blue” with “black and white”. Still, the unusual shade of teal blue makes it easier to accept not-quite-white with black. The more I look, the more pleasing the colors become.

You can see all of the current EBW Challenge entries by searching for "EBWC" on Stop by the Etsy BeadWeavers blog between June 9th and 15th to see all of the Phenomenon creations and vote for your favorite!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blog Spotlight: KSK Designs

Every week Inspirational Beading is visited by so many wonderful bloggers and blog readers. I love reading each and every comment - even the spam! My visitors often spark some wonderful discussions on beading techniques and inspiration. I would love to return the favor each and every time, and leave comments for all of my visitors; but the to-do list always seems to get longer instead of shorter, and before I know it, another day is at an end.

When I visit a blog, I like to really read and absorb what the author has shared. Although there isn’t always time for reading and commenting, there’s always time for one more blog post! So, I’m going to share some of my favorite blogs each month, to say thank you to all of my fellow bloggers. The first blog I would like to spotlight is KSK Designs, by Kim.

Writing a journal-style blog is a tough job. If Angelina Jolie or Michelle Obama were to log in to Blogger or Wordpress and start writing about assorted things that they do every day, people would eat it up. Not so for the rest of us. When we go to the grocery store, it’s usually not worth writing about.

Kim, on the other hand, is a pretty fascinating person. On her blog she writes about a variety of topics from her day-to-day, including the techniques and inspirations behind her handmade jewelry. She shares her home and studio with a menagerie of interesting pets. She also raises exotic plants, supports important charities, loves nature, and is a real shutterbug.

KSK Designs Blog 2010

What I love about this blog is that the posts are casual and meaningful all at the same time. Each one includes ideas, information, or just something to make you smile. I’m always amazed by how much I enjoy reading Kim’s posts. When I’m following a jewelry blog, it's not so that I can read about vet visits. The KSK Designs blog is so much more than just a handmade blog though; the author invites you into her world, and shares the things that she is passionate about, whether they be good or bad.

If you’re interested in animals, jewelry design and nature photography, I know you’ll love KSK Designs as well! You can also see some of Kim’s inspirations in her Etsy shop, and on Facebook.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and KSK Designs

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Poster Sketch: The Sky is Falling

Comets, shooting stars, and mysterious objects falling to Earth from outer space. These phenomena have been intriguing and inspiring humanity since the dawn of time. The idea that space rocks contain magical, mythical elements has been the theme behind many fantasy and sci-fi stories. Lovers wishing on a shooting star is a classic romantic hook.

This week's Poster Sketch/Treasury East is dedicated to jewelry inspired by these themes. Whether you're an academic or a romantic, there's no denying the allure of space rocks! To see the entire collection, and learn more about the artists behind these creations, visit The Sky is Falling.

Etsy Picks: Comet and Meteor Jewelry

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ice Planet Necklace

Round Beads in Assorted Sizes

The vast variety of beads never ceases to amaze me. They come in so many different materials, colors, shapes and sizes. A bead is basically just an object with a hole, and size isn’t a factor. From tiny vintage 24/o seeds, to giant felted globes - if you can string it, it’s a bead.

The same kind of easy definition does not apply to other round objects that capture our imaginations. In 2006, scientists came together and decided that in order to be a planet, an object in the sky can’t just be big and round. The new, precise definition of a true planet is an object that orbits the sun, is large enough to have become round due to the force of its own gravity, and big enough to collect smaller objects along it's orbit. Because Pluto is not large enough to ‘dominate’ the other bodies in it’s path around the sun, it was bumped from the short list of true planets, and is now one of dozens of dwarf planets in our solar system.

The Inspiration:

Pluto and Charon from Hydra by Dallas1200am

Pluto / Charon From Hydra
Image Credit: Dallas1200am.

I wanted to do a piece in a sort of tribute to Pluto - the icy un-planet. It would be a great project to complete as the weather warms up - a talisman against the coming summer heat. As I considered different ways to depict a distant ice orb with beads, I decided to simply use the ice theme and go from there. This is not just due to the fact that it's tough to find a picture of what the surface of Pluto really looks like. Sometimes we just have to use our imaginations!

Icy Blue Bead Palette

The Beads:

I started with some wonderfully icy Czech fire polish rounds. These are 4mm in shimmering light aqua AB. I paired them with white-lined aqua 11/o seed beads, and silver lined aqua 15/o’s. Although each shade is slightly different, together they are very icy indeed.

The Beadwork:

Since I had so many wonderful fire polish beads to work with, I couldn’t resist using a little pearl netting. I made four tubes of different sizes, then used right angle weave and a few spare fire polish to stitch them together. With a row of icicles built, I added a strand of fire polish and some sparkling silver-lined crystal 6/o seed beads.

This is one of those pieces that I wasn’t sure would work out until the very end. In fact, even when it was finished I had some doubts about the design. “Is it too weird?”, I wondered. Then I slipped the necklace on and took a peek in the mirror. When worn, it looks great! The pendant has a unique shape, and is just the right size to be interesting but not overbearing.

Blue Icicles Pendant by The Sage's Cupboard
Blue Icicles Pendant

I would like to thank Beads Direct UK for providing the Czech fire polish beads used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including Beads Direct products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Basic Right Angle Weave

Right Angle Weave Bangle - The Basilisk by The Sage's Cupboard

One of the most versatile and useful bead weaving stitches ever created is right angle weave. Developed by David Chatt, it is a single needle variation of cross-weave. Using a figure eight stitching pattern, groups of beads are gathered together to form shared rows that can be increased and embellished in every direction with ease. The unique shape of a basic right angle weave unit allows for endless possibilities in three-dimensional beadwork.

The simplest form of RAW is the four bead unit, stitched in flat rows. This technique is great for bracelets and rings, but can also be adapted to make 3-D objects, beaded beads and more.

To make a basic strip of flat right angle weave:

Basic Right Angle Weave Tutorial

On a comfortable length of thread, use a stop bead to mark a six inch tail. This is optional, but helps to keep the first few stitches steady as you work.

Pick up 4 seed beads, and slide them down the thread, just before the stop bead.

Pass back through the first 3 beads again, and pull tight to form a cluster. If you’re working with size 8/0 beads or larger, you may want to weave through the entire unit once more before resuming, to lock the cluster in place.

Basic Right Angle Weave Tutorial

Pick up 3 seed beads. Stitch through the same bead that your thread is exiting from the first step, following the path of the thread. Pull tight, and pass through the first two beads just picked up again. While working the first two rows, your RAW units might not look perfectly snug - don’t worry. As new rows are added, the beadwork will straighten. Try to maintain even tension as you work.

Basic Right Angle Weave Row One

Your working thread should now be parallel with your stop bead. Two bead colors are used here two show the difference between the horizontal and vertical beads (also called ‘up’ beads).

Pick up 3 seed beads, and stitch through the same bead that your thread is exiting. Pull tight, and pass through the first two beads just picked up. Repeat this motion until the row reaches the desired width. Notice the figure eight pattern - the thread path alternates up and down with each new cluster, much like ladder stitch.

Right Angle Weave Row Two

Weave through the final RAW cluster in the row until you are exiting the top ‘up’ bead in this unit. Pick up 3 beads, and pass through the same bead that your thread is exiting. Stitch through the first bead just picked up.

Basic Right Angle Weave Tutorial

Pick up 2 seed beads, and stitch through the next ‘up’ bead from the previous row, and the bead that your thread is exiting. Pull tight, and weave through the unit to exit the next up bead from the previous row.

As you work, remember that each row you add is still made up of 4 bead units, but some of the beads will be shared with previous ones. Your thread will move in a continuous figure eight pattern.

Continue adding 2 beads at a time until you reach the end of the row. Weave around the last unit added and exit from the first ‘up’ bead to start the new row.

Basic Right Angle Weave Row Three

Although the technique is simple, it can be tricky to learn at first. The number of units in the first row will determine the direction that your thread moves for all subsequent rows. After you’ve used right angle weave a few times, it becomes second nature. When you’re first learning, it’s a good idea to look over each row before beginning a new one, to check for missed stitches and out of place beads.

Time Warp RAW Links Necklace by The Sage's Cupboard

Right angle weave is incredibly adaptable, and almost evolves on it’s own once you have it in your repertoire. I really became attached to it after creating my first RAW chain links.

To make my “Time Warp” link necklace, I made multicolored strips of flat right angle weave, and stitched the ends together to form a ring. Folding the edges together and zipping them up creates a seamless loop with a sturdy shape. This technique eventually evolved into bangle bracelets.

Where will right angle weave take you?

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poster Sketch: Heavenly Bodies

Lights in the sky, and objects in the universe, are doubly fascinating. They are distant and mysterious - full of possibilities. They are also strangely linked to everyday life here on Earth. The sun makes things grow, while the moon directs the ocean’s flow. The stars and constellations have helped shape our calendar and guide us through unexplored territory.

This week’s Poster Sketch/Treasury East is dedicated to all of those glowing, sparkling orbs that draw us in, despite how very distant they truly are. To get a closer look at these amazing designs and their creators, check out Bright Sky Lights.

Etsy Picks: Sun, Moon and Stars

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bead Color Triads: Saturn’s Rings

Saturn's Rings Color Palette

Many beaders are currently hard at work, creating their entries for the 2010 Fashion Colorworks contest hosted by My Lovely Beads. This challenge is based on the Pantone color selections, chosen as the top trends for the year. Participants are asked to create a piece of beadwork using one of the three color triads created from this year’s top shades.

I had a great time working out a design for this challenge. I started by selecting a palette that I liked, then took every single bag, box and vial out of my bead cupboard and picked out all the matching colors. With the beads laid out before me, I pushed them around, mixing and matching until I had a palette that I liked, with beads that would work well together in a design.

Although I don’t think I’ll have the time to create a piece for the contest, I had so much fun finding the beads that it has inspired a new Inspirational Beading segment. Using a single image for inspiration, I’ll explore different bead and color possibilities, and perhaps create some interesting beadwork along the way.

Radio Occultation: Unraveling Saturn's Rings - NASA

Radio Occultation: Unraveling Saturn's Rings
Image Credit: dcorking.

For the first ever Bead Color Triad, I found this amazing NASA image of Saturn. The white, green and violet stripes aren’t quite what we imagine when we think of Saturn’s rings. They don’t look dusty, but they do look wonderfully cosmic. I also think of sports socks when I look at this picture. Something about colored stripes on a white background, I suppose. It would be interesting to see what other images this color trio could inspire.

After using my colored paint swatches to create a basic palette, I searched through my bead stash for similar colors that would work together in a single piece of beadwork.

Night Tide Three Color Bead Palette

The Night Tide triad is made with green shell coins, creamy white mother of pearl chips, and indigo colored 11/o seed beads. Although the original inspiration is from outer space, the palette was easily transferred to an aquatic theme. I like the deeper, almost muted shades here. These aren’t your typical ocean colors, but they still have an unmistakable ocean quality.

Chemistry Set Three Color Bead Palette

Chemistry Set uses white cat’s eye cubes and rectangles, transparent violet seed beads, and white-lined peridot seed beads. Although each of the colors could be considered organic on it’s own, together they have a modern, man-made look. These are the colors you might find in a space station science lab. I can see them being used for a quirky, edgy bracelet or necklace.

Moon Jewels Three Color Bead Palette

Moon Jewels is my favorite by far. I started with a packet of Czech fire polish rounds in the Green Tones mixture, and removed the olive beads. Then I added fuchsia lined violet 8/o seed beads, and opaque white 11/o’s. This palette is vibrant and sweet - great for a summer project. The colors seem cool and warm all at the same time, like a splash of water on a hot summer day.

All three palettes are so interesting, I can’t decide which one to use first!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Kreativ Blogger Award

Golden Girl Handmade Egyptian Style Soap by soapstar

I was recently honored with a Kreativ Blogger Award, care of Vicky from soapstar - an amazing shop filled with natural soaps and skin care products. At act natural * feel good! she shares the inspirations behind her wonderful handmade soaps. The combinations of colors and scents are so unique, and she pairs them with a handmade postcard featuring the inspirations behind each soap. I can’t wait to try the Egyptian inspired “Golden Girl” with scents of lavender, vanilla and black myrrh. Her blog is also filled with great photos, favorite Etsy finds and friendly humor.

I always love receiving and sharing meme awards, because it’s a great opportunity to see new blogs, introduce my favorite bloggers to each other, and check in with my sometimes neglected reading list to see what’s new. With the Kreativ Blogger Award, I also get a chance to share a little about myself. Here are the rules:

The Kreativ Blogger Award

1. Post the award on my blog.
2. Thank the person who gave it to me.
3. Link to the person who gave this to me.
4. Share a list of 5 things that you probably don't know about me.
5. Choose 7 great bloggers to give the award to.
6. Share a link to their blogs.
7. Leave a comment on their blog.

So, here are five totally random facts about me:

- I absolutely adore summer. Summer sunlight seems to trap my memories more than anything else. Whenever the weather starts to warm up, I remember so many of my favorite moments.

English Bluebells by Mortira
English Bluebells photographed on a Mother's Day nature walk.

- I’m a terrible housekeeper. My house is only tidy when I have a few hours notice of company coming. I’d rather be beading or blogging than putting away toys and arranging cushions.

- I’m terrified of elaborate beadwork. I know that I could do it if I tried, but I just can’t bring myself to spare so many beads!

- Several years ago, I spent nearly 24 months creating a ‘Persistent World’ multiplayer video game on the Neverwinter Nights platform called Realms II. By the time I was done, interest in the game had started to dwindle, and I had no audience to share my creation with. One of my life’s biggest regrets is never being able to see others playing it.

Uskada Orc Village - Realms II NWN PW Server

- I love fashion. Ever since I saw an episode of Project Runway, clothing design has been a casual interest of mine. I have no sewing skills and no fashion sense, but I love seeing what others can do.

Thanks so much to Vicky for passing on the Kreative Blogger Award to Inspirational Beading. And now I’m sharing it with these great bloggers:

Additions Style - Inspiration Infused with Creativity = Limitless Possibilities
Artful Living on the Bluff with Cindy Caraway - Live Simply, Make Stuff, Play Music, Save the Planet
Cristina Amador Handcrafted Jewelry
Daisy Chain Jewellery with Jo Southampton
The Lemondrop Tree - Live in Your Imagination
My Everything Corner

These are some of my favorite blogs, for various reasons. They all provide a great reading experience with plenty of inspiration. Enjoy!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and soapstar

Monday, May 10, 2010

Inspired Beader: Rachele L. Dagley

Solar System Polymer Clay Cabochon by Rachele L. Dagley

As artists, it’s important to follow our instincts, and listen to the muse that calls to us on any given day. If we focus all of our creativity into things that we’re not passionate about, it seems as if our talent drains away. Sometimes it can be very obvious when an artist has a strong connection to a certain theme. Picasso had his phases, and beaders do, too. But variety is the spice of life, as they say, and having a good repertoire of techniques and colors is almost as important as having inspiration to use them on.

While on the hunt for unique astrology and astronomy themed beads, I came across the work of Rachele Dagley. I was so pleased with the selection of zodiac cabochons, and even more thrilled by her amazing variety of polymer clay pendants and components. I asked Rachele to share some of her inspirations, and here’s what she had to say:

Inspirational Beading: How did you first become interested in beads?

Sun Polymer Clay Pendant by Rachele L. Dagley

Rachele: I first became interested in beads about 5 years ago, when a friend took me into a bead store. Before this I never knew anything about this world of beads. It was the weirdest thing because I had never really been artistic at all, at least that I realized at the time.

I started creating jewelry, which was so easy and natural for me. I decided to challenge myself, and started bead weaving and bead embroidery. After a while of doing that, I decided that I just wasn’t finding all the beads that I would like to bead embroider with, so my evolution was to start making those too. I have only been making polymer clay beads for a few months now, and I love it!

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite source for inspiration?

Rachele: My favorite source of inspiration comes from history and nature. I am so inspired by many of the ancient civilizations. I think symbolism is very cool, and love using symbols in my work, such as astrological, zodiac, planetary, alchemy, and religion. It inspires me to do research about their origins and hopefully it inspires my customers to do the same.

Abstract Polymer Clay Cabochon by Rachele L. Dagley

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color or finish to use?

Rachele: My personal favorite color is green - it’s so lush! I must say I do love working with all colors though. I love using deep vivid colors, and putting a lighter metallic dust over it; it’s so captivating. I do go in phases though. One day I like stronger shades, and the next day I may see something that inspires the softer more subtle colors, and switch to that for a while. It’s all about how I’m feeling at the time of creation or at the time of the creation’s conception, which may or may not be at the same time.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite way to use your cabochons?

Fleur De Lis Cabochon by Rachele L. Dagley

Rachele: Besides selling them and seeing them in other artists work, I love to do bead embroidery with some of my cabochons. I just finished a cameo necklace and I’m currently working on another necklace with an embroidered heart in the center, although I have not listed them in my shop yet. I have a show coming up next month for the Michigan Women’s Historical Center, and I was planning on making a bunch of broaches for that, using my polymer clay cabochons and bead embroidery. I can use my clay beads for many different purposes though, such as in bookmarks, hair pieces, rings, bracelets, pendants, key chains, earrings, and much more.

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

Rachele: This is an easy question. I hope to inspire everyone with my work. It is such an amazing feeling knowing that other artist’s are using pieces that you created in their own masterpieces. I also hope to inspire people that have never thought of themselves as artistic. I challenge you to just try it, and see. I never thought I was artistic in any way, and now I know I’m right where I belong.

Antares Beadwork Cabochon Necklace by Rachele L. Dagley

Rachele Dagley grew up in a small town with her mother and sister. Living on a small budget, Rachele’s art experiences were limited to drawing and painting, though she didn’t develop a taste for it. She entered her first bead store at age 34, now a grown up mother of two, and discovered a whole new world! Rachele says: “My own artistic expression has made me a better person, more compassionate, more patient, and more happy. Need I say more?”

You can see more of her beautiful polymer clay creations in her Etsy shop, Rachele’s Beads. She also sells her unique and stunning beadwork jewelry at Rachele’s Originals. To catch up on her latest inspirations, visit her blog Rachele’s Originals, or follow Rachele on Twitter.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Rachele L. Dagley

Friday, May 7, 2010

Space Odyssey Necklace

Keck Telescopes Gaze into Young Star's Life Zone by David A. Hardy
Keck Telescopes Gaze into Young Star's Life Zone
Photo Credit:
NASA Goddard Photo and Video and David A. Hardy.

Nature is one of the most common sources for beadwork inspiration. It’s an obvious muse, because it is often so beautiful, and one only needs to look out the window to see it. A great challenge is finding inspiration in the unknown - in objects or ideas that can’t be seen up close. Whether we draw from the imagination, or faraway places, creating fantasy beadwork is always a wonderful journey.

The Inspiration:

I often like to take a successful design, and change up the colors to fit into a completely new theme. After making several variations of rope lariats for my Etsy customers, I started to think of different ways to use the design. The twisted herringbone base has endless possibilities, though I always seem to lean towards using bead mixtures with random patterns of color. With this concept in mind, I had a vision of a starry rope, with a dark blue base and shimmering white flecks.

Outer Space Bead Palette

The Beads:

To create the look of stars, I made a mixture of 11/0 seed beads in blue iris and opaque white rainbow AB. With a ratio of 3 blue to 1 white, the mixture looked just like a pure night sky, seen without the glare of city lights. I wanted to add an extra outer space element, so I also added 10 mm CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski pearls in antique brass, night blue and gold - the colors of dusty planets, distant moons and burning suns.

The Beadwork:

After creating the twisted herringbone rope, I had a long debate over how to include the metallic pearls. I had considered using branch fringe, with many of the branches finishing with a white ‘star’. In the end, I went with simple, single loops. Each strand holds one shimmering planetary pearl, like an orbital diagram of a far distant solar system.

Space Odyssey Lariat by The Sage's Cupboard
Space Odyssey Beadwork Lariat

This is another one of those projects that seems to go on and on forever. Luckily, all of the hard work pays off in the end. The pearls not only complete the outer space theme, but add a sophisticated touch as well. Working with the 10mm beads has given me a new appreciation for faux pearls. Their perfection has an attraction that even the prettiest natural pearls can’t match.

I would like to thank Beads Direct UK for providing the seed beads and CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including Beads Direct products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Poster Sketch: Space Invaders

One of the best things about the science fiction genre is the diversity of it’s characters. Robots and alien creatures are pure fantasy, and they can become whatever a writer, director or artist wants them to be. They can be terrifying, or hilarious. They can be hideous, or beautiful. They often have many human qualities, but they can also be soulless villains.

This week’s Poster Sketch is a tribute to the many faces of the sci-fi world. These robot and alien inspired beads and accessories are wonderful examples of the endless possibilities of imagination and creativity. To see the live collection, or see more work from these artists, visit the Space Invaders treasury. You can also search for these shops by typing the artist’s name into the Seller Search on

Etsy Picks: Space Invaders

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bead Spotlight: Galvanized Seed Beads

Assorted Galvanized Seed Beads

Galvanized, or metallic, seed beads have often been the source of much frustration for bead weavers. Most beads coated this way loose their finish very quickly - sometimes just from contact with the skin. The result is that over time, instead of having a shiny, colorful piece of beadwork, you have a piece that is mostly clear with flecks of color.

The newer Duracoat galvanized coating by Miyuki is reported to have a stronger, wear resistant finish. Although the color and shine are not quite equal to traditional galvanized seed beads, neither matter if they just wipe off anyway. Still, the old style of metallic seed beads are available from other manufacturers, and even desirable, too.

Some beaders don’t mind the loss of color - it does give the finished piece a sort of patina-like appearance. In one of the many beading books I’ve read, the chapter on materials suggested that galvanized seed beads be used only for non-wearable art beadwork. Apart from the beader’s fingers during construction, a beaded sculpture isn’t likely to be rubbed clean of it’s finish.

There are other ways to get around this problem, if you can’t resist something shiny, and have a huge stash of galvanized beads wanting to be used. A common solution is to place a small quantity of beads into a sealable bag, and spray in some Krylon lacquer or Aqua Net hairspray. After shaking the bag to distribute the sealer evenly, the beads will have a protective layer to hold the color in place.

Double Spiral Rope

But if you take issue with aerosol and products with fumes, another way to deal with the flaking finish is to hide it. You can use galvanized seed beads to create a base that will later be embellished so heavily that the coating can’t be seen - flaked or not. Size 8/o and 6/o galvanized seed beads make a good base for double spiral rope, since the tightly packed rows of spirals completely cover the core.

I have a small stash of galvanized Czech seed beads that I bought before changing my taste for metals, and I often use them for experimental beadwork, to test stitches and create prototypes. Like many others, I don’t mind the vintage look that the faded beads take on, and I have a few of these well worn experiments in my collection.

How do you use galvanized seed beads?

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Golden Sun Bib Necklace

Big Dipper in Predawn Twilight by JPStanley
Big Dipper in Predawn Twilight
Photo Credit: jpstanley.

One of the most wonderful things about beadwork is that there are no rules. If you can dream it, you can bead it, so to speak. Not only is it possible to turn tiny seed beads into amazing objects, but they blend so well with other components that nearly any object in the universe can be paired with beads. Thanks to the popularity of the Steampunk genre, found object jewelry and artwork is in high demand, and there are plenty of tutorials for creating your own. What’s really exciting about beadwork, and art in general, is that you don’t need an expert to tell you when a found object inspires you. It just does.

The Inspiration:

I was recently invited to take a tour of the jewelry making selections at Beads Direct. One of the first things that caught my eye was a variety of filigree-inspired carved river shell components. Sold in pairs, I’m sure that these pieces are meant to be used as earrings. I have yet to solve the problem of most earrings requiring metal parts, so you’d think that I would have just passed these dangles by. But I wanted them, and I was determined to find a way to use them.

Predawn Sky Bead Palette

The Beads:

I paired the coffee-colored shell dangles with a matching pendant, featuring a beautiful swirling sun design. I love that these components are full of holes, and spaces, which really call out to be filled with beads. If I had not already imagined the perfect design for them, I might have gone with a free-form design with many interwoven strands of beads.

For the beadwork, I selected my old favorites, navy-lined yellow 11/0 seed beads. These would provide an interesting sky-like background for the shell. To dot them with stars, I added silver-lined topaz seed beads, and black vitrail daggers.

Golden Dawn Bib Necklace by The Sage's Cupboard
Golden Dawn Bib Necklace

The Beadwork:

I pondered for awhile, trying to think of a way to use all three pendants in one piece, with each one laying flat and facing the front. I decided to go with a bib necklace, using round right angle weave for the base. I often worry about repeating myself to much, but when style works for me, I just go with it.

I considered a few different methods for attaching the pendants. Because they are drilled from front to back, they couldn’t be stitched into the RAW base in the usual way. I attempted a few different things, until it became apparent that the simplest solution is really the best. Each of the shell dangles and dagger beads is suspended from one of the RAW loops, on it’s own, separate loop of seed beads, with many thread passes for maximum strength.

I’m very pleased with the way the golden brown shell looks against the navy-lined yellow. I also love the way the shells tinkle against the other beads, like wind chimes. This will be a tough piece to part with!

I would like to thank Beads Direct UK for providing the river shell pendants used in this piece. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including Beads Direct products or reviews in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about the products used in this design.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

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