Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Success and Ring Thirty

Selections from the Ring a Day Series

Few things are more exciting or satisfying than setting a goal and then reaching it. When I came up with the idea to create one ring every day for a month, I though it would be a breeze. After the first week, I had a few moments of doubt, when I wondered if I would be able to keep up the pace. I hadn’t really made plans for 30 unique ring designs, so I worried that I might get stumped for ideas before the end.

Luckily, I had a lot of inspiration. Some designs looked a lot better on paper, but the beauty of such a small project is that you don’t waste much time or thread on mistakes.

For the final piece in the Ring a Day series, I wanted to do something really special. I wanted this ring to be perfect, with a great color combo. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide which colors to use, so I just went with all of them.

Celebration Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 30 - Celebration

I think this is my favorite ring of all, and not just because it’s the last one. After picking out and arranging 14 different bead colors to make a continuous rainbow, I thought it would be really tedious to have to switch colors so often. I was totally wrong! Changing beads every two rows seemed to make the work go so much faster, perhaps because I could see my progress as I packed up the old color and moved on to the next.

To save a little time, I picked out the 8 beads needed for the second leg of the pattern while stitching the first. Peyote rings are usually my least favorite because they take the longest to finish, and the thread gets so twisted I have to work with half lengths. Seeing 112 seed beads laid out for stitching made it seem so simple.

Thank you so much for joining me on this crazy creative journey!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Wonder of Beads and Ring Twenty-nine

The Color of Sound by photoboothguy
The Color Of Sound
Photo Credit: photoboothguy.

Seed beads have a great advantage over other colorful art materials like paint, fabric and paper. If you could find opaque seed beads, and transparent ones, in exactly the same shade of cobalt blue, they would look absolutely nothing alike. And what’s more, they would react in totally different ways to other beads and colors. The way each type of bead finish plays with light creates a totally unique color experience. It’s no wonder that a beader can never have enough - there are thousands to choose from, and each one is totally different from the last.

Today’s ring uses a zesty and zany combination of transparent cobalt and chartreuse, with a little fiber optic pink to top it off. It really pops! Replace either the green or blue with an opaque version, and the ring would look completely different. Or, try picturing it with all color-lined seed beads instead. It’s not the same at all. You could say that none of these options is better or worse than the others, but I’m awfully fond of the glow that occurs when the transparent beads pick up the sunlight.

Atlantis Star Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 29 - Atlantis Star

Transparent cobalt has always been one of my all time favorite bead colors. I have a pretty large collection of perfectly round cobalt blue Lucite beads that I may never have the courage to part with. Even when I was using plastic beads, I hardly ever used my blue ones. They glow and shimmer in a way that makes my inner magpie drool and do cartwheels. I will probably be stuck with them forever, like some kind of vanity related baggage.

I made “Atlantis Star” to match my entry for the Etsy BeadWeavers July challenge, which is still a work in progress. I have a pretty good stash of transparent cobalt Miyuki seed beads, but I don’t mind parting with them, because I can always get more.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blog Spotlight: bstudio designs

As we rush and scurry about in our busy lives, trying to reach our next destination or goal, we often forget to just do things that make us happy. Even when your job or role in life is to do something that you love, it’s easy to get caught up in things and overlook simple pleasures.

Catching up on your favorite blogs can be a great way to relax, relieve stress, or even get a few laughs. You can put the brakes on for a few minutes, sip a cup of tea, and let the world wait for you while you learn something new about your favorite topics.

Today I would like to share a very special blog from one of my favorite Etsy sellers. What I love most about bstudio designs is the easy-going nature of every post. There isn’t the usual pitch, urgency or catch that often goes with Etsy related blog posts. You will find news from the bstudio silk ribbon embroidery shop, along with many other pleasant posts about crafts, nature, green living, treasuries and even a delicious recipe or two. Each one is written with a cheerfulness that can truly brighten up your day.

bstudio designs blog

Buttercup Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 28 - Buttercup

If you’d like to see some of the amazing designs behind bstudio, you can see what’s new on Etsy and on Facebook. My personal favorites are the Ruffled Rings, made with beautiful colored silk. This unique design was the inspiration behind today’s ring. Thank you bstudio!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading
bstudio and The Sage's Cupboard

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Ring a Day - Twenty-seven

Indigo Starfish Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 27 - Indigo

I am so very pleased to announce that Rings # 17 and 22 have both found new homes through the Help the Gulf Coast Etsy shop. So far, the shop has raised $5500 for relief efforts in the Gulf. It’s a great feeling, being able to assist in even the smallest way, especially when we’re too far away to put on some overalls and rescue animals in person.

Today’s ring was supposed to be a donation, but I made a small miscalculation and ended up with a size 7 band instead of size 9. Although it’s not terribly tiny, I think an average size would be more likely to sell, and that’s what it’s all about. I can put an Oops in my own shop and wait to see if it sells. Apart from size, the ring turned out great.

I hope to have a replacement for this ring very soon, and I will continue to do whatever I can for such an important cause! If you haven’t stopped by Help the Gulf Coast in awhile, there are many wonderful new donations from talented Etsy artists. Every little bit counts!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Ring a Day - Twenty-six

Far too often, great beading ideas get pushed aside and forgotten. Even when they’re very exciting, sometimes other projects just have to be done first. And them more must-do tasks come along, and fun ideas get swept away.

Today I was able to make good on my promise to create a decent ring with a black, white and red color palette. I suppose it was easy to do because it gave me an opportunity to use some of my favorite accent beads - transparent ruby pinch bicones.

Black Forest Cherry Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 26 - Black Forest Cherry

I have a very small collection of assorted pinch beads, and I am very protective of them. They can’t just go into any old project. It has to be special, because I just adore these little beads so much. The hardest to use have been the ruby colored beads, but in a black and white ring, I knew they would stand out.

I added 5 bicones to a simple herringbone ring, like a little row of cherries. With white seed beads as a background, they do look good enough to eat.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jack of Rings

Jack of Diamonds Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 25 - Jack of Diamonds

Have you ever walked down the board game aisle of a toy store just for the nostalgia? No matter how many new games are invented, there will always be a select few that stand out. Monopoly, dominoes, playing cards…they’re a huge part of our culture and they’re here to stay.

I was in the mood to make an simple peyote stitch ring, and I needed a fun pattern. I’ve already done flowers to death, so I decided to go with diamonds. They’re easy to stitch and fit into a strip of peyote small enough for a ring.

I went through my bead stash and selected some colors that reminded me of traditional playing cards. Since I had only a tiny bit of white left, I used some pretty red-lined blue for the base color. I like the way they blend all of the other colors together.

Thinking about kings, queens and jacks brought up memories of playing Rummoli, Mousetrap and Connect Four. I thought it would be fun to take this inspiration and run with it, so I searched high and low for some fun tabletop game creations. This week’s Treasury collection features many familiar games and toys. To learn more about the artists behind these designs, visit Fun and Games.

Etsy Picks: Fun and Games

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Ring a Day - Twenty-four

Oasis Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 24 - Oasis

Is it possible to look at an image of a palm tree without feeling a little more relaxed? What is it about tropical themes that makes our shoulders loosen, and our worries fall away? Perhaps it is simply a habit, after years and years of media influence, telling us that there is nothing more liberating than lying on a beach with the blue waves at our feet.

Or maybe there really is something therapeutic about salty air, warm sun, and the steady rush of the surf. I recently read an article that stressed the importance of regular sun exposure for physical and mental health. It is the fastest and easiest way to develop our much needed supplies of Vitamin D, which strengthens our bones and immune systems. Researchers are uncertain if a lack of Vitamin D causes depression, or whether it is simply a lack of sunlight that causes both depression and Vitamin D deficiency. It’s sort of like the chicken and the egg.

One thing is for certain - palm trees are wonderful to look at. And that is why I decided to capture one in today’s ring.

I started with a pretty little wood bead with a “parched desert” pattern stain, and added two rounds of brick stitch, followed by beaded leaves in alternating sizes. The ring band is done in a sandy, golden amber, with two shades of green at the center.

Using 11/o seed beads for the focal instead of 15/o’s made it so much bigger than most of the flower shapes I’ve made so far. I think it helps to emphasize the leaves, and make them more like tree branches than flower petals.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inspired Beader: La Bella Joya

Of all the possible beaded jewelry designs there are to make, beadwork rings might just be one of the rarest. Patterns and designs for beadwoven rings don’t often turn up in magazines or books, and it’s tough to find artists who make them regularly. It’s interesting that beadwork rings aren’t more abundant, because they’re so incredibly fun to make.

Most beaders have heard comments like “I could never have enough patience to do what you do!”. And it is true that creating an elaborate beadwoven necklace or bracelet does take plenty of time, effort and stick-to-itiveness. That’s what makes a beaded ring so great - most of them can be done in a single sitting. The instant gratification of a quick project is almost more appealing than the beauty of a tiny charm to wear.

One artist who shares my enthusiasm for rings is Marcie of La Bella Joya. She usually has a handful of lovely finger jewels in her shop, made with a delightful variety of materials and techniques.

Esmeralda's Ring by La Bella Joya
Esmeralda's Ring

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

Marcie: I started doing beadwork about two years ago. It really started with a desire to make jewelry. I wanted to recreate a ring that I had purchased which had started to fall apart. It was a really simple ring, a wire base with big chunky gemstones wired to the top. The result was a really stunning bling ring. From there I started to work peyote, and after I bought Mastering BeadworkMastering Beadwork: A Comprehensive Guide to Off-loom Techniques by Carol Huber Cypher, well....the rest is history!

Inspirational Beading: Where do you look for inspiration?

Marcie: I try to recreate shapes that I see in patterns. Clothing, fabric, wallpaper, scrapbook paper...all of these work as inspiration for me. Most of the time however, I just pick up some beads that I like that look good together and try to imagine how the beads would look best if woven together. That dictates what I decide to create with the beads.

Swirly Girl Beadwork and Resin Ring by La Bella Joya
Swirly Girl Ring

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite thing about making rings?

Marcie: They are quick to make! I can make a ring in about an hour and a half and the results are always stunning.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material?

Marcie: Seed beads! Though I really do have a thing for 4mm gemstone rounds in all colors and faceted Czech glass beads. They really add interest to whatever you are creating, without adding a lot of bulk. Also, they aren't as expensive as other components.

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

Marcie: Anyone who sees it! It's such a compliment to get an Etsy convo from someone who wants a tutorial of one of my pieces. That means that I'm inspiring new beaders. It's also cool when someone purchases something completed from me because it means they want to wear what I create. I hope that each piece I make is a tiny little piece of art that can be enjoyed by whoever sees it.

Aqua Bling Tidepool Ring by La Bella Joya
Aqua Bling Tidepool Ring

Marcie is a self-taught beader, and enjoys creating her own unique bead stitches. Her work has been published in Beadwork Magazine, and she also offers tutorials in her Etsy shop, La Bella Joya. Her shop name means “The Beautiful Jewel” in Spanish - a nod to her delight in speaking Spanish, and her inspirations from the vibrant colors and textures that are part of the Hispanic culture. You can see more of her designs on Facebook, and catch up with her latest inspirations on her blog, La Bella Joya.

My favorite La Bella Joya ring style is the Tidepool design. I love the way the focal section and band form one continuous piece of beadwork. This technique inspired today’s Ring a Day design, Shell Island.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and La Bella Joya

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Helping the Gulf Coast and Ring Twenty-two

Help the Gulf Coast Donates $2000 to NWF

Last week, Help the Gulf Coast announced that they have received approval from the National Wildlife Federation to raise funds on their behalf. Just yesterday, they made their first donation, and matched the $2000 already raised for Oxfam America. Not bad for less than two weeks of fundraising!

The collective is still going strong, with over 400 amazing handmade donations still available, and counting. Every dollar raised will go towards efforts to halt and repair the damage done by the enormous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Once I had sent in Ring # 17 as my donation, I couldn’t wait to get started on another piece for the cause. After hearing the great news about NWF, I thought I would celebrate with one more starfish ring. The first ring, Baby Fish Blues, had a cheerful color palette, with not-so-cheerful inspiration. This time, I thought I would use some more somber colors, to reflect how we all feel about this disaster.

Heartbreaker Starfish Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 22 - Heartbreaker

I started with the starfish, and used a jet black druk with transparent smoky gray seed beads. I knew that I wanted to use a black and red palette, so all that was left was to choose the band color. When I mentally went over my red bead stash, I thought the best choice would be lustered cranberry. Imagine my delight when I opened the bead box and found a little packet of black-lined garnet 3-cuts tucked away in the corner. It was as if fate had kept me from using them up all this time. The garnet contrasts with the starfish perfectly!

You can learn more about the Help the Gulf Coast collective, and their fundraising efforts, by visiting the Help the Gulf Coast blog, or following them on Twitter. If you still haven’t shopped or donated your own handmade treasure to the cause, here are a few sites to get you motivated:

National Geographic - A photo gallery of the oil spill.
Louisiana Oil Spill 2010 Photos - Over 300 photographs with informative captions.
If it Was My Home - Type in any location to see an up-to-date size reference of the BP oil "spill".

If it Was My Home - Vancouver Under the BP Oil Spill

As a tribute to Help the Gulf Coast, and all of the animals that they are helping to save, I created this Etsy treasury with my favorite sea life designs from the shop.

Etsy Picks: One Creature at a Time

One Creature at a Time includes creations from these wonderful artists:

I would like to send out a huge Thank You to the wonderful sellers who keep Help the Gulf Coast going, and to everyone who has donated or purchased an item for the cause. Every dollar is a drop in the bucket!

Copyright 2010
Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard and

Monday, June 21, 2010

One Ring Circus

Kaleidoscope Clown Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 21 - Kaleidoscope Clown

At the end of this year, I plan to do a complete overhaul of my inventory and bookkeeping methods. It’s a dirty job, but it has to be done. In order to prepare, I’ve been planning to use up some older beads and clean out my stash. The real cleanup will have to wait until I’m done making rings, but I have managed to make a little time to get a head start.

The Inspiration:

I have had these multicolored seed bead mixtures for what seems like an eternity. They’re so pretty, but I never know what to do with them because they don’t really go with anything. And although they look great in the vial, they’re not all that sophisticated, so I’m always stuck for inspiration.

Finally, I decided that no epiphany was needed to use them. I would just make something with them and not worry about what it could look like, or what the name of the piece would be. This would be necessary beadwork!

Multicolored Seed Bead Mixes

The Beads:

Once I had put my foot down about not keeping these beads around, I felt totally free to just go with it and use them up. I didn’t have any doubts about combining them into one project - whatever would be would be.

One of the mixes is made up of matte Czech seed beads - some opaque and some transparent. The colors are very muted, with shades like peach, thyme, and cranberry. The other mixture is all shiny opaque seed beads. It includes all the classic colors like black, white, red, and blue… plus a few zingers like turquoise, pink and brown.

Kaleidoscope Bracelet by The Sage's Cupboard

The Beadwork:

With two such chaotic bead palettes to work with, I decided to keep it simple and use spiral rope to make a pretty bracelet. It’s an ideal technique not only because it would look nice with the beads, but it would allow me to use them all up quickly. I started with the clasp, then just stitched spirals until I ran out of beads. I had hoped to get three ropes, but two was all I could get out of the mixes.

Today’s Ring a Day design was created with the last of the leftovers. I used the matte finished beads and a red druk to make a button focal, then added it to a black herringbone band. I like the playful, circus-like quality of the colors. And now I have two more empty spaces in my bead stash. Only several dozen more to go!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seasonal Treats and Ring Twenty

Candied Apples by ranzino
Candied Apples
Photo Credit: ranzino.

Candy apples are traditionally an autumn treat, served around Hallowe’en when the apples are ripe enough to eat. And yet, ask anyone to list their favorite summer confections, and chances are, candy apples will be one of them. They are often found in the midway at the fair, in the concession at the amusement park, and they are even sold by vendors at the beach.

Thanks to advanced growing techniques, artificial ripening, and refrigerated trucks, we can have seasonal fruit any time of the year. When you think about it, so many of our favorite things would cease to exist in a more natural world.

While making Ring # 18 with ripe summer cherries, I got to thinking about some other summer fruits. Candy apples instantly came to mind, even though apples are supposed to be an autumn fruit. It seems like I can’t go a day without discovering something that I should give up. It makes me wonder how we ever got this far, and how much further we can go, living the way that we do.

My train of thought ended pretty darkly, so I decided to cheer myself up with a new ring. The inspiration might not fit in with the 100 Mile Diet, but the ring is almost good enough to eat.

I used lime green AB seed beads for the ring band, and added transparent red pinch bicones and a dark pink shell coin for the focal. I love a red/green combination that doesn’t look at all Christmas-y. This one is sweet and tangy, just like an apple covered in syrup!

Candy Apple Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 20 - Candy Apple

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Ring a Day - Nineteen

Harlequin Orbital Ring
Ring # 19 - Harlequin

My favorite thing about a failed beading experiment is that I get a new piece for my own collection. My jewelry box is filled with not-quite-perfect designs, and although they’re not good enough to sell, I love to wear them.

These cast-offs also serve another purpose. To test out the durability of my work, I treat my own beadwoven pieces terribly. I basically do the exact opposite of every point in my jewelry care guide. All of my necklaces are hung on pegs. My cuffs and bangles sit in a messy jumble, out in the open where dust and sunlight can attack them. I let my toddler play with my jewelry. I keep my rings on a shelf under the medicine cabinet, where they are bombarded by steam on a daily basis. The only rule I don’t break is hand washing. Even though these pieces are already messy, broken or silly, I still want to keep them looking nice.

Today’s ring started out as a great idea. I took my usual herringbone design, and tried to add a little something new. I thought that it would look neat to suspend the focal bead within a peyote ring, like a little wheel. I even bought some delicas especially for the design.

In my mind, the ring looked great. Even the photos of it look pretty good. But in reality, it’s quite ridiculous. The peyote ring bobs and wiggles like some unexplainable cereal box prize. I do love the color palette though, so I’ve set it aside for another day. The ring has joined my other “Oops” designs on the shelf. I can’t wait to wear it!

Normally, I might mourn the death of a great idea, but I’m just too excited to care. Ring # 17, Baby Fish Blues, is now available from the Help the Gulf Coast collective Etsy shop. Seeing it there, waiting for a new owner, is really uplifting. I only hope that it can help!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Friday, June 18, 2010

Poster Sketch: Very Cherry Ring

Bowl of Cherries Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 18 - Bowl of Cherries

I must confess something. I am running out of ring ideas.

I’ve done some experimenting of the past 18 days, looking for new design styles to add to my ring beading repertoire. I enjoyed making all of them, but I feel strangely attached to the styles I had made my own months ago. I have already decided to stick with what works, but I’m having a hard time letting go of the idea of making something completely new every day.

Today’s ring was a comfort to create. Using my favorite herringbone band style, I created a bowl of cheerful cherries. When I was making this piece, I was imagining a blue glass bowl, sitting in a square of sunlight on a vintage-yellow countertop. The bowl was full of cherries.

This inspiration couldn’t have come at a better time. With the end of the week finally here, and time for another Poster Sketch collection, I was very excited to create a treasury to match this fruity ring. While putting this group together, I noticed that I also have a very repetitive curating style: 3 parts jewelry + 1 part art. Well, it works for me!

To learn more about the talented artists behind these finds, visit Fruitilicious!

Etsy Picks: Fruitlicious

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Power of Handmade and Ring Seventeen

One of my favorite things about being in Etsy seller is knowing that I’m part of a community that is making changes to the world. Just by providing local goods that are not mass-produced, handmade artists are changing the way that we consume. Many artists are also making a difference by up-cycling and reusing materials that might otherwise be thrown out. Still others are setting an example by using sustainable materials, or reducing the amount of waste that their business produces.

Help the Gulf Coast Raises Funds for Oxfam

Some very dedicated Etsy sellers take this challenge to the next level, by offering their time to raise funds for important causes. When I learned about the shops fundraising for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, I decided it was about time I got involved, too.

So, today’s ring was created especially for Help the Gulf Coast - a collective Etsy shop run by a handful of dedicated Etsians. 100% of the net profits from this shop go to charities that support communities affected by the disaster, including Oxfam.

This organization is already well known for it’s humanitarian efforts. They have been assisting low income families in the Gulf area since the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Now their focus has had to shift, as the continuing oil damages change the lives of everyone in the area. Oxfam is now working with communities to assess the environmental and economic damages, while still working towards safety measures for the arrival of the next hurricane season.

Baby Fish Blues Ring
Ring # 17 - Baby Fish Blues

With my Ring a Day project well under way, I had every reason to create a brand new design to donate to the cause. I thought an aquatic theme would be appropriate for this piece, so naturally I went with a starfish ring. The first beads I chose where abalone blue lined crystal. I did the starfish in coral pink, and added some frosted magatamas for accents.

The color combination is pretty, but also meaningful. This ring is my own tribute to the innocent creatures affected by all that we humans do. Red and pink coral, abalone, whales, salmon and sea birds are just a few of the animals that are being threatened by our activities. They are constantly bombarded by pollution, habitat destruction, and of course, human consumption. It’s a cruel irony that only we can help them from our own wrongdoings.

If you’re any Etsy seller, you too can donate a listing to the cause. Visit the Help the Gulf Coast blog to learn more about how to donate, or to see the latest fundraiser stats. If you can’t donate, many beautiful new items are added to the shop everyday. Even the tiniest purchase can help!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Bridged Herringbone

Rubies and Cream Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 16 - Rubies and Cream

As a beaders, learning and growing as artists is a never-ending process. There will always be something new to practice or develop, and our designs evolve as our skills do. On the many beading boards and forums, newcomers will often ask their peers, “How do you come up with your unique designs?”. The answer is simple: 2 parts practice to 1 part experimentation.

Not coincidentally, the same answer can be given if someone asks “Why you would buy a PDF tutorial or project magazine, if you can’t sell the designs you make from them?”. When an artist shares their expertise, it is meant to offer new ways to perfect our knowledge of techniques and materials.

One of the easiest ways to explore the possibilities of bead weaving techniques is to add simple embellishments. A little fringe here, a change of bead style there, and suddenly you know a little bit more about what your beads and hands can do.

Adding bridges to flat Ndebele weave is one of my favorite basic embellishments. It’s easy to do, and incredibly versatile, because you can use it with all kinds of beads. Even beads that aren’t always suitable for bead weaving, like bugles and crystals, are perfect for adding to a herringbone bridge.

Ladder Stitch Tutorial

To embellish flat herringbone with a bridge:

First begin by making a base with simple herringbone weave. I prefer to start with a double bead ladder. This creates a much neater first row by reducing the number of thread passes at the bottom of the beadwork.

On a comfortable length of beading thread, pick up 4 seed beads. Slide them down the thread, leaving at least a 6 inch tail. Stitch up through the first 2 beads again, and pull tight to create a pair of 2 bead stacks, side by side. Stitch down through the 3rd and 4th beads again, so that both threads are exiting from the bottom of the beads.

To help snug up the beads and create even tension for the rest of the ladder, try this trick: Hold both the tail and working thread securely with your thumb and forefinger. Place your thumbnail up against the bottom of the bead stacks. With your other hand, hold the working thread, and pull down as you press the bead stacks against your opposite thumb. Tug the thread gently until the beads are straight, and there is no slack thread within the beadwork.

Ladder Stitch Tutorial

Pick up 2 seed beads, and stitch down into the 3rd and 4th bead from the previous step again. As you add new beads to the ladder, your needle will always chase the working thread. Pull tight, and stitch up through the two beads just added.

Continue adding pairs of beads to the ladder until it is the desired width for your design. You will need an even number of bead stacks to begin the herringbone weave.

To start the first row, you will need to Step Up. Stitch up through the lower bead on the previous stack, and up through the top bead on the last stack, so that your thread is exiting from the end bead at the top of the ladder.

Herringbone Weave Tutorial

Herringbone Weave Tutorial

Pick up 2 seed beads, and stitch down through the top ladder bead from the previous stack. Pull tight, making sure that the two new beads each sit flat on top of the bead ladder. Stitch up through the top ladder bead in the next stack. You can work from left to right, or right to left - whichever you are most comfortable with. As you add new rows, you can flip the beadwork to position the working thread on whichever side you prefer.

Pick up 2 seed beads, and repeat the process along the entire length of the bead ladder. After adding the final 2 beads, Step Up to begin the next row.

Embellishing Ndebele Weave

When you reach the point in the beadwork where you would like to add a bridge, add one pair of seed beads. Before stitching up to add the next pair, pick up one seed bead. Continue stitching normally for the rest of the row.

When you reach the increase again, pick up 2 seed beads, placing them between the rows as before. Add 3 beads at the increase in the next row. Continue adding 1 bead at a time to the bridge until it reaches the desired width.

To decrease and return to regular herringbone, reduce the bridge by 1 bead in each new row. After adding the final, single bead, you can continue with flat herringbone and finish the piece as desired.

How to Increase Herringbone Weave

Bridged herringbone makes a great base for beadwork bracelets or rings, and is one of my favorite techniques. You can add your favorite beads easily by exchanging them for an equal length of seed beads when the bridge reaches the appropriate width. For today’s Ring a Day project, I used the basic technique, and replaced some of the seed beads with CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski rubies.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Custom Quickie - Ring Fifteen

Today’s Ring a Day creation was a bit of a surprise - a custom request based on # 5, Licorice Bubblegum Ripple. The order was for an all black version, so we juggled a few possible ideas, and came up with a gunmetal on black pattern.

Night Fever Ring by The Sage's Cupboard

The almost metallic shine of the gunmetal seed beads makes a pretty, subtle contrast to the opaque black. The pattern is visible, but not stark. The best thing about the extra tall ring design is that there’s plenty of room for a pattern. Even a simple set of stripes needs space to stretch out and make a scene.

Custom orders are one of my favorite things about making jewelry. Our fans and customers often come up with the very best ideas!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Monday, June 14, 2010

Inukshuk Bracelet and Ring Fourteen

Ice Cube Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 14 - Ice Cube

Is there anything more exciting than a craft challenge? They’re a great way to get out of a creative slump, and can provide plenty of new inspiration. Challenges are also a fun way to meet other crafters, try new techniques, and of course, show off your skills.

This month, the Oh Canada Etsy Team is having it’s first ever creative challenge. All members - handmade and vintage alike - have been invited to create a listing with a distinct Canadian look, to help provide some great eye-candy for the team banner.

The Inspiration:

As the creator of the contest, I had a long debate about whether or not to enter a piece into the challenge. In the end, I decided to go for it, to encourage more entries and help promote the team. I had a tough time thinking of a unique Canadian design. I didn’t want to go with the obvious red and white color combo - mostly because I don’t have that many white beads to work with.

Although I am not a fan of the misconception that Canada is entirely and constantly covered with snow, I couldn’t help going with a very Northern theme for my creation.

Ice Cube Beads

The Beads:

It was the beads themselves that inspired my snowy challenge entry. I’ve had these blue, turquoise and white Toho cubes for a while. The colors look so great together, I always thought it would be a shame to break them up. So, when it came time to make something that looked Canadian, I knew their time had come. I combined them with some shimmery silver-lined crystal 6/o seed beads for a winter wonderland palette.

The Beadwork:

I am not a fan of patterned beadwork. When I sit down to bead, I like to just dive into the work. Looking up and checking a pattern every few stitches seems to put a kink in my creativity. But for this bracelet, I bit the bullet and created a fun Inukshuk pattern. I used the blue and white cubes for the background, to create a horizon of sky and snow. The turquoise beads became the stones for the figure, standing majestically in the bright Northern sun.

Ice Floe Bracelet by The Sage's Cupboard
Ice Floe Inukshuk Bracelet

I made today’s Ring a Day design to match the bracelet, replacing the white cube beads with cat’s eye cubes for a little extra texture. I used two separate ladder stitch panels to make the focal section, then stitched everything together and added a simple band with silver-lined crystal 11/o’s to match.

Voting opens for the Oh Canada Team banner contest on June 17th. The top designs will be featured in the blog banner for the remainder of 2010. Stop by the Oh Canada Blog before June 28th to see all of the beautiful Canadian entries and vote for your favorite!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Ring a Day - Thirteen

If you’re a bead hoarder, raise your hand.

What is it about the crafty crowd that causes us to amass huge stashes of supplies that we have no intention of ever using, because they’re too precious, too rare, too beautiful? It’s not just beaders. Scrapbookers have their most prized papers, tucked away for that momentous project that may never come. Quilters, doll makers and clothing designers do it, too.

I think two of the most hard-to-part-with items for a beader are art beads, and vintage beads. Hoarding an art bead is certainly understandable. They’re so beautiful and unique - once we’ve committed to a piece to use it in, it will never have another chance to become something else. The same is true for vintage beads. Even if someone were to recreate something very, very similar, it wouldn’t have the special quality of a long-lost treasure. Once a set of vintage beads is all gone, that’s it.

I’ve been keeping a single strand of vintage Czech bicones tucked away in my stash for months. They’re so very pretty, and always calling out to be used. But I made the mistake of only buying one strand. I would hate for something so wonderful to get lost in a huge project. So they’ve been sitting quietly amongst the pressed leaves and druks, waiting for the right inspiration.

Partly Cloudy Ring by The Sage's Cupboard

Ring # 13 - Partly Cloudy

I came across them again while looking over my stash for ring ideas, and it occurred to me that a ring would make an excellent display for rare beads. There would be nothing to overshadow them! I used the 5 rose technique to make a little pentagon of vintage bicones, and added a simple ladder band. I only ended up using half of the strand, so I still have a few of these precious beads to squirrel away a little longer.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Midnight Blues and Ring Twelve

Sometimes the hobbies and obsessions of our adult lives are fueled by things we loved as children. Right now, an entire generation of 30-somethings is sitting in front of the television playing video games. We were all hooked as kids, so we can’t help it! Many beaders are so determined to create because of fond crafting memories, or a childhood fascination with Grandma’s costume jewelry collection.

One of the obsessions that I’ve never fully outgrown is glass nuggets, or globs. They’re just so neat. They have many of the qualities that I like about beads - roundness, shine, smoothness and transparency. I remember arranging them for the fish in the aquarium, and hoarding them like jewels in my box of treasures.

I have a huge stash of globs, and every so often I get the urge to bead with them. For today, I thought it would be fun to use one as a ring focal. So, I poured out a bunch of globs, and searched through for some evenly shaped specimens to work with.

Midnight Blue Bezel Ring by The Sage's Cupboard

Ring # 12 - Midnight Blue

I selected a pretty blue oval shaped nugget, and some deep blue and black seed beads to compliment it. After adding a simple peyote stitch bezel, I stitched this unusual cabochon to a simple peyote band, and added some seed bead loops to polish off the joins.

This piece has been a nightmare to photograph, so no listing yet. This photo was all I could salvage from several dozen shots. I’ll just have to wait for the sun to cooperate. In the meantime, I created another treasury in tribute to some other midnight blue creations. To see the complete collection, visit It’s Midnight Somewhere.

Etsy Picks: It's Midnight Somewhere

Copyright 200 Inspirational Beading and

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poster Sketch: Sweet and Sour Ring

Sour Apple Sweet Violet Ring by The Sage's Cupboard
Ring # 11 - Sour Apple Sweet Violet

It occurred to me recently that I don’t use purple often enough. It’s such a wonderful color, found in flowers and foods and summer sunsets. I’ve become determined to add a little more purple to my repertoire, even though I only have a handful of purple beads to work with.

My first attempt at using purple turned out a little on the green side. I started with one of my favorite shades of color-lined seed beads - wisteria. Then I started mixing up a palette, and ended up making a little patch of violets on a bright green background. I wouldn’t exactly say that this is a purple ring, but it does have a hint of it!

I like the energetic combination of wisteria and chartreuse so much, that it inspired today’s Poster Sketch/Treasury collection. To learn more about the artists behind these designs, visit Sweet and Sour.

Etsy Picks: Sweet and Sour

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Ring a Day - Ten

The self-inflicted June Ring a Day challenge is one third complete! Only 20 more rings to go. I believe by then I will be able to make them in my sleep! After 10 days, I have already learned a few new things about making jewelry. The most valuable lesson has been: quality before variety. In other words, it’s okay to make the same variations over and over, instead of trying to force new ideas that turn out poorly. I’m going to stick to what works!

Sea Breeze Ring by The Sage's Cupboard, on Flickr
Ring #10 - Sea Breeze

Therefore, today’s ring is a very simple herringbone design - one of my favorites. I think more often than not, it’s the use of color and accents that make a piece special, not the elaborate use of techniques. For this piece, I combined some very pretty blue, white and clear seed beads with a lovely smoky blue shell coin. The result is a breezy ring, perfect for summer, and a much calmer me.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bead Spotlight: Rivoli Rhinestones

Assorted CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements Rivoli Rhinestones

What is it about rivolis that makes a beader’s heart stop? These beautiful, holeless beads are so captivating and irresistible. Perhaps it is their jewel-like quality. When many rivolis are seen together, they look like a handful of cut gems from the set of a pirate movie. It could also be the challenge that they pose - they dare us to find new ways of using a bead that is not really a bead by definition.

Whatever the attraction is, there’s no denying that pointed-back rhinestones are wonderful little treasures. Whenever one or more is added to a piece of beadwork, the wow-factor increases by leaps and bounds. They have a sparkle all their own. They come in gorgeous colors. They are just plain beautiful. It’s no wonder that they, and other solid crystal shapes, are always a favorite material for renowned beaders like Laura McCabe.

The most common technique for making a rivoli useful is the peyote bezel. Worked in two seed bead sizes, these little jackets are simple to do, and easy to embellish. Once the bezel has been secured, that’s when the real fun begins. The curve of the peyote shell makes the perfect base for all kinds of fringe. You can add extra layers of peyote stitch, and even go freeform!

For a fun project, try using your favorite rivoli with Royal Ring by Elizabeth Pullan and Bead & Button. You can also try creating bezels with netting and right angle weave!

Heartache Ring by The Sage's Cupboard

Ring # 9 - Heartache

For today’s ring, I started with a rivoli in my absolute favorite crystal color - Montana sapphire. I love the deep, almost melancholy shade of blue. After adding a bezel in plum, I added two rows of plain fringe between the stitches, and secured it to a plain peyote band. I kept the overall design as simple as possible, so as not to overpower the color of the rivoli. I like the purple and blue combination. It has a sort of sadness to it, that might very shortly spill over into anger. It’s like a broken heart.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Ring a Day - Eight

After making a ring inspired by sunshine, it occurred to me that a warm, clear day isn’t the only kind of summer weather that I enjoy. I miss the spectacular, loud, and exciting summer thunder storms of the prairies. It’s been years since I counted the seconds between a stunning flash of lightning and the boom of the thunder.

With today’s ring, I tried to capture some of the excitement of a lightning storm using St. Petersburg chain. I used alternating rows of 11/o seed beads in navy blue, gray and yellow. The zig-zag pattern makes perfect lightning shapes.

Thunder Storm Zig-Zag Ring

Although I like the overall design, I’m not completely satisfied with the finished piece. The St. Petersburg chain just doesn’t work as well on a small scale as it does in a necklace or bracelet. The thread is very noticeable, and looks a little unpolished. So this ring is going to live in my jewelry box.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

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