Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bead Spotlight: Color Lined Seed Beads

Assorted Color Lined Crystal 11/o Seed Beads

Clockwise from Top: Luminous Sherbert Orange,
Wisteria Purple, Jet Black,
Luminous Shocking Pink,
and Abalone Blue lined crystal seed beads

Every beader has a favorite bead or material, something they are instantly drawn to whenever they are browsing a selection or collection of beads. For me, there isn’t anything that represents the beauty of beads better than the color lined seed bead.

These little beauties have a unique, sparkling quality that can take any project to new heights. There is something about the combination of clear glass and opaque color that makes these seed beads stand out above all the others.

Color lined crystal, or clear, seed beads come in just about every shade imaginable. The layer of clear glass above the color adds so much sparkle to a design, that it’s a wonder I have any other types of seed beads in my stash.

Assorted Tinted Color Lined 11/o Seed Beads

Red Lined Sapphire, Navy Lined Yellow,
White Lined Peridot, Dark Brown Lined Amber,
Yellow Lined Black Diamond

Even more exciting are the dual-tone variety, which combine two unique colors for a completely different look. Some combinations contrast each other, so each color stands out within a single bead, adding two dimensions to the beadwork they are used in. Other combinations seem to blend together, forming a totally new color.

Most seed bead sizes and shapes come in a selection of color lined finishes, including cubes and peanuts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to create an entire piece of jewelry with nothing but color lined beads?

Assorted Color Lined Seed Bead Shapes

Magenta Lined Crystal 4/o, Tomato Lined Crystal 4mm Cubes,
Pink Lined AB Peanuts, Pink Lined Blue 6/o,
Light Jonquil Lined Aqua 15/o, Black Lined Garnet 12/o 3-Cuts

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poster Sketch: Winter Rainbows

The results are in, and the winners of my Wavy Wedges tutorial giveaway are Tracey of A Beadiful Mess, and Moonlit Fantaseas. Congratulations ladies, and enjoy your tutorials! Thank you so much to everyone that came out and entered the draw and shared ideas for how to use Wavy Wedges. All of the inspirations were fantastic!

The winning color palette ideas where rainbows and Christmas trees. One might not think that these two concepts are compatible, but I plugged the keywords “rainbow” and “Christmas” into the Etsy search, and look what I found:

Fa La La La La Rainbow Christmas Treasury

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Spotlight: Creative Paper Jewelry

Creative Paper Jewelry by Dafna Yarom

When you think of beading with paper, do you picture those little rolled up paper beads with the tapered ends? Rolled paper beads are incredibly fun to make and use in a design. They can even come from special places and support important causes. But when it comes to paper jewelry, rolled beads are only the beginning!

I remember making my very first papier mache pinata in kindergarten. Since then, I’ve used plaster of Paris and decoupage techniques to create all kinds of things, but it never occurred to me to use them in jewelry. I knew, somehow, that it could be done. I just never expected to see myself doing it!

When I started turning through the pages of Creative Paper Jewelry by Dafna Yarom, I discovered a whole new world of design possibilities. There are 20 unique projects for making jewelry components with paper, each one more exiting than the last. Techniques like decoupage, paper folding and sculpting with pulp are applied to everything from necklaces to brooches.

Paper Brooch by Dafna Yarom

The Basic Techniques chapter explains exactly how to create the design elements in each of the projects, including an excellent recipe for making your own paper pulp. There are also helpful tips for important steps like using crimp beads, jump rings and wrapped loops. Anyone with a crafty side would be able to start a jewelry making journey from these guides.

The Materials section, of course, is my favorite part. Making paper jewelry isn’t just a fun way to have a design that it totally unique to you - it’s also a great example of upcycling. Newsprint is only the beginning, and after reading through Creative Paper Jewelry, one can’t help but keep an eye out for pretty napkins and scrapbooking leftovers to use.

I put some of the bead making techniques to the test, to see if I could finally take my own paper crafts to the next level and make a necklace all my own. I created a fun pendant using newsprint, scraps of tissue paper, and an old toaster waffle box. I think it turned out pretty well, and I can only imagine what a little more practice could do.

Paper and Mixed Bead Pendant

Crafting with paper takes a lot of patience. There’s a lot of waiting for things to set and dry. I enjoy the process of prolonged steps, because it appeals to my need to constantly multi-task. While I was creating my pendant, I was also able to complete a few small beadwork projects and reorganize my desk! The results are worth the wait, when you’re able to wear something that no one else could make exactly the same.

I would like to thank Sixth & Spring books for giving me the chance to enjoy Creative Paper Jewelry. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including the book in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about this book.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Sixth & Spring Books

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Giveaway: Beaded Bracelet Tutorial

Wintergreen Wavy Wedges Bracelet

Words cannot describe how very excited I am to announce that I have finally launched PDF beading tutorials from The Sage’s Cupboard! I have had many requests for tutorials since opening my Etsy shop, and after much planning and hours of photography sessions, I can finally start sharing my passion for beading with full step-by-step tutorials for some of my favorite designs.

I owe a lot of thanks to all of my wonderful Etsy customers and beading friends, who have given me plenty of encouragement and inspired me to start on this new adventure. I also have a great deal of gratitude for the generous people behind OpenOffice, who have made it possible for a small-time instructor like me to create professional PDFs. I'll be donating a portion of every tutorial sale to so that they can continue to offer great services.

Black Candy Corn Bracelet

Today is the start of my unofficial ‘soft launch’. After creating the first two tutorials on my list of designs to teach, I couldn’t hold out any longer. I’ll be working non-stop over the next few weeks to create even more tutorials, and I hope to have a big grand opening to kick off the holiday season.

In the meantime, I want to share some of my excitement with my fellow beaders, so I’m going to be giving away 2 copies of my Wavy Wedges Bracelet tutorial!

This project is one of my most original designs, and it is so much fun to make. The technique is a lot simpler than it looks, and because of the unique shape, the pattern and color possibilities are endless.

Wine Wedge Bracelet

How to Enter:

For your chance to win a copy of Wavy Wedges for Personal Use, just describe how you would use the bars and wedges pattern to make your own unique variation of the design.

Leave a comment on this post with your idea, and your email address (beadlover AT I’ll be drawing 2 lucky winners on Monday, September 27th.

Good luck and happy beading!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beading Tutorial: Square Stitch

Candy Corn Bracelet
Wavy Wedges Square Stitch Bracelet

There are so many fun and interesting bead weaving techniques out there, that it takes a lot of time to try and master them all. Sometimes we see a technique that we like, but hesitate to experiment with it. Maybe it looks too difficult, or we think that it won’t suit our tastes, so we avoid using it and stick to the stitches that we really like.

This is how I felt about square stitch for a long time. I just didn’t see the point in learning another flat bead weaving stitch. Peyote was working just fine for me. Then I encountered a design dilemma, where I needed a grid-like stitch, and loom weaving was just too complex for my purpose. I pulled out an old square stitch tutorial and tried it out, only to discover that it is an amazing technique!

Square stitch is so delightfully simple, the steps can almost be explained in a single breath. And because the rows and columns are perfectly aligned, you can use ordinary graph paper to create and plan unique patterns and designs. Square stitch can be worked with almost any type of seed bead, and looks fabulous with triangles and hex-cuts.

To weave a square stitch panel:

Square Stitch Tutorial

Attach a stop bead to a comfortable length of beading thread. If you’re working with beads larger than 11/o, it’s a good idea to leave an extra long tail, so you can add more reinforcements to the beadwork later.

Pick up any number of seed beads, odd or even. These will make up the base column. If you’re making a rectangular piece, like a bracelet, this will be the short side.

How to Weave with Square Stitch

Turn the stop-bead away from you, and hold the new beads against it with your free hand. Pick up one bead, and stitch down into the last bead from the first column. Pull tight so that the new bead rests side-by-side with the other.

Square Stitch Beading Tutorial

Stitch up into the new bead and pull the thread snug. Pick up a new bead, and stitch down into the next bead of the first column. Pull snug, and stitch up into the new bead.

Repeat this process up the column, and stitch up into the last bead added to exit from the edge of the beadwork. Flip the panel over and start again from the bottom, adding one new bead to each one from the last column.

How to Bead Square Stitch

If you’re working with a large quantity of beads in each row or column, or if you’re using bigger beads or Delicas, you will want to reinforce each column before adding a new one. To do this, stitch down through the previous column, then up through the one just added before you resume stitching.

Because square stitch is worked one bead at a time, it is lengthier stitch, like peyote. But because the technique is so easy, you’ll forget how much time each stitch takes and find yourself weaving up a storm.

A Panel of Square Stitch Beading

For a quick introduction to the technique, try out the Marching Cubes Bracelet by Marilyn Gardiner. You can also learn to do square stitch on the diagonal, using increases and decreases to make unique shapes. Start with a fun Twisty Wrap Bracelet by Marji Brohammer. And for some extra visual aids, check out the three part video series from Auntie’s Beads: Square Stitch Bugle Bracelet.

Happy beading!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inspired Beader: Risky Beads

Carrot Cake Bracelet by riskybeads, on Flickr

Carrot Cake Bracelet

There’s nothing quite so wonderful than the delicious foods of autumn. It’s interesting that even though we can import summer foods year round, we still gravitate towards the starchy, buttery, and sweet foods of fall. It’s as if some instinct is telling us to fatten up for the winter - and eat what we're supposed to.

Even if you’re watching your waistline, there are still plenty of ways to treat yourself to something yummy for fall. How about wearing some carrot cake or clam chowder around your wrist? Thanks to the amazing creativity of Lori Ward, the designer behind Risky Beads, you can wear some cake and look gorgeous, too.

Inspirational Beading: How did you first become interested in jewelry design?

Lori: My interest in jewelry making began by accident. My best friend was in town in October of 2006, and we decided to go spend a day in Chapel Hill, NC. GO HEELS!

We ate lunch and then wandered into a bead store. We knew nothing about making jewelry save what we thought we knew. We spent over three hours in that store, drove the thirty minutes back to Raleigh, and decided to start making all of the marvelous things we’d pictured in our heads. Even though we had no clue what we were doing, we had an absolute blast.

Greek Salad served by riskybeads, on Flickr

Greek Salad Bracelet

The fruits of our labors that day weren’t exactly phenomenal, but we were utterly stoked about the very real chance of reaching our delusional potential. We went back to that store the next day.

My friend flew home that Sunday, satisfied with her crafty indulgence. But I wasn’t. I kept going. And going. And going. Eventually, I made more jewelry than even I could wear or store, and the people I worked with at the time encouraged me to start selling it.

I had no idea how to do that; all I knew of selling online was Ebay which I found overwhelming and never really liked, and then an online friend said, “Well, there’s always Etsy.”


What is Etsy?


I celebrated my 3 year anniversary on Etsy in August!

Sweet Potato Casserole Reheated served by riskybeads, on Flickr

Sweet Potato Casserole Bracelet

Inspirational Beading: Tell us about your Leftovers series. Where did the inspiration come from?

Lori: So once my shop had been open for a few months in the fall of 2007, I was knee deep in beads and spending my evenings creating away. Like any jewelry designer, I started out amassing beads the way squirrels hoard nuts. The more beads I bought, the more I had to stare at and store.

I went through a ton of different storage modes. And then it happened. I was sorting my beads by color, deciding that all the beads in the ‘brown’ family needed to go in one drawer and lo and behold, I didn’t see beads anymore; I saw sweet potatoes. And then meatloaf. And then I dared to look over in the yellow and green pile and saw…mixed veggies.

Now, I can’t cook. At all. And I wasn’t hungry. So that could only mean one thing. It was time to bead Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Leftovers Series was born, and it was my best Thanksgiving ever. It continues today with 67 different pieces. You can view a slideshow on Some of my favorites from the series are Greek Salad and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Remain Crafty Necklace by Risky Beads

Remain Crafty Charm Necklace

Inspirational Beading: What is your most exciting inspiration of late?

Lori: Lately, I’ve taken up metal stamping. It’s a natural extension for me because I’m a writer at heart and because the entire concept behind ‘Risky Beads’ is that each piece has a story or sentiment behind it, hence the tagline: Accessories with Issues. For instance, my Autumn Upstart bracelet and earring set comes with this little poem:

if a leaf falls and on the way down,
it catches a memory before hitting the ground,
what does it look like?
how hard does it fall?
would you even believe it and say that you saw?

Now that I’ve gotten into stamping metal, I can put a lot of the words in my head directly onto my jewelry. I’m having a lot of fun and success with my Weapons of Choice series of key chains and necklaces, and with my new line of Crafty Celebrations. I think it’s high time all of us in the DIY world exploit our inner crafty-geek!

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

Lori: Honestly, it’s my brain. Most days I’m very happy with it and other days I wish I could find a new supplier.

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

Lori: I don’t seek to inspire actually, more to entertain. I’m one of those self-entertaining people who spends way too much time redecorating the recesses of my mind. I get really, really happy when somebody else wanders in and says, “Wow! I like what you’ve done with the place!”

Lori has written an e-book about her jewelry-making experience called How to Make it Small When You‘re Trying to Make it Big. It’s presented as an Etsy Guide to Success, but it’s all woven throughout her story and how she got where she is today. Most of her readers say they laughed all the way through it and learned a few things, too.

She loves when folks wander into her shop, and then contact her two hours later to tell her they forgot they were shopping and were completely enthralled with all of the crazy poems and stories that go with her pieces. She beams from ear to ear.

Lori is also the founder of the Handmade Highway, a handmade seller directory that features sellers interested in wholesale, consignment, bulk discounts, and custom work. You can learn more about it on their blog Notes from the Handmade Highway.

You can find out more about the amazing creations of Risky Beads on Twitter and Facebook. Lori also has jewelry shops on Artfire, Zibbet and 1000 Markets, filled with fantastic and bold designs.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Risky Beads

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Spotlight: Creative Crochet Jewelry

Creative Crochet Jewelry by Esther Zadock

Most beaders and jewelry designers work within a niche, using techniques and materials that they love, and developing their own unique style. Even though we usually stick to our preferences, there are often times when we envy other artists who have mastered something completely different.

When I was first starting out with bead weaving, I caught an episode of Beads Baubles and Jewels that featured crochet jewelry. The artist demonstrated how fun the Bead Spinner tool can be, and made necklaces embellished with frilly eyelash yarn.

The designs from the show were so fantastic, that I immediately bought the first two balls of frizzy yarn I could find, thinking that even if I didn’t learn to crochet, I could at least make something equally fun. I put the yarn away, and forgot all about it.

Then I picked up a copy of Creative Crochet Jewelry by Esther Zadock, and everything changed. Just flipping through the pages was enough to make me want to take up a whole new craft. Over 30 delightfully intricate-looking projects sparkle with beads and pretty things, calling out to be recreated.

Collected Treasures Crochet Necklace by Esther Zadock

While most of the projects can be made with supplies that every beader has in their stash, I found many new materials that only enhanced my envy of the crochet jeweler. They get to work with all kinds of wonderful bits, like fabric flowers, ribbon, lace and trimming. The materials chapter alone was full of inspiration and ideas waiting to happen.

My experience with crochet amounts to a pair of chain stitch friendship bracelets that I made about 15 years ago. You could say that I am a total novice. The instructions in Creative Crochet Jewelry are suitable for anyone with a basic understanding of crochet techniques, so I had to enlist a little extra help. I was amazed at how simple the techniques are, and after only a few minutes, I was stitching away like Granny.

There is something incredibly refreshing about making a piece of jewelry from the comfort of any old chair, and being able to lean back and relax while working. Once the beads are all strung, it’s all downhill from there. Thanks to Creative Crochet JewelryCreative Crochet Jewelry by Esther Zadock, I was able to use up some of my fancy yarn, and make myself a crazy new necklace!

Crocheted Necklace with Wood Beads

I can’t wait to try out some of the more complex projects, including a cuff bracelet with crystals in crochet bezels. There are even some beautiful rings, and earrings that would also make charming pendants.

What I love most about the designs, is that beads aren’t just an afterthought. Esther Zadock incorporates beads into the projects with a true appreciation of their beauty, and expertly blends the materials with the techniques for amazing results.

I would like to thank Sixth & Spring Books for giving me the chance to enjoy Creative Crochet Jewelry. Inspirational Beading has not received paid compensation for including the book in this blog post. I have shared my honest opinions about this book.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and Sixth & Spring Books

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Flicker of Inspiration: Animal Prints

One of the best things about off-loom beadweaving is that we can take any image, pattern, or idea, and turn it into a beautiful cuff or tapestry, or even a beautiful jacket. Transferring a real life pattern to special beading graph paper, and then following the design is a lot more difficult than it sounds, but the results are worth it.

As usual, Mother Nature provides us with some of the most beautiful prints and patterns imaginable. And with beading, you only need a photograph and a little hard work to wear leopard skin. I searched high and low for some truly inspirational photographs of patterns, shapes and colors found only in the wild. Perhaps they will inspire your next creation!

And, if you need a little help getting started, I also founds these fun beading patterns:

Monarch Butterfly, Pink Zebra Print, Leopard Spots, Tiger Eyes

Wild Prints Animal Collage

1. Eye of a Tokay Gecko, 2. Monarch Caterpillar, 3. Coral Trout Eye,
4. Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), 5. Poison Dart Frog Sitting on a Leaf, 6. Msitu Baby Giraffe,
7. tortoise shell, 8. Thrigby Leopard, 9. Parrot Feathers,
10. Zebras, 11. Cheetah cubs, 12. Tiger! Tiger! Burning Bright, 13. Snake Skin

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bead Color Triads: Primary Colors

Primary Colours

Ask anyone that made it through kindergarten what the three primary colors are, and there’s probably a 99.9% chance that they’ll say “Red, Yellow and Blue”. And while that answer is true, it’s not the whole truth. It’s only about a third of the truth.

Printers, artists, and scientists know that there are other correct answers to that question, depending on what type of color you mean. Anyone that has actually tried to mix red, yellow and blue paint knows that it doesn't actually work the way it does in preschool cartoons.

In honor of the back to school season, and art teachers everywhere, I thought it would be fun to do things a little differently this month. We’re going to look at beads in three different primary color palettes, and perhaps compare how well each one would look in a finished piece.

Red Yellow Blue Bead Palette

Building Blocks is the first group of beads that I made, so named because I can’t help but see Lego bricks when I look at those blue, boxy Miyuki hexes. The effect is even stronger with transparent ruby seed beads and yellow cat’s eyes nearby. No matter what the brightness or finish is, something about red, yellow and blue together always brings on memories of crayons and building blocks.

Red Green Blue Bead Palette

Shattered Light turned out to be a surprisingly irresistible palette. I’m usually not a fan of red and green together. I find that it either looks unsophisticated, or that the red is far too orange, and the combination looks garish. But here, the cobalt seed beads seem to anchor the other colors, rein them in and make them work together. The Czech rice beads and TOHO triangles don’t even have a hint of Christmasiness with blue there to keep things under control.

Magenta Yellow Cyan Bead Palette

Pop Print somehow seems even more youthful than the crayon-colors, with almost fluorescent shades of magenta, yellow and cyan blue. I started with the tagua slice, which is a bit muted, but still leans far enough on the darker side of bubblegum to qualify for this palette. The dyed shell rectangles and 11/o seed beads seem to look tropical and candy-like at the same time. All this palette needs is a pair of headphones, and you’ve got the makings of a teenaged ensemble from recent, but simpler times.

So, if you had to choose just one of these primary color palettes - with any bead type - which would it be?

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Poster Sketch: Needful Things

I recently reached an important milestone - 100 active Etsy listings. It’s been one of my major goals for a long time now, and it’s a great feeling to finally have it in the bag. Now that I have that matter taken care of, I’m going to be working on something very special for my fellow beaders, which I hope to reveal later this year.

It’s a very time-consuming project, and I’m feeling totally swamped, especially with so many great holidays to prepare for in the coming weeks and months. I have to figure out how to make a mom-appropriate Catwoman costume on a teeny, tiny budget. Wish me luck!

So today I decided to take it easy, and take a few moments for myself. For a semi-professional beader, that means shopping! Just a little window shopping, mind you, but it was relaxing all the same. Here’s what I found:

Beader's Shopping List

Check out my full Shopping List on Etsy to see more! Happy crafting!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Monday, September 6, 2010

Favorite Beads: Swarovski Crystals

Rainbow Dragonfly Earrings by UxCritter

Today my guest, Paula of UxCritter, shares her love of beautiful, glittery CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements.

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

Paula: My ultimate and absolute favorite bead is Swarovski Crystals.

Swarovski Crystals will always be a part of my supplies; you will never find my supplies without at least one Swarovski bead in there somewhere, but I doubt I’d ever let my supplies get to only one. I’m serious! I just have to have the intense sparkle and shine of these uniquely cut crystals. I am certain that I was a crow in my last life as I share their obsession to covet shiny sparkly objects.

Crystals By The Piece photographs Swarovski crystals very well to show their intense sparkle and shine.

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

Paula: Absolutely any way a Swarovski is used is the best way to use it. If there is a Swarovski in the project it will be perfect. Honestly that is my opinion on Swarovski crystals. I’m seriously addicted.

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

Butterfly Threader Earrings by UxCritter

Paula: Recently I’ve acquired butterfly Swarovski beads and these have become a new favorite. I enjoy threader earrings, and I created these earrings with sterling silver threader chains and dainty delicate and very sparkly Swarovski butterfly crystals.

Toe rings, which I don’t think any gal is complete without, in the summer especially, are magnificent with Swarovski crystals. Even just one on a toe ring makes a major impact fashion statement with its sparkle and shine. And of course Swarovski Crystals for fingers are an ultimate treat as well.

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

Paula: I have found that many people enjoy their birthstone in handmade jewelry as it personalizes a fashion statement even more. I have added birthstone colors into my projects and find that adds another element of uniqueness & personalizing to a bracelet, ring, necklace and especially mother daughter sets. Even the grouping on a piece of jewelry that holds all the family birthstones as sparkly Swarovski crystals in their own family’s birthstone colors is a very special way to present crystals - like a bird nest ring with all the ‘eggs’ in the nest.

Birthstone Bird's Nest Ring by Rings Handmade

Bobbi's This 'n That from Ontario has a beautiful Swarovski Crystal Birthstone Heart Mix. There are so many diverse Swarovski crystal sizes, shapes and colors it’s just mind-boggling. Hearts, Butterflies, Bicones, Pearls, Rondelles, Donuts, Slider Beads, and the list just goes on and on. There are Swarovski rhinestones, plus some that are Hotfix that can be heat-transferred to T-shirts for fabulous designs with sparkle.

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

Paula: 14 kt Gold and Sterling Silver.

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

Paula: Oh absolutely! Without a doubt, the Swarovski crystal beads make me extremely happy. I’m not kidding. Their sparkle and shine make me smile and if I needed to wave down a passing plane while on that deserted island, I am sure the glint from the crystal would be like a mirror shining up into any pilots cockpit enough to lead them to my location. I have that much faith in the sparkle factor that Swarovskis have to offer.

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

Paula: They are a much sought after crystal bead that is incomparable in it’s cut of the glass bead to any other crystal in their price range. Swarovski crystals are easily found in a variety of places both in stores and online. Just be very careful to find a reliable source, as the untrained eye can sometimes mistake some crystals for Swarovski crystals, (I have done this myself when not looking closely at them). Like anything, if the price is too good, it’s probably not a deal.

Green Swarovski Crystal Ring by Rings Handmade

Czech crystal can work similarly, but it’s truly not the same if a Swarovski is nearby. It lacks the extreme sparkle, shine and luster that a Swarovski has if they are compared side by side. If you really know and understand Swarovski, Czech will not be comparable. Yet if Czech is all that is available and no Swarovski is nearby to compare and show off its extraordinary cut, the Czech crystal, (even I will agree) can work nicely in a project. But truly, I’d rather have the official CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements cut crystals.

An excellent source on Etsy is Breathtaking Beadzz, where I find large quantities. I have also purchased from Bobbi's This 'n That, and I will definitely shop there again.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading, UxCritter, and Rings Handmade

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wear It Twice: Teacher’s Pet

Everyone loves a long weekend, but is Labor Day break the most dreadful long weekend of the year? When it’s over, it’s time for students to go back to school and begin the day-in day-out routine all over again. Sure, there are lots of parents, and eager students, ready for the new semester to begin; but the start of the school year also marks the end of summer.

In anticipation of the year’s first homeroom period, this month’s Wear It Twice collection is inspired by some traditional school themes. I started with a pretty apple pendant - a great piece for the first day of school, whether you’re a student or a teacher.

The first outfit I created began with a plaid skirt - another school essential. I paired it with a pleated white blouse to complete the uniform look, then finished it with some sassy red Mary Janes and a pretty black floral headband.

The second ensemble is a lot more modern. The printed knit top features a unique torn yarn pattern, and looks great with red skinny jeans. To create a touch of school-girl charm, I added a pair of plaid platform boots and a black and white striped clutch.

Can you hear the bell already? Go the handmade route and get these looks, or something like them, on Etsy!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Side-Drilled Rectangle Necklace

Assorted Shell Beads with Side-drilled Rectangles

Almost every beader has experienced a moment of bead-shopping weakness. It’s that time when you saw a bead or component that was so beautiful, you just had to have it - even if you didn’t have a clue what you were going to do with it.

Sometimes we get stuck with these spur-of-the-moment purchases for a long time. It could be because they are too precious to use, or because they require us to wander far outside of our comfort zone. We see these beads every time we look over our stash of supplies, and wonder if they’ll ever become what they were meant to be.

The Inspiration:

While on a bead shopping spree awhile back, I scooped up several strands of yummy dyed shell strands in different shapes and colors. Most of the selections I made have proved very useful, and I have several projects to show for it.

Unfortunately, one of the strands that I selected did not seem meant for bead weaving. The side-drilled shell rectangles that I picked up have been baffling me for some time. Whenever I tried picturing them in a design, all I could see was a simple stringing project, even though I knew that there just had to be a way to weave with them.

Metallic Dark Rainbow Iris Seed Beads

The Beads:

The elusive shells are a lovely shade of dark pink, and the bar shape is very tempting, despite it’s apparent uselessness for my designs. When I finally decided to make something with them, or bust, I had to figure out what to combine them with.

I eventually decided on some of my all time favorite seed beads - Czech rainbow iris 11/o’s. They’re a good match for the dusty shade of pink, and I have plenty of them so I could design just about anything without fear of running out.

The Beadwork:

Right angle weave saved the day again, and after some trial and error, I finally came up with a way to showcase the shell rectangles with a technique I liked.

My first idea was to have each shell sitting within adjacent loops of seed beads, but the shape of the beadwork didn’t look quite right. I was getting mushy tear-drops instead of pretty loops. So I started over, using RAW squares, with each side having the same number of beads. This didn’t look very good either, since there was far too much negative space, and the seed beads had too much room to move about.

Swinging Doors Necklace by The Sage's Cupboard

Swinging Doors Necklace

Finally, I came up with a pattern that worked. Instead of making symmetrical right angle weave units, I only used as many beads as where necessary to surround each shell, and the beadwork became snug and even. Now the rectangles swing between little seed bead windows, making a flexible but sturdy chain.

I used up the entire strand of shells, and made an extra long necklace. Now this hasty purchase is behind me instead of haunting me. The funny thing is, I like this necklace so much, that I want to buy more side-drilled rectangles and make another!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading and The Sage's Cupboard

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