Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poster Sketch: Margarita Green

I can’t quite explain why beverages have been finding their way into my inspirations lately. It’s something about summer that makes all these colors and flavors so appropriate. Perhaps I’m just thirsty. Today’s color palette is the lovely lime green of margaritas, with a bit of golden tequila brown, and a hint of salt.

It's Margarita Time Treasury

What’s your favorite summer inspiration?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Anubis

Black and Gold Egyptian Bracer

Earlier this week, I completed a necklace using just black seed beads and bright gold Swarovski pearls. When I stocked up on the supplies I would need for the project, the idea I had was a lot different than what I actually made. And since I had so many of those gorgeous little pearls left, I decided to use them for this week’s bracelet.

To match the collar and bracelet together, I mimicked the same freeform netting, this time with looped turns at both sides for a nice rectangular piece. This is by far the widest cuff I’ve ever made, and it covers a lot of space, which adds even more to the ancient appeal. To make sure everything would look polished, I made a double button closure, using overlapped loops from the main beadwork.

This bracelet is a great example of how bead colors appear different under varied circumstances. I picked the bright gold pearl color because it was the closest match to what I wanted, but on my computer it didn’t look quite right. Even in person, I wasn’t sure they would do the trick. But once they are combined with black, these pearls have exactly the right color for an Egyptian inspired design. The warmth of the gold is really enhanced by the completeness of the jet black.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

New Beads Mash Up

My 2011 resolution to try out new and unique beads every month took a bit of a detour in June. Because Canada’s postal service was delayed and cut off for most of the month, I wasn’t able to purchase any exciting beads in time to make designs for this post. Instead, I thought I would show you some of the other new beads that I’ve been working with.

New Beads for May and June 2011

My favorite new stash addition is a set of gorgeous vintage glass scarab cabochons from Emmy’s Earrings, which I purchased back in May. These tiny little beetles were made in Germany, and have a gorgeous translucent finish in dark and pale minty green. I’ve used one of each so far for Egyptian rings, including a huge ivory and blue cocktail ring, and a smaller one for myself. I’m hoping to incorporate some into a Bracelet a Week design eventually.

Green and Ivory Scarab Ring

Before the postal lock-out, I was able to purchase some basic supplies like thread and seed beads, and I also picked up a whole bunch of bright gold Swarovski pearls, and a tiny LillyPilly Egyptian eye pendant. The shell charm is still waiting to be paired up with some tagua, but I finally managed to create the necklace that the pearls were meant for.

Black and Gold Bib Collar

Earlier this year, while sketching out new collar designs, I saw a glimpse of an all black, freeform collar with gold accents. At some point, I decided to add chevron chain to the mix, and came up with this combination collar and bib. The gold pearls look exactly right against the black seed beads.

Since I couldn’t buy any new beads in June, I did a little experimenting with beaded beads. Using the simple seed bead-covered bead technique, I created a trio of beaded beads in exotic colors, and paired them with one of my favorite tribal palettes - black, red and green.

Wild Orange Beaded Bead Necklace

These beads are so much fun to make, and open up lots of fun beading possibilities. You can learn how to make them with a simple beading around a bead tutorial from

What new beading discoveries have you been making of late?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Collections: Strawberry Daiquiri

Lime green has a unique ability to add life to any palette. Perhaps I’m biased because lime is my favorite color - and flavor - but I think this electric green goes with just about everything. Today I paired it up with reds and pinks for another summery drink inspiration.

Strawberry Daiquiri Collection

To add a little to the strawberry daiquiri theme, I couldn’t resist adding a sprinkling of crystals - a pretty good facsimile for course sugar, don’t you think?

Do you like lime green? What’s your favorite color to pair it with?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wear It Twice: Poolside

I didn’t fully understand the purpose of bathing suits that can’t get wet, until I started making jewelry. Fashion doesn’t have boundaries - it goes everywhere, and so does jewelry. And just because you’re wearing a fabulous bathing suit, doesn’t mean you plan to go swimming. Maybe all you want to do is get a great tan.

In any case, if your swimwear is just for looks, then there’s no reason not to accessorize it. Today, I wanted to look at some fun ways to pair jewelry with bathing suits, for hot summer days on the patio. I started with a statement piece that is a vacation essential - a shell necklace. The one I picked looks wonderfully tropical with shell donuts and strands of tiny wood beads.

Swimsuit Additions

I tried to create two unique looks for different tastes. One is a little more conservative and a little tribal inspired. The other is a bit daring and a lot more uptown. The palette of orange and aqua, with hints of warm brown and yellow is great for the pool, the beach, or the backyard.

Orange and Turquoise by the Pool Treasury

For the handmade and vintage alternatives, I decided to take a look around Etsy this month. The selection of bathing suits is much broader, and I was able to find two that fit perfectly with the theme. It was hard to choose just a few necklaces, and I couldn’t resist adding the aqua lampwork nautilus.

Last but not least, here are just a few of my favorite Polyvore sets featuring today’s picks:

Let's go to the beach...



by ThanyuzhK featuring an orange tote

HOT HOT Summer

What’s your favorite bathing suit style? Have you ever worn your jewelry to the beach?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bead Color Triads: Pina Colada

Virgin Pineapple Coconut Smoothie Recipe

What is it about the combination of pineapple and coconut that makes it so refreshing? These two flavors go together in drinks as well as desserts and confections, so why not in jewelry? Is it possible to create a beadwork design that has the cool, sweet qualities of a perfectly blended pina colada?

The first two colors for any pina colada palette are white and yellow, naturally. Even alone they have a bright, cheerful quality that can lift you up on a hot summer day. The real challenge is finding a third color to tie everything together.

I considered cherry red as a garnish, or aqua blue, which would bring to mind the slightly different, but no less summery and delicious, blue Hawaiian. Either combination would look great - almost good enough to eat. But I wanted to make the palettes a little more sophisticated and subtle. For the third color, I chose dark brown. It could represent coconut husk, or rum. Either way, it clicks with the white and yellow beautifully.

The first palette is full of sparkle and shine, with beads in three different finishes that capture the light in their own unique way. Hawaiian Sunrise started with strands of crystal AB pinch bicones, which have a milky, swirled look to them. Sunny yellow cat eyes make delicious looking pineapples, and rootbeer lined light topaz AB 6/o seed beads give a warm, syrupy glow.

Hawaiian Sunrise Bead Palette

The most challenging thing about putting together three different bead color trios is making sure that they not only look good, but can actually combine for a finished piece of jewelry. So when I picked up some transparent crystal bugles, I had to make sure that they were paired with the right beads. For bumpers and backup, I added transparent lemon AB 11/o seed beads, which have a very juicy quality to them. Dark topaz Czech teardrops round out the palette nicely.

Summer Cupcake Bead Palette

Because of the way the bugles bring to mind shaved coconut topping, I call this palette Summer Cupcake. With just a little thread, these three bead styles would make a wonderful summer broad collar.

Finally, my favorite palette of all is Pass the Limes, which actually looks nothing like the others. I started with topaz yellow pressed glass clamshells. Although they aren’t exactly a pineapple yellow, they have a tropical look to them that I just had to try with the theme. White Ceylon 8/o seed beads look just like coconut milk, and their smoothness is a nice contrast to the matte finish of the shells. I topped them off with transparent rootbeer 11/o seed beads.

Pass the Limes Bead Palette

This trio is a great example of how a slight variation in hue can change the mood of a palette. Switch the topaz out with another yellow, and it would be pina colada. As it is, all I can see is a tall, frosty glass of beer.

What’s your favorite summer drink? What would you use to turn it into a refreshing bead palette?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Beaded Body Parts

April's Army

Disclaimer: This post contains mature subject matter.

The only thing better than using your talents to help someone else, is doing it with a sense of humor. I often get a burst of enthusiasm every time I come up with a new beading challenge for this blog, but none of them top the excitement of creating cheeky designs for April’s Army.

I actually have a few different designs lined up to donate, but they keep getting shuffled around. The piece I wanted to make for this month’s charity shop got pushed back yet again, because some of the supplies I needed were held up in the mail. So I moved on to my next, but no less outrageous idea - a beaded nipple.

The concept for this unusual design occurred to me awhile ago. Whenever I make something with circular brick stitch - especially if the first few rows match the base bead - I noticed there was something odd about the look of the beadwork. When I realized what it was, I knew I had the makings of a great Regretsy-worthy design.

To make this necklace, I combined a pink cat’s eye with seed beads in pink and pale beige. The domed shape of the circular brick stitch really adds to the overall effect, don’t you think? The pendant is suspended from an optional reverse-daisy chain, with a few different styles of beads in pink, white and cream.

Impossibly Pink Beaded Nipple Pendant

The April’s Army charity shop opens today, and is stuffed full of handmade and vintage goodness. Not all of the designs are wild, and there’s something for just about every taste and budget. You can learn more about the shop’s mission, and the recipient of this month’s fundraiser on Facebook and Regretsy.

Here are a few of my favorite jewelry designs from the shop:

Mature Content

Click images to see the listing and learn more about the artist behind each design.

Have you ever made a totally outrageous jewelry design? What’s your favorite ‘against the grain’ theme?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and April's Army
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Collections: French Romance

Some things always seem to go together, and some things often lead to others. Take, for instance, roses, champagne, and romance. Then add a dash of chocolate, the Eiffel tower, and gourmet coffee. Don’t forget couture, decadence and history. Mix them together and allow it to set, and you’ve got the essence of the beautiful and enchanting city of Paris.

En Francais - Brun et Rose

I love the combination of soft pink and dark brown. With highlights of golden honey, it’s even better.

What colors are inspiring you today?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Royalty

Beaded Nemes Crown Bracelet

I am so glad to be able to show you this week’s bracelet! I’ve been sitting on this idea for awhile, and it’s great to finally have it completed. Now that it’s done, I can’t remember how it kept getting pushed aside for other things, but it did turn out even better than I had hoped.

The palette was inspired by one of my favorite Egyptian symbols - the Nemes crown. This is the striped cloth headdress worn by many Pharaohs and their likenesses, such as Tutankhamun and Ramses. It’s also the headdress worn by the Sphinx. If you’re a Graham Hancock fan, you probably know that some scholars believe that the Nemes was added later, and that the original monument had a lion’s mane instead.

I love the different ways that stripes are used in Egyptian art and clothing, so I wanted to capture some of that look with this bracelet. I used the wavy wedges template, and started with striped panels in white and alabaster. I wanted these sections to look like the pleated linen robes that are depicted throughout Egyptian tombs.

The only thing I wish I could have done differently is the topaz stripes. They just don’t stand up to the dark cobalt as much as I would like. I really need to find a new non-metal gold seed bead that doesn’t have actual gold in the finish. The search goes on!

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Bead Wish List: Insect Beads

Here we go again! Mother nature’s influence is always finding it’s way into beads, jewelry and crafts. Whether it’s flowers, rainbows, or scenes on the beach, the outside world is always coming into our studios. Today I want to look at one theme that gets mixed reviews.

Some people adore insects of all shapes, sizes and colors. They are very fascinating creatures, with unique life cycles and societies. Many insects form symbiotic bonds with other plants and animals, and they are an important part of every ecosystem. Other people abhor anything that crawls, flies or spins in dark corners. There are any number of reasons why we fear bugs and insects, including bites and other creepy business. Some insects carry diseases, and others just look disgusting.

Somewhere in between all of these opinions are the creative folks who can create the most amazing designs inspired by these tiny creatures. Beautiful bugs like butterflies make obvious subjects, but even the creepiest insects can make for beautiful beads.

Mother of Pearl Dragonfly Pendant from

Russian Mother of Pearl Dragonfly Pendant

Purple Dragonfly Enamel Pendant from Happy Mango Beads

Purple Dragonfly Enameled Copper Crescent Pendant
from Happy Mango Beads

Lampwork Ladybug Beads from MindieleeSupplyz

Red Lampwork Glass Ladybugs
from Mindielee Supplyz

Orange Glass Butterfly Pendant from

Murano Style Glass Butterfly Pendant
from Auntie's Beads

Crystal Silver Night Butterfly Bead from

Swarovski Elements Crystal Silver Night Butterfly

Brass Oxide Butterfly Bead from RoyalMetals

Tierra Cast Monarch Butterfly Bead
from Royal Metals

Green and Black Patina Glass Dragonfly Button from bello modo

Green Patina Czech Glass Dragonfly Button
from Bello Modo

Butterfly and Flower Clasp from Sonoran Beads

Brass and Copper Butterfly and Flower Clasp
from Sonoran Beads

Red and Gold Ladybug Beads from Beadaholique

Czech Glass Red and Gold Ladybugs
from Beadaholique

Patricia Healey Copper Fly from Lima Beads

Patricia Healey Copper Fly Pendant
from Lima Beads

And even though it’s not a stand alone bead,
I couldn’t resist showing you this life-like bug creation!

Handmade Maggot Necklace by HumphreysHandmade

Polymer Clay Maggot Pendant
by Humphrey’s Handmade

What’s your favorite tiny creature? How do you incorporate them into your work?

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cherished Collections: Ancient Egypt

Anubis the Jackal Acrylic Painting

As beaders, we know a thing or two about collecting precious baubles. Even though we often use our collections to make things and then give them away, we still hoard our favorites, organize them obsessively, and hope for new additions on every birthday and holiday. Lately, I’ve been letting my bead collection get a little light, as I search high and low for special new beads, and colors that fit into classic Egyptian palettes.

Exploring new ideas for Egyptian inspired jewelry has been my favorite beading challenge to date, and I have pages of notes and sketches left to try in the coming weeks. I can’t wait to show you this week’s bracelet, which was inspired by the gold and blue striped Nemes crown.

In the meantime, I want to share the source of some of my inspiration - my huge collection of Egyptian imports and artwork. Today I’m taking part in the Cherished Collections blog tour, hosted by one of my favorite blogs, Elegant Musings. There are lots of fantastic vintage, style, and handmade blogs participating this week, with a fantastic variety of collections to share. Please do check it out - you won’t be disappointed.

Egyptian Inspired 1920's Vintage Ads

1. egyptian deities 1920, 2. rigaud 1920,
3. palmolive 1920, 4. Baubles 'N Bits

I tried to capture just a few of my favorite and most interesting Egyptian pieces. Many of them are handmade (not necessarily by me), and many are imported from Egypt, though they are modern made trinkets. Although I love the traditional and authentic look, I also enjoy even the most kitschy recreations, particularly those that resemble the designs of the Egyptian Revival fad of the 1920’s. If I see something Egyptian looking, and the price is right, I’ll usually scoop it up. Everything from cheesy Pharaoh fridge magnets to cobalt blue glassware catches my eye.

Egyptian Decorative Boxes

One of my favorite things to collect is boxes. Since most of what we know about Ancient Egypt comes from tombs, and these were usually filled as if the deceased were going on a long vacation, containers and boxes are quite common in history and treasure books about Egypt. And since you can get little wooden boxes of every shape for about a dollar and paint them, I have oodles. Though I can do some pretty cool things with acrylics, I wouldn’t call any of my own boxes favorites. It’s these two that take the prize. One of my favorite images of Ancient Egypt is the profile Anubis in jackal form, and I love this upcylced, hand painted box above most others.

Treasures: Korean Coins, Sea Glass, Marbles, Gemstones, Shells, Pewter Figurines, Broken Pendants

The smaller box is an Egyptian import, with gorgeous mother of pearl inlay, and a velvet lining. I use it to store miscellaneous trinkets, including the only gemstones I will ever own. Among them are a lapis lazuli donut, and a turquoise or magnesite ankh. This little ‘treasure box’ was inspired by my grandmother’s bauble collection. I spent so many magical hours exploring her assorted scraps and trinkets, that I made a point of arranging all of mine in this box. It has been a great source of entertainment for young visitors in my workspace for a few years now.

Egyptian Desert Beaded Wall Hanging

Naturally, a large portion of my handmade collection is based in beads. Long before I discovered bead weaving, I spent a great deal of time creating beaded curtains or tapestries with seed beads, plus acrylic and lucite beads that I carefully collected for their color and ancient appeal. This one is by far my favorite - a desert landscape in strung beads.

Bead Embroidered Sarcophagus Portrait

I also dabbled a bit in bead embroidery, which is a much more efficient and rewarding way to recreate images that you love in beads. My first piece was this portrait of one of the miniature coffins that held Tutankhamun’s internal organs for burial. Once filled with the precious organs, these were placed inside canopic jars and sealed in a special alabaster chest.

Egyptian Figurines

Statuettes, figurines and trinkets are some of the easiest Egyptian decorations to make or buy, and I have quite a few scattered around my various bookshelves and surfaces around the house. Some are very authentic looking, like the carved statues of Bastet, and the tiny gilt pyramid - all imported. Then there’s the little bust that I purchased at a dollar store. It’s worthless, but loveable.

Hand Painted Wood Miniatures

I have a handful of tiny wooden books and vessels that I painted in traditional colors, with a sprinkling of hieroglyphs. I keep them hidden away in my own little collection of canopic jars, made from upcycled drink mix tins.

Egyptian Papyrus Paintings and Semi-precious Trinkets

I like to pick up things that just barely fit into the collection, like the stone pyramid that I purchased about a million years ago at a liquidation sale. The quartz crystal with pyramid shaped striations was a gift from a friend who was interested in alternative healing. The paua shell egg was another gift, and though it’s not Egyptian at all, it looks right at home.

Hand Painted Salt Dough Propaganda Beetles

After carefully looking through each of the tiny personal artifacts in the ‘treasure box’ my bead helper and I spend a little time going through the ‘beetle bowl’. This is one of my favorite things in the whole collection, although it’s actually many small things - these pieces have been grouped together for as long as I’ve had them.

Assorted Scarab Beetle Trinkets

The bowl was a gift, handmade by the giver, and is covered with beautiful blue pottery glazes. Inside are piles of scarabs. There’s a carved bone scarab from Egypt, a genuine dung beetle encased in resin, and a little faience scarab bead. These rest atop a pile of scarabs of many shapes and sizes that I sculpted from salt dough and painted with classic colors.

Egyptian Inspired Dresser

My most recent addition also came from the need to paint things in black and gold. Earlier this year I got tired of how old and dinged up my dresser was looking. It was left to me by an old roommate and I can’t bear to part with it, simply because the drawers are huge and I’ll never find another like it. So I got out the paints and the masking tape, and copied the pattern of one of my bracelet designs to give the whole thing a makeover.

Egyptian Collar

Last but not least - the jewelry. Most of these designs are not obviously Egyptian inspired, with the exception of the gold St. Petersburg chain collar. It has all the right colors, and of course the strands of striped beads make the theme easy to recognize. I only wish I could wear it more often.

Egyptian Inspired Necklaces

Egyptian Inspired Necklaces

Handmade and Vintage Egyptian Style Jewelry

The bangles were a fabulous thrift store find from many years ago, when I went as Nefertiti for Halloween. There were also several black wood and silver bracelets which have been lost along the way, and a pair of handmade earrings to match the blue pendant.

Golden Girl Handmade Egyptian Musk Soap

I promise that my apartment doesn’t look like a museum, but there are a few corners that have an ancient vibe, especially when I neglect the dusting. I wish I could show you everything there is to see. I left out so many things, like history and travel books, papyrus paintings and the wonderful tastes and scents of Egypt. Since I can’t live in a clay house with date palms and pomegranate trees in the yard, and a pet snake to keep away the pests, at least I can try to bring home a little Nile life here and there. Since making tiger nut sweets, I’ve become a little obsessed with eating dates, though I prefer to eat them whole with cubes of salty mozzarella cheese.

Thank you so much for taking this little tour with me! I hope you’ll visit some of the other collections in the challenge as well.

And tell me, what do you like to collect?

Elegant Musings Cherished Collections Blog Tour

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