Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Quick Jade

Jade Three Strand Bracelet

This week I needed a bracelet project that I could finish and photograph in the same day - something quick and simple. Ironically, the piece that I chose to make used a large assortment of beads, which made my work space look a lot more complicated than the actual bracelet-to-be.

I decided to go with an easy three strand bracelet, and what better place to start than with an Egyptian hieroglyph bead? I’ve already done one with orange, so I decided to create its mate in jade green. Although the opportunity to find another new palette for these hieroglyph beads was tempting, I couldn’t resist using some of the same beads from my jade necklace. I really loved the combination of olive greens with turquoise and topaz.

Unfortunately, I had used up all of my green Swarovski bicones for the necklace, so I had to make a few adjustments to the palette for the bracelet. Once I got going, I found all kinds of fun things to add, and ended up with a very different look. The bracelet has a much softer mood to it - a bit more playful.

Do you like to use the same palettes over many projects?

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Friday, November 25, 2011

New Beads: Baby Blue

Picasso Chips and Chinese Seed Beads

When I started my buy-some-neat-new-beads-every-month challenge at the beginning of this year, I didn’t anticipate any major changes in my bead budget, and I had hoped to discover lots of unique and interesting beads, particularly handmade lampwork. I have found some great glass artists along the way, but October’s budget was too small for anything quite so special.

I don’t like to give up on a good challenge, especially one that helps inspire new ideas and ways to use beads. In order to keep the New Beads challenge going, I had to break a few of my own rules. The upside is that it allowed me to make use of some beads that have been rattling around in my stash for a long time.

Years ago, I purchased a vial of mixed Czech glass beads, and sorted them out by shape and color. All of those beads have long since been used, except for a handful of rough cut Picasso tubes in black and red. When I first gathered them up, I was inspired to pair them with pale blue or turquoise, possibly in a multi-strand necklace. I saw them nestled randomly along strands of Czech seed beads - the slightly irregular shapes would pair up well with these speckled little oddities. I’ve been carrying around the image of this necklace ever since, and whenever I pass by the bead section at my neighborhood dollar store, I think of it. The big packets of delightfully wonky* Chinese seed beads call out to me, saying “Wouldn’t we look great in a multi-strand necklace?”.

Since my budget was so small, I decided to grab some of these quirky seed beads in baby blue, and finally create the necklace that my little Picasso beads were meant for. I was excited about finally tackling the project, but because I wasn’t going to be selling a piece made with something from my taboo list, I have to admit that I wasn’t eager to spend a lot of time making beaded caps and metal-free ends to hold a lot of strands woven in and out. I had to come up with something new - an easy way to put lots of beads together in one place.

Picasso Blue Multistrand Necklace

I decided to put my one spool of neglected Nymo to good use, and strung almost the entire packet of seed beads with the Picasso chips and a few black 8/o’s for texture. I wanted to use up as much of the beads as I could, so I left the thread on the spool and watched the strand get longer and longer. When I was running out of ‘good’ beads, I tied the ends together and wove the tails in to get an enormous connected loop of pretty beads.

After that, all I had to do was wrap the strands together into a suitable length, and lashed them with short spiral ropes stitched to a beaded clasp. The necklace has the look and feel of a traditional eye pin multi-strand project, and even twists up nicely. Although I appreciate the softness and drape that the Nymo provides, I think I’ll switch to my Fireline if I ever decide to recreate this piece with better beads. It turned out so nice, I think it’s very likely that I will do it again!

Metal-free Multistrand Necklace Technique

*Wonky is a widely excepted technical term for beads that aren’t quite right.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Collections: Beautiful Bicones

The results are in, and the winner of the faux gems bead giveaway is Pine Ridge Treasures! Congratulations to our winner, and thank you so much to everyone who entered. As always, your answers to the bead question were varied and exciting. This month, we talked about our favorite bead shapes. The winning comment also happened to be the most popular - bicones.

These bead shapes are quite common, thanks to their versatility and good looks. Although we often think of crystals as the ultimate bicones, there are lots of other variations as well. Here are just a few examples of beautiful bicone beads, and how to use them.

Beautiful Bicones Collection

Happy beading!

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A Bracelet a Week: Time Piece

Turquoise Tile Bracelet

I find myself in a bit of a pickle this week - I’m four days behind with last week’s bracelet post, and the weekend is fast approaching. I’m going to count this as a slight hiccup in the challenge, only because I was able to finish the bracelet in the usual time. Photographs and posts are another matter.

I have discovered a new appreciation for beaders, bloggers and handmade sellers who carry on full time day jobs in addition to everything else! I used to think that there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and now I’m just happy to get the important things out of the way while everything else piles up.

I have been away from the bookstore business for a few years now, and I’m delighted to be back, despite the drastic changes in my daily schedule. I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and loving that as well. I forgot how much I missed having my nose in a book at every opportunity, and I finally have a reason to make use of Goodreads.

I have also discovered that the less time there is for beading, the more reluctant I am to do it. It seems that beading only feels worthwhile if I can devote myself to it totally. I’ve never enjoyed doing something in fits and starts. Things are going to be a little quieter here on Inspirational Beading as the holidays approach, but I’m still determined to keep this challenge going. There are only a handful of weeks left, after all. I hope to see you at the finish line!

Red Leather Belt Bead Palette

In any case, I had an extra day to get some work done last week, and I decided I would take the opportunity to make something different, something that wasn’t a guaranteed success. I went through my list of bracelet ideas from the beginning of the challenge, but of the designs that have yet to be crossed off, I found nothing that appealed to me at the moment. I went through my accent beads, waiting for inspiration, and came away with nothing. What to do?

I decided to let color be my guide instead, and turned to one of the western inspired palettes I had created earlier this month. I really loved the look of jonquil and aqua cube beads with transparent ruby, and created a palette very similar to the original. The cube beads inspired a new bracelet shape, with a square stitch base and bands of right angle weave. I love the watch-like shape of the beadwork, and the simplicity of the three bold colors. It was a risky project, but turned out great!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Bead Giveaway: Faux Gems

Acrylic Imitation Gemstone Beads

It’s been far too long since we’ve had a bead giveaway. This month, I want to share one of my favorite bead collections - lots of lovely little round beads in imitation gemstone colors. I carefully collected these 6 mm rounds and treasured them for the way they resemble semiprecious stones and quartz. Though they have typical acrylic characteristics - particularly their light weight - they always remind me of some of my favorite beads - druks.

There are over 300 beads in all, with assorted shades of white, brown, blue, green, and even a little pink. To enter for your chance to win these pretty beads, simply leave a comment on this post, and answer the following question:

What is your all time favorite bead shape?

If you do not have a Blogger profile with email contact enabled, be sure to leave a link to your shop or website, or an email address, so that I can contact you if you win!

One lucky winner will be drawn at random on Wednesday, November 23rd.

Good luck, and happy beading!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wish List: Luscious Lampwork

Lampwork beads are the ultimate material for beading and jewelry designs. The uniqueness of each piece can turn an ordinary necklace or bracelet into a work of art. Although inexpensive factory made lampwork beads are available in large quantities, high quality artisan lampwork designs are the most desired by beaders and crafters.

Even our favorite bead retailers are catching on to the allure of art glass, and many are offering up lampwork beads made with care in the USA. But when it comes to one of a kind beads, individual torch artists provide us with amazing treasures.

Here are just a few examples of the delightful focals, spacers and components available from flamework artists around the world!

Sun Conure Parrot Lampwork Focal
By LandS Arts

Purple and Ivory Pillow Bead by Grace

Spots and Bumps Bead Set
By A & R Beads

Hibiscus Heart Lampwork Focal
By Crazy Lady Glass

Stripes and Frit Lampwork Focal by T-Beads
From FusionBeads

Funky Lampwork Bead Set
By Fluid Glass Art Beads

Cosmo Lampwork Focal by The BeadsNest
From Lima Beads

Reactive Ivory Garden Lampwork Buttons
By Firedance Beads

Burnt Orange Lampwork Rondelles
From Happy Mango Beads

Burned Flowers Pebble Beads
From Venetian Bead Shop

Tok Lampwork Bead Set
By Helen Chalmers

What's your favorite way to use lampwork beads?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wear It Twice: Tribal Twist

I’m always very excited when the time comes to put together a little collage of jewelry and garments with a fun theme and color palette. Exploring different ways to style jewelry with fabrics, textures, cuts and colors is like a creative stretching session. I look forward to it every month, and it’s exciting to find new statement necklaces for each focus.

Animal Prints

This month, I spotted a gorgeous multi-strand necklace with hints of orange and yellow, and a big turquoise drop pendant. I thought it would be fun to pair it with different animal prints, and other elements that would highlight the bold colors. The challenge with animal prints is to avoid too much visual noise, and bring everything together for a polished look.

Both the zebra print dress and asymmetrical leopard top work well with the necklace, and a set of wood bangles with a bit of snakeskin for good measure. Extra splashes of color like turquoise accessories, teal shoes and orange leather boots tie everything together.

Putting together a chic tribal outfit is easy with handmade and vintage options.

Wild Thing Treasury

And here are my favorite Polyvore collages featuring this month’s picks:

I go for tribal prints


autumn time

Everyone Smiles in the same Language :)

On The Go

Do you like to use animal prints in fashion or jewelry?

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Time Capsule: November 2008

Pink Multistrand Necklace

Compared with previous months, November 2008 was a fairly steady month here on Inspirational Beading. Although there were only three posts in all, I was beading steadily and chronicling each piece with a new found momentum. I was really starting to like the concept of beading and blogging side by side, though it hadn’t yet occurred to me to write about any other topics just yet.

November was special because it was the first time that I created something for the purpose of awareness. That month, I made a pink multi-strand necklace as a way to merge my support for international bullying awareness week, and Canada’s Pink Shirt Day, which actually occurs in February. Creating a design and sharing it with an audience - even the small one Inspirational Beading had at the time - was a big step for the blog, and one I have been eager to continue with in various ways throughout the last three years.

Making this pink necklace wasn’t just an important moment for the blog, but for me as a beader as well. Today it is an interesting example of the things that motivate us to create. When we begin our journey into the world of beading, our desire to learn something new is often what drives us to keep going. Of course, trying out new techniques and materials is a constant motivation once we realize how agreeable this art form is - but without those extra inspirations, our creativity can go around in circles.

Whether we want to make gifts that our friends and family will love, tell a story, or capture a particular theme, finding a motivation for our beadwork is what helps us move on from simply combining materials and stitches, to truly designing works of beaded art.

This pink necklace isn’t exactly a work of art, but it was a momentary spark of determination. Suddenly, beading wasn’t just a fun thing to do, but a tool and a channel for other, sometimes greater, things.

What’s your greatest creative motivation?

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Daily Treasury: Perfect Pastels

As the holidays approach, many of us are on the look out for some of our favorite seasonal treats. One thing I always look forward to every winter is a little box of butter mints - smooth, tasty and delightfully colorful.

This pretty pastel treasury by Sharky's Waters captures that same smoothness with a hint of holiday elegance.

Pastel Pleasure Treasury

What's your favorite holiday treat for inspiration?

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Stone Spiral

Stone Spiral Bracelet

This week I was in the mood to test out some of my newer 8/o seed bead colors. One of the prettiest stitches for larger seed beads is Russian spiral netting; the simplicity of the stitch allows the beads themselves to stand out, and makes it a great technique for mixing up colors and basic patterns.

I combined turquoise green and dark beige 8/o seed beads, and gave them a background of jet black. Alternating the bigger beads in each row gives a speckled, almost striped look to the bracelet. Although none of the beads have a Picasso finish, the texture of the beadwork and its colors almost has the same effect overall. Even with the flashes of bright green standing out starkly against the black, I find that it has an earthy quality - like a pebble on the beach.

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Friday, November 11, 2011


Poppy Poppy by Sabine Little

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Lampwork Poppy Image Hosted by Flickr
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Red and Turquoise, Softly

How interesting that just after exploring the color possibilities of red and turquoise, I should stumble across this very pretty treasury in soft shades of red and minty blue. The abundance of white backgrounds in these picks by WiseApple gives the entire set a very festive, wintry look.

Gorgeous Gifts Treasury

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World Beaders: India

Today I want to extend a warm welcome to Inspirational Beading readers from India! I was very excited to see India near the top of our monthly visitor’s list. I knew before I even started looking for photographs to share with you, that it would be difficult to choose only a handful. I found so many beautiful and stunning pictures, and many that were also sad - it seems to be a world of striking contrasts.

Like many cultures around the world, jewelry and adornment make up a large part of India’s traditions and heritage. India is one of the world’s largest consumers of gold, and has been a home to different kinds of bead manufacturing for thousands of years.

The Republic of India is the second most populated country in the world, second only to China. The richly diverse culture of its citizens is due in part to the local origins of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, which have been accompanied by Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam in recent history. Between the early 17th and 18th centuries, The East India Company slowly gained access and control over the region, and eventually annexed most of India. The country won it’s independence from British rule in 1947.

One of the most famous Indian landmarks is the Taj Mahal, an immense and beautiful monument and mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, third wife of emperor Shah Jahan. Construction began in 1632, after Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to her 14th child. The tomb is set within a 980 square foot garden, and is one of the most easily recognized structures in the world.

Another widely know Indian treasure is Bollywood, the home of Hindi-language films. The nickname describes films from the area of Maharashtra, formerly Bombay, which is the largest film producer in India. Known for colorful, musical romances and action films, Bollywood movies have been growing and evolving since the early nineteenth century, and eventually surpassed the US as the world’s largest film producer. The term Bollywood, which is not appreciated by all cinema lovers, was coined sometime in the 1970’s.

Happy beading, India!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Favorite Beads: The Lot

Wood and Wool Bangle by yellowee

Today my guest, Ellen of yellowee, shares her love of a fun assortment of beads and buttons for decoration and embellishment.

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

Ellen: I love glass beads of all types, and also lots of semiprecious stones, especially labradorite, moonstone, amethyst, and garnet. Basically anything glittery or iridescent. I also have a deep love for buttons, which can be used in many of the same ways as beads, and I view them as the same type of supply for my creations. Jars of vintage buttons can be a lot of fun, because you never know what you'll find inside.

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

Ellen: Since I'm primarily a fiber artist, I mostly use beads as an embellishment for my knitted, crocheted, and needlefelted creations. My favorite use of beads in combination with fiber is to make fiber jewelry.

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

Ellen: This brooch I made with strips of fabric and brighly-colored glass seed beads: Crochet Flower Brooch

Crochet Flower Brooch

It turned out really big and bold and I love the little pool of beads in the middle. It was also one of my first international orders, and it was really exciting to me that someone in Australia liked it as much as I did!

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

Ellen: I think a lot about the combination of colors when I'm making something. I take my time choosing yarn based on its colors, and it's important to me to select beads that harmonize and enhance the overall effect. I guess my tip to other artists would be not to be afraid of unusual color combinations. Something that "clashes" can also be unique and exciting.

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

Ellen: I like the way wool has a little bit of fuzz to it. For instance, in this brooch, I enjoy the combination of the furry background with the smoothness of the beads: Sparkle Flower Brooch. And this bowl also has a fun combination of textures: Bounce Bowl.

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

Button Garland by yellowee

Ellen: If I were stranded on the moon, I would probably be totally happy with a big bowl full of shiny glass beads, especially if there were lots of colors to choose from. I'd be really sad if I didn't have any yarn, though! I need both!

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

Ellen: I love to get supplies on Etsy. There are always other crafters de-stashing something that they don't need anymore, so you can get some good deals. And I like to know that I am supporting another crafter when I buy something.

You can see more delightful bead and fiber creations in Ellen’s shop yellowee, and on her blog, ebebee crafts.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and yellowee
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Bead Color Palettes: Wild West

Desert Blues, Desert Reds

Over the past few months, I’ve been adding to a collection of necklace inspired collages with simple themes and striking color palettes. Each collage has a basic template of an editorial photo, coordinating garments and accessories, and a few background elements to tie everything together.

So far, my favorite collage features a Western theme, with a classic palette of coral red, turquoise blue, and sandy, leathery browns. The combination of coral and turquoise is one that we see so often, it’s almost as ordinary as red, yellow and blue. But with the addition of a neutral - like warm desert brown - it really comes to life.

I wanted to see how well these three colors would work with beads alone. The challenge would be to pair up shades and finishes that compliment each other as well as the natural colors of coral, turquoise and leather.

I was drawn to use a simple combination of seed beads and druks, which would allow for a wide variety of designs, while remaining uncomplicated with just a hint of texture. Though the beads are drastically different in size, the smoothness of the druks makes them easy to blend.

Saloon Color Palette

The first palette began with pepper red - bold and spicy enough for a Western theme. I included creamy dark beige seed beads that seem to recede against the red. The addition of the turquoise druks balances and brings them together. Their bright, orbital appearance inspired the name Chameleon for this trio.

Chameleon Bead Palette

Next I combined slightly smoother shades of lustered cherry and turquoise. Together they look like mint and cinnamon - Hot and Cold. I topped this palette off with some brown horn druks, which have a rustic look all their own, and add personality with their varied finish.

Hot and Cold Bead Palette

For the third palette, I couldn’t resist switching to some different shapes, so that I could include my strand of bright red rice beads. I suppose I will have to get around to using them eventually, and this might just be that palette to do it with. To complement the transparency of the rice beads, I added dark topaz seed beads, and turquoise blue 4mm cubes. The amount of light and color in Red Leather Belt is stunning!

Red Leather Belt Bead Palette

Do you like to combine turquoise with coral red?

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