Friday, February 24, 2012

Long Dangle and Duster Earring Tutorials

Many Inspirational Beading readers know that I avoid making earrings because they require metal components, and I’m a strictly non-metal beader. Today I’m going to confess a little secret - even if I could make and wear earrings, I wouldn’t. For some reason, no matter what size or shape, they look completely ridiculous on me. And since I’ve never made a habit of wearing earrings, I wouldn’t trust myself to design them for others. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Even though I’m not fond of this classic jewelry niche as part of my own wardrobe, I do love the look of some earrings - especially the long, fringed, shoulder-duster type. The popularity of feather accessories and boho jewelry means that big, bold and dangly earrings are a trend favorite. Purely for the fun of it, I went on the hunt for some beautiful long earring tutorials, and found some fabulous projects! Many of these projects come in at around 3 inches, but could easily be adapted for even longer earrings by using longer chains, or adding more beads.

Circle Gets the Square Earrings
Circle Gets the Square Earrings

Circle Gets the Square Statement Earrings by

Billie Monster’s Tassel Earrings from How Joyful

Leather Tassel Earring Tutorial by Black & White and Loved All Over

Fabric Chandelier Earrings by Holland Cox

Sugar and Spice Earrings by

Confetti Earrings Tutorial by

Multistrand Alberta Ferretti Inspired Earrings by Fashion Thrill

Chocolate Rain Earrings by Auntie’s Beads

Sugar and Spice Earrings - Confetti Earrings

Cascading Peacock Hoop Earrings from

Recycled Chain Earrings Tutorial from

Peaceful Waters Earring Project by

Midnight Orb Earrings by Beadaholique

Peaceful Waters Earrings - Midnight Orb Earrings

Do you like to wear or make super long earrings? What’s your favorite material?

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stripes, Cubes and Cuffs

Turquoise Blue Cube Beads

As I move through the ‘old’ beads that I’ve selected for this year’s destash challenge, I find I’m a little embarrassed about the length of time some of these beads have spent hiding in my stash. They’ve just always been there, and it never occurred to me that they might be taking up space, until I actually considered how long ago it was that I purchased them.

One of the most troublesome examples is a handful of 1.5 mm cube bead packets. I purchased two or three each in white, turquoise and blue during one of my very first online shopping trips. It was a dollar sale, and I thought these tiny cubes looked so interesting that I snapped up a bunch at random. Apart from a few white cubes that ended up in a bead soup, I’ve never even used these cubes for a serious project. I experimented a little with square stitch, and then forgot all about them.

So far each project I’ve tackled with the my forgotten beads has been unexpectedly exciting, and this time was no different. I started with the turquoise cubes, and had so much fun with the first project, that I kept going and made two more similar pieces with white and blue.

Herringbone Stripe Cuffs

Because very few of the little cubes have clean edges, I’ve always been wary of weaving with them - I’ve been terrified of broken threads ever since trying to weave with cheap bugles. So I considered what techniques would look good with the cubes and fit into my current style, as well as provide secure beadwork. Herringbone weave seemed like a good solution, because each pair of cube beads would get multiple thread passes naturally, and leaving extra long tail threads would allow for some extra reinforcement at the end.

I paired the turquoise cubes with black and dark beige, and worked out a simple repeating pattern of stripes. It turned out so well, that I did the same again with white, altering the pattern a little, and making a narrower band, since there were fewer white cubes to work with. At last, it was time to use the blue cubes, and I paired them with chartreuse and peridot green, plus a very dark shade of transparent rootbeer.

Even though the cuffs are essentially the same, the different color combinations make them very separate from each other. I can’t decide which one I like best!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poster Sketch: Zebra Stripes

Last week’s giveaway had a great turnout, and some fantastic comments! With a little help from, we have a winner for a fun set of leopard print and lapis blue beads. Congratulations to Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs, and thank you so much to everyone who entered.

For this giveaway, I asked what your favorite animals prints are. There were some very fun and a few unique responses. Although big cats like leopard and tiger were the most popular, there were also a few mentions of Dalmatian spots, peacock feathers, giraffes and even the humble cow! Catherine picked zebra stripes - always a favorite.

The organic shapes and patterns of simple zebra stripes look gorgeous on their own, but also pair up well with other colors - especially neons. Here are a few fun zebra picks, including always lovely zebra shell beads.

Zebralicious Treasury

Happy beading!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Design Ethics for Beaders: Part Two

We’re going to continue our examination of beading ethics today, with a look at online tutorials, projects and designs. But before we begin, we should address some of the excellent questions that came up in Part One.

First, it’s important to note that any discussion on ethics is purely theoretical, and there is a distinct difference between ethics and pattern copyright, or intellectual copyright. The rules of ethics vary between regions and groups, but the basic purpose is the same - to guide us. Ethics help us to know what we should do, not what we can or can’t do (legally or otherwise). If you are faced with a design or inspiration dilemma that has no definite answer, it comes down to what action you are comfortable with, in the present and in the future.

Next, what is the difference between technique and design? Peyote stitch, herringbone weave, wrapped loops, macramé knots - we know these are all examples of techniques. It is the combinations and applications of techniques in a finished piece that make a design unique. A technique can be used very simply, but in a variety of ways, or made complex and elaborate.

For instance, herringbone weave is a common way to make a cuff bracelet. There are hundreds of different ways to combine bead shapes, sizes, and colors with this simple technique. The more complex the application, the more unique the design.

Herringbone Highway Cuff by Aryd'ell Hotelling

Herringbone Highway Cuff by Aryd’ell Hotelling

Spur of the Moment Bracelet by Beth Stone

Spur of the Moment Bracelet by Beth Stone

Sometimes, even the simplest techniques can produce a very original design. You’re probably familiar with the trendy floral necklace characterized by a strand big colorful beads connected by simple loops, and an asymmetrical focal. It’s an easy design to dissect and recreate, which is why there are hundreds of them all over the internet. But, this design (probably) came from a single person - a single designer with a great idea, who now has to compete with all of the inspired copies, many of which are nearly identical in execution and style.

Another example is the Scrabble tile pendant. Someone had to formulate, test and execute that simple but ingenious idea. It’s not clear whether or not he or she intended the technique to be free and fair game for jewelry sellers. Perhaps the creator is happy to have inspired so many crafters, but it is just as likely that they really regret not getting a patent for their idea. (Here again, we put a toe into the realm of copyrights and patents, but just for the sake of argument. There are hundreds of tutorials available for Scrabble tile pendants, which may or may not indicate that it was originally offered as a 'public domain' kind of technique.)

Part Two: Online Tutorials and Projects

Can I use techniques in my work that I’ve learned online*?

Of course! Just like in magazines and beading books, online tutorials for basic techniques are usually shared to help artists learn. Basic methods such as peyote stitch, decoupage, and crochet are available to everyone - to use and to share. There can be exceptions of course, if a designer has developed a never-before-seen technique that is very unique. One example is Keplar’s Star Weave by Gwen Fisher. In these cases, however, it is unlikely that the designer will share a free, public tutorial for the technique.

* In this discussion, we’re talking about publicly published tutorials, such as those found on blogs, craft websites, and forums.

What about complete projects?

There are many bloggers, bead shops, and webmasters that share complete tutorials for making finished projects online, for free. There are a variety of reasons for publishing these projects, including selling the materials, encouraging beaders to try new techniques, and even increasing one’s readership and SEO. Because they are free and public, anyone can follow the instructions and make the designs.

However, unless the designer or instructor indicates that the project is available for commercial use* it is meant only for learning and enjoyment. Some bloggers will indicate in the tutorial, or elsewhere on the site, that projects are for personal use only. Many don’t, for some of the same reasons that book and magazine publishers don’t include prominent disclaimers - it’s just common sense. These kinds of tutorials are intended for hobbyists, not professional crafters.

* Typically, commercial use means to sell finished pieces, offer the project for commission work, donate finished pieces, or display them for promotional purposes. Mass-producing the project is a different matter, and is almost never allowed by any designer.

What if my project is different from the original?

This is always the place where we can become unsure. If you presented two variations of the same project to a jury, each person would have a different opinion on how different they are. One of the best ways to examine how original a recreation or inspiration is, is to compare the projects side by side. Would a beading novice recognize a connection between the designs? Are any additional techniques, stitches, turns or components incorporated into the new piece? Would the original designer recognize their ideas upon seeing it?

This question is also covered in the last discussion of Design Ethics for Beaders. Many of the same questions and answers apply to books as well as online tutorials. They also cover beading patterns - like complex patterns for peyote stitch that create a distinct image.

How do you feel about online design ethics? Questions and comments about these topics are welcome!

Further Reading:

The Beadwork Ethics Quiz on Beading Daily
State of Confusion by Regretsy (Contains some profanity)

Give Credit Redux and,
Another Look at Giving Credit Where Credit is Due by Haute Ice Beadwork

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Bead Spotlight: Crystal Components

Swarovski crystals are renowned for their unmatched sparkle, quality design, and amazing colors. They are a definite favorite among beaders, crafters, and even fashion designers. But when it comes to CRYSTALLIZED Swarovski components - the un-beads like rivolis and dentelles - there is an entirely different appeal.

What is it about these hole-less beads that we love so much? My theory is that they are grown up versions of those big, gaudy plastic jewels that little girls wear when playing dress up. They have the sophistication of Liz Taylor’s emeralds, and the playfulness of costume jewelry. And even though they aren’t quite as versatile as bicones or rondelles, there are many fun and beautiful ways to use them - from metallic settings and bails, to beadweaving and even crochet.

CRYSTALLIZED Swarovski Components

1. Montanta Sapphire Fancy Pear from SoniaZ Bijoux

2. Bermuda Blue Cosmic Square Ring from

3. Crystal Antique Pink Organic Cosmic Triangle from

4. Tanzanite Crystal Baguette Stone from

Whether it’s a big fancy oval in a bezel, or a cosmic triangle on a chain, the chunky sparkle of these fancy crystals give the impression of precious jewels, with an added flair. They have a fantastic quality to them - like dragon’s treasure or mermaid’s baubles.

Here are a few simple projects you can try using Swarovski fancy stones:

Swarovski Modular Necklace with Ribbon
How to Use DeCoRe Clay with Fancy Stones
I've Got Sunshine Necklace
Peyote Stitch Bezel Tutorial

Do you like to use crystal components in your work? What’s your favorite shape?

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Bead Giveaway: Lapis Leopard

I have some more fantastic beads to giveaway! After all of the time I’ve spent hoarding these baubles, it’s surprisingly liberating to send them off to new homes. This next set is actually a combination of two small collections.

First, we have some delightful round nuggets that have a spotted pattern in brown and gold, like a pretty leopard coat. They range in size from about 10 to 14 mm, and have a lovely, organic shape.

Lapis Leopard Bead Giveaway

The blue beads are some of my all time favorites. Many of them ended up in my special stash because their speckled finish resembles lapis lazuli - an Egyptian favorite. There are a few acrylic cabochons in the set, as well as some cobalt and turquoise blue pieces.

How to Enter:

For a chance to win all of the beads shown, leave a comment on this post, and answer the following question:

What is your favorite animal print for beads, fashion, or décor?

One lucky winner will be drawn at random on Wednesday, February 22nd. If you don’t have a Blogger profile with email contact enabled, please be sure to leave a contact link in your comment, so I can get in touch with you if you win! This giveaway is open to readers from Canada and the US.

Good luck, and happy beading!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blog Spotlight: Randomcreative

It’s been far too long since we’ve had any blog love for Inspirational Beading readers. I appreciate each and every comment - except for the spam - and I only wish I had more time to really explore all of the great blogs by writers and beaders that visit every month.

Today I want to share one of my favorite beading blogs - The Beadings and Buttons of Randomcreative. If you love crafts, this is one of the places you want to be every week. The author, Rose, has lots to say about jewelry, beading, buttons, sewing, paper crafts, and all kinds of handmade goodness. Her regular segments like I Heart Macro and Saturday Link List are full of inspiration from a wild and exciting variety of sources. Readers who love beading will enjoy plenty of sneak peaks of beautiful projects in progress!

Rose is a very talented designer and writer. She also creates amazing tutorial and inspiration articles like Czech Glass Dagger Beaeds: Patterns and Stunning Jewelry Inspiration. She even shares some helpful tips for taking fantastic jewelry photographs!

More fun blogs you might like:

Shadow Dog Designs

The Cheeky Kea

Wild Sally Road

My Bead World

A huge thank you to all of my fantastic readers. Happy beading!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Randomcreative
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Style a Geometric Necklace

Whether you like to make patterned peyote cuffs, cabochon jewelry, or gemstone rings, shapes are an important part of the design process. Big, bold and chunky bead shapes can make for some stunning jewelry. Although the best way to wear these pieces is with simple garments, it can be fun to pile on the patterns.

Today’s collage started with a beautiful orange and gold statement necklace, with chunky orange resin rectangles and triangles. The simple palette makes it ideal for pairing with busy tops and dresses, and I chose two fun pieces with hints of aqua and green. Chunky three-stone rings easily add another layer of shapes to each outfit.

Geometry in Orange

These ensembles might be a little much for street wear, but pared down to one or two bold pieces, they would certainly make a statement. The hammered triangle bracelet that ties in to both sets is a little more subtle than the hot orange shoes and geometric purses.

As always, there are lots of ways to build your own looks with handmade and vintage pieces.

Geometry Treasury

Here are my favorite Polyvore sets featuring today’s picks:


Love in vein

Geometric Pucci

So many colors, so little time...

What’s your favorite way to use geometry in beadwork?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Design Ethics for Beaders: Part One

Favorite Bead and Button Projects

We may not always realize it, but ethics are an important part of beading and jewelry design; and for every beader there comes a time to ask questions that don’t always have clear answers. These quandaries get even more complicated for those designers who use the internet to share their work, or to find inspiration. It’s not always easy to know where lines are drawn, and there are often shades of gray.

Whether you’re a brand new beader, or a seasoned designer, a little brush up on the do’s and don’ts of beading is never a bad idea. Today I’m going to cover some of the most common questions asked by beaders regarding published tutorials, and hopefully give some clear explanations for each. I can’t claim to be a definite expert in this sometimes treacherous area, and every country or region has different laws, and customs that will effect the unwritten rules. When in doubt, always do a little research, and let your conscience be your guide!

Part One: Magazines and Beading Books

Is it okay to make designs from magazine tutorials and beading books?

Absolutely! Each designer has their own motivation for sharing a design and tutorial in a publication, but the general purpose behind these beading how-to’s is to share new ideas and techniques, and encourage beaders to try new materials. They are there to help you learn, experiment, and develop your skills. They also help to sell more beads, which keeps the bead stores open and supplying us with our materials.

What can I do with designs I make from published projects?

Wear them, give them to friends, share a picture on your blog (with credit), or all of the above. Remember that the piece you make is yours, but the design is not. Unless you have permission from the designer, you can’t sell what you’ve made, donate it to a charity auction, enter it in a contest, or put its picture in your shop banner.

Many designers are open to the idea of beaders selling recreations of their designs, but you must get in touch with them and ask. Most magazines and books will include contact information for each designer, or you can contact the publisher for forwarding.

Peyote Rings Inspired by Julia Gerlach

What if my project is different from the original?

This is where things get a little muddy. Even the most elaborate designs, when broken down, are made up of basic techniques and common materials. So it would seem that simply changing the bead colors or shapes, or adding an extra row of stitches would make a unique piece. In 99.9% of cases, a simple switch does not make a design unique from the tutorial. If you’re in doubt, it’s probably not different enough.

As disappointing as this can be, especially after you’ve put so much effort into making something, keep in mind that the tutorial you are using is intended to help you learn and experiment. The knowledge and experience you have gained by making the piece is more valuable than the selling price. You can take these ideas and make them your own, and the more experience you have, the easier it will be to tell the difference between inspiration and imitation.

But don’t the designers get paid for their tutorials?

Some magazines do pay a small fee to print original projects, but not always. When they do, they also have the designer sign a contract, which prohibits them from selling the tutorial or teaching it to others for a certain length of time. It’s almost impossible to get rich or even make a living selling tutorials to magazines and publishers.

As a community, beaders are very generous, and we’re lucky to have so many designers and teachers to guide and inspire us. While we are fortunate to have many free and inexpensive resources to draw from, our mentors deserve to be compensated for their time and experience, and to feel that their designs are in good hands.

What if I can figure out how to make a design without a tutorial?

Whether the artist has given instructions for a project or not, the design still belongs to them, and the same rules apply. When in doubt, consider how you would react if someone dissected one of your designs, and copied it for profit. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if it feels like stealing, it probably is.

Spotlight on New Dimensions by Margot Potter

What if I give credit to the designer?

We should always give credit where it is due, and when sharing a picture of your creation, or showing it off to your beading circle, dropping the designer’s and/or publication’s name is the way to go. The same goes for inspiration, if something you learned from a tutorial helped you to create a unique design of your own. However, giving the designer’s name doesn’t make it okay to sell copies of their work without permission.

How do you feel about beading ethics? I would love to hear your feedback on these topics, and your questions about these and other design dilemmas. Next time we’ll discuss online tutorials and the difference between technique and design.

Further reading:

Bead and Button Magazine Submission Guidelines
How to Write and Publish a Craft Book by Margot Potter
Ethics in Beadland by Mary J. Tafoya

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Bead Wish List: Picasso

Every beader has their favorite supplies, techniques, and colors. Often, the beads that we like the most are those that help to define our style, and what beading means to us. Although a girl who loves bicone crystals is in many ways a totally different beader than the one who loves Lucite flowers, we are all connected by our craft, and can appreciate these little quirks that separate us. Our tastes and palettes are as unique as we are.

One of my all time favorite bead finishes is Picasso, especially on faceted or cut beads. I love the earthy quality they have, the subtle elegance, and the way the colors seem more vibrant under the Picasso blush. They’re awfully rugged and rustic for something so pretty. Today I felt like doing a little window shopping, with nothing but Picasso on the list.

Hyacinth Picasso Table Cut Rectangles
From MK Supplies

Picasso Jasper Faceted Rounds

TOHO Hybrid Seed Beads in Jet Picasso

Turquoise Picasso Fluted Firepolish

Aqua Picasso Chunky Ovals
From Mountain Shadow Design

Siam Ruby Firepolish Rondelles

Yellow Picasso Table Cut Squares
From Happy Mango Beads

Cobalt Blue Teardrop Window Beads
From Beadaholique

Old World Picasso Mix Seed Beads
From Beads-and-Babble

Dew Drop Blue Faceted Rondelles
From Bobbi’s This n That

Do you like Picasso finish beads? What’s your favorite shape and color?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nutty Valentine Necklace

Nutty Valentine Beads

Every time I start a new beading challenge, I am surprised by just how much inspiration having a goal can provide. Now that I’m looking at old beads in a new way, I have more ideas than I know what to do with. I can barely keep up or decide which project to tackle first!

For my second destash challenge design, I looked to some beads that have been very dear, even though I’ve only used them once. Way back in 2009, I purchased some heart-shaped nut pendants that were so pretty, I couldn’t wait to use them. When I finally had the time to work with them, I was eager to create, and the green lariat that I designed for them turned out fabulous. It’s still one of my all time favorite pieces.

I suppose that I was unsure how I could possibly make another design with the remaining nut beads that could top the lariat, so I’ve been ignoring them ever since. When I added them to my tray of destash beads, I was a little nervous. Would I end up making just another variation of a spiral lariat with them? Then it occurred to me that with Valentine’s Day coming up, I could use them now, and pair them with red. And there just happened to be some fantastic red beads in the to-use list.

Heart of Wood Pendant

I gathered up some Czech glass rings in frosted cherry, and the last of my red velvet Angelic crystal rondelles. To help balance the natural finish of the nut bead, I added a few parched desert wood beads, and some dark topaz seed beads. A dash of shiny jet black would bring everything together just right.

Rather than stitch my usual Y pendant all in one piece, I used one of the glass rings as an anchor for three separate chains. Because I had already selected so many accent beads, I couldn’t add any druks, so I used seed bead daisies to strengthen the beadwork instead.

I had no idea that these forgotten beads could inspire so many new approaches to a favorite design. I was happy to find that the palette looks just as good in the finished pieces as it did on the drawing board.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Potawatomi Daisy Chain

Beaded Potawatomi Daisies

This week we talked a bit about beading origins, and the cultures that influence our beadwork. If you draw some of your beading roots from Native American artwork, or Bohemianism, then you’ll want to add Potawatomi weave to your repertoire. This simple yet sturdy stitch contains a pattern that can be adapted to look just like a neat little row of daisies, and once you get it started, the steps are simple to remember. To get a traditional looking daisy chain, use a basic palette of opaque seed beads, or better yet, love beads.

To get the hang of this stitch, it can help to split your perception of the pattern three ways: the daisies, with a row of ‘leaves’ between each; a repeating pattern of 2- and 3-bead rows; and the actual thread path, which is also worked in a repeating 2-3 pattern. It sounds more complicated than it actually is - all you have to do is remember the correct sequence of bead colors to make the daisy pattern come through.

You’ll need at least 3 seed bead colors - for the petals, leaves, and pollen.

To weave a Potawatomi daisy chain:

Pick up 4 petal beads, and 1 pollen bead. Leaving a tail of 6 inches or more, stitch back through the first bead again, moving towards the tail thread. Pull snug to form a cluster of beads.

Potawatomi Tutorial Daisy Chain Tutorial

Pick up 2 petal beads, and stitch down through the last petal bead picked up in the first step. Pull snug, and you should have a tiny daisy!

To continue, pick up 1 leaf, 1 petal, and 1 leaf colored bead. Stitch up through the second petal bead picked up in the previous step - the one just above the bead your thread is exiting.

How to Weave Potawatomi Chain How to Weave Potawatomi Daisies

Pick up 1 leaf and 1 petal bead, and stitch down through the petal bead picked up in the previous step. Pull snug after each stitch, but don’t worry if the flowers don’t look perfect right away. With each new stitch, the previous row will get stronger and more even.

Pick up 2 petal and 1 pollen bead. Stitch up through the top petal bead in the work.

Potawatomi Chain Stitch Daisy Pattern Potawatomi Weave

Pick up 2 petal beads, and stitch down through the second petal bead from the previous step, just below the pollen bead.

You'll see that once the first flower you stitch is complete, all of the steps will repeat with 2 and 3 beads picked up in each stitch, in the following pattern:

1 leaf, 1 petal, 1 leaf
1 leaf, 1 petal
2 petal, 1 pollen
2 petals

Blue and White Potawatomi Daisies

Although Potawatomi stitch is a little more complex than the daisy chain we learn at summer camp, the results are worth it. The chain is sturdier, and the flowers are easier to distinguish with their leafy borders. Of course, you can skip the flower pattern and make a solid or striped chain as well! And, if you have a little time before Valentine’s day, you can combine two patterned chains to make a row of tiny hearts.

Happy beading!

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