Friday, March 30, 2012

Olive Drop Necklace

For my most recent destash project, I tackled a pair of Czech glass pear drops that I purchased about a million years ago. I can’t say for sure why I chose to grab only two of these pretty Picasso drops, but having a pair of them seemed to stifle any inspiration I may have had for them. Apart from earrings, what sort of project could use two large red and green drops?

Picasso Pear Drops

I wanted to make sure that both of these pieces got used up, so I put everything else aside, and tried to design a necklace that would work with two drops, and still look balanced. I decided to try and construct a pendant design, with one drop above the other, using a series of loops at the end of a V-shaped St. Petersburg chain.

At first things didn’t work out the way I had hoped. The pendant section looked awkward and strange. Rather than get discouraged and scrap the whole thing, I tried adding some embellishments. With the addition of some beaded leaves, the pendant took on a whole new look, and the large loops of seed beads became stronger and more shapely.

Olive Drop Pendant

I’m so glad that these pretty beads have finally found their place!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time Capsule: March 2009

In art, crafts, and especially in beading, sometimes mistakes can result in exciting breakthroughs. Three years ago this month, I was on the verge of a happy beading accident, but I didn’t know it yet.

There wasn’t actually much going on at Inspirational Beading back then. Only one post really stands out for me, because it included beads from my very first online order. Whenever I look back at those blue and green TOHO cubes, I get a nostalgic thrill. They represent the wide world of beading possibilities that had just opened up for me.

Although the other beads that I used in the tubular right angle weave necklace were simple Picasso finish seed beads, they actually sparked inspirations that I never would have come across on my own. Up until I decided to try shopping online, I had been buying tubes of Czech seed beads from a local craft shop, which were usually labeled as 11/o. So naturally for my first order, I added some 11/o seed beads to my cubes.

When the beads arrived, I was surprised by their size - they were more like the 8/o Czech beads I had been using. But, since I had never used Japanese seed beads before, I assumed that there was a slight size difference between styles. That’s why, when there was an Artbeads dollar sale on seed beads a short time later, I went completely crazy and purchased many different colors of 15/o seed beads. It turns out that the Picasso beads from my first order had been mislabeled, and now I had a lot of seed beads that were much, much smaller than I wanted.

Assorted 15/o Japanese Seed Beads

I had never even seen beads that small before, and I was shocked and delighted by them. It took some time, but I finally worked up the courage to work with them. Later that year, I used 15/o seed beads to make my first beaded starfish - a design that would appear many times in my work and even tutorials for months to come. Amazingly, many starfish and rivoli bezels later, I’m still working on that first order of 15/o seed beads.

Do you have a favorite happy accident in beading?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Papyrus Experiment

One of the toughest things about entering the handmade marketplace is creating attractive product photographs. It takes a lot of practice and experimentation to find one’s groove - the balance of good photography and personal style.

For years, I’ve been using simple dark gray cardstock for my photo backgrounds. I like it because it’s inexpensive, convenient, requires virtually zero storage space, and most importantly, provides the truest color. Once I found the right combination of light and camera angles, I was able to get photographs that required no editing to look ‘right’, and that looked similar every time, providing a cohesive appearance to my storefronts.

I have tried using different backgrounds from time to time. White cardstock creates too many shadows, and makes colors look dull. I once experimented with natural-looking shelf paper, but it proved to be too shiny under natural light. I went running back to my reliable gray card, with the hope that someday something better would come along.

Last week I decided that it was time to try again. I want to give my first photos and thumbnails a more Egyptian - and ultimately more treasury-worthy - look, by adding a lighter background. And what better backdrop could there be for Egyptian inspired jewelry than papyrus? Perhaps you’ve seen kids craft projects that create artificial papyrus scrolls using strips of brown paper lunch sack. I decided to use this simple technique to make my own papyrus backdrop, though hopefully with a more authentic look.

First, I picked up some newsprint style sketch paper - I hoped that the pulpy look would give a more natural appearance to the finished scroll. I soaked sheets of paper in coffee to give them a more organic color, and set them out to dry. The color wasn’t quite right, so when it came time to decoupage the strips together, I used a mixture of glue, water, and a hint of yellow acrylic paint. At first I wasn’t pleased with the results, but after letting the layers of paper dry overnight, I was happy to find that the color was very similar to the real thing. All that’s missing is the gauzy, grainy look of real papyrus strips.

The true test would be whether or not the fake papyrus would provide a good background for jewelry photos. Just in case it didn’t turn out, I also picked up some additional backdrops - a packet of desert-themed scrapbook papers. While I was at it, I also tried out some new lighting angles. Here are the results:

Handmade Papyrus

Old Manila

White Sand

Red Dunes

Paper Pulp


Traditional Gray

I like how most of the pictures turned out, but I can’t quite decide if I should make a switch. Which background do you like best?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pinterest Inspirations

Time flies when you’re having fun! The last week went by in a flash, and that means that it’s already time to announce the winners of the Bead Grab Bag Giveaway and Contest. I’ve had so much fun meeting new pin-friends and checking out your fantastic boards. I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated and pinned favorite images from Inspirational Beading and The Sage’s Cupboard!

Six winners have been chosen at random to receive a prize package of three bead soups, assorted findings and materials, plus two PDF beading tutorials. For each winner, I’ve chosen a favorite pin from their amazing and inspirational boards. If you see your name below, contact me at to claim your prize!

Sally Anderson
Favorite Pin: Bead Color Wheel

Melody Martin
Favorite Pin: Maryshka Necklace by Peter Sewell

Sarah Small
Favorite Pin: Starry Night in Crystals

Lisa Lodge
Favorite Pin: DIY Bracelet Display

Nancy Anderson
Favorite Pin: Fun Jewelry Organizer Idea

Linda Stowell
Favorite Pin: Gorgeous Abalone Necklace

Thanks again for joining in and adding your pins! May you find even more inspiration and boards to love.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
Images Hosted by Pinterest
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Make Charm Bracelet Tutorials

The concept of the charm bracelet can be traced all the way back to prehistoric life, when primitive humans wore trinkets and treasures to signify important events, wealth, and status. This tradition continued in different forms throughout history, and gained even more popularity during the Victorian era, when memory jewelry became a fashion staple. Around the 1960’s the charm bracelet got one of it’s most impressive makeovers - tiny metal dangles that represent people, places and things that the wearer wants to remember, usually attached to a chain base. Many of these traditional charm bracelets have become cherished family heirlooms. Like a family quilt or photo album, they represent the life of people we want to remember.

Today, we still use the word charm to describe these little mementos and trinkets, but with the increased availability of jewelry making supplies, the charm bracelet itself has gone through another transformation. Thanks to jump rings and head pins, we can make our own charms out of just about any material imaginable, in any color, for any style. Here are just a few ideas for creating your own variation of the dangly charm bracelet.

Springtime Carnival Charm Bracelet

Black and White Lampwork Charm Bracelet
By The Beading Emporium and Judy Markwell

Hug Me Covered Button Charm Bracelet
From The Quilted Fish and Sew Jewelry

Forgotten Garden Bracelet

Edgy Paper Charm Bracelet Idea
From Sandy’s Space

Silhouette Charm Bracelet
From pluckymomo

Butterfly Dream Charm Bracelet
From BeadsOnline

Ardennes Crystal Bracelet

Bohemian Butterfly Bracelet

Do you like to make charm bracelets? Do you prefer pre-made trinkets, or making your own unique dangles?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
Images Hosted by Pinterest
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tropical Neon Cuff

I’m spending my ‘weekend’ working on some crafty non-bead projects, so I just have a quick update for you today. If things work out, I’ll share the results of my experiment next week!

One thing that was bound to come up during the destash quest were those wonderfully abundant mother of pearl chips that we’ve seen time and time again. I’ve completely depleted the supply of square shaped beads that are suitable for neckwear, which leaves only a few options for working with these beads.

Tropical Neon Bead Palette

The cluster cuff that I made last time turned our really well, so I decided to give it another shot, and use up some forgotten seed beads at the same time. I combined neon orange with hot pink to start, which looked great together - and not much else. For just a hint of contrast, I had to part with a few white-lined aqua beads, which turned out just right.

Tropical Cluster Bracelet

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bead Color Ideas: Mockingjays

When I first began to look for common three-color palettes to explore in beads, I imagined that there would be plenty of inspirations to choose from. Neapolitan ice cream and ribbon candy were easy targets, but it wasn’t long before I had to choose larger palettes and split them up into groups of three. This month, I have a solid three-color palette for inspiration, and it might be one of my favorites to date.

If you’ve been anywhere near a television or computer in the past year or so, chances are you’ve heard of The Hunger Games, either as an upcoming film, or as a fantastic series of dystopian teen novels. When I first learned about the books by Suzanne Collins, there was already a lot of hype. All three books were on the market, and schools everywhere were putting The Hunger Games on reading lists. I decided to give it a shot, and ended up losing a lot of sleep, staying up all night to devour each book.

The books themselves offer an interesting palette of black, red and blue that would look fantastic in beads, so in anticipation of The Hunger Games movie release this week, I went looking for some matching trios. The red was quite difficult to imitate, because it’s actually an orangey tomato-red. Only one of the palettes I mixed comes really, really close, but they all look fun anyway.

The Reaping Bead Palette

First we have The Reaping - an all seed bead palette with three different finishes. The matte transparent ruby AB 11/o seed beads were one of my first picks, because their shimmer is so reminiscent of the cover of Catching Fire, even if the color is a little too pink. For some extra drama, I added noir lined aqua AB long magatamas - the shape gives a totally new look to lined seed beads. These intense colors are backed with simple opaque shiny jet black 8/o’s.

Panem Bead Palette

The sky blue shade of the Mockingjay cover was almost as difficult to match. For Panem, I started with some turquoise blue art nouveau coins that almost do the trick, and have just the right touch of mystery. Dark orange fiber optic cat eyes look wonderfully fiery against the matte black seed beads.

Tribute Bead Palette

I couldn’t resist building around some red white-heart beads, which have an intensity that can’t be ignored. Tribute stands out from the rest with the addition of a Swarovski Elements cosmic triangle in jet black. A handful of pretty turquoise seed beads adds a soothing quality that ties the black and red together.

So it’s true that inspiration can come from anywhere, and unexpected color combinations can be made widely appealing through popular association. Have you ever used inspirations from fiction in your work?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Suzanne Collins and Scholastic
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bead Grab Bag Giveaway and Contest

This year’s beading challenge, to destash all of my not-new beads, is coming along really well, and has resulted in some fun new designs and inspirations. One of the purposes of this mission is to lighten the size of my bead stash, in preparation for a big move later this year. Even though I’ve also been doing more frequent giveaways, things are not going as quickly as I would like.

Recently, I went through all of my extra seed beads, broom beads, and assorted bits, and created some fun Czech and Chinese bead soups, and now I want to find new homes for them. There are six prize packs in all, each one with three helpings of bead soup, an assortment of findings, and cord or ribbon. Each winner will also receive two PDF beading tutorials of their choice.

Bead Grab Bag Giveaway

With six winners, the one comment-one entry style of giveaway that we usually do just doesn’t seem that fun. Instead, we’re going to have a little contest with Pinterest!

How to Enter:

1. If you do not have a Pinterest account, you can request an invite, and create some boards to organize your pins.

2. Follow one or more of my pinboards so that you can "share" your entries. (You can stop following after the contest closes if you like.)

3. Pin any image from Inspirational Beading or The Sage’s Cupboard, and include the tags @Mortira #Beading in the description, so that I can find your entry. Every pin counts as an entry, and you can enter as many times as you like!

Six winners will be drawn and announced on Monday March 26th. The contest is open to readers from Canada and the US.

Interesting Images on Pinterest

Pinning Tips

1. Before you start pinning, create some pinboards with different categories to help you organize your finds. Check out the Pinterest help guide for just a few pinboard ideas.

2. You do not have to download the Pinterest bookmarklet to enter this contest. On ArtFire, just look for the Pin It button to clip any image from a page. You can also find lots of previous pins from Inspirational Beading to use. Repins count as an entry, as long as you include @Mortira #Beading in the description.

3. Just for fun, here are some fantastic pinboards that you might like to follow:

Lampwork Beads pinned by
Colour Palettes pinned by
Cool Jewelry Displays pinned by

If you have any questions about the contest, leave a comment here or email

Good luck, and happy pinning!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Friday, March 16, 2012

Favorite Techniques: Friendship Bracelets

Pink White and Purple Braid Friendship Bracelet by QuietMischief

Today my guest is Michele of Quiet Mischief - a fantastic two-artist team creating stunningly intricate and clever jewelry designs.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all time favorite beading or jewelry technique?

Michele: I make friendship bracelets, which may seem pretty simple. I mean, everyone's made friendship bracelets, right? You get a few threads, make overhand knots for a while, and you're done. But the truth is that there's a whole world of knotting that most people who make the bracelets never get to. My current favorite technique is the second one I learned: alpha knotting. It is most known for making it easy to write words in a friendship bracelet, but I like it more for the ease of making pictures.

Inspirational Beading: How do you first learn to use this technique?

Michele: I first learned about the alpha style from my mother, who is the source of most of my craftiness. She had taught me how to make friendship bracelets when I was little, and when I showed a renewed interest in my late teenage years she showed me the tutorial she had found on the internet on how to knot letters into a bracelet. Later, after trying to use the traditional knotting style to make a bracelet with a flower pattern, I returned to the alpha technique and found it to be much better at accomplishing what I wanted.

American Flag Micro-macrame Frienship Bracelet by QuietMischief

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

Michele: This is a tough choice, but I have to go with my (currently) most technically advanced bracelet: my American flag bracelet. I designed the whole thing myself, including a couple of new techniques to make it possible. It's as accurate as I can make it, down to the 13 stripes and 50 stars.

Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started with this method?

Michele: First of all, I recommend already having some practice with the traditional friendship bracelet knotting technique. Inconsistent tension (some knots too tight, some knots too loose, few just right) will be much more obvious in an alpha bracelet, so it's best to get those problems out of the way beforehand. Once you're ready, start with simple letters or pictures and use only two colors until you're more comfortable with the technique.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material or color to use it with?

Rainbow and Flame Heart Pattern Bracelets by QuietMischief

Michele: Most people who do friendship bracelets stick with embroidery floss, other craft thread, or hemp. I have also tried knotting with yarn, ribbon, and leather cord. Leather cord is fun because it's so new to me and everyone else, and I love knotting ribbon chokers, but for alpha bracelets there's nothing like good old embroidery floss. I use DMC brand and appreciate the huge range of colors available to me.

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Michele: Probably not. As much fun and versatile as alpha knotting is, it's rather difficult to master and much more so if one doesn't have a foundation in the traditional knotting style.

Inspirational Beading: In your opinion, what is the best way for beginners to learn this technique?

Michele: One of my long-term goals for my craft and my business is to write my own friendship bracelet book. Until that comes out, this friendship bracelet tutorial is the most comprehensive I have yet seen, with pictures and videos to illustrate the step-by-step instructions.

Duct Tape Rosette Rings by QuietMischief

You can see even more amazing micro-macramé, and delightful sculptural duct-tape jewelry at Quiet Mischief on Etsy and DeviantArt, plus stay in touch with artists Michele and Lissi on Facebook and Twitter. Michele also offers plenty of tips and insights into crafting and jewelry business on her blog, Quiet Mischief and Company.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Quiet Mischief and Company
Images Hosted by Pinterest
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inspired by Birds

Earlier this week I took a little inspiration from peacock feathers, and had a blast with the beautiful colors and patterns. Today I thought it would be fun to take things a little further, and find some inspiring birds for spring.

How helpless we are, like netted birds, when we are caught by desire!


What’s your favorite bird? Has it ever inspired a fun beading design?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
Images Hosted by Pinterest
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook and Google+

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

Inspiration Topics

accessories amulet Ancient Worlds Modern Beads animals April's Army art ArtFire astrology astronomy autumn awards awareness bangle beach Bead Inspired Bead Shops bead soup bead spotlight bead stash Bead Trays beaded beads beading theory beads belt bezel birthstones black blog spotlight blue boho bone book spotlight bracelet Bracelet A Week branch fringe brick stitch brown bugles buttons cabochon ceramic chain maille challenge charity chevron chain christmas collar Collections color Color Ideas color triads conservation craft shows crafts crochet crystals cuff Culled Beads current events Current Faves daggers Daily Sets daisy chain Delicas Destash drops Dutch spiral earrings Egypt Egyptian Gods embellishing embroidery environment etsy exotic fair trade fantasy fashion Favorite Beads Favorite Techniques feminine fibers film findings fire polish fixtures Flashback Test flickr inspiration flowers food found object free form fringe Geek Jewels geekery gemstones geography giveaway glass gold gray Greece green herringbone hex cuts history holiday home decor insects inspiration tip inspired beader Inspired by... Inspiring Links ivory Jewelry Stash knitting ladder stitch lampwork lariat leaf fringe leather lights literature loomwork macrame magatamas Master Class Medallions metal free metalwork Mini Collar a Week mixed media mixture Mood Board MOP multi-color multi-strand music natural beads nature necklace Necklace a Day Nepal chain netting New Beads ocean ombre orange paint paper patterns pearls pendant peyote photography Picasso finish pink Pinspiration PMC polymer clay poster sketch purple quick inspiration rainbow RAW red resin ring Ring a Day rivoli Rome Russian spiral scarf science seed beads shell silver soutache spiral rope spring square stitch St. Petersburg steampunk stringing stripes summer tagua TBT The Elements thread Tilas Time Capsule tools trade beads triangle weave tribal tropical turquoise tutorial two-hole beads Ugly vintage Wear it Twice weather white winter WIP wire wishlist wood World Beaders yellow
Blog Home * About * Beading Tutorials * Advertise

Learn About Sponsoring Inspirational Beading with Project Wonderful
Affiliated With and