Monday, April 30, 2012

Art Via Jewelry and Fashion

One of my favorite places to look for inspiration - and creative outlets - is Polyvore. There are a million and one ways to use the collage tools, such as brainstorming outfit ideas, showing off your work, and playing with color. Some of the most creative things I’ve ever seen are much more reminiscent of the paper collages that we make as kids, cutting up old magazines for bits of color. These sets by DUE fashion are incredibly unique and irresistibly fun!


meanwhile, deep down in the ocean

We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.

Did you know that you can now clip images from Etsy to use on Polyvore? If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and DUE fashion
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Wish List: Seed Bead Rainbow

The only thing more relaxing than window shopping for beads, is buying them, and maybe beading with them. In other words, looking at beads is a fantastic way to spend a little down time, and it’s a great mood enhancer. Every month, I like to go on the hunt for really special beads, and I’m always on the look out for pieces that I want to add to my own stash. Being a bead weaver at heart, every once in awhile I need to stop and just dive into the marvelous realm of teeny tiny beads.

I think one of the things that is most appealing about seed beads, even to non-bead weavers, is their quantities. Instead of a single bead or two, you get a handful of wonderfully fluid little treasures. Seed beads are great when you want to buy hundreds of beads, but spend only a few dollars!

With spring finally here, and a whole summer of beading inspirations ahead, I needed a little palate cleanser. So, I searched out some irresistible seed beads in a rainbow of colors and finishes for a fresh start.

Fuchsia lined crystal
from Lima Beads

Opaque rainbow fuchsia
from Ornamentea

Punchy Orange Iris
from Sab's Glass and Destash

Glossy yellow
from pluffbeads

Pale apple green
from Spirit Bear Beads

Chartreuse lined aqua
from Caladonia March

Opaque green turquoise
from Beadaholique

Sky blue lined aqua
from FusionBeads

Frosted AB Purple
from Fire Mountain Gems

Wisteria lined crystal

Do you have a favorite, have-to-have-it seed bead color?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time Capsule: April 2009

It’s funny how we can come full circle. Three years ago this month, I shared a design that used a minimum of beads and stitches, but turned out great. At the time, I wondered if it lacked effort. Even though the piece had so many likeable elements, I worried that it wasn’t ‘enough’.

Spring Jungle Necklace

Then I jumped back into making big, elaborate, and stitch-heavy designs for a long time. It wasn’t until November of the following year that I realized the real potential of lightweight and simple beadwork. Beadwork that looks like stringing is quick and simple to do, uses beads that don’t always work well with other techniques, and helps to keep the price of a piece down when focals are expensive. My Necklace a Day challenge could not have been a success without designs like these.

Looking back on that Spring Jungle Necklace now, I find myself comparing it to the Y pendants and simple necklaces that I make today. It actually looks pretty fantastic - if not a little clumsy. The combination of different bead colors and cluster shapes is really fun, and makes a great complement for the art pendant. Maybe I need to start adding more leaves and branches to my work again!

Beach Rubble Necklace

Have you ever discovered yourself using a technique that you thought you’d grown out of?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Knot or Not?

Half Hitch Knots with Right Angle Weave

Beaders, I have a confession to make: I’ve stopped knotting my threads. That’s right, after years of steadfastly adhering to a 2-knot per thread rule, I have thrown caution to the wind.

Well, maybe not. I’m still using the essential half-hitch knot to secure threads on lightweight and loose stitches like netting. But when it comes to the tightly packed peyote stitch and herringbone weave, I’m going knot-free.

I can’t say for sure why I held on to the notion of knotting for so long. If you’ve ever tried to rip apart a piece of peyote stitch, you know that once those threads are set, they do not want to let go. What finally freed me was the unforgiving scrutiny of digital cameras. They pick up every flaw, including knots that don’t get tucked away into seed beads like they should. I got tired of noticing those little lumps of thread between beads in close ups, and realized that knotting is actually a pretty tedious job that I’ve always wished I could skip.

Indeed, since shrugging off knots I find that finishing beadwork pieces goes a lot quicker, both in perceived and actual time spent. I’m still weaving in 4 or more inches of thread every time for absolute security - and extra reinforcement - and the beadwork is no less sturdy without those pesky knots. In fact, pieces are a lot stronger, because I can choose whatever thread path I want, instead of having to follow a course that makes for the best knot positions.

Half Hitch Knots with Peyote Stitch

Before I encourage other beaders to take the no-knot plunge, I should mention that I’m strictly a Fireline user. Nymo aggravates me the second I cut it from the spool, and I’ve never taken the time to become really familiar with it. Even heavily waxed, I’m not sure that soft nylon threads will have the same ‘hold’ as Fireline, which kinks as soon as you complete a stitch, and keeps that shape.

Or do they? I want to hear what your thread and knotting preferences are. Which approach or combination works best for you?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tree of Life Beading Tutorials

I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice before, but I often find myself envying designers who use metal materials like wire in their jewelry. One of my favorite taboo designs is the Tree of Life pendant. The construction is relatively simple, but the results are always amazing - beautiful, mystical trees made from everything from gemstone chips to swirled silver.

In honor of Earth Month, I wanted to pay a little tribute to the variety of Tree of Life designs out there. Here are some of my favorite tutorials, along with some gorgeous original designs.

This very beginner friendly version from Handmade Fashion Jewelry and BeadsOnline
uses a rectangular base frame, and a handful of crystals.

Lots of step-by-step photographs accompany the tutorial for this chip-bead
Tree of Life tutorial from Dana's Jewelry Designs.

This tutorial by Lisa of Lisa’s Craft Blog features beads that
dust the edges of the base hoop.

This top-heavy Tree of Life Pendant by The Beading Gem has room for lots of beads - perfect if
you want to use multiple colors or finishes for a fall inspired or birthstone design.

This video tutorial by Camille Sharon comes in at just under 10 minutes, but it’s worth it!
She gives a very detailed demonstration on making the basic beaded branch Tree of Life pendant.

The concept of a Tree of Life, or World Tree, has existed throughout many cultures and time periods. The metaphor of connection between the earth and sky, and all the branches in between, is a powerful symbol for both peace and the importance of balance in nature. Naturally, this motif translates well into jewelry designs and handmade crafts.

Happy beading!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Monday, April 23, 2012

One Zebra Necklace

Macrame and E Beads Destash

It’s only been a week, but it feels like I‘ve been away from Inspirational Beading forever. It’s good to be back! The first thing I have to show you this week is something you may have already seen a peek of on Facebook. This necklace has many inspirations: an asymmetrical necklace I spotted on Pinterest, tribal colors and patterns, and some very ordinary wooden macramé beads.

I wanted to make something with a very simple, asymmetrical construction, so when I looked again at the beads in my destash selection and spotted some plain macramé beads, a little light went on. I also grabbed some gunmetal E beads, and got to work on a palette that would suit me.

I have quite a few seed bead colors that are dwindling, and I paired up several opaque and transparent colors that would make good coverings for the macramé beads. I started with two brown palettes, hoping for a leopard print look, and added green for a nice contrast. To add the final element, I made one beaded bead with solid black and white stripes.

Because I would be stringing with Fireline, I wanted to add strength and stability to the necklace, so I also included some tortoiseshell druks to weave loops around. I split the beaded beads into three sections, and made a separate chain for each, leaving plenty of room to weave in lots of thread.

One Zebra Necklace

I had so much fun making this piece that I’m thrilled to have lots of macramé beads left over. Hopefully I can come up with another interesting palette soon!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Collections: Spring Violets

I'm taking a little blog break this week to catch up on a few things around the house, including plans an upcoming birthday party, but I didn't forget about choosing a winner for our latest bead giveaway. Congratulations to greeniezona, and thank you so much to everyone who took part!

This month, I asked about your favorite spring colors and palettes for beadwork, and the answers were really inspiring! Everyone has different favorites when it comes to the changing of seasons, and these have a great influence on our color choices and inspirations. Greenie's choice was the colors of violets - purple, yellow, white and mauve.

Violets are Spring Treasury

This palette is fresh, but soft and feminine - perfect for spring.

Happy beading!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Bead Giveaway: Rectangles

This week I have a fantastic collection of rectangular acrylic beads to give away - the colors are so bright and juicy, perfect for spring and summer designs. Most of these pieces were saved and collected not only for their fun shapes, but for their gemstone hues as well.

Acrylic Rectangle Bead Giveaway

My favorites are the chiclets, which I had always hoped to pair up with teal colored cord and pearl knots for a floating necklace. There are also several rectangular tubes in the colors of coral, jade, turquoise, and transparent gray, with a few metallic gold as well. Just for fun, I’ve added some two-hole rectangular sliders and a beautiful acrylic filigree component in jade green.

Vintage Bead Giveaway

How to Enter

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

What is your favorite color for spring inspired designs?

If you do not have a Blogger profile with email contact enabled, please make sure to include a contact link or email address, so I can get in touch with you if you win! One lucky reader will be drawn at random on Tuesday, April 17th. 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, April 12, 2012

The Slightly Ugly Necklace

Mortira and The Slightly Ugly Necklace

So far in my new destash challenge, I’ve shown you 9 projects using old and leftover beads. Since the beginning, I’ve been keeping a secret design - the ultimate in destash. This was the first piece that I designed, and the one that helped to inspire this year’s mission. It’s also the ugliest thing I’ve ever made.

For most of last year, I was keeping an eye on the calendar, waiting for the approach of the deadline for the Ugly Necklace Contest. I left the planning of my entry until the last minute, so that I would have the largest possible crop of UnFinished Objects to draw from. If I was going to do ugly, I wanted to do it right, and there’s nothing quite like a discarded bit of beadwork to make one’s lip curl.

When I finally sat down to create a hideous necklace, I had lots of UFOs to choose from, including two pieces of beaded rope, and a curiously constructed multi-strand component from a failed design. I assembled these elements together, using some mismatched Chinese lampwork beads for bumpers, and added a button clasp constructed from a discarded piece of circular brick stitch.

Next, I gathered up a random assortment of beading mishaps, samples, and scraps, and suspended them at random from the multi-strand section, using loops of leftover Czech and Chinese seed beads in odd colors and hideously uncoordinated custom mixtures. I also added some handmade paper beads and a few shell coins, and additional Chinese lampwork beads, including a few really wonky pieces in random colors. When I was finished, the necklace wasn’t quite as ugly as I knew it could be, so I chose a few smaller bits of beadwork, and stitched them to various places on the necklace.

Early Stages Ugly Necklace

I was very happy with the dreadfulness of what I had constructed, but it still wasn’t ugly enough. On one side, I attached a length of silk ribbon that I had left over from a Use the Muse kit, but it still needed more. In the same place, I tied on some ghastly pink and orange eyelash yarn, and made a few lazy macramé knots. Viola - a chunky, lopsided, ugly necklace.

It was a great feeling to bring all of these seemingly useless pieces together into one design. Unfortunately, it was not selected as a finalist in the Ugly Necklace Contest, but it was great fun to make! It's kind of liberating to ignore the rules, and do things because they'll be fun, even though they will be ugly. Each time a new scrap of beadwork was added, I tried to do something I wouldn't normally do, like adding extra beads to the loop, or even stringing large beads over them for no reason at all.

The Slightly Ugly Necklace

I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do with this mad concoction. Any ideas?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Simple Chevron Chain

We’ve already had a look at what chevron chain can do when paired up with two-hole Tila beads, but what about the basic stitch? In it’s simple form, chevron chain is limited to a standard set of stitches, but it is still incredibly versatile. Unlike peyote or herringbone weave, you can use virtually any bead style, size, or shape with this technique, and achieve a wide variety of beautiful results.

Whether you’re working with larger accent beads, or sets of seed beads, chevron chain is always worked with units of three - shared beads, outside beads, and middle beads. Just like peyote stitch, you begin by picking up double the normal about.

To weave a simple chevron chain:

Secure a stop bead to a comfortable length of thread, leaving at least a six inch tail. Pick up six units of beads in the following sequence: shared, middle, shared, outside, shared, middle. If you’re using a separate bead or color for each section of the chain pick up: A, B, A, C, A, B. Stitch down through the first bead pick up, to form a tear-drop shaped loop, and pull snug.

Chevron Chain Tutorial How to Weave Chevron Chain

Pick up one of each unit: outside, shared, middle (or C, A, B). Stitch up through the nearest shared bead in the loop (the 3rd A picked up), and pull snug. You will now have two interlocked teardrop shapes, with shared sides.

Pick up another 3 units in the same C, A, B sequence, and stitch down through the A bead picked up in the last step. Continue stitching in this manner until the chain has reached the desired length. That’s it! Simple and fun, chevron chain is perfect for delicate bracelets, and for necklace straps.

How to Bead Chevron Chain Chevron Chain Beading Tutorial

You can use different combinations of bead sizes, shapes and quantities to achieve different looks. Here we have the same basic pattern of red, blue, and white, with seed beads standing in for each color. Each unit in the chain has a different effect on the overall look of the beadwork. To achieve a perfect curved chevron for collars, I find that increasing the number of C beads on the inside by one is ideal.

Do you like to use chevron chain in your projects? What’s your favorite type of bead to use with it?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cosmic Triangle Pendant

Tribute Bead Palette

Last week I decided it was time to use my last Swarovski Elements cosmic triangle and check another item off my destash list. I didn’t have to look far for a suitable palette - I liked the Tribute combination from last month’s Hunger Games inspiration so much, that I decided to run with it. I added some jet black druks and jet lined garnet 6/o seed beads, and got to work on a new Y necklace.

I really wanted to include the white-heart beads, so I came up with a new twist on the reverse daisy chain that I am so fond of for ‘strung’ style beadwork. Once the base chains were complete, I used the extra thread from the lark’s head anchors around the crystal triangle to add seed bead loops to accent the extra beads between each druk. I love how it turned out - the additional texture and curvy shapes add so much to the design, which already has plenty of impact thanks to the gorgeous colors.

To make the pendant section a little more interesting, I added one more element from the destash pile - a single lonely Swarovski drop pearl in jet black that’s been rolling around since my famous females phase back in January 2010. It looked a little naked at the bottom of the embellished chain, so I gave it some seed bead loops, too.

I’m a little surprised that this is only the second Y necklace to show up so far in the destash challenge. I really expected to find myself falling back on ‘easy’ designs as things got going, especially with the more unusual and hard to match beads. I’m sure there will be a few more Y pendants along the way, and if they turn out like this one, all the better!

Tribute Y Necklace

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Spotlight: Button It Up

Isn’t it interesting how our crafting backgrounds can influence the way we view and categorize materials? To a crafter or seamstress, buttons rule, and beads might just be pretty once-in-a-while embellishments. To a beader, buttons might be considered sewing mediums that can masquerade as wonderful components. To some beaders, buttons are just another kind of beautiful and versatile bead.

However you look at buttons, it’s true that they can be great when used for jewelry designs or beaded crafts. After all, they have holes, come in a variety of shapes, colors and materials, and are often inexpensive. Some of the most beautiful buttons fall into the realm of vintage finds, which also makes them incredibly trendy for jewelry projects.

In the pages of Button It Up, button enthusiasts and crafters of all skill levels will find an amazing array of beautiful projects to use for showcasing fabulous buttons. Author Susan Beal is a serious button aficionado, and begins with a detailed history of button making and collecting, including popular styles and materials throughout the past few centuries.

This intriguing read is followed by a wonderful basics chapter, which covers a variety of sewing and jewelry making techniques, as well as tips for making and embellishing buttons. There is even a brief tutorial on making your own resin beads from vintage molds. Each tip includes clear diagrams to help you get started.

Then it’s on to the projects. Susan has just about covered it all in this book. Beginners, and crafters who want some instant gratification projects, will love the easier designs. The projects gradually progress to more complex techniques and design styles.

There are nearly 50 jewelry and accessory projects to try, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and hair pins. Each one explores a different method or approach to showcasing marvelous buttons, so you’ll never run out of ideas or inspiration for putting your own button collection to use.

There are also several sewing and home décor projects, including embellished tops and skirts, pillows, curtains, handbags, magnets and more. Some of my favorites include an adorable and chic collage wall hanging, using fabric scraps and lone buttons.

Although many of the projects use simple, classic techniques like hot gluing, the designs are very classy. Readers will love the full color photographs, and be inspired to create their own variations. There are no step-by-step photographs – each project is very straight forward, and includes detailed instructions for completing the design.

Button It Upalso includes a thorough alphabetical index and reference guide, plus bios of the many guest designers that contributed button projects for the book. Some notable designers include Leah Kramer, Jennifer Perkins, and Christy Petterson.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Susan Beal and Taunton Press
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