Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Destash Challenge Update

Tomorrow I’ll be heading into the sixth month of this year’s beading challenge, which seems like a great time to take stock and get a look at what’s ahead. So far things have gone more than smoothly - I’ve been able to make use of some very random, often irksome beads, and turn them into very satisfying designs. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this trend going, even though I’ve sort of been saving the worst for last.

There are still lots of ‘good’ things left in my destash tray, but a lot of pieces are still there because I’m just afraid to use them. Some are wacky and weird, and others have simply dropped off of my radar because they don’t fit my current style. The real challenge will be to use these beads in a way that’s still me. Let’s take a look at what I’m up against!

The Focals

We’ve already seen a few of these pieces during the challenge, and I’ve used them successfully, which makes them even more tricky from here on in. I’m waiting for yet another bolt of inspiration to strike, so that I don’t have to repeat an old design. On the other hand, if it isn’t broke…

Destash Challenge Focal Beads

Here we have one heart-shaped nut bead, two rivolis, two of four glass rings, a lampwork spacer, a ceramic round, one of two crystal rondelles, and a Swarovski crystal button. I’ve actually had that thing for years, but I keep forgetting that it’s there, so I’ve never even used it for a color palette, let alone a design. I also have three of the painted shell flower charms, which will probably be the greatest triumph of all if I manage to use them successfully - they’re hideous in a cute kind of way.

The Accents

These beads are actually giving me the most trouble, even though there are plenty of them, so design options are wide open. Pictured above are my two intact strands of crystal pinch bicones, and ironically, it’s the large quantity of them that has me stumped.

Destash Challenge Accent Beads

I also have some top-drilled hot pink shell coins, dusty blue shell coins, a few furnace glass tubes, Czech glass leaves, gunmetal E beads, some Czech clam shells, a sprinkling of turquoise blue pinch bicones, and just a few Czech glass nuggets with a swirly blue and red finish. Not pictured is my huge collection of wood macrame beads, but I'm actually looking forward to using those!

The Seed Beads

Finally, I have a terrifying amount of random and assorted seed beads, custom mixes, and other tiny things. Although the purpose of this challenge is to use up all of these leftover and forgotten beads, I can’t say for sure if all of them will be used by me. Some of them have just exhausted their inspiration in my studio, and I may have to find them new homes before the year ends.

Destash Challenge Seed Beads

This is just a little sampling of the small beads and mixes I have to work with. I combined the last of my beach sand mixture with what was left of my 1.5mm cubes, and mixed together a bunch of random hex cut and triangle seed beads. There’s a small amount of striped Czech seed beads that I collected from a store-bought mixture, and just a few Swarovski crystal bicones in shocking orange hyacinth. I’m also thinking of throwing in all of my 4mm cube beads, which haven’t seen the light in a long time. In front we have the leftover beads from my tribal fringe necklace, to which I added the last few 6/o and 4/o beads from other projects.

After all of the challenge pieces I’ve completed so far, I thought I was on a roll. Looking at all of these beads laid out, I realize I’ve still got a long way to go. Luckily, I still have half a year to get beading! I’m thinking it’s almost time for a bead-collector necklace.

Have you made any destash projects so far? How did they turn out?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jewels and Bugles

Have you ever had a finished project turn out even better than you had hoped? For my most recent destash piece, I wanted to tackle the huge amount of transparent crystal bugle beads in my stash. As usual, I didn’t want to attempt weaving with them, so a multi-strand piece was the most efficient way to use up a lot of them fast.

I added a few other elements from the destash tray, including the last remnants of my ruby red rice beads, and ruby red pinch bicones. I’ve also got quite a few nearly finished packets of hex cuts and cube beads, so I grabbed some pretty teal blue hexes. All I needed was some seed bead bumpers, and I thought I had just enough silver-lined topaz for the job.

Jewels and Bugles Bead Palette

I liked the palette, but it wasn’t until I started building the first strand that I realized just how pretty all of the beads looked together. Instead of stringing beads at random, I used a repeating pattern of 4 hexes for every ruby bead, and the results were beautiful. The more strands I made, the better they looked. And by the time I was finished, I only had a finger full of gold seed beads left, and most of them were wonky - perfect!

Pharaoh Jewels Necklace

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Collections: Antique Romance

The results are in, and the winner of our gold and turquoise bead soup giveaway is Kashmira of Sandafulee…always in bloom! Congratulations to Kashmira, and thank you so much to everyone who joined in the giveaway.

This month I asked what your favorite metals or metallic bead colors are. Your answers were varied and unique as always. Some readers like traditional metals such as silver and copper, which are both excellent for all types of jewelry design. Others prefer metallic colors like blue and red, and gunmetal is always a favorite.

Kashmira’s favorite metals are those with an antique finish, especially gold. The addition of a patina to metals adds a little bit of mystery and romance to any design, so I was inspired to collect some pretty metallic jewelry and a few feminine finds.

Once Upon a Time Treasury

Do you have a favorite fairy tale romance? What bead colors or materials would you use to capture it in jewelry?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Monday, May 28, 2012

More Lampwork Inspirations

The sun is out, the trees are lush with leaves, and bright color is everywhere. Must be summer! Here are some new lampwork bead and fashion ideas to get you thinking of long days and warm nights!

At the Cottage

Tea Time

Underwater Goddess

What's your favorite summer inspiration?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Bead Giveaway: Turquoise and Gold

I have the prettiest bead soup to giveaway this weekend! These are some of my favorite acrylic pieces in my collection of “Egyptian” beads. There are several wonderful shades and finishes of faux gold, plus turquoise blues and indigo AB. The set includes coins, tubes, faceted rounds, rondelles, and lots more goodies - too many to count.

Faux Gold and Turquoise Acrylic Bead Soup

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 metal or metallic bead color?

*Please make sure to leave your entry comment here on the blog, and include a contact link (such as a website or email) if you do not have a Blogger profile with email contact enabled. This giveaway is open to readers from Canada and the US. One lucky ready will be drawn at random on Tuesday, May 29th.

Good luck, and happy beading!

Update: This giveaway has closed.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Inspired by Dads

With Father’s Day right around the corner, many beaders are taking on the challenge of designing jewelry for men - and what a challenge it can be. Although jewelry for guys becomes more and more popular all the time, when working with beads, it’s not always easy to come up with pieces that are truly masculine.

Some designs can be made more manly simply by changing up the colors. Rustic tones like black, brown, navy, and burgundy are a good place to start, although color isn’t always an important factor. When I was working in a very manly sporting goods store - cheap Fireline was a great perk! - I once spotted a young man wearing a hot pink bracelet, made from bead-like fishing lures called corkies.

Anchor Cuff Links
by Waxwing Jewelry

Texture and shape are things to consider when designing for men. Simple designs and natural materials work well, like a set of bone and glass beads on a leather cord. On the other hand, silver beads and jewelry blanks can be given a masculine look with the right approach.

To help inspire your Father’s Day projects, I found some fantastic designs, projects, beads, and artwork just for dads.

Monkey Business Bracelet

Rustic Iron Bronco Pendant
from Happy Mango Beads

Piranha Agate Pendant
by Too Fancy Jewelry

Modern Forest Ring Project
by Beadaholique

Pewter Pebble Alphabet Beads
from Auntie's Beads

Fish Tail Braid Tutorial
by Lima Beads

Midnight Tagua Pendant
from Lima Beads

Maybe not...

Upcycled Leather Cuff
by Rainwheel

Forza Necklace Project

Thai Buddhist Takrut Talisman
from Happy Mango Beads

Leather Wrap Bracelet
by Risky Beads

Have you tackled the men’s jewelry challenge? What materials or techniques do you like to use?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Last Medallion

I am quickly running out of focal beads from my destash supplies, with the exception of a few pieces that just haven’t called out yet. I was really pleased to be able to tackle nearly half of my rivolis at once in a pair of collars, but that still leaves three more pieces to go. I decided to tackle the jet black rivoli first, and revive an old design that I haven’t worked with in awhile. My fondness for bezels is only slightly less diminished than my love for circular peyote stitch, so I wasn’t eager to start this piece until I had decided on a palette.

Rivoli and Gold Bead Palette

Turquoise blue was my first choice for a contrasting color, but I had only enough to do the pendant, and not much left over. I eventually settled on silver lined topaz for the necklace, and added some of my tortoiseshell druks to coordinate. I also grabbed the last of my turquoise blue pinch bicones from the destash tray, even though they don’t quite match - I was up for the risk and the challenge of mixing many similar hues.

Turquoise Medallion Pendant

The necklace turned out pretty well, and I love the double layer of fringe at the base of the pendant. It’s short, but still has lots of movement. Now I have only two rivolis to work on. Hopefully some inspiration will come along!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wish List: Heishi Beads

I recently treated myself to a strand of black lip heishi beads, and I’m looking forward to using them so much, that I couldn’t resist exploring some more beautiful disk-bead possibilities. The term heishi, or heishe, typically refers to small round disk beads made from shell or gemstones - heishi means ‘shell bead’ in the traditional language of the Santo Domingo peoples of New Mexico.

Today’s heishi beads come in a variety of styles and colors. Rough chip shell heishi are a common component in West Coast and surfer style jewelry, while gemstone rounds make for beautiful, slinky necklaces. You can even get metallic ‘heishi’ spacers for capping precious stone or lampwork beads.

Red Lip Shell Heishi Beads

Labradorite Heishi Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Red Bamboo Coral Heishi Beads
From Auntie’s Beads

Black Pewter Heishi Spacer Beads
From Beadaholique

Garnet Cube Heishi Beads
From Gemalicious Beads

Turquoise Heishi Beads

Peridot Heishi Beads
From Lima Beads

Spiny Oyster Shell Heishi Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Do you like heishi beads? What’s your favorite way to use them?

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspiring Links: May 2012

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a round up of interesting and inspiring blogs and articles, and I have some fantastic things to share with you this month. The first is very exciting - the creators at All Free Beaded Jewelry selected Inspirational Beading’s Potawatomi daisy chain tutorial to be a part of their latest beading eBook Seed Bead Patterns and Projects. There are 11 projects in all, and it’s absolutely free to download.

In an excerpt from Margie’s Muse, color expert Margie Deeb discusses the ways that patterns can enhance beadwork and create a unified, eye-catching design.

Cuffs are in! Cindy Caraway of Artful Living on the Bluff shows off some gorgeous freeform cuffs, and how to use a two-color bead soup two ways! And what do you get when you add ribbon to right angle weave? Gorgeous beadwork corset cuffs by A Rose by Name.

New Beginnings

The idea of working with metals might make me cringe, but when another artist does something spectacular with them, I can’t help but appreciate it. This Handy Dandy copper bracelet project from the learning center really caught my eye!

In honor of their 15th anniversary, Beadwork magazine is hosting a beaded bead bead-along and contest. In each 2012 issue of Beadwork, you can find a new beaded bead tutorial to try. Share a piece of jewelry using one or more of the beads, and you could have your design published in the first issue of 2013!

Neons have been a fashion staple for the past few seasons, and now they are finally part of our bead palettes too! Three new bright and bold Swarovski Elements crystal pearls offer some fun possibilities for summer designs. So far we have hot pink, orange, and yellow to choose from. Check out the Bright Back Atcha Bracelet project from to see them in action.

Source: via Mary Anne on Pinterest

If you’re thinking of making some jewelry gifts for dads this Father’s Day, Fire Mountain Gems has some tips for dressing up your favorite guy in sophisticated black and blue beads. And for the bead embroidery lovers, here’s a fun tutorial for making your own sewing tool and pincushion caddy, from Flamingo Toes.

There’s a little something missing from this list of beautiful upcycled light bulb projects on Dishfunctional Designs. Imagine some of them filled with beautiful beads!

What’s your favorite inspiration of late?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Time Capsule: May 2009

Yesterday we had a look at ways to connect and combine St. Petersburg chains for fun beadwork variations. Coincidentally, three years ago I was using this same technique to make a very unusual necklace. Although the entire necklace is stitched in four sections, it looks as though a single large piece of beadwork is split in two, and then into four separate chains.

Peacock Fringe St. Petersburg Lariat

It took a while to plan, and plenty of time to stitch and triple check measurements along the way, but the construction is actually quite simple. I can’t explain why I’ve never made an improved version of this necklace, but I think its time may be coming. I’ve been in the mood to make something big, and this design fits right into my current style.

The only thing I need to do is decide on a palette and pattern. Should I go with Egyptian stripes and gemstone colors, or something more earthy, perhaps with a dash of African Christmas beads?

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Connecting St. Petersburg Chain

Quadruple St. Petersburg Chain

At first glance, St. Petersburg chain might not seem like the most versatile stitch. It’s great for necklace straps and simple bracelets, fringes, and even dangle earrings, but apart from changing up the bead sizes and patterns, what can you do with it? Although St. Petersburg can only be stitched in a limited number of ways - unlike peyote or herringbone - it actually has a few additional tricks beyond single and double chains.

You can connect chains of St. Petersburg together indefinitely, for bracelet cuffs and more, and connect the ends of the beadwork together for rings. Here’s how to do it…

Triple and Quadruple St. Petersburg Chain

Begin by weaving a double St. Petersburg chain of the desired length. When choosing bead types and patterns, keep in mind that the tips of the second chain will also be shared by the next (or third) chain. If you are using beads one size larger for the ‘spine’ of your first double chain, you can also use them at the tips. These beads will become the spine between chains two and three.

Before starting the third chain, use your needle to nudge the tip beads from chain 2 so that they are resting horizontally, with the hole pointing North-South. You can do the first one or two, and then adjust each bead as you add new stitches.

Triple St. Petersburg Chain Tutorial

Begin a third St. Petersburg chain: Attach a stop bead to your thread, leaving a comfortable tail, and pick up 6 seed beads. Stitch up through beads 3 and 4, and pull snug to form a little P shaped cluster. Rather than pick up one seed bead here, you will share with chain 2.

Stitch down through the first tip bead from the previous chain, and down into beads 4, 3, and 2 from the first stitch in the new chain. Stitching from the top down mimics the same thread path that would be created if you picked up a single bead here, as well as mirror the thread path through this shared bead in the opposite chain.

How to Connect Three St. Petersburg Chains

Pull the thread snug, and make sure that the shared bead is resting evenly. If the threads are not aligned properly, the bead will look twisted, exposing the thread, and give the beadwork a less than polished appearance. Pick up one bead, and stitch up through beads 5 and 6 of the P cluster. If you plan to add a fourth chain, this ‘under’ bead will also become a spine, between chains 3 and 4.

Beading Multiple St. Petersburg Chains

Continue weaving with St. Petersburg chain, using the tip beads from chain two to connect the third chain. The fourth chain is added in the same way as the second chain of basic double St. Petersburg, by sharing the ‘under’ beads from the previous chain. You can add as many chains to the beadwork as you like, with an odd or even number, and a variety of fun patterns.

Quadruple St. Petersburg Chain Tutorial

Zipping Up Multi St. Petersburg Chain

To connect the ends of St. Petersburg chain, you must first finish the ends so that the last stitches match the rest of the beawork. At the working edge, add the final under bead, and stitch up through beads 5 and 6 of the P. Pick up 3 beads, skip the last bead added, and stitch down through the rest of the stack. Repeat for the remaining chains on this side.

Finishing Double St. Petersburg Chains

At the starting edge, remove one stop bead, and pick up a matching seed bead. Stitch up through the first row and pull snug. Remove the other stop bead, and stitch down through the bead just added. Pass up through the stack of this chain again.

Now that the ends are finished, the beadwork will fit together and can be zipped up, creating a seamless connection. Use square stitch to connect the middle two beads of each edge row, and zip the V shapes together. Weave through the connection, following the natural thread path of the beadwork, to secure the stitches, then weave in the remaining thread as desired.

Zipping Up St. Petersburg Chains

Happy beading!

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