Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nut and Geb Necklace

For my most recent destash project, I wanted to combine several elements from pieces that I’ve enjoyed in the past. The more recent piece of inspiration was a chunky asymmetrical necklace with beaded macramé beads. I had a lot of fun making the beads and putting them all together, and the results were very satisfying.

I also wanted to use up some more of my silver-lined crystal seed beads, since I decided not to complete my quadruple St. Petersburg chain necklace. I started thinking about possible color palettes to use them in, and thought it would be fun to use them like stars, similar to my space lariat from long ago.

Macrame and 4/0 Beads

These ideas kept rolling forward, picking up other seed bead colors that have been needing a home, until I finally came up with plan to capture the essence of Nut and Geb - the Egyptian deities of earth and sky. In addition to most of the macramé beads left in the destash tray, I also grabbed some blue lined 4/o beads, and a few patterned wood beads to help blend all of the colors together.

Earth and Sky Necklace

This time around, I used two sizes of macramé beads, and a symmetrical pattern with earth in the front, and sky over top. Although I still like the look of the bare wood beneath the seed beads, I almost wish that it was a little darker for the sky beads.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wish List: Fish Beads

As the end of the school year is fast approaching, many of us are turning to thoughts of summer vacation, and summer jewelry. Fish beads are fantastic for warm weather designs, beachy themes, and souvenir jewelry. The symbol of the fish can represent many different things, such as the salmon’s ability to find its way home, or the simple beauty of the ocean. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Multicolor Howlite Fish Beads
From Hemp Hutt

Lampwork Novelty Fish Beads
From Beadaholique

Orange Carved Bone Fish Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Golem Design Studio Stoneware Fish Etched Pendant

Opaque Green AB Czech Glass Fish

Blue and White Lampwork Angelfish
From Fire Mountain Gems

Ceramic Blue Koi Beads
From The Crafty Bead

Astral Pink Swarovski Fish Bead

Recycled Glass Fish Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Do you have a favorite fish to inspire jewelry designs?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Style a Peter Pan Collar

The Peter Pan collar necklace is a popular style for classic and cute looks, and although the shape is distinct, it can be recreated with a variety of materials and techniques. There are fabric collars, beadwork, chain, rhinestone and more. Today, I thought we’d take a look at two ways to wear a Peter Pan collar.

I chose a beautiful cream colored wood collar to start, and paired it with a navy blue dress that’s just the right amount of frilly. From there, I started collecting unique items with a fun nautical theme, and things just took off.

Sailing Neverland

The perfect color to top off a navy and cream palette is bold lipstick red. Just a few hints here and there really pop and add a little Mad Men style punch. Alternatively, I chose red to be the main color for a more casual top-and-jeans outfit, with slouchy sleeves to give it a frilly twist. So much red leaves less room for bold accessories, so I kept it simple with some nautical anchor post earrings and a solid navy leather bag.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect handmade or vintage pieces to highlight a collage, but today I had more than enough choices. With summer finally underway, beachy and nautical themed designs are everywhere. These are just 16 of the fun looks I found.

Cruising Nautical Summer Treasury

Before I show you my favorite Polyvore collages with today’s featured items, here are a few tutorials for creating Peter Pan collar necklaces to try!

Chainmaille Peter Pan Collar by How Did You Make This?
Felt Peter Pan Collar by Honestly…WTF
Faux Fur Peter Pan Collar by The Coletterie
Sequined Peter Pan Collar by A Matter of Style
Scallop Edge Pearl Collar by Megan Nielsen


day to night

Untitled #94



Do you like the Peter Pan collar? What’s your favorite necklace trend of late?

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just Two More Pendants

Have you ever had inspiration or motivation veer off in a new and unexpected direction? This has happened to me twice in that last few weeks, starting with one big necklace, which turned into plans for a whole bunch of little necklaces, and ended up with a few necklaces and a lot of other things. The good news is that I’m making a lot of fun pieces and enjoying each one, and I did get a few new pendants done.

First I added a new jade hieroglyph Y necklace, to replace one that recently sold. This time, I added some chocolate brown pearls, which begged for even more shades of brown. The hints of ivory and forest green give it a sort of Northern woods feel, but still highlight the pendant nicely! I was able to use up a few of the triangle beads in my destash area, but there are still plenty more where that came from.

Jade Hieroglyph Pendant

Next I had to tackle a little something that I treated myself to - a Swarovski Elements Helios pendant in Indicolite blue. It’s gorgeous, but also quite small - I decided to find a palette first, then work out how to bring everything together.

I wanted to give the piece a very Mediterranean feel and use up some pure white cube beads at the same time. I added lots of aqua blue beads, and some transparent tangerine for a pop of tropical color. Just like the last time I tried to mix this orange up with non-fruity colors, the palette looked so wrong. I knew there was a way to make it work, without giving up any of the beads that I had chosen. So I started again, and this time added in some black lip heishi beads, and pulled back on the orange a little. By using it just as an accent, the other colors have more room to shine.

Alexandria Necklace

Do you like to set multiple project goals ahead of time? How often do you stick to the plan?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tutorial: Making Bead Covered Beads

Seed Bead Covered Macrame Beads

Here and there, we’ve covered some of the amazing ways that beaders can create their own components using materials like polymer clay and even paper. But what about transforming the beads that we already have? Today we’re going to look at a simple technique that turns an ordinary macramé bead into a seed bead wonder.

You can use just about any round, large-hole bead for this technique. Wooden macramé beads are ideal because they are lightweight, and they won’t damage the threads with sharp edges. Size 11/o seed beads are also recommended for the best coverage and overall bead shape, with Fireline thread for strong tension.

To Make a Bead Covered Bead

Start by cutting a comfortable length of Fireline, between one and two yards, and thread a needle on one end. Leaving about an 8 inch tail, stitch up through the macramé bead twice, to secure the thread around the bead.

Securing a Thread to the Base Bead How to Make a Bead Covered Bead

To prevent seed beads from slipping into the hole as you work and causing a big mess, it is important to cover the bead holes at all times using the thumb and forefinger of your non-stitching hand. Placing your seed beads in a shallow dish or on a beading tray while you work will make one-handed stitching easier. Keep the tail thread pressed against the bottom of the bead with your thumb to maintain tension on the first few rows.

Bead Covered Bead Row One Making a Bead Covered Bead

Pick up enough seed beads to cover the outside of the macramé bead from hole to hole, leaving a few millimeter gap on either end. Add or remove seed beads until you have the desired length, then stitch up through the macramé bead, being careful not to let any seed beads slip into the hole. Pull the thread snug.

Beaded Macrame Beads Bead Covered Bead Tutorial Stitching a Bead Covered Bead

Pick up the same number of seed beads, less one, and stitch up through the macramé bead. Pull snug. For the third row, pick up the same number of seed beads as row one. You can move from left to right, or right to left, but continue in the same direction once you begin. Rotate your grip on the macramé bead as you work, but be careful to maintain coverage of the holes to keep the seed beads in place.

If a strand of beads does not fall into place correctly, gently use your needle to nudge the thread into position before pulling snug. If at any point you make a mistake, or need to undo a stitch, do not try to pass the needle back through the macramé bead. Always remove the needle, and gently pull the thread out from the back.

Adjusting New Bead Rows Keeping Bead Rows Secure

When the bead starts to become full, it will be more difficult to cover both holes on the macramé bead. Use you forefinger instead to hold the previous rows in place as you work, and keep an eye out for stray seed beads.

If a bead or two does slip into the hole, use the tip of your needle to pierce the bead, and then ‘scoop’ it out gently, being careful not to damage any of the threads. Push the bead back into place on its row. It is best to catch these stray beads as early as possible. Even with the most careful stitching, the core of the bead can become criss-crossed with threads, making recovery of lost beads more difficult.

Rescuing Lost Seed Beads Weaving Thread Into a Bead Covered Bead

Continue adding new rows, alternating between long and short using the bead quantities you determined in the first two rows, until you have the amount of coverage that you want. Finish with a short row, then stitch down into the very first row added, moving a few beads at a time. Stitch up through the macramé bead, and then through the second row of seed beads. Continue reinforcing the rows, pulling the thread as snug as possible with each stitch to achieve the best tension throughout.

Tie off your thread at the top of a row, using a half hitch knot, then pass through most of the remaining beads, and trim the thread. Untie the tail thread by passing your needle underneath, and pull up to loosen and remove the stitch. Weave the tail in, finishing with a half hitch knot.

Knotting the Thread Removing the Tail Stitch Varnish the Bead Threads

For added stability, brush the threads around the bead holes with one or two coats of clear nail polish or other clear lacquer. Make sure that the varnish is completely dry before using your covered beads in a project.

You can get even more coverage on a bead covered bead by using three or more row lengths in an even pattern, such as: 3 2 1 2 3 2 1 2... The number of rows, lengths, and seed beads per row will vary by the size of the base bead that you use.

Bead Covered Bead Necklace

Happy beading!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bead Love: Nature vs. Nurture

Last week we got to meet the Beading Buds, and talked a bit about how our obsessions with beads begin. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my own beading origins are, and the more I consider the possibilities, the more mysterious it becomes.

The most obvious source of bead-craze for me is my mother’s seed bead collection. When I was very young, she practiced Native American style bead embroidery, and also made some amazing loomwork pieces. To this day, I swoon a little at the scent of suede and rabbit fur. I loved everything about the craft, from the materials to the finished projects, but the loose beads were my favorite.

Mother bought and stored Czech seed beads in clear film containers, and stored them in a big vintage sewing box. I spent hours upon hours just looking at all the little vials of color. My favorite was an enormous bottle of lustered transparent cranberry. Today I think that it might have something to do with my notion that seed beads are always more appealing in huge quantities.

Seed Beads in Plastic Bottles

Getting an actual taste of beadwork at an early age is a good start, but not everyone keeps going, or picks it up again at a later date and makes it a constant passion. For many beaders, there are other factors that make beads and beadwork irresistibly appealing. But do we love beads because of these experiences, or do these experiences stand out for us because we love beads?

To solve this mystery I went on a nostalgia trip, looking for all of the things in early life that may or may not link inner cartwheels and figurative drooling to beads, and the way that I feel about them today. At the risk of dating myself with some distinctly late 20th century fads, I’m going to share a few of the things I found on my search through photo albums and pin boards. Perhaps you’ll see a few familiar things here, too!

Collecting Freshwater Shells

The first thing I found was an old photograph of a day at the beach - one of many. The lake that we used to visit every summer had a wonderful sandy beach, and in those first few years, it was always covered in beautiful little snail shells. Collecting these shells, using them in sandcastles, and taking them home for crafts was something that I always looked forward to.

Sadly, the number of shells that we found got smaller every year, and several summers went by without a single find. I didn’t know it at first, but this was my first experience with the idea that people can drastically change an environment in a very short period of time. Fast forward a few decades, and here I am, carefully choosing beads that are the least likely to have caused anyone harm.

1980's Contac-C Commercial

The old photo album got me thinking about the days before the Internet, and some of the quaint things that we used to love ‘back in the day‘. Then I remembered how obsessed I was with a particular Contac-C commercial. In the ad, a model breaks open a cold medicine capsule, spilling out an abundance of brightly colored little ‘beads’. I was always glued to the set whenever this add came on, and this was long before I had discovered the wonder of glass seed beads. Coincidence? Or instinct? We may never know, but the fact that I remembered enough about the commercial to include the keyword ‘bus’ when looking for it must mean something.

Of course, cartoons and movies were also full of bead and gem goodness. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town, and had the freedom to walk home everyday for lunch - even in first grade - to eat Alpha-getti and watch Teddy Ruxpin. My favorite episode? The one where Gimmick invents a machine that turns the rainbow waterfall into colored crystals, naturally. (By the way, if this show ever ends up on Netflix, you might not see or hear from me for awhile. I'll drop everything to watch every episode!)

Do you remember push pencils? If you don’t, just imagine a pencil that you never have to sharpen, and then throw away after only a few uses. I cringe when I think about how much plastic was wasted by this particular fad, but at the time, they were delightful! For my birthday one year, I received a package of push pencils with fruit designs on them. Each one had a reservoir in the lid that was filled with tiny little scent beads to match the fruity print. I loved these pencils above all others, and spent as much time examining the little translucent beads inside as I did writing with them.

While on the hunt for an image of push pencils, I stumbled across many forgotten things from my childhood that may have contributed to, or enhanced, my love of beads.

These wooden bead toys made visiting
the dentist a treat. Still do!

If you never woke up with stick-on earrings on
your face and/or pillow, you didn't grow up in the 80's.

Remember the worry doll fad?
The smaller the better, just like beads!

I'm not sure, but I think I wanted a bike
just so I could put Spokey Dokeys on it.

Small, colorful, transparent thingies that make pictures...
Beads, or Lite-Brite?

Of course, beads and jewelry themselves played a part. Just like most girls, I spent a fair amount of pocket change on vending machine jelly bracelets. I also had a marvelous collection of brightly colored, chunky plastic jewelry a la 1980’s SAAN and Woolworth stores.

1980's Plastic Jewelry

Here I am with my aunt in 1988 or so, wearing a stretchy bracelet and rainbow plastic hearts. I loved junk jewelry, and treated it like gold. One piece that really stands out in my memory is a multi-strand stretch bracelet with white plastic pearls, and an enormous red ‘gemstone’. Even when the bracelet fell apart, I kept that plastic rock and treasured it for its size, color, and lovely transparence.

I’m still no closer to learning if bead-love is in my bones, or if I’m a product of a bead-friendly environment, but the journey was incredible! It didn’t even make me feel old, but I do have a craving for Kool-Aid and Pop-Tarts now.

Where did your bead obsession begin? Do you think it was fate or fortune that brought you together?

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Inspired Beaders: Beading Buds

Beading Buds Beading Parties

For many beaders, the first spark of beading inspiration comes when we are young. Perhaps we have a crafty mentor that shares some of their stash on a Saturday afternoon, or have a chance encounter at an incredible bead shop. Many beaders get their start through crafting sessions with clubs or groups like Girl Guides, and these fun moments can be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with beads.

Thanks to the Beading Buds, inspiration like this isn’t just a lucky coincidence. Esther and her team of jewelry designers have been sharing the love of beading with kids (and grown-ups!) at parties and functions in the Toronto area for 5 years running. From birthday parties, to summer camp, to company retreats, these beaders are on the go wherever a fun time is needed!

Inspirational Beading: How did you first get into jewelry design and beading?

Esther: When I was a little girl, at a beading club at the school that I attended

Inspirational Beading: How did this passion evolve into the idea for beading parties?

Beading Buds Bead Board

Esther: The idea found me! I used to work at a law firm and co-workers there
knew that I made jewelry and asked if I could do a party for their children, and the idea just kind of took off.

Inspirational Beading: Is there a trick to teaching beadwork as entertainment? What’s your favorite thing about the process?

Esther: The trick is to make sure you are teaching the correct project to each age group. If it's too easy they get bored and if it's too hard they get frustrated. My favourite thing about the process is that I am teaching children skills that they can use for a lifetime. I have had so many of my little beaders contact me a couple of years after I've taught them telling me how beading is now a true hobby for them and they are so happy that I introduced them to something that is such a big part of their life now.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite memorable beading party moment?

Esther: One of the most special parties I ever did was teaching a group of girls to make jewelry that they were going to sell and donate all the proceeds to the prenatal ward of a hospital in Toronto, Canada. The mom of one of the girls had contacted me while I was actually at that hospital having just had my first daughter. It was just such a coincidence and was so special because I felt like I was helping other new mothers. Of course we offered to do the event probono and the satisfaction we received from doing it was the best payment anyone could ever receive.

Beading Buds Bead Stash

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite material or bead type to work with?

Esther: We love using bright colourful beads, mainly glass or acrylic, depending on the age group and what they are making.

Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?

Esther: Whether through a birthday party or afterschool program, or any other scenario, we hope that every single child that has ever beaded with us discovers what a fun and enjoyable hobby jewelry making is.

You can learn more about the Beading Buds and the fantastic work that they do on, or stay up to date with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Beading Buds
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