Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween Jewelry

Happy Halloween, beaders! I hope you'll be having a fun and spooky evening. To get things rolling, here's a quick collection of delightful Halloween jewelry designs.

What are you dressing up as this year?

Halloween Inspired Jewelry Projects

Spooky Houses Halloween Necklace - Halloween Candy Corn Bracelet - Beautiful Web Necklace

Halloween Spiderweb Necklace - Glam Halloween Necklace - Halloween Ribcage Necklace

Eyeball Necklace - Black Skull Necklace - Pumpkin Pendant

Trick safely!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lac and Kashmiri Bead Giveaway

As beaders, when we think of insects in relation to our work, we might consider the many wonderful color and pattern inspirations that they provide, from butterfly wings to honey comb. Dig a little deeper, and it turns out that bugs and insects are actually a pretty important part of the bead and jewelry making world.

We’ve already seen how the natural clay from termite mounds creates the perfect kiln material for African bead artists, and silk makes a great material for both fiber beads and thread. But did you know that there are beads made directly by the power of insects as well?

Maruti Bollywood Style Beads

Materials and products made from lac - the secretion of tiny tree-dwelling insects - have been around for hundreds of years. It is used in the production of varnish and shellac, as well as unique beads and jewelry. The natural resin secreted by the insects that feed on sap is harvested, crushed, sifted, and heated to create an ideal bead making material. The resulting beads have a wonderfully natural appeal. Lac jewelry has been an important part of Indian customs for generations, with a long tradition of craftsmanship and style.

Natural Resin Lac Beads

If you’d like to give lac beads a try, our friends at Maruti Beads would like to share some of their beautiful bead designs with you! They have graciously offered a selection of lac and Kashmiri beads, as well as their own custom maruti beads to one lucky Inspirational Beading reader! Similar in style to lac beads, Kashmiri are made from synthetic polymer clay, and embellished with a variety of materials such as rhinestones and silver. You may also know them as Bollywood beads - each bead design is handmade in India, and has a fantastic, exotic look. Some are very similar in design to the popular pave beads, and would work well in trendy pave projects.

Polymer Clay Kashmiri Beads

How to Enter

For your chance to win a package of 60 assorted kashmiri and lac beads, visit and choose your favorite bead style. Then leave a comment on this post, and let us know which one you liked best. Is it the Kashmiri with studs and hearts? The gold and blue lac hexagon? Anything goes!

Important: Comments must be posted here on Inspirational Beading to qualify, but no log-in is required. If you do not have a Blogger profile with email contact enabled, please make sure to include an email address, shop, or website link, so I can contact you if you win!

One reader will be drawn at random on Tuesday, October 30th. This giveaway is open to international readers.

Good luck!

Kashmiri Rhinestone Beads

I would like to thank Maruti Beads for sharing this fantastic bead giveaway. Inspirational Beading does not receive a commission for featuring these products.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Ugly Necklace

Throughout this year’s beading challenge, I’ve been pondering the possibility of doing a bead collector’s necklace - a project made with a wide variety of beads and stitches. It seemed like a good idea to keep in mind if I ever got stuck with a lot of odds and ends. With only a few really good projects left on my destash list, and a whole lot of beads that I didn’t know what to do with, I decided to do just that. But with a twist!

Assorted Destash Bead Mixes

I never got around to finishing the backwards quadruple St. Petersburg chain from a few months back, so I decided to use it as the base for another UFO collage. I collected up all of the singles and pairs, seed bead mixes, and assorted hopeless beads from the destash tray, and got to work constructing a new ugly necklace. This time I actually had to really stretch to get all of the elements I wanted in one piece. I was able to use up all of the remaining silver-lined crystal seed beads, and had to start adding some of my beach sand mix to keep things going.

St. Petersburg UFO

I had just as much fun putting this piece together as I did the first one. I ignored the rules, made awful color choices, and just put beads and thread together whatever which way I wanted. It was a great way to relax and recharge - like unclogging a drain and dancing in the rain all at once. I included several leftover UnFinished Objects from the first ugly necklace, too, so my work space looks a little tidier than it did last week.

The Somewhat Ugly Necklace

Have you tried any wild, crazy, or ill-advised beading projects lately?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World Beaders: Australia

Grab your guide books, beaders! Today we’re going on a trip to Australia. Home of the Bead Society of Victoria, and the world’s number one source for opals, Australia is filled with unique inspirations of all kinds. From the diverse and exclusive wildlife, to gorgeous traditional artwork, it is a feast for the eyes!

The continent of Australia was settled by European colonists in the late 18th century, before which indigenous peoples flourished, with as many as 300 separate nations with their own unique languages. Aboriginal art is among the most long-lived forms of art in the world, with Papunya Tula dot painting being one of the most recognizable styles.

Happy beading, Australia!

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Purple Salmon Necklace

As the destash challenge starts to wind down, I find that I’m either using very few beads per project, or oodles and oodles. Last week, I tackled my last carved bone fish charm, and nothing else.

I’ve already combined one fish charm with blue tagua, so this time I went with purple. Rather than do a really easy chain, I decided to splurge on time and beads, and go for a chunky rope design. Although it requires a lot more work, the rope provides a much simpler backdrop for the charm duo.

Purple Tagua Fish Charm Necklace

I matched the bone fish with matte vanilla seed beads, and added some dark transparent amethyst 8/o’s. I blended the two colors together with some wisteria lined crystal, and got to work. Luckily, Russian spiral takes very little time to weave, and I was finished much quicker than I expected.

I had hoped to do a few more charm and tagua combinations for this challenge, but I’ve decided that the flower tabs I have in the destash tray are just too ugly to waste on pretty tagua slices. I don’t want to spend time fretting over how to make them pretty - I’m sure it’s possible, but I have so many other projects to do that are going to turn out on the first try.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bead Inspirations: Fall Away

Today I was in a very creative mood, but even though I have a lot of fun designs planned, and some gorgeous new bead colors to play with, sitting down to bead seemed like a distant thing. Instead, I decided to recharge my batteries, and cleanse my creative palate with some virtual inspiration.

I started with a little lampwork window shopping, and found a handful of really gorgeous beads and focals. Although I had autumn colors and shapes in mind, a variety of beautiful colors jumped out and called my name. One thing that ties them all together is their abstract, swirly, whispy designs.


This pretty pop of color features a lovely lampwork focal by Bindu Glass.

Coral and Turquoise Softly

I loved the intense orange and blue combination of this bead duo from Maya-Honey.

Autumn Wind

The dandelion style motif of this lampwork set by Anne’s Glass Jewels was irresistible.

What bead styles and colors inspire your creative moods?

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Russian Spiral

Grape Vanilla Russian Spiral Rope

Few things are prettier than a beaded spiral, and of all the stitches in a beader’s repertoire, spirals are often the most satisfying. Spiral techniques provide us with easy and elegant ropes for necklaces or chunky ropes for bangles, in an endless variety of color and pattern.

One technique that gets far too little time in the spotlight is Russian spiral rope. It is a variation of tubular netting - and therefore tubular peyote stitch. The small compact rows give the stability of a peyote rope, with the flexibility and drape of a crochet one. By combining two bead sizes and small nets, you can create a beautiful rope of spiraling color that works up incredibly fast. Russian spiral is a great rope technique for Fireline lovers - the beadwork is very soft, even when using stiff threads.

To weave a Russian spiral rope:

Begin by choosing a palette that includes two similar bead sizes. Here we’re going to use two 11/o colors, and one 8/o color. You can go up or down a size, and even use accent beads like pearls or crystals for the larger beads, so long as they have a compact shape that works with the smaller base beads.

On a comfortable length of beading thread, pick up a repeating pattern of two 11/o and one 8/o four times. You can increase the number of sets for a wider rope, but this pattern will create a tight tube that is perfect for necklace chains.

Russian Spiral Tutorial How to Weave Russian Spiral

Stitch through all of the beads again to form a ring, and exit from an 11/o immediately following an 8/o. Pick up one 8/o and two 11/o. Unlike other spirals such as Cellini, if you are using multiple colors always pick up the same color that you will be stitching into, not the same color that you are exiting.

Stitch through the first 11/o bead after the next 8/o in the ring. Pull snug, and nudge the three new beads to the top of the ring. Don’t worry if the position isn’t perfect - the beadwork structure will start to form a tube naturally as you add more rounds.

Russian Spiral Rope Tutorial Russian Spiral Rope Step Up

Pick up one 8/o and two 11/o, and pass through the first 11/o in the next set. Pull snug. Continue around the ring. When you add the fourth and final set, pass through the first 11/o added in this round. Because this step-up ignores the original ring, it will reduce the number of sets in the tube by one, and convert the beadwork from even to odd-count. You will not need to step up again for the remainder of the rope.

The beadwork may look a little messy at this point. One more round will secure the tubular shape, but if you’re having trouble seeing which way is up, try securing a stop bead to your tail thread as a reminder.

Weaving a Russian Spiral Rope Three Color Russian Spiral Rope Pattern

Continue stitching, adding sets of three beads at a time, always stitching through the first 11/o bead of the set below, and adding colors in reverse. You can weave the first few rounds over a dowel if desired, but the tube comes together so quickly that it isn’t necessary. Within the first few rounds, you should be able to see the spiral pattern emerge.

Russian Spiral Tubular Netting Stitch

Pull snug after every stitch to create even tension. With Russian spiral, I like to leave my tail threads extra long, so that I can weave back through and snug up any loose spots. To finish the rope and secure the end of the tube, pick up one 8/o and just one 11/o in the final round. Stitch through all of the beads once or twice to secure the ring, and weave the remaining thread into the tube. Make sure to pass through both 11/o and 8/o beads as you weave, to securely anchor the tails.

Have you used Russian spiral stitch before? What bead size combination is your favorite?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bead Color Ideas: Witch’s Brew

With just over two weeks to go until Halloween, I can’t help but be inspired by some classic spooky colors. One of the best things about Halloween is that there isn’t a set three-color palette to represent this holiday. There are endless combinations of pumpkin orange, toxic green, monster purple, blood red, ghost white, and raven black to inspire us.

This year, I wanted to walk on the playful side a little, so we’re going to take a look at the more playful combination of green, orange, and purple. This trio can bring to mind cartoon ghouls, bags of candy, or the crazy concoctions of a mad scientist. I tried to stick to mostly seed bead palettes, to give all the emphasis to the colors. Some druks did find their way in, but they are so versatile and essentially beady, that they are always at home with seed beads.

Hansel and Gretel Bead Palette

Starting with some electric green transparent lime seed beads, I created a very sweet and sour palette of toxic fruity colors. The Hansel and Gretel palette also includes transparent medium orange, or tangerine, and some purple lined Rosaline - an excellent purple seed bead that doesn’t fade into the background.

Bony Legs Halloween Bead Palette

Next, I combined colors that were bright but not exactly cheerful. Bony Legs started with matte pumpkin 8/o seed beads, and purple iris druks. Together these colors brought to mind creepy crawly things in the woods, so I finished things off with a slimy lime green.

Wicked Halloween Bead Palette

The final palette went in a totally new direction. I started with transparent amethyst 8/o’s, and paired them with matte transparent emerald, for a spooky but not silly palette. Instead of a stark orange, Wicked is finished with some topaz AB druks, which have a lovely faded color like the peeling labels on old potions.

Which combination of Halloween colors is your favorite?

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bugle Feather Keychain

Not every project can turn out they way we want it to, but if we’re determined enough, we can make mishaps work for us. This happened to me over the weekend, when I tried to tackle some gunmetal twisted bugles. I had been pondering the idea of turning them into an embroidery pendant for awhile. At first I thought something abstract and stripey might work. Then it occurred to me that it would be easy enough to arrange the two bugle sizes in the shape of a feather.

Gunmetal Black Twisted Bugle Beads

I chose some brown felt and turquoise seed beads to complete the look, arranged some beads and made a rough sketch to follow so that the feather shape was sure to come out. I hadn’t completed very many stitches when I realized that while the idea was good, it just wasn’t going to make a nice pendant. Since I was already committed, I just kept going. It took only a second or two to figure out a use for the mediocre design.

Bead Embroidered Feather Keychain

When I cut out the beadwork, I left a little tab and sewed it into a loop before attaching the backing felt. With a keyring in place, I now have a new zipper pull for my purse. (I was a little too rough on the old one). I like the design, and the size is much better. I’m looking forward to showing it off!

Have you turned bead lemons into lemonade recently? What did you make?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wear It Twice: Fall Harvest

One of the best things about the changing seasons is the yearly arrival of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fall is one of the most colorful and decorative times of year - we are just as likely to adorn our tables with harvest vegetables as we are to eat them. Pumpkins, squash, corn, zucchini, nuts, and acorns are just a few favorites.

Today I went on the hunt for some beautiful fall jewelry and fashions in the colors of gourds and squash. A warm, earthy palette of yellow, green and orange is perfect for any fall project - from the closet to the kitchen. Because many of our fall favorites have curvy shapes, it's easy to recreate them with the beads themselves, as well as just color. A dash of leaf stitch here and there makes it even better.

For this month's collage, I started with a pretty yellow and cream tagua necklace, which brings to mind sweet corn. From there, I worked with a palette of olive green, burnt orange, and mustard yellow.

Autumn Harvest

It was easy enough to find pieces in rich fall colors, and plenty of leather helps to round out each outfit. One of the best things about the cool-but-not-cold months is the opportunity to sport tights in an endless array of fun colors. I topped things of with seed and nut inspired earrings for each ensemble, then headed out to look for handmade and vintage looks.

Autumn Harvest Treasury

What’s your favorite fall comfort palette?

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Pea Pod Stitch

Green Pea Pod Bead Chain

I’m always on the lookout for quick ways to string beads simply, while adding the extra security of small stitches. Daisy chain and variations of it are a personal favorite, but doing the same old thing can get a little dull after awhile. This simple looped embellishment, which I like to call pea pod stitch, adds a lot of security to a simple strand of beads, and works up very quickly.

The very first project I tested the technique on featured 3-bead clusters and a pretty green palette. The curvy loops of seed beads that surround the bead clusters looked just like protective pea pods. I’m going to demonstrate the stitch with this same pattern, but it’s easy enough to change things up with your own accent patterns and sequences.

You can work this stitch with a single thread for short strands, so long as there are places to turn the thread around at each end. Clasps, focals, or other small stitches are ideal. Be sure to use beads that can take multiple thread passes.

To weave pea pod embellishments:

String your beads in the desired pattern, including sections with: seven 11/o seed beads, one 8/o seed bead, one small accent bead, one 8/o seed bead, and seven 11/o seed beads. When the strand is complete, weave around or start a new thread, moving in the opposite direction.

Pea Pod Stitch Pattern Pea Pod Stitch Tutorial

Exit from the third 11/o seed bead in the first sequence you come to. Pick up thirteen 11/o seed beads, and pass through the fourth 11/o seed bead across the accent cluster. If you are using a different set or style of accent beads, you may need to adjust the amount of beads picked up in this step, to comfortably span the gap.

Pea Pod Stitch Half

Always make sure that the new loops of seed beads cross over symmetrically. This gives the finished pods a pleasing shape.

Continue adding loops to one side of the strand, until you reach the end of the work. Turn the thread, or begin a new one, and move back along the strand in the opposite direction.

Finishing Pea Pod Stitch Completed Pea Pod Embellishment

Exit from the third bead in the first sequence, and pick up thirteen seed beads. Stitch through the fourth seed bead on the other side of the accents. Pull snug, and a complete pea pod will be formed! Continue adding loops to finish each section, and weave in the remaining thread.

What’s your favorite quick and easy chain technique?

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Art of Beaded Beads

What could possibly be more fun than making big, beautiful beads out of smaller ones? Even more appealing is the idea of creating your own unique focals and components for your jewelry designs, or perhaps just to showcase as little beaded works of art.

In The Art of Beaded Beads,readers will find a treasure trove of styles and techniques to add to their beading repertoire. There are 40 beaded bead projects in all, some using sculptural stitches, and others made by beading around a larger base bead. With the exception of a bead made entirely from steel hex nuts, all of the projects incorporate seed beads to create miniature beaded sculptures.

Author and designer Jean Campbell gets beginners off to a good start with an overview of bead types and materials, plus bead weaving basics, including instructions for the stitches used throughout the book. Clear, easy to follow diagrams will help new beaders who want to try out beaded beads - the short projects make for excellent beading practice.

The beaded bead projects range in difficulty from absolute beginner to advanced, and use a wide variety of techniques, shapes and materials. Contributors include Diane Fitzgerald and Sharon Bateman. Sprinkled throughout the book are some fabulous beaded bead jewelry designs to help inspire your next creation!

Each project includes a full materials list, step-by-step instructions, and clear diagrams; but beaders may want to be somewhat familiar with stitches like peyote, herringbone, square stitch and right angle weave, before tackling each bead.

If you’re a seed beader, and you’ve been wanting to create your own unique art beads without learning to use a torch or kiln, The Art of Beaded Beadswill provide plenty of ideas for beads that you can make using the skills and materials that you already have.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
Jean Campbell and Lark Books
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