Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Posts 2013

Happy New Year, beaders! The past 12 months have brought a lot of changes and challenges here on Inspirational Beading, with new series and segments added, and many left behind. December of 2013 was more bizarre and busy than any other before, so I have a lot of catching up to do in the new year. For now, here’s a look back at some of the best things that happened this year.

This year's best tutorial by far would have to be the Embellished Ombre Herringbone Cuff.
Not only is it the first full-length project I've featured here, but it also captures several of 2013's best jewelry trends.
Hopefully, ombre is here to stay - it's way too much fun to work with in beads.

There weren't quite as many fashion collages this year as I would have liked - I can't quite describe how much fun they are to make.
Of those that made it, my favorites are certainly those inspired by Pantone colors.
2013 also saw the addition of recommended tutorials to the Wear It Twice segment!

Although it didn't exactly fit in with the new Egyptian theme, the Tropical Toucan necklace was my favorite project this year.
From the first glimmer of an idea, to the palette, to the finished design,
the entire process was an absolute delight - one of my best beading experiences of 2013.

This year's most scientific and thorough post would have to be the Seed Bead Brand Comparison.
A lot of thread, time, and beads went into the study of different seed bead types,
but it was all worth it in the end, and I got a really fun necklace out of it as well!

One segment that has continued over the years is the monthly Bead Color Ideas, although it has evolved quite a bit.
This year we looked at trios that included unique focal beads and coordinating seed beads, and I think it's the most inspiring format yet.
My favorite palettes this year featured some gorgeous striped glass in primary colors.

Similar to color trios, a new segment this year was Bead Stash Favorites.
Although it's a lot easier to come up with three items to share each month, it can sometimes be a challenge just choosing which pieces to show,
and I'm always surprised by how much inspiration comes just from setting out the beads and taking a good look at them.
My favorite group would have to be the June Favorites, which included Egyptian pearl colors, teardrops, and lovely bone beads.

Here’s to another year of beading ideas and projects! Thank you so much to everyone who has read along so far, and to everyone who will join us in 2014. Happy beading!

Copyright 2013 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Beading Tutorial: Easy Holly Berry Fringe

Christmas Holly Berry Fringe Project

One of my favorite things about beadwork is that way that you can easily use color or proportions to transform a stitch into something exciting and easily recognizable. My very first independent project was to create a necklace of ordinary leaf and branch fringe that looked just like a cluster of vineyard grapes. That was when I knew that I was truly and forever in love with beadweaving.

Today’s tutorial uses the same concept to create festive looks from simple techniques. The combination of daisy chain and leaf fringe provides an easy way to embellish holiday projects or dress up a Christmas necklace. You can start with a simple strand of seed beads or a beadwork base, such as a bracelet or necklace in your favorite rope stitch. Then all you need are size 11/o seed beads in bright red and dark green.

To Create Christmas Holly Fringe:

Attach a stop bead to a comfortable length of thread, and weave into your base, exiting from the point where you would like to begin adding berries. To start the simplest holly motif, pick up 1 green and 6 red beads, and slide them down to the work.

Stitch up through the first red bead added, and carefully pull snug to form the beginning of a daisy cluster, making sure that the beads are tight against the base. Pick up 1 red bead, and stitch through the fourth beaded added in the cluster, directly above the one your thread is exiting. Press the new bead into place at the center of the ‘berry’ and pull snug.

Pick up 6 green beads and slide them down to the work. Skipping the last bead added, pass down through the fifth bead and pull snug. Pick up 3 green beads, and stitch back through the first green added in the previous step, and the following red bead. Pull snug to form a leaf. Weave back through the first berry and into the base, exiting from the next start point.

Christmas Holly Berry Beading Tutorial

You can create different looks by changing up the pattern and proportions of your berries. Add a picot instead of a leaf by picking up just 4 green beads, and stitching back through the first one again. Nudge the beads into the picot shape and pull the thread snug before weaving back through the work.

Make larger leaves simply by picking up more green beads in the first step. Subtract this number by three to get enough beads to form the other half of the leaf in the second stitch.

Holly Berry with Picot Holly Berry Chain with Extended Leaf

Create larger clusters of berries by adding them in a daisy chain, with 2 or more green beads in between for anchoring leaves to. You can extend these leaves away from the berries by adding 2 or more extra beads as a stem.

This combination of daisies and leaves works great for flower projects, naturally, as well as other inspirations. Try using yellow, orange, and green beads (with a contrasting leaf color) to make citrus trees!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Work in Progress: Breezy Lariat

The ombre project for the Egyptian God Shu is coming along slowly but surely. Beading time is always pinched down to a minimum at this time of year, but I’m getting in as much as I can. After choosing colors for this piece last week, I decided to go with simplicity and make a lariat for Shu. I concluded that the extra long beadwork allow the palette to really shine, and I could use the striped beads for fringe.

Ombre Lariat in Progress

It took six or seven attempts to get the pattern just right. I tried several different ways of blending the colors, and even switched from Capri blue Czech beads to cobalt Miyukis, but there was far too much contrast between them and the aqua. I finally had to give up and work the pattern without dark blue, but it may still make an appearance in the tassels.

The previous Egyptian Gods piece, Sekhmet turned out fabulous. I’ll need to set aside some time to get her posted as well!

Sekhmet the Lioness Collar

What are you working on this week?

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: The Art of Beadwork

Of all the hundreds of beading titles available out there, very few achieve the perfect blend of beginner-friendly instruction and serious seed bead inspiration. Of those few, a new book has emerged that is sure to be a favorite! The Art of Beadworkby UK artist Jane Lock is a treasure trove of bead weaving, perfect for beginners and experts alike.

The first chapter contains one of the most thorough Getting Started sections of any beadwork guide, with over 30 pages dedicated to working with seed beads and jewelry design basics. Jane has covered everything from choosing bead types to storing materials and trouble-shooting common beading mishaps. The preceding pages are filled with amazing examples of gorgeous beadwork by artists such as David Poston, Ulli Kaiser, Lynn Davy, and Jennifer Airs.

Next, many favorite bead weaving stitches are explained in fabulous detail, with variations and uses clearly shown to help inspire beaders to try the techniques. Unlike many beading books, the primary stitch instructions are illustrated with photographs rather than diagrams, providing real examples of how the work might look when attempted. Included are tutorials for ladder stitch, square stitch, brick stitch, herringbone, peyote, right angle weave, cubic right angle weave, and netting. With the exception of ladder stitch, each weaving tutorial is followed by a gorgeous project to try, with clear diagrams and step by step instructions.

Then it’s on to the extras - beading techniques and styles that turn stitches into projects. The final half of the techniques chapter includes tutorials on spiral rope, beaded bezels, classic pearl-netting beaded beads, peyote triangles and squares, fringes and embellishments, and finally loom work. Each stitch includes one or more complete projects for readers to test out their skills on.

The final chapter invites beaders to really test their favorite stitches on gorgeous jewelry tutorials by guest designers like Nancy Dale, Carol Dean Sharpe, and Kerrie Slade. My personal favorite is the Nefertiti Necklace by Heather Collin, which uses cubic right angle weave to construct a beautiful beadwork focal.

The Art of Beadwork is certainly my new favorite bead weaving resource, although I must confess to a bias, as two of my designs are featured within the pages. The Cherry Blossom pendant is included as an example of circular peyote stitch, and the basics section features the Quetzalcoatl necklace in a look at “color schemes in action”. It was a great privilege to contribute to a wonderful volume on beadwork, and a thrill to see the Cherry Blossom pendant on the cover of the UK edition, The Art of Beadweaving.

If you’re just starting out with beadwork, or want a fresh look at your favorite techniques, The Art of Beadworkwill not disappoint!

I would like to thank Jane Lock and Quarto Publishing for allowing me to take part in this book, and for providing me with a copy for my collection. Inspirational Beading has not received compensation for featuring this review, however, actions you take from this page can result in a commission for Inspirational Beading.

Copyright 2013 Inspirational Beading
Jane Lock and Quarto Publishing
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Work in Progress: Ombre Air

This week’s bead tray is covered in beads, as I’m just starting the planning stages for a new Egyptian Gods design. So far all I know is that it will be ombre, and that the seed bead palette will come as close as I can get it to match a strand of deliciously striped Indonesian glass beads. I can’t wait to get started!

The palette of whites, blues, and creams is inspired by Shu, the Egyptian god of air. I actually started with the seed beads, and realized that if I added a touch of topaz, the palette would be perfect for my striped beads. How could I resist?

Pale Ombre Beadwork in Progress

What are you working on this week?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bead Color Ideas: Coconut Trios

Often beads that look irresistible on the strand can be a bit vexing once they’re in the studio. One way to find the right way to use them is to play with color combinations until inspiration strikes. For this month’s color trios, I decided to search for ideas that would help me put some gorgeous coconut daggers to good use.

The organic appeal of natural beads always keeps me coming back for more, and when I spotted some lovely coconut wood chips at Happy Mango Beads, I just had to have them. Because they’re center-drilled, the perfect method for using them isn’t immediately apparent - apart from some lovely fringe, of course.

Grass Skirt Bead Color Idea

I started my color experiment with some earthy colors to compliment the natural beige of the coconut shell. Opaque lime green 8/os add a dash of freshness that could represent spiny cacti or rustling Grass Skirts. The organic swirls and warm tones of brown mix druks perfectly compliment the daggers.

Pina Colada Bead Color Idea

Continuing with a tropical theme, I returned to one of my favorite palettes for cheerful beadwork: Pina Colada. Opaque dark yellow and light blue make a great pair, and the addition of the coconut beads gives them a more authentic look. I can see this trio making a wonderful embellished spiral rope.

Black Forest Flake Bead Color Idea

The final palette creates a bold background for these unusual beads. Black Forest Flake started with some cherry red white-hearts, which looked fabulous with the coconut at first. The trouble was finding a third color that didn’t clash with either. Playing it safe, I went with shiny jet black, but some green white-hearts would make a great festive palette.

What’s your favorite natural bead? How do you like to use them?

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Work in Progress: Collar with Claws

I’m a little behind in this week’s project, because it took several tries to find just the right pattern. For the fierce and sometimes violent Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, I wanted to include a lovely brown bugle beads in a collar, along with vibrant red vintage white hearts. Things just didn’t go as planned.

As you can see from the mess, I’ve still got one failed attempt to undo. At first I wanted to incorporate the bugles into the main netting, but they take up so much room that the nets were a lot wider than I would have liked. Scratch that, and I discovered they looked really great as fringe.

Lioness Collar in Progress

Unfortunately, something was still off. The white hearts were a little too vibrant. Against the cream and brown, they had a tomato hue, and made everything clash - not to mention that they didn’t give the impression of Ra’s pomegranate and ochre ‘blood’ potion from Sekhmet’s legend. I switched the white hearts out for some transparent garnet 8/o’s, and then everything fell into place.

Last week's magatama collar is complete, but I've been so rushed this week with assorted things that I haven't had time to photograph it yet. Schedules are going to continue to be squeezed over the next few weeks, and it looks like this year's challenge is going to run overtime, though I am determined to finish and get started on a brand new approach! For 2014's theme, there will be lots more room for bracelets. I'm eager to work on some inspired cuffs!

What are you working on this week?

Copyright 2013 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wear It Twice: Harvest Gourds

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers, wherever you may be! I’ve been saving this month’s jewelry and fashion collage for today - the colors of a fall dinner table are just too beautiful to resist. Gourds and pumpkins are especially charming, with warm, muted shades of green, yellow, orange and brown.

I started this collage with a beautiful multistrand necklace is the soft yellow of creamed corn. After that it was just a matter of finding some beautiful fall colors like pea green and russet brown. Naturally, knits and long sleeves were ideal for late fall outfits.

Gourd Gorgeous

I couldn’t resist a generous helping of leaves as well. Both outfits feature very different approaches to leaf earrings, each with their own appeal. I love the color and silhouette shape of the orange filigree, and the natural look of brass dangles. Which one is your favorite?

Multistrand necklaces are wonderful pieces to make and wear - they are the perfect way to showcase gorgeous beads or a wonderful color combination. Here are some fun tutorials to try:

Multistrand Seed Bead Necklace or Bracelet Project from How Did You Make This?

Fabric Wrapped Mulistrand Choker Tutorial from Jewelry Making Journal

DIY Seed Bead and Chain Necklace by For the Love Of…

Creme de la Creme Multistrand Necklace Project from FusionBeads.com

And for the earrings, here are some great inspiration projects using lovely leaves:

Swinging Leaves Wirework Earrings Tutorial by The Real Leopardstripes

DIY 10 Minute Leaf Earrings from My Girlish Whims

Micromacrame Leaves and Pearls Earrings Tutorial from Raquel’s BeaDesigns

And finally, my favorite Polyvore collages featuring this month’s picks:

Untitled #671

Tomato and Mustard Fashion

Issa Wrap - effect silk-jersey top

Are you enjoying the fall colors right now? What combinations are your favorite?

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Desert Fringe Lariat

Things are finally getting back to normal in my workspace after a great craft show weekend. This means that tons of new ideas are piling up, while fresh designs are slowly making their way into my shops. I finished my latest Egyptian Gods piece just in time for the show, and although I didn’t get to see it find its owner yet, I’m happy to be able to share it now.

I’ve created several chevron lariats throughout this year’s challenge, each with their own unique variations. One thing that tied them all together was the presence of blues. It was very refreshing to try the design out on a totally new color palette, with some interesting accents as well.

Set Bead Palette

For Set, the god of chaos and barren deserts, I started with a simple black chevron chain, with accents of opaque pepper red. Red is Set’s color, but I didn’t want to overdo it. I had already decided on using some African Christmas beads in the fringe, and a neutral background was just the thing to bring out all the colors and lovely stripes.

I ended up pushing back a design for the sun god Ra in order to get this lariat finished in time, and I’ve decided to put it off yet again. I’ll be moving through some of the other gods first, and saving Ra for the end of the challenge. I already have a design in mind, and as it’s going to be a big one, I think it will make a great finale.

Set the Desert Lariat

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Treasury: Winter in the Woods

The winner of last week’s winter bead giveaway is Linda - congratulations, and thank you so much to everyone who entered! This month, I asked about your favorite holiday color palettes, and as always the results were varied and full of inspiration.

Linda’s picks were sparkly white with sky blues and the greens of a winter forest. With these color inspirations in mind, I set out in search of some pretty winter inspirations. The bead and jewelry picks especially put me in the mood for snow!

Woodland Winter Treasury

Frosted glass and soft mossy greens do make a gorgeous combination - and one that is easily achieved with beads. May all of your holiday projects be full of cheer!

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November Bead Stash Favorites

Yesterday morning all of the puddles in the neighborhood were frozen solid - winter has arrived. I suppose that means it’s time to start thinking about festive bead colors and holiday jewelry designs. Although I love a good red and green combination as much as anyone, I often find myself drawn to the more elegant and fancy holiday palettes, like burgundy and frost, gold and emerald, or plum and cobalt.

This month’s bead picks include two new favorites, and some beads that I’ve been neglecting lately due to so many other ideas and designs vying for my attention.

First we have a lovely bunch of shiny, gold dyed freshwater pearls. I love the organic shapes - not only are these slightly imperfect pearls very affordable, but they have a primitive quality that I adore for ancient inspired designs. Although I’ve added a lot more pearl and shell to my stash this year than I usually do, I couldn’t resist snapping these ones up.

Gold Freshwater Potato Pearls

I’ve been so busy with Egyptian Gods and craft fair goodies these past few months, I keep forgetting that I’ve been eager to make ladder cuffs using my new selections of Czech bugles from Shipwreck Beads. These opaque white bugles are perfect for Egyptian and tribal pieces, but would make for lovely frost and ice designs in winter as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.

Opaque White Bugle Beads

Finally, I have some transparent cobalt 8/o seed beads that I can hear calling to me daily. I recently started keeping a list of bead styles and colors that I wish for when designing pieces, so that I can remember to add them to my purchases and bead shopping time. I don’t know how I ever got by without one of my favorite colors in this size, but it’s been remedied thanks to these beauties from Fire Mountain Gems. The large boxes that Dyna-Mites come in are a little too big to fit in my usual storage bins, so they’ll soon be heading for some baggies.

Cobalt Blue 8/0 Seed Beads

Do you have a new favorite bead to work with this winter?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Work in Progress: Magatama Collar

Last week I had planned to share the final rings that I was making to take with me to the craft fair, along with a promise that it would be the last ring update. Unfortunately, I was so busy preparing the rest of my inventory that I never got the chance.

Now that the fair is over, things are back to normal on the drawing board and the bead tray. This week, I’m just finishing up a piece that I started during the show. I brought along a few favorite bead colors and enough thread to start a project or two, to keep me busy during slow periods. On the second day, I nearly finished a pretty new collar with opaque blue and green seed beads and lovely little 8/o magatamas in transparent lime.

Chevron Collar in Progress

The new chevron lariat that I was working on for Set turned out great! It took some time to find just the right accent sizes, and I ended up with some additional colors like blue and green. Still, the Christmas beads added just the right amount of personality. My favorite part of the design is the colorblocked fringe. I find myself returning to this style more and more often since Apep, and loving the results.

African Trade Bead Lariat

What are you working on this week?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jewelry Display Makeover

One of the great things about being crafty is having the ability to adapt when things go awry, or to find creative solutions to problems like tricky storage or broken tools. Why buy something new when you can fix it yourself?

A while back one of my favorite jewelry displays took a tragic fall and broke into several pieces. The polystyrene hand that I had been using for ring photographs lost a finger, making it just about useless. Luckily, it didn’t shatter into millions of pieces like porcelain or other materials might have. All it needed was a little glue.

I first tried repairing it with what I had on hand - some Gem-Tac with tape to hold it together while it dried. Everything seemed fine at first, but after a day or two the pieces just came apart on their own. I really wanted to have this display intact for the craft fair, so I needed a different approach.

After adding some E-6000 to my supplies for knotting projects, I had what I needed to do the repair right. Once the pieces were back together, the display still needed a makeover to cover up the cracks and leftover glue from the first mishap. At first I considered using decoupage with a layer of paint over top, but knew it would be both time consuming and too likely to go wrong. Although the texture might have been a nice effect, it was really an unnecessary step. Instead I gave the display 3 coats of paint to match my other displays - 2 out of 3 mirrors from a set I bought for the show. They made perfect bowls for displaying rings, while the largest mirror I saved for helping customers try out pieces that they liked.

It’s great to have this piece back in action! Have you rescued any beading tools or fixtures recently? How did it work out?

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bead Color Ideas: Winter Green

Here on the West Coast, winter scenery is a little backwards. All summer long the grass gets baked to a golden brown, and then becomes lush and green again with the almost constant winter rain. This climate quirk has inspired me to try out some winter palettes with a more vibrant green than the deep velvet of holly leaves and pine needles.

The perfect character to play this part are some beautiful carved bone tubes from Happy Mango Beads. The finish isn’t uniform, giving them an organic, mossy finish. The colors range from olive to chartreuse, with little white stars scored into the surface.

Frozen Creek Bead Color Idea

First I paired the green bones with light and wintry blue, and shiny jet black for contrast. Although we miss the leaves when they’re gone, the look of branches in silhouette on a bright winter sky is a welcome one! The greens definitely have a coolness to them in this trio, like moss with a layer of frost. There’s a certain watery-ness to this palette, which I decided to call Frozen Creek.

Antique Centerpiece Bead Color Idea

Of course I couldn’t resist trying out some bright opaque red. Adding white seemed a little too obvious, and probably wouldn’t have a very festive effect on the lighter greens. Instead, I tossed in a handful of gold Swarovski Elements pearls. Antique Centerpiece has a warm elegance, like a favorite decoration that gets passed on from one generation to the next.

November Lichen Bead Color Idea

Finally, I wanted to try out a complementary palette, starting with lovely olive green seed beads. Transparent rootbeer brown provides a little light and some additional organic color for this palette. With so much green, this one could only be called November Lichen.

Are you using your winter greens right now? Which shade do you prefer?

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