Thursday, December 18, 2014

Work in Progress: Intermission

I am very happy to report that all of the beadwork for my secret project is now complete! I feel like I’ve just crossed a finish line - not least because I need a bit of a break. Right now my bead tray is almost completely empty. Apart from the usual apparatus, the only things on it are a cup of freshwater pearls that I forgot to put away the last time I had my pearl bead box out.

I won’t be starting on any fresh new projects for at least a few days, as I’m using my normal beading time to work on this year’s felt Christmas gifts - tiny pillows with Minecraft faces on them. I’m also whipping up a “tacky Christmas sweater” for my a school Christmas party. Apparently they are all the rage this year, and everyone is going to be wearing one to show school spirit. We went with some simple felt shapes like ornament globes and a beribboned gift.

Tacky Christmas Sweater in Progress

There has been one new addition to my workspace this week. I was shopping for stocking stuffers and decided to treat myself to a pencil and paperclip caddy. It’s absolutely perfect for storing and organizing excess bead packs while I’m working on a project. It also keeps materials out of my elbow space until I get around to putting them away.

What are you making this week?

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Spotlight: Beautiful Bracelets by Hand

Beautiful Bracelets by Hand, by Jade Gedeon

There’s something truly wonderful about the form of jewelry we call bracelets. As a project, they’re right in the middle of the road – not as instant as earrings, or as lengthy as necklaces. They can be worn with anything but the longest of sleeves, and are comfortable in almost any weather. No piece of jewelry provides quite as much movement, jangle, poise, or punch to an outfit as a gorgeously made bangle or bracelet.

In her new book, Beautiful Bracelets By Hand,the founder of We Dream in Color has created a treasure trove of inspiring designs. Jade Gedeon’s 75 beautiful bracelets will delight beaders and jewelry makers of all skill levels. There are 8 chapters in all, dividing the projects by their essential materials. The Beads chapter features bold focals and understated heishi beads. Bits & Pieces encourages readers to experiment with found objects, buttons, and upcycled jewelry. There are also projects devoted to the beauty of Chain, Fabric & Cord, Leather, Metal, Plastic, and Wood.

Although the materials vary greatly from the first project to the last, the techniques used are both enticing for experienced beaders, and simple enough for the weekend crafter. Beautiful Bracelets by Hand includes instructions for wire wrapping, crimping, resin molding, polymer clay smooshing, simple woodworking, and much more. All of the projects are united by their very trendy looks and flair for decidedly pretty design. This book would make a fabulous addition to any crafter’s library.

Jade Gedeon and Page Street Publishing have generously provided a sample project from the book for Inspirational Beading readers to try. This Lace Cuff bracelet from the Fabric & Cord chapter provides a pretty pattern with instant gratification. Enjoy!

Lace Cuff by Jade Gedeon


New or repurposed, lace of any sort makes a pretty piece. We picked vintage and antique metallic weaves to give this ladylike bracelet a little edge and a good pop of glam.


• Two 7" (17.8 cm) lengths of lace ribbon (we used 2¼" [5.7 cm]-wide ribbon)
• Bias tape
• Four 19x5mm ribbon crimp ends
• Two 4x6mm jump rings, 18 gauge
• Two 10mm jump rings, 18 gauge
• Two 12x6mm lobster clasps

Lace Cuff Project Materials


• Scissors
• Chain-nose pliers
• Flat-nose pliers
• Nylon-jaw pliers
• Hot glue gun

1. Big wrist? Small wrist? Wrap ribbon around your wrist so it is slightly loose. Trim so there is about a ½-inch (1.3 cm) gap between the ends. Cut your bias tape about ½ inch (1.3 cm) longer than your ribbon width.

2. Fold the excess bias tape into itself and crease. Do this on the top and bottom edge.

3. Since you’ll be using HOT glue, take care not to burn yourself. Press any edges down with a piece of card or a spoon rather than your fingers unless you don’t mind a blister or three. Now that we are clear on that, with a few dots of hot glue, stick the top and bottom folds down. Sandwich your ribbon edge in between the folds of the bias tape. Apply a few small dots of glue and fold and press (again with a card or something without nerves) the bias tape over the ribbon.

4. Center the ribbon crimp on the bias tape. With a pair of nylon-jaw pliers, firmly close the crimp onto the ribbon. Attach a 10mm jump ring to one end. Attach the lobster clasp with a 4x6mm jump ring to the opposite end.

5. Make another. That way one wrist won’t be jealous.

I would like to thank Page Street Publishing for giving me the opportunity to preview this gorgeous book, and for sharing the Lace Cuff tutorial. Inspirational Beading has not received compensation for mentioning titles or products in this post; however, actions you take from this page can result in a commission for Inspirational Beading.

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
Jade Gedeon and Page Street Publishing Co.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Fall Jewelry Colors Part Three

Pantone Bright Cobalt by Rebecca Minkoff

Our final trio of Pantone fall colors is a little late, but luckily I saved the best for last. The not-quite fall color from this year’s line-up that I chose for center stage in the third collage was Bright Cobalt. Although I had planned on exploring the possibilities a lot sooner, it does make for an excellent winter color as well. The challenge this time would be to come up with ensembles for both fall and winter, using my remaining colors Cyrpess green and Mauve Mist.

Though the other two colors in the palette both have a muted, dusty quality, I wondered how well the trio would work together in garments. Luckily it was easy to find pieces for all three, and I ended up with some fun outfits. For a casual look I went heavy on mauve and cypress, with hints of cobalt. For formal, cobalt and cypress lead with accents in mauve.

Window Shopping

This time around I included jewelry designs from one of my favorite places – Faire Collection. The new line up of tagua and other natural jewelry is as stunning as ever. This month’s collage include a gorgeous Tagua Gem necklace in blue and green, Moon Sliver tagua earrings, and a two-tone bullhorn bangle in blue and black.

Faire recently added some new artists to their Ecuador team. These talented ladies help to create the gorgeous fair trade jewelry the collection is known for. If you’d like to learn more about the collection and cause, check out Faire founder Amanda Judge’s informative pieces about fair trade with Conscious Magazine.

Faire Collection Artists in Ecuador
Left to Right: Rita, Tamia, Alejandra, Marisol, Sisa and Luzmilla

What are you favorite winter colors for jewelry?

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
Pantone and Rebecca Minkoff
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Christmas Beading and Jewelry Tutorials

It’s that time of year again when much of our inspiration comes in the form of red and green palettes, frosty and sparkly finishes, and gifts for the jewelry lovers in our lives. This year it was really tough to choose just a handful of holiday beading tutorials – the inspirations are abundant! Here are just a few of my favorite projects.

Sugar Plum Dreams Ornaments by

Give Czech glass O-beads a new twist with these
sparkly Sugar Plum Dreams Ornaments by

SuperDuo Poinsettia Earrings by

Picasso two-hole SuperDuos delight in these Poinsettia Earrings from

Captured Christmas Tree Earrings by Beadaholique

New Swarovski pave rings are the perfect frame for these
Captured Crystal Christmas Tree Earrings by Beadaholiqe.

For the Love of Betsey Necklace by

Inspired by the jewelry designs of Betsey Johnson, this red and white necklace project from Auntie’s Beads
brings to mind ribbon-wrapped peppermints.

Candy Cane Pendant by Modge Podge Rocks

This Candy Cane Pendant tutorial from Modge Podge Rocks
is exactly right for a charming stocking stuffer!

Frayed Ribbon Necklace by Ornamentea

If you love a bold, vintage inspired look,
this Frayed Ribbon Necklace project with ceramic focals by Ornamentea will make you merry.

Wire and Bead Ornaments by Everyday Art

You won’t believe how easy it is to make these stunning,
hollow Wire and Bead Christmas Ornaments by Everyday Art.
It’s a great project for using up leftover beads, too.

Candy Cane Cuff by Beadaholique

The simplicity of this Candy Cane Striped Cuff by Beadaholique really makes statement!

Lights of Christmas Bracelet by

What holiday crafting party would be complete without a lovely crystal Christmas lights project
like this Lights of Christmas Bracelet from

Festival of Lights Earrings by

Another great project from is these lovely Festival of Lights Hanukkah Earrings
featuring Swarovski crystals wrapped with designer jewelry wire.

Deck the Halls Earrings by Beadaholique

Beadaholique does it again with these totally charming,
wire-wrapped Deck the Halls Earrings.

Are you making beaded decorations and handmade gifts this year? What are you favorite materials to use?

Happy holidays and happy beading!

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Work in Progress: Plentiful Pearls

I have just a quick snapshot of my workspace this week as I scramble to finish up the last of my top secret projects in time to start on this year’s handmade Christmas presents. Stormy gray weather is not helping with what little photography time I have either. I’m going to remember this the next time I bring up how wonderful winter is!

Pearl Beadwork in Progress

Right now I’m working with a lot of freshwater pearls, including a few new colors that I added to my stash recently. I’m loving the olivine in particular, which goes really well with a lot of different palettes. It took me several attempts to get just the right balance of beads in the piece that I’m working on, and no matter what I added, the colors looked great. I had hoped to go with teal Picasso for the main accent at first, but I’m going with the gray instead. I think it’s going to turn out great when all the stitching is done.

What are you working on this week?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Favorite Techniques: Bead Embroidery

Shibori Ribbon Face Cuff by Soulshine Studio

The line between bead lovers and bead horders can be very thin – if it exists at all – and there’s no doubt that bead embroidery is one of the best techniques for sustaining our obsession. No matter what your favorite materials are, there’s an application for them in bead embroidery.

Today’s guest is Ann of Soulshine Studio bead shop in Corning, New York. Her bead embroidery designs feature a gorgeous array of unique materials such as shibori ribbon, cabs, drops and unique focal pieces.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite beading or jewelry technique?

Ann: My absolute favorite technique is bead embroidery. I love it so much, I dream about new projects, and I have piles of beads that are intended for specific ideas - who knows if I'll ever get to all of them? I look at my projects like paintings, the beads are paint. Bead size, color, finish - they're all important to the outcome. Where the beads are placed in relation to each other is key to a good design. Placement can change the look of the beads, and eventually the look of the whole piece.

Inspirational Beading: How did you first learn to do this technique?

Ann: I learned on my own. I saw pieces that others had made, and I wanted to try. I really didn't know what I was doing, so my first attempts were a bit wobbly. I borrowed books from the library, and learned so much! I then purchased a couple of books to use as reference, one by Margie Deeb about color theory, and one by Sherri Serafini and Heidi Kummli on bead embroidery techniques. I still have those - they're well worn! Last year I went to the Colorado Bead Retreat and took workshops by Sherri and Heidi, and I learned so much more! It was thrilling to meet them, and to ask quesions specific to my own work. They both helped me grow, and my beadwork is better today for having had the chance to speak with them, show them my work, and get honest feedback. I would recommend taking a class or workshops with teachers that you admire. It's a great way to learn more not only about the technical aspect, but also about your own work and style.

Bead Embroidery Necklace by Soulshine Studio

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you've made with this technique, which one is your favorite?

Ann: My absolute favorite is the 'King Hummingbird' cuff bracelet. I love the colorway: the gunmetal and black and grey. I love the textures. The flow of the shibori ribbon I used in the cuff just seemed so natural as it all came together. It practically made itself, and it sold almost immediately. I had posted it on Facebook, and I had a request for it the day after it sold, so I made another quite similar to it. One of these days, I'll make one for me!

Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started?

Ann: Jump in! Just try it, really. So many people say they don't think they could ever do it, and I thought the same thing before I tried it. Find a 2-3 inch stone or cabochon that you love, go to the library or online and read up on some pointers, then go for it. And remember that practice makes perfect. Using thread means working with tension, not just in beadweaving but bead embroidery as well. The direction you point your needle when you sew, where you place the needle in relation to the beads, all of these things are important and make a difference. You should understand that only by doing will you learn.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material or color to use it with?

Ann: My favorite colors seem to be dark. Gunmetal, antique bronze, antique copper mixed with deep jewel tones are my go to colors. I feel like they're mysterious, they create tension and depth. I've recently started using shibori ribbon as well, which I adore. The folds of the silk, the variations in each piece, the flow of the colors into one another all add wonderful texture to bead embroidery pieces. Midnight Borealis is my favorite color of shibori ribbon - it's a deep grey dyed over with deep green, blue, and purple. Perfect!

Bead Embroidered Pendant by Soulshine Studio

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Ann: I would absolutely recommend learning bead embroidery. It's versatile. You can take your piece in any direction you choose. With so many styles of beads on the market today, you could make the same piece using different beads over and over, and come out with totally unique pieces. Adding shibori ribbon or lampwork focal beads or Swarovski crystals will add variety as well. You could make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, headbands, barrettes, rings, tapestries...the possibilities are endless.

Shibori Ribbon Cuff by Soulshine Studio

Inspirational Beading: What is your least favorite thing about working with this technique?

Ann: My least favorite thing about working with this technique is the time it takes. I have so many ideas, so many things that I want to create, and because of the size of the beads, they take hours and hours. A cuff bracelet typically takes 20 hours, earrings can take 4-5 hours. My biggest piece took about 50 hours.

You can see more of Ann’s bead embroidery creations at her Etsy shop and bead store website, Soulshine Studio. For more inspiration, follow the store on Facebook

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Soulshine Studio
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Work in Progress: Beetle Green

I’m way behind on both blogging and beading this week, with a super heavy schedule of work, events, and outings. It’s even harder to be away from my workspace when I’ve got lots of new goodies to try, and this week I’m starting on a project with some awesome bead colors.

Beetle Green Beadwork in Progress

I just added several new shades of green seed beads to my stash, along with some Czech O beads and other Czech glass accents from Lima Beads. A lot of them are going into a single design – one of the final pieces for my secret project. I’m also including a few favorite druk colors, and a fresh hank of satin blue bugles. I can’t wait to get started!

What are you making right now?

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Peace Symbol

While the words “peace symbol” can generally mean anything - such as an olive branch - in Western culture they bring to mind a very specific shape. You’ve probably seen them on earrings and pendants in every material you can imagine, from wood and plastic to metal and gemstone. The peace symbol is a very popular motif for jewelry with a retro, groovy, or faux boho style. It often gets paired with the classic happy face, mod flower motifs, and fractal patterns.

Ray of Peace Necklace Tutorial by

Ray of Peace Necklace Tutorial by

The story behind the sign is actually a very interesting one. The Direct Action Committee and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain needed a symbol for it’s 1958 march on the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. Artist and designer Gerald Holtom originally created a line drawing in the shape of a person showing despair, with a circle around it. Ultimately wanting a more hopeful banner for the movement, Holtom inverted the symbol. The final design is made up of overlapping semaphore signals for the letters N and D - Nuclear Disarmament. Two years later, the badge was brought into the US by a university student, and it quickly became the unifying symbol of both disarmament and anti-war groups across North America and Europe.

Do you have any peace symbol jewelry in your stash?

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Work in Progress: Deep Blues

For the past few weeks I've been getting a lot of use out of some new-to-me bead colors that I ordered just a short while ago. I needed some interesting new shades of blue and red, and was really happy with what I found. This week, I'm trying out some new matte blue Miyuki's and loving them. Along with topaz, Montana blue, and jet black, I'm very pleased with how the new color looks in the weave. I'm not usually a fan of matte finish beads, because I find the texture too "crunchy" for close beadwork. They also tend to soak up the gray reside from Smoke Fireline, especially in the lighter colors. I couldn't resist the few shades I did pick up, as the matte finish makes for some wonderfully sophisticated colors, making any texture issues worth it.

Deep Blue Beadwork in Progress

Work on my top secret project is almost complete. I'm really looking forward to making totally new designs, and sharing them as well! Hopefully I'll have some of my new bead colors left to play with. Once the craziness of December is behind us, things will be back to normal, and I hope to finally start work on the thread comparison I meant to do this year.

What are you making right now?

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Favorite Beads: Miyuki Seed Beads

Black White and Blue Cellini Spiral by FusionFrenzy

The meat and potatoes of any beader’s stash is most often lovely and versatile seed beads. They’re essential for beadweaving, ideal for bead embroidery, make great spacers, and can add a delicate touch to a variety of jewelry styles. Today’s guest, Gina of FusionFrenzy, shares her favorite things about beading’s tiniest materials.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all-time favorite bead? Why do you like them?

Gina: My all-time favorite beads are Miyuki Japanese seed beads. They're so versatile with all the different sizes and colors, the creative possibilities are endless. I love how uniform Japanese seed beads are. The end result is a very consistent looking piece.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite technique or method to use them?

Gina: My favorite technique... that's a tough one! It's a toss-up between Cellini spirals and tubular netted pieces. If I had to choose only one, I'd pick the Cellini spiral technique. Although they are extremely time consuming to make, the result is an incredibly detailed piece. It leaves non-beaders wondering how you made it.

I love that the shape of the spiral is dictated by the order and size of the beads you choose. As a personal preference, I try to keep my spiral shape on the conservative side, not too drastic. I don’t usually use any bead larger than size 8 for my Cellini spirals.

Gold and Red Cellini Spiral by FusionFrenzy

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you’ve made with these beads, which one is your favorite?

Gina: My favorite seed bead creation is a Cellini spiral necklace incorporating three seed bead sizes in four colors. It was the first time I reversed the spiral halfway to create a unique focal point. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was an ongoing project. I started a few months ago, planning for fall colors. I put the project aside for a while… honestly I got distracted by other bead projects! Recently I decided to finish what I started. My only concern was that the tension wouldn’t be the same, but thank goodness it turned out perfect. I used tension that was not too tight and not too loose. The result is an even tension throughout the necklace.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have any tips for making the most of these beads?

Gina: Keep an open mind when it comes to color. I was surprised what colors actually work well together. Sometimes, I’ll just start beading something and if I don’t like it, I simply undo it and start over with different shades. Don’t be afraid to play with color.

I also recommend to try and keep a good inventory of colors and sizes. Before starting a new project, I let color inspire me so having a variety to choose from is great! I will literally lay out a bunch of bead packs in front of me. Certain colors jump out and grab my attention. If nothing else, keep a good supply of black. Black goes with everything. I understand building even a small inventory can take time and money. I started building mine by asking for gift certificates to my favorite online bead stores for any birthday or Christmas gifts.

Purple Netted Bracelet by FusionFrenzy Black and Gold Netted Bracelet by FusionFrenzy

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite bead or material to pair them with?

Gina: I love to pair seed beads with round Czech glass beads or fire polished Czech glass beads. They're perfect to use in my second favorite technique: tubular netting. Just like seed beads, Czech glass beads and fire polished Czech glass beads come in various sizes and so many beautiful colors. I surprised myself with how beautiful my capri blue and metallic brown netted bracelet turned out.

Inspirational Beading: If you were stranded on the moon, and you could have only one kind of bead with you, would you choose seed beads?

Gina: I would choose seed beads without hesitation! In fact, I usually bring seed beads with me anytime I'm going to be away from home for as little as one night! No kidding, if I could find a way to neatly bead while riding passenger on a road trip, I would do it.

I keep telling people beading is just a hobby, but recently someone told me it was more of an obsession. The more I thought about it, the more I agree. I would be perfectly content being stranded on the moon with my seed beads. Of course, it would be even better if I had some string, a needle, and air to breathe haha! Since I use seed beads, I would never run out of projects considering the amount of stitches and techniques that are out there. You're truly only limited by your own imagination!

Brown and Blue Netted Bracelet by FusionFrenzy

Inspirational Beading: What’s your favorite method for storing your bead collection?

Gina: I have a zippered fabric craft bag with a handle on it that stores all my seed beads, well, the seed beads that I have plans to use in the near future. I also have a decent supply of seed beads that I keep on shelves that I don’t use all the time. They’re always on that shelf if I need them.

I keep all the beads in the original bags they come in so I know exactly what size, amount, and color they are. I go even further than this though… I use ziplock bags to separate the sizes. One bag contains all size 15 beads, another bag contains only size 11, etc. This way, they all stay organized and easy to find.

By the way, this is also my to-go bag. If I’m going away, all I have to do is grab the handled craft bag and be on my way. It’s like my bead supply purse; everything is in there ready to go. Never leave home without it!

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a brand preference? In your opinion, what is the best source for them?

Gina: I prefer round Japanese seed beads. They work well in all my projects and the beads have a very consistent shape. I’ve used other brands where some beads were thinner than others from the same pack… it just drove me crazy trying to sort them out so my project would be uniform.

I usually buy beads online from various sites. I seem to find a better quality online for reasonable prices. I’m not fond of the seed bead quality at my local craft stores. There are a couple drawbacks to ordering online though. Sometimes the colors you see on your screen are not quite the exact same colors you receive. What you thought was a very light yellow turns out to be a little on the darker side.

There is also the lack of instant gratification and even the quickest shipping seems slow when all you want is to get started on a new project. On the flip side, it feels like it’s your birthday when the package finally arrives! It is so much fun to open it up and finally hold and see what you ordered days ago. I get a kick out of that if you can’t tell!

Black and Silver Netted Bracelet by FusionFrenzy

You can see more of Gina’s seed bead creations and jewelry designs in her shop, FusionFrenzy, and get news on the latest projects on the FusionFrenzy Facebook page.

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and FusionFrenzy
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Bead Giveaway: Perfectly Pink

The only thing better than getting a new package of beads in the mail, is getting a surprise package of beads. There’s something so exciting about the mystery of a blind bag, the discovery of something new, and the chance to try a different material without having to choose it yourself. I love it when indie bead shops include a few samples in an order, and I’m a huge fan of bead grab bags from Auntie’s Beads. They always have a varied selection of goodies at a great price, so when there’s a sale, I try my best to get my hands on one. There’s always a chance that there will be beads or components that I can’t use, which means I get to pass on the goodness to my fantastic readers.

Pink Bead Strand Giveaway

I recently stocked up on some shaped seed beads and a few favorite 11/o colors, and got a new grab bag with my order. There were a lot of lovely goodies in the bag, and I’m giving them all away! This month I’ve got two strands of 4 and 6mm magenta glass pearls, and a strand of (I think) pink matrix jasper rounds. They look good enough to eat!

How to Enter: For a chance to win all of the beads shown, leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite colors to pair with pink. One lucky winner will be drawn on Wednesday, November 12th.

Rules: Comments must be posted directly at to qualify, but no log-in is required. Please make sure to leave a contact method in your comment if you do not have a profile with a public email address. For security, you can type your email like so: username AT yourmail DOT com. Incomplete or duplicate entries will not be included in the draw.

Good luck, and happy beading!

Update: This drawing has closed.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Beaded Tutankhamun

Working on my new Tutankhamun collar this month reminded me – as these projects often do – of one of my very first Egyptian beadwork pieces. When I did the math, I was a little surprised to discover that it was over nine years ago that I made this embroidered portrait of Tutankhamun’s decorative sarcophagus.

Bead Embroidered Sarcophagus of Tutankhamun

The design was so complex – I traced it from a photograph in one of my Egyptian history books – that I ended up just beading right onto the paper. There’s still a good portion of it hiding under the beads. I was able to tweeze out most of the edges, but the middle is there to stay.

I’ve been thinking of doing some more intricate Egyptian bead embroidery, but I never seem to have the time to commit. Maybe next year!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Work in Progress: Totally Egyptian

This week I’m really excited to be working on a piece with a very Egyptian inspired palette. I’m putting my new rainbow ruby seed beads to good use, along with cobalt, turquoise, and topaz standing in for gold. The palette is fashioned after the broad collar on Tutankhamun’s funerary mask. It’s one I’ve been meaning to do for ages now, and I can’t believe that I waited this long. I suppose part of it was fussing over a pattern, but I finally found the perfect stitch to use.

Egyptian Beadwork in Progress

I’m already several hours into the project, and it’s coming along very nicely. I love the antiqued look that the ruby beads bring to the beadwork. I only wish that I had some turquoise Picasso to match. This one is part of my big secret project - the reveal is only a few months away!

What are you making this week?

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween Skull Pendant

I’ve made a bit of a tradition of whipping up a simple necklace to go with my Hallowe'en costumes each year - which gives me a chance to make a little something for myself, while trying out techniques or materials that I wouldn’t normally use. Last year’s rifle pendant is still my favorite, although I lost the necklace somewhere. I’m still pretty annoyed about that, but I made up for it a little by throwing together an old daisy chain with another toy gun just in case I’m in the mood to wear it.

Crystal Skull Phylactery Pendant

This year’s necklace was quick and easy to stitch up, especially because I had just the right focal waiting, as luck would have it. Months ago we were set on going as The Doctor and Donna Noble from Doctor Who, but changed our minds. My son decided on Pinocchio from Shrek, leaving me with a tough choice to make. I toyed with a lot of different ideas, until I realized that all of them required wearing a skirt or dress. I was running out of time when one of my favorite YouTube channels, albinwonderland, posted a tutorial for skull makeup.

Halloween Lich Costume

When I realized that I could just paint my face and wear whatever I wanted, everything else fell into place. I decided to go a little more scary than posh, and thought it would be easiest if I told people that I was going as a lich. That meant I needed a phylactery – a magical object to store one’s undead soul. And I just happened to have a Swarovski crystal skull hanging around to do the job.

I didn’t manage to get a good photo until the end of festivities, when most of my makeup was smudged, but I think it turned out great. We had a fantastic Hallowe'en, and now I’ve got another great necklace for my stash.

Do you like to dress up for Hallowe'en? What did you go as this year?

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Friday, October 31, 2014

October Bead Stash Favorites

When we fall back on a favorite bead style, sometimes it’s just for the comfort of knowing exactly how they will look in a design, or just the right beads to pair it with. Sometimes it’s just because we love to see them and work with them.

Red Azuro Czech Glass O Beads

Right now almost all of my favorite things are old faves in some way or another, although I did finally get around to picking up some of the new Czech glass O beads at Aunties Beads. They are incredibly adorable, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll work in my favorite designs. Although I’d love to see more opaque or single-tone finishes in future releases, I’m pretty happy with the red azuro color that I chose. It’s red and blue and gold all at the same time.

Rainbow Ruby Red Czech Seed Beads

I recently surfed around at Fire Mountain Gems, and did a little stock-up on basics like Fireline. I made a point of seeking out several new and old shades of red in 11/o seed beads. For the past few months, it seems like every time I sit down to design something, I need red – but I only have a handful of finishes to choose from. Now I’ve got plenty, and I’m particularly fond of these lovely rainbow rubies. The AB finish will allow them to blend in with a wide variety of palettes.

Czech Glass Tortoiseshell Coins

Another new addition to my stash is these Czech glass coins in one of my all time favorite finishes – tortoiseshell. I love the transparent topaz color with its flecks of black. It’s a little like an animal print, a little like a gemstone. I’ve already got a design lined up for these beauties and I can’t wait to get started.

What colors and shapes are your go-to favorites?

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Lucy’s Pearls

Last week we took a look at fashionable pearls in the time of Elizabeth I. Fast forward 400 years, and we have another surge of pearls, as seen on stars such as Lucille Ball.

The actress wore her share of costume jewelry, and was a big fan of designs from the Miriam Haskell collection, which helped popularize the faux pearl and crystal rhinestone. Though there is some speculation about the amount of designing done by Haskell herself, it’s certain that she did seek out and promote many skilled artists from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, leaving behind an amazing legacy of jewelry.

Lucile Ball Wearing a Strand of Pearls Lucy Does a TV Commercial

When you go for faux pearls, do you prefer glass or shell?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Work in Progress: Lapis and Picasso

This week I’m working on a project that is very exciting, mostly because of the beads that are going into it. The techniques are simple, but the colors are fantastic - I can’t wait to see the finished piece!

Lapis Lazuli Beadwork in Progress

I’m combining matching Rullas and SuperUnos in a gorgeous coral red Picasso, with my own custom mixture made for the look of lapis lazuli. I mixed together some matte black AB – which has a dark blue look and hints of green, red, and purple – with a small dash of transparent light topaz AB for the flecks of gold. It turned out so nice that I want to make more and use it again in other projects as well.

What are you making this week?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Jewelry Colors Part Two

In our last color experiment, we explored using purple as a fall color, inspired by Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid. Thanks to some great pieces in Cognac and Misted Yellow, I’d say it was pretty successful. This time I’ve upped the challenge with the even pinker hue of Sangria.

Sangria by Nicole Miller Pantone Fall 2014 Colors

Although at first glance the color lineup for this fall doesn’t scream autumn, there are several colors that look right at home in the season, when taken individually. For this week’s palette, I chose Aurora Red – a somewhat lighter shade with just a hint of orange. The final player in the trio is frosty neutral Aluminum. What I like about this palette is the suggestion of winter on the horizon, which makes the addition of warm Sangria seem very appropriate for fall.

Frosted Apple

The biggest challenge for this collage was finding the right balance of colors. Too much purple would make things too busy, while too much red would be overly dramatic. Luckily, I was able to find lots of pieces that almost perfectly matched my color choices, including a gorgeous fringe necklace with red ostrich feathers and an element of gray in the leather and chain base.
I couldn’t resist adding some red rain boots to go with the jackets and overcoats. All it needs is a mug of apple cider and there’s no mistaking the autumn vibe.

To create some of these jewelry styles, try these project and tutorials in your favorite colors:

Fall Feather and Fringe Jewelry Tutorials

1. This String Feather Necklace Tutorial by Hey Wanderer makes great use of embroidery floss.
Add a few Swarovski crystals and it’s perfect!

2. The Alison Show’s Chevron Fringe Necklace Tutorial
allows for lots of gorgeous color combinations.

3. If you love to wrap, this bangle tutorial from Paperphine is worth a try.
The project uses paper twine, but could also work with your favorite fibers.

4. Would you believe that this gorgeous Embroidered Bangle Project by Alison Strang
started out as a roll of packing tape?

Druzy Bead Earring Tutorial by Beadaholique

If you can’t find the perfect pair of druzy stones for earrings, you can make your own using beads,
with this Druzy Beads Earring tutorial by Beadaholique


These are my favorite Polyvore collages using this week’s picks:



Ruffled Trench Coat

How would you use purples and pinks in your fall palettes?

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Pantone and Nicole Miller
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