Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bead Color Ideas: Tortoiseshell

Lovely imitation tortoiseshell has long been one of my favorite Czech glass finishes. The combination of transparent topaz glass and dramatic black flecks is gorgeous in any shape or size. And if you believe that animal prints are neutrals – which I do! – then they go with just about anything.

Awhile back I used up my entire stash of tortoiseshell druks, and I’d been missing them dearly when I came across a strand of tortoiseshell coins on sale. Naturally I snapped them up and added them to my growing stash of glass coins and tabs. I’d really like to put them to good use, but first I need a fantastic palette.

Earthy Tortoiseshell Bead Color Idea

My first approach was to go with something earthy, to match the lovely brownish hue of the tortoiseshell. Emerald green and black do the job perfectly, giving the beads a forest-like feel, or perhaps something serpentine. This palette would look lovely in a simple woven necklace or a collar.

Regal Tortoiseshell Bead Color Idea

Next I wanted something a little more regal, so I paired rainbow ruby with medium transparent topaz. The topaz beads are just a little lighter than the tortoiseshell, helping to highlight the black accents, and the red definitely adds an elegant tone. For this palette, I would almost certainly go with an elaborate cuff bracelet.

Aquatic Tortoiseshell Bead Color Idea

Finally, I turned to the remaining primary color and created a palette of lovely aquatic blues. Mysterious dark blue lined aqua and pretty Ceylon light green really bring out the amber hues of the coins. This palette is by far my favorite – possibly because I’m rather fond of the blue lined aqua – and would look gorgeous with something fringe-y.

What’s your favorite Czech glass finish?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Work in Progress: Final Fringe

I am very happy to report that the new fringe necklace is just minutes away from completion. All it needs is one final strand – and some tying off of tails – and then it will be finished! The rope turned out really great, and it my favorite part of the piece. I’m definitely going to keep the stripe pattern in mind for future designs.

Striped Necklaces in Progress

I decided at the last minute not to include any yellow mother of pearl chips, and just put in a few blue ones for a pop of color and texture. The fringe itself sort of took shape as I went. After about 3 strands with chips and bone beads, I decided to add a second layer with just glass beads. The pattern is brand new – the plain strands are slightly longer than those at either side, which gives the fringe a really full shape, but still doesn’t interfere with the tapered look.

As soon as I’m finished with this piece, I’m going to work on a new multistrand necklace with lots of primary colors. I’ve got some white-hearts already set aside, and I’m hoping that the mulistrand design will allow me to be a little less choosy with the red vintage beads, which tend to be pretty wonky.

What are you making right now?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Operation Inspiration: Phase Three

I’m heading into the final stage of my plan for boosting creativity in my workspace. The new ugly necklace is complete, and it turned out pretty fabulous, with a fun combination of herringbone strips and circular brick stitch medallions. I used a coconut flower button for the clasp, which not only added the finishing touch, but also allowed me to finally get one into a project after having such high hopes for them.

Ugly Inspiration Necklace

Apart from refreshing my workspace and using up old leftovers, one of my favorite ways to find instant inspiration is to buy new beads. I haven’t placed a bead order since last year, so it was definitely time to get some fresh materials in my studio. I’ve got a good sized bead order on the way right now, and there are some pretty exciting things in it. I’m trying out a few new seed bead colors, some new accent beads, and of course I stocked up on Fireline so I’ll be ready to make whatever comes to mind.

Now that the ugly necklace is finished, I’m getting back to favorite projects. I’ll be finishing the fringe necklace with black and gold stripes that I started ages ago - and then, who knows?

Striped Necklace in Progress

Do you have a favorite bead or material to purchase when you need a pick-me-up?

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Operation Inspiration: Phase Two

For the past week or so I’ve been picking away at getting back into beading with one of my favorite recharge methods, and I didn’t even have to clean up first!

Once it occurred to me that putting a stopper on the herringbone collar project I was (not) working on would help get me inspired again, I realized that it would be the perfect place to start a new ugly necklace. I took out my box of UfO’s and selected a few choice scraps of beadwork, then opened a few packets of beads that I had been planning to put away last week. I’m going to stitch all of these elements together any which way and use the free-for-all as a way to find my creative groove again.

I had been planning to make another Unfinished Object purge necklace at some point this year, and now is as good a time as any. Beading without any rules - not just freeform but totally without attention to style or form - is so liberating and has never failed to give me a cleansed feeling in the creative sense. It’s also giving me an opportunity to try out some unusual beads that have had me stumped for months.

Herringbone and Coconut Ugly Necklace in Progress

The center drilled coconut daggers have been on my mind a lot lately, but I just couldn’t come up with a good design to use them in. By adding them to this completely crazy necklace, I can use them in ways that I wouldn’t dare to otherwise, and get a feel for what they can and can’t do. I’m also incorporating some assorted leftovers and some really fun beadwork scraps from the past couple of years. I can’t wait to see how this piece turns out!

I’m hoping to have this ugly necklace complete in the next few days, so that I can be ready to work on normal projects again by the time Orange is the New Black hits Netflix. A great series always helps to keep me in my seat and beading away, since I can’t stand to watch movies or shows alone and not have something for my hands to do.

The final phase of Operation Inspiration all depends on my bead budget, but will probably be the most effective overall. Then things will really get rolling again!

How do you like to deal with stale or unfinished projects?

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