Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sigh…. Holiday bead stitching projects for when YOU need to relax. Simple rewarding ideas to get you stitching without stress.

I first started beading as a way to relax. Sometimes that is hard to do when I am trying to come up with new class ideas, write instructions, test designs, and generally work at beading. All that stuff is still fun, but when I need a break I look for a stitching project that I can just do, and do, and do. This week I need something I can just stitch and let my thoughts wander, or something I can do while hanging out with family watching our favorite old Christmas movies. Here are my criteria for stress free stitching.

1: Use beads you already have in your stash so you won’t have to leave your comfy chair.
2: Do a project, pattern or stitch that you have already done before. It will be familiar and that’s comfortable.
3: Just bead. Don’t worry about it matching an outfit, or being good enough to sell or give away. Remember, you’re beading for the joy of doing it. Don’t even worry about finishing it. Just bead.
4: Now, when you’re nice and relaxed, and if you’re in the mood, do something a little different. You might just try doing your project in unexpected colors or bead sizes.
5: If Step 4 just made things too stressful, forget about it and go back to step 1.

My no-stress project for this week will be this simple spiral using size 11 seed beads in a light opaque cappuccino color, size 15 seed beads in Matte Transparent Topaz AB and 3mm Swarovski article 5238 bicone crystals in Light Colorado Topaz and Amethyst. I don't know yet if it will end up as a bracelet, necklace or maybe even little earrings.

Now, go bead something!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Design a Multi-Strand Necklace

Are you ready to begin making jewelry that is more than just a single strand of beads and a clasp?
I love the simplicity of a single strand of beads, but sometimes I want MORE. More strands means more complicated, right? Well, yes.
You were hoping I would say it’s easy, right? Well, no. But, I can offer some tips that will help you create a simple, graduated length necklace with three strands.

Choose your beads, then choose some more. My sample necklace has three strands which started out as the standard 16” length that gemstone beads come in. If I want to make a graduated strand necklace, this means that the longest strand will be about 17” by the time I add a clasp. This means that the shortest strand will be somewhere around 14”, an appropriate size for a teenager, but not for my middle-aged neck. So, I needed to add some more beads. In this case, I added tiny 2mm silver plated round beads and 4mm Swarovski crystal bicones.

Use a bead design board, but in an unusual way. The outer groove in a design board is the only groove that the measurement marks apply to. So, to get a good estimate of length, lay out your INNER strand in the OUTER groove. String it up. Check your length. Then, MOVE this strand to the inner groove. Now when you design the other two strands, you will just simply include enough beads so that the ends of all three strands line up with each other. That’s it. String them, check your length again, and attach your clasp.

The distance between the grooves will be the distance between the strands. The design board has about ½” between the grooves. If you use the board as described above, this will be the distance between the strands of your finished necklace. If you want that to be less, then you’re simply in for some trial and error to get it done. Sorry, I don’t have an easy tip for that one. Just ask our expert Michelle about the time she created a 5 strand pearl necklace, and you may catch her sucking in her breath in that moment before she smiles sweetly and tells you how you can do it too.

About the Bead Choices: I started out by choosing a strand of beads that is beautiful, but a little drab on its own. The flashes of blue and green that make it shimmer in the light is called Labradorescence. This particular strand of 4mm round beads limits this color play to the brightest of light. Labradorite is mostly gray, but once I started really considering this strand, I could see that it was really a brownish gray. The brown tones are what make it a “warm” gray, so I focused my other bead choices on warmer, earthier tones. Next, I chose some green freshwater pearls that brought out the green in the labradorite, yet offered plenty of brown tones to complement the browns in the labradorite. The third strand is pale, almost clear, aquamarine ovals. They needed something to bring out the color, so I added some erinite color Swarovski crystal bicones and repeated them in the labradorite strand as well to help bring out the blues and greens. The 2mm silver beads bring sparkle and light into the pearl strand and the aquamarine.

Would you love to learn more about this and other kinds of multi-strand designs? I will be offering a class at the shop on December 17th. We will make a three strand project like the one featured here, as well as discuss ways to create other kinds of multi-strand necklaces using connectors, cones, and more.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Show Time!

Five great tips for those of you who do craft shows, plus one thing NOT to do.

Go vertical. Give shoppers someplace other than down to look. Their necks, shoulders and upper backs will appreciate a break, and they might be enticed to look longer since they need a break from looking down at everyone else’s tables! Some folks I know hang stuff high, and some put risers on the table legs to make the tables higher. (Have you ever noticed that the bead display tables in the shop are counter height?)

Go dark. Dark surfaces show off most jewelry well – just make sure to keep them lint free! Avoid patterned cloth – your lovely designs will get lost. Your table covers should reach the floor – then you can hide all your tote boxes under the tables during the show and keep your display space nice and neat.

Go light. Lighting is critical – halogen lights make jewelry sparkle, which helps it sell. They get hot, though, so be sure to keep them a safe distance from your shoppers, and mount them securely.

Take names. Every show you do is an opportunity to build your customer mailing list - this list is a valuable asset which will grow as you grow your business. Make sure you give all visitors to your booth the opportunity to continue a relationship with you beyond the show. Protect that asset by keeping your promise to keep it private.

Be prepared. Keep a show kit – mine has pens, tie straps, duct tape, binder clips, tissues, scissors, a couple of tools, bags, and more. Also essential are receipt books, calculator, credit card machine, merchandise bags and anything else you need to complete transactions. Extra extension cords and tablecloths come in handy, as well as bottled water, energy bars and healthy snacks.

Be available. What NOT to bring? A magazine or book. Even the slowest, most boring show should find you “on” and ready to engage with any customer who walks by. I like to bring a project to work on – that’s a great way to get someone to walk over and get interested. No customers? Now is the time to talk to other vendors and exchange ideas – network!

Do you have a great tip for shows you’d like to share? Post a comment here today!
Now, go bead something.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It’s just a head pin – so why do we have thirty different kinds?

We got in several new orders recently, and each one had different and new kinds of head pins. As we started to try and make room on our findings table for all the new stuff, I got to wondering just how many kinds of head pins we carry. Thirty. That’s right, thirty. “It’s just a head pin. Why do we need so many?”, I thought. I also thought about what a new beader might be wondering when trying to choose between thirty different kinds. Thirty. I keep saying that because even I was kind of stunned when I actually counted them.

Head pins are simply a piece of wire with something at the end (the head) to keep a bead from falling off. You put the beads on, make a loop and “voila!” you’ve got a dangly charm to hang from an earring, necklace or bracelet.

Here are some tips on how to chose the right head pin for your project:

Make your metal and finish choice based on your design and budget. They can be made of sterling, gold filled, natural brass, antique gold finish, antique copper finish, copper, base metal, gold plated base metal, silver plated base metal. Whew – that’s a lot of finishes! Whatever happened to just silver and gold?

Make your length choice based on what’s needed for your design. They can be anywhere from 1” to 3”, but are typically 2”.

Make your gauge choice based on your bead choice. 26 gauge is a necessity for small pearls and gemstones, but 24 gauge will fit most other beads.

You may want a loop end (eye pin) if you’re hanging another dangle from the end of this one. Otherwise, the head will usually be either flat or a ball. The ball makes a pretty finish for a large pendant, and you’ll need to check the head size to make sure it’s big enough to keep your bead on. If not, you can add a small metal bead or seed bead.

My newest earring design makes use of our new antique copper ball end head pins with gray mother of pearl and faceted quartz beads on an antique copper chandelier finding. This earring is a light and airy design with a modern metal twist. Come on over and make a pair for yourself!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Easy Bottle Rocket Earrings

I designed these earrings for our occasional Girls' Night Out event we hold at the shop along with our neighbor businesses Therapeutic Balance Body Work and Designer's Touch Hair and Skin. There are some pretty tough criteria for coming up with a project for these events: #1) it can't cost to much because we're giving it away. #2) it has to be easy so we can teach women who have never done any beading before. #3) it has to be quick so we can teach it to up to 60 people a night. #4)it has to use top quality materials that we are proud to sell.

AND - #5) it has to look good enough so everyone likes it! If any of you reading this make jewelry to sell, you definitely have at least some of these same criteria to meet!

These earrings were a hit last night, so we decided to record a quick video for you to be able to make up a pair yourself tonight to wear for the July 4th holiday tomorrow. Of course, you can vary the wire colors and the bead colors to fit any occasion or outfit you want!

The supplies come to about $3 per pair, which left us plenty of money in the event budget to spend on snacks and wine! Here's what we used:

6" each of three colors of flexible beading wire, either 19 or 49 strand. The video uses navy blue (about 6") and silver (about 12")
2 clamshell bead tips
2 ear wires
2 crimp beads (2mm sterling)
6 micro crimp beads (1mm sterling)
2 Swarovski 4mm bicones in dark red coral
2 Swarovski 4mm bicones in crystal AB
2 Swarovski 4mm bicones in dark indigo

Tool you'll need are:
chain nose pliers

Now, take a look at the video for a how-to and go bead something!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Memory wire is easy to use, and even easier when I show you how in this video. Watch and bead along as I make a simple memory wire bracelet using a strand of Czech glass mixed beads, and add some vintage glass beads and shiny spacers. I show you how to choose beads that will work well on this stringing material, how to properly cut the wire without damaging your tools, and how to finish the ends with a professional look.

Want to bead along? Gather these tools and supplies: Memory wire cutters, round nose pliers, bead mat, enough beads and metal spacers for 10”. You will also need crimp covers and either chain nose pliers or a crimp tool.

Now, go bead something!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here's a tip for finishing a flat peyote weave design. This works great when you are using size 11 Delicas or size 15 seed beads on the ends you are finishing. I’m directing this post in particular to my old college buddy Gigi who recently posted to Facebook that she dreads putting the clasps on her beadwork! I know a lot of folks share this dread – how to finish a piece of beadwork is one of the more frequent questions we get in the shop.

Gather: Chain nose pliers, E6000 glue, a paper plate, a coffee stirrer or toothpick, your finished beadwork, two crimp ends that match the width of your finished beadwork, a clasp of your choosing (we love the ball-and-socket clasp shown!) and two sturdy jump rings. By sturdy, I mean jump rings made from 20 gauge wire or thicker – these will hold their shape and won’t pull off easily.

Adjust the crimp end: Use the pliers to gently close each crimp end just a little until you can slide the beadwork in from the edge. DO NOT do this with your beadwork inside the crimp end because you WILL break beads. (Trust me on this.) Take the beadwork out of the crimp ends.
Attach: Use the jump rings to attach each side of the clasp to one of the crimp ends.

Glue: Place a dab of glue onto the paper plate. Use the stirrer or toothpick to apply the glue to the end of the beadwork. Slide the beadwork back into the crimp ends and let the glue cure completely.

I love these crimp ends – so easy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Techniques for Great jewelry design – the power of editing and how to play with beads.

The power of editing.

I own a bead shop and am therefore spoiled by having everything I need right at my fingertips when I decide to design a new project. It’s a wonderful thing for our customers as well, to have access to an enormous array of choices. However, that can be intimidating for someone new to beading. Here are some techniques we use every day to help all our customers design jewelry they love. Give this a try with your own bead stash!

1. Start with a bead you love. I will hand someone a bead board and encourage them to walk around the shop, and let their eyes wander and start by choosing beads they are drawn to. It’s important to let this instinct guide you.

2. Next, start choosing other beads you love. Don’t think about whether they “match” or if the finishes go together. Ditch all your preconceived notions about what goes together and just pick things you love.

3. Make sure to select more beads than you think you need to complete your design. I’m just designing a bracelet in the photos, but just LOOK at all those beads!

4. Now, just start playing. Arrange the beads on the bead board, swap them around, try out different combinations and sequences. Try things that are unexpected. While you’re doing this, trust your inner design eye to help you edit out whatever doesn’t work. You may need to go back and get more of one bead or another.

5. Eventually, you’ll edit your selections down to something that’s beautiful, and you’ll love it because you started out with what you were naturally drawn to.

Finally, I always find it amazing that for our younger customers, under 12 years old, we don’t have to explain any of these steps. Kids have such free minds that all the techniques I just told you about come naturally, and they come up with some absolutely awesome designs. You can too – just start with more and edit out, and remember how to play like a kid!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twisty Easy Tubular Herringbone!

I'm so excited to be back blogging again! I've got SO many new ideas to share that I thought I'd start out with some detailed project instructions for this fun, quick weave.

I came up with this design at a playday at my dear friend Ann's house, where I need to work on quick, easy projects or I don't get anything done in the creative melee that occurs there monthly. NOT complaining; it's just that some projects are better left to quite time in the studio. We were nearing the end of the day and I was sorting through some beads and came across some 12mm bugles I had in my stash. I added some size 11 rocailles in a matching color, size 10 beading needle, and Sono thread. Here's the result:
Start with a two-bead ladder, 4 rows long, using size 11 seed beads (rocailles).

Join the ends together to form a tube, and add another row of herringbone using the size 11 seed beads.

Now, work one row of two-drop herringbone, using a 12mm twisted bugle bead, two size 11 seed beads, and another bugle bead for each set of beads you stitch (two sets per row). Step up after the second set. Continue adding rows until you reach the desired length, and finish with a clasp.

I finished mine with a loop and beaded toggle, but you could also stitch on your clasp of choice. This beaded necklace was completed in about two hours - not bad for a stitched piece of that length!
These instructions are necessarily brief for this blog format, but I imagine a moderately experienced beader familiar with tubular herringbone weave will catch on and make this fun and QUICK project without any trouble.
If you like to bead with people and want to try this project, come by the shop some Friday night during Open Beading (6-9pm every Friday night) and I'll help you with it!
Now, go bead something!