July 27, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal

So, today is the big reveal for the first group of participants in the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party and I’m one of ‘em:)  Do you remember the “bead soup” my partner Nicole Rennell sent me?  Just in case you need a little refresher, here is the photo again:
It’s a very cool soup – very vibrant.  I wanted to do something less obvious that stringing.  Something that would transform the components just a bit more.   I actually tried to sketch a few ideas (stop laughing at me – sketching is not my strong suit).  I considered making a neck wire covered in beads hanging from wire wrapped loops or a bead weaving piece covered in beaded fringe on one side or a bead embroidery collar piece shaped like a rounded “V”  with the focal at the center front.  You're laughing again, I can tell.
I ended up going for an idea using bead embroidered circles strung together and I started on the circles:
Tedious work, that.  But I managed to stitch a few circles, back them in micro-suede and edge them with black cubes: 
 Then I started laying them out in the arrangement I had in my head and ended up with something that looked like a  muppet with googley eyes and a big nose:
Thank goodness a friend suggested switching the arrangement and putting the smaller circles next to the focal piece (thanks, Rose!).  A few of the crystal and blue beads in between the circles and ta da.... 
I tried using the clasp in the same piece (by this point, I was all about trying to get finished one way or another) but it just didn't look right.  No matter how hard I tried:)  Since the necklace was so busy, I decided a coordinating bracelet would have to be simple and I went with some beads simply strung and used the clasp as a focal.  I added a few crystal beads dangling at one side for a bit of movement.
And thus ends the saga of my first participation in the Bead Soup Blog Party.  Many, many thanks to Lori Anderson for hosting the party.  I hope you will take time to visit the rest of the folks doing this reveal - and don't forget to stop back on August 11th and August 25th for the rest of the reveals.  What a party!!!

Hostess, Lori Anderson, PrettyThingsBlog.com
Alice Craddick,  Alice's Beads and Baubles
Alicia Marinache,  All The Pretty Things
Amanda Tibbetts,  Amanda Made
Amber Dawn Goldish, Inventive Soul
Annita Wilson,  AW Jewelry
Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool
Birgitta Lejonklou,  Create With Spirit   
Candida Castleberry,    Spinning Spun Sugar
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Cassie Donlen, Glass Beadle
Cheryl McCloud,  One Thing Leads to Another
Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
Christina Hickman, Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Hendrickson,  Clamworks
Cilla Watkins, Tell Your Girlfriends
Cindy Wilson, Mommy's Dream
Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio
Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie
Cory Tompkins, Tealwater Designs
Cris Peacock, Cris' Page
Cynthia Deis, Shiny Little Things
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cynthia Wainscott, Exotic Peru
Dana Hickey, Magpie Approved
Denielle Hagerman, Some Beads and Other Things
Diane Valasek, Dragonfly Close
Doris Stumpf, Glaszwerg
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell, Dee-Liteful Jewelry Creations
Elaine Robitaille, Too Aquarius
Eleanor Burian-Mohr, The Charmed Life
Enikö Fabian, Perl-eni
Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
Heather Davis, Blissful Garden Beads
Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
Inge von Roos, Inge's Blog
Jami Shipp, Celebrating Life
Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle
Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
Jennifer Pottner, Rock Candy Beads
Jennifer VanBenschoten,  Jewelry, Art and Life
Jenny Davies-Reazor, Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jenny Vidberg, Shyme Design
Jessica Dickens, My Jewelry, My Life, Me
Jessica Klaaren, Beadful-Things by Jessica
Joan Williams, Lilruby Jewelry
Judith Johnston, Judith Johnston
Judy Riggs, Rigglettes
Judy Turner, Silver Rains
Julie Anne Leggett, The Peaceful Bead
K Hutchinson, Jumbled Hutch
Karen Meador, Dreamcatcher Ranch
Karyn Bonfiglio, Plus Size Bangles
Katherine Gale, Terra Beadworks
Kathleen Lange Klik, Modern Nature Studio
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic, Slovonske Technobe
Kelli Jacobson, Creative Moon
Kelly Ramstack, Adventures with Kelly
Keri Lee Sereika, Pink Lemonade
Kim Bender-Hora, KimmyKat
Kirsi Luostarinen, Kirsi Luo Korut
Kitty Bozzini, Kitty Lampwork
Laura Demoya, The Bead Therapist
Laurie Hanna, Laurie's Jewelbox
Leah Curtis, Beady Eyed Bunny
Lesley Watt, The Gossiping Goddess
Linda Inhelder, Must-Haves Jewelry
Lisa Liddy, Metal Me This
Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
Marion Simmons, Shade Tree Studio
Marla Gibson, Spice Box Design
Marta Weaver, Marta Weaver Jewelry
Marti Conrad, Marti C's Clay Blog
Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens, GlassBeadArt, Lampwork Beads
Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio
Michelle Hardy, Firefly Visions
Mikala Coates, Maybe Just Perhaps
Mowse Doyle, HoCArt
Nancy Boylan, Snazzy Doodle Designs
Nancy Peterson, Beading From the Heart
Nicole Rennell, Nicole Rennell Designs
Niki Meiners, 365 Days of Craft
Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
Pamela Gangler, She Always Loved Pink
Perri Jackson, Shaktipaj Designs
Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads
Renetha Stanziano, Lamplight Crafts
Shannon Hicks, Falling Into the Sky
Shannon LeVart, Miss Fickle Media
Sharon Driscoll, Right Turn Art Werks
Shelley Graham Turner, Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame
Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
Skylar Bre'z, Brising Beads
Stacie Florer, Soul to Substance
Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
Stacy Alderson, Iridal's Attic
Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
Stephanie Stamper, Rainy Day Designs
Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux
Tammy Jones, Jewelry Making Daily
Tanty Sri Hartanti, TJewellicious by Tanti
Terry Matuszyk, Pink Chapeau

Vonna Maslanka, Just Vonna

July 25, 2012


 I'm usually no good at all at being subtle (I'm an Aries - I can't help it).  I do think I might have managed it in my last few pieces, though.
This is the same watch as in my banner.  It looks very neutral but if you look closer, it has lots of soft color.  The cord is the softest shade of oyster and the beads are gray and black diamond with finishes ranging from matte to iris.  I love how the big square knot in the center of the diamond should be all wrong with the rest of the intricate fussy, elements but somehow works.
I also made a couple of pairs of earrings to match - might as well while you have the beads out, you know:
See all the color in there?  Blues and minty green and purple?
  I may have achieved some subtlety with these, but they're not boring.  Neutral with a twist.  Elegant, but not stuffy.  I like it.

July 21, 2012

Beads of Courage Design Challenge

When I responded to a request for designers to participate in the Beads of Courage Design Challenge I had no idea what they were all about.  When I visited the website to purchase the bead to work with, I discovered just how neat this program is.  They provide supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness and their families.  Some really incredible artists design, execute and donate art beads and 100% of the proceeds raised from sales of those beads goes to support the mission.
The bead I chose is titled "If LIFE was a Bead", inspired by a drawing by Cheryl Czajka, a BoC member at Central DuPage Hospital.  She says life is "the tree of life... the tree to me stands for nature and life.  Branches are like friends and the roots are people or things that make you grow and can make you stronger."  The bead artist was Robert Simmons, Ph.D., from Atalanta, GA.

I wanted to do something simple and playful with this bead, so I hung it from a strap of macrame knots punctuated with glass beads.  Random meandering of beads on cord.  No real pattern, no charted out course - just like life.
It's swingy and fun to wear.  Totally uncomplicated - there isn't even a clasp.  It just slips on over the head.
If you aren't familiar with Beads of Courage, I hope you will take a minute to stop by the website to see what they're all about. 

July 16, 2012

My Version of Mayberry

I spent the better part of last week in my hometown visiting family.  Life is different there in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills.  It’s not the smallest town, but it certainly isn’t large – small enough where everybody knows everybody’s business anyway.  And located in a county where the cattle outnumber the people.  My cousin was coming there to join us and had to wait for a cattle drive to clear the highway – not uncommon in this country, but it sounds strange to “outsiders”:)

I spent the days playing “who’s that” and trying to recognize folks who have surely aged WAY more than I have.  Surely.   And nobody is just who they are – they’re so-and-so’s son or daughter.  It goes something like this:
Me:  Who’s that?
Mom:  Joe Blow
Me:  I don’t remember him.
Mom:  You know, John’s son?
Me:  Nope, I still got nothin’. 
Mom:  You know – John was the mailman – the skinny one?  And his wife worked at the grocery store for a while and they had the one boy, Joe.  I think he had a sister, too.  Older maybe…
Me:  Hmmmm…   Did they have a little black dog?
Mom:  No, they raised chickens.
Me:   OH!  Now I remember!

OK, so it’s not quite that bad, but nearly.  We also discuss the businesses in town in reference to what used to be there.  So there’s a clothing store in the old H & M building and a hair salon in where the theater used to be.  Just doesn’t seem right for the ceramic shop to be where the Donut Shop was – even after 25 years.  There is progress, though.  They have a couple of places where you can get a latte now - one even has a drive-through.  Of course, you have to call ahead and tell them that you’re coming and then drive through the alley, but it’s TECHNICALLY a drive-through.  We’re counting it. 

In order for businesses to be viable in such a small town, they have to be a bit diverse.  Like the western wear store that carries a full line of sporting gear.  My favorite was the electronics store/pet store/shoe store.  No kidding.  You could buy a phone charger, a pair of tennis shoes and parakeet seed all in one place.  Who needs mega-marts!
The gossip is also pretty entertaining.  My grandmother is in a care facility which is still referred to as a “nursing home” where I come from.  They get a lot of good gossip up there, but you’re never quite sure how much of it to believe.  Some of those folks get confused now and again.   Gramma spent the week telling everyone Annabelle “X” died.  She even dredged up the alleged “affair” she had with the funeral director (remember folks, this would have happened a good 35-40 years ago IF it even happened!).  Turns out is wasn’t Annabelle “X” who died – it was a totally different Annabelle.  Oops.
I poke fun, but I've come to appreciate the charm of the small town and the natural beauty of the area.  It’s probably as close to Mayberry as I’m ever going to get.

July 9, 2012


If you know where to look, there are all kinds of pretty things being given away - in fact, Lori at Pretty Things (hahaha - did you catch my cute segue there) is giving away FIVE different things including a sweet tote bag, her e-book on blogging, a copy of her Bead Soup book and beads.  Yummy beads.  Lovely, creative, handmade beads.  (Can you tell I really like beads?)  She's even putting together a little surprise "bead soup" as one of the prizes.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you really must.  Sign up for the prizes and then follow her so you won't miss any details for the Bead Soup Blog Party she's hosting. 400 jewelry designers are participating (including yours truly)!

And if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for my Dragon Bracelet Giveaway - there are only 4 days and 16 hours left:)

July 6, 2012

Bead Soup!

This is my first time participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party and I'm super excited!  Lori pairs up participants and the partners exchange a "Bead Soup" made up of a focal piece and a clasp as well as a few coordinating beads.  Each person must design & execute a piece of jewelry using at least the focal and the clasp.  That's it in a nutshell.  I was paired with Nicole Rennell, an artist who works with metal and polymer clay.  My package from Nicole arrived today and this is what she sent: 
 How gorgeous is THAT!  She made the polymer clay focal and clasp and added glass, stone and crystal beads as well as a second (metal) clasp.  I love the bright, rich color of the blue and it really pops against the black and white
 My soup for Nicole was very different.  I went with beads from Africa and many of them were made using recycled products.
I started my soup with the strand of red beads - recycled vinyl (vulcanite) just because they sounded cool:)   I added green sandcast beads from Ghana that are made by pulverizing old (recycled) glass, pouring it into molds and melting it in crude earthen ovens.  I love that the resulting beads aren't perfect.  I found some old brass heishi (also from Ghana) and some antiqued bone and lava beads to add some texture.  The v-shaped focal and the two larger brass beads are Ashanti trade beads.  The clasp is a vintage brass hook.  I spent some time looking at Nicole's previous pieces on  flickr and decided she would like some basic type beads which would leave her plenty of room to put her own spin on the piece.  I hope I've done that without them being boring.

So, I've been studying my loot and trying to decide what to do.  I could do the obvious and string a necklace that would be beautiful with those colors and the amazing polymer pieces, but that doesn't sound like much of a challenge.  I could add some macrame somehow or some fiber to soften things up.  I could use the focal on a necklace and make a coordinating bracelet using the clasp as a clasp/focal (I'm really liking that idea).  I could add some metal or chain into the mix - maybe black chain.  So many ideas!  Be sure to check back on July 28th to see what Nicole and I have done with these.

July 4, 2012

Hurray For the Red, White and Blue

 Since it is the 4th of July, the theme for the day is, of course, red white and blue.  I started a bracelet project last night from this palette, but had to take time out this morning to make this:
Well, you have to admit - it does match the palette:)  It's just a bit of pie crust with a cream cheese/whipped cream mixture topped with fresh berries.  I am trying to behave myself, so I made it with Weight Watchers cream cheese and light whipped topping and sugar substitute.  It still tastes pretty darned good!

I did finally get around to finishing my bracelet, too:

July 3, 2012

Dragon Bracelet Giveaway

Yep, you read it right!  I'm thinking it's time for a little giveaway, and a little not-so-formal poll of folks on my Facebook page says THIS is the piece.  So here's the deal:  I'll give away one custom made (meaning I'll make it for the winner in the right length for YOU!) beaded macrame dragon bracelet.  It will have the ever-popular antiqued copper dragon button focal and swirls of seed beads in the perfectly-coordinated color Matte Metallic Khaki Iris.  I'll even put a clasp on it for ya, because, hey, that's just the way I roll.  AND... because there were a few dissenters on the poll, if you win and you don't want this bracelet, I'll substitute $25 credit toward something else in my Etsy shop OR a bead soup from my personal (and not insubstantial) stash.  Sound like a deal?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 2, 2012

Welcome Summer Color Combo

The color combo for our challenge this week had sunshine and ocean colors:  a great turquoise green and yellow curry mixture.  Sounds strange - looks gorgeous:
I found several candidates in my bead hoard stash, but I really liked the hank of mixed color Czech seed beads and the new lampwork shell I bought from Laurie Ament.  I spent a couple of days trying to figure out how to use the two together and decided I needed a trio of bracelets to pull it off.  I got the first one with the lampwork focal done easily and a simple macrame companion for it without trouble, but got stuck on the third piece.   Until this morning when I came across Lesley Watt's Seed Bead & Jump Ring Bracelet Tutorial.  It was exactly the piece I needed.

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