Bead Soup Double-Up

Had great fun with The Bead Mavens’ Bead Soup Double-Up. The focal in my bead soup, from Mandy at Beads for Brains, handed me my color palette – warm browns and the full gamut of my favorite blue-greens. The moment I saw the egg-shaped pendant, I knew I would create a fringed tassel with it.

After experimenting with several neckstraps, I settled on one inspired by Christie Dunn’s Autumn Renewal design (Beadwork, Sept. 2009.) Square-stitched and freeform peyote sections of seed beads and crystals connect the lampworked discs and butterscotch spikes and diamonds. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found these Grace lampwork discs swirled with the same dark and light teals as the pendant!

Since it’s a rather heavy focal, I made a small loop at one end of a piece of 14-pound Fireline to hold the fringe, strung my focal beads, pulled the fringe up through the focals and created a larger loop to connect with the loops at the end of each strap. After securing with a crimp tube, I realized I didn’t have a decorative cover large enough to slip over the crimp. With the deadline looming, I square-stitched a 4-bead-high collar to match the strap ends, snugged it against the crimp, connected the ends, and problem solved! It gives a nice finish to the focal. I may never use a decorative crimp cover again!

Thanks so much to the Bead Mavens for sponsoring this event and to Mandy for gifting me with a great selection of beads. Check out all the design results in the Bead Soup album on the Mavens' blog.


Shades of Summer

In a couple of weeks, I will be in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and will have the opportunity to introduce the art of beadweaving to a large group of women. Exciting!

I’ll be teaching Cathy Lampole’s Crystal Kisses bracelet (with permission from Cathy), chosen because it uses larger beads and only two stitches, and our novice beaders will leave sporting some very chic bling. I wanted to offer three colorways, inspired by the beauty of the area and the ripe hues of summer.

I chose a palette of blue and green crystals to reflect the sparkling waters of the many lakes in the area and bugle beads that shimmered with the same pigments. But as I stitched, I was getting a sense of a muted, stormy sea, not the dreamy, crystal lakes of North Idaho. I switched to silver bugles, and worked up a sample of both.

Check out the indicolite crystal square, second from left and fourth from the right. The one on the right is much more vivid and in keeping with my goal. Glad I took the time to test out the effect of the dark Fireline and the bugles against the crystals. Now this colorway is as sunshiny bright as the others.


Which would you choose?


Adventure in Freeform - Take Two

I received a call from one of my local bead stores on Saturday, inviting me to a structural peyote class. I’d been searching for a class for months. Armed with a pound of beads and a ton of questions, I was ready to experiment!

Cathy, our instructor, took a different approach to freeform than much of what I’ve seen and read online. Her method is to weave a peyote band, using delicas and seed beads, along with a few small accent beads. Colors are introduced and a bit of texture is created along the way. Then, the surface of the completed band is embellished with bead embroidery techniques.

I was considering two focals, but neither was quite right for this piece. Chase walked by and stacked them. Perfect! Pressed glass, etched drops, crystals, pearls and bronze fringe complete the embellishments.

I love peyote, and I’d rather do bead embroidery than eat chocolate! And with no pattern to consult, there was nothing to distract from the vintage Neil Young streaming from my iPod. All in all, a great day at the bead table!


Why would anyone want to do that?

Bumped to business class on a flight to Phoenix last week, I found myself with an extra-large lap tray and, for the first time in weeks, four leisurely hours to work on a project. (There’s something awry if you have to ascend 30,000 feet to find time for creative pursuits!) As the plane landed, I was tucking five of these finished components into my bag, when a woman passenger rushed over to me, said she had been watching me stitch away diligently for hours and just had to know how these little rectangles were going to be used. After running every possibility she could imagine through her head, she thought they might be buttons. A good guess, actually! As she turned one over in her hands, fascinated, I explained that they were components for a necklace. Walking toward baggage claim, I heard her husband ask, “Why would anyone want to do that?”

Good question. Ask 50 beaders, and you’d probably get as many answers.

My newfound beading hobby was just becoming serious, threatening to overflow my jewelry box, when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in the first days of 2010. Like so many others, I couldn’t get the photos of the destruction and the desperate need in the faces of the children out of my mind. That’s when it hit me. Maybe I could sell some of my pieces and donate the profits to the recovery. I began contacting lots of great people, fully appreciating the interconnectedness that beading and blogging afford. Every e-mail I sent to a designer asking permission to make and sell a special design, was met with resounding approval. (One decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from her next show. Another sent one of her own creations to be included with mine.)
Egyptian Collar, a Shelley Nybakke design, in red and blue

My sister, who is by far the more crafty sibling and chock full of creative inspiration, joined me, and this year we are venturing beyond our annual trunk show (her profits go to her local children’s hospital and mine to Doctors Without Borders) and are signing up for our first craft fair.

I still make the occasional piece to add to my own cache, and love making gifts for family and friends, but the real joy comes from the domino effect of the talented women I’ve met, all helping to make a positive difference in people’s futures. And who wouldn’t want to do that?