A Time to Stitch 8 Reveal

The challenge Therese Frank and Christine Altmiller gave us for A Time to Stitch 8 was to bead a bag. Any bag and any portion of that bag. Which was great timing for me, because I had decided that I needed a money bag to take to art and craft fairs so my hands would be free while I tended to customers.

I decided on a belt bag from Mona B’s Live Work Create line of handbags because, well, I love their backstory. Each bag is made from upcycled truck tarps or military tents. Which means I had my work cut out for me because the bag was already constructed and I was sewing through, in some cases, two layers of tarp and the lining. Many, many needles were snapped, bent beyond recognition and otherwise mangled until I finally tried a tapestry needle and found success.

Here’s the bag as it appears in the Mona B catalog:

And here is my embellished version.

The rugged lines and canvas texture of the bag made this the perfect project for incorporating additional hardware into my beadwork. I took a component class from Laura McCabe several years ago and adapted some of her techniques in my design. I love the look of cobalt blue and classic red with olive, and even though I used pearls and a crystal rivoli, I made sure to use lots of the black and brass of the antique zipper to keep the industrial aesthetic.

I may not wait until my next art show to take my new bag off the shelf. There are lots of other times it would be great to be hands free!

Many thanks to Christine and Therese for always encouraging us to explore new places to take our beading. Below is a list of today's participants. I can’t wait to see how everyone tackled this challenge!


Can't live without...winner

Thanks to all who shared last week on the blog. Fishing line to cafeteria trays...all that you can't live without in your creative space.

I have been in Kentucky all week celebrating my daughter's birthday, and last night after cake and presents, grandson Nate picked a winning name from everyone who left a comment.

Like Wendy, I can't live without a pair of sharp, fine-tipped scissors on the bead table. If you will forward your address, Wendy, I'll package up a collection of my favorite Tulip needles and ship them out to you when I return to Atlanta on Wednesday.


Dry shampoo, baby wipes and Tulips. What would you add?

As I  made an early dash out to run a few errands today, our local morning radio team revealed one thing Carrie Underwood says she can’t live without (dry shampoo) and asked listeners what was one random thing they couldn’t live without.

The responses? Turns out a lot of women can’t live without dry shampoo. Also UGG slippers (even in the summer), eyelash curlers, coffee, baby wipes, mascara, and wine.  (Seems there are a lot of uses for baby wipes that don’t require a baby. Am I the only person who doesn’t yank one out at red lights to shine up the interior of my car?)

So that got me thinking, if Carrie Underwood can’t live without dry shampoo when she’s on the road, what’s one thing I can’t live without in the studio? Didn’t have to think very long about this one. For me, it’s tulip needles.

As my beading has evolved, I’m using smaller and smaller beads in my work. 3mm rondelles are pretty much my go-to bead of choice these days, and Tulip needles allow several passes even through their tiny holes. Tulip needles are extremely flexible, so I can bend them when I need to make tight passes through beads, and they don’t go wonky as fast as standard beading needles do.

They come packaged in two’s, in tiny test tubes with cork stoppers. I’ve saved every one since discovering them in a Laura McCabe class 5 years ago, just in case I come up with another use for them.

So now it’s your turn. What’s one thing you can’t live without in your creative space? Leave your response in the comments, and I’ll send one random commenter a selection of my favorite needles.
My needle drawer always has spare Tulips.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for all those tiny test tubes…


Pendants for Fall

This Fall’s trend back to the pendant necklaces of the ‘70’s  swings both ways…long and short. I set out last week to design a trio in assorted lengths to go with my personal go-to Fall colors – darkest blues and browns.

My shortest pendant necklace, at 18” pairs this season’s trendy olive with richly hued brass. I’m so happy this often-neglected metal is making a comeback, too!

Kyanite, pearls, a sapphire teardrop and some of my favorite Afghan and Thai silver finds from last February’s trip to the Tucson Bead Show combine in this 30” slip-on necklace. Oh, but this looks so good with dark-washed jeans!

At 46”, my final lariat can be worn long or short, with its pendant dangles of African opal, Swarovski crystal, labradorite and pink dotted quartz. And it’s in my favorite color combination from Pantone’s Fall Color Report.

Are pendants making a comeback in your Fall wardrobe?


Catching Up...

We have some catching up to do! In the two months I’ve been away from this space, I have been beading…

Finished this summer, and now my favorite Fall necklace. Herringbone strands in
22K gold, palladium and metallic bronze. Sliding focal is adapted from Mikki Ferrugiaro's
Chrysanthemid 2 tutorial.

and applying to fall shows…and learning new things like riveting and sawing and twining.

Last month, I spent five magical days at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, in the Tennessee mountains, diving into the art of enameling on metal with Mary Hettmansperger. (I know! Can you imagine getting to spend a week with Mary?) 

Mary Hettmansberger, demonstrating a technique to our class. Studio hours were 8am-1am, and
rarely did we hike back up the hill toward our lodges before midnight!
I brought home a ton of techniques and am just beginning to explore ways to incorporate them into my beadwork.

And now, it’s time to catch up with what you’ve been doing. I’m using the rest of this week to check up on everyone’s blog. I want to find out what you’ve fallen in love with over the summer!


Ahhh ... Fall Colors

I'll admit, I'm not a summer girl. Give me cozy sweaters and jeans. The return of burgundies and plums to our wardrobes is one of the reasons Fall is my favorite season.  Needing to boost my earring inventory for upcoming Fall Art Shows and wanting to combine my newfound love of metalworking with my first love - beadwork - led to my latest designs.  I love spending my mornings hammering away in the studio and then stitching up some delicas with the TV in the background in the evenings. I think it makes for a nice soft-hard balance.

After trying several dozen combinations of silver, copper and brass with colors from Pantone’s Fall 2015 Color Report, I narrowed my Show offerings down to six.

The combination of Marsala, Cashmere Rose, and Stormy Weather in the earrings on the left is one of my favorites.  A delica mix of soft purples and rose golds inspired the pair on the right.

Our brains may be wired to think that Fall equals dark colors. But I hope these Cadmium Orange/Berry Red and Lipstick Red/Chocolate Truffle combinations prove that bright reds, whether casual or dressed up with a shine of gold, are a great transitional color choice.

Neutrals always do well in my booth, so two combinations made the final cut; classic black and white, and I’m also in love with Reflecting Pond (a midnight blue that goes great with everything), and Amethyst Orchid.

I shared my collection with my sister, my sister-in law, and three friends, and asked which they liked best. One couldn’t choose, but four selected the same pair– the black and white. 

Do you have a favorite?


Does this book spark joy?

Spring and summer travels have kept me away from my studio and this blog space for way too long! On one of my many trips, I picked up Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, to read on a five-hour flight. I was itching to try her approach to organizing, but had to wait a full month until I was home more than 48 hours to put her ideas to work.

Kondo’s theory, in a nutshell, is that if we keep only those things that "spark joy," we’ll declutter our lives and maybe even find our true passions. Her book is a quick and engaging read, and, after kondo-ing (this book is so popular that might actually be a word now!) all our closets, the pantry, the kitchen and laundry, I took a day to marvel at the difference I’d made on the first floor. Now it was time to head upstairs to my studio.

If you’re a beader, you know we can take simple disorganization to a whole new level of chaos!  Keeping a tidy beadroom is way lower on our priority scale than learning a new stitch or incorporating a new bead shape into an old pattern. And who wants to move things about the studio when there are new color combinations to try and a bead challenge looms on the calendar?

I turned the calendar to the wall and started with my books. Kondo advises grabbing them all off their shelves and putting them on the floor.

Five years worth of accumulated beading and metalworking books

Plus all my magazines, notebooks and binders of inspiration

Once the books are piled, you take each one in your hand and decide whether it will be kept or discarded. The criterion for keeping is whether it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. Flipping through the book, in Kondo's judgment, leads to unnecessary questions and second guessing. Kondo keeps her own library to about 30 volumes, so the challenge I gave myself was to pare my collection down to 30 (or fewer) beading books that not only sparked joy, but also fit my current design aesthetic. And here is my now-tidy bookshelf:

For the study of Design:
The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, Margie Deeb

Jewelry Designs from Nature, Heather Powers
The Jewelry Maker’s Design Book: an Alchemy of Objects, Deryn Mentock
Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry, Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel                                                             

For technique:

Creative Designs Using Shaped Beads, Anna Elizabeth Draeger

Shaped Beadwork, by Diane Fitzgerald
Contemporary Geometric Beadwork by Kate McKinnon
Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher (if I could only have one beading book, this would be it.)
Micro-Macrame Jewelry by Joan Babcock
Woven Bead and Wire Jewelry by Dallas Lovett
Dimensional Bead Embroidery by Jamie Cloud Eakin
The Beaded Sphere by Judy Walker

For inspiration and because I never tire of reading and rereading them:

Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance; Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery; 
Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence; Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs and Seed Bead Fusion; 
Maggie Roschyk’s Artistic Seed Bead Jewelry; The Art of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli 
and Sherry Serafini;  Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork & Beyond; 
and Embroidered Jewellery by Shirley Anne Sherris (this book never fails to inspire).

Now, to work this same magic on my bead stash!