Abuzz in Black and Gold

With Bees announced as the Inspired by Nature Challenge this week, I explored my bead stash for every shade of black and gold it would yield. Not a bejeweled bee in sight, but I did remember two vintage buttons I found last year, both in traditional bee colors!

I liked that the button on the right suggests a flower, but on closer inspection, I found that the gold had flaked off in spots. The one on the left reminds me of ancient Egypt, where bees were thought to be the tears of Ra, the Sun God, transformed into the radiant honey producers when they fell to the earth.

My lariat is based on an ingenious design by Carole Ohl, where a button is used both as the focal and the closure. I totally missed the two brown lampwork beads in the lariat strap the first time I searched my stash. So glad I noticed them (and their honeycomb resemblance) on my second look!

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” – Mary Kay Ash


Cleopatra and the Leaf Toads

When it was announced that the forest floor would be this week’s Inspired by Nature challenge, I knew exactly what my inspiration would be – this photo, one of my favorites from National Geographic.

Can you spot the three leaf-litter toads? Nearly impossible for predators to distinguish from the debris on the forest floor!

I’m currently reading an intriguing biography of Cleopatra, a mistress of disguise herself, who, on more than one occasion, owed her life to her uncanny ability to vanish in plain sight.

To celebrate nature's and we humans' love of mimicry, I call this bracelet Cleopatra and the Leaf Toads.
Cleopatra, in the center, represented by the large CZ round (no stranger to deception, itself!), surrounded by faceted rounds in the same luscious caramel-to-golden browns and pale-to-dark grays as the impostors on that forest floor in Panama.

To see more forest floor-inspired designs, visit the Inspired by Nature group on Flickr.


Inspired by: The Flowering Trees of Summer

Dutch spiral stitch sent me searching for my first beadweaving class nearly two years ago. I enjoyed that first project, but hadn’t returned to the spiral stitch again - until this week. With the twin goals of using up my bead stash and taking Heather Powers’ Inspired by Nature challenge (this week featuring trees), spiral stitch seemed the perfect fit. It’s a great stitch to create something entirely unique, and it uses up lots of beads!

My inspiration for this piece was the Golden Raintree my sister brought home from school one fall afternoon. My dad planted it at the top of our driveway where it welcomed us home with a canopy of golden yellow flowers in late-spring and summer and sprays of orangey-pink pods in the fall.

Bead & Button recently offered a free download pattern by Alicia Shems which featured a double-spiral design with delicas on one side of the spiral. Thinking delicas would result in a necklace that would lay a little flatter, I adopted Alicia’s technique to my own style and bead stash, and set out to capture the glory of the Golden Raintree in beads.

I don’t know whether it was the versatility of the spiral stitch, the thrill of working with such lush colors, or the memories of all the family events captured under the shade of our own Golden Raintree, but this week was great fun at the bead table. Thanks again, Heather, for continuing to challenge us creatively. To see more tree-inspired designs, visit the Inspired by Nature group on Flickr.


Of Birds and Bedes

Celebrating her soon-to-be-released book, Heather Powers is inspiring us all by nature, and this week’s challenge was to design something feather or bird related. I turned to National Geographic and quickly found this tantalizing tail feather, compliments of the Golden Headed Quetzal. Gorgeous colors that I happened to already have in my stash.

My nature-inspired triad of green, purple and orange began with a kumihimo neck strap finished off with some Inca Rose rounds, Unicorn glass donuts, and a ceramic and sterling silver front-clasp in the feather’s predominant blue-green.
The large focal is Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Oothecal Bede pattern, a right angle weave beauty from Seed Bead Fusion that allowed me to bring in another touch of the accent purples and oranges. The focal is finished with a Stuart Abelman art glass bead in a stunning purple with silver accents. Dangling from the tip are three silver feathers.

Thanks to Heather for the challenge. To see other designs, click over to the Inspired by Nature Flickr group.

Beading My Stash – project one finished!


Beading My Stash

A tempting e-mail arrived in my Inbox yesterday: an invitation to Atlanta Bead Company’s warehouse sale, only days away! I remembered all the goodies I brought back from last year’s event and then it hit me. Where are all those irresistible bead buys now? Ninety percent of them are still in their plastic bags, waiting to be tumbled out on my bead mat and brought to life.

I’ve given myself a challenge. For the rest of the summer, the next 60 days until Labor Day, I am going to create exclusively from my bead stash. Beginning with this tray, all culled from my existing stash and waiting to answer this week’s Inspired by Nature challenge from Heather’s HumbleBead blog. Due Sunday! Yikes!!!


Making the Leap

Travels over, I finally have the chance to share some photos of our beading adventure in Idaho last month, where I had the opportunity to make the leap from student to teacher and introduce the art of beadweaving to a roomful of women. Jan Wasser, Vicki Quirk and Nadrah Strong from the Spokane Bead Society made the trip to Coeur d'Alene to share in the teaching duties.

Threading needles seemed to be the biggest challenge for our new beaders. That, and starting the first row of ladder stitch!

Nadrah Strong assists with needle-threading. We all loved her feather hair extensions!

Jan Wasser shares a tip.

Needles threaded. Foundation row in hand. After that, it was pure fun!