Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bead Star Voting is Here!!!!

Every year, I look forward to Bead Star. It's one of the biggest beading and jewelry making contests out there, the competition is pretty stiff, and the creations that are submitted are good for hours of ooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing on my part.

This year's entries are no exception. There are several categories to vote in, and each one has tons of incredibly beautiful pieces. I wanted to share with you all the ones that I voted for! Click on the pictures to link you to the pages where you can vote for these designs!

In the crystals category, I had to vote for this funky, geometrical design:

The stones category was a tough one to choose, but this wonderful piece caught my eye immediately:

In the pearls category ... ok, I'll admit it, I had to vote for myself. How could I resist???

The metals category is close to my heart, and it's the category I usually enter. This year, however, my metals design didn't make the cut, but this piece immediately made me swoon with longing:

In the new seed bead category, this funky cuff stood out from the crowd beautifully

The hearts category was another really tough one. I finally settled on the quiet, earthy feel of this stunning piece:

In the glass category, the vibrant colors and the big honking dragonfly were my hands-down favorites

and lastly, with the earthy tones against the cool, pale blue, this standout from the plastics category got my vote:

So if you're a Beading Daily member, get over there and vote for your favorite (preferably mine <grin>) and if you're NOT a Beading Daily member, get over there and register, then vote for your favorite (preferably mine <grinning again>. Can't wait to see the outcome this year!!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vampire Jewelry Blog Hop Signups

Hello, all!!!!

The Springtime Earring Hop was so much fun!!!! I want to give a great big hug and thank you to everyone who participated!

The next one is going to be a really fun one!!!! To celebrate the new season of one of my favorite TV shows, True Blood on HBO, I'm doing a Vampire Jewelry Blog Hop. Dig out those black beads, red crystals, and any other accoutrement you can think of for the citizens of the fanged persuasion.  Here is the vital info:

Signup dates are now through May 7th 2011 at midnight (mua-ha-ha-ha-ha).

You can sign up by commenting on this post, make sure you include the address of your blog (even if you did the last one. It will make my life easier!)

Your creation can be any wearable vampire-inspired item, and it can draw from any "brand" of vampire out there; Bram Stoker's, Anne Rice's, True Blood, The Lost Boys, Twilight .... or whatever else I haven't yet thought of.

The Blog Hop itself will be scheduled for May 26th, 2011. That should give you plenty of time to order supplies and make something vibrantly undead!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Earrings Blog Hop!!!!

Well, I'm a few hours late in getting this post up because the battery died in my camera and I had to charge it. The overabundance of Easter ham prevented me from waiting until my camera was charged last night, so we're doing this now :)

First I want to thank EVERYONE who got involved in this blog hop. Especially ace recruiter Cat from BooBeads who got so many people to come on board! This was fun, and I have a few other hops planned so stay tuned!!!

Springtime makes me think of blossoms, new leaves, and pastel colors, so these are the earrings I've made

I used crystals in rose, clear crystal, peridot, and mint alabaster along with gold plated findings. A little chain maille rosette (affectionately but not entirely accurately referred to as a "mobius ring") tops them off.

I've had a chance to take a peek at some of the other entries, be sure you don't miss them!!!! They're all such wonderfully talented artists!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Springtime Earrings Blog Hop - Signups are CLOSED!

Wow, what a great response to my first blog hop!!!! This is going to be fun!!!! Signups are officially closed!
So hopefully all of you will be able to steal 15 minutes this weekend to make some springtime earrings, or dig up some that you’ve already made. I’m not going to be very strict on the rules for this hop because this is more of a “trial run” for hops that I’m planning over the summer and fall. Those will be much longer term hops and bigger projects :). So feel free to keep it simple, and enjoy your Easter/Passover/Beltane!!!!

By way of confirmation, this is the list of participants I have for this blog hop:

Thanks to all of you who have signed up, this is going to be fun!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

My very first blog hop - Spring Earrings!!!

OK, here it goes. I'm going to attempt to host my very first blog hop!!!!

I'm keeping the theme easy for this first one, it's Spring Earrings, and the date of the blog hop will be Monday April 25th, 2011. So for those of you who know how blog hops work, I hope you will forgive a short explanation for those who don't know how it works, and allow your attention to wander freely....

1) Sign Up: To sign up, simply comment on this thread. Make sure there's a link to your blog, either on your blogger profile or in your comment, so that I know where to send people when I make my little linky list. The deadline for signing up is midnight on Friday April 22, 2011.

2) Make your Earrings: Make a pair of earrings with a springtime theme. They can have an easter or passover theme, they can feature flowers or budding trees, they can just have nice springtime colors - whatever makes you think of springtime.

3) On April 25th, blog about your earrings and include the linky list (which I intend to post on my blog in the wee hours of Monday morning, so when you get up it should be there and ready for you to copy into your blog :))

If this works out, I intend to do more of them, and perhaps I'll include prizes of some sort; for the time being, this is my first one so I'm keeping it REALLY casual. I hope to see lots and lots of beady friends there!!!!!

Spiral Paper Clips Tutorial

Here's a really fun little project that I do fairly often. It uses up spare bits of wire because you need relatively little wire in order to make each one. Paper clips are a really fun project that everyone has a use for, and it can be modified in so many ways. For gifts, try mixing it up using color coated wire in thematic colors, for instance! These are just a lot of fun!!!!

Another great thing about this project is that it can be accomplished with almost any gauge, color, and temper of wire - I would suggest using at least 22g or thicker, for sturdiness.

For the sake of visibility, I'm using 16g copper wire for this tutorial

1) Cut a piece of wire approximately 4" long

2) Using your round-nose pliers or rosary pliers, make a loose spiral on one end of the wire

3) Make a similar loose spiral at the other end of the wire, facing in the same direction. Leave about 3/4" of space between the two spirals

At this point, if you're using thinner or dead soft wire, it can't hurt to hammer the spirals a bit for strength. Don't hammer the space between the spirals; you want to keep that somewhat flexible for the next step.

4) Gently push the two spirals toward each other until one overlaps the other

You now have a cute, decorative little paperclip. Simply clip two beautiful pieces of paper together with it!

Now that you've mastered these little guys, mix it up a little. Try making really large spirals, hammering a texture into them, or try making leaf or heart shapes for the front part of the paperclip. The possibilities are endless, and these take only a minute or so apiece to make. Have fun!!!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Using the Leftovers

Yesterday, I blogged about the Artbeads Design Partners Challenge. Well, seeing as it's never wise to get just barely enough materials for any project (you always want a couple of extra, just in case) and since I had ordered more jump rings because I had planned on adding them into the beaded part of the bracelet yet decided against it, I still have a number of brass jump rings. Enough to do a chain maille bracelet. And that sort of temptation, my beady friends, is often simply too much for me to bear.

So here's what came out of the leftovers, and there's a bit of evolution to the piece.

Now again I probably should have snapped a picture of the components as I was beginning, but again I lacked the necessary foresight to do this. <sigh> Sooner or later I'll learn.


Ages ago I received a brass bead cap as part of a sort of bead mix swap, and it was the only one so it was never used. While playing around with it trying to decide if I had a suitable bead to cap it with, I idly started prying the "petals" apart with my pliers. When I looked down and realized what I was doing, I thought "Boy, I'll bet a Swarovski Rivoli would fit nicely in there!"

And wouldn't you know it, I happened to have a little package of Rivolis that I hadn't entirely used up yet. I love having a bead stash!!!!!

I added a few inches of Byzantine chain to either side, and originally came up with this bracelet:

Now I felt that this looked quite nice, actually, but when I wore the bracelet (these things MUST be test-driven, you understand!!!) the stone kept flipping upside down on me, showing the unadorned back of the brass bead-cap-cum-bezel-setting. Well, that's no good. So I decided to stabilize it a bit. Here's what I did:

Those extra little bits of Byzantine chain REALLY helped to stabilize it, and also created a nice little nest from which the Rivoli could sparkle out from the depths. 

I'm having an internal debate about whether or not this should go into my store. Until I can find more of exactly the right bead caps I'm not sure I could duplicate this, but the design looks so rich and intricate I'd love to have it out there, so I simply thought I would share!!!! Thanks for peeking!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Artbeads Design Challenge - What's Old is New Again

The Artbeads Design Partners Challenges are a new thing for me, but boy is this fun!!!! There’s something very special about designing jewelry for a purpose; whether that purpose is a friend, a theme, a color scheme – what have you.

I also LOVE vintage styles, so when I learned the theme of this challenge was “What’s Old is New Again” I dissolved in silly, girlish little squeals of delight. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
So we begin with something old.

Many moons ago, I found this wonderful brass flower findings on Etsy – I can’t remember the name of the seller who supplied them, so I can’t link you to her, but I just LOVED the possibilities of these. I should have taken a picture before I used them, but I seem to lack that amount of foresight currently. Instead, I’ll show you here the first project I did with those flowers, a matching necklace and earrings set:

Note the stunning photographic stylings of my ΓΌber-talented cousin Deirdre Stearns-Wingell.
Well, this set was broken up (I sold the earrings) but I still had the necklace kicking around. It wasn’t going anywhere, and I decided it would make a really nice “something old” for this vintage-y challenge – and what looks more vintage than the warm subtle glow of brass??

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll also notice the shaggy chain bracelets I’ve been making over the last month or so. I simply can’t stop making them!!!!  Yes, they use up more beads than your average necklace. Yes, I’ve almost literally blitzed through my bead stash in the last several weeks making them. And yes, I think I’ve now reached “wrapped loop burnout” from making them, but that doesn’t make me any less happy when I see my finished piece for this challenge.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” you’ll remember the stately mystique of the city of Savannah, GA. I’ve never been there myself, but when I think of the city (and the movie) it conjures up images of women in flowered dresses drinking tea on a hot day while strands of Wisteria and Spanish Moss flutter on the breeze around them. I think of bees buzzing gently around a garden of tea roses, and I think of bouquets of large, exotic flowers that don’t make me sneeze. If these images don’t appeal to you, perhaps the thought of John Cusack and Kevin Spacey sharing the screen for a really dramatic murder mystery will!!

So with these images in mind, and a big honking brass flower in hand, I designed my challenge piece and dubbed it “Midnight in the Garden of Bees and Flowers.” This is fortunate, because the working title of the piece was “Too Many Damned Wrapped Loops”

As with so many of my recent bracelets, this began with a handmade base chain, using brass jump rings. You can get all of the brass findings (including head pins, the beautiful flowery toggle clasp, and that cute little bee charm) for a similar bracelet here:

Next came the fun part … what beads to use????

If there’s one thing that is at least as classically vintage as brass, it’s pearls. I chose Swarovski pearls in 2 sizes, and chose the Platinum shade which I felt complimented the warm tones of the brass. Then I added Swarovski Margaritas in Siam for color.

I finished to this point, and decided that the bracelet did not feel complete. Digging through my dwindling bead stash, I came across some small Swarovski pearls in a gorgeous deep red shade (I think it’s Bordeaux, but I’m not 100% certain) and added them. You can purchase all of the beads used at Artbeads also right here:

I do hope you’ve had half as much fun peeking at this little creation as I had making it!!!! Thank you so much to Duchess and everyone art Artbeads!!!!

Necessary legal stuff:
I’m not employed by or being paid by Artbeads, and the opinions expressed in this blog are honest and completely my own. I received the following products free of charge from Artbeads :