Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inspired by Snow on Mars

Read today that NASA's Phoenix Mars lander detected snow in the atmosphere. I have a number of opaque white faceted glass beads in the bead mix I recently received, and I just felt inspired to make something snowy.

The chain is pretty short right now, about 7 1/2". I don't have nearly enough of the gold roundells to go all the way around in a full necklace length (18 - 20" is what I think will look best), so I'll probably finish up the chain with just the white druk and gold tone bead links.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today's Necklace

I finished this today, using a variety of sizes of faceted light sapphire blue glass beads and gold tone 22 gauge wire, finished with gold plated 4mm jump rings made into a chain in the Byzantine pattern.

The beads are from a faceted glass mix I ordered from Shipwreck Beads. There are a lot of the tiny light sapphire blue beads in the mix which influenced my decision to make this in that color.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mostly Miscellaneous

I've finally put hardware on all the lanyards I'd had hanging around in "nearly finished" status today. Also made a new one using clear faceted crystal rondelles. Puttering around with different bead combos and trying to find one I like to start a new piece.

I was at the store today and saw a bin that was made for putting up in the shower, probably to hold a loofa or a few small containers of shower gel and shampoo - had two suction cups on the back. I thought it would be a great holder for my most used tools - round nose pliers, clippers, etc., and if I put some cup hooks on the little left hand extension to my desk, it could hang there and free up some desktop space.

Of course I forgot the cup hooks, but it holds the tools just great and I'll pick up some hooks next time I'm out. I've been meaning to get a leather mallet, so maybe I'll go to a hardware store and get both those items.

I've been procrastinating on my photography and as a result very few of my new items are up on Etsy. I really need to get my Etsy store updated. Then I have to figure out how to get some traffic in there!

Working now on a pendant necklace with faceted light sapphire blue glass - will post a pic when it's further along.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Struck by a Particle of Inspiration

I've had this lovely ceramic disk sitting around for some time now. I knew I liked it (and I bought two of them) but I wasn't sure what I'd do with it. Finally got hit by a particle of inspiration or two. The chain on this was made entirely from jump rings. Hope to find time to get better pictures of it and load up on Beadfly and Flickr soon.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vintage Style Turquoise Necklace

I started this last night and finished it this evening. Turquoise was a very popular stone in vintage jewelry and I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out. It's about 20". I will make some earrings to match and maybe a bracelet, too. I am thinking about making the simple drops a bit more ornate or adding more ornate ones in-between the simpler ones.

I decided that the necklace I made last night was too long, so I shortened it to collarbone length and made a bracelet out of the leftover links. It's a very pretty set. Rather delicate because the eyepins are a pretty fine gauge - probably would have been better to use wrapped loops and I will next time.

I'm now pondering what to do next...I may do another rondell pattern lanyard.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Found It!

As I was going through some papers to find the documents needed for a mortgage loan pre-qualification application (yes, we're trying to buy - been renting for over 10 years now) I found my lost screwdriver. I'd already taken one of the tiny Scrimps screwdrivers and affixed it with Aleene's Jewelry & Metal glue to the wooden handle of a broken pearl reamer (I'd snapped the tip and couldn't use it anymore) and it was working fine, but it's always nice to find a favorite tool.

Yesterday (and the rest of this week) was a very busy day at the day job. I rested, and watched some TV after work, so I didn't do any new beading to share here. I did work on my jump ring chains - I have 'built' a simple chain one loop into two loops and then continue in that pattern. It's 17" long now and I will probably stop at about 20", then add some dangly beads and a focal/pendant. It's another 'apprentice' piece, so it may never be for sale.

Although I have tried to close each ring well, it still feels a little rough because the links aren't soldered. I don't know if there's an alternative to actual soldering, but it would be nice if the links were smoother feeling.

I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with the techniques, I may try something more complicated soon. There are a number of lovely pieces I've seen, for example, some of these shown in the customer gallery at Spiderchain.

I've just finished a piece using light weight eye-pins to hold table cut oval glass beads in pink and tiny, faceted pink/peach iridescent coated ovals which I'm linking together.

I think it has quite a vintage look to it with the brass filigree flower at the end.

Made some matching earrings as well.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall Has Officially Arrived and I Celebrate With Fall Color Projects

I finished my vintage style filigree and amber glass bead necklace today and have set up a fall display for photographs. I've also been playing with making jump ring chains and some earrings. Wanted to share the new necklace - there's a 'hidden' touch, I've put four faceted amber glass roundells inside the large filigree bead - they're barely visible at close examination, but I think they will glint inside a bit in the sunlight. The clasp has an extender chain with a tiny amber glass bead at the end. It hangs about 9 inches from collarbone to the end of the beaded focal piece.

I wish my weekend wasn't nearly over - there are a number of ideas bouncing around in my head and I might get them started, but I know that next week is going to be busy at work, so in the evening I'll be rather tired and don't know if I'll get a lot done. Nevertheless, I have a number of great fall color beads, ambers, garnets, browns and golds that I look forward to working with.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Less Talk, More Pictures

First, here's a chain using silver loops, jump rings, howlite nuggets and small round howlite beads. I made it so it could be worn with the toggle through any of the small loops, like a lariat or at the back.

Next a peridot glass necklace lanyard using the roundell and larger bead pattern.

And lastly, my vintage style peridot glass gem and filigree necklace. I may move the larger brass filigree bead that's near the neckline down a bit, but otherwise, I'm done.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

I Figured it Out - With Help, Of Course

I have learned how to do the Byzantine pattern chain from jumprings!I really thought it would be a big challenge but it hasn't been too bad. The well illustrated and easy to follow steps came from "Bead Man". I've run out of jump rings in this size and color - but I had enough to get the hang of it:

I got some disappointing news about Los Con, although I was first on the waitlist, and there had been two unclaimed tables, which I admit got my hopes up a little, apparently they got claimed and I'm still on the waitlist. At some point I will have to say "this is definitely not going to happen" and give up, but I'm not sure when I'll do that, yet.

I will assuage my grief by buying lots of jumprings and making Byzantine chains. And figuring out how to fix the glass jewels to my filigree work in progress. And practice using my new hammer and anvil. And adding the pretty faceted crystal drops to my filigree work in progress. Looks like I have plenty of distractions to keep me from moping about the lost opportunity.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Should I Name it "Captain Hammer"? And What About the Anvil?

I actually did a bunch of beading related stuff last night (before and after watching some TV) but didn't make anything new, although I did finish the blue glass linked necklace I posted about on Tuesday. I think it turned out pretty cute.

I'm still pondering the re-make of the rhodonite vintage style piece (it started as a choker)and still trying to figure out how to set the peridot colored glass gems in the other vintage piece, to say nothing of how I'll finish it off. Did get some peridot colored faceted drops for it in today's mail, so they definitely will be incorporated.

So what do I do tonight? Start something new! I'm linking light amber colored wavy diamond beads in two alternating sizes, with large antiqued brass links and smaller jump beads. I really don't have enough of them to make a very long piece, so I have to decide if it's going to be part of something with multiple chains or if I'm going to try and find more of the bead mixes that these came in. I'm pretty sure I bought all the stock at one Michael's, will have to go to the other one that's further away, I guess, and see if they have them.

In the package with the drops, I also got a small anvil and chasing hammer - want to flatten some of the ear-wires I've made to make them look more finished. I'm leaving marks on the practice wire, though, so I will have to scour the internet to find out how to keep from doing that. There are some other things that I've seen done where the wire has been flattened, too - for strength as well as for the look of it, so I figured it was a skill I need. What started as a little hobby is so fun, fascinating and satisfying, it's turning me into a serious student of various jewelry crafts. Well, you know what they say about idle hands...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Message to an Online Bead Store: If You Make it Hard to Find the Beads, I Won't Shop With You

Two necklace lanyards finished except for hardware, tonight and one "apprentice" type necklace with wire looped beads, jumprings and large circle links nearly done. The reason I'm calling it an apprentice type is that I made it to practice making loops, try out a design idea I had, and used very inexpensive materials. I eventually intend to make more necklaces with wire loops, etc., and for sale, but with much better materials. I just don't want to start using those materials until I'm satisfied I have an excellent product.

I liked the pattern of roundelles (rondels, roundels, whatever - nobody's consistent with the spelling that I've seen) and then a larger bead, like I did in pink and citron colored glass so much, I did one in aqua glass and one in light sapphire glass. They're both about 30 - 31" long (I don't measure until I've added the hardware).

I want to do one in peridot glass, but I couldn't find any roundelles, so I decided to check some bead supply sites. Shipwreck Beads has them in a color they're calling peridot, so I'm ordering there. The one thing that has kept me from doing a lot of ordering from them is their search feature. It's so frustrating. I'll put in very specific terms and end up with 20,000+ items 'matching' the search. Often the results go page after page of stuff that isn't even close. Finding the right faceted roundelles at Shipwreck took me probably 5 - 10 minutes of searching.

For example, I decided I'd like some more aqua beads. I type in 'Aqua' with a few other terms to try and narrow the search, and reds and pinks and topaz and black beads show up on the page. Frankly, if I don't know exactly what I want and enter it exactly the way they name it, I spend way too much time just clicking from page to page. I'd rather search somewhere else where they've got a decent search tool, and as a result I end up buying from Fire Mountain, Artbeads or DI Beads (and I've shopped at others, too - just not as much, and usually because I've seen something on a beading site or blog that led me directly to the item I wanted). I've noticed that in some cases the prices seem better at Shipwreck, but it's too hard to find anything and my time is more than worth the few cents I'd save.

I'd just about finished my linked necklace when I noticed that I'd connected several beads directly instead of using jumprings, as I had on the rest of the necklace. That's what I get for trying to do it while watching "House" on tv. That Dr. Wilson is kind of cute, so I get distracted *grin*.

Here's the work in progress - I'll add the missing jump rings, tighten up everything and it'll be done. I guess it's obvious I was into blue today. Tomorrow, though, I'm a bit beaded out for now.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Dawno's Do It Yourself Portable Beading "Lap Desk"

I thought I'd do something a bit different and start off by sharing a simple, portable, lap sized stringing set up I use from time to time. I love my Bead Buddy lap desk, but it is a bit bulky, and I primarily use it when I'm trying to figure out design. Once I have that accomplished I continue my stringing with the lap desk for its portability, but sometimes my work is simple enough that I'm ready to go without having to 'draft' it on the design board. For example, the "Chateau Picard" lanyard I mentioned last night, for that I'm just using two types of beads and one type of spacer and the pattern isn't complex, so there's not much need for the whole design board/lap desk kit.

I've taken a wide shoebox lid and fit an 8"x8" bead mat inside of it. By the way, bead mats are just a square of vellux material - you could probably find it at a fabric store and cut your own - in my googling I found a cute one at Etsy with edging, a sewn in tape measure and tie strings at the ends so the whole thing could be rolled up - probably not a good idea to try it with beads still inside, though *grin*.

Where there's space left over in the box top, I've put some small plastic containers and the spool of stringing wire. I used the box top, initially, to sort the lighter colored faceted roundel beads from the darker ones, and darker pinched oval beads from the lighter ones, so my finished lanyard necklace would be uniform in color - thus the tiny spoon lying there, which I used to help sort and set aside the unneeded beads.

The bead mat keeps the beads from rolling all over the place and makes it easy to pick them up on the wire since they stay pretty well put, the plastic holders keep the smaller spacers from finding their way under the mat. Since the box top is just 8" x 12", it fits very nicely on the lap.

By the way, here's the finished necklace lanyard, tentatively named "Chateau Picard"

(click image to enlarge)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Sorting Beads than Beading Accomplished this Weekend

As I mentioned, I did go out looking for briolettes, didn't find what I wanted, but I still didn't come home empty handed, picked up some copper and antique gold colored spacers and bead caps, and a few new beads (lovely peridot green ones) at Global Beads yesterday.

Spent a great deal of time yesterday and today organizing and cleaning my work space and various bead storage bins - I can only go so long with it all splayed out around me - eventually I don't have room to walk around if I don't. Last night and this morning I played around some olive colored glass beads using inexpensive silver colored wire wrapped loops, but I didn't like how it was turning out, so disassembled it. I like the idea I had, so I'll give it another try.

Tonight I decided that I need to make more earrings, so I got started with these glass bead earrings from some beads out of a glass bead mix batch (not attached to earwires yet):

...and began work on this lanyard necklace tentatively named "Chateau Picard" - may add a vintage year, will have to do some fact checking - because the citron colored glass made me think of champagne. I think it's not just the lighting of the photograph that makes some of the faceted roundels look a bit darker than the others, so tomorrow when I have some daylight I'm going to sort the roundels and make sure I'm using just one shade.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Peridot Glass "Gems" and Filigree Work in Progress

Only one of the small peridot colored glass 'gems' has been set in the filigree and one in the center oval, but I'm liking how this looks so far. Not sure how I'm going to finish it. I've done a couple wrapped link peridot colored glass beads but they seem so plain in comparison, I'm not sure if I'll use them in the piece. May have to find some faceted beads, thinking briolettes, and maybe a chain tassel...I guess there's a trip to the bead store in the near future.

I used four filigrees to frame the center oval piece. The two between the large eight pointed backing and the large visible oval frame are practically invisible, but add to the depth and detail.

If the test setting for the small gem on the outer filigree is solid enough, I'll do the rest of the gems tomorrow. If not, I'm going to have to puzzle out how to add them. Right now I'm using the E6000 glue suggested in the 'how to' section of the Accessories Susan site, we'll see if it holds.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Hope it Doesn't Get to be a Habit

Missed posting last night, too. Again, busy with other stuff and very little of it was beading. I did finish stringing the gold glass and pearl lanyard, just have to add the hardware now.

I got an email from Accessories Susan saying they had the large copper lobster claw clasps I've been looking for in stock, so those are on their way now. Many thanks to Accessories Susan, not only for taking customer requests seriously, but for great service. I'm looking forward to playing around with design ideas this weekend and hope to make a few vintage style pieces I can show off.

I also found a source for tablet cut rectangular beads to match some of the ones I bought at the Arts and Wine festival last weekend so now I can make sets - thank you Mermaid's Cove! One set I bought from Mermaid's Cove was just beads I liked, no mates from the festival purchase, these are "Seafoam Opal" and I'm really inspired by the colors - thinking about matching them to some of my hemimorphite stones.

Still practicing loops - found a bundle of thinner brass wire (might be 21 or 22 gauge - it's not on a labeled spool) stashed away and have run about 8 loops with beads in a string. I'm still very clumsy, wasting a lot of wire, too, but the loops and wraps are looking better and the wrapped end is pretty snug to the bead. Before I start doing work with sterling wire (thinking about Argentium Sterling) I want to be confident and certainly not waste any of the wire - that stuff's expensive. I can't even think about gold filled yet.

There are two beading techniques I still want to learn - one is knotting. A number of my favorite purchases from this and past festivals have been made with lovely knotted thread instead of wire or chain. I'm going to wait to learn and practice that until after I feel accomplished enough with the wire loops. Lastly is chain maille. I have also seen some lovely work using a Byzantine pattern as well as some jewelry that has beads or pearls inside little cages of links, and I'd like to learn to do that, too.

Well, I'm going to finsh off the hardware on that lanyard and maybe play around in my beads until something inspires my next design.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I dislike it intensely when I miss a night posting - but last night I was very busy with a number of other things I needed to do and didn't get to either beading or posting.

I tried to practice making wrapped wire loops again - this time with the brass wire and some 'toy' gold-colored painted plastic 4mm beads I dug out, and I can't remember why I bought, but have had for ages - probably some craft thing I did back when I wasn't beading. I really need to get a smaller gauge wire, though, the 20 gauge is too heavy and stiff for wrapping and I'm not getting the kind of practice I need.

I've also completely dis-assembled the rhodonite choker and been playing with some re-working on it...still not sure where I'm going with it.

This evening I decided on a change of pace and am stringing a badge lanyard. I'm using gold colored fresh water cultured pearls, gold faceted square glass beads and gold faceted bicone glass beads with large gold-plated spacer beads between them. It's got a very lush look, I think.

About 8 - 10" to go still, but it's late and I'm going to bed soon - so here's a work in progress shot taken on a beading mat that's lying on the floor:

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Great Buys from the Local Art and Wine Festival

Earlier today my husband and I went to the local annual Arts and Wine festival. We've been going since at least 1998 or '99 - might have missed one or two in that time, but we try to go every year.

Some of my favorite jewelry makers were there and some I bought from in the past and keep hoping will come back, were not. I bought two necklaces and matching earrings from Levinson Design who was there last year (and made a sale then, too). Her work consists of lovely beads (glass and ceramic) and knotted work. My next stop was Azuca where I found two necklaces, some earrings and a bracelet that I had to own. These are strung necklaces of stone with seed beads, some metal spacers and a few glass beads - all in lovely colors and shapes. The Azuca store is in Los Gatos, which means it's not that far away. I will be very tempted to shop there more than I should.

I visited The Ringman and Harlanbeads as well - found some wonderful glass beads at Harlanbeads' stall and two rings at The Ringman that found new homes. Several sets of beads from Harlanbeads will eventually make it into necklace and earring sets. These aren't beads that Harlan Simon made, unfortunately, but I do have to give him credit for finding them for me.

Finally, I bought a lovely glass art bead from Harper Designs. Her website is still under construction, but I went ahead and linked it. The bead I bought is a beautiful swirls of blue and green with little silver "bubbles" here and there - they look like tiny silver beads in the glass. It's set as a pendant and I'm going to design a linked chain to go with it.

As for my own work, I finished a linked necklace using gold colored wire (the packaging doesn't give me a clue what metal it is - brass probably) gold tone links from the Organics line by Horizon Group USA found at Michael's, and assorted amber colored glass beads from various mixes by Blue Moon and Bead Heaven, also from Michael's.

Here's the full length shot:

Here's a close up of the top part:

and of the bottom part (click for larger images):

The small single link can be used as a place to hook a badge, so it doubles as a lanyard, too.

I also worked on a filigree choker with a cabochon. I used rhodonite stones and freshwater cultured pearls. I'm not sure it's done yet - may still add some chain or other frills. The side rhodonite beads aren't very visible, but they are faceted disks. All the brass filigree and filigree beads come from Accessories Susan.

I have so much great stuff to work with right now - it's almost paralyzing trying to decide what I want to do next!

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's Great to Be Home Again

Got back from my travel to Chicago today. It rained hard Thursday, was overcast but dry on Friday and beginning to warm up today with blue skies. Of course I was headed to the airport by 8:00 this morning, so I didn't get to enjoy the day in Chicago. It was 90 degrees here at home, today.

While in the Chicago area I did stop by a Michael's and picked up a few things to play with including some glass bead mixes in clear, amber, red and pink - sorted them, and there were some fun beads. I'm working now on the necklace I started there using gold tone wire, light and dark amber colored glass beads and some gold tone links. I'll finish up and post a picture tomorrow.

I gave out a few of my cards at the conference and got some nice comments about the lanyards I wore. When I got home and unpacked I saw that the TSA had left me a note that they'd looked inside my luggage. I suppose the wire, metal findings, beads and tools were the culprit. Everything was fine, the packed items didn't look disarrayed and nothing was missing.

I'm quite tired, but trying not to go to bed too early. This weekend is the Arts & Wine festival in my town, and we try to go every year. I'm not sure we'll make it this year, but we'll see how we (that's my husband and I) feel about it tomorrow.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Caf or DeCaf?

Made a beaded badge lanyard necklace that compliments the eyeglass chain I posted about yesterday. All glass beads, the small cream beads are Czech druk, the lozenge ones are from the local Global Beads store as well as the flat oval light mocha colored ones. I'm temporarily calling it "Cafe au Lait" but not sure that will stick.The silver beads are glass seed beads and silver-tone disk spacers, that I use a lot and hope I can keep finding them.

Here it is with the eyeglass chain - I think they make a nice pair.

I'm working on something with my vintage style beads and some very nice faceted disk rhodonite beads and small rhodonite oval beads. I have a couple rhodonite cabochons as well, they may work with a filigree setting...we'll see.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Holiday Beading - Started Working in Silver

I've begun working with my 20 gauge silver wire. I'm making much smaller loops with very small beads in white, ecru, beige tones and connecting them with silver jump rings. I'll keep going until I run out of jumprings or the right size/color beads, which ever comes first. Hope to have something long enough to actually wear when I'm done.

Will finish it off with some silver chain and a lobster claw if it's short and make it an eyeglass leash if it's long enough - I'm at 12" right now (need about 24" for a short one). This morning I also finished a red glass bead necklace with copper links, 24".

Detail of silver chain, red/copper & silver chain full length:

click picture for larger view

Will be traveling on business this week, not sure how much updating I'll be able to do - thinking about taking some stuff on the trip to bead with in the evening, have to make up my mind soon as I leave Wednesday morning.

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