Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fair Game

I have the work of a guest designer to share today.

My mother-in-law, who (along with my father-in-law) has been visiting us for the holidays, is an artist, and I always find her comments on the use of color and design in my work very interesting. Although she doesn't actually bead very much herself, she came downstairs today wearing this necklace that she made.

Naturally, I immediately felt compelled to snatch it from her neck and photograph it for the blog. Just a word to the wise - any jewelry that enters my house is fair game. I love her design with its use of the oversized focal stone (Mom didn't remember the type of stone, but it looks like jasper to me - any other thoughts?) - simple yet elegant. The glass dangle was a bit of a found object - something she thinks she dug out of her own mother's jewelry box. She strung them with round lapis beads.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me show this off on the blog. It certainly is nice (and inspiring!) to have creative people in the family.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cashmere De-stash, Part 2

Isn't this a gorgeous color? This is the first cashmere yarn I ever bought. Noro Cashmel, a 100% cashmere yarn in a worsted weight. Now available on eBay along with a few other (smaller) lots. Go here to view. Thanks!

I Believe

The day after Christmas, I dug up an old UFO while continuing to go through my yarn stash. (For the uninitiated, this "UFO" is an Unfinished Object rather than the other kind.) Way back in the mid-1990's, I saw an advertisement in Vogue Knitting for a beautiful sweater pattern by Adrienne Vittadini. The sweater was a muted blue-grey color, had a nice cable pattern knit sideways and a cool fringe on the bottom. I coveted it, but for some reason it never occurred to me to try to knit it. I tucked the magazine into my bookshelf and forgot about it.

In 2003, I was cleaning out my bookcase, came across the issue and found the advertisement again. I decided then that I still loved the sweater, and that it would be a great project to knit. The pattern book by that point had been long out of print, but I did manage to track down a copy through an on-line knitting store after a few weeks of searching. (The photo above is from the book rather than the original advertisement.) The original Vittadini yarn was getting hard to find by then, but I did a few test swatches and discovered I had a yarn in my stash that knit up at the right gauge. So I got to work and produced this:

I believe I spent just a couple days knitting this. At that point, we left for New York for a week - and I never picked it up again. Sigh. There are times when momentum is all in my work and when I lose it, I never regain it.

The funny thing is, though, I came across this project over the weekend while sorting yarn for de-stashing (and I will have another couple lots of cashmere coming up in the next few days). And you know what? I still love that sweater pattern. I think I'm going to start over again - alter the neckline to a roll neck (I don't really care for funnel necks) - maybe change the yarn color (I believe I have enough of the same yarn in a navy blue color).

I can't decide if this is an example of the triumph of optimism over experience, or if I'm truly destined to wear this sweater. Two decades out of date. Err. (But, come on, it's still a beautiful pattern, right? Right???)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

May Your Holiday Memories Be Sweet

Finally - the gifts are wrapped, the Some Assembly Required Toy (which took about three hours longer to assemble than I was expecting - I love Playmobil, but I hate the hundreds of miniscule parts) has been assembled, everyone is tucked into their beds (excepting Yours Truly, of course) and, as usual, I'm enjoying the quiet before the storm. We managed to get through the whole day without the Short One realizing that it was Christmas Eve - quite surprising, since he's been counting the days until Christmas this year. I feel slightly guilty for not telling him, but I'll be quite happy to be able to sleep in to a regular hour tomorrow morning. I'm positive this will be the last year for such a luxury.

The SO had a small gingerbread house decorating party earlier this week, so I thought I'd do a last minute show and share. The SO's masterpiece is above. The SO, in his time-honored way, did a good bit of the decorating himself. Not that it stayed that understated, of course. An hour later, it looked like this:

As you can probably tell, he's a big fan of pretzels. We appear to have suffered a bit of a missile attack here, though. His friends (and their Moms) made these two cute houses:

Don't you love the square pretzels for windows? Thanks, M., for bringing those, along with the gumdrops. Here's the second one, with a cute chimney:

I had a leftover house form (I made an extra house, to ward against accidents - in case you can't tell, these were all made around the tops of juice cartons), and the SO was quite happy to decorate that one earlier today with his grandparents:

Clearly, restraint is not in my son's vocabulary.

Incidentally, going into the project, I thought it would be difficult to find Necco wafers outside of a novelty candy store. In fact, I ultimately bought the rolls we used here at a local CVS. Who knew they were still so readily available?

I'm taking the weekend off, so here are your links, in case you go into bead withdrawal while celebrating the holiday (for those of you who celebrate Christmas, of course):

A Bead A Day
There is still plenty of time to make some New Year's Eve jewelry! Lisa shares an eye catching bracelet using velvety hearts and chandelier-like egyptian crystals.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi makes huge resin baubles from an ice tray. Jewelry Making
Yellow facted CZ fan pendants become gorgeous earrings with just a little chain.

Beading Arts
Sweet, simple, and silly! Make a barrette that will delight a young girl in your life.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy shares her favorite things this week. You might be surprised to find out what they are!

Art Bead Scene
It's the ABS annual 12 days of Christmas free projects. Twelve days of last minute holiday gifts!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean offers a project called Supercool which features a great focal by Dustin Tabor!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Eco Friendly Gift Wrap

Jean Campbell
Jean shares a free sparkly necklace project, just in time to whip up for your New Year's Evening wear

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei goes back in time to remind fellow Etsy sellers about Heart-o-Matic!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie makes a chunky, funky necklace with some unusual wooden chain and findings

Strands of Beads
Melissa shares some whimsical lampwork artistry by Debi Cogwell.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Tiered Wedding Cake Beads Focals

Debi Cogwell, aka The Palm Tree Queen, has done it again. Deb is one of my favorite lampwork artists for whimsical glass beads (not to mention an all-around great person - always a plus, in my books). I still have her fantastic hand holding a jack-0-lantern bead in my collection - I posted a pic of it on this blog back in 2007.

Well, this cute set of wedding cake beads came up on her website recently, and I just couldn't resist. I love cake beads generally, and I have a big collection of them. However, I'd never seen whole cake beads complete with beaded glass cake stands before. I think the attention to detail really makes these designs. (And believe it or not, they are substantially cuter in person. It's all I can do not to coo over them.)

I already have a design idea for one of these beads, and I'm sure more will follow.

For goodness sake, if you have a weakness for whimsical beads the way I do, please visit her website - you definitely won't be sorry.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Technical Difficulties

They say bad things happen in threes, and I'm hoping my recent spate of bad things happening to good (?) technology is now over.

1. A few days ago, the battery on the main cordless phone in the house went on the fritz. Irritating, but I could live with replacing a battery.

2. Saturday, I was in a rush, dumped my laundry in without checking the relevant pockets - and accidentally sent my cell phone through the washing machine. We did bury it and the battery in rice as that recent Yahoo article suggested, but it's still dead as a doornail (doorknob? Whatever. You know what I mean.) This cheesed me off, but, of course, I have no one to blame but myself (and my bad memory).

3. Today, we looked away from the Short One for a few moments while he was playing a computer game on our MacBook - and, when we looked back, he had managed to crack the screen. Great. As much as the SO is significantly more mature than a year ago, sometimes we forget that he's still apt to do funny things at a moments notice. We're still not quite sure how he managed to break the screen, but absent one of his imaginary Mickey Mouse friends giving it a whack, we see no other possible culprits. Needless to say, we've booked time at our local Apple Store to see how much getting it fixed is going to set us back.

I hope your weekend was slightly better than ours. I think I will go console myself by taking another gander at these nifty bead and jewelry links:

A Bead A Day
Lisa shares a special gift she received from a friend, SHRINKY DINK earrings!! Still a great product after all these years!!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei tested out some cool chain from Rings and Things.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Would you like to investgate a lyrical book which explores all areas of your imagination and challenges your creativity? Try Lisa Crone's!

Carmi's Art/Life World
One shrunk sweater equals felted beaded mits for me!

Beading Arts
If you can string stone nuggets onto wire, and if you can crochet a simple chain stitch, then you can make this pretty necklace.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy explains why she chose Lee Krasner's painting "Untitled" for this month's Art Bead Scene Challenge. Jewelry Making
Sparkle plenty with this endless knotted red crystal necklace project!

Art Bead Scene
It's the last ABS monthly challenge of 2009. Are you running out of ideas and inspiration? ABS has just the antidote!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Thinking deep thoughts, Andrew offers up a sumptuous bracelet and adds a new bronze charm to his shop.

Strands of Beads
Melissa shares a cute find - sterling silver elephant clasps.

ps. The photo has nothing to do with anything in this post. I snapped the shot one day when the SO and I were playing with his blocks - I just thought it looked cool...

Friday, December 18, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Using my usual scientific method (having the Short One pick a number out of a hat), I have determined that the winner is... SUE!

Sue, please contact me at strandsofbeads[at] (with the @ replacing the [at], as usual) with your mailing details, and I will get these little guys out to you as quickly as possible.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Whole Santa Thing

Teacher gifts have been made, wrapped and given out, and I can check one thing off of my list of things to do. Small, but significant. Meanwhile, conversations at our house have been taking a seasonal turn:

SO: How can I give the picture I made to Santa if he comes down the chimney?
Me: Well, we could leave it by his cookies and glass of milk.
SO: Cookies? Santa gets cookies?
Me: Sure, he does. It's hard work delivering all of those gifts, you know.
SO: (considering) Well...okay. But only two!

(Ho, ho, ho.)

Calling All Knitters - Cashmere, Anyone??

Jade Sapphire, 2-ply 100% cashmere in "vintage rose"

For reasons unrelated to this post, I have been spending the past couple days rooting around in my yarn stash. I have so much treasure here, it's completely ridiculous. I've decided to let go of a few of the more prized skeins in my collection, including cashmere from Jade Sapphire, Filatura di Crosa, Joseph Galler and Noro. Yep, it's a cashmere yarn sale.

This is probably the worst week imaginable to list stuff on eBay, and my experience listing the five lots I have up there now was as salubrious as ever (which is to say, not at all), but I thought I'd at least try it once, while I have momentum in that direction.

So, if you are a knitter or if you are simply curious, follow this link for examples of the ambrosia of knitting yarn at reduced prices.

Thanks very much!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Little Christmas Giveaway

Okay, I started this post at 2pm and it is now 11:40pm. Alas. This is pretty typical of how my holiday season has been going so far this year.

Now on to the good stuff. These cute little lampworked seasonal beads were given to me by the good folks at Rings & Things, and I've decided that they would do an excellent job in spreading a little (last-minute) holiday cheer. If you would like to find these in your Christmas stocking (or would like to put them in a loved one's Christmas stocking), please leave a comment after this post. I will pick a name at random Friday afternoon.

ADDENDUM: If you use the "Anonymous" post function, be sure to leave your name in the body of the post - so I actually know who is entering!

Please do check back on Friday to see if you won! (Remember, I will need your shipping address post haste, in order to get them out to you by the 25th.)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Dance

I received my advance copies of the January/February 2010 issue of Step by Step Beads in the mail yesterday. This is the last issue of the magazine that will be published. It makes me sad - the magazine was beautifully produced, and I always enjoyed reading it. It was one of the first magazines to which I ever submitted projects, and the editors there always treated my work well.

I'm pleased to be a part of the magazine's "last dance" - I have a necklace project in the issue using one of my double-sided box pendants (see the prototype here).

Thank you, Step by Step Beads - we'll miss you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Please Somebody Buy This Before I Do

Kate McKinnon
's Soul-Clearing Sale Part II has begun. I am so tempted to buy this Stoplight Ring. The bead is by Sarah Moran - how can you go wrong?

Somebody stop me, eh?

Four Seasons of Beading (Shameless Self-Promo)

I received my advance copy of Barb Switzer's new book, Four Seasons of Beading, a couple days ago. I have two projects in it: a necklace (which also appears on the back cover) and a Christmas tree earring project. Here's the photo of the necklace:

(Incidentally, the necklace was created around a strand of mixed seed pods which I discussed earlier in the year here.)

Anyway, as is usual with the projects that Barb helms, the book is quite beautiful. The projects in the book are organized around, yes, the four seasons, and they range across a satisfying spectrum of styles from cute to sophisticated, elegant to over-the-top - something for every occasion and mood. If you would like to view photos of some of the other projects in the book, trot on over to Annie's Attic and click on the "See More Photos" link.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Into Thin Air

I had a very kind inquiry about my whereabouts earlier today, and I'm checking in to say that I'm completely fine - just feeling a little tired.

I must confess - I arrived home from our Thanksgiving travels not merely uninterested in beads and jewelry but downright disinterested. So disinterested, in fact, that I tucked away the two containers of beads and findings I brought back with me and never even bothered to unpack them. So I ended up taking a bit of unexpected time off.

Instead I have spent the past couple weeks organizing. My husband and I tended toward clutter even before the Short One arrived on the scene. Add in all the SO's accoutrements in the mix along with all of my jewelry designing tools and sheer stash, and it's been chaos in our house for the past several years. My reason finally snapped audibly two weeks ago, and I announced to my family in no uncertain terms that we were going to clean out our living area if it killed us. H. - who is all too familiar with the whole Spouse-on-a-Rampage Syndrome by now - has been speaking to me in that too-reasonable tone of voice one tends to use with the mildly insane since then, but by golly, the house is more liveable than it has been since, uh, 2005. When we moved in.

Anyway, as I say, I received a thoughtful inquiry about my dropping off the face of the blogosphere today, and, after some consideration, I tentatively spent the evening getting caught up on my blog reading. Which got me excited about beads again. Which made me think it's time to get back into the swing of things.

Heck, I even opened up my boxes of new acquisitions. Which brings me to the above photograph. These clasps were completely new to me, and they're the sweetest rendition of your basic lobster claw clasp (elephant trunk clasp?) I've ever seen. Seriously, aren't they cute? Wonderfully functional, too. If you are interested, they are available through Bruce Frank Beads. (EDIT: -but not through their on-line store. You'll have to call them directly if you want to order some. Just FYI!)

Thanks for bearing with me! Have a great weekend.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Announcing a Little Sale (30% Off)

What the heck - I decided at the last minute to hold a sale. 30% off everything in my Etsy store (including the above ruby, amber, wood and - of course- fine silver necklace that appears in the Fall 2009 issue of Stringing) through Tuesday, December 1st. I can't remember the last time I held a store-wide sale, but I've been so disorganized about every aspect of the holiday this year (alas), and it seems like a good thing to do.

Sale prices apply only to in-stock items (prices have already been changed to reflect the discount on my listings). Why not take a look? At the very least, it should make a restful change from elbowing through the crowds at the mall. Thanks for your time!

Or if you don't feel like shopping right now, here are your intriguing beady links for the week:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Ah, Etsy! So many of our problems solved by visiting Etsy for gifts for our dearest friends at this time of year. Take a look at this premade pendant, which also comes in a kit so you can teach yourself if you prefer. It's all jump rings and it's all beautiful. The Alchemist's Star!

Beading Arts
Cyndi shares some simple CopprClay pendants that you can have ready in time for holiday gift-giving!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi uses embossing powder to make a bird pendant...a fun idea!

A Bead A Day
Stop by A Bead A Day for a wonderful week of cubic zirconia sparkle sponsored by Ideas are always welcome!

Art Bead Scene
Are you a Twilight Fan? If yes, then check out the Twilight inspired jewelry on the Art Bead Scene! Jewelry Making
It's is so easy to get into the holiday spirit when you have the perfect lampwork beads to get you there. Just think of all the jewelry possibilities.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
It's Double Dippin' Week - a week full of ideas for the Double Dips. Try a necklace and become "Entwined."

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie gives her review of Enchanted Adornments, and gives a reminder to enter teh Art Bead Scene monthly challenge for your chance to win a copy of it and some other great beads, including new Earthenwood beads!

Strands of Beads
Melissa is thankful for generous friends - who share their beading supplies!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Psst - sale going on at

Hear ye, hear ye: is having a three-day After-Thanksgiving sale - 20% off, storewide, until 9:00am (PST) Monday, November 30, 2009.

Even though I just came back from our Thanksgiving holiday break with a boatload of new materials, I succumbed and bought this pendant that I've been drooling after since the summer. It's one of the lovely hand-painted Russian onyx ones. This particular pendant is based on Picasso's The Dream. It was a tough call between the above and one of the beautiful Murano glass beads that the store now carries, though.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have had a $20.00 gift certficate, courtesy of, sitting in my drawer for the past few weeks. Throw in the 20% discount, and the usual free shipping from - well, the stars just aligned. Ahem.)

Perhaps it would be a good time to pick up components to make holiday gifts? (Or is it just me that's horribly behind in getting ready for Christmas?)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Kate McKinnon had this super-cool Moon bead on her blog (I can't seem to hot-link to the post but it's dated Nov 19th - well worth the look if you like metal clay (and if you don't, what are you doing reading this?)), and it made me think of my, well, significantly cruder prototype Saturn bead that I made in 2008 and meant to re-work (really truly, no foolin'). Being the geek that I am, I do love astronomy themes. Back in 2008, I had Ambitions to do more space beads, and well, it's on my list for 2010. Including revisiting Saturn. But here's the prototype in the meantime.

I'm taking next week off to spend time with family and friends over Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a great holiday! Before I go, here are your bead and jewelry links for the week:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Artbeads teamed up with Nintendo DS to create a fantastic virtual learning game for jewelry lovers! Style Lab! Jean shows it off in a youtube clip! FUN for the HOLIDAYS! :)

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy has a new shop on Etsy - the bleeding heart. Check it out!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shows the piece she made for the new book Chain Style, and talks about her struggles with letting go of her published jewelry pieces.

Jewelry & Beading
Gather up some little beaded flowers and turn them into a very special necklace!

A Bead A Day
Do pearls go with everything? Lisa pairs glass pearls with chain and interesting findings. What do you think?

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi makes a brooch with a cameo and other odds and ends. Jewelry Making
What do you do with a weird piece of chain made from wood? How about making a fabulous necklace out of it.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei's annual craft fair adventure is over and she share's some photos of the Aftermath.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gives you the scoop on findings worth finding - check it out!

Barbe Saint John
I've been a bad blogger!

Strands of Beads
Melissa discusses the virtue of buttons in jewelry-making


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Good Friend is...

...someone who will let you rummage around in their collection of sea glass. And select pieces for making jewelry.

I want to fool around a little more with the floating box-in-a-box design, but I really only had those three teenie pieces of sea glass. I knew one of my friends had collected some this summer while playing at the beach with her son, so I asked her if she'd be willing to give me a few pieces to use.

Well, she drove up to my car this morning, while I was dropping off the Short One at pre-school, said "Here" and handed me this huge-y jar. My heart skipped a beat. How beautiful is this, right? I'm busy going through it right now for some pieces small enough for pendants.

Thanks, Merrilu - you're a brick!

(Does anyone else have stories of beady generosity they'd like to share? It seems like a good time for it!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Remember those vintage ceramic teeth I had in my stash a while back?

Among the many interesting comments left for that post, Christine Ritchey advised me to keep any mold the dentist might make of my own teeth for future creative endeavors. (Christine, I thought to myself back then, you over-the-top artist, you.) However, I guess this thought stuck in my head. When I had to have a crown put in earlier this year, at the last minute I asked my dentist to give me the temporary after he'd taken it out. Our family dentist is such a nice man - instead of looking at me cross-eyed at such a request, he cheerfully said "I even have this nice box for you to keep it in!"

I must admit, although the vintage ceramic teeth didn't phase me a bit (in fact, I still think they are cool), I have not been able to bring myself to work with my own temporary crown. In fact, I am weirded out enough by it not to have opened the box since I brought it home from the dentist. I think the fact that it actually resided in a person's mouth for three weeks, even my own mouth, is giving me problems. So now this little box lurks in a dark corner of my stash. Waiting for just the right macabre turn of mind to be used, no doubt. For the moment, though, I avert my eyes and pretend it's not there whenever I open that particularly drawer!

(Oh, and as far as that nice, pristine set of ceramic teeth is concerned - I have used them, all of them, in a major piece of jewelry. I think they have that je ne sais quoi. I can't show the necklace to you right now, but probably in a couple months...)

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Here's an example of what happens when I try to take photos for the blog when Certain People are awake and interested. Yeah. (By the way, in case you are wondering, these are components for hand puppets. Plus a foot.)

I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better, so much so that I made it to (and survived, more or less) both the Greatest Show on Earth and Chuck E. Cheese this weekend. This was the Short One's first circus experience (and our first circus experience in about 35 years). Although he had a distressing tendency to become absorbed in his little circus light stick toy at pivotal moments of the show and commented afterward that his favorite part was watching the cotton candy sellers walk up and down the aisles, I think it was overall a successful outing. At least, by our standards.

So I'm feeling a little more optimistic at the start of this week. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get a little beading done. I hope you have a good week, too.

In the meantime, here are your bead and jewelry links for the week:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Using a hand-painted Russian pendant from, Andrew creates an enchanting response to Art Bead Scene's November prompt: Dadd's The Fairy Fellers' Master-Stroke.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has a give-away offer on "the ugly necklace."

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy reflects on how to live life at a slower pace. Her reflections inspire a pair of earrings.

A Bead A Day
A surprise package of beads arrives and provides a week of fun on abeadaday!

Jean Campbell
Jean finds her first piece of beadwork in a junk drawer and discusses how important it is to reinforce your work

Art Bead Scene
November is full of fairies at the Art Bead Scene. Come check out the inspiration painting for the monthly challenge!

Katie's Beading Blog
Katie's combining resin, chain, and tubular peyote stitch in a project for Beadwork magazine - download the pdf for free! Jewelry Making
Tammy has another installment of Make It Merry this week.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Setting up a table at a craft can be daunting, but Lorelei put together a perfectly Vintage Chic display that will hopefully lure people in.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie starts a new project, an upcycled film themed jewelry line called Now Showing! Read the story behind this fun new idea.

Jewelry & Beading
Gorgeous jewelry designs by artist Paula Huckabay!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
In the spirit of the season, whereby "you can get nything you want" as in the famous Alice's Restaurant song by Arlo, you can get some fascinating things at Andrew Thornton's store. Great for holidays to come!

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off a necklace she made...for herself!

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Here's a simple necklace I made a while back with these groovy Chinese turquoise drums (I lucked out - I only had five of them and they balance perfectly, weight-wise) and my lunar phases donut. It wears quite nicely, if I may say so myself.

I've been wanting to do so much this past week and have accomplished pretty much nothing. This cold has been pretty pernicious - everyone in our house has recovered except me. I just can't seem to shake the bone-rattling cough I've developed. Argh. I've been doodling new ideas on a pad of paper from time to time, but that's it. I hope your week has been more productive than mine! Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Little Night Music

I'm still suffering from that hacking cough, so I'm up tonight. I found this tabbed on my husband's account and really enjoyed it (I presume he got it from Boing Boing or Neatorama), so I'm passing it along. This speaks to me on several different levels - I was a big Journey fan as a kid. Later on, as an undergraduate, I always enjoyed listening to the a capella groups that were popular on campus (there was nothing like listening to the Krock's rendition of Lehrer's "Masochism Tango" back then). Sam Tsui sings all parts here in this version of "Don't Stop Believing" and the video was produced by Kurt Schneider. Brilliant! (ps. They also do a mean Michael Jackson Medley, also available on YouTube.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Yes, this is what it looks like - π taken to eight decimal points. I made this "Piece of Pi" pendant and tucked it away in my Etsy store last year completely on a whim, thinking it would just sit around looking beautifully mathematical. So, of course, it sold almost immediately. I find it quite thrilling that there are actually other geeky, jewelry-loving people out there in the world. I've been thinking I might make a more complex version this year...

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Here are your new bead and jewelry links for the week:

Snap out of it Jean! There's beading to be done!
jean is amazed by the treasures you find in Cynthia Thornton's spectacular wonder of a book, Enchanted Adornments! Jewelry Making
Make it merry with holiday jewelry and crafting ideas.

Art Bead Scene
An Art Bead Scene first - the December sponsors collaborate on a special set of art beads for the December monthly challenge prize!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Liver of Sulfur is finally in Lorelei's repertoire of jewelry techniques.

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi is giving away a copy of Ronna Sarvas Weltman’s unique polymer clay book called "Ancient Modern". Come and get in on this contest!

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy has developed a new line of jewelry to remind us all to live life slowly and enjoy what we have. First in the series is "Grounded."

Jean Campbell
Jean describes what it's like to edit someone's book and shares her thoughts on Marcia DeCoster's latest, Beaded Opulence.

A Bead A Day
It's Arts & Crafts Week on Lisa's A-Bead-A-Day Blog! A different craft product is featured each day with ideas for incorporating them into jewelry pieces. Stop by and share your ideas!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi uses a leather button to make a wearable collage.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew adds new pieces from Hawaiian artist, Candice Wakumoto, to his shop.

Barbe Saint John - New Treasures from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe is the last link in a Necklace Round Robin, Check out the finished pieces!

Strands of Beads
Melissa trys out Friendly Plastic (and likes the results).

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Adventures in Friendly Plastic

So, I finally had a chance to sit down with my stash of Friendly Plastic, courtesy of the good folks at Amaco. As I mentioned earlier, although Friendly Plastic has been around for years, I'd never used the product. Playing with all of those mouth-wateringly bold colors was really appealing to me. Amaco offers significant product support for Friendly Plastic on their website, including a number of sample projects (of which my favorite is this one).

One thing I will say, having spent several hours with the product - it did take me a little practice to use it, even to create the simple graphic pendants I made for this post. Friendly Plastic becomes moldable when heated, but the melt point is low enough that it's easy for a neophyte like me to shoot past the target range and end up with a too-gooey substance. I think this is where the choice of heat source becomes crucial. I used my craft toaster oven, and I found it a real handicap not to be able to see how pliable the material was becoming in the heat without taking my non-stick sheet out of the oven every five seconds. I think an electric griddle (the recommended method for heating up Friendly Plastic) or a heat gun would be definitely preferable.

However, Friendly Plastic takes cutters beautifully, and it's a much more forgiving method of using the product with the toaster oven. Even if the plastic is quite soft, it will still take a cutter well (as long as you are careful to wait until the plastic cools to lift the cut-out from the non-stick sheet to avoid distortion). Given this, and - well, frankly - because the bright colors of plastic reminded me of superhero costumes, I decided to focus on creating some bold, colorful pendants with the material.

Because Friendly Plastic will bond to itself when heated, it is relatively easy to create nice inlay designs with the material. I wanted as little distortion as possible in my designs, so I did not completely inlay each of the pieces in these pendants. The UV resin I used to seal them - Lisa Pavelka's Magic-Glos - domed over the designs (with one exception, above, and I liked the paper-mache effect it gave the piece, so I did not apply a second coat), so the raised surface of the pendant really didn't affect the finished product.

My product samples are all metallic sticks (the material is also available in pellet form), but they are metallic only on one side. When I wanted a more matte-looking surface, I simply flipped them over (the blue moon, above, is an example of using the reverse side of a stick). I also discovered that, when I use the sticks in this way, and use cut-out pieces as inlay, the edges curl up just enough as it softens to create an interesting metallic border around the cut-out piece.

To finish the two pendants, I used bails from my stash that were provided to me earlier, courtesy of Rings & Things. I simply attached plastic button shanks to the other two. (By the way, in case you're wondering - it was quite easy to punch stringing holes in the Friendly Plastic, but I discovered after several aborted attempts that I could not cleanly drill through the Magic-Glos the way I would with other types of resin.) I think the Friendly Plastic colors look good strung with brightly colored lucite and resin beads. I also think these simple designs would make excellent, funky rings - just attach to ring blanks, and they're good to go!

Thank you to Amaco for giving me the opportunity to play with this fascinating product!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Psst - sale going on at

I was browsing through for ring blanks, and I accidentally discovered that their gorgeous hand-painted Russian beads are currently 15% off. I'm so tempted to pick up this peacock bead...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Remains of the Day

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween yesterday. Robin Hood set out intrepidly to steal candy from the rich etc. last night. Apart from one incident involving our neighbor decked out as a 7-foot ghoul stalking the trick or treaters (the family had quite a set-up involving open coffins, lights and dry ice out on their front lawn - I haven't seen anyone get into the holiday so much since my own childhood), RH handled himself very well.

For my part, I decided to forgo my usual post at the door for ten minutes in favor of following RH and his Dad a few houses down the block. I left a bowl of candy at the front door and returned to a feeding frenzy of six-year-olds attacking the contents as if their lives depended on it. (I will say that, even though they didn't realize I was the owner of the bowl as I approached the house, they did leave three pieces.)

As you can see, above, the Short One made me a nice necklace to wear for Halloween - which, of course, I did!

Here are your bead & jewelry links for the week:

Snap Out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a delightful book by the editor of BeadStyle: Cathy Jakicic

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Have you been following Lorelei's Necklace Round Robin? Come take a look at the finished pieces! Jewelry Making
It's like Wal-Mart, only you want to be there in this virutal tour of Shipwreck Beads.

Jewelry & Beading
Krystal Backer, beading artist, shares her creative inspirations with Cyndi.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene is having a book fair. Read up on your favorites!

Jean Campbell
Jean celebrates her favorite holiday by showing off her costume and some very cool baubles

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares her final Crystal Week necklace... a piece she calls Woodland Mermaid

A Bead A Day
Looking for a great way to commemorate a special moment or gift? Design a piece of jewelry!

Cindy Gimbrone aka the Lampwork Diva
Not thinking about your holiday gift list yet? Cindy helps get you started with a Knot Ready for Prime Time Lucky Knots and Friends Projects

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has finally discovered how great polymer clay is.

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off her favorite necklace created for Cynthia Thornton's Enchanted Adornments and winner in the metal clay category of the British Bead Awards

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Rainbow of Color

Here's something that's been adding a huge amount of color to my work area lately. It's Friendly Plastic from the good folks at Amaco. Of course, I use Amaco products all of the time when I work with metal clay, but I have never tried Friendly Plastic.

My eye is really attracted to these luminescent metallic sticks. I've got a few ideas percolating for them, and I'm about to embark on my great adventure playing with a little more color than I'm used to using in my work. Cool! Color is good. I should have a few things to show you next week. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at my lovely materials.

If you are already a Friendly Plastic afficianado, remember there's still time to enter the Friendly Plastic Open Design Challenge! Hurry, though - the postmark deadline is November 6th. (Oh, and if you are already a veteran Friendly Plastic crafter, tips are very welcome on this end - be sure to leave me a comment! Thanks!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mister Postman

ps. One last bit of shameless self-promo from me. This is from a few days ago now, but here's what the postman brought me earlier this week.

Well, okay, he didn't bring the bobble head T-ball player - when the Short One saw my nice trophy, he insisted that I get down his special trophy and put the two of them together. As a set, they make a decent statement on our family interests, I think.

I find it curious that the necklace arrived back home from England on the same day that my advance copy of Enchanted Adornments: Creating Mixed-Media Jewelry with Metal, Clay, Wire, Resin & More (woo-hoo!) arrived, since the piece is related to both endeavors.

I have been reading Enchanted Adornments since it arrived, and yes, it was so worth the wait. (And I'm not just saying that because "Cabinet of Curiosities" is in the gallery). This is as beautifully-crafted a book as you are likely to see - just enjoyable to sit and flip through, apart from all the stunning amount of information that's packed into the book.

Don't tell my husband, but I've had this weird urge to kiss the postman - he's been bringing me so many goodies lately.

Shameless You-Know-What: Bead Trends

I just received the November 2009 issue of Bead Trends. I have a necklace in here using my tree pendant, some really stunning rough citrine chunks I found at Enbeadia and beautiful faceted lemon quartz from Ayla's Originals (one of my local go-to places for nice stone). The photography in this issue is, as usual, wonderful. I was afraid it would be difficult to capture the incandescent quality of the stone, due to its paleness, but the photographer did an excellent job, with nice close-ups of the stone and clasp. Thank you, Bead Trends!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Terrorific Tuesday, Finale!


Thanks for visiting the final installment of Terrorific Tuesday. Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!

Trick or Treat!
Frame and post it note holder dressed for Halloween

Costumed Kokeshi Dolls
Try out a Halloween idea for a traditional Japanese doll with Crafterella

Halloween Mask
Phyllis Dobbs created a fun and easy Halloween mask - great for adults and kids!

Fun Halloween Lanterns
Stephenie Hamen accessorizes plain paper lanterns with her paper punches.

Black Widow & Bloody Necklaces
Pattie Wack uses 3-D paint to create chokers that will creep out your party guests!

Tutu Cute Halloween Wreath
Vanessa creates an inspired wreath made of tulle!

Mad Scientist Party
Amy of Living Locurto shares a slew of fun ideas to host your own Mad Scientist Party.

Halloween Zombie Dolls
Crafty Chica shows how to add some zombie love to your decor!

Boopsie Daisy shares some of the wonderful Halloween dollies that she dreams up!

Crafty Chica's Ghost Story!
Kathy Cano-Murillo shares a haunted crafty tale!

Halloween Cone Witches
Make these cute little paper cone witches for Halloween!

Halloween Leftovers
Mel takes the leftovers from last week's project and makes a cool Goth choker!

Brenda Pinnick Halloween Owls
Seasonal Owls for Scaring or Delighting Trick or Treaters

The Impatient Crafter
Margot creates another spooktacular mixed media necklace with a bite.

Halloween Batty Windchime
Heidi Borchers creates a super cute windchime with personality!

Kitschy Kitschy BOO
Add some Halloween flair to your day with this cute kitschy bracelet and earring combo!

Simple Halloween Gift Tags
Studio Mama makes a strong impact with these quick and easy tags!

Strands of Beads
Melissa once again gives some pretty flower beads a Gothic makeover with this simple earring design

Costume Fun
Sharron Westerfield shares her passion for costume-making and the joy it brings her grandchildren.

Return of the Birthday Zombie
Candace is cracking herself up with this ghoulish gift box idea

Doodle Pumpkin
Swelldesigner a.k.a. Alexa Westerfield shows you how to make a fun pumpkin on the fly!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mom's Necklace

If anyone's interested, here's the necklace I made for my mother, complete with a photo of the Short One from his innocent, drooling days. The photo is just stuck in the box - I did not fill the well with resin, so the image can be swapped out easily at a later date, if desired. That's the theory at least - we'll see how well it all holds up in practice. The hexagonal slab-cut stone is ruby and the spacers are amethyst.

I received some nice surprises in the mail today, but I didn't have a chance to photograph them today, so I think I'll wait to show them off.

Our washing machine, which has been coughing away for the past several weeks finally gave up the ghost, so we had to take a trip out to the appliance store this evening. I was completely annoyed until I realized that I had spent slightly more on my last shipment of metal clay than the cost of the washer - which certainly says something about me and my priorities, but I'm not sure what. (Maybe that I need to get a less expensive hobby?)

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deep Purple

I'm revisiting the whole floral skully theme for my last Terrorific Tuesday project. I don't actually have pierced ears, so I don't tend to make earrings all that often. However, I always like the small silver skull charms for earrings, so I thought I'd go ahead and make a pair.

The flower beads are actually leftovers from a project I did last year for Barb Switzer's book, earrings, earrings, earrings! (Softcover version). You can see the original project - a pretty, spring-themed bracelet and earring set - here. It's so easy to give these feminine pastel beads a gothic twist by adding a nice touch of black to the design (here, faceted onyx rounds). I topped it off with a couple demure dusky rose-colored pearls and my dangling skully charms.

That's it from me this year for Terrorific Tuesday! Happy Halloween, everyone!

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

For many years, my friend Allison has held a pumpkin carving party for her adult friends. This has always been quite a fun event, but we've missed it since the Short One was born. We thought he would be old enough to attend this year (and, in fact, we had to pry this determined little fingers from her door and stuff him in our car to get him to come home with us afterward, he had such a fun time). Before we attended, I spent some time thinking of the best way to allow him to participate with the rest of the party. While he certainly has a fascination for all of those pointy saw-edged pumpkin carving tools, we didn't think it would be all that wise to let him near them. So the above was our compromise.

Another mom at a school pumpkin carve had used some curly pipe cleaners as hair around the rim of a carved pumpkin. I thought it would be possible to take the idea further and exclusively use pipe cleaners (and those lovely, non-sharp objects - pompoms and googly eyes) to decorate the whole pumpkin. The SO glued on the eyes himself and then indicated where he wanted each of the features. I punched small holes with the carving tool and we put the features on together. Not bad, eh?

I'll have my final Terrorific Tuesday project up later tonight, but here are your bead and jewelry links for the week in the meantime:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean has a little Boo power going on for her in this hand made Halloween bracelet!

Katie's Beading Blog
Check out Katie's ideas on making your old beads new again- and make some affordable gifts along the way! Jewelry Making
After posting a new jewelry book review for a very cool mixed media book, Tammy is looking a head to other reviews coming up very soon.

Cindy Gimbrone aka the Lampwork Diva
Cindy's got some new findings from Ornamentea. What's she going to make with them?

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe gets tangled up with Chain Style book review

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi decided to finally use her bead stash from Paris.

Jewelry & Beading
Little beaded flowers are addictive to make, and before you know it, you've got enough for a complete necklace!

Jean Campbell
Jean struggles through the creative process while bezeling some unusual crystal shapes

A Bead A Day
Does a simple design equal a "Zen" experience? Lisa would love to hear your thoughts on when simple designs are able to make an impact.

Art Bead Scene
You've heard of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Well, this Sisterhood shares bracelets.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
The inspiration for Melanie's Machinery of Nature necklace comes from science, steampunk, and nature.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew revisits a bracelet design and creates six others.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Better get on board, Lorelei is having the last of the Enchanted Adornments giveaways. Leave a comment to play!

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off metal clay goodies from Rings & Things

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patina - yes!

Thanks, everyone, for your opinion on the box in a box pendant! Here's what I ended up doing with it - yep, I added the patina. I think it does make the sea glass look a little darker, but in the end I felt it was more important to add definition to the boxes. As far as the necklace is concerned, I couldn't resist my favorite pink and green color combo, with a little deep red thrown in for good measure.

It's pretty unusual for me to make a piece of jewelry just for myself - ironically, I don't wear a lot of jewelry these days - but I think I may just keep this one. It's tempting, if only to have a place to keep a photo of the Short One close to my heart!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Terrorific Tuesday, Week III


It's time for Terrorific Tuesday!

Spooky Spider House
Silvia creates a miniature haunted house that is spooky and oh-so fun!

Witchy Embroidered Postcard
Sharron Westerfield brews up a whimsical witch postcard

The Impatient Crafter
Vintage plastic owls become the focal point of a charming necklace you can wear for Halloween and all year round!

Pumpkin and cat felt treat bag
Felt bag that can also be made as a wall hanging or door hanger

Cheryl Ball's Halloween Door Hangers
Create these door hangers from inexpensive gloves for Trick of Treaters

My Big Mouth
Make a creepy wire tree just in time for Halloween!

Mel's Day of the Dead Necklace
Linked chain, skulls and spiderwebs for Dia de los Muertos

Crafty Chica's Matchbook Shrines
Adorable little folding shrines that fit in your pocket!

Paper Pumpkin
Make a plump paper pumpkin from some strips of paper plus a little Halloween craftiness!

Polymer Clay Zombie
Candace's diabolical plan to populate the world with zombies continues!

The Impatient Crafter for iLoveToCreate
Make a retro style styrofoam ornament into a fab Halloween Party centerpiece! Madge shows you how using iLoveToCreate products!

How to Make a Spooky Spice Rack
Come make a spooky spice rack with Crafterella, she's sharing her unique labels with everyone!

Halloween Treat Tote
Conjure up a quick Halloween cupcake basket using new ScoreBoard dies!

Brenda Pinnick's Halloween Banner
A little scary, a little fun, this delightful banner celebrates all things Halloween. Made using Brenda Pinnick Sizzix dies, glitter and ribbon.

Creepy Candlesticks
Pattie Wack turns mini pumpkins into a boo-tiful Halloween lighting idea!

Strands of Beads
Melissa explores the holiday possibilities in a black and white checkered bead

Glow in the Dork Wall Hanging
Turn off the lights and have a laugh with this goofy wall hanging from Alexa Westerfield!

Picture Perfect Pumpkin
Vanessa Coppola turns a traditional pumpkin into a decopauged masterpiece!

British Bead Awards First Place!!

Oh my goodness! I was completely wrong in my post yesterday - I thought I hadn't placed in the competition because some other entrants were notified over the weekend, and I hadn't had any word. To my surprise, I just received an email from Bead Magazine. "Cabinet of Curiosities" has taken First Place in the metal clay category!

On top of that, "Eye See You" - my eye pendant - has taken Second Place in the Beyond Glass handmade beads and components:

Pardon the shameless display, but I'm so surprised! I'm off to do my happy dance. Please see my previous post for more information on these pieces.

As the SO would say, Hip-hip Hooray!

Monday, October 19, 2009

British Bead Awards Winner and Enchanted Adornments

I've been keeping this piece under wraps all year, but I think I can finally go ahead and share it with you. This is "Cabinet of Curiosities", my favorite piece of 2009. It's kind of a double whammy showpiece for me.

If you've been reading my blog this year, by now this style of focal - based on the cabinet of curiosity specimen box - will be familiar to you. This piece is special, though, because - although I'm revealing it late in the year - it was actually the first one I made, way back in January. Last winter, I was contacted by Cynthia and Andrew Thornton to create a work for the gallery of Cynthia's new book (available November 1st! I can hardly wait - can you???), Enchanted Adornments: Creating Mixed-Media Jewelry with Metal, Clay, Wire, Resin & More. This invitation couldn't have come at a better time for me. I had been casually contemplating cabinets of curiosities for a few months, but hadn't really got any further with the idea. I decided to put together a piece for Cynthia's book based on this concept, and this necklace was the result.

As I continue to find my footing stylistically, my specimen box pendant has been evolving over the year. However, I still love the way this first piece turned out - it's my favorite necklace to wear. In fact, I wore it to the Bead & Button show this year. It's a little different from "Natural History" and "Natural Selection", as it is not strictly, well, natural history-based. To imbue it with an element of mythology, I included both the staring eye (which is actually a German vintage taxidermist's glass eye) and the fantastic ceramic Beastie Bead by Diane Hawkey.

I've been missing wearing the necklace this summer, as it's been off in England being judged. I found out about the inaugural British Bead Awards right before submissions closed this year. I didn't have time to make a piece specifically for the competition, but I decided to go ahead and submit my favorite necklace and my eye pendant. Both pieces made the finals but neither placed (alas).

AMENDED: I just found out - I was wrong. I received an email from Bead Magazine this morning - the piece actually took first place for metal clay!!! And "Eye See You" took second place in the beyond glass - handmade beads and components division! I've never been so happy to be wrong...

Thank you to Bead Magazine for giving me the opportunity to present my work in this first year of competition.

And thank you to Cynthia and Andrew for inviting me to participate in Cynthia's magnificent new book! Less than two weeks now - have I mentioned that I can't wait?! (Have you ordered your copy yet?)

Thanks for visiting.