Thursday, February 23, 2017


How many times have you come across this in your bead room?

And scratched your head and gone, what was I going to use these for?  It’s fun picking color palettes and bead shapes. I enjoy the Zen of selecting, the oooohhh when you find le bead juste and then… Beadzeimer’s sets in. Other projects are more demanding; if you stack one more bag of beads on your work table it will collapse; you laid out FIVE different palettes for this project and begin to suffer from choice fatigue. Weeks go by, and one day you encounter this great grouping of beads and can’t for the life remember why they came to be there.

And you put them back. Sigh. But picking palettes is very soothing, and good practice. Yes, that’s what I tell myself.

Well, I can’t leave it at that – so here’s a palette I enjoyed picking: 

This loomed wallhanging was inspired by a photograph of an iris, and I was pleased at how the ombre effect came out.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Can this Necklace be Saved?

There was a column in the Ladies Home Journal I remember reading in my youth back in the Stone Age (the late 60s early 70s) titled "Can this Marriage be Saved?" which has inspired today's ruminations.

I can't remember if it was the first or the second time I was making a piece from a specific pattern (probably the second - I have a theory about the second time you try to follow a bead pattern, but more on that another time), but whatever time it was, I used the wrong size spike beads.

Here's the original design by Sabine Lippert titled “Handle with Extra Care” that uses 7 x 17mm Czech spike beads.  You can find it here.

 Well, in putting together my beads for this piece, I pulled out instead the 18 x 12mm bruisers and couldn't understand why the pattern wasn't going the way it should. It kinked and folded and would not behave. I had plans to make a necklace out of it, omitting the spikes along one side so the wearer wouldn't spear themselves in the chin, but it wouldn't lay right.

So I turned it into a round pendant, added a bezeled rivoli, crocheted beaded straps and lo! this beadwork was saved from the dreaded Drawer of Unfinished Projects. YAY!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Component Challenged

It’s not enough to be able to bead a really cool focal piece, for it will only languish if you don’t have a concept for how it is to be used. And that means components. That means having a flair for how the parts of a piece of beadwork harmonize (or not).

I am often challenged about where to go with a focal piece of beadwork or how to arrange a smaller repeating motif. That’s one of the reasons I set up a Pinterest Board “Jewelry Inspiration for Bead Design” which you can view here. It has been a help to me in getting some ideas about how to put necklaces together. Good design is tricky and I have also noticed that many of the successful bead artists have a background in design, which I wish I had. If you want to spend some time honing this sense, check out Charlotte Jirousek’s “Art, Design, and Visual Thinking” which can be found here.

A while back I created a motif using some 20mm lozenge-shaped beach glass beads I found at a bead show:

You can see (barely) that I attached them to each other using a band of Cubic Right Angle Weave, but I wanted something more for the strap. I wanted components. Here’s what I came up with: 

And here’s the whole necklace:

I call this my Beach Glass Dragee Necklace because those beads remind me of Mentos Dragees candies.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bead Fabrication

Having begun beading on  my friend Linda’s fabric by putting a pellon backing on it for easier stitching, I then realized that this method no longer limited me to the kinds of fabric I could bead on. I have a lot of these hand-smacking-forehead moments. The creative process can both open you up and give you a terrible case of tunnel vision.

Up to now I have been doing bead embroidery with something called Easy Felt, which you can get at most craft stores.  It’s not the floppy felt you might remember from your youth – I got a felt board with various floppy felt critters and letters one Christmas. I remember my Dad borrowing it to create title boards when he edited his Explorer Post whitewater canoeing movies.

But Easy Felt only comes in certain colors. Which is a pretty frequent beader’s lament: why doesn’t this bead/thread/felt come in more colors?  No turquoise, no seafoam, no rose, no celadon; red purple but no blue purple. But with pellon you can turn any fabric into essentially a piece of Easy Felt.

So, off to my home away from home, Jo-Ann Fabric, to buy monochrome fat quarters. The first one I worked with was in my favorite turquoise. I had bought a bunch of acrylic cabochons for another project that never quite took off, so was happy to find another use for them.

Here is the result. I like the somewhat muted palette that still shows a lot of color - with little accents (I restrained myself) using Czech shaped beads.

You will also notice I forgot to iron the fabric before I fused it. (Sound of hand smacking forehead – OW!!)