Friday, November 15, 2013

Finding my way back

Wow. I can't believe that it's been almost year and a half since I wrote anything in here. That is kind of unforgiveable...but it has been a very long year with a lot going on in my life.

We moved 3 times since April 2012, and not just to a new house, but half way across the country and back...2 different states and 3 different cities! Our current living situation is temporary, so we will be moving again in the near future. All of this has left me with very little time for beading and blogging.

I am hoping to get back into writing here on a semi regular basis, and I really hope to start beading again on a very regular basis...we shall see how it all plays out.

While I haven't had much time with my beads, I have made a few things over the past year. This one is a Herringbone Lariat that I made for my sister...

And I just finished a wrap bracelet on my loom this week, which is kind of a big deal for me. I had such a negative experience in an online bead looming group last year that I haven't touched my loom once since leaving that group (well over a year ago). So it was pretty nice to get my loom out and work on it again!
 Here is my loom extended to its full length and warped for the bracelet:

And here is the bracelet when I first took it off the loom:

I have since woven in all the threads and added the clasp but haven't taken photos of the finished piece yet. It measures around 20 inches without the clasp.
I also hadn't played around with Bead Tool 4 (pattern design software) since I put my loom away so I had a great time creating this pattern and it was very and easy quick to loom.
The idea for the wrap bracelet and the random pattern/design was inspired by my friend Caroline French who has made several of these wrap bracelets on her loom...they seem to be addictive!
I have ideas for several more and even purchased some C Lon beading cord (heavier weight/thicker than beading thread) and can't wait to play with that on my loom!
Other than these pieces I haven't really made any finished jewelry but I have made several random components. I really love Gwen Fisher's Cluster Cube Beads that were in Beadwork Magazine last year and I have made several of those:

And I made a few of these filled netting beaded beads:

That's about the extent of my beadwork this year. But I have been finding more time and inspiration lately, and have found some wonderful beading groups online so I hope to have more to share soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beady stash & storage

While taking photos of my cabochons & Rivolis the other day I took a few photos of my beading trays and my basic desk & bead storage set up. I mainly have seed beads and other tiny beads, so I can store a lot of beads in a small area...

Here is my desk in my new apartment:
I rarely actually work at the's mainly my storage area because I left my desk chair in Virginia during the move, so I need to get a comfy new desk chair. But because of this, the surface area on my desk tends to get taken over by my unorganized batches of beads...the ones in all the little baggies!

Here are some close up shots of my seed bead storage:

Larger stackable jars of round seed beads

Smaller stackable jars of Delicas & Triangle beads

Smaller stackable jars of round seed beads

Bugle Beads, Czech Glass & Crystal

Large tray on my desk with random beads, thread and labels

Now I also have beads and things stored in some of my desk drawers too, but this is the majority of my daily use stash...

And here are the different types of trays that I have put to use as my beading trays...I have several different varieties of trays here...I always pick them up whenever I find one that might work for beading! And I have more than one of each variety too...

The assortment of random beading trays

Jewelry Display Tray & Baking Sheet Pan

Assorted plastic trays:

Small plastic box used for my beading tools

I think my favorite beading tray so far is the Cookie Sheet/Baking Sheet Pan...I use it far more often than any of the others...but I do like to lay out projects in the various trays and stack them up on my desk for working on them later.

I have 4 of the little plastic boxes...I get these from FMG with the tiny screw together bead jars in them. I think they come with 5 stacks of 5 jars in each...they cost around $4 each with the discounted pricing. 

The stackable jars that come with these are very small, but they actually hold a surprising amount of jar will hold more than a gross of 3mm crystals. So I store a lot of my tiny beads in these...the ones that I don't buy in massive quantities!

And I always have this tool kit nearby when I am beading...I keep it stocked with a pair of scissors, pliers, tweezers, thread and thread heaven, a jump ring opener and a few tubes of needles!

But this little box makes a great traveling bead kit too. I have a few of them ready to go with bead mat, the little stacking jars with beads in them as well as thread and a tube of I can grab one of these whenever I need to take a project with me to a waiting room or whatnot.

And for once, I don't have a project ready to go on any of my bead trays! I am waiting on an order of those awesome Czech Pressed Glass Spike beads for a few new projects from Mikki Ferrugiaro. I love those spikes, but I have recently seen some major variation in the actual length and pointiness of them...I am hoping my new order will be nice and pointy!

Check out Bead Stalkers...they carry a great variety of these spikes and offer incredible customer service!

And for a final shot of the last project I completed...the Dark Shadows Cross designed by Mikki Ferrugiaro using these awesome spike beads...but I cannot get a good photo of this, so this one will have to do!

Happy Beading!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Beady Stash

I have recently joined several beading groups on Facebook: the Operation Tackle that Bead Stash FB group, the Beading Babes new FB group and I am a member of a Bead Looming group too...oh, and I am also following along with the Battle of the Beadsmith on their FB page.

The whole FB thing is kind of strange to me...I didn't grow up with computers and social media and all this crazy technology. And I don't really trust these kinds of sites with my personal info. I rarely post anything on my own FB wall, or anyone else's for that matter, but I do participate in these beading groups.

And I absolutely love these beading groups! The amount of bead porn being shared is mindbendingly inspirational! So many photos of beads and beadwork that I can get lost for hours, seriously, hours and hours! And the discussions with other seed beaders from all over the world about techniques, methods, patterns, ideas is just so exciting for a bead nerd like me!

The Operation Tackle that Bead Stash group is an extension of the OTTBS blog where they host a monthly stash busting challenge. I have only participated in one of those challenges so far, but I love the idea for this group. The addiction to beads just so happens to be a world wide affliction with beaders...we all  hoard outrageous amounts of beads, otherwise known as our bead stash.

My stash mainly consists of hundreds of colors of seed beads in sizes 8/0, 11/0, 13/0 and 15/0, including Miyuki Delicas, Round Miyuki and Tohos, Czech Charlottes and seed beads, tiny Triangle and Cube beads and Bugle beads. Of course I have quite a bit of Czech Fire Polish round and a variety of Czech Pressed Glass beads as well as a decent amount of Swarovski Crystal Bicones....and only a small amount of larger beads and Cabochons.

Today I was inspired to take some photos of my bead stash but I quickly realized that it's a big for now, here are some pics of my Cabochons...Rivolis, Gemstones and other random beads and components that don't have holes:

Swarovski Rivolis and stones

Non Swarovski Glass Crystals and Stones

Close up of Vintage German Glass-very dark yet vibrant colors

Gemstones, Random Cabochons and Components

Now this collection is small compared to some of the ladies in the OTTBS group, but considering that 90% of my stash is seed beads, this is a considerable amount of non-hole bead stash...and I got all of these on sale or for free from other beaders. But I still want more!

Most of the Swarovski colors and shapes that I have are pretty know, the ones that FMG carries. They really do have the best prices for Swarovski Crystal (and Delicas), and I get all my 3mm bicones from them, but they don't really have a very diverse selection of colors or shapes of their Crystal Stones.

I love the Opal colors and the Metallic colors, like Crystal Bronze Shade, Crystal Silver Night and Metallic Light Gold 2X...and I love the aftermarket finishes. I also prefer Montana Blue to Sapphire and Tanzanite to Amethyst...and I seem to be on a constant search for more stones in Crystal Red Magma, my favorite Swarovski color at the moment.

Crystal Red Magma

Montana Blue

But I really should use some of these before I buy even more! I really do have plans for some of them...and I have used many of them in the past year. But for some reason, beaders have this tendency to hoard beads rather than use them all up...and while that's kind of ridiculous, I do it too! It's as if we don't want to use the perfect bead until we find the perfect project for it!

So I think I will be spending a lot of time on beaded bezels and some bead embroidery projects in the near will give me an excuse to try some new bezel techniques and use up some of my stash before searching for even more! But that's one of the things I love about these beading groups on FB.

The OTTBS group hosts monthly challenges designed specifically to use up our stash and is now hosting a new monthly challenge: Bead, Book and Bounce, to work on projects in the beading books that we all have in our stash! So this really is a great chance to use up some of that stash!

The Beading Babes group was started by Karyn of Releases by Rufydoof and she hosts a monthly challenge consisting of several projects from Beadwork and Bead & Button can choose to do one or all of the projects, and then we do a blog hop on Reveal Day. These challenges really push us to try things that we may have overlooked the first time around. And of course this is always a great opportunity to use up our stash!

The Bead Looming group I am in is another wonderful group of ladies that I met online through our love of beads and the desire to learn more about bead looming. I have known most of them for about a year now and we share techniques and ideas and photos and's such an amazing group and we are constantly being inspired by each other to learn new things. Which is yet another opportunity to use up our bead stash!

I think I will work on photographing my full bead stash...and hopefully work on using up some of that stash this summer! If only I could stay away from all the bead porn on Facebook!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Local Bead Stores

Wow, I feel like I haven't posted here in ages! I have really been enjoying spending time with my husband again...and getting used to living together again and in a much smaller space! And I have been spending most of my free time checking out my new surroundings...walking around Ann Arbor during the day and beading in the evenings while my husband is at work.

Unfortunately, most of my current beading projects are for challenges that have reveal dates, so I can't post any photos yet. I am working on two projects for the Beading Babes Project #5, and I just ordered a kit from Amy at Amybeads for her "Summer Lovin" challenge...can't wait to get that in the mail!

But what good is a blog post about beads without beady photos? I will have to search my folders for some pics to add here!

The weather here is so nice that I can actually spend time outside during the day, which is completely foreign to me...I am just not a hot weather, sun loving girl!

But it's still spring here...and I mean it's a real spring, with days in the 60's to 70's and nights in the 40's, while I know it's already in the high 80's and 90's in Virginia...I love the weather here and I really look forward to a real winter!

The beginning of the last real snow we had in Virginia...I believe it was the winter of 2009/2010. Between Dec 18th and March 1st we got over 6 feet of was beautiful.

Last week while wandering around the city I found another bead store...this one is called Findings and it's about the same distance from my house as The Bead Gallery, but in the opposite direction.

Both bead stores have a diverse selection and both have things that the other does not...but neither one of them will be able to replace the seed bead selection from my LBS in Charlottesville, Studio Baboo. They have almost all the colors and they sell them in 28 gram tubes for (mostly) excellent prices!

The Bead Gallery is set up in an old 3 story Victorian house in Downtown Ann Arbor. The top level has a boutique store and the lower levels are the bead store and workshop the whole building is pretty cool with the bead store having lots of different rooms/areas for beads and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Seed Bead Room in The Bead Gallery. Photo from The Bead Gallery website.

They have an amazing selection of Czech and Chinese Glass and Crystal Beads, Vintage Glass and Lucite beads, and of course they have Swarovski Crystal in abundance: bicones, rounds, cubes, pendants, rivolis and various other stones and chatons...even some vintage selections.

They have a huge assortment of thread, silk, wire, cord, leather, ribbon and other stringing materials...lots of Nymo but no One G or KO thread! And they have a very diverse selection of tools and supplies, they even sell glass rods for lamp workers...but the only needles they stock are the multi packs by Beadsmith, no Pony, John James or Tulip needles!

In the seed bead room there is a decent assortment of Japanese seed beads in sizes 15/0 to 6/0, including Delicas...and they even have a good selection of Czech seed beads in various shapes and sizes.

But they don't list the manufacturers of their Japanese seed beads...and I really hate that! They also sell them in really small tubes, 5 to 10 grams for sizes 15/0 and 11/0, and 14 grams for size 8/0 and 6/0 .

And I am very disappointed to say that they only have about 100 colors...with very few metallic or matte metallic colors, which I consider to be my basic stock! They don't carry the full line of Delica colors either, but they probably have at least half of them.

However they do offer some excellent classes. While they have a small beading area in the back of the bead shop, they have an entire ground floor workshop space for lamp working, silversmithing and other classes requiring major tools and equipment. I definitely plan to take some classes there when I can afford it!

Findings is located in a strip mall, so the shop doesn't have quite as much character as The Bead Gallery but the lady running the shop was very friendly and helpful! And they have some awesome seed bead classes that go beyond the basics...Cynthia Rutledge comes to teach there once or twice a year as well as other well known seed beaders, so that's kind of cool.

Seed Beads at Findings. Photo from Findings website.

They have a smaller selection of Czech glass, but they do have a nice selection of gemstones as well as Swarovski Crystals and Pearls. And they have glass cases full of real Pearls and higher quality, more expensive gemstones as well as buttons, cabochons etc. And they have a great selection of Bead Embroidery supplies like ultra suede, bead backing, leather etc.

They have a much better selection of basic supplies and tools for seed beaders...they have One G and KO thread as well as Pony, John James and Tulip needles in all sizes and lengths. And they have the large vellux Bead Mats for $1 each, which is a great price. These are just a few examples of the things that I like to find in a bead store!

They also have a better selection of Japanese Seed Beads as well as Metal Seed Beads, but I didn't see any Czech Seed Beads. However, they do list the manufacturer on each tube of seed beads which is a very important point in my opinion.

The seed bead tubes range from about 10 grams to 30 grams depending on the color...except the really precious metal and metallic colors come in 5 gram baggies and were on the expensive side.

Their Delicas come in 15 gram tubes...they are kind of pricey, but they do carry the full line which is very convenient. They also have a good selection of Cubes, Triangles, Tilas, Long Magatamas etc...

Both stores carry a good selection of metal findings, glass beads, gemstones, crystals, and other jewelry making supplies and they both have a great selection of books and magazines including store copies that you sit and read before you I am sure I will visit them both regularly.

While I try to support local businesses as much as possible, I know that I will still have to purchase many of my seed beads, crystals, needles, thread and other supplies from my favorite online suppliers.

I know how it is for Brick and Mortar stores...I used to own a retail business, and you just can't please all the people, all the time. But I will definitely do my part to support the local economy as much as possible...especially once I start working again!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another Package Arrives!

Receiving packages of beads in the mail is one of my favorite things, and today I got a package from Amy at Amybeads! This is from a blog giveaway that she hosted a few weeks ago...and I almost forgot about it because we agreed that it would be better to just wait until I moved and send them to me at my new address. So it was an awesome surprise to find this package in the mail today:

Inside was a beautful assortment of beads: a really cool enameled component that I believe is a rose, but it also looks a little bit like an apple too...either way it's really cool and I can't wait to work with it!

There is also a beautiful lampwork glass bead, some tiny red bicone crystals and some 8mm Dark Brown Glass Pearls...these are the perfect shade to go with some of my 3mm Pearls for the Beading Babes Project 5 challenge. And these Pearls might help to get me out of my color rut that I seem to be in lately.

I have enough Dark Brown 3mm Pearls in my stash for the Four Leaf Clover Cuff by the amazingly talented Helena Tang-Lim of Manek Manek Beads but I didn't have any 8mm Pearls that would go with them for the clasp...and now I do!

I really need to get my real camera back in action...iPhone photos are great for looking at on your iPhone, but the photo quality is horrible when you try to do anything else with them. I tried to get a good close up shot of the lampwork glass bead but it just didn't work!

Anyway, it is a beautiful bead...the base is black with some gold flecks and it has deep red, orange and white flowers on it...I don't have any lampwork beads so this is exciting for me!

Today I plan to walk up to the grocery store, which is only a few blocks away, and then I'll probably make some dinner and get down to some serious beading!

When I moved up here, my husband suggested that I take a month or two to get myself settled and acquainted with the city before I start looking for work. So, while money is still very tight, we will be alright as long as we are careful about our spending...I guess I need to stay away from The Bead Gallery for a little while...haha!

But I really do need this time off. I lived and worked in the same city for almost 30 years!

And while I am very excited to be in a new place with so many new opportunities, I realize that moving this far away from everything and everyone that I know can definitely be stressful. Especially since my line of work will most likely find me working in Detroit, which is a daunting prospect. Maybe I should just try to get a job in a bead store...

So I am very thankful for my beads and for all the wonderful people I have met through beading! It definitely helps me through the rough times!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nicole's Bead Backing

I have spent the past week trying to get my bearings in my new city. I go on walks everyday to familiarize myself with my new neighborhood and I am learning the bus husband managed to get both of us a free yearly bus pass through his job which is so helpful since I sold my car before moving here. And the public transportation here is amazing compared to our old town!

Of course my first priority was finding I went to check out my new LBS, The Bead Gallery, and it's pretty awesome! I spent about an hour browsing and buying, and I still didn't see everything they have in there!

I also didn't take any pictures of the shop, but next time I stop by (which will probably be very soon) I will ask if I can take some photos. Everyone working there was very friendly, which is not always the I definitely look forward to spending some time there!

I also received my first piece of mail since moving here, and while it wasn't beads, it was bead related! I was one of the winners of Nicole Campanella's Birthday Giveaway on her blog, Beadwright, and yesterday I found a sample pack of Nicole's Bead Backing in my mailbox...and I love that stuff for bead embroidery! It is also available in her Etsy store.

The sample pack contains 16 pieces, each piece being about 3"x 4" and there is one of each color, including the two newest colors:

I love this stuff for bead comes in so many colors and in several different sized sheets: 3"x 4", 6"x 9" and 9"x 12". It is much less expensive than some of the name brand products out there, and in my opinion, it just works better. It's nice and stiff, but your needle stitches through it very easily, it does not fray when cut, it doesn't get all fuzzy and you don't have to dye it or color it with markers!

I also finished up a piece I have been working on for a friend's birthday, which was last month! She saw this bracelet on the cover of one of my old issues of Beadwork Magazine and fell in love with I made it for her. However my hectic schedule got in the way and I am now very late with this gift, but I am sure she will still love it!

The pattern is 'Star Fruit Bracelet' by Heather Kahn from the August/September 2010 issue of Beadwork:

I took the photo with my cell phone so it's not that great but you get the idea...she loves purple so I used several shades of purple Swarovski Crystal bicones: Purple Velvet, Tanzanite, Provence Lavender, Lilac and Violet...lots of purple!

I have a lot of projects that I want to start working on as well as a new Beading Babes challenge, and now that I am finally settled in, it's finally time to get back to beading!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beading Babes Project 4 Reveal

This past week was intensely stressful for me but I have finally arrived in Michigan. My husband has been here for 4 months for work and to find housing for us, while I stayed in Virginia to finish my work and train my replacement.

Family and friends helped me pack up the house and load the truck, then my daughter and I made the 650 mile drive from Charlottesville to Ann Arbor.

I wanted to be on the road by 10am and of course we didn't actually leave Virginia until 3pm...but we finally arrived 12 hours later, with a little scenic detour through the very steep and curvy mountain roads of Pennsylvania. Once we arrived, we grabbed some pillows and blankets from the truck and passed out around 4:00 this morning.

We woke up around noon today and it took us about 8 hours to unload the truck and begin setting up our new home. It's going to take me a week or two to really get everything in order but at least I have the important things set up, like my beads, my bedroom and my Internet connection!

Now onto the latest Beading Babes project 4 reveal. I have my Trellis Necklace by Nancy Dale completed and photographed and I have one pair of the Russian Leaf earrings, and half of a second pair of earrings finished...however I do not have them photographed yet!

I didn't have time to work on the bracelet because of my work schedule and all the stress that comes with moving across the country!

I will edit this post later to include photos of the earrings, but for now I want to get photos of the Trellis Necklace up in time for the reveal...

I really enjoyed this project by Nancy Dale and I think it is extremely cool that designers are offering up their projects for the Beading Babes challenges! I love the end result, but I also really enjoyed the beading process. It is a time consuming project but it has enough variation to keep things interesting.

I made 6 rope segments that are 30 RAW units long as per the instructions. Then I made one segment that is 90 RAW units long and one that is 60 RAW units long. I used increments of 30 RAW units, as there are certain design factors and repeats that work within those parameters...and everything came together perfectly! 

I haven't measured the length but it is long enough to put on over your head and not require a clasp. I used about 30 grams of Dark Bronze size 11/0s for the base, and about 25 grams of Gold lined Green size 15/0s for the netting, plus the crystals and embellishment beads. I love the colors together and I really like the flexibility of the rope. I think I will give this one to my mom for Mother's Day this year!

I look forward to seeing everyone else's project reveal and hope to get photo's of my earrings up later tonight but it probably won't happen until tomorrow!

I am so happy to finally see this week come to a close but it is kind of bittersweet. I am excited to be in my new home and living with my husband again but I am definitely going to miss my daughter and the rest of my family. I am thrilled that she was able to come with me to see my new home and be there with me for the long drive...she has never been to Michigan before and she has to fly home tomorrow, but hopefully she will be able to return for a real visit later this year!