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!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Fling Blog Hop

So I am definitely a few days late with my reveal for Amy's Spring Fling Blog Hop Challenge...and I feel terrible about it! With my insane schedule this month I have really had to push myself to meet some deadlines!

But I had so much fun working with this awesome kit and I look forward to doing this again! The colors were definitely a challenge for me as I have never worked with Orange in any part of my life...I don't own anything orange (except for a few beads now) and that's why I chose the orange kit!

Photo courtesy of Amy at Amybeads

I just love the little bird focal bead in this kit and I wanted to frame that with some of the orange Delica I just started with a RAW bezel and then worked a few rounds of Peyote to tighten the bezel around the focal...then I just started adding some embellishments.

First I added a round of the 3mm Fire Polish beads to the RAW base, and then I worked a few rounds of Herringbone off of that round...eventually it started taking shape as a ruffled flowery border around the focal bead. So I kept going with the Herringbone shaping it into a 5 petal 'flower' embellished with the Peanut beads and then I just worked a simple beaded chain off of the focal.

I think I would like to change the chain on this at some point, but being so far behind schedule I needed it to be simple so I could have something completed this weekend!

I met Amy and the other ladies who participated in this blog hop challenge through the Beading Babes group and I have had so much fun beading with all these wonderful ladies from all over the world! I really do look forward to future beading challenges with them!

And coming soon...our Beading Babes Project 4 Reveal...check us out on our new Facebook page that Karyn worked so hard to put together for us!

Here are links to the other participants in the Spring Fling Blog Hop:

Kristen of My Bead Journey
MaryAnne of Zingala's Workshop
Amy of Amybeads

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beading Thread

A fairly common term for beading or 'stitching' with seed beads is "Bead Weaving"...and this terminology tends to be narrowed down again to 'Loom Weaving' or 'Off Loom Bead Weaving'. Whether any of this terminology is technically accurate, it is commonly used in the beading world...and I do like to think of my beadwork as weaving a fabric of seed beads.

Now the beads themselves might play the starring role in this fabric woven of beads, but it's the thread that ultimately holds everything together...and will hopefully hold it all together for a very long time!

Creating anything with seed beads is a very time consuming can be very relaxing to spend hours upon hours beading...and it gives my mind the chance to wander and think and explore...

And lately I have spent a lot of that time thinking about thread. The only actual components in my work are my beads and my thread...and of course the occasional metal finding.

So considering the amount of time that goes into creating something with seed beads, it is very important to me to always use high quality materials...and that means beads, thread, metal findings and any other tools or components that I use!

I have experimented with and tried out many different beading threads...Nymo on the little bobbins, Superlon, Nymo on the spool/cone, Silamide, Fireline, Power Pro, Sono, KO, One G and Wildfire. Of course over time I have found some that I love and some that I hate...

There are many qualities about beading thread that make each one useful for different applications. I like to know that my thread is strong, that it will hold up for a long time, especially in beaded jewelry that might be worn daily. I like thread that adds a fabric like texture or a soft drape to my beadwork, and in some cases I like a thread that will create a sturdy, structural 'frame' for my beadwork.

And I like working with thread that is friendly to work with! There is nothing worse than thread that frays, shreds, tangles, breaks or otherwise causes serious problems while you're in the middle of a beading project...these problems can add hours to your time because you have to rip out your work, add new thread and do it all over again.

Of the threads that I listed above, there are 2 main varieties: Nylon Thread and Gel Spun Polyethylene (GSP) Thread....they are then typed into more specific categories such as Parallel Filament Nylon, Plied Nylon, Plied GSP and Parallel Filament GSP. Now there are many other varieties of beading thread out there, these are just the ones I have tried!

So I have compiled some basic information about these threads...and then I will describe what I like and dislike about all of them.

Nylon Threads

Nymo is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread that was originally created as an upholstery thread and I have heard that it was also used in the Shoe Making industry. It comes in a huge variety of colors and is relatively inexpensive. Nymo (like most beading thread) is sized by thickness...F being thickest, then D, B, A, O, OO and OOO being the thinnest. But it also comes in two very different versions:

Nymo Bobbins: this thread is the lower quality of the two. It is very stretchy, has a flat profile, it is not pre waxed or conditioned, it frays, breaks and tangles very easily. Nymo Bobbins have 43-140yds depending on the thread size and cost between $1-$2.

Nymo Spools/Cones: this thread is pre waxed/conditioned, it has a round profile so it is slightly thicker than the same size on the bobbin. It is quite stretchy and I find that it still frays, but not nearly as badly as Nymo on the bobbin. Nymo Spools have 250-350yds and cost between $3-$4 each. Nymo cones come in 3oz and 6oz sizes and cost anywhere from $10 to $30.

Superlon Beading Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread. It has almost no stretch to it, has a flat profile, feels like it is pre conditioned/waxed and it comes in a large variety of colors. I do like it better than Nymo bobbins but it does fray and can be pierced easily. It comes in size D, being thicker and size AA, being thinner. Superlon comes in 78yd bobbins and costs around $2.

Sono: this is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread created in Japan specifically for beading. It is similar in size to Nymo B, it is pre conditioned with a silky texture, it resists fraying but it is very stretchy. Sono comes in 5 colors on 100meter spools. Prices tend to vary drastically for this thread.
It can be found for as low as $4 and as high as $14 per spool.

KO Beading Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament thread. It was created in Japan specifically for bead weaving. It is pre conditioned/waxed, has a silky texture, it is very strong and hard to pierce. It is fray resistant and it has very little stretch but just enough to maintain good tension and drape. It comes in 18 colors on 50meter mini spools and I find it to be similar in size to Nymo D. It costs between $3-$5 per spool.

One G Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament thread created in Japan by the Toho Bead Company specifically for bead weaving. It is preconditioned/waxed and hard to pierce with a needle. While it is silky, I find it has a slightly coarse texture to it as well as having a little stretch to it, both of which are excellent for maintaining tension as well as providing a nice fabric like feel and drape. This is a very strong, fray resistant thread. It is similar in size to Nymo B, it comes in 12 colors on 50yd bobbins and costs between $2.25-$3.50.

Silamide: this is a plied nylon thread that originated in the upholstery industry. It has a round profile and very little stretch...some varieties have actually had all stretch removed during manufacturing. It is a strong thread but I find it harder to work with due to the plied nature. It comes in a wide variety of colors and most often it is found on 40yd cards, but it can still be found in the larger spools from 350yds up to 900yds. Prices tend to vary drastically according to the supplier but cards usually range from $1 $2 and spools range from $5-$10.

Fishing Lines/GSP Threads

Fireline: this is a parallel filament GSP fishing line that has also been re branded by Bead Smith and sold as a beading thread. (Fireline Beading Thread is EXACTLY the same as the Fireline Fishing Line they simply have different labels)

GSP lines are made using multiple Polyethylene fibers that are spun and then bonded to create a very strong line with a very small diameter compared to Mono filament fishing lines.

Fireline does not stretch, it is abrasion resistant, and it has a textured but slippery surface, which can sometimes create tension problems. If you find that Fireline is too slippery this can be helped with the use of Micro crystalline wax or Bees Wax.

Fireline comes in about 4 colors that are useful in the fishing world, (Crystal, Smoke, Flame Green etc) and a variety of spool sizes. The sizing of Fireline is a little different than regular beading threads since it is a fishing line.

The sizes will be listed with three different numbers:
#1: by test pound strength (8lb etc)
#2: by the diameter as compared to a mono filament fishing line (3lb Test Diameter etc)
#3: the diameter in millimeters (0.18 etc)

So for example: 8lb test strength with 3lb test diameter means that it has the same diameter as a 3lb test mono filament fishing line while still being more than twice as strong and is 0.18mm thick.

Prices range from $5-$15 for 50yd spools up to $30 for 300yd spools, but it is always cheaper from a sporting goods store than a bead store.

Power Pro: this is a plied GSP fishing line. Polyethylene fibers are spun to create several threads which are braided or plied and then fused/bonded together. This is similar to Fireline but you will notice the separate plies when you cut the thread...this makes it harder to thread than Fireline but might make it stronger or more abrasion resistant. Colors, sizes and prices are similar to Fireline.

Wildfire and Dandyline: these are Beadalon's versions of Fireline and Power Pro respectively. They are thermally bonded threads made with 'Spectra'(TM), which I assume is similar to, or the same thing as, GSP, which is Trademarked 'Dyneema'.

Dandyline is a Braided and Fused thread and the Wildfire has a smooth, thermally bonded coating. Both threads are waterproof and will not stretch.

I have not tried Dandyline but I have tried the Wildfire and honestly I didn't love it. The coating on this thread was easily pierced by my needle...something that Beadalon says is impossible! The outer coating started to strip away from the inner core which then began to fray, causing some serious problems as it happened in the middle of a project. The inner core of the black thread is white, and there's no hiding that white fraying thread in the middle of black or dark colored beads!

I can see how Wildfire could be useful as a warp thread or even a weft thread for would definitely create a different feel in the finished beadwork. And looming is much gentler on your thread than off loom stitches!

Alright...that was a lot of information! Now, onto what I like and don't like about these threads.

One G is my most favorite thread followed very closely by KO Thread. One G is a little thinner than KO, and they come in different they both have their uses in my work.

My most used color is One G's Sand Ash. This darker, neutral shade blends into the background of almost everything....especially all the Bronze colors that I love so much. I also really like the Light Grey by works great with Metallic Silver beads.

I always have a stash of black, brown, and grey threads and while I tend to keep some white thread (mainly Fireline) I rarely ever use it. Dark colors recede into the background while lighter colors are more prominent, so unless the thread is supposed to be part of the visual element of a particular piece, I find it's always better to use a darker or more neutral color than white.

Both One G and KO threads offer just enough stretch to maintain excellent tension while creating that soft, silky, fabric feel. I have found that all beadwork will 'settle' a little, once it's given the chance to 'relax', but this is completely different from thread that will continue to stretch out over time. One G and KO Threads will not stretch out over time like I have seen with Nymo.

They are also very strong threads and can be used to create structural beadwork as well as soft fringe. I have even used One G with crystals, obviously being careful, but I have yet to experience any thread breakage from the crystals.

Now they are both Nylon threads, which has it's inherent weaknesses...and even though they are both pre conditoned/pre waxed, these coatings will eventually break down as you pull the thread through the beads a million times. I have noticed that if I continue using these threads once I have worn down the coating, they will quickly fray or break. But it takes a lot of abuse to get to that point!

So, I always work with a comfortable length of thread (about 2 yards) and I start a new thread at the very first sign of thread damage. Working with manageable lengths of thread really does help to keep the strength and integrity of the thread intact, which ultimately means longer lasting beadwork.

So I have long since destashed every Nymo bobbin that was still hiding out in my thread box...I couldn't stitch one square inch of Peyote with Nymo before it would fray, tangle, break and basically just drive me crazy! And I tried it with beeswax, microcrystalline wax, thread heaven, stretching it, heat setting the wax...I tried everything and it just isn't worth it to me.

I do have several spools of Nymo D and B that I have kept around. I don't use it very often but it is much better than the Nymo thread that comes on the bobbins so I can't really justify throwing it out! I am sure I will use it for something...someday.

I also like Fireline....and I try to get it on sale at Cabela's. I don't use it nearly as often as I used to...I use One G and KO for almost everything these days. But Fireline still has it's uses for me, and I still have a lot of Fireline!

I really like to use Fireline on my loom. The fact that it does not stretch at all makes it perfect for warp threads...and the fact that it is almost impossible to pierce with a needle makes it perfect for pulling your warps.

Using Fireline for the warps creates a fluid feel to the loomed is soft and silky, but a little more firm and less floppy than using beading thread for the warps. And pulling those warp threads just makes everything so much more secure without the hassle of re weaving the warp threads!

And I still like to use Fireline for certain structural pieces or beadwork that requires really tight tension, especially if I am using a lot of Crystals or other potentially sharp edged beads. As much as I love One G, I still find situations where Fireline is a better choice.

So my thread box is full of One G, KO and Fireline...with a few spools of Nymo and one lonely little bobbin of Superlon. For now, these are my favorite threads...but some of my experiments with thread will be ongoing. I like to see what happens over the course of a year, or ten years.

It will be interesting to see how some of these newer threads hold up over the course of time. They have definitely proven to be much nicer to work with, and they have qualities that far surpass some of the old "tried and true" beading threads...and that alone would seem to suggest that they will hold up over the course of time. But of course only time will tell...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pineapple Lace

I have been so busy beading lately that I lost track of my Diary and haven't even been visiting my favorite beading forums or my beading groups on Facebook. I am working on several pieces for the Beading Babes Challenge for this month as well as a few Birthday and Mother's Day gifts, a collar for myself, and a loomwork project for one of my FB groups!

As if that wasn't enough to keep me busy around the clock, I made a spur of the moment decision to purchase a challenge kit from Amy over at Amy Beads, who I met through the Beading Babes group. I chose to buy this kit in orange because I liked the focal bead, I like Amy, and the colors in the kit are so far outside my comfort zone that it really inspired me to challenge myself!

Check out Amy's blog, she is participating in the A to Z Blog Hop...and writing a blog post every day of April (except Sundays), and her posts are all about Beading! She will be writing about the reveal of our challenge kit projects as a blog post on day R, for Reveal.

During all this beading madness, I ended up ripping out over 12 hours of work on a project and started over! The particular piece is the Pineapple Lace pattern by Mikki Ferrugiaro. The design and the pattern itself is awesome, as always.

Her directions are flawless and I am very familiar with her tutorials and her style so while I usually bead up a small sample whenever I am working on something new, I didn't do that this I take all the blame for having to rip out so much work!

The way this project is laid out, you stitch the center of each component in one long strip and then you work out from there. So your length and number of 'Pineapples' is predetermined at the very beginning of the project....and your rows go back and forth across the length.

And of course I decided to make myself a collar rather than just test it out with a small cuff. And I miscalculated my length and added entirely too many "Pineapples", if that makes any sense.

Due to this construction process, it really makes no sense to try and shorten the piece once you are too far into the work...and I was beyond the point of no return! So I just ripped it all out and started over. But I love the end result and it was worth all that time I invested in it!

I am really loving beaded lace, and I think this would make beautiful bracelets, chokers, doilies, embellishments on fabric really is beautiful and it curves around your neck or wrist perfectly!

One of the projects in this month's Beading Babes challenge is the Trellis Necklace by Nancy Dale...and it is a really cool design for a beaded rope. I have completed about 20 inches of it so far and I really like how it's turning out.

I would love to share more photos, but I really shouldn't post any until the reveal at the end of the month...besides, I am also having a terrible time getting good photos of it...the colors just don't want to cooperate with my camera!

While working on this project, I decided it might be cool to add some beaded beads between the rope I have been playing around with Gwen Fisher's pattern for her Cube Cluster Beaded Bead in the current issue of Beadwork Magazine.

These are larger than I thought I would be comfortable with for this rope, but now that I have made one, I really like it...and I plan to experiment with different Pearl sizes and try to make some smaller beads. And if you simply follow the diagrams, rather than all the text, the pattern is easy to follow and works up very quickly!

During all these long hours of beading, I have been contemplating Thread and it's somewhat invisible yet starring role in Beadwork...while it may not be seen, it really is a major component. So my upcoming post about Thread is becoming more in depth than I originally anticipated...more to come soon!

Happy Beading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Needles - The seed beaders tool

As a seed beader, Needles and Thread are the foundation of my work. I use the needles to weave the thread through the beads to form an intricate fabric of glass and thread. So for me, my needles and thread are my main tools for my beadwork, and I like to use the best quality tools and I like to find them for a good price.

When I first started beading, I chose a variety of needles to try out...John James, Lance, Beadsmith, Pony and even some Big Eye needles all in various sizes and lengths.

After working with all of them, my favorites are Pony Beading Needles in size 12. They come in a pack of 25 for less than $2...which is by far the best value out of those I sampled.

I found that the Pony needles are easier to thread than the others, they bend at about the same rate as the others, and I have never broken one whereas the Lance needles broke on me several times. So they work slightly better than John James, but for less than half the price and they are much better than Lance which are about the same price.

I stock up on them whenever I find a good sale, so I have quite a stash of size 12 Pony needles as well as a few packs of size 10, 11, 13 and 15 plus some Sharps in size 12.

I have found that size 12 needles are ideal for working with size 11/0 and 15/0 seed beads, which is what I use for almost the occasional size 8/0.

However, as with all the size 12 needles that I tried, because they are thin enough to fit through a size 15/0 seed bead numerous times, they do get bent out of shape with light use. So I tend to use several needles to finish one project...and if it's a big project, this could easily be close to 10 needles!

I always like to start a new project with a perfectly new, straight needle. But I do keep an empty seed bead tube full of used and bent needles, but I have no idea how many I have gone through since I began beading! And because of this, I have no idea whether this great price is really cost effective or not.

Below is a photo of a few tubes of needles...then two size 12 Pony needles after using them for one project...then two size 11 Tulip needles after using them for many projects over the last few months.

I had been hearing so much hype about the Japanese Tulip Beading Needles and I wanted to try them out, but at nearly $5 for 4 needles I just couldn't bring myself to buy them...even knowing how many Pony needles I have used up and tossed out!

Then a few months ago I won a gift certificate to the Hole Bead Shoppe, a wonderful Bead Store (both Brick & Mortar and Online) that specializes in Lucite beads, but they also stock quite a variety of Seed Beads, Glass, Swarovski Crystal and Basic Beading Supplies. So I decided to try out a package of the Tulip Beading Needles in size 11 since you can't really find a better price than free!

Of course I was very skeptical at could anyone create a needle that would hold it's shape no matter how many times I used it? And I remained skeptical even after using the very same needle for an entire month of serious beading!

I don't know what I was waiting for before I could admit that this was an excellent tool for my needle, for an entire month of beading every day! And that needle is still straight!

I have finally admitted that I love the Tulip Beading Needles...they have some great qualities:

-they really are flexible and strong enough to get into tight spots
-they bend and curve where most needles would just break
-they go right back to being straight, where most needles stay bent
-it's like using a new needle throughout an entire project
-they are very easy to thread
-the point is rounded to avoid splitting the thread as you stitch
-the length is perfect, right around 2 inches
-they are comfortable to hold and lessen hand fatigue while beading

A few not so great qualities:

-the gold plating wears off...not really a big deal in my opinion
-the metal plating (nickel?) starts to feel a little rough after heavy usage
-they don't come in size 12

This last point is really the only major complaint that I have...they need to make these needles in size 12. They do offer them in a size 13, but they cost $14 for 2 needles! While I understand why they cost that much (they have to hand drill and gold plate the eyes of every single size 13 needle rather than have the automated machine do it), I just can't do it...yet!

Besides, in my opinion, the size 11 is a just little too thick and the size 13 is a little too thin...I want a size 12 Tulip beading needle, the perfect size for my beadwork! So while I have since purchased another package of the size 11 Tulip needles (I love to have a back up supply of everything!), I look forward to the day that they realize there is a serious demand for a size 12 Tulip needle...that doesn't cost a fortune!

Here are a few places that carry the Tulip Beading Needles:

Fusion Beads

Kandra's Beads

The Hole Bead Shoppe

Bello Modo

Whim Beads

Beyond Beadery

That's all for now...later I plan to discuss my favorite and least favorite Threads!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pretty Lacy Beadwork

I have spent the week working on a few more pieces that were inspired by the OTTBS March Color Challenge...this is really quite fun and I have finally been using up so many beads that I have in abundance! And that really is the goal of Tackling that Bead Stash isn't it?!

Here is a lacy bracelet called Frankfurter. Design by Sabine Lippert and Beaded by me. Metallic Gunmetal & Matte Metallic Gunmetal seed beads with Swarovski Cyclamen Opal Bicones and Czech Gunmetal Druks for the beaded loop clasp.

And here is another lacy bracelet that I started last week and finished in time for this week's reveal. This one is called Edwardian Splendor. Design by Cynthia Newcomer Daniel and Beaded by me. Metallic Antique Silver and Matte Metallic Pewter seed beads with Purple Luster Czech Fire Polish beads.

The second photo shows this one with the clasp. I used a design by Mikki Ferrugiaro for a Beaded Medallion with a little metal snap sewn on the bottom...I am still working on the other half of this snap clasp!

I also received my eBay package of craft mirrors so I finally finished the Urchin Wings Peacock Pendant. The bezel around the mirror was the easy part! Attaching this to the back side of the Urchin Wings Pendant was a little tricky, but definitely not impossible!

Here is a photo of the mirror side...taken so you can see the reflection of my other hand on the camera:

For anyone else working on this, I have one little bit of advice that worked wonders for me. When you get to the point where you can no longer bend the "Wings" away from the Mirror and easily maneuver in those spaces, it becomes almost impossible to get your needle into the right beads in the Mirror you might be tempted to just go through a different bead in the bezel.

I tried this and it just didn't sit you could almost see the thread (well, I could see the thread) and it didn't feel as secure. So, I un-threaded my needle, then with the eye end of a short Sharp needle, I went backwards through that bead (the one in the RAW part of the bezel) and then threaded the needle again and pulled the thread through! Works like a charm!

I do this often...basically any time where I am working with a really short thread, or in any area where needle movement is know, those spaces where you can't even work with an old, bent-to-an S shaped needle! And using the shorter, Sharp needle is especially helpful in tight spots because they tend to be more rigid than my usual size 12 Pony beading needles!

I finally used up my latest gift certificate from Mikki Ferrugiaro and I think I used it well! I purchased 4 new Tutorials including her latest, Pineapple Lace and I got a set of the Rubberized Beads to use with different Beaded Bezel techniques.

All of the Tutorials are extremely versatile, as always! I am currently using one of the Medallions from the Bracelet Tutorial as a clasp, as seen above.

And the Pineapple's absolutely gorgeous! I am working on a Choker in Bronze...but I am not at a point where I am taking photos those will come later!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Urchin Wings & a Work in Progress

I have finished attaching all the components for my Urchin Wings Peacock Pendant except for the mirror! I ordered a pack of 2 inch craft mirrors on eBay so when that arrives all I have to do is bead a bezel around one and attach it to the back of this pendant!

Of course the colors I used are very hard to photograph...or maybe I just don't have the greatest photography skills yet! I really only studied Black and White Photography in High School, which was over 20 years ago.

I did build myself a little Light Box for photographing my beadwork but the only light I have that I can use for this is my Ott light...or natural daylight, which I always seem to miss! One of these days I think I will try to find some better lights for my Photo Box!

Here is my almost complete Urchin Wings Peacock Pendant. Designed by Mikki Ferrugiaro, Beaded by me.

The photos are almost identical but they each have different lighting tones...just trying to get the colors to come through while playing around with my lighting and photography!

I am also working on a few other little pieces in the Purple & Grey color theme for the March Color Challenge at Operation Tackle That Bead Stash.

One piece I am working on today is a dainty little bracelet designed by Cynthia Newcomer Daniel called Edwardian Splendor. I am also using softer tones of both colors: Metallic Antique Silver seed beads, Matte Metallic Pewter seed beads and Purple Luster 3mm Fire Polish beads. Here is a WIP photo:

That's all for now...I am trying to get this piece done so I can post my photos for the challenge in time for the Monday blog post...and they are in the UK so Monday morning comes a little earlier over there!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Purple & Grey

This week I have been working on an Urchin Wings Peacock Mirror Compact by Mikki Ferrugiaro. I am using Dark Purple, Amethyst and Gunmetal as my color palette in hopes of entering this piece in the Operation Tackle that Bead Stash March Challenge.

The March Challenge colors are Purple and Grey, which is a longtime favorite of mine but one that I have not used in my beading until now! And of course I have 3 sizes of seed beads plus Triangles and Cubes in both of these colors so this project is very appropriate for Operation Tackle that Bead Stash!

I am using round seed beads in Toho #90 Metallic Dark Purple, Toho #611 Matte Metallic Gunmetal, Miyuki #451 Metallic Gunmetal, Miyuki size 11/0 Delicas in #306 Matte Metallic Gunmetal, 3mm Gunmetal Fire Polish rounds, 3.4mm Gunmetal Fringe beads and Amethyst Rivolis.

It's a very dark and slightly subtle color palette but it works great together. And I really love that Toho's a beautiful dark metallic purple (that does not photograph well at all)

So far I stitched all of the components and have just started attaching the wings to the center Rivoli. It's going very smoothly but I am sure there will be some tricky needle maneuvers when I have to attach that last wing...

Here is a photo of my WIP (photo was taken with my iPhone for quick results, but with quick results, you often sacrifice photo quality...)

I am hoping to finish this piece today as I have several other projects in progress on my bead trays that I look forward to working on and of course many more that I can't wait to start...It seems that the more projects I have in progress, the more I am inspired to start even more projects!

And that always leads to more bead shopping...and I am really trying to use beads from my stash rather than buy more at this point. Being unemployed and in the process of moving 650 miles away is not really a great time to be bead shopping! Luckily I have quite a stash to work from but the temptation to buy beads is always there...

So even though I am down on my luck with fiances, I have been experiencing some luck in winning blog hops lately. It all started when I won a $25 Gift Certificate from The Hole Bead Shoppe's Facebook & Blog hop contest...then I won a Dream Vessel Ring tutorial from Marcia DeCoster's 'Share the Love' blog hop, then a $25 GC followed by a $50 Gift Certificate from Mikki Ferrugiaro's The Beaded Carpet blog giveaway!

So while I am unemployed, at least I can keep myself busy (and distracted from depression) with all the awesome tutorials I have been able to purchase with these winnings! I am looking forward to Mikki's release of her newest Pineapple Lace tutorial...I really love the idea of Beaded Lace and her designs are truly inspired!

And maybe my luck will hold and I could win the awesome stash of Seed Beads being offered by RB Beads in the UK as the prize for the OTTBS March Challenge! Crossing my fingers and toes for this one!

And becaue these earrings fit into the Purple and Grey color palette, here is a pair of earrings (ok, just one of the earrings) that I made for an earring swap on Beading Daily. The pattern is "Deco Lotus Earrings" by Gwen Fisher from Beadwork Magazine issue Oct/Nov 2009.

I used Antique Silver seed beads, Crystal Silver Night Bicones and Amethyst CZ Teardrops. I am really loving the Antique Silver color lately...both Miyuki (#464A) & Toho (#711) have this color and it really does look like tarnished Sterling Silver. They are not metal beads though...regular glass seed beads with a metallic nickel silver finish.

I think I just might continue playing with this palette...I have several other variations of the Purple & Grey palette that woud be excellent together...and the more pieces I make, the more chances I have to win that awesome prize, right? Oooh, I just need more beads...Haha!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beading Babes Project #3 Reveal

Well, I have been looking forward to this reveal for awhile now...I am excited to see everyone's projects, especially all the wonderful color ways everyone has chosen! It has certainly been a great experience working with so many beaders from across the globe...helping each other through some obstacles and deciphering the instructions and finding all the little things that may not have been addressed in the magazine tutorials.

I worked on both projects this month, but in the end, I really didn't like the Runway of Pearls so I took it apart to salvage my embellishment beads. I still have the RAW base of matte black size 11/0 triangle beads...maybe I will do something else with that in the future, but for now it sits in a plastic baggie in my box of samples!

But here are a few photos of my Ravishing Rosettes necklace. This is a design by Smadar Grossman beaded by me. I used 8mm Black Czech Druks, size 8/0 & 11/0 seed beads in Matte Black and Gunmetal, and Black 3mm Czech Fire Polish rounds.

Black is a hard color to photograph and my photos are either too bright or too dark, but the Matte Black beads in there help to show some of the variation in color tones so at least you can see it! I really love this necklace, much more than I thought I would...I may even do a few more in other color ways!

I look forward to the full Beading Babes reveal on the Releases by Rufydoof blog sometime later today....she is in Australia so I have no idea what time it is there or even what day it could already be Monday for all I know! And I hope I am doing this correctly Karyn!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beaded Lace & Fringe

I have been experimenting with some monochromatic loomwork lately...and to add some visual interest to the single color scheme, I have been playing around with various edgings and fringes.

The first photo is one I have shared before, but it is the one that started this experiment...however I only have two to share at the moment! I have others in progress though...

This one is loomed with Toho's 1.5mm cube beads. I have added some top stitching using size 11/0's, size 15/0's and Swarovski Bicones in Crystal Silver Night. This cuff has a simple 3 bead Picot for the top edge and a 3 bead Picot with netting for the bottom edge as well as fringe in size 15/0's with Crystals.

This second cuff is done in Miyuki Duracoat Silver Delicas, 11/0's and 15/0s, Swarovski Bicones in Crystal Silver Night and a few Toho 1.5mm cubes. The edging is done using Mikki Ferrugiaro's new Beaded Lace from her Lace Cufflette tutorial...I had to adapt it a little in order to work along the flat edge of the loomed cuff, but this Beaded Lace is extremely versatile!

I apologize for that little blurry spot in all my photos...I have been thinking it was caused by the reflection from the beads, but it is actually a little scratch on my lens...oops! So I am trying to get that fixed so my photos won't be blurry!

I am off to work on some of the projects I currently have in progress! And to get some good photos for the Beading Babes February project reveal this Sunday!

Happy Beading!