Jan 312006

Made up 5 Beaded Rings tonight…fun way to use orphan beads and I think they are going to sell well at the boutique. A jewel-toned band pairs with a red Swarovski crystal, silver-plated rounds go great with a black and white agate, and white seed beads set off a cute pink cat’s eye heart and tiny hematite wafer.

Also found the newest edition of BeadStyle magazine in my mailbox when I got home today. I love the cover necklace, with aqua colored briolettes, lavender and clear round crystals, and a gorgeous Hill Tribe Silver flower pendant. I love Hill Tribe Silver for its artistry, depth and detail and also the fact that the Karen tribes benefit directly from the sale of their hand-crafted pieces.

Time now to sit back and digest the magazine…have a great night!

Jan 292006

Do men like bling too?

You might be surprised at the answer. I had a request from my boutique owner, Jeanie, to make some manly jewelry after she’d read an article in the local paper about men buying jewelry for themselves.

So I did a little research (size, styles, techniques) and came up with a couple of styles to test out. One is a copper and sterling bangle, simple style but cool. The other is a hematite and jasper strung bracelet that’s dark and masculine looking.

Had my personal model try them on, and they were a little big on him. So size may need to be adjusted- one of those cases where “size does matter” 🙂 – but what he said when I asked about the style really surprised me! He told me about a copper bracelet that he’d seen that he almost bought for himself…and here I thought he was not the “bracelet” kind of guy!

At any rate, I’ll expand my thinking and begin creating some male bling to add to my portfolio. Fun to create outside my normal box. 😉

Jan 282006

I tried a new technique tonight. You are going to laugh, I almost guarantee it. 🙂 But it’s legit, I saw it in Bead on a Wire!!

First, you have to know that we’ve been doing some home construction. Two exterior doors (front door and back door), and I decided after one day that I could serioulsy not survive a major construction project. THE MESS!

Tonight my boys were off to ride their horses, leaving me at home with peace and quiet, and I spied my husband’s cordless drill laying in the foyer. I began plotting…after all, if Sharilyn Miller can do it, so can I!

The technique involves removing the drill bit from the drill, inserting a strand of wire that has been folded in two in the place where the drill bit is supposed to go, and using a pliers to hold the other end of the wire taut while you turn on the drill and twist the wire around itself.

The result is nothing less than cool. I had some sterling wire and some similarly sized copper wire. Most of my experiments worked well. The wire that was folded in half and twisted with itself worked perfectly. I had a length of silver and one of copper that needed to be worked into a necklace with some VERY cool copper and silver beads that I’d had laying around waiting for the “right moment”. See detail…you really can’t pick out the twisted wire in a larger photo.

And when I twisted together 26g silver and 24g copper, the results were fabulous! I used this strand to make some jump rings that look terrific. Using 20g silver and 24g copper did not work well, however. The copper really didn’t twist well around the silver, and when I cut apart the rings, they fell apart. 🙁

So a fun and productive night. And I might even ask my husband not to put away his tools quite yet. 🙂

Jan 262006

Now I’m down to the final component: How does it look?

The first thing I want to say is that if you have quality findings, and your piece feels good when you put it on, chances are it’s going to look good too.

But there are always exceptions. 🙂 Case in point, I have some GORGEOUS rutilated quartz (gold threads in a milky quartz stone) in a flat hex shape. They are chunky and funky, and I loved them at first sight. Paired them with some round, equally chunky and beautiful orange garnet and round vermeil beads. Should have been a perfect match…but it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t look right when it’s all put together. I used great quality findings, it lays nicely on the neck, but the look is just not there.

On the flip side, there are some arty pieces that are impressive, but would anyone really wear it? Is it too much a “piece of art” that it would probably overpower any outfit or person wearing it? If your goal with your piece is to sell it…think about your potential audience. I’ve had “arty” pieces that just needed (and found ;)) the right buyer, but others that have just sat and sat because while they are interesting and obviously intricate pieces of work, they just aren’t wearable for the general public.

And color is all important. Mish-mash color combinations sometimes work out well (I saw someone the other day who had on a simple beaded necklace with nothing but “assorted beads”…she made it work, but not everyone can carry that off!) but keep in mind your basic color theory for most pieces. Trends are good to know…general trends are pastels for spring, browns, greens, oranges for fall…but read good trade information to keep abreast of the “real” trends for coming seasons.

Generally, if you like something, you’ll find someone else who will like it as well. So design away…always keeping in the back of your mind the quality of your foundation pieces and the wearability of your work.

Jan 252006

Channeling Bob Dylan here…

How does it feel?

Okay, I’m done now. 🙂 But seriously, when you are creating a jewelry piece for yourself or for someone else, you need to consider the sense of touch and texture in the design and function.

  • Are the stones or beads smooth or sharp? Will crystals “cut” into sensitive areas like the wrist or the back of the neck?
  • Are the beads large or tiny? Will they lie flat against the skin or bunch up? Are they so big and chunky that they won’t flex against a delicate wrist?
  • How about the weight of earrings? Too heavy, they’ll drag on lobes and cause your ears to ache!
  • A too heavy toggle or clasp on a bracelet or necklace will do the same, be clunky and uncomforable to wear. And if the clasp is impossible to fasten, you’ll never wear it, sell it, or give it away. 😉

The other important thing to consider in how a piece feels goes back to the quality component discussed yesterday. Wire that’s not filed or smoothed with a burr cap will snag on a sweater, skin, or cause injury to a piercing hole. A crimp that is not crimped smoothly will do the same. A cheap toggle or lobster clasp will cut into your body or snag.

One of my regular practices is to try on every piece to be sure I can easy fasten it, that it lies nicely, and won’t shake off in “normal” use. (Earrings are the exception…don’t EVER resell or give away earrings that you’ve worn yourself for sanitary reasons.) I’ve even worn bracelets or necklaces to work or to a show to test their wearability. If I tell you a Gone Wild bracelet can be worn while working on a PC for extended periods of time, it’s because I’ve worn one for 10 hours to make sure. 😉

Tomorrow…the all important…how does it LOOK?!

Jan 242006

Yesterday I talked a little about not skimping on quality when it comes to your findings, and I wanted to go a little further with that theme today.

You see, when you are making jewelry, there are three things you want to keep in mind.

  • How it looks,
  • How it feels,
  • How it holds up.

I’m going to start with the third: How it holds up. Quality, while it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, is one of the more important. If your rings aren’t tight, your crimps aren’t solid, and you are using fishing line to string beads on, you might as well just throw the whole mess away right now. The durability of a piece needs to be considered when putting together a design, to ensure that the first time the wearer puts it on, it doesn’t turn into a jigsaw puzzle.

There are, of course, exceptions. I had crafted a gorgeous sterling wire neckpiece that was attached to a fine chain. Crystals dotted the neckpiece, and while the multiple wire-workings were held together with jump rings that were solid, it wasn’t going to hold up to heavy duty yanking! The woman who bought the piece was holding her toddler in her arms, and of course the baby (a little girl who probably couldn’t help herself, it was sparkly and pretty!) grabbed the neckpiece and PULLED. The neckpiece snapped in half, and fortunately I was able to put it back together on the spot.

But for the most part, your jewelry should be able to withstand some degree of abuse. Granted, I want every buyer and giftee to be as careful as I am when wearing a piece that I’ve crafted, but I have to be sure that it’s going to hold up under normal wear conditions.

So use quality findings, work quality into your pieces, and don’t hesitate to redo or start over if you think something might be “too” delicate for the wearer. Make sure when someone hears your name or company name, they think Quality.

Tomorrow: Rule #2 – How it feels!

Jan 222006

I’m going to write an article for BeadingHelpWeb entitled “Beading on a Budget” and talk about some of the things you can do to keep from breaking the bank while you make pieces for yourself or others.

One of my tips is going to be to NOT skimp where it counts. I mean, you can buy beads at rummage sales, tear apart old jewelry or go through the clearance section at Michael’s all you’d like, but buy good quality stuff when it comes to your beading wire and findings (crimps, clasps and rings). That’s your foundation, and while it may not be sexy to buy sterling crimps, you WILL see the difference.

The cheap stuff will not last. And sometimes it won’t even work right. Classic example: I was in the throes of making Gone Wild bracelets, but ran out of head pins. I ordered quality head pins from Rings ‘N’ Things, but “couldn’t wait”. I bought a whole slug of headpins at a local hobby store, at 50% off, nonetheless!!! What a bargain, right?

WRONG. I spent more time fighting wrapped loops with those darned headpins than if I’d have waited three days for my R&T order. The cheap pins wouldn’t wrap neatly, and if they did, the end of the pin would break off long before I was done. I was surprised that I had any hair left after that experiment!

Same thing with cheap crimps. If they even crimp for you (I’ve had them just flat out BREAK when attempting to crimp), chances are they will slip, and if you were unlucky enough to be wearing the jewelry when it does, you’ll have beads and stones all over the floor.

So spend where it counts. It’s kind of like building a house…you don’t want to go cheap on the foundation or the wiring, even though it’s not nearly as much fun as buying paint or wallpaper. 😉

Jan 222006

Most of my jewelry-making roots run deep, including my penchant for charms. Way back when, my mom got me started on a charm bracelet, and in our annual vacations and side trips here and there, I picked up some pretty cool charms. Still have that bracelet in one of my jewelry boxes, and while I don’t wear it often, I do take it out and remember the meaning behind each charm on the bracelet.

And I love charms to this day. There are so many things you can do with them!

  • Quick earrings…hang a couple using jump rings to a pair of posts or french wires and you are ready to go.
  • Ditto a fast pendant…just attach a jump ring, hang from a chain and bingo! you’ve got a great theme necklace.
  • Dangle one or a bunch from a beaded bracelet or chain bracelet for jangle and bling that call attention to your wrist.
  • Pick up a half dozen charms in a single theme and make some Wine Glass Charms…great gift for yourself or someone else – just add a nice bottle of wine and you have a great housewarming or hostess gift!!!! I’ve found a great source for themed charms is scrapbook sections of craft stores…there are some adorable charms there at a fraction of the cost of buying individually!

So, be charming!

Jan 192006

Melanie, a reader and fellow beader, asked me about the piece I talked about back here…and specifically about movement in jewelry.

Here’s a photo of that yellow calcite bracelet, and while it’s a little hard to see, maybe you can pick out the sterling rings that slide across the tiny Swarovski crystals.

You can do the same concept with seed beads…string a series of seed beads on your beading material and then thread a large-hole bead that will slide across the seed beads. You can add a larger, complementary bead that won’t slide to keep your “slider” in place, and repeat the seed beads.

And one of my favorite combinations of adding movement to wire involves using 20g or smaller wire and beads or crystals. Create shapes with your wire and randomly (or symetrically) string beads within the design, leaving enough room for the beads to slide around the shape.

Jan 192006


Loveland, Colo., January 12, 2006: Interweave Press, LLC announced today that it has acquired the assets of Bead Expo from its founder, Recursos de Santa Fe, the owner and operator of the prestigious annual event for the past 14 years. Bead Expo launched its first show in 1992 in Santa Fe, N.M., where it has held the show many times. The expo has also exhibited in Miami, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas. In 2006, the show and bazaar will take place in Charleston, S.C. from May 17-21 at the Charleston Area Convention Center & Embassy Suites Hotel, 5055 International Blvd., North Charleston, S.C.


Interweave Press publishes Beadwork magazine, which is one of my favorite intermediate beading magazines. Pretty exciting that they will now drive the Bead Expo!