Apr 302006

May Beading Challenge

I’d like to start something new this month, a beading challenge. The premise is simple, make a piece of jewelry sometime between May 1 – May 30 that fits into the theme May Flowers. I’ll feature all submissions in the blog, and with permission, will post your piece with instructions on the Beading Help Web projects page, with you named as the contributor.

Style can be anything you’d like…stringing, wire work, metal smithing, stitch…let your imagination run free!

Submissions can be sent to beadingpublisher@consumerhelpweb.com. Photos should be in jpg format, and include a short bio.

Have fun, I look forward to seeing lots of May flowers!!!

Apr 292006

2006 Gemmy Award Winners

I am such a sucker when it comes to genstones and rocks in general. Blame my dad, who took me on rock-hunting expeditions and anxiously awaited trips to rock shops back when I was a kid. I can still get that feeling of awe and inspiration when I walk into a rock shop and see anything from agates to geodes!

And gazing at the incredible works of gemicological art represented in The Lapidary Journal’s Gemmy Awards, I have that same sense of wonder. Natural, one-of-a- kind stones that have been shaped and enhanced by human hands…IMO better than any work of art I’d hang on my wall!

This year’s winners were:

Dalan Hargrave
Best of Competition
Super Nova, of Oregon sunstone from the Dust Devil mine;
62.5 ct., approximately 40 x 30 x 9 mm.

Stephen M. Avery
First Place, Faceted GemsNancy Suite, of natural blue-green Nigerian tourmaline and natural Nigerian rubellite tourmaline. 4.97 tcw. (Beading Help Web’s note…this is a LOVELY set of matched tourmaline, perfectly faceted!)

Marvin Lansden
Second place, Faceted Gems
Peridot from Pakistan, 7.08 ct.

Tom Munsteiner
First Place, Gem Objects (tied)
Thunder, of natural citrine; 370.68 ct., 120 x 30 x 15mm.

Howard Friedler
First Place, Gem Objects (tied)
The Aquatic Tower, of Brazilian optical quartz, glued together with epoxy; 2,352 ct., 13 x 11 x 10 cm.

Tom Munsteiner
First Place, Cabochon Gems
Magic Eye, of natural red tourmaline; 50.55 ct., 25mm x 12mm. (Beading Help Web’s note: So many layers in this piece. I see a moonscape, an alien face, an eye…could gaze upon this for hours.)

Rick Stinson
Second place, Cabochon Gems
Bird of Paradise, of natural, untreated fortification agate; approximately 24.95 ct., 40.02 x 22.30 mm.

Tom Munsteiner
First Place, Specially Cut Gems
Zip Zip, of natural yellow citrine; 32.03 ct., 24 x 23 x 12 mm. (Beading Help Web’s note: I look at this and think, baseball!)

Tom Munstein
Second Place, Specially Cut GemsRitmo, of natural color citrine, 370.68 ct., 120 x 30 x 15mm.

Rick Stinson
First Place, Man-Made Gem Materials
Crown of Fire, of hydrothermically grown bixbite (red beryl); approximately 4.75 ct., 4.25 x 12 x 6.5 mm. (Beading Help Web’s note: reminiscent of a red rose bloom, this man-made gem is a beauty!)

To view phtotos of the Gemmy Award winning entries, visit The Lapidary Journal.

Apr 292006

April Showers bring Beaded Flowers!

I’ve been going flower and spring crazy lately! Tonight, while watching Brokeback Mountain, I made a Daisy Chain Vine bracelet and anklet. I’m not a big movie watcher, but if I can bead while there’s a movie on, I’m happy and productive. The bracelet and anklet are super easy and cute – had gotten instructions from The Bead Monkey, but they appear to have gone bye-bye. I’ll try to get something up in the next day or two.

Also made some sterling bookmarks, one with a dragonfly and flower dangle. These are fun, really girly…been getting a couple of looks since my current tome is Stephen King’s The Stand! Oh well, my friends know I can be girly and freaky at the same time.

Speaking of dragonflies, this gold and silver-toned DragonFly anklet is terrific for spring and summer. I made this for a client and the pictured version is larger than the average 9 1/2″ ankle bracelet, but the instructions and number of beads will fit the “average” ankle.

One other thing I’ve been experimenting with is French Beaded Flowers…they are absolutely gorgeous, and easier to create than you’d think. If you have the patience to work with seed beads, these lovely beaded floral arrangements will last FOREVER.

Apr 272006

Rose Petal Bead Update

The “blended” beads still look like Iams dog food, but they smell fantastic. I’m wondering if adding a little Fruit Fresh or even lemon juice will keep them from browning. I’m afraid the lemon juice will cut the rose scent, but it might keep the flowers from browning (think cut apples or peaches…they brown unless you squeeze on some lemon juice or Fruit Fresh).

The “cooked” beads are black. They aren’t pretty and they don’t smell like anything but the wire they are pierced with. I’m disappointed with them as a whole, so I probably won’t do anything with them.

Saturday I will hit up the flower shop again for more petals. Maybe some Administrative Assistants bouquets didn’t sell and I’ll get a whole bunch of petals to try out…..

Apr 272006

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls!

A few days ago, I stopped into my favorite local bead and stone shop and picked up “bread and milk” (some Bali daisy spacers I’d run out of) and started throwing strands of pearls into my tray as well. I think it’s in anticipation of weddings and Prom, but pearls are just totally on my mind!

I got cream pearls, white pearls, peach pearls, pink pearls. Round pearls, tiny pearls, rice pearls. And I’ve been having fun pairing them and making different styles.

Monday 4/24 I showed you the green top-drilled and tiny white pearl choker with the cream pearl and Swarovski crystal pendant. I have a feeling my daughter may try to lay claim to this one…she loves that “toad” green and these pearls are scrumptious!!

Tonight I started a necklace that will be a shorter length (16″ probably) made of white pearls and sterling connectors. These pearls are almost faceted, and they have an incredible shimmer to them. The piece is taking seemingly forever to complete, and I think it’s going to be one of those that when I’m done, I won’t want to sell it. It’s a somewhat difficult piece because of the pattern…the swirls need to lie the same direction to look right and that can be a challenge. My tip is to make all your components up first and then piece together – lie out components and make note of how they are attached so that you can duplicate and not create rework for yourself!

Pearls may be the June birthstone, but I’m definitely into them right now!

Apr 262006

Continuing Education

As you grow in your beading skills, taking courses to learn new techniques is a great idea. Sure, you can learn new designs and some skills through magazines, books and videos, but nothing beats having an expert in a field take you through the ropes themselves and being able to ask questions hands on!

Upcoming class finds that I’ve come across recently:
Rings N Things is offering a June 3 course in Art Clay Silver , taught by ACS master instructor Kurt Madison, in addition to several other classes in beading techniques. If you are in the Spokane, WA area, it’s worth a check if you are interested in this fascinating medium.

The Bead Society of Greater Kansas City, located in Kansas City, MO, will be hosting several classes during it’s annual Bead Blast May 6-7. I’m excited to be taking two classes from their experts in chain-making and cabochon-wrapping.

The Bead and Button Show is June 11-18 and there are still a few openings in some classes. The show is located in Milwaukee, WI, and is one of the premier events of the year. Classes range from PMC to bead stringing to beading business topics.

Search for beading classes in your area, and sign up for a class soon. It’s a great investment in your craft!

Apr 252006

May Beading Help Web Previews

I’m very excited about the Beading Help Web May news! First off, sneak preview of some ideas for Mother’s Day…from traditional name bracelets to engraved name beads from my new favorite vendor: Generation Gems…to cute personalized wire bookmarks and the best can’t-think-of-anything-else gift…get ready to celebrate with Mom!

Secondly, I had a blast interviewing lampwork artist Janet Crosby. While you are waiting for the interview to be published, check out her totally cool chicken beads. While my own chickens tend to chase me around the hen house (so I won’t go in there!) I love Janet’s hen and rooster beads!

Finally, May’s the perfect time to start thinking about graduation gifts, and prom and bridal jewelry. There are lots of great ideas on our free projects page, and I’m working on more every day. Tonight, I had a lot of fun creating this freshwater pearl choker with a drop pearl and Swarovski top-drilled crystal pendant. Wouldn’t it look great with a cream or green strapless dress?

That’s it for sneak peeks…look for full stories in May!

Apr 252006

Update on Rose Petal Beads

The cooked mush is now done, and I’ve rolled it into round balls. Too wet for putting on a wire yet. These rose petals were originally a deep red, and they are now a purplish black. I’m not convinced that the scent is retained, but I’ll hold judgment until they are drier.

The blended petals are now pretty much dry and I’m pleased to say hold together pretty well and seem fairly durable. Scent is good, I’ve been told they need to be kept in a plastic closed container to keep the scent. I’m still not happy with the color, and it occurred to me today that the petals “browned” much the way an apple or peach does when it’s been cut and exposed to oxogen. Maybe if I added some lemon juice or the canning additive (forget the name)…I just wonder if that will kill the scent.

So, the experiment will continue. I’ve loaded photos of the beads as they look today.

Apr 232006

I checked on the blender-option rose beads a few minutes ago. Decided the holes were going to be too small, so I restrung them on 20g wire. Two crumbled during the restringing, but there was enough moisture in them to reform them into one bead.

I’m not impressed with the color and texture yet. I hate to say it, but they resemble my dog’s kibble! They do still smell great, however…so I’m not ready to give up quite yet.

Apr 232006

Rose Petal Beads

Last night I began an experiment in making beads from flower petals. I’d read a few articles on them and thought they sounded interesting. Talked about them on a message board that I belong to, and had a number of folks say they’d heard about them, or had a set that belonged to an older relative.

I’m curious to see the outcome, the process actually takes some time, so it will be a while before I can tell if it’s a success or not. Essentially, there are two recommended methods for making the “paste” that comprises the beads – blending them into a pulp (add a little water) or cooking them down in a cast iron pan (again, adding water). I’ve made some beads with the blender method, and they are in the process of drying. The cook method takes several days to complete, so in the meantime, I have a pan of blackish-looking glop on my stove that my husband keeps looking at, but so far hasn’t asked me about. He may think I’m concocting some new experiment to try out on HIM.

More later as the beads progress.