May 292006

Spent an interesting day yesterday…my brother and sister-in-law are into Geocaching, and my son and I wanted to try our hand at it. We also have some property in northern Minnesota that we wanted to go check on, so we combined the two into a long road trip.

Because I was happily not driving or navigating, I took along a bag with some tools, my wire and a few strands of beads. Over the course of the trip out, I made a very cool bangle using copper wire and labradorite chips. The bangle has a center focal section of a twist on Eni Oken’s mosaic pendant technique. I was really pleased with the results, and will oxidize and tumble it when I get home.

May 292006

Land of Odds Ugly Necklace Contest update: I’ve reported on the Land of Odds Ugly Necklace contest…top ten entries were to be posted May 15 with voting to begin immediately. However, got an email from Warren at LoO and they are experiencing some technical difficulties. Looks like it will be mid-June before we are able to see all that ugly finery and help determine who has the talent to make the ugliest necklace. Stay tuned.

May 282006

New from Fire Mountain BRASS Accuflex beading wire!

Similar to the silver and gold wires, this stuff is meant to be seen. The metal wire is coated with heavy duty, yet barely discerable plastic, which makes it strong and pretty much indestructable. Use for ideas like a Randomly Floating Necklace or Bracelet, or find some flat briolettes in a brown or brass tone to make a Flaua Paua necklace! 0.12 – 0.24 gauge, in seven strand only.

May 272006

Great Factory Pricing on Swarovski crystals from Rings N Things! Yep, out surfing my favorite supply sites tonite and found that R&T has some fabulous prices on 4mm, 5mm and 6mm crystals in a bunch of great colors. Do a search on the R&T site for +factory +pricing to find them. (Use the + signs in the search)

A super idea for those crystals is the new Rainbow Crystal Bracelet project…I fell in love with this bracelet the first time I saw it, and it goes with EVERYTHING! We’re working on getting a photo posted, should be very soon.

Travel tomorrow to North Dakota. There is supposed to be a Lindstrom dealer in Fargo; it’s just off Interstate 29, so I’m planning on making a short side trip. Maybe some new pliers….

May 262006

Packing for a week-long trip tonight. Yowsa, I think I have more beading supplies than clothes! While we’ll be spending time with family, a good chunk will be in a cabin, in the woods, with no Internet, no TV (I don’t believe), just a CD player and all the beading supplies I can stuff in my small car.

Does that sound great, or what? 🙂

So….what do I have packed for beading essentials? Well, in a nutshell:
– All the sterling, copper and gold wire I can fit in an expandable file.
– Ditto for pre-made bulk chain.
– All my rolls of beading wire, ribbon, and StretchMagic.
– A big box of clasps.
– My box of basics (rings, crimps, end wires, etc.,)
– A full box of earring findings.
– A box of Bali and sterling beads, floater rings, and misc metal beads.
– A box of assorted beads that I’ve been meaning to do something with and just haven’t had the time. It’s a big box.
– Supplies to make about 5 “Gone Wild” bracelets in assorted colors.
– Sharilyn Miller’s Bead on a Wire, just in case I need more direction or inspiration.
– All my pliers, a small scissors, a jewelers saw, anvil and hammer. Since I’m crossing the border into Canada, I might get some looks. I hope not. 😀
– Some charms, just in case I have time to make Wine Glass Charms.

You’d think I was moving out for a month or something! Well, I do hope to report back in early June when I return that I made a whole bunch of really cool projects to share with you.

May 252006

Remembered tonight that I didn’t ever really finish up the story of my Rose Petal Beads.

In a word, they were a failure. 🙁 The second batch that I made with the lemon juice dried up to little teeny hard as a rock, looking like kibble, not smelling good, beads. And the first batch never got beyond the kibble looking stage, and lost their scent right away despite being stored in plastic sealed containers as directed.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I’d still like to try them – I have peonies blooming right now that might work – but I didn’t have much success with the roses.

May 242006

All About Amber

A few weeks ago, I was in my local rock shop and a woman came in with a necklace that she’d acquired and wanted to know what the warm, honey colored beads were. She was hoping for amber, the fossilized remnants of resin.

Thanks to our friends Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton, most folks are aware of amber because of Jurassic Park, a film which centered around the premise of using DNA extracted from dinosaur blood in mosquitoes fossilized in amber to “recreate” dinosaurs. While this really isn’t possible (DNA from the insects can be extracted but not the blood from the dinosaurs!), some amber does contain the remains of flies, spiders and other insects.

Amber used for beads is polished and drilled, and can range in color from yellows, to oranges, to reds, to browns. It has great depth and feels warm on the skin. I love using amber not only for the color and organic texture, but because I know there are millions of years of history in each bead.

Back to my lady at the rock shop. She wondered, looking and fingering her necklace, how to identify if it was real amber or not. I told her that a sure fire way is to carefully stick a hot needle in the beads (near the stringing hole or other undectable spot). Real amber will smell like burning pine wood…a pleasant scent, while imitations (usually plastic) will smell like, well, burning plastic! The expert at the rock shop echoed my assessment, and said he’d test the strand for her.

She eagerly waited for the test (which just takes a minute) and soon the rock shop owner came back. Unfortunately, her beads were plastic, but she still liked the necklace!

If you’d like more information on amber, check out Susie Ward Aber’s World of Amber. I’m sure you’ll be just as fascinated by it as I am!

May 232006

New Projects on Beading Help Web

My Garden’s Gone Wild (left), a crazy, eclectic mix of Czech glass on a stretchy bracelet that is reminiscent of a garden full of wild flowers.

How to Wrap a Cabachon – while I strongly recommend having an experienced wire-wrapper walk you through your first attempt, if you are savvy with wire, give this challenging project a try!

And a Leather and Silver Lace is perfect for hanging that wrapped cab on. Simple but really classy looking, purchase leather or suede lacing in multiple colors for varied outfits!

May 212006

What is vintage?

Got into an interesting discussion on the Bead and Button message board tonite about vintage beads. A forum member asked what the definition of vintage was, and I had found this on Vintage Costume Jewelry:

I heard someone say that vintage the term for items 20 years old. Is this correct?
Answer: The term “vintage” is often misunderstood by dealers and collectors. When dealing with vintage costume jewelry, the term usually applies to an item that is 20+ years old. Many experts agree that the term “antique” can be applied to vintage costume jewelry that is 50+ years old. This may be for two reasons. For one, the field of collecting costume jewelry is fairly new. Secondly, costume jewelry does not tend to last as long as other antiques might due to moisture damage, vigorous use, and quality of construction or materials used.

Another forum member had a slightly different definition (50 years = vintage, 100 years = antique) and added a twist that if a manufacturer doesn’t produce a specific color or style, they may classify it as “vintage”.

Essentially, vintage may mean different things to different people. In my mind, vintage means old…early to mid-twentieth century. When I am buying vintage glass, I want to be sure I’m representing it correctly to my clients…so I will ask before buying to be sure I know how “vintage” a bead really is before I represent it as such. 😉

May 202006

Sharilyn Miller announces new book, publishing summer 2007 AND additional classes scheduled!

For those who enjoyed my interview with Sharilyn Miller, and fans of her fabulous wire jewelry book, Bead on a Wire, I have terrific news! Just received word from Sharilyn that she is expanding her class schedule…classes on both the west and east coasts of the United States, in addition to a workshop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Sharilyn’s new book follows up on the success of Bead on a Wire, and in her words, “will focus on sophisticated, ethnic-style wire jewelry made with some new techniques and fun designs.” Sounds VERY exciting…I can’t wait to hear more!

Check out Sharilyn’s site for more information on class schedules and other information.