Nov 302006

Earlier this week, I had some fun making wire and beaded wire ornament hangers. Because I’m in the mood to do some holiday decorating, I started thinking about all the other things I could embellish with beads and came up with this fun idea…candle wraps!

The candle wraps are based on the idea for wine glass stem wraps, but a bit more flexible, delicate, and to be honest, they’re less expensive to make than the fully beaded version. I love the way they accent my taper candles, and I think they will work great on pillars and other sizes as well!

Easy to make, I first measured the length by twisting a cloth tape measure around my candle, and then added 6 inches to the overall length for my spirals. After making the first open spiral, I used a crimp bead (just smashed with a chain-nosed pliers – didn’t use a crimping pliers, but you could!) to hold a round 6mm Druk bead in place. Spacing out the crimps and Druks about 1 inch apart, I finished up with one last crimp (to keep the last bead from inadvertently sliding off the wire) and made another open spiral.

While I use sterling for 99% of my jewelry wire work, I am using colored copper craft wire for home decor projects as they will be exposed to air (and prone to tarnish) for extended periods of time.

Nov 272006

Last night I made some wire ornament hangers, thought they turned out pretty well. Today, I decided to improve on the idea, and made some mini-hangers with added beads to lend sparkle and color.

Essentially, the technique is the same. I used 20g wire to be able to string the beads, and since I was going for a smaller version, cut only 3″ of wire. At both ends, I added a tiny loop to keep the beads on the wire. When hammering, be careful not to hammer your beads!

I like the finished product, and they are pretty fast to make. I think at last count, I’d made around 150 since last night over just a couple of hours. If they don’t sell, I guess I have some cool ornament hangers for my own tree!!

Nov 272006

Spent last night making up some wire ornament hangers inspired by one of my friends on the Jewelry Artists message board.

I made these using craft wire (color-coated copper) because I’m concerned about a) cost and b) tarnishing when they are exposed to air for long periods of time. They are actually quite simple to make, and while they are repetitious, you can cut the wire ahead of time, take a mandrel and pliers to the living room, and work on them while watching TV with the family. Actually, they’d even make a pretty decent family project!

If you need instructions, they are fairly simple:
18g colored copper craft wire
Ring mandrel or 1” dowel
Round nosed or stepped pliers

Cut wire to 5” lengths (one length for each hanger).
Wind one end around the mandrel or dowel to create a 1” loop that is slightly open.
Use the pliers to create an open spiral inside the loop.
At the other end, make a 1” open loop that is in the opposite direction from the first (it will look like an S)
Hammer lightly to strengthen if desired.

That’s it!

Nov 222006

Just opened an email from Hobby Lobby stores, and wanted to share that there are some fantastic savings beginning Friday, November 24 – Saturday, November 25. 50% off on jewelry tools, 30% off on Swarovski crystals and flat backs, and more (lots of other non-jewelry crafts on sale too!). Check out their printed ad in your local newspaper or sign up for Hobby Lobby’s email newsletter to get previews on their ads.

Nov 222006

Well, all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. Over the river, and through the woods. See you, in Septem…oh wait a second, I’ll only be gone a few days. Went overboard with the traveling song cliches. 🙂

For a short trip to my parents home for Thanksgiving, I’m packing all my wire, all my tools, some fun beads for my nieces to make bracelets or necklaces with, and some crocheting for in the car. (I CAN bead in a moving vehicle, but I’m not going to this time.) Hopefully get a few projects completed on my trip, but if not, I’ll at least have some fun with the little girls (they are 4 and 6) playing with beads. I picked up some fun “eyeball” beads and polymer clay fimo beads at Michael’s earlier this week, and had a bunch of bags of “ugly beads” from Rings N Things (free with a $75 order, you just have to request them!).

I had an unexpected gift yesterday…my friend and sometime partner in crime Angie called and asked if I’d like her table at a show December 2. She was given Big 12 Football tickets for free, and couldn’t do the show. I’m excited, it sounds like a great opportunity!

Well, off we go into the wild blue yonder. Have a GREAT Thanksgiving, everyone in the US!!

Nov 212006

I’m taking Mondays off from my full-time job in the months of November and December…it’s a great opportunity to get caught up on jewelry projects and have a “real” weekend off after working a craft show on Saturday.

This week, I spent my “Monday off” updating my business web site with new products and sending out an email announcement to my customers. At shows, I gather the email addresses of anyone who is interested in my jewelry, and then periodically send out announcements regarding upcoming shows or new items. I hate to send out too often…I know I find it annoying (and I generally ignore) sales pitches that come every week, so my “newsletters” come out only a few times a year. If you are in the Omaha, Nebraska region and would like to be added to my distribution list, please feel free to drop me a line at or

My other jewelry project was to tumble several wire pieces I’d made at the Open House on Saturday…I got so much work done that day, I didn’t feel I needed to spend a lot of time working on jewelry today!

My main project today was making lefse. For those who are not familiar, lefse is the traditional Norwegian flatbread, made from potatoes and flour. (Think tortillas made from mashed potatoes.) In the States, it’s generally prepared for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

The first time I made lefse many years ago, I cooked raw potatoes, put them through a ricer, added the flour and other seasonings…it was really a labor of love for my husband who was missing his mother’s lefse that holiday season. When I told him how I’d worked my fingers to the bone making them, he said “Why don’t you use instant potatoes like my mom does????”

Go figure.

It still takes hours to make lefse – between preparing and cooling the (instant!) potatoes, adding the flour, rolling out and cooking one-by-one on a pan, it usually takes about 2 hours to make one batch of around 36 lefse. Today I made 84. Lefse is enjoyed warm, spread with butter, and sometimes with sugar and cinnamon. We also use it in any other way you’d use regular bread – with meat, cheese, or eggs (for breakfast). It’s quite a treat and while it does take all day to make, I love making it and then eating it!!!

Nov 192006

Today was the Open House at Everything Them, Omaha’s Old Market gallery for him or her! Great time today…traffic was alternately heavy and absent, but lots of nice folks. I thoroughly enjoyed the day spent with fellow beaders Gina and Char, and our hosts, Joanna and Brian…and those FABULOUS cookies! If you missed the event, we are planning another for December, check my web site for more information.

On the downside, I used that twisted brass wire I talked about in the last blog entry to make some rings and got a blister on my thumb while cutting rings. I need a Jump Ringer!!! I’ve had stabbing injuries before, but never a blister. Guess it’s time to write some safety tips for beaders. 🙂

Nov 182006

For the past several issues, I’ve been extremely disappointed with Bead Style magazine – the number of projects has been declining in both quality and quantity – and I’d decided to discontinue my subscription. I wasn’t alone, I’d read and received feedback from beaders across the world expressing their displeasure with the turn the magazine was taking.

Catching up on emails this evening, I was encouraged to read a note from the editor of Bead Style, via their email newsletter.

Though I usually have so much fun with the magazine I have to remind myself periodically that it’s a job and that, the truth is, publishing is a business.

You see, BeadStyle has been going through some growing pains this year. Because of the enthusiastic reception you have consistently given the magazine, it has become more and more attractive to advertisers.

And that’s a good thing. Naturally, we’re thrilled by the support of each advertiser.

The cloud with this silver lining is that, with the fewer pages allotted to editorial, it has become a challenge to keep the project count where it should be. You’ve noticed and, believe me, we’ve noticed.

The good news is that the people in charge of giving us more pages have noticed, too. So, as of the March 2007 issue, we’ll have eight more pages. We’re really excited.

So, thanks to those who expressed concern. Your letters and e-mails definitely helped us get the extra space. I promise we’ll use them well.

Stay tuned….Bead Style used to be a good magazine for beginning to intermediate stringers who wanted to expand their skills a bit, and I’d like to see it return back to the status that it was when I wrote the review on Beading Help Web.

Nov 172006

Twisted wire, that is!

I’m really excited about some new Red Brass wire that I picked up from Thunderbird Supply today. It’s a brightish gold color, and I’m anxious to see how it ages. I have a feeling it will get a nice rich goldish brown color, but since I’ve never worked with brass before, I’m not sure!

This wire has the added attraction in that it’s twisted…which is great for making coiled wire beads for bangles. The bangle shown uses silver and copper twisted wire, and the twists really add a lot of depth and interest to the beads.

Buy your wire already twisted from a supplier, like Thunderbird…it’s a little more expensive, but great if you are starting out using twisted wire.

If you want to be a little more daring, use a drill to twist the wire. I’ve used up to 5 pieces of thin wire together in one twist! Simply cut lengths of wire, unless you are working with a partner, you don’t want to cut longer than you can hold out tight from the drill while you turn it on. If the wire doesn’t fit in the drill bit hole, then wrap some quilting or electrical tape around the end. Hold the opposite end of the wire tightly with a pliers so it doesn’t move, and then turn on the drill. Twist the wire until you have a nice tight twist!

You can anneal the wire if you’d like, but I just use mine as is. Don’t over-twist, you will weaken or even break the wire, but get it nice and tight.

Nov 142006

What’s hot for the holidays?
Regal Holiday Fashion
(Grants Pass, Oregon) – Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, America’s favorite beading and jewelry supply company, has compiled a hot-list of jewelry-making supplies for creating fashionable holiday accessories.

This year’s holiday colors and trends are royally inspired. Rich colors reign in dark red, purple and black tones. Trends include elaborate cross and crown pendants, with layers and layers of muted chain, lace and velvet ribbon trimming necklines.
Don’t hold back when it comes to pendants! Big, bold focal pieces add depth and emotion to each jewelry design. Ornate crosses take on a Gothic look when strung with velvet, lace or antique chain. And festive regal styles begin with large fleur de lis and antiqued crown charms and pendants.

Holiday red is back in full swing. Festive drops and pendants sparkle and shine in rich red shades, from crimson to cranberry – found in Swarovski® crystal beads Siam and burgundy. Gold beads and chain balance the ubiquitous reds and create a romantic mood.

Luxurious purple, the traditional color of royalty, is found in amulets, centering its wearer with charming confidence. Cabochons and drops are popular in midnight purples, such as deep amethyst and Swarovski® crystal purple velvet. To keep the mood dark and mysterious, mix classic smoky quartz and jet black for a tone-on-tone style.