Jun 272008
Wow, the month of June totally got away from me. Between Grand Cities, vacation, and an exciting family announcement (congrats to my wonderful daughter Bree and her fabulous finace, Nick!!!), I’ve just lost track of time.
Not to be defeated however, here are a couple of fun and easy projects that fit right into the Ornament Thursday theme: Independence…just in time for the US July 4 holiday!
You're the Star Earrings

You’re the Star Earrings

Sparkling Red White and Blue Bracelet

Sparkling Red White and Blue Bracelet

And of course, the other OT Gals are right on top of things, with a great variety of Independent projects that are fun and fabulous! Check them all out:
Alexa Westerfield a.k.a. Swelldesigner Craft some red, white, and blue drink charms from vintage wartime posters. They’ll make a big bang at your 4th of July cookout!
Art Bead Scene Field of Poppies bracelet project from Heather.
Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva Celebrate the Independent Spirit
Michelle’s take on Indpendence Over at http design, Michelle has scuplted a piece which gives a different perspective on independence.
Strands of Beads Melissa sees stars this month while considering the meaning of independence
Look for RED HOT themed projects in July!!!!


Bead Reaming

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Jun 212008

Yesterday I was working on a fun project – dangles for silver bracelets with removable ends. The dangles are made from various colors of pearls and fine silver head pins (that I made myself wOOt!). While the headpins were pretty thin (22g silver), they just didn’t fit through some of the pearls!

What to do? I had 33 dangles to make, and wanted to have a good variety of colors in my selection.

Why, whip out my handy dandy Beadalon Bead Reamer, of course! I reamed out the pearls (take that, you bad pearl! LOL) and like magic, the headpins fit through the holes.

So what’s involved in reaming out a pearl (or any bead with a small hole, for that matter)? It’s easy…and I find it pretty relaxing as well. Here’s are my easy steps to reaming beads:

I have a fairly inexpensive battery operated Beadalon Bead Reamer. While I got mine at a Rings N Things trunk show, I’ve seen them at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby as well. You can use a hand reamer, but the battery operated one is quick…just make sure you have fresh batteries to keep it powered up!

Gather your beads that you want to ream, a towel, and either a small bowl with clean water in it or stand next to the kitchen sink. You will want to ream the bead under water – I turned on my kitchen faucet at just over a drip and reamed under running water, but some folks prefer to just use a bowl of water.

Hold the bead under water, and insert the tip of the reamer in one side of the drilled hole. Turn the reamer on, firmly holding the bead steady. The idea is to let the reamer do the rotating, not the bead. 😉

Use a rocking motion to gently pull the reamer slightly out of the inside of the bead and push it back in. Use a little force – your objective here is to make the opening wider all the way through. After you’ve widened the hole about 1/2 way through the bead, flip the bead around so you are reaming through the hole in the opposite side.

Test the bead periodically by removing the reamer and attempting to insert the headpin or wire that you are going to string it on. Once it fits, you’re done reaming!

Dry the bead thoroughly (I air dry on the towel).

Jun 202008

It’s that time of year again! Land of Odds is ready to have YOU vote on the Ugliest Necklace of 2008. From my mailbox:

6th Annual 2008 The Ugly Necklace Contest
A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist
Ten Semi-Finalists Selected
– Voting Begins!

May 17, 2008 thru July 18, 2008
10 Jewelry Artists from around the world have been selected from among 37 entries by a panel of four judges from The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts and Land of Odds as Semi-Finalists of 6th Annual 2008 The Ugly Necklace Contest – A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist. Voting begins On-Line on May 20th, thru July 18th.


It’s not easy to do Ugly!

So the many jewelry designers from across America and around the Globe who entered our 6th Annual 2008 The Ugly Necklace Contest, found this contest especially challenging. After all, your brain is pre-wired to avoid and reject things which are ugly. Think of snakes and spiders. And even if you start your necklace with a bunch of ugly pieces, once you organize them
into a circle, the very nature of an ordered round form makes it difficult to achieve Ugly. Yes, “Ugly” is easier said than done.

Who will win? We need the public’s help to influence our panel of judges. Does our Sri Lanka entry set an uglier standard about recycling garbage than our Connecticut equestrian does for recycling horse manure? Is the interpretation of Spirituality Overload Gone Awry more successful than those artists who chose Breast Cancer or the Iraq War as “ugly” themes? Does
beginning with ugly pieces achieve better results than starting with misarranged attractive pieces?

Our respected judges narrowed the 37 entries from 17 states in the US as well as Australia, Canada, England and Sri Lanka, to the 10 ugliest ones. They judged these creatively-designed pieces in terms of hideousness, use of materials and clasp, the number of jewelry design principles violated, and the designer’s artistic control. Now it’s time for America and the World
to help finalize the decision about which of these 10 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces to vote for. The winner will truly be an exceptional jewelry designer. The losers….well….this isn’t a contest where you really can “lose”.

Come see these and the other semi-finalists’ pieces at Land of Odds, and vote your choice for the Ugliest Necklace, 2008.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, however. There is some UGH-LEE stuff there………

And if you missed out on entering this year’s contest, but feel inspired (well, maybe compelled is a better word) to try it yourself, the 2009 contest rules are also posted.

Jun 192008

We’re back home again from our adventures! As I unpacked the car, I thought about how I transported both my finished jewelry and some projects and tools and wanted to share a few tips with you!

Finished pieces pack up easily – I always pack my finished jewelry in plastic zippered bags with an anti-tarnish strip. They are grouped by color or type of jewelry (i.e., sterling necklaces together, copper chainmaille bracelets together), with anything that might be prone to tangle in it’s own bag. This trip, I then sorted categories into stackable trays, which then fit into a neat carrying case – all from Nile Corporation. It worked very well – takes up little room in the car, and everything stayed safe and neat.

Projects are a little more challenging. Like shoes, I tend to overpack beads that I’ll actually use. I brought all of my jump rings this trip (packed in baggies in a shoebox…need some suggestions on that one!) but limited myself to two compartmentalized plastic boxes for beads – one for silver and one for stones. I also grabbed the two portable file portfolios I use for wire (sorted by metal type and gauge). In addition to the loose beads and wire, I put together a couple of “kits” and unfinished projects that I wanted to work on while I was traveling. The beads, projects and some basics (clasps, earwires, crimps, beading wire) go into a large canvas bag with handles that can be transported easily.

My tools go into another canvas bag, which my son complains is 1/4 the size of the project bag, but weighs 10 times more (well, what does he expect…there are pliers, hammers, and a steel block in there!) I can easily access just about anything I bring while I’m working, and again, it’s portable.

If you are traveling by air, check first on what is allowed to be taken on the plane. I’ve packed jump rings and small pliers in a plastic pencil box (easy to snap shut when turbulence hits!) but not all flights will allow you to take pliers in the cabin.

Jun 162008

What a weekend it’s been!

We arrived in Grand Forks Friday afternoon, and dropped off a few things at the Town Square location where we’d be setting up. Things were already bustling – artists and food vendors setting up booths and festival volunteers were everywhere to help and answer questions.

Because of the threat of rain Friday night, I decided to wait to set up until Saturday morning…we spent the evening visiting with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and had GREAT pizza at Mike’s Pizza in East Grand Forks.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and in the morning I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Smith in person. Ruth and I met on the Michael’s message board, and it was terrific to match up her face and voice to her written words and jewelry creations! We gabbed about jewelry making, and I also met her friend Lynn…both are wonderful gals!!!!

I also got to chat with Mark Landa, who is a friend from “back in the days” when we both worked at the Target store in Grand Forks (we won’t go into how many years ago that was….). Mark is a great guy, and was actually the one who encouraged me to send in an application for the show!

Sales were great – pendants, earrings and rings were big hits. Chain maille (which I really highlighted) outsold strung and wire-worked items. I had a lot of positive comments, met a lot of wonderful people (Pixie and Sheila…can’t wait to see you next year!!!) and had a huge surprise and honor from the Downtown Leadership Group.

At about 11:00 on Saturday morning, I was told that I’d been chosen as “Best in Category” for jewelry, and was asked to be at the center stage for presentations and awards for “Best in Show”. When my name was called to stand with the other 8 outstanding artists (I’d seen some of their work and was absolutely amazed by it!!) I proudly held my burgundy ribbon while the names of the Second Runner Up and First Runner Up were announced.

The the big announcement: “Best in Show”….and my name. I was astonished, and thrilled that the show judges had deemed my work to be “the best” out of 130 artists who had been accepted into the show.

I was presented with a nice plaque, a monetary award, and told that for the 2009 Grand Cities Art Fest, I’ll be the Featured Artist – with a primo spot, photo shoot for the cover of the festival brochure, and my artwork will be used for the Art Fest t-shirts!

I’m still stunned…busy thinking about all the plans I need to put in place before June 2009…and all the jewelry I’ll need to be working on!!

Thank you so much to the Grand Cities Art Fest officials, the Downtown Leadership Group, all the volunteers, and patrons of the 2008 show…I am so excited to have been recognized and had so many wonderful folks stopping by and visiting with us.

See you next year!!!!

Jun 062008

I received an email from Sandy, who asked the following question about applying for juried art or craft shows:

I’ve done 2 jewelry non-juried shows and would like to apply to some shows that are juried. I have my slides and I’m wondering about the description/cover letter that accompanies them. Any advice on what to say and how to present the description? Do I just itemize? Write in letter form? Give background on me and my business? What do the jurists expect?

Personally, I’ve never had to write a cover letter for a juried show – the application is all that accompanies the photos or slides. But if I’m writing a description of my photos for a juried show or a contest entry, I’ll include the materials I used to make the piece, how I made it (including some information on special tools or techniques if applicable) and the story of how I was inspired to design it.

I’d love to hear your advice and stories about applying to juried shows, or even sitting on a jury if you’ve been fortunate enough to sit on the other side of the application!

Jun 062008

I’ve seen some innovative products in my day, and this one is right up there! Fire Mountain Gems newest product is a rubber bead board that you can roll up and take with you anywhere! From the press box:

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®, America’s favorite beading and jewelry supply company has just released a new, rubber bead design board that rolls up and tucks in just about anywhere, making it easy to bring your beading with you.

Designed for making single-strand jewelry up to 42 inches long, the latex-free rubber material ensures the board will stay in place on a hard work surface, and the light grey color highlights your beads. Five spacious compartments generously hold beads, components and tools.

At $13.72 each, these boards are not cheap, but using FMG’s Assortable Pricing (the more units you order – even if they are not the same item, the bigger discount you get!) can take your cost down to $7.74 each.

Jun 012008

I’m on a roll with anklets this weekend – two new designs to show and tell!

Super Easy Chain and Bead Anklet (30 minute project)
For this anklet, I’ve used some pre-made rolo chain, 20g sterling silver wire, and 6mm round peridot beads. Length is approximately 9″.

Cut four lengths of chain 2″ long.
Make three eye pins using the beads and wire.
Construct your anklet by attaching the eye pins to the chain.
Add a small lobster clasp and a dangle. Done!


Shining Silver Anklet
Full step by step photos will be posted on Beading Help Web, but I’ll walk you through the instructions…you can put this together in less than an hour, and it will go with everything all summer long!

Materials (shown for approximately 9 1/2″ anklet)
18 g 5/32″ jump rings (36)
20 g 7/64″ jump rings (71)
4mm sterling silver round beads with large hole (7) (Rings N Things #24-990-04)
Sterling silver flat lobster clasp (1)

This bracelet is an easy 2 in 1 chain, based on Japanese style chainmaille. A small round bead is added to the chain every five rings.

1. Open all 5/32″ jump rings and close all 7/32″ jump rings, using Beading Help Web’s Opening and Closing Jump Rings instructions.

2. Pick up an open jump ring, and thread two closed rings on it. Close the open ring. I like to twist a piece of scrap wire (or even an old bread tie!) to the first large jump ring now…it helps me to keep track of the end of the chain, and to hold on to it.

3. Pick up an open jump ring, thread it through the closed rings you added in Step 2. Add two small closed rings to the large ring before closing it. Repeat until you have four large rings in the chain.

4. You’ll be adding a bead to the fifth large ring in this pattern. The hole in the beads should be large enough to accommodate the jump ring wire and the curve of the ring (the Rings N Things product in the materials list worked perfectly for me with the 18g rings). Thread the bead on a large ring, thread the ring through the last closed small rings, and add two closed small rings. Close the large jump ring. Notice that your bead hangs to one side of the chain – this is the “bottom” of the chain. As you continue to add links to the chain, be sure your beads are on the same side of the chain, or it won’t hang right when you wear it!

5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until you have used all jump rings and beads. You will have one additional large ring and one additional small ring at the end of the chain.

6. Remove the scrap wire or bread tie from the first ring if you added them in Step 2. Add the lobster clasp to the first large ring, with the hook of the clasp on the top side of the chain. The clasp will attach through the last small ring on the opposite end of the chain.