Jul 282010

I’ve written about Generation Gems before…I LOVE their engraved beads for brag bracelets, and the customer service I get from Toni and the crew is absolutely the best.

Last Wednesday, I got a Convo on Etsy (Convos are Etsy’s version of a private message) from a gal who wanted to order a brag bracelet for her mom’s birthday…and it was a rush order.  She needed it by July 30 – and usually I require 3 weeks lead time to order, receive, create, and mail one off!

I called Generation Gems, talked to Toni, and we figured out a plan of action.  While I was on the phone with her, she mentioned that they had some new engraved beads and new fonts for engraving.  The following day, I ordered three hematite beads for my customer…and I received my order on Monday!  I had an out of town guest Monday evening, so I didn’t get a chance to open the box and work on the bracelet, but I got up early this morning to work on it, so that it could be mailed out today.

Opened my package, and had a great surprise!  Not only were my beads in the box (carefully packaged, like always!) but Toni had also included a sample of the new “Reflections” bead!

The Reflections Bead looks like a nut you’d buy in a hardware store, but with a smooth center instead of threaded…and made from sterling silver.  And engraved with names and birth dates on the four sides!  The hole is large enough for a Pandora-style bracelet, Viking Knit or other bangle type bracelet.  The square shape is unique – it’s very industrial-looking.

At $50 per bead (retail), the beads are a little pricey, but what an original gift!  I can definitely see Generations Gems’ Reflection Bead as something to be handed down…for generations! 😉

And that brag bracelet?  Done and on it’s way to Tennessee. I hope the recipient loves her new work of art!

Mar 262009

It’s that time again, and the OT group is coming up with some beautiful Celedon (pale green) projects for you to make!

My contribution this month is a delightful pair of embellished ear wires – simple to make, and super cute to wear! I’ve used spring colors to symbolize all the flowers that are starting to poke up through the dirt, and soon will be blooming and bringing color to the drab landscape!

Easy Embellished Ear Wires
I found that a Czech glass bead, in the shape of a flower or bead cap, makes a perfect embellishment for a simple pair of French-style ear wires. Here’s how you can achieve the same look with your own wire and beads!Materials:

22g 1/2 hard sterling silver wire
Czech glass flower bead (2)
Decorative bead (I used a cat’s eye bead in a heart shape, pink color) (2)
4mm Swarovski crystal (2)
Sterling silver head pins (2)

1. Working from the spool of wire, thread a Czech glass flower bead on the wire, cupped end last.
2. Make a small loop on the end of the wire…you’ll use this for your dangle.
3. Let the flower bead fall to the top of the loop, and made a bend in the wire at the top of the bead to hold it in place.
4. Using a Sharpie marker or other round object (pen, knitting needle, mandrel), form the shape for the ear wire just above the bend.
5. Clip the end of the wire and file.
6. Create a dangle, threading the crystal and decorative bead on the head pin.
7. Create a wrapped loop at the top of the dangle.
8. Attach the dangle to the loop at the base of the ear wire.
9. Repeat for second earring!

In retrospect, I would bump up step #8 before #3 – it was a little hard to open the loop because of how it fit “into” the flower bead.

Mar 242009

I squeaked through the R&T trunk show today in record time…despite getting there a little late, I was able to force myself to look at each table (only once ;-), I decided there were no “backsies” this year!) and pick up a nice bag of goodies.

While I had a little different methodology this year, I do have some tips for shopping at a big bead show like this for you.

1. Pick up your jaw from the floor. Breathe. Don’t get panicky or overwhelmed. (Seriously, I’ve seen it happen!)
2. Grab a tray or whatever is provided for you to place strands in.
3. Pay close attention to pricing strategies…many times, the price on a strand is NOT the price you’ll pay. For example, for most items, R&T charges 50% + 15% of the strand price. A $10 strand of beads is actually going to only run you $4.40 (if I did the math right ;-)).
4. Touch, feel, experience what the beads will be like on the skin.
5. Sometimes you are going to want to pick up things that go together, sometimes you’ll just see something that catches your eye and you’ll have to have it. Don’t be encumbered by feeling like you need an immediate purpose or plan for everything.
6. Pick up what you like, really like…you can cull out what you “need” later.
7. Work the entire room, and then sit down and look through what you have. If you set yourself a budget, figure out what fits in the budget and what’s optional. Sometimes those optional things can be allowed to go over budget, but really think through those purchases. I have strands that I’ve picked up and never used…thinking through it, I probably should have just let them stay where they were.

8. If you’re not taking some of your strands, find out what the folks who are running the show would like you to do. Sometimes they’d prefer to put away extras themselves, but if not, help out by returning the items to the right bins.

I do usually have “bread and milk” for a bead show, this year it was round sterling silver beads and some assortments of Swarovski crystals. I picked up both, in addition to all the goodies you see here.

A couple of disappointments…I usually grab a good assortment of Bali silver, but the selection was really limited this year. Only picked up a couple of small strands of regular daisy spacers, none of the specialty beads really caught my eye.

And less on the “Drool Table” than I remember from previous years. I treated myself to a gorgeous strand of sapphires…was tempted by some emeralds, but decided I’d probably already spent enough money and would wait for next year.

Icky find: snakeskin beads. Ugh. I can’t believe I actually picked one up and touched it. I hate snakes. Even dead ones that have been made into beads.

I absolutely love everything I got…my fingers are itching to get at some of it…overall, it was wonderful! Thanks Russ, Kim, Dave and all the rest of R&T for throwing a great bead show!!!

Jan 112009

Came back from a quick trip to Kansas City yesterday. When I left Omaha, it was 28 degrees, but the ground was clear. (Our typical winter is: Snow, Melt. Snow, Melt. Most of the time it’s brown, not white outside!)

While I was out of town, we had a couple of inches of snow, so now it’s all white and pretty…but COLD!

Perfect for hunkering down with a jewelry project or two.

This afternoon I plan to work on a few projects, but I think I’ll make up some earrings that I created for a special project last week. Here are some written instructions  – quick and easy and really cute!

Orbital Bead Earrings

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

18g fine silver wire or 7mm 18g soldered jump rings (2)
3x4mm rondelle bead (2)
Head pin (2)
Earring findings (2)

To make your own fused jump ring, wind the 18g fine silver wire around a 7mm mandrel. Using a saw or flush cutter, cut the jump rings. Fuse ring ends together using a butane torch and quench.

1. Hammer rings slightly to give them a bit of texture. Polish with a Sunshine cloth.

2. Thread one bead on each headpin.

3. Using a round nosed pliers, start a wrapped loop on the headpin wire above the bead- don’t close the loop yet! Link the large jump ring through the loop, and finish the wrap.

4. Attach the earring finding to the wrapped loop, allowing the bead to fall inside the jump ring. Polish the entire piece with a Sunshine cloth, or pop in your tumbler for at least 30 minutes to bring out the shine and harden the metal.

Dec 042008

Seems we are all so stressed every holiday season that there’s no time for anything! Keeping in mind my own busy schedule (I thought I’d have all this time in December, but Jeremy decided to go out for wrestling and that’s eating up every spare minute!), my first Ornament Thursday project for December is quick and easy, but VERY festive!

Holiday Candle WrapHoliday Candle Wraps: Dress up your plain boring candles using just beads, wire and crimps. This is a 30-minute project – you can pick up the materials at any hobby or craft store (like Michaels or Hobby Lobby), and easily complete at least one in 30 minutes.

To kick off 2008’s holiday version of Ornament Thursday, all the gals are making fabulous projects…check them all out! Be sure to stop back each and every Thursday in December for more fun and festive projects!

Christmas Past and Needle Magic at http-design.com Michelle is addressing the ghosts of Christmas past and Helen gets down and dirty sewing a Christmas ornament – stand well clear, she is dangerous with a needle.

Strands of Beads Melissa makes cute and quick Christmas tree earrings this week.

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!!!!


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.

Mar 122008

You’ve just innocently wandered into the bead aisle of Michael’s or Hobby Lobby or a local bead store. You remember a pretty bracelet you admired on the wrist of a friend the other day, and that she said she’d made it. You think “That might be fun…I could probably make one too!”

Welcome to the world of beading and jewelry making…if you catch the bug, you will likely be hooked for life! But looking at the aisles of products to buy can be a little intimidating…what do I need? What’s optional? What’s a crimp bead and when do I use one?
Over the next few days, I’ll point you in the right direction to get started…and then you are well on your way to making professional-looking jewelry in your own style, favorite colors, and latest trends!