Saturday, October 31, 2015

Beadwork Reader Challenge

In every issue of Beadwork magazine there is a Reader Challenge. The idea is of the feature is that one editor and three readers all receive the same supplies, and have a month or so to create a piece of jewelry from them. The finished piece is then published along with the other designs. The package I received was from Artbeads, one of my favorite places to shop online. The materials included Swarovski pearls and bicones and some lovely size 8 seed beads in a mix with the enchanting name Seabreeze. There was also a 24 gauge wire mix in the same Seabreeze palette, a heavier gauge sea foam color wire, some titanium silver colored wire and Zamba wire. The last item in the package was four 12 mm round fancy silver rings.

At first I was excited to take part. Then I tried to make something. Wow. The people who are able to design on command have my respect. It isn't easy. I gathered all the beads I had in matching colors, and still nothing. I fell back on flowers, because they are always pretty. Before I knew it, I had enough for a necklace, so I went for it. The wire isn't my favorite thing, but I used it hang my flowers from strands of beads strung on Zamba wire. The end result was a three strand piece in which I used most of the beads supplied (my goal) and even bought more to finish it. 

Red and Grey

The October challenge for OTTBS was red and grey, with a twist to use squares.
The colors red, especially paired with grey is tough for me, but I kept seeing the  beads and trying to work with them. The result was a lot of false starts and lack of ideas but after many days I managed to work my tiles into a beaded pendant. I attached it to the chain I had made, and realized I used almost every shape but squares in the necklace! Oh well.
With the rest of the pieces I made, the leaves and flowers, I decided to try bead embroidery. I have only tried once before, and that was on the bead backing they sell. I used to do regular embroidery when I was young, and I like using the hoop to keep the fabric tight. I used a thick piece of denim, and sewed my pieces down. I still haven't been able to force myself to glue anything down, it seems like such a permanent thing and I don't want to commit good gemstones to a piece I am learning on. I used a marble bead to get the feel for how to work around a cabochon. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


This amulet bag is inspired by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I based it on a photo I took over the summer. It is my entry for the November Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, Landscape. The red colors of the canyon are very different from the greens I usually associate with landscapes. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Black Raspberry

I finally got around to making a necklace with the drop bead raspberries. The opaque purple Czech seed beads are reminiscent of black raspberry ice cream, so I used them to make petals for the Paua shell beads. Originally I was going to use three flowers on the necklace, but instead I decided to make a matching bracelet and ring. I was pleased to discover the set had won a bronze metal in the 2015 Fire Mountain Gems Seed Bead contest.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tackling the bead stash

Over the last year I have met a lot of people who share my passion for beads. After friending many bead people on Facebook I began seeing posts of beaded works made for the OTTBS challenge. When I finally figured out OTTBS stood for Operation Tackle That Bead Stash, I went to their blog. It seems that there is a monthly theme, and August was purple, green, blue and black. They had me at purple and green. There was also a twist, but I didn't have any spike beads and my bead stash is already large enough that I decided to limit my entry to what I had on hand. There are a lot of purples and greens to choose from, but I was influenced by the photo on the blog and used those shades. They are my favorites anyway, so it was an easy color way to work with. I started with flowers, it helps me think and I end up with usable components. I wanted to use a pretty shade rivoli, something I always have trouble with. After wrapping it, I decided to make a pendant using the flowers. I ended up with a cute component and I stitched an simple edged RAW chain to hang it from. Something was missing, the bottom was too wide. A perfect place for the spike bead, so I searched for a substitute, I know I have some crystals in the right shape but I could not find them. I finally came across a vintage glass drop that was the perfect shade green, so I added it to the bottom of the pendant. I like the overall shape much better with it, and I used a drop I never thought I'd find a place for. Win, win. I am psyched I found some inspiration, and was able to use up some beads. I am looking forward to participating in future challenges. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Black, White, and One

The theme for the September Etsy Beadweavers Challenge is Black, White and One (other color.) 
After deliberating over many different purple beads, I decided to use a bright yellow with the black and white.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Lately I have been looking to find inspiration from designs of the past. One of the things I have been checking out is vintage jewelry from auction sites like They have some beautiful pieces offered for sale. Some of them are really unusual. It encouraged me to look through my jewelry box for vintage and unique items. I like to go to the local auctions and various markets, and have bought some interesting things there.

This is a vintage ring I found at auction. I am not sure what it's story is, but it has different colored stones set around the top, and it is really tall. I thought it was a great find.
Some of my favorite pieces of jewelry are one of a kind, and some are just different from anything I see readily available.

This is a piece I found at a second hand store.
 The enamel egg and amber design is similar to one I remember seeing in the book  Africa Adorned by Angela Fisher. I believe it said the style of necklace was given to a woman to commemorate her becoming a mother. 

 These amber rings belonged to my maternal grandmother. She loved big rings. I found the necklace at a flea market. Some of the beads are missing, but the remaining ones are pretty nice.

 My paternal grandmother received this pin when she graduated college in 1930. She had a degree in Spanish, which I find strange because I was never good at languages. I love the pearls in the heart shaped part.

These are some easy to make bracelets. I used sterling wire with trade beads. They are fun to wear with just about everything I own.

 Rubies and opals are my favorite stones. I found the rubies at the gem show in Tucson in 2006. I strung the two strands of faceted beads separately, but I wear them together, usually wrapped around my wrist. They look great with gold bracelets.

These rings came from the local farmers market. They do have some bakery and produce there, but most of the place is odd little shops. When I spotted the rings in the coin shop I bought them because, well,  I love opals.

This is a piece of jewelry that has a pin back as well as the chain. It came from a jewelry shop in an antique mall. I don't know how old it is, but I have had it for 20 years.  I really like the way the different kinds of turquoise are used together. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chains and Freedom

My entry for the 2015 IBA competition. The theme was "On A Journey of Discovery." I chose to make a beaded representation of the Liberty Bell, since that is the symbol of choice for the city of Philadelphia. There is much emphasis on the history of the early days of the United States in the county that I live in. There is even a replica of the Liberty Bell in my town! You can see my picture of it on the Liberty Hall Wikipedia page.

On Independence Day my favorite activity is taking pictures of fireworks!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Battle of the Beadsmith

Space 25/50
My Battle of the Beadsmith entry this year represented the culmination of a year of intense beading. I had only finished my Bead Dreams entry the week before the April 1st start date, and I made a bracelet for the Etsy Beadweavers spring swap in that time. I had no idea what I was going to make, and at midnight on April 1 I was struck with the idea of a space theme. The free form format I had been playing with seemed a perfect medium, and even though the idea was very self indulgent I went with it. The second week of April I started making my entry for the Fire Mountain seed bead contest, and I spent three weeks on that. It was accepted to the next round of judging, so it was time well spent. That piece was purple flowers, and may have proved a better choice for my Battle piece since my space themed necklace was voted out in round 1. The space necklace was the second in my Earth and Sky series, and I probably should have taken more time with it. The thing about the Battle is all the beautiful beadwork designs are amazing, in some battles especially it is so hard to choose. There are some really unique ideas this year, and once again I am happy just to be included with such talented bead artists. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Waterfall Necklace

Some pictures of Glen Onoko Falls in the Pocono Mountains near Jim Thorpe, Pa.

 The blue bead I found while hiking the trail that gave me the idea to bead the waterfall. I added it to the necklace, under a fern.

Close up of bracelet and necklace

I used labradorite and aquamarine beads along with two hole beads and seed beads to create the waterfall.

 Reverse view

 The sun came out for this picture

The entire piece is free form bead work incorporating brick, peyote, square, herringbone, spiral stitch and fringe. I worked on it over five months and am very happy it was chosen as a finalist.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Romantic Floral Bracelet in Purple

This Mercury retrograde I decided to finish up some projects that I had started in the past year. One of my favorites is this floral bracelet. I had so many flowers I made and never used I was able to make a bracelet in purple and blue as well as the pink. The center flower has a superduo center with luminescent Japanese seed beads. The berry clusters are Swarovski pearls. I made the toggle bar into a caterpillar that blends in with the flowers.