Sunday, December 14, 2014

2015 Beading Contests

Beading contests 2015

End dates for submissions- double check all info with websites, and verify dates for yourself- end dates sometimes are extended. I will update this list when more information becomes available.

Jan. 31, 2015 International Bead Awards, Perlen Poesie - On a Journey of Discovery

Jan. 31, 2015. Beadworkers Guild UK 15th anniversary Swarovski contest

March 25, 2015 Bead Dreams Bead and Button magazine

April 1, 2015 Piecework pincushion contest.

April 30, 2015 Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest

May 15, 2015. This is a Facebook contest inspired by Earth Day and sponsored by Happy Mango beads.

This is a monthly design contest sponsored by Preciosa Ornela, makers of Czech glass beads. Each month features a different theme and entries must be comprised of Preciosa beads.

June 15, 2015.  Fashion Colorworks

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Azurite malachite Flower bracelet

This year for the Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest I used some azurite malachite composite cabochons, and made them into flower centers. I wrapped the cabs, then added petals. One of them I used on a necklace, the other as the center focal of a bracelet. I accented them with smaller flowers, some on the necklace used cats eye beads as centers. I used vintage French seed beads to make the leaves. The bracelet was selected as a silver medal winner.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Autumn necklace

Dakota and my autumn inspired necklace, with Swarovski pearls and rivolis.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Last month I entered a competition sponsored by Perles & Co. The challenge was to create a piece inspired by the beadwork of the Huichol people, following the theme of peyote and using peyote stitch. My piece ended up being a cell phone case. I had been making an amulet bag, but somehow it was a lot bigger than I had planned. The finalists were chosen the other day, and mine was not selected. I was very impressed with a few of the pieces; I liked the three-dimensional cactus designs and the I thought the deer was fantastic. You can view the finalists at the contest page.
While searching the images of traditional Huichol beadwork I came across an amazing collection, the recent work of Kali Arulpragasam. Titled "Gold Diggers," the beadwork is made in collaboration with the Huichol or Wixarika people to raise awareness of the problems they face in the 21st century. You can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Selling Beaded Jewelry

I recently joined the Etsy BeadWeavers group. I opened an Etsy shop because when you make beaded jewelry people have the expectation you wish to sell it. On that matter I need to remain indifferent, for reasons mentioned below, but I opened the shop so people could have a place to go. I joined the bead weavers group because they have monthly challenges and I love motivation. Last months challenge by Marsha of Haute Ice was the perfect present. I always have a problem with knowing what someone else would want, so I skipped that challenge. When it came time to vote for my choice I had an epiphany. I realized why I have such a problem selling my jewelry myself. I fell in love with one piece to the point where if it were in the brick and mortar bead shop I owned years ago I probably would have described to a potential customer the merits and beauty of that piece while downplaying my own, even if my jewelry was the subject of the original inquiry. "But look at this detail here" I would say about the other work, then follow it with a "see here, where I did this? That was completely wrong- check out how this other piece is made... It's so much nicer." And on and on, and of course I would make the sale- of the other persons jewelry. Why? Probably because I admired the work, but knew I couldn't make it so that's what I would want someone to give me. Not because the other piece was better, but since I was not so intimately involved with the other work and I was bored with mine having spent so much time making it I was over it. People had to be very determined to buy my work because I usually found myself talking them out of it. I had a much easier time teaching classes and selling beads, fortunately I was able to do lots of that.
I recently had a conversation about promoting yourself through unethical means. There are so many beaded jewelry makers in the marketplace that it is hard to stand out, and people resort to low levels in order to make money. That is nothing new in the world, but it has gotten to extreme levels with the ease of communication. I keep my beadwork as a refuge, a place where I can go that doesn't need to be constantly performing better in terms of how much money it makes. I like to challenge myself to do the best work I can, and I submit to places where I am essentially judged on the work. If some one wants to buy it, great, but I will still make things whether they do or not. That doesn't pay my bills, and I should be trying to succeed with jewelry sales, but I didn't like the pressure that needing to make money from beads put on my creativity, which is why I didn't do any intricate beadwork for years after I closed my store. At this point in my life, for me, creating is more important. I would rather enjoy my beads and explore ideas that take too many hours to put a easily accessible price on than try to please the whims of fashion. I realize most people don't feel that way, which is why there is so much unethical promoting, design theft and other various forms of bad behavior out there. People want bigger houses, newer cars and fancy vacations. All I want is more beads, and a quiet sunny place to play with them.
Next months challenge is warm and fuzzy. I am working on an entry for that since it is the final challenge of the year and I am required to participate. I don't know how salable the item will be, but since that is the ultimate goal in the EBW challenges I will try. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ugly Necklace

The Ugly Necklace contest, sponsored by the Land of Odds bead store, has to be the most unusual competition that I have entered. The idea is to defy all design principles and create a necklace that is the opposite of anything someone would like. And you have to write a poem about the necklace. There were points given for the use of small beads so I opted to use mostly seed beads. I tried to pick bland colors, and ones that didn't match. I also made three competing focal points and placed them all on the same side of the necklace.  I followed the ideas given in the Principles of Design, but tried to do the opposite. It is a hard thing to do but somehow my necklace was deemed ugly enough to be chosen as a finalist. The five finalists are up for public voting on the website until December 15th.  I was not sure if the poem was supposed to Vogon poetry or Shakespeare, so I just wrote something that described the necklace.

Flowers and a Red Dot

The beads were so pretty
In tubes of colors by themselves
But then I mixed them up 
To create chaos from the mess

Samples of stitches
And abandoned designs
Gathered together
In discordant lines

I jumped right into ugly
And passed flowers on the way
Now the question remaining-
Have you seen uglier today?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Freeform beadwork

I finished my first freeform beadwork recently. I am happy with it, but even though there are no set rules I am not sure I am working with the right process. Somehow I didn't use much peyote stitch, instead it is more square stitch and right angle weave. I mixed some pearls, blue apatite and labradorite beads in with the blue iris and matte black iris seed beads. I enjoyed the random progression through the bracelet, and have already begun another one in brighter blues and greens which has more of a layered look. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Snowdrops and Ivy

Last weekend I went to Bead Fest Philadelphia. I had not been to a bead show since Tuscon in 2006. I was excited to be able to do some bead buying in person since the bead shopping around here is limited to chain craft stores. Judging from the crowds at the seed bead bead booths I wasn't the only one who felt that way. They had more than enough beads at the show that I easily blew my budget. Even though it's only a fraction of the mega show held in Arizona every February, I was still overwhelmed by all the beads. I bought a few tubes of colors I thought I needed and some other random treasure. There were lots of stone beads and I bought a few strands even though I have no thoughts yet on how I will use them. 
The winners of the Bead Star competition were on display, and one of my floral necklaces, Late Winter Garden, won second place in the glass bead category. 

There were a lot of beautiful necklaces there. I really liked a couple in the Emerging Artists category. It was great to see my necklace next to the other winning designs, and nice to live so close to the show!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer necklace

The results for the Fashion Colorworks contest have been posted and my necklace was chosen as second place winner! I am very happy with that result. I worked on this necklace during the winter months, and the bright colors were a welcome relief from the snow covered view outside my window. I made quite a few flowers in various shades of orchid and cayenne, and bought as many colors that might have been sand as I could find. 
The flowers I didn't use are all together in a bowl on my work table.

This is one of my favorite contests and I enjoyed using colors that I wouldn't normally pick. All of the entries are displayed on the My Lovely Beads website. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Battle of the Beadsmith

I kept a few guidelines in my mind as I worked on this piece- a comment from an interview with Kris Empting-Obenland about having stayed within her comfort zone when choosing colors to work in, Steven's sage words to "just make something pretty," and my own idea that the entries for this competition are all over the top in terms of the amount of work and the complexities of the designs. Originally I thought I should attempt to make something that had red carpet glamour. Unfortunately, that isn't my style. Having gathered lots of shiny baubles and gemstones I spent many directionless days wrapping cabs and playing with crystals with very little satisfaction. Finally I gave up and started using my favorite colors from the beads that I had picked out to correspond to the Pantone colors of the year. Since I have been on a flower trend, and there was a time limitation, I decided to eliminate the learning curve and make what I was comfortable with.
 I am drawn to using primarily seed beads without a fabric base in my work. I had a difficult time finding some of the colors I needed in Miyuki beads since both local bead stores closed in April, so I used some Toho beads I had in my stash. I was able to convince my daughter to pose for the photos, and she gave me her top model poses and faces, somewhat obscured by foliage and flowers.
The pictures of the designs are being posted on Facebook this week, and the work very impressive. I am excited to be included in this group of talented bead artists.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Spring rains have finally replaced the snow and the first greens are slowly appearing. My bead board is still covered in orchid, cayenne and sand. This month I have been exploring the colors available in Czech seed beads and I discovered the best opaque orchid yet, and decided that as for reds, the Czech colors are the most vibrant. There just is no replacing the qualities of glass mixed with gold by using dyes. Next to the Czech beads the Japanese reds look very weak. I also have been using the pearl cream and eggshell colors over the vanilla or ivory available in Japanese. The Preciosa beads also seem to have larger center holes than some of the Miyuki do which was a surprise. I have finished an entry for the My Lovely Beads contest in the first triad, now I am moving towards working in the blue, freesia, and hemlock color scheme. The flowers should be up soon, and that palette has good spring colors.
Only one month until the closing date for the Fire Mountain contest, and with the start of April I also get to begin my beading for The Battle of the Beadsmith.  I have been paired against Glenda MacNaughton from Australia. Her Etsy shop, Daxbeadartpatterns is filled with some beautiful designs, and I can't wait to see her Battle entry. I am not sure what I am making, but I have some ideas to try. It should be a busy month.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Snow and more snow and still more snow to come. One of the few good things about it is that the light is much brighter all around with so much snow on the ground. I have started buying cut flowers just because there is so little color anywhere outside. 
Between the weather and mercury retrograde it has been a long month during which I have made little progress. I did finish a necklace with hellebores and snowdrops that I am considering entering into the Bead and Button contest, but the $50 entry fee is a bit of a deterrent. Completing the project in a timely manner satisfies the challenge of my being able to enter, should I decide to.

 I have spent most of my bead time these past few weeks trying to figure out what beads work for the radiant orchid, sand and cayenne triad. My local bead store decided to go out of business (too much snow and ice) so I have been buying more beads than usual before they are gone. My latest choice for radiant orchid is the Miyuki duracoat semi frost s/l lilac 11-4426 and semi frost s/l lavender 11-4248 mixed with some Toho gilt lined lavender opal, all size 11. I have made sample flowers with every shade of pink to purple in French, Japanese and Czech beads I have been able to find and depending on the light any one of them could be a good match, but few match each other. My preferred size beads are the 15's, and I haven't had much luck finding a bright orchid in them. The s/l mulberry 1655 is close, but not very radiant. I don't know why I am so obsessed with this, but my choice for African violet last year was so different from what other people had I am determined to get it right. I made a set of color swatches by saving screen shots of the Pantone colors on my iPod, then I printed it out on high quality. The radiant orchid was the same as my swatch from Lowes, so I am hoping all the other colors translated as well it did. I have been matching them to beads as well, and they aren't the colors I would have thought. I just bought many more beads that might be sand, but I haven't made samples yet. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Snowdrop, the 2nd time around

This is my new and improved version of a snowdrop, made into a piece of wearable art.
I used a 6 3/4 inch stainless steel stick pin for the base form. Bending the pin was hard because I needed it to be a certain shape, determined by the beadwork. I discarded three attempts before I got it right. Another change from the original involved using size 11 rounds for the flower instead of delicas. This gave the flower a fuller look, and it held the shape better. I had many more greens to choose from, so I tried to match the colors of the leaves by using an iridescent matte green while keeping the other greens the same as the original. Overall, I was happy with the pin and may try other bulbs in the future.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest

Fire Mountain Gems has been one of my favorite places to buy beads since I discovered them in the early 1990's. I remember driving by the warehouse on trip out west and wishing they weren't mail order only. 
Last year, for the first time, I entered their seed bead contest. The piece I submitted was a sunflower necklace that featured a black nephrite cabochon as it's center. I had wrapped the cab with some iridescent purple 3-cut beads, but didn't have any ideas for it beyond that. My husband kept insisting that I had said I wanted to use it for the middle of a sunflower, but I had no recollection of that. Eventually, after so many suggestions, my brain began working toward that end. I started by making separate petals, then used twin beads to represent seeds while also connecting the petals to the center. The peyote stitch rope is made using Preciosa copper lined lime beads. Using the Miyuki triangle beads added texture to the leaves and support for the flower. I added the periwinkle flowers to include purple. Most of the pieces I made last spring employed the My Lovely Beads Pantone triad of African Violet, Tender Shoots and Lemon Zest, a limited but challenging decision. 
I was told once by a friend from Venezuela that planting sunflowers outside your front door will bring prosperity. For the last few years I have, and it may not of helped overmuch, but it hasn't hurt either. 
My sunflower necklace was chosen as a finalist in the contest this year, and with that as motivation, I have already begun next years entry. The winning pieces are all awesome, and can be viewed on the Fire Mountain Gems Seed Bead contest 2013 page.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Radiant orchid and seed bead colors

Pantone's color of the year is one of my favorite colors, but it isn't the easiest to find in beads. Finding the exact shade of pink/purple/fuchsia that is Radiant Orchid was made a lot easier by comparing the beads to a paint sample card from Lowe's. To Pantone's credit, the color is exactly the same as the color on the orchid flower that recently bloomed on a plant I bought last year. (Just Add Ice orchid- I followed the directions to give it three ice cubes a week and it is the first one I have ever had that bloomed again!)
I narrowed my bead choices to two types. The color difference between the Japanese beads and French beads is enormous, yet both seemed like they could be radiant orchid. Once I poured out the colors and placed the trays next to my swatch it was clear the Japanese beads were a better match. 
In direct sunlight the opalescence of the French beads seemed to catch the color, but it wasn't as obvious in artificial light.
In any light the Japanese beads were a lot closer in color. The size 15 beads shown here are all Miyuki, number 352 is Fuchsia lined aqua luster and the transparent bead is number 1620, Semi-frost transparent lavender. The silver lined bead is number F23.
I made some sample flowers out of the various beads, and the thread color made a big difference with the French beads. I used both rose and light purple Nymo thread and the resulting flowers were totally different.
The triad for the My Lovely Beads contest also includes cayenne red and sand, so now I need to find beads that match those colors as well.