Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hello, Natasha!

I'm speaking to one of my newest beadwoven creations. No, I haven't lost my mind (well, okay, some people might debate that). But this newest piece really does have a personality.

The Natasha Necklace began with a wonderful polymer clay bead made by Dee (aka Malodora). I saw a bunch of these beads when she posted them to her Flickr photostream, and I immediately fell in love with them. And then I had to have some for myself (you can see more about the Natasha beads here). Ever since they arrived, I've been looking at them. I put them all into a little container, but just about every day I have to take a few of them out and turn them slowly so I can admire all their sides.

After staring at them for all that time, I eventually had an idea for how to use one of them. The one in the pictures, although it's by no means the brightest one in the bunch, was the one talking to me the most. Maybe it's because it has such interesting colors -- lavender, lime green, peach, and red, with a touch of black that accentuates all the lighter colors.

The idea was to use the four main colors and create an ndebele rope in each so I could braid them together. I figured the diameter of the finished braid would be a nice size for a bracelet and would go well with the beads.

That was the plan.

What wasn't part of the plan was that I had no idea how long to make the ropes. I'm pretty good at math, but there was just no way for me to figure out how much of the length would be taken up in the braid. A tight braid would use more of the length, a loose braid less of it. So I guesstimated.

And I came pretty close. If I'd used a tighter braid it probably would have worked. But I didn't like the "feel" of the tight braid when I was finished.

Now the dilemma. My braided section was too long to use as a bracelet.


Not one to dismantle pieces after they're finished (quite a task when you take into consideration just how much effort I put into making sure things don't come apart accidentally!), I had to figure out some other way to use that beautiful bead.

I have quite a good stash of mismatched, funky, interesting beads that are all waiting for a "home" in something. Since I don't do any stringing, they have to sit around and wait for me to do something freeform; and I don't really do much of that! (Have I mentioned that there's just not enough time?!?!?)

So I dug out the stash and located some beads I thought would complement the Natasha bead and that would make an interesting necklace! To tie the two sides of the asymmetrical necklace together, I made up some beaded tube beads using the same beads I used for the ropes to go between the glass, stone, and crystal beads I found in my stash.

And although this didn't end up being ANYTHING like what I had planned, I love it!

I guess I'm just an asymmetrical kind of person.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

If you haven't seen the FoundHandmade website, check it out:

I hadn't seen the site before I was notified that they had chosen my Bois Peint cuff to be featured on the FoundHandmade Blog in their "Finds of the Day" blog post called All Colors Under the Rainbow. How cool!



Ready for Some Color?

Spring has sprung. At least the calendar says it's spring. I'm not so sure about the weather yet. It's still cold. I think we're even supposed to get more snow today. Blech.

Apparently I have a case of Spring Fever that's affecting my choice of bead colors. I've noticed that I keep reaching for the brightly colored beads in my stash. That's a good thing, though, as I normally tend to reach for the darker colors and have to force myself to move away from them.

You might want to put on some sunglasses to look at these pieces...

Think that's bright? Well, yes it is. But this one's even brighter!

This last one's not as colorful, but it's pretty bright and cheery. I thought I'd do something nice a simple, using a little silver-toned daisy button I found.

Time to get out the beads and see which colors jump into my hands today...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hello, Alice!

Spend just a couple of minutes in my Etsy shop, and it'll quickly become obvious to you that I LOVE Alice in Wonderland. Actually, I just love the Sir John Tenniel illustrations; and I have a great time thinking of ways to use them for cards and tags. My favorite of all the characters is the Mad Hatter. How could you not love a character who runs around in checked pants, a bowtie, and a top hat???

With all the different cards and tags I've made featuring the Alice illustrations - in their original black and white, in the original colors, and then my altered versions which have red highlights and pink highlights - I can't believe it didn't occur to me earlier to do a version in sepia! As soon as that thought flitted through my head, I edited a bunch of my favorites of the images to make them sepia toned; and I just finished making them into greeting cards, printed on some beautiful offwhite parchment.

I guess I was thinking about the Alice illustrations more than usual because I was working on this HUGE pile of Alice cards and envelopes for a custom order. These are on their way to the customer - I hope she loves them! It took me awhile to cut, fold, and glue all those envelopes (250 of them). And since I just kept seeing Alice and the words from Jabberwocky (which is what I printed onto the envelope), it's only natural that I'd be thinking of other Alice things to make.

Lest you think I've ONLY been working on Alice things, that's not the case at all. I'm still playing with my beads pretty much every day. I do almost all of my beadweaving at night while I'm watching TV (have I ever mentioned that I can rarely do just one thing at a time???).

One of my newest creations is this Oglala bracelet, called Cherry Lime Fizz. Doesn't it look fizzy to you? When I bought the beads that run down the center I had no idea what color I'd use with them. I first picked up a tube of red beads, but then I saw the tube of lime green ones lying there; and it just seemed like they wanted to be used for this.

Now that I know that Barbara (the customer who requested the freeform bracelet and Oglala necklace I wrote about in earlier posts) has received her package, I can show off the little pendant I made as a gift for her.

Obviously, this was made to be the perfect complement to the freeform bracelet.

I don't think I've ever done a freeform pendant before, but it was just as much fun as the bracelets are to do! In fact, it might have been a little MORE fun because it took less time.

I may just have to do more of these...

in my spare time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lightning Strike

I couldn't wait. I have a million other things to do, but I just couldn't resist working up a new version of this design (the previous one, Fractured, was featured here). I wanted to work on a "lightning" version even while I was making that first one!

I thought about using really dark blue beads for the night sky, but then I remembered some photos I took of a lightning storm at night. The flashes were incredible, and the storm went on for a long time. I had just bought my digital camera and wasn't able to figure out the best way to take the pictures using some of the camera's features, so I was relying on instinct and timing to snap these as the lightning flashed across the sky.

With those photos in mind, I opted to use these brilliant Iris Violet/Green beads for the sky and some very pale pink silver-lined beads for the lightning. I love this version of the design (Lightning at Midnight)!

I also finished the Oglala necklace I was making on Saturday, and it's already on the way to its new owner. I hope she loves it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Playing with Oglala

Ever since I first came across the instructions for the Oglala technique in Mastering Beadwork, I've been hooked. It's such an easy stitch to master (well, I thought so anyway), and it produces beautiful results. The stitch itself is a type of netting, and because more beads are added to each row it winds up being very frilly and ruffly.

A lovely repeat customer (Barbara) requested that I create an Oglala necklace for her using a mixture of copper- and bronze- colored beads and freshwater pearls. There was some discussion about whether to create the ruffly part of the necklace using a different color for each row, but ultimately Barbara decided she'd like just a random mixture. I haven't quite completed the necklace (still have to add the pearls), but I think mixing the beads (four different colors) was a good choice!

Not that I needed to practice, but I decided to make a bracelet using the Oglala technique before I began the necklace. Did I mention how much fun these are???

I recently purchased some really primitive looking brown and clear glass beads at a show in Milwaukee with the intent of using them to make a different type of Oglala bracelet than I've previously done. All my other versions have been very symmetrical, using the same size and type of focals, but I'm really happy with this one with all its different sizes and shapes. It's hard to tell from the photos, but there are some that look like root beer barrels (you know, those hard candies you like so much), one with a twisted pattern in the glass, one that has slight facets, and some plain round ones. All the clear beads have a white core, where they were removed from their mandrels, so they look neat.

The whitish colored beads used for the ruffly part are vintage Japanese beads - clear glass lined with white. This one had me thinking about that half gallon of ice cream stashed in the freezer, paired with some of my favorite Point root beer. So this one is called Root Beer Float. hehe.

I've just been sent a tip that is going to allow me to spend more of my time beadweaving... Feel free to use this yourself! You'll be amazed at how much more time you have. :-)

Always keep several Get Well cards displayed on your mantel...
so if unexpected guests arrive, they'll think you've been ill and unable to clean!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beaders Showcase

Have you ever visited the Beaders Showcase? I joined it awhile back, hoping for more visibility for my Etsy shop; and although I'm not particularly active there (just too many other things take up my time!) I was pleasantly surprised when I received a message from Jeff, the site's administrator and organizer, letting me kow that one of my beadwoven pieces had made it to the Weekly Showcase (that's my Mamaw's Patchwork Quilt bracelet in the center). Pretty cool, eh?

If you do any type of beading, you can join Beaders Showcase. It really does seem like a great community, and there are some talented beaders showing off their work on the site. It's free to join, you can show off your work (you get your own page), you can drool over others' work, and you can interact with other beaders.

It's always fun to find your work featured somewhere, isn't it? When someone thinks enough of your work to show it off in a blog post or in an Etsy treasury?

As much as I try to keep up with treasuries, both looking for that little gold or silver star that shows me something of mine's been included and looking through random collections to see all the fun things the curators have included, it's almost overwhelming.

Well, a big thank you to whoever came up with Craftopolis! I saw a blog post about this site somewhere (and can't for the life of me remember where), and it's awesome. Want to see if your creation is featured in a treasury? Just go to Craftopolis, type in your Etsy shop name, and voila! It shows whether you're in the Main Treasury or in Treasury West, and even shows if you're an alternate. Cool, eh? You can also see if one of your listings is featured in a Gift Guide.

There sure are a lot of sites devoted to Etsy-ish things, aren't there? I guess with more than 150,000 registered sellers (and no telling how many items for sale and buyers!) it's understandable that there are so many Etsy-related sites popping up. Just off the top of my head, I came up with this list:

#!etsyhacks -- One of my favorites, this site has all sorts of add-ons to make sellers' lives easier (copying listings, fast tagging, editing an item while you're viewing it). I've already saved countless minutes using these tools!

Heartomatic -- Want to see how many hearts your shop has? Oh, I know that little Etsy swirly thing is cool, but I like this even better. You can also see how many hearts your items have, either for everything you have listed or for a single item.

handmadeology -- Hints, tips, and articles by one of Etsy's most successful sellers, Timothy Adam (aka TimothyAdamDesigns). I haven't explored this one much, actually, but I know it's gotten some rave reviews.

Etsy Giveaways -- This blog was created for the sole purpose of giving you a place to promote your free Etsy-related giveaways and contests. It's really easy to post something, and you might even find a giveaway you want to win!

Okay, those are the only ones I can think of right now. I know there are probably lots of others, so if you have some favorites, please post them in the comments!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Decision about Entrecard

I'm going to be closing my Entrecard account as soon as all the ads I've placed and the ads I've accepted for my blog have completed (which should be in about a week).

I didn't make the decision lightly. I've found some wonderful blogs through the site and have met some wonderful Etsy sellers that I might not otherwise have encountered. I'm going to be spending the next few days adding some of my favorite blogs to my blogroll (over there on the right) and following some others.

Thank you to all the people who have been regular "droppers" on my blog. Thank you to all those who have taken time to read my posts and add their comments. I truly appreciate it.

If you want to keep up with me and my exploits, I'd love for you to follow this blog and/or sign up for my newsletter (you can find both options over in the right-hand column).

Thanks, and happy dropping! See ya 'round.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I recently saw someone else's blog post about Wordle, and it looked so cool that I had to go check it out. This thing is addictive! You can create these word clouds by typing in a URL and letting Wordle grab the words, or you can type in the words yourself. After you're finished, click the "Randomize" button and watch all these little word clouds form. Neat, huh?

You can choose fonts, colors, and backgrounds to customize your Wordle. There's also a gallery, so you can go check out other word clouds.

I guess it's only fitting that I came across this freeform word cloud thing on the day I was busy making some new freeform bracelets. A lovely Etsy customer requested that I make her a freeform cuff using blues and browns/tans, and since freeform can be so different from piece to piece, I decided I'd make two of them and let her choose.

The first one is called Woods and Sky, both because of the colors and because I incorporated some little wooden discs into the design and used a faux wooden vintage button for the closure.

The second one, which is much more irregular in texture and shape than the first one, is called Along the Edge. It incorporates many of the same beads, but it has a very different look to it. For one thing, it started to "move" as I added beads. With the first one, I controlled the movement and kept the bracelet somewhat symmetrical as I wove; but with this one I just let it get away from me a couple of times. The result is that one edge has some "steps" in it and some cool looking faux metallic blue pearls and one elongated translucent matte bead that stick out from the edge.

Even with the irregularity, I like the way this one fits. It's got a definite curve to it, but the curve helps it slide down onto my hand when I try it on.

The customer has already made her choice (she liked the lighter tones of the first one better), so that second one is going into my Etsy shop shortly.

Before I leave, I have to show off something... remember my post about the beads I was getting from Dee (Malodora.etsy.com)? Well, they arrived on Saturday; and it was all I could do to wait until our company departed so I could open the package. And then... once I had opened the box, I almost didn't want to continue to unwrap! Just look at how wonderfully Dee packaged the Natasha beads. Each one was like a tiny little gift, each one is glorious, and I've now spent quite a long time picking each one up and examining it. They're all like little works of art, and I'm absolutely thrilled with them!!!

Now I'm off to bead. :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Do You See?

I have a pretty vivid imagination, but I have to admit to being surprised when so many of my Facebook friends commented on what they saw in the design of my newly listed beadwoven cuff - Fractured.

This design started out as a tree. Of course, I had to create the branches first; and then I planned to add some leaves to it. Once I had the branches done, though, I thought it looked pretty cool the way it was; and I decided to just stop there.

I wasn't even sure what colors I'd use for the initial version of this piece, but when I came across these gorgeous silver-lined bronze and silver-lined crystal beads and put them next to each other, the decision was made.

So what I saw in this design was...
- a tree
- a river
- lightning
- a fracture (hence the name of the piece I listed in my Etsy shop)

And what some of my friends saw was...
- giraffe skin
- snake skin
- blood vessels

Now I have all sorts of possible color choices! What do you see?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A New Lariat and More Fun in the Mail

Whenever I receive new focal pieces, whether they're beads or cabochons or anything else, I have to let them sit for awhile until they tell me what they'd like to become. Sometimes it takes awhile for them to talk to me, and sometimes they're so chatty that I can hardly contain myself until I create something with them.

Last year I received these beautiful Midnight Blue Carnival Beads from a very talented polymer clay artist, Dee Wilder (aka Malodora). They've been whispering to me for awhile, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that some of them spoke up and told me what they'd like to become. Unless you've seen or touched some of these beads yourself, you just can't believe how wonderful they are. The colors are gorgeous, they have a heft to them that's so different from any other material that size, and Dee somehow manages to create depth and dimension through the careful layering she does. They're buffed to a high polish and are incredibly smooth.

So my big challenge is to create something worthy of this beauty. I listened and listened to the beads' voices, and they told me they'd like to become part of a uniquely designed necklace/lariat. I thought about making a spiral rope, but I didn't want the rope's spirals to conflict in any way with the somewhat spiral design in some of the beads. And although I have all the materials I'd need to create just a simple string of beads, I'm not really "into" stringing. That left me with one of my favorite techniques - an ndebele rope. Well, three of them actually...

I chose three distinct beads -- one that's mostly blue, one that's mostly purple, and a third that's mostly gold -- and created a single strand of ndebele rope for each of them. I puzzled over how to attach the beads the ropes for awhile until I came up with the idea of something that resembles tiny flower petals. I first thought of just making a set of lariats, but then I decided to join the ends of the three ropes, loop them back on themselves, resulting in a big loop.

The beads talked to me today as I finished this piece, telling me how happy they are to be part of this necklace, which is named Carnival in Trinidad (Carnival because that's what Dee calls her beads; and Trinidad because it means "three"). It's great fun to wear, and I even got the seal of approval from the beads' artist! :-)

Carnival in Trinidad, worn asymmetrically

Carnival in Trinidad, with the ndebele ropes braided (for a different look)

These aren't the only pieces I've received from Dee... I have one of her nudibranch bracelets, which doubles as sculpture when I'm not wearing it. And pretty soon I'll have a whole new batch of her Natasha Beads. They've already started talking to me, even though I haven't met them in person yet. I can hardly wait for them to arrive in my mailbox!!!

She doesn't typically list these in her Etsy shop, but I'm sure Dee would make you some if they're saying anything to you. You can't have any of these, though. They're all mine. :-)

Monday, March 09, 2009

My Southern Accent's Back

Thanks for all the birthday well wishes! This one came and went with no aluminum foil or balloons (of course, I don't work in an office any more, and it would be kind of silly for my husband to do that to our house!). Actually, my whole birthday was spent on the road -- we drove 700 miles, from Illinois to North Carolina, to visit the site of our future home. The only bad parts of the birthday were when we stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast, not realizing that smoking was allowed (Pew. We walked out of there smelling of cigarette smoke.); and when we hit the Smoky Mountains and had to drive through fog while navigating the twisty, windy roads.

All in all, it was a great trip. We met Dan and Marcella, who are building a house across the road from us and will be our new neighbors. We got to explore the area more, since we asked a local realtor to show us some houses (thinking we might be able to find something we liked that's already built rather than spending the year or more it will take to build our own house). And best of all, my husband finally agreed that we couldn't do better than to build on the land we already have. So now we're back home, finalizing the house plans and making lists of the things we need to do to prepare for the move. That picture up there is the view from what will be our front yard. If you want to see more of this beautiful countryside, click here.

The southern accent thing? Honestly, all it took was about five minutes before it came back full force. Maybe it's a good thing. Since my husband grew up in Illinois, I have to be able to translate for him. :-)

Since I didn't have very much internet access while we were gone, I wasn't able to show off one of my newest beadweaving designs. I created this piece (Maelstrom in Mauve and Plum) and listed it in my Etsy shop before I left. I haven't made it in any other color combinations yet, but I know I'm going to be making more of these. I just have to figure out how to fit all my packing into my beadweaving schedule. :-)

If you feel like checking out some other beadwoven goodies, as well as some gorgeous bead art (maybe for your own jewelry-making activities), check out the Bead Art Originals Items of the Week! Every week there are new specials offered by some of our members, so in addition to being able to find some beautiful pieces you can pick up some great deals along the way. The mosaic of this week's listings is shown below, and you can visit the BAO Blog to find out the details of the specials.

That's my Copper Vine bracelet in the upper left corner of the mosaic. This week I'm offering coordinating pendant AND free shipping on the entire order with the purchase of that bracelet!