Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beads of Clay Design Challenge

As a Design Partner with the Beads of Clay Professional Artists Team, I recently received an awesome package in the mail, filled with handmade beads and fiber wire made by several members of the Beads of Clay team.

The goodies are from Yarn Sweet Yarn, Jeraluna Designs, Kristi Bowman Design, Starry Road Studio, Marla's Mud, and Beads, Birds and Bones.

Once I had all these delicious looking supplies in hand, I went to review the requirements for the challenge -- and I panicked!  The initial directive was that we were to use ALL of the components to create just two pieces:  a necklace or bracelet, and a pair of earrings.  I don't typically sketch my designs ahead of time, but instead I tend to design in my head and as I go.  After I've spent time pondering a particular design, I usually have a good idea of how I want to assemble it and how it's going to look.  But this one was a complete puzzler!

The fiber wire is gorgeous and intriguing, but I knew that once I had figured out what I wanted to do with it I wouldn't really have an opportunity to change my mind.  It's very flexible, and the colors are beautiful, and I figured I was going to have to cut it into pieces to do something with it.  Since I'm not a magician, there would be no way for me to undo those cuts... The other challenge for me is one of my favorite components in the batch -- the long twisted tube by Marla James.  Its scale is so much different than the rest of the beads that I just couldn't figure out how I was going to fit it into one design and have the result be cohesive.

So I arranged.  And rearranged.  And thought.  And rearranged some more.  Thought some more.  Looked through my beads to see what I could use with these components.  All the while, I was following along with the discussions among the other designers, all of whom seemed to be having the same dilemma with being able to use all of the components to make just two pieces.  I had just about settled on making a freeform cuff, but with all of these components it would wind up being a HUGE cuff.

Now I have to tell you that I failed in the challenge to use all of the components.  I just couldn't find a way to make them all work in a single piece.  I suppose if I'd ventured into the land of wire wrapping, chains, or leather cording, I could have figured out a way to join them all together.  The biggest challenge to me, since I don't "string" beads or work with wire very much, was to use these components with some style of beadweaving.  I do have leather cording, wire, yarn, and all sorts of other supplies (what can I say -- I've never met a supply I didn't like), but I really wanted to do something that involved beadweaving, since that's my favorite type of work.

The piece I made is a necklace that I'm calling Bloom.  It's a bead crochet rope that incorporates the beautiful colors of the challenge components and a few of the pieces (I'm still considering a freeform cuff of some type to use the remainder of the pieces).

I'm thoroughly impressed by my fellow designers, all of whom managed to meet the challenge of using all of their components.  Please visit their blogs to check out their beautiful creations:

Cilla Watkins -
Kari Asbury - 

Shannon Chomanczuk -
Lesley Watt - 

Now I'm off to do some shopping...  not for beads (for a change), but for deck railing.  :-)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dulcinea... Bead Soup Sweetness

This post is going to appear a little out of order.  You see, I decided a few months ago to participate in the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party, hosted by Lori Anderson.  I probably should have known better, but I always think I can do more, in less time, than I actually can (sometimes my Superwoman cape gets twisted around).  But there I was, signed up to participate, and then I started to panic a little that I wouldn't be able to complete anything with my "soup."

I did finish something, though -- not something elaborate, by any means, but it does meet the requirements of using the focal and the clasp I received in my soup from Penney Klaproth (more about the soup later).  Because I wound up waiting until the last possible minute to work on my piece, there's only one...  this sweet little necklace that I named Dulcinea.

I mentioned before that I was required to use the focal and the clasp (and you'll see later that there were LOTS of other beads, including a huge bag of seed beads and bugle beads that weren't even part of the soup!), but as soon as I saw the clasp I knew that it was going to wind up being part of the focal -- this little swirly copper loop is just too pretty to sit at the back of someone's neck.  So I chose to use it to suspend the little stone donut.  The necklace itself is an ndebele rope I made using beads from my own stash:  pretty bright copper lined seed beads that coordinate perfectly with the copper pieces Penney sent me.
Want to see the "soup" I received?  Here it is!  It has a great collection of metal and natural beads that will eventually be used in some project.  In fact, I have them sitting on my bead board now, while I ponder what I can do with them.  I'm particularly intrigued by the little glass plugs, the ones nearest the hand in the photo below.  Their colors are wonderful, and I'm thinking I might actually try something with wire...
Now I have some blog hopping to do...  And I'd like to invite you to hop along with me.  You can visit for a list of all the Reveal #2 participants.  Don't forget to visit my swap partner's blog, Faerie Acres!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Need a Vacation?

Do you need a vacation? I can honestly say I don't "need" one, but they sure can be fun.  I've been to quite a few places over the years, on all sorts of vacations:  the coast of Florida to sit on the beach and play in the ocean with my friends; to Venice for sightseeing; to Sweden for my friend's wedding (in August, which was much nicer weather than when I visited her in November!); to the Cayman Islands for some of the most wonderful SCUBA diving anywhere; to Sedona, Arizona, for hiking and sightseeing, including a trip to the Grand Canyon (which is where I took the picture you see here); to Bonaire, for more SCUBA diving of a completely different sort than what I experienced in Cayman; and even on a Caribbean cruise!  There are more places on the list, but those are some of the standouts.

Our most recent trips were to Hilton Head, somewhere I never would have thought of going, but a place that turned out to be pretty relaxing and enjoyable.  We went in the off season, so we just tooled around the island, visited some galleries and museums, and ate.  Lots of seafood.  It was wonderful!

So why am I talking about vacation?  Well, honestly it's for a contest... 

This is my version of a perfect 24 hours on a Spanish Island. This post was written as an entry for 24 hours on The Balearics contest sponsored by The prize is £500 in Amazon Vouchers and the contest runs until August 17, 2012. Please visit to learn more about the contest and how you can also enter.

I've never been to a Spanish island, and I must admit that I didn't know anything about the Balearics, other than the names of some of the islands, before I saw the post on BearsandBeans.  The names of the four largest islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.  A quick Google search for information and images demonstrates just how easy it is to learn about this island chain.

So let's see...  a perfect 24 hours on The Balearics would begin, of course, with a trip to the beach.  It really doesn't matter when the plane lands on Majorca.  It's an absolute necessity for me to get my toes into the sand and to feel the salt air rolling in off the ocean.  Since these islands purport to have 300 days of sun during the year, it's a pretty safe bet that that first foray onto the beach would be wonderful.  I could spend hours on the beach, especially if there are seashells to be found, but my husband would soon be clamoring to do something else...

The something else would probably be exploring.  Rather than driving around, we'd probably choose one of the island on-and-off tours that hits all the high spots and still gives you time the stop and visit anything that's particularly intriguing.  It looks as if there's no shortage of sights, either!  With beautiful scenery, mountains, Stone Age ruins, Gothic cathedrals, and villages all over the island, it's a pretty safe bet that we'll find lots of places to take pictures.  I always have at least one camera with me, and sometimes as many as two or three (especially after having our new digital video camera break on the first day of our vacation in Venice!), so the drive would take a long time.  I've been known to return from a vacation with more than 800 photos.

I'd have to be able to spend at least some time on or in the water, so I think we'd probably sign up for a catamaran cruise and snorkeling trip.  Although I've been a SCUBA diver for years, snorkeling is a nice, relaxing way to see some reefs and fish without having to haul all that heavy equipment around.

If we're not too tired from the cruise and snorkeling trip, we'd head out for the Majorca evening tour:  horseback riding and dinner!  Rancho Grande is located at the north coast of Majorca and has a 1.5 hour horseback tour followed by a barbecue dinner.  Yum!

Next on the agenda is a trip to one of the other islands, Minorca.  A lot of people will like Majorca, which apparently has more clubs, restaurants, and bars; but my husband and I are much more in tune with the laid back vacations where we can just look at sights and visit historical areas.  From what I've read, I think we'd take a ferry to travel from the larger of the islands to Minorca.  I believe my husband would like this island more, not only because it's less crowded but also because it supposedly has an almost constant breeze and is a bit cooler than Majorca.

I haven't kept track of the time spent, but I'm pretty sure that at this point we'd be pooped and ready for a good night's sleep.  We might stop at one of the local bars or restaurants for a beer or a glass of wine, but not too much -- with all the things to do and see in The Balearics, we're going to want to get an early start on the next 24 hours!

Nope, I don't "need" a vacation.  But reading all the articles I found and looking at the pictures makes me want one!  :-)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Here Comes the Bride...

I always thought June was the month for weddings.  But I've been busy working on some custom orders for three different brides, all of whom are getting married in early August.  It was a race against the clock for me to get all of these finished and sent off to the respective brides, but I managed to do it (even while I was busy during the day working on the fireplace in our new house).

In every case, I was asked to create one of my designs using custom colors.  The first bride ordered my Simply Stripes design in yellow and gray (I love this color combination!).

The beads used in this set are lovely frosty looking pale gray with bright silver-lined yellow.

The next order was for some custom color versions of my "Knot, Ready for Prime Time" design.  The bride asked for chocolate and taupe, and after sending several options for the beads to use she settled on a beautiful transparent chocolate brown with a matte metallic pale taupe.  She also requested a bracelet for her future mother-in-law, something that would go with a navy dress; so I used these silver-lined dark sapphire beads and paired them with galvanized silver.  These are beautiful color combos, so I'm going to be offering them as made-to-order pieces in my Etsy shop.  :-)

And finally, I was asked to make custom color versions of my Damask design using beads in the birthstone color for each bridesmaid and for the flower girl in this wedding.  For the flower girl, I adapted the design to make a narrower bracelet so it wouldn't overpower her tiny wrist.  Each bracelet was finished off with a button or two for the closure, so every one looks a bit different.  The months represented here are January (garnet with black), February (amethyst with orange), March (aquamarine with silver), June (pearl with orange), September (the one for the flower girl, sapphire and gray), and two Decembers (turquoise with coral and blue zircon with pearl).

It was really exciting to be able to work with all these brides to create something special for them.  The process involved lots of messages back and forth, with lots of pictures also going back and forth for the color choices, but I've heard from all three of the brides and they're all thrilled with their bracelets.

Now it's time to get to work on a couple more custom orders...  not for brides this time, so I'm not racing against the clock.

Oh, and the fireplace is finished!  Now we have to do the final work on retouching the finish on the beams and making sure the floor is smooth and level so the hardwood flooring can be installed on Tuesday.  Want to see pictures of the house?
Check out my Facebook photo album, building the house:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Never Too Busy To Bead

I think beads must be good for my mental health.  (And for those of you who know me personally, stop snickering.)

It's been as busy as can be around here for the past few weeks, but I've still managed to fit in a good amount of beading.  And that's a good thing, because I have so many beads just sitting there in their bins, waiting to be combined into something special.  In between working on the house, going out of town, picking out and ordering all the interior doors for the house, having house guests, going over the cabinet design for the house with the local cabinetmaker, visiting the North Carolina Arboretum, laying out the cultured stone for the fireplace, hanging out with friends in town, mowing the fledgling yard at the new house, working on custom orders for a couple of brides, and working on the house some more (!), I've actually managed to get quite a lot of beadweaving done.  Not many pictures, unfortunately, but that's a whole other matter.

I've been a member of an Etsy team, the Etsy BeadWeavers, almost since it was formed several years ago.  Every month they have a challenge, based on a theme chosen by one of the members.  Most of the time I see the theme and figure I don't have enough time to focus on doing something for it, or I just don't feel particularly inspired.  For some reason, though, the July theme of "Tangerine Tango" immediately made me think of making a freeform peyote cuff.  I haven't made one in awhile (more than a year!), so it was fun to dig through all my orange beads to come up with a collection to make this piece:  Tangerine and Mango Tango 

By the way, voting for the July theme is now open on the Etsy BeadWeavers blog.

As is the case more times than I can recount, one beadwoven piece inspires another... and another...  and sometimes another.  Over the course of a week, I managed to create FOUR freeform peyote cuffs.  Only one other has been listed in my Etsy shopMountain Sky.  The other two are awaiting photographs (along with a whole pile of other finished pieces that haven't had their pictures taken yet!).


Even with all this stuff going on, and me running around like a nut half the time, I thought it would be fun to sign up for a bead exchange.  Lori Anderson is hosting a Bead Soup Blog Party, so I joined in.  I haven't received my bead soup yet from my partner, but it should be on its way.  And that's a good thing, because my "Reveal Date" is August 11.  That means I have to receive the beads and figure out what to make with them...  and then actually make it!...  and get it photographed before that date.  Whew.  Nothing like a little pressure.  You can start blog hopping early to see some of the mixes sent and received by the other participants (there are 400 of us!).

And now...  it's time to go work on the house!  We're about halfway finished with putting up the cultured stone on the front of the fireplace, and we're hoping to have that project finished by Sunday so we can have the flooring people install the 2400 square feet of hickory flooring.  Fingers crossed.  :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Change in Pattern

After a few years of selling patterns for my peyote designs on Etsy, I've finally decided to change my pricing policy to what it seems that the majority of pattern sellers do:  THE 3 FOR 2 PROGRAM.

So after a morning of editing, all 60 of the peyote patterns I currently offer in my Etsy shop are now available under the new pricing structure.

This change doesn't affect the pricing of the patterns offered here on my blog (there's a tab at the top of the page that will take you to the patterns), where the prices are already lower (and where the patterns are available for immediate download).

Wonder what else I can do today that's productive.

Oh yeah.

We have a house to build!

The next "pattern" I'll be working on is laying out the cultured stone for the fireplace.  I have 270 square feet of wall to cover, and about a ton of stone to move.  Beads are much lighter.  :-)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What Happened to April?

The days, weeks, and months are just flying by.  At least that's how it seems around here.  The house is consuming lots and lots of our time, even though it feels like progress has stalled a bit while we wait for the wooden beams to be finished and installed.

So what happened to April?  Well, income taxes took up a lot of time in the first couple of weeks.   Of course I waited until almost the last minute to do everything.  Every year I tell myself I'm going to be more prepared and not have to sit there crunching numbers in a spreadsheet for hours on end; and every year I sit there crunching numbers in a spreadsheet for hours on end.

There were some beading projects that I finished during the month, including one very special project for a lovely Frenchman who wanted something for his girlfriend's birthday.  He had definite ideas about the design and the colors, so it was a real pleasure to create this set of ropes for him.  They won't be presented to the recipient for another few days, and he's promised to let me know how she likes her gift.  For my part, I was thrilled to meet someone who put so much thought into a gift -- and he did all this more than a month before her birthday!

That's not the only beading project I finished during the month.  Because I was so busy with working on the house, I found it easier to work on bead crochet projects than anything else.  Once the beads are strung, a task which can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to a couple of hours, I can start and stop multiple times during the making of a rope without having to worry about where I am in a pattern.

Here are a few of the pieces I finished during the month (I finished several more, but some are still waiting for their pictures to be taken).

 Yes, this one was named with the Elton John song running through my mind.  I designed this one with picasso finish Czech glass beads (size 8/0) in denim blue and caramel, with the caramel beads placed to resemble stitches.  It's crocheted on royal blue silk thread, so it has a wonderful drape and heft.

I really like finding interesting and/or descriptive names for some of my pieces, and the name Braith means "speckled" in Welsh.  Created from matte opaque white, shiny opaque orange, and white-lined gray seed beads (size 11/0), part of the rope is speckled -- just a blend of the three types of beads -- and part of the rope is a series of patterns.  I just love these colors together, don't you?

The name of this piece is kind of a play on words...  "patina" is a "fine coating of oxide on the surface of a metal," and I think it's illustrated here by the combination of turquoise/olive beads mixed in with the dark silky copper beads.  Rather than name this piece "patina," though, I opted to give it the name of one of my favorite high school teachers.

It's been awhile since I made one of these twisted bead crochet bracelets, but I decided to have some fun.  This one is made in my own favorite colors using matte finish black and white beads of varying sizes.  Looking a bit like a Cellini spiral, it's really fun to watch the spirals develop as I crochet -- the result of using beads in three different sizes.

I took a break from working on the house today, having spent eight hours spreading mulch yesterday.  Crocheting beads is soooooooo much easier than spreading mulch!  :-)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My First Choker!

Really? My first choker? With all the beadweaving I've done in the past few years, I'm actually surprised myself that I haven't made a choker. I've made pendants that are on wire or chain chokers, but never a beadwoven one.

Until now.

I recently had a special request from a customer who wanted a choker to match the Rastafarian Topography cuff.

After we talked for a bit about size and color placement, I created a whole new design meant to coordinate with the original design, pulled out beads in the same colors as the cuff, and started beading.

In order to make sure the choker would fit properly, I made it slightly smaller than the customer's neck measurement and used a length of copper chain and a lobster clasp that will allow her to adjust it to a comfortable length. No one wants a choker that's too loose -- or worse yet, too tight!

And just to fill out the ensemble, I decided to make a little pair of earrings to go with the cuff and choker.

The customer has already received her matched Rasta set and says she loves them... a good thing, since she's planning to wear them for a very special occasion - her daughter's wedding!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

And Suddenly It's March!

I knew this was going to be a busy year. The housebuilding project continues, and although it's no surprise that it's time consuming, it is a surprise that I barely manage to fit in anything else. In past building projects, I've been less concerned with the decision making about design because we were just building spec houses and weren't planning to live in them. When you're going to live in a house, though, it seems like the choices take more time and more thought.

Case in point: Flooring. We were quite proud of ourselves last year when we went to the Asheville Hardwood Center and picked out flooring. We chose #2 hickory in 3", 4", and 5" widths (I really like the random widths), and the only choice that remained seemed to be whether we would install and finish it ourselves (a daunting task, with 2400 square feet of floor to cover!) or have it done by them. After the house progressed further, we started to question our choice: Is #2 hickory, which is really knotty, going to look too "busy" for the space? We have one giant space that's living room, dining room, and kitchen combined, with no walls, and we feared it would just be too much.

So off we went last month to track down something a little calmer. First we went to a local flooring place, where we found some prefinished engineered maple flooring that we both kind of liked. The price was a little less than the #2 hickory, so that was nice; but the flooring was only 1/2" thick and we had planned on using 3/4" (not a big deal to some, but it changes the stair riser height at the top step).

Not completely satisfied with that find, we decided to try Lumber Liquidators. There we found some prefinished maple with just a clear coat, and it was even less expensive; and the good news is that it was 3/4" thick solid hardwood. Looks like we're on the right track, right? We even asked the sales clerk to haul out a box so we could see the board lengths and get an idea of how well the boards would fit together. The maple solved the "busy" problem because it's very plain, with almost no knots in it and very little grain pattern.

Just for kicks and grins, we decided to head back to the Asheville Hardwood Center to see if they had any prefinished flooring. After looking around for a bit, the sales guy told us he had some prefinished 3/4" hickory, 5" wide, that was discounted because they had a limited quantity. What?!? That sounds perfect! We looked at the display in the store and decided we couldn't pass it up; so we ordered it. It was delivered to the house about a month later (we asked them to hold it while the drywallers were working), and just last week we opened some of the boxes to look at it.

Argh! The pieces of flooring in the boxes we opened (about ten boxes, so we'd have a good sampling) were almost all in the 12-18" range! That's going to look like CRAP. Out of all the boxes we opened there were only four or five pieces that were 30" or longer. So we called the sales guy back and told him the problem. The good news is that he came and looked at the flooring, completely agreed with us that it wasn't acceptable, and then sent the truck to come pick it all up. That's some great customer service.

But now we're back to not having flooring. One more trip... back to Asheville Hardwood Center (because the sales guy told us that he could give us a good price on some select hickory), and I think we've FINALLY chosen what we're going to use! Select hickory, 4" wide, unfinished (they'll install, sand, and finish with three coats of polyurethane). Whew.

That flooring adventure is just ONE of the things that's taken a ton of time. Add to that the selection of paint color (who knew there are so many shades of offwhite!!!), buying a paint sprayer (and then having to take it back to get a new one because the first one didn't work!), learning to operate the paint sprayer, trying to figure out how to build the bookcase that will double as the stair rail, working on deck railing designs (we've already gone through about ten iterations of railing design, and we might have actually figured that out now), finding tile for the showers... it seems endless. It's fun. But it seems endless.

So in between all of those house things, I did manage to get a little beading done. After hours and hours of work, I finished this piece, Brushed Gold. It's a custom bead crochet rope made from more than 10,000 teeny tiny size 15/0 Czech glass beads with a 24k gold finish. It's soooooooo slinky! I'm not sure I'd tackle a project like this again, but it was kind of interesting to work with the tiny beads.

And more recently, I finished a bead crochet bracelet, Shinju Sage. The faux pearls are so pretty, and it's really fun to string a bunch of different sizes and shapes and then see what develops as I crochet.

Now it's time to go do some more painting. We're about halfway finished with the walls and ceilings in the house, and we've gone through 25 gallons of primer so far... (we finally did select a color: Vintage).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Perfectly Coordinated

I love a challenge, especially when it's presented to me by someone looking for something ultra special. That's why I was so excited when I was contacted last month with a request to create a set of three bead crochet ropes to coordinate with this lovely dress that had been purchased from Anthropologie.

The dress has a simple, classic style, with a bold plaid design in navy, olive, and cream. I was given lots of leeway in the design of the necklaces, as the only criteria was the length (37") and the number of ropes (3).

I immediately envisioned a set of ropes made from beads in these same colors, and I set about to design a bead crochet pattern that would mimic the bold plaid in the dress. My plan? One rope in olive and cream, one rope in navy and cream, and a third rope using all three colors. That would allow the person wearing the dress to wear the two 2-color ropes as necklaces and wrap the third rope around her wrist for a perfectly coordinated bracelet. I love versatility!

So off I went to work on the pattern, as I anxiously awaited the arrival of the beads I would need. I planned to use Czech glass picasso finish size 11/0 beads for the olive portion, but I needed to order some opaque pale cream and some matte metallic dark navy. Although I have some picasso finish beads in navy blue, I didn't think they were quite dark enough to go with the dress, and I thought it would be nice to have some matte beads in the ropes for extra contrast and texture.

Finally the beads arrived, and I strung and crocheted as fast as I could in order to finish the ropes by the deadline -- the dress and ropes were to be worn to a Baptism, and I didn't want to disappoint!

And here are the ropes, just as I planned (luckily, I didn't make any mistakes in stringing the 200+ bead repeat in the pattern, so I didn't have to do any unraveling!). I'm so happy with them (and I've since received word that the recipient loves them). :-)

I was also asked to make earrings to coordinate with the dress and the ropes, so I made a couple of prototypes so the requester would have a choice. Ultimately I used tubular herringbone to make these loops from the same beads in the ropes, again mimicking the plaid pattern in the dress.

It was great fun creating something so special! And now I must get back to crocheting those size 15/0 24k brushed gold charlottes I mentioned in earlier posts.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Bead Crochet Insanity

Don't let anyone tell you any differently. Size matters, particularly when you're talking about beads.

My last post showed off some of the beautiful beads I just received, purchased for a custom order. The request I received is for a 90-100" long bead crochet rope made from these gorgeous 24k brushed gold size 15/0 beads. And I thought I was all set for the challenge, having pulled out some of the size 15/0 beads I had on hand so I could see just how much of a challenge the rope was going to be.

Surprise #1? The 24k gold beads have smaller holes than the other size 15/0 beads I had. No problem. I just switched to a super skinny needle (yes, I know some of you would know what size needle, but I don't know - I just know it's really skinny and bendy, and smaller than a size 10). A little more tedium in picking up the beads because the needle's so thin, but no biggie. Right?

Surprise #2? The 24k beads themselves are smaller. They're labeled as size 15/0, as are the others I used, but there's a significant difference in their size. See what I mean?

There they are next to each other. I just used my size 12 needle to pick up some of the red size 15/0 beads I used before. There are 19 of the red beads on there, and it takes 27 of the gold beads to span the same distance. The gold ones are 30% smaller. Sheesh!

I'm still not willing to back down from a challenge, though, so here's where the "Bead Crochet Insanity" comes in. I'm busy working on the custom bead crochet rope using these teeny tiny 24k brushed gold size 15/0 beads. I've strung 10 grams of them onto my thread and, with the help of my cheapo magnifying glasses, am crocheting away. The rope itself is only slightly more than 1/8" in diameter (it's crocheted with 5 beads around). I feel like I'm crocheting with grains of sand. But I will persevere. The rope is going to use 500 grams of these little beads.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Good (and Tiny) Things Come in Small Packages

VERY good things come in small packages. Especially when the packages contain beads. And most especially when they come from my Etsy friend Shannon.

I hadn't really begun this year with the intent to purchase beads. After all, I have millions of them. Seriously. Beads of just about every size imaginable, in every color imaginable. POUNDS of Delicas. And even more seed beads, all recently sorted into bins by color.

But that all changed when I was contacted by someone who asked me if I could create a very special bead crochet rope using size 15/0 beads (eegads!). Initially the request was for silver and black, but with the notoriously unstable finishes on most silver beads (even the real silver ones are susceptible to tarnish), I went on a quest to find some uncommon beads. Something beautiful. Something rich. Something awesome. And my very first place to look was in Shannon's shop, beadsandbabble. That's where I saw these drop-dead gorgeous 24k brushed gold size 15/0 charlottes (beads with a single facet). Don't they look delicious???

Well, I promptly sent the link to the potential customer to see what she thought, and apparently she also fell in love with them because she changed her mind about the silver and black rope and opted to have a rope made just from these. One loooooooooooong rope. Did I mention that these are size 15/0? That's small. Very small.

Since I don't like starting a custom order without having at least an inkling of what I'm about to tackle, I decided to take out some of the size 15/0 beads I have (remember that massive collection I mentioned?) and make a rope. You can see here how the size of this rope, which is made with hematite and metallic red, compares with ropes made from size 11/0 beads and size 8/0 beads (both of these ropes happen to also be made from beads I bought from Shannon's shop). These ropes are all crocheted with five beads around. What a difference! The rope made from the size 15/0 beads is only slightly more than 1/8" in diameter. Whew!

The next big dilemma was availability of the chosen beads. I contacted Shannon to see how many of the size 15/0 24k brushed gold beads she had on hand and also to see if she knew how many beads there are in a 5-gram package, and it turned out that I would need almost 50 grams of these little beauties for the rope length requested. Holy moly.

Now the awesome thing (well, one of them) about Shannon is that rather than just tell me she didn't have enough of the beads, she contacted her supplier and put in a special order so she could meet my needs. And in today's mail, I received a BIG package with a bunch of SMALL packages inside. Lots and lots of beady goodness, including the 50 grams of beads I need for the 24k gold rope. :-)

But first... I need to finish another project, a set of bead crochet ropes using [relatively huge] size 11/0 beads in a design I developed to coordinate with the pattern in a picture sent to me by the customer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Off to a Pretty Good Start

How's your year going so far? Good, I hope. :-)

It's the 10th of the month (!), and although I'm not getting all the things done that I wanted to (I always overestimate just how much I can do in a 24-hour period), I'm pretty happy with progress in general.

We've made some progress on the house (no matter how much I may want to play with my beads, the house takes priority over everything else!). The insulation contractor finished work yesterday, so it's ready for inspection tomorrow. The drywall contractor tracked down the best price he could for us for the drywall we need, so that'll be ordered today. The carpenters (have I mentioned how much we love these guys?) finished the siding on the front gable, finished the back deck, finished the soffit over the carport, and did the trimming around the deck posts. It looks AWESOME! We just have to wait for some more deck lumber to finish the front deck, since the supply place sent the wrong material.

One thing we're both really excited about is finding the wood flooring we're going to use. We thought we had that picked out months ago, but after seeing the space and thinking about it more we decided the #2 hickory would be too busy - all those knots and variations in color would be a little over the top. So we went on a quest to find something more sedate and possibly something a little less expensive than the original $5.95 per square foot price. Off we went last week to begin the new search...

On Thursday, we found an engineered flooring made of maple that we both liked, at $4.65/square foot. Not bad. But we weren't thrilled with the engineered flooring, since it's only 1/2" thick and Pat built the stairs based on using 3/4" flooring. Not a huge deal, but we really wanted the 3/4" stuff to help stiffen the floor overall, since it's such a big space.

On Saturday, we continued the search at Lumber Liquidators and found some select maple flooring, 4" wide and 3/4" thick, that we liked. At $4.09/square foot, it beat out Thursday's find; but we decided to try one last place.

So on Monday we went to visit one last place. The last place we visited was the Asheville Hardwood Center, which was actually the first place we had visited months ago, but we were going in with something different in mind - prefinished flooring vs. unfinished (part of the $5.95 cost was having the floor sanded, stained, and finished with three coats of polyurethane). We walked in the door of the Asheville Hardwood Center and started looking at the prefinished flooring. Right off the bat we were disappointed to see that the prices were all higher than the $4.09, but then we started talking to the sales guy... after he heard what we were looking for, he pointed us in the direction of some 5" x 3/4" select hickory that was marked down to a special price because they had limited inventory. The price $3.25/square foot!!!! Woo hoo!!!! They don't have quite enough for us to do the whole floor, but they have some 3-1/4" stock that's also on sale, the same wood and finish in a narrower width, so we'll have a room that where we alternate the sizes. We're so excited about being able to save all that money and still get what we want that we can hardly believe it. (The picture here is from the flooring manufacturer's website.)

Now on the beady side of things, even with all the house stuff going on I've been beading away and also working on getting some more patterns published. The pattern for Diametric is available here on my blog and also in my Etsy shop.

If you purchase patterns here on my blog, you'll find that the prices are lower (yay!) and that they're available for immediate download - no waiting for me to email them to you. Payment is via PayPal, so you're safe and secure. :-)

I'm working on getting at least one or two more patterns published by the end of the week, so stay tuned.

I've also been beading. Surprise surprise. I actually began the year by recreating two of my popular pieces, both bead crochet ropes.

is a 70" long bead crochet rope made from size 10/0 and 11/0 Czech glass beads with a picasso finish. I love love love these beads! They have such gorgeous colors, and the finish on them makes them look like semiprecious stones.

This is the third version of this particular colorway, and as I do with many of my ropes, I alternated between patterned sections and sections made from just a blend of the four colors of beads.

One of the other new pieces I've made is a recreation of Mulberries and Heavy Cream. The beads in this rope are soooo pretty! They're size 8/0 Czech glass seed beads in a creamy offwhite that resembles the finish on a pearl and a slightly metallic looking deep burgundy with a single facet. There's such sparkle and shine!

This rope, like its predecessor, is crocheted in sections of pattern. There are five different designs , from spiraling stripes to tiny diamonds, speckles, and a couple of others I'm not sure how to describe.

At 58" long it can be worn in a whole bunch of different ways, and with all the patterns it can look different just by moving a different section to the front.

There are some more finished pieces sitting here waiting to be photographed so they can make their debut... Since we're still living in the "dark" house until the new house is finished, it's still a challenge to find just the right light for photographing finished work.

Time to head out for some shopping. On today's list? We need a 12' ladder. Because apparently, we just can't do what we need to do with the 4', 6', 8', 10', 16', 28', and 32' ladders we already own! Sheesh.