Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BTW: Bead Table Wednesday 6/29/11

Andrea's Table
On my beading table today is lots and lots of wire wrapping supplies and gemstones. I've been experimenting with different wire wrapping techniques, trying to come up with new ways of creating a custom wire-wrapped bezel setting for a large gemstone pendant. Three days of work and I'm pretty excited about the results, but I'm not too excited about sore wrists and torn up fingertips!
Julie's Table
After seeing Andrea's amazing wire wrapping, I had to try it myself! Several weeks ago I had Gilders Pasted some shiny gold metal leaves in iris blue and african bronze. They have been sitting on my table ever since. I think they look really nice hanging from a gold hoop I made from 18 gauge craft wire and then wire wrapped with 26 gauge wire and Toho beads. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Louis Wain's Cats

psychedelic kitty

For this week's Inspiration Monday I chose, once again, to feature an artist.  More specifically, I thought it would be nice to focus on this particular artist's interpretation of his favorite subject: the domestic feline.  This artist's name was Louis Wain.  He, like so many other unfortunate-yet-brilliant artistic types, (Antonin Artaud, Vincent Van Gogh, James Ensor) suffered from mental illness.  It is his apparent documentation of his descent into the depths of Schizophrenia through the increasingly bizarre way he portrayed cats in his paintings that makes Wain so utterly fascinating.

Louis Wain with one of his beloved feline muses

Louis Wain was born in England in 1860, the oldest of six children, and the only male.  He began his career in illustration and fine art as a way to make a living which was substantial enough to support his mother and sisters after his father's death.  He was quite successful, having stints with The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Illustrated London News.

A realistic Wain cat from early in his career

He soon became a very popular and in-demand illustrator.  His work during this time included a wide range of subject matters, soon to be narrowed down to just one.  It was during his wife's diagnosis of cancer and subsequent decline that he began turning his attention to drawing cats as a way of amusing and entertaining her.  He would paint his subjects in an anthropomorphic way, often depicting the cats in humorous situations while wearing dapper clothing.

A market scene with anthropomorphic cats

Following the death of his wife, Wain's mental health took a turn for the worse.  It is theorized that this is reflected in his work, with his cat portraits taking on a psychedelic, sometimes frightening appearance.  He began using jagged lines which radiated outward from the subject, done in vibrant otherworldly colors.  Wain's cats eventually stopped resembling anything remotely close to nature.  In fact, sometimes it is rather difficult in his later works to discern a feline presence whatsoever.

a gradual change from realistic kitties to wild-eyed fractals

It is important to note that there are those professionals who thoroughly believe that Wain's more diffracted and flourished cats are not a window into his schizophrenia, but rather just a reflection of his love for decorative textiles and patterns.  Either way one looks at it, it is a captivating and inspiring body of work for cat fanciers and art enthusiasts alike.  I look forward to digging though our arsenal of cat related beads and findings, and pairing a few choice kitty beads with some radically colored wire or ribbon to create a Wain-worthy piece of jewelry.



p.s. Do you love cats? Art? Louis Wain?  Show us what kitty creations you have made!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Artist Profile: Julie Bean

When we here at Beadaholique realized that we needed another designer on staff, we were a little panicked.  Our job requirements weren't just about demonstrated technical skill and creativity--although those are important.  We wanted someone who could 'play,' not just manufacture.  We were looking for someone who "got" our aesthetic, but could bring their own point of view, too. How do you interview for serendipity?  

So it was our lucky day when Julie Bean walked in.  After experiencing her enthusiasm, her bubbly personality, and seeing a few samples of unique multi-media jewelry pieces and re-purposed vintage elements, we were convinced.  

Julie's been working here for long enough that we now feel comfortable asking her probing questions and making her as uncomfortable as possible (kidding!).


Q. How did you get interested in beading/jewelry making?  

A. I started as a miniaturist (making dollhouse miniatures) when I was 15 and have continued making them to this day (although in a much reduced capacity), supplying over 200 stores in the process. As much as I love making miniatures, several years ago I started feeling the need to branch out my creative activities. I distinctly remember seeing a necklace by Israeli designer Ayala Bar in a shop window in Paris and being awestruck. That was my "Ah-ha!" moment and I have been avidly obsessed with jewelry design and making jewelry ever since.

Q. What is your educational background in the arts?  

A. My education focused on history and English rather then on the creative arts, so that left it up to me to pursue outside artistic activities on my own. I tended to seek out classes and workshops in the towns I have lived, ranging from wheel throwing and hand building pottery, to jewelry design, to screen printing. I have also been fortunate enough to travel to many wonderful places and have gained an incredible education by seeing and doing. 

Q. What inspires your creative process? 

A. Rummaging through old black and white photographs or looking at the intricate pattern of handmade lace from the 1800's inspires me. Old advertising and paper goods with their "vintage" color palette and period aesthetic also are a constant source of inspiration. 

Q. Who inspires you/your creative process? 

A. My husband, who works much harder then anyone I know at his own art, inspires me to constantly do better, push my art further, and stay on path.

Q. Do you work best in chaos or an orderly workspace?  Are you a morning person or a night owl? 

A. I work best when I have all my materials out and readily available, which tends to be messy. I don't like having to stop the creative process to find an ingredient that is buried under 5 other boxes in another room. I have always been a morning person but am learning to be a night owl.  

Q. How do you arrive at the color palettes in your jewelry work? 

A.  I usually draw off the past for my color palettes; vintage color schemes are the most appealing to me. I might find a vintage dress or old postcard to work off of. My favorite colors are sepia tones, muted golds, bronzes, browns, black, grey, and ivory. 

Q.  How would you describe your design aesthetic?  

A.  Eclectic and vintage with a bit of Steampunk thrown in.

Q.  What are your current favorite materials to use for making jewelry?

A.  I love working with old gears and watch parts, antique buttons, and salvaged antique jewelry pieces. I am also obsessed with resin at the moment and trying to push its limits further.

Q.  Is there a jewelry-making technique that you are currently fascinated with/using a lot? 

A. I just discovered Gilders Paste and have started to use quite a bit of it. For such an easy technique it has a very dramatic result. 

Q.  Is there a jewelry-making technique that you haven’t tried yet but want to try/learn/use? 

A. I am fascinated with metal working in jewelry. Creating an intricate setting or design out of just a piece of sheet metal or building your own bezel settings is very intriguing to me. 

Q.  Are you or have you been actively involved in creating work in artistic media other than jewelry? 

A.  My dollhouse miniatures were my main artistic activity for the longest time. In addition to them, I have also made handbags, fascinators, and screen printed items. I love to sculpt and have taken several of my husband's drawings and created sculptures from the designs.  

Q.  What is the favorite piece of jewelry or art that you own? 

A.  My favorite piece of jewelry that I own is a pearl and rhinestone necklace from the 1920's with a large cluster dangle that artistically hangs off the front. There is also a matching cuff bracelet. 

Q.  Who is your favorite jewelry designer/artist? 

A.  I find the most inspiration and happiness from Elsa Mora and Stephanie Lee. Both artists produce amazing work but they also seem to have an excellent grasp on life, what's important, and how best to live it. They share not only their artistic work with the world but their inner thoughts and lives. 

Q.  Are there other areas of your life that you feel are or have been enriched by your creation of jewelry? 

A.  Allowing your artistic side to flourish enriches every part of your life. I am a much happier person because of my jewelry design and that has postitivly affected my marriage, sleep, self confidence, and personal contentment. 

Q. Where can people can see and/or purchase jewelry or artwork that you have made?   

A.  You can see a gallery of my work at my website: I do shows and cons but am also slowly starting to list on Etsy. My Etsy store is bluepigdesigns. My blog can be viewed 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BTW: Bead Table Wednesday 6/22/2011

Andrea's Table 

The featured item on my bead table today is waxed linen.  I am extremely excited about getting this stuff in-- it is so perfect for making macrame wrap bracelets; absolutely made for knotting.  I'm experimenting with using the "cobra" knot, and adding beads as I go.  Pictured here is a wrap bracelet using 8/0 Toho beads woven into the natural waxed linen.  I also made a triple-wrapped bracelet using the brown waxed linen with some antiqued copper metal seed beads along the outside.  Watch for upcoming instructional videos on both bracelets!

Julie's Table

I love the look of bead weaving, especially when combined with brass filigree or other unexpected elements. Front and center on my table is an earring which only needs the hook to be added. Using a circular brick stitch, I've combined 3 shades of Toho beads to make each round pictured. If you have yet to try beadweaving, give it a try - it's addictive! There are lots of instructional videos on the Beadaholique website on different bead stitches and more are soon to come.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How the Tennis Bracelet got its name

What does tennis have to do with a diamond bracelet? Believe it or not, it all stems back to an an incident in 1987 when tennis champion Chris Evert was wearing a bracelet whose clasp broke in the middle of a televised match. The game was stopped to allow her time to find her pretty diamond accessory. Because of the huge audience viewing the match, a sudden craze was born for sleek inline diamond bracelets. From that moment on, this style of bracelet would be referred to as a tennis bracelet. 

The actual bracelet worn by Chris Evert was designed by George Bedewi. It featured a single row of symmetrical inline diamonds. In recent years, the term tennis bracelet has also been assigned to bracelets featuring other gemstones besides diamonds which are set in the same inline manner. 

The design of the tennis bracelet is not a new one. Before the televised incident, these bracelets were called eternity bracelets, and some stores will still refer to them as such today. Whatever you wish to call them, these lovely bracelets are a staple for many stylish women and their popularity only continues to grow. 

- Julie 

Bracelet pictured from 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Hawaii

Looking for something to spark your creativity? Look no further then America's 50th state: Hawaii. 

Hawaii is a favorite spot of mine for recharging the proverbial battery and gaining inspiration.  In fact, I make more life-altering decisions while sitting on sandy beaches in Hawaii then any other place on earth. Why is this?  It's because Hawaii forces you to stop whatever you are doing and realize you are part of a bigger entity.  It helps to balance the spirit and reminds you of what is important in life.  If that is not inspiring, I do not know what is. 
Visually, Hawaii abounds with inspiration, from its lush hillsides filled with plumeria flowers, hibiscus, orchids, and birds of paradise to its clear blue green waters. Black sand and white sand, porous lava rocks, and flaming volcanos offer textures for the imagination to build upon. Still looking for more elements to work from? Think of the coconuts, pineapples, pearls, coral, surf boards, hula girls, tiki statues, and even little tropical drink umbrellas. 

If you want a more classical design inspired by Hawaii, look to its rich cultural history. There is evidence of human habitation on the archipelago dating back to 300 BC.  After those early inhabitants, there were waves of immigrants from Tahiti and Bora Bora.  Then, in 1778, the arrival of James Cook marked Hawaii's first contact with Europeans. 

There are amazing line drawing motifs and symbols originally found as petroglyphs on cave walls and later repeated on parchment which depict ancient stories of these peoples, their arrival, and the consequences. You can find symbols too which represent such concepts as enlightenment, power, growth, fertility, and divination.  At the very heart of the Hawaiian culture is their inter-connectivity with the earth and how their gods and beliefs are inseparable from the land. Work these designs into your art and tell a story through your creation. 

Here is a selection of some beads you can work into your jewelry which help capture the spirit of Polynesian Hawaii:

To help access your inner Hawaii while creating, play some music by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, affectionately known as IZ. His mesmerizing voice and traditional Hawaiian songs will instantly make you feel like you are in the islands. 

- Julie 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Find Out Friday: How to make a Sparkling Rhinestone 4th of July Hair Pin Set

With the 4th of July just around the corner, we thought it was a perfect time to do a "Find Out Friday" on a spectacular red, white, and blue hair pin set.

To make 2 matching hair pins, you will need: 

1 package of red bobby pins
1 tube of E6000 adhesive

The only tools you will need are your fingers, a post it, and a toothpick or piece of scrap wire to use as an applicator for the glue. Optional is the Beadsmith Magic Pick which helps to pick up rhinestones. 

Begin by squeezing some glue onto the post it. Using a piece of wire, grab some glue and spread it in the center of each white filigree stamping:

Center a blue filigree on top of each white filigree and press into the glue:

Now spread some glue in the center of one of the blue filigrees. Place 1 large Swarovski red rhinestone (size ss40) into the glue and press into place:

Carefully run a line of glue around the edge of your rhinestone. Place the glue on the filigree, not on the rhinestone itself:

Onto this circle of glue, place smaller red Swarovski rhinestones all the way around the center crystal, touching each other:

Next, place 5 dots of glue at even intervals along the outer edge of the blue filigree. Into these, place smaller Swarovski rhinestones:

Repeat the rhinestone-gluing pattern on the other blue & white filigree you have glued together.  Let the rhinestones dry in place for at least 20 minutes.

After the rhinestones have dried in place, take 1 red bobby pin and place a dab of E6000 onto the glue-on flat surface. Center this on the backside of one of the white filigree and press into place: 

Repeat with another bobby pin and the other filigree assembly.  Let your fantastic new hair decorations dry overnight (at least 12 hours) before wearing.

Happy 4th of July!
- Julie 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Staff Pick: Thread Zap II, Thread Burning Tool

Every so often, while working on a project here at Beadaholique, one of us will begin extolling (aloud) the praises of a certain tool or device that he or she has either just discovered, or which has come through for us once again, like a tried and true friend.  Rather that just stand around the office shouting about it, we have decided to share with you, our loyal readers, our very favorite stuff-- and explain to you why we love said stuff. Case in point: The BeadSmith Cordless Thread Zap II Thread Burning Tool.


It is quite a long and ostentatious title for a tool that basically does one thing-- it burns thread.  However, it does it so exceptionally well... I, for one, cannot live with out it. Whether you are a seasoned beadweaver, or you have just learned your very first stitch, I'm sure you have come across the annoying fact that no matter how sharp a scissor, that tail of thread that you just severed is never cut close enough to your gorgeous finished piece.  Unsightly!  The precision of the Thread Zap II is such that you will never again have ugly little thread tails poking out, mocking you.  Watch our handy-dandy video on this cool tool, and I'm sure you will agree that this is a must-have.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Glam Rock!

My inspiration today is the wild world of Glam Rock.  I find that music and visual arts often go hand in hand, one inspiring the other.  I, for one, am never without some form of audio stimulation going on in the background while I make jewelry or paint.  I began forming an interest in 70's glam while studying fine arts in college.  Artists like David Bowie, Roxy Music, T-Rex, and Sparks soon became staples in my studio.  I found the genre so... well, glamorous that it leant itself to the creation of many an oversized canvas bursting with color and attitude (not to mention having a huge influence on my wardrobe choices!).

Bowie, Roxy, Bolan, & Sparks

The androgynous, otherworldly aesthetic of glam rock has always translated well to jewelry for me.  As soon as I throw on a New York Dolls record, I am ready to create a glittery necklace abundant in chains and sparkly rocks.  Here are some super glammed-up jewelry making elements, ready to be whipped up into a rock 'n' roll masterpiece!

 What kind of music inspires you to make your best jewelry creations?  We'd love to hear from you, as always!

Bead on,


Friday, June 10, 2011

Find Out Friday: How to use Gilders Paste

Welcome to the very first installment of our new semi-regular feature, "Find Out Friday"! We get a lot of emails about how to use various products, or how to do certain techniques.  So now we will be making our blog (in addition to our free project instructions and our YouTube video tutorials) a resource to learn tips and tricks of the trade, as well as fun DIY crafts with step-by-step photos. Today we'll play with Gilders Paste, and learn how to use it on a filigree stamping.

An assortment of stampings treated with various colors of Gilders Paste

Gilders Paste is a wax based medium used to highlight and color metal, wood, clay, and more.   It is best known for coming in a multitude of metallic finishes, but it's also great for applying colorful effects to metal, such as verdigris, purple, blue iris, and many others.  It comes in the form of a thick paste, stored in a small tin.   It can dry out, so you want to make sure to keep the lids on your tins of Gilders Paste while not in use. 

For this project you will need:
-a tin of Gilders paste in the "patina" color
-a silver-plated filigree stamping
-a can of acrylic spray sealer (we used Mod Podge matte sealer)
-some paper towels

Using either the paper towel, or your finger (we just dug right in with our fingers, it's more fun that way) scoop a small amount of the Gilders Paste out of the tin.

Spread the paste across the entire surface of your filigree stamping, making sure to get it into all of the recesses.

Gently wipe off as much of the paste as you'd like from the surface of the stamping with a clean paper towel.

Set the stamping aside to dry for at least twenty four hours.  You can then give it several coats of the spray sealer, allowing for each coat to dry before adding the next.

There you have it.  This product is so versatile, the possibilities are endless!  You can try it on all different types of beads and findings, mix colors, thin it out with turpentine... What are you going to create with it?  We hope you enjoy experimenting with it as much as we have!

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