Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday: Spring Coil Ends

Spring coil cord ends-- Everybody's seen them at one time or another, but many people do not know how to use these handy-dandy little doodads. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I was one of these people until recently. It was not until I was given the task of creating a how-to video that I learned how to use them. Not only that, I also learned to love them. Now I can't believe I went this long without using spring coil ends! Are you one of the many beading enthusiasts who has yet to use spring coil ends because perhaps you didn't know how? Then this video is for you:



Monday, August 29, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Google Art Project

Starry Night by Van Gogh
Have you heard of the Google Art Project? It is a massive collaboration between Google and some of the foremost museums in the world to make accessible (to all) the wealth of artwork presented in the museums.  Via the website, www.googleartproject.com, you are able to choose a museum and virtually walk around  various galleries and zoom in on the masterpieces. The high resolution images are so clear that you can actually see the brush strokes and even cracks in the paint. If you expand the panel, you will find details on the painting you are viewing.

Hall of Mirrors

Since I truly believe that art inspires art, the Google Art Project is a treasure-trove of inspiration for me. If you have read some of my previous blogs, you probably know that I have an affinity for Paris. When I visit, I like to make a side trip to the Palace of Versailles (a royal chateau in the Ile-de-France region). I visit Versailles to be inspired, awe-struck, and energized to create my designs. 

The Coronation of the Emperor and Empress
Much to my delight, I no longer need to be in France to be inspired by Versailles as the Google Art Project has mapped 16 rooms, including the devastatingly beautiful Hall of Mirrors. Within each room, there are numerous paintings you can zoom in on such as The Coronation of the Emperor and Empress, Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine-Habsbourg, Queen of France, and her children, and 33 other remarkable paintings. 

National Gallery
In addition to the Palace of Versailles, the Google Art Project also features these museums: Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza (Madrid), The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg), The State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art (New York City), National Gallery (London), Museum Kampa (Prague), Gemaldegalerie (Berlin), Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid), Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin), Uffizi Gallery (Florence), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Tate Britain (London), The Frick Collection (New York City), and the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian (Washington, DC). From these museums, you can view over a thousand paintings. The project is ongoing and more museums and paintings are still being added. 

View of the Grand Canal 
What I find particularly appealing about the Google Art Project is that you can enjoy it anytime of the day, anywhere. As artists, we all have those days when we just need something to spark our creativity. So sitting in your pajamas, looking for inspiration, you can virtually visit Florence's Uffizi Gallery and study Canaletto's View of the Grand Canal or Botticelli's Birth of Venus. Amazing! 

I hope you have as much fun exploring these fantastic museums and their works as I did. Enjoy! 

- Julie 

Friday, August 26, 2011

How Did The Bail Get Its Name?

Slider Bail
As jewelry artists, we all know what a bail is, it's a handy finding which allows you to attach a pendant or object to the rest of the piece of jewelry. Usually it has some sort of hoop or ring which is used as a connector. Bails come in a variety of shapes, finishes, and sizes. They can be very simple so that the pendant is the focus or quite elaborate so that the bail itself is a decorative element in the design. There are pinch, snap, tube/slider, and glue-on bails. 

Pinch Bail

My question is: why is it called a bail? If you type "bail" into a search engine, what comes up are references to bail bonds, getting out of jail, escaping, property, a bucket, sinking ships  etc... After reviewing 20 pages of search results, still there was no mention of a jewelry bail or anything similar. So I still didn't know why bails are called bails, and not, say, 'hangers' or 'suspendors.' 

Glue-on Bail

I could see that I needed to dig deeper. Finally, on an etymology site, and in Webster's New College Dictionary, I found that the Middle English word 'beyl,' from the Old Norse 'beygla,' translates to 'a bend, ring, or hoop.'   Interesting!   It seems pretty likely that our jewelry bail's name developed straight from the Middle English source, as most bails are hoops or rings which connect an object to a piece of jewelry.

- Julie 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Btw: Bead Table Wednesday 8/24/11

Andrea's Table
Hmmm... Why would I use washable kids markers for my Bead Table? Well, I can't tell you just now. This could be because it *might* have something to do with Bead Soup Blog Party... Or then again, I could've just wanted to take a break from beading and make some colorful doodles. In the background is an 8/0 Czech seed bead mix in an array of lovely watercolor-like shades. For as much as I love peyote stitch, I've never actually tried 2 or 3 drop peyote. My little sampler here is made using 3-drop, and I am loving it!

Julie's Table
I actually have two beading tables going today. The one pictured showcases my current work in resin. I made a block mold using Easy Mold Silicone Rubber and cast a bangle bracelet. The result is an exact duplicate of the original, except mine is in green (so exciting!). I hate to waste a drop of resin so I poured some "jewels" with the excess and will have fun figuring out what to do with them. My  other beading table is filled with my bead soup, and I can't share what I am making, but I am having a blast!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet Julie's Bead Soup Blog Party Partner: JuLee Wolfe

I have such an wonderful Bead Soup Blog partner and I have been itching to tell you all about her. She is the very talented polymer clay jewelry artist JuLee Wolfe! I am so excited to have been paired with JuLee and to get the chance to work with her artisan beads. You definitely need to check out her blog, The Polymer Penguin, and be thoroughly inspired by her creativity! Her use of textures, hand building, and finishes are thoroughly impressive. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces she has made (besides the pieces she has sent me of course):


Both being from the Pacific Northwest (I left only 5 years ago) and complete animal lovers, JuLee and I hit it off instantly. It has been such fun emailing back and forth with her and I now realize that Bead Soup is not only about pushing our creative limits further but making new friends and sharing the happiness of beading with others. 

Ok, I can't wait any longer, I need to show you my goodies! 

The box arrived with "Bead Soup" happily stamped along the sides in colorful lettering (great way to build up the excitement!) My name was also done in fun colorful lettering, and I would like to say I delicately opened the box, but my anticipation was too great and I tore the package open as quickly as I could. Inside I found a lovely lavender organza bag with gold swirls, a gold box, and a handmade notecard. 

JuLee's note to me was so sweet and she said she even included a couple extra beads just for me (the gold box). So thoughtful! So first off, here are the beads which I can not wait to make into several pairs of earrings. I already know just what I want to do with them! 

For my bead soup, JuLee handmade (oh my gosh!) gorgeous burnt red, black, and gold beads. I love the patterns on these beads, the really fun shape, and the lovely gold detailing. There are also a lot of accent beads in gold and black which remind me of tufted cushions. A very pretty hammered brass colored toggle clasp was also included. My mind is swimming with ideas! I can't wait to get started! 

Happy Beading Everyone,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Andrea's Favorite Beading Books

Taking a cue from my coworker, Julie, I decided to use today's Inspiration Monday to highlight some of my favorite beading books. Our higher ups here at Beadaholique are very good about keeping a well stocked, up to date library of instructional books for us to peruse. These books are invaluable resources for learning new techniques, or if we just need a burst of inspiration. While there are many books in our collection I love dearly, there are those rare few that were real "game-changers" for me. I'd love to share them with you!

Beading With Cabochons by Jamie Cloud Eakin  

Back when I first began my career as a beader, my designs were all about simple stringing and wire wrapping techniques. Bead embroidery was just a twinkle in my eye, as was bead weaving. When Sarah dropped this book off at my desk, I had a serious "Eureka!" moment. This really spoke to me. THIS is where I wanted to take my designs. Jamie Cloud Eakin does such lovely work, and her instructions are incredibly clear and easy to follow. She covers just about everything you need to know to get started in the wonderful world of bead embroidery.

The Beader's Color Palette by Margie Deeb

Ohhh, how I love this book! As many of you may know, I am somewhat of a color junkie. This book is my drug of choice. Margie Deeb is an authority when it comes to properly and effectively using color to make your beading creations sing. In this book you will find stunning beaded designs by an array of talented artists; each design is accompanied by a series of creatively named and numbered palettes, as well as beautiful photos of the locales or eras that pertain to each specific design.

The Art of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli and
Sherry Serafini

When I discovered that my two favorite bead embroidery artists, Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini, had written a book together, I was over the moon! It didn't take too long to convince Sarah that this book belonged in our library. Even though Sherry's designs tend to be on the rock'n'roll side, and Heidi's designs are quintessentially earthy, the two aesthetics work together marvelously. Not only will you find helpful tips and tricks in this book, but you will also have fun just oogling over these gifted ladies' designs.

I hope these books get the inspirational juices flowing for you, and that you learn as much as I have learned from them. Enjoy, and happy reading!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Staff Pick: Round/Concave Wire Looping Pliers

These are my most favorite pliers, ever.  I have never understood why these pliers are not more popular.  I have told so many people about these, and the reaction I usually get from them is along the lines of, "Why didn't anybody tell me about these?  I need a pair, now!"

These pliers really do make wire looping easier when you are using finer gauges of wire, right up to 22 gauge.  I have used them with up to 18 gauge wire, although more care has to be taken to avoid marring the thicker wires.   

Looping pliers are different from round nose pliers in that one side of the nose is a classic round nose shape, and the other side is a concave shape that presses your wire in a perfect half-circle around the 'nose.'  With two squeezes, or one continuous rolling motion, you can form your loop--no more using the tender pads of your fingers to press the wire around the plier.  

As you can see in Andrea's video below, the pliers firmly grip the wire, allowing you to easily form a loop. Want to do a wrapped loop?  Transfer the pliers to your non-dominant hand, keeping a grip on your loop, and use bent-nose pliers in your dominant hand to do the wrapping and tucking.    

A useful tip is that if you are planning on making lots of loops and need them all to the be the same size, to take a Sharpie pen and make a little mark along the nose of the plier. Then place your wire along this mark and make your loop. You will now have perfectly matched loops everytime. 

- Sarah

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BTW: Bead Table Wednesday 8/17/11

Andrea's Table
On my beading table today: another sneak peak at my intimidatingly cool Bead Soup from my great partner, Hope Smitherman! You can check out her blog here. I thought I was ready to dive in yesterday, but instead I spent my time working on other projects while glancing nervously at the soup... It seemed to be calling out to me, "C'mon! put that other work down and make something out of us!". I pulled a ton of seed beads to complement the color palette, but then again, I'm not sure if I'll end up turning to my trusty bead-weaving on this one. I spent the last few minutes of the day just staring at the soup. Maybe today is the day...?

Julie's Table
I had been wanting to create a new bead weaving project and when I was presented with the challenge to make something Halloween this week, I struck up an idea: reproduce those funky orange and black striped Halloween stockings in beads! The result is a flat peyote stitched cuff bracelet with multiple toggle clasps. I used 11/0 and 8/0 Toho beads to create a wavy dimensional look. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet Andrea's Bead Soup partner: Hope Smitherman (and check out the awesome bead soup she sent!)

Hello fellow participants and spectators of Bead Soup Blog Party! Now, I know that normally I would post two separate blog posts around this time; one which introduces my partner, and another which reveals what she sent me, but it all happened so fast! So, without further ado, let me first introduce you to my partner: Hope Smitherman! Hope is a terrific gal who is an all-around crafty person, hence her blog name: Crafty Hope. One peek at her blog, and I knew we were going to hit it off. I also popped by her Etsy store... Take a look at her amazing jewelry, people! Needless to say, I was VERY happy to be partnered with this talented lady. I went to work putting together a kit for her, having a blast the entire time.

beautiful handmade card from Hope!

A few days after I sent my kit off to Hope, I received a package of my own in the mail. The first thing I opened was an incredibly beautiful and thoughtful handmade card. She even stamped my name onto a metal plate and affixed it to the front! How awesome is that?

some of the gorgeous packaging

The next thing I saw was a trio of decorated-by-hand boxes, tied up with lovely ribbons and lace. Inside the boxes were seemingly endless little packages, wrapped up in hand-printed (of course!) brown paper. I was already thrilled.. and I hadn't even gotten to the beads yet!

soup's on!

AND FINALLY.... Here is a picture, albeit a grainy and color-distorted one, of the actual bead soup I received. I wanted to leave some of it mysterious, so this is just a taste of the awesomeness. Note the handmade labels. I just love this girl!

I feel so very lucky to have Hope as my partner, and I just cannot wait to get started playing with all of the gorgeous, amazing, rad, terrific, and thoughtful goodies she sent me.

Don't forget to stay tuned for the final reveal! The actual blog hop takes place on September 17th, so mark your calenders, and be prepared to hop through the three-hundred-and-some (!) participating blogs.

Have a great day!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Bottle Cap Jewelry

I rarely do an inspiration Monday on a specific item but I just couldn't help myself with this one. Sometimes you just need that starting point, a spark to to ignite your inspiration, and a simple bottle cap can be just that. 

Bottle Cap jewelry has been trending for several years now and continues to grow in popularity. Why is this? Many reasons come to mind, but personally I think it's because bottle caps are fun, they are a casual take on jewelry design, light in spirit and smile-inducing. In a serious world, it is a welcome joy to wear something which causes people to stop and say "That is so great! How fun! Too clever!" - and these are the responses I get when wearing my bottle cap jewelry. 

Bottle Caps offer so many possibilities for the creative designer. The most obvious is that you can put an image on the inside of the bottle cap or even on the backside. Most bottle caps have an 1" interior diameter, so if you have a 1" round hole punch, it's really easy to just punch an image and have it fit perfectly. In addition to images, I have seen people fill bottle caps with sprinkles, charms, pressed flowers, buttons, and just about anything small. It can be a miniature shadow box for your design. 

Besides filling your bottle cap with all sorts of eye-catching pictures and objects, you can also alter the actual bottle cap itself - creating something new. A metal hole punch easily punches through the flared tin edges. This is great for attaching jump rings, bails, connectors, or dangles. If you want, you can flatten a bottle cap with just a rubber mallet; the effect is actually quite dramatic and really changes the entire look. 

Once you have your bottle cap jewelry how you want it, finishing the piece is really easy. If you are just using an image, you can then coat the image in sealant, you can fill the bottle cap with resin, or use an epoxy sticker. If you have lots of objects inside your bottle cap, resin is probably your best bet, but you can always glue objects down really well with a glue such as E6000Then all that is needed is to glue a magnet or pin on the back, glue on a bail or if you punched a hole, just attach a jump ring or earring hook. Instant jewelry and gifts! So simple, yet so much fun! 

Here is another idea: I used my husband's art work and put it inside a bottle cap, edged the interior of the cap in ball chain, and then filled with resin. You can do this for your own art work or that of your kids! 

The key to bottle cap jewelry is to have fun and be creative. The possibilities are endless! Here are a couple of tutorials to help you on your journey: 

Enjoy! Julie 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Precious Metal Clay Class at Beadaholique

We are excited to share all the fun we had at the Level 1 certification Precious Metal Clay (PMC) class taught by the very talented Lora Hart. 

Right here in our Beadaholique offices in Glendale, California we rolled up our sleeves, spread out our tools, and listened raptly to the expert teachings of Lora. Joining in on the 2-day intensive class were myself (Julie), Andrea, Jason, and 4 other very talented PMC artists from across the country. 

If you are not familiar with Precious Metal Clay (PMC) it is truly moldable clay made of fine silver particles and a binding agent. When fired in a kiln or with a torch, the binder melts away and what results is a piece of solid metal which can be treated the same as any other fine silver item (soldered, polished, sanded, etc.). You literally end up with a beautiful piece of fine silver which you shaped with your own hands - amazing! 

In the class we completed a total of 5 projects:
  • Slide pendant with fold over bail, set with a faceted cubic zirconia and dichroic glass cabochon
  • Filigree earrings or pendant made entirely with the syringe form of metal clay
  • Hollow bead or vessel made with many layers of the slip/paste form of metal clay
  • Classic band ring
  • Half lentil pendant with split bail made using dry construction and carving techniques

Lora imparted many tips and excellent instructions to help each one of us succeed. And guess what? We all passed and are now certified! 

Here is a gallery of the Beadaholique crew's creations:

Andrea: "I really, really enjoyed every single part of the certification process, but the project I think I was most excited about was the ring. As a beader rather than a metalsmith, one is limited when it comes to ring-making. Creating the PMC band was so satisfying for me, and being able to cut my little "blades of grass" design by hand out of the PMC paper was just too much fun. I can't wait to make more!"

Julie: "I LOVED making the hollow vessel with slip, the entire process was very soothing to me. The details you see on my vessel were created using PMC paper and paper punches - a process I am still in awe over. I had such fun planning out my design and I really liked the old Italian feel that resulted."

Jason: "My favorite part of the class was using new techniques I was not completely familiar with. I enjoyed trying the new ideas and thinking about how I can use them moving forward with future PMC projects. Also, I made the best ring ever."

For more on Lora Hart, her jewelry, and her teachings, please visit her website: http://www.lorahart.com/#home and blog: http://lorahartjewels.blogspot.com/. We highly recommend her!

Would you like to see more classes held at Beadaholique? What are some you would like to see? 

- Julie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BtW: Bead Table Wednesday 8/10/11

Andrea's Table
Kumihimo!! I've been playing with this updated version of an ancient Japanese craft for a little while now, and loving it. After receiving our new pre-measured mixed color rattail packages, I knew I just had to make a few projects and a video. Here I have a bracelet and a necklace that I created on the standard round foam disk, using two different sizes of rattail for a spiral effect. So much fun!

Julie's Table
I absolutely fell in love with some new findings we received in recently (soon to be listed on the Beadaholique website). Featured on my table are two of them: an Art Nouveau swirl toggle clasp in antique silver and multiple matching silver drops. Starting with these elements, I am slowly building my design. The alexandrite frosted glass briolettes look really interesting paired with the silver findings and I am considering adding some bead weaving into the mix. Oh the possibilities! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday: Cutting Perfect Chain Lengths

Have you ever become cross-eyed trying to count the links on a length of chain? I know I have. Certain projects require chain sections which are the exact same length. Counting links can quickly become a frustrating endeavor when you need multiple sections, especially if they require a lot of links each. 

Here is a solution:

Count out the number of desired links for the first piece of chain and cut. Through the end link of this cut piece, thread a piece of straight scrap wire. 

Now take the end link on the remaining part of your chain and thread that onto the piece of wire as well. Hold horizontal, above your beading table. You should be able to easily see where you need to cut the second piece of chain to match in length, without having to count. 

Repeat this step over and over until you have cut as many lengths as needed. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Inspiration Monday: Native American Beadwork

While catching up with an old friend the other day, the inevitable question of, "So, what have you been up to?" came up.  I picked up a few of the numerous examples of what I've been up to (bead weaving projects that are scattered all around the house), held them out to him, and said, "This!" 

My friend's interest in and knowledge about my bead weaving and bead embroidery began to ring a bell--of course! my friend is Native American.  I suddenly felt foolish, as if my several years dabbling in decorative beading could compare with the knowledge of the generations of his family steeped in the relationship between Native Americans and beads. 

My friend's family is part of the Ho-chunk Nation, formerly (and incorrectly) known as the Winnebago Tribe, although a branch of the tribe which resides in Nebraska is still called by its former name.  His family is deeply involved in traditional Ho-chunk dancing, which involves the wearing of elaborate beaded costumes.  He told me that each member of the family would participate in creating the intricate beadwork which adorned the costumes.  This information was just so intriguing to me; to think about the kinship involved in that amazing process was mind-boggling and inspiring.   

Here is an interesting site filled with little informational tidbits about the historical significance of beads in Native American culture, both as a form of commerce and for ceremonial and decorative uses.  And here are some books that I can't wait to get my hands on! I am just beginning to scratch the surface in learning about the tradition of Native American beadwork, so I still have MUCH to learn. Sufficed to say, my curiosity has been piqued and I can't wait to learn more.

Here are some examples of traditional seed bead colors commonly used in Native American beading, all colors of seed beads can be found here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Find Out Friday: Steampunk Ring

For this Find Out Friday we have combined two of our favorite things - buttons and Steampunk. We are going to make this great ring: 

Let's begin!

Here is what you will need: 
Clear acrylic sealer

Heavy duty wire cutters

The first step is to cut off the shank on the back of the button. DO NOT use your good jewelry making cutters for this. Use a pair of household or utility wire cutters, the strength of the metal will permanently damage fine jewelry making cutters. 

Next, take a diamond file and file down any rough edges where you cut the shank off. You want to get it so the area where the shank was, is now flush with the back of the button and completely smooth. 

Turn the button over, and using your finger, lightly apply silver Gilders Paste to the raised details on the button. You will see that they now "pop". 

If you end up with too much silver, simply wipe off any excess with a paper towel. Let dry for 30 minutes. Take outside and spray 3 light coats of clear matte finish acrylic sealer over the button. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. 

Take your adjustable ring band and apply a "glob" (such technical terms we jewelry makers use) of E6000 adhesive onto the glue on pad. 

Press the glue-on pad of the ring onto the backside of the button. Center it to cover the area where you removed the shank. Let dry. 

You're all done! This same technique can be used for any button with a metal or plastic shank. Enjoy!

- Julie 

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