Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Holiday Ornament Swap and Blog Hop

Wow!  I can't believe it's been four months since I've posted.  I'll give you a run down on what's been going on at a later time, though.  Today, it's all about the holiday ornament swap!

The ornament swap is organized by Sally Russick and is something I look forward to each year.

This year, I was excited to have Sally as my partner!  Sally is a master of many trades:  metal work, seed beading, photography.  Sally is also the mastermind behind the focus on life series that I participated in last year.

You can see that mastery in the ornament she sent.

It's so gorgeous!  I may or may not have squealed a bit when I opened the box.

I can imagine the hours of work that went into it.  It's too fabulous to pack away after the holidays, so I plan to keep in in my office all year long (next to Sandi's ornament from last year).

Thank you, Sally!  I am beyond grateful.

I also sent Sally a beaded ornament.  I beaded a bezel around a bead from Donna Millard.

I loved Donna's work and really wanted to do this bead justice.  My photo isn't the best.  I bet Sally takes a better one.

I also sent Sally a chain maille ornament.  It's a larger version of the Celtic Visions Star from Blue Buddha and was the December mailers choice kit.

Sally said Wyatt snapped it up.  I'm so glad he liked it!

Sally, thank you again and thank you for hosting this blog hop.

Please take some time and visit the other participants.  You will see some fabulous ornaments!

(To the other participants, I'm out of town this weekend, so I may not get hopping until this week, but I can't wait to visit everyone.)

1. Sally Russick and Tanya Goodwin (you are here)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pretty Palettes August Reveal

In November of last year, Erin Prais-Hintz started a Pretty Palettes color challenge on the Halcraft blog.

Each month, Erin picks a set of beads that coordinate with a color palette and invites her readers to create something using those beads.

A few months ago, Erin started partnering with guest bloggers.  It's always fun to see how two people use the same set of beads.

The inspiration for August comes from notion:creative, which showcases street art.

Erin picked a variety of beads

As much as I tried, I couldn't get those beads to play with each other.  I ended up doing a few pieces, each using some of the beads.

The first necklace uses those delicious brown rondelles and the red beaded beads.

I made a small Conway Bead, designed by Gwen Fisher, with red and brown seed beads.  It went perfectly with the brown and red beads.

The rest of the necklace is made using part of Catherine Hamilton's Orbital Ensamble necklace.  I like how the chain maille orbits echo the beaded beads.

The second necklace is similar to the first one, but I used the pink and white beads.  I also used small green/teal beads from Michael's that matched the larger teal disc beads from Erin.

I paired these with more Conway Beads.  I went a bit off here when I grabbed dark green seed beads in an attempt to match the teal discs from Erin.  Those beads have dark greens, blues and teals in them.  The green isn't quite the right shade.

The rest of the necklace is made using different part of the Orbital Ensamble necklace.  I had thought that a teal patina would work, but it didn't match.  Instead, I used a laurel green patina from Miss Fickle Media.  While the green matches the beaded beads, it is a bit off from the palette.

As with Heather's Michaels challenge, I used the smaller pink beads to make Sabine Lippert's Granada pendant.  (You can find the pattern for this in Sabine's book, Beaded Fantasies.)

This time around, I used white in the center and I *love* how it looked.

I actually used red and pink together!  I was amazed at how well they worked together.

I liked the design I used for the pendant in Heather's Michael's challenge, so I did something similar here.

I beaded a spiral rope using pink, red, teal, and brown, then hung the pendant from a brass chain.

The spiral rope shows off the jewel tones.

Finally, I used the teal discs to try an idea that had been swirling in my head.

I threaded three of them on a headpin and hung it like a pendant, similar to how I used one of Erin's beads here.

Then, keeping it simple, I made another spiral rope.  I couldn't find the right shade of teal to work with the disc beads, so I went with emerald.

I don't know if you can tell, but I used a teal seed bead for the base of the rope.  I also incorporated white and brown tones.

I still have an idea for the other two beaded beads.  I ran out of time to try it before the reveal, but it's banging around in my head, so you might see it soon.

Erin, I can't tell you how much of an honor it was to be chosen to work with you.  I had so much fun with these beads.  Thank you so much.

If you want to see what Erin made with these beads, check out the Halcraft blog.  I know she made something fabulous that you will want to see!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A very chain maille birthday

It seems my birthday was all about chain maille.

My parents gave me a very nice wubbers flat nose pliers which came in handy when my husband surprised me with a kit for Blue Buddha's Chunky Cuff bracelet, designed by W. John MacMullen.

When I first saw this bracelet, I wasn't sure about it, but after seeing it in person, I just *love* it.  John used a layering technique I hadn't seen before and the result is fantastic.  I have plenty of ideas using this technique.

I had a few leftover rings and made a simple pair of earrings.

In addition to the sunburst kit, my in-laws gave me the Nouveau pendant and earrings kit, designed by April Hannah Llewellyn.

I just love the colors -- so bright and fun!  The earrings are awesome to wear.  

I haven't worn the pendant yet because I haven't decided exactly how to build a necklace around it.  The kit came with a chain, but I want to make something special, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Halcraft Pretty Palettes

In November of last year, Erin Prais-Hintz started a Pretty Palettes color challenge on the Halcraft blog.

Each month, Erin picks a set of beads that coordinate with a color palette and invites her readers to create something using those beads.  A few months ago, Erin started partnering with guest bloggers.  It's always fun to see how two people use the same set of beads.

I was honored when Erin asked me to be her partner for the August Pretty Palette challenge.  Erin has such a way with color and design.  She can find inspiration in virtually anything:  color, literature, music, and travel, just to name a few.

The inspiration for August comes from notion:creative, which showcases street art.

Erin picked a variety of beads

I'm so excited to play!

You are more than welcome to play along.  Erin offers a link up every month.

The beads are from Michaels:

99042 Bronze Iris 10x14mm rondel
95109 Teal Dyed Jasper 9x14mm
93286 Dyed agate pink round 10mm
59593 Round dyed pink quartzite 6mm
89899 Bone carved melon 8x10mm
93359 Dyed red bamboo coral 14mm beaded beads

Check back on August 27th for the reveal, both here and on the Halcraft blog.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sunburst pendants

A few months ago, Paula from Flutterby Kisses created a chain maille pendant that mimics wirework.

After much begging (and not just from me), she created a tutorial for her Sunburst Pendant and it has gone viral.

Every day, it seems, someone posts a rendition of Paula's design.  Both Blue Buddha and C and T Designs have created kits for a smaller version of Paula's pendant.

My in-laws were kind enough to give me Blue Buddha's copper and brown sunburst kit for my birthday.  I love Blue Buddha's kits because there always seem to be extra rings.  Instead of the three pendants promised, I made five!

I played around with the pendants and liked the way they looked linked together.

I added two herringbone ropes and a necklace was born.

I wanted to use a sunburst for a clasp, but it just didn't work.  Instead, I tried a little wire wrapping.

If you want to make a sunburst of your own, you can find Paula's tutorial here.  You do need the tutorial if you buy the kits from Blue Buddha or C and T designs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

In love with Cylon (not the one you think, though)

My mom asked me to create a watch band using a watch face that she liked.

I looked at different weaves and settled on the cylon weave.

This is a mini version of cylon, using smaller rings.  And I do mean "smaller."  The blue rings in the middle are 3/32 inch -- the smallest rings I've ever used.

I am so proud of how it turned out, though.  I think it's perfect and am already planning a cylon cuff for myself.

You can find instructions for the cylon cuff here on Blue Buddha's site.  The instructions give ring sizes for the regular version (using larger rings) and this version.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Another Michaels Challenge!

I was so excited to see Heather Powers and Lorelei Eurto were hosting another Michaels challenge.

Heather picked out the beadss using this as her inspiration.

The colors in the paisley fabric are so awesome!  And Heather picked out the perfect beads to match!

(Both of these are Heather's photos.  I completely forgot to take a photo of the beads before I started playing.)

I love the fuschia and the blues and greens -- gorgeous colors and ones I seldom choose for myself.

When I got these beads, I had been playing with Gwen Fisher's Conway Bead design.  I whipped up a few, thinking it would be fun to include them.

The Conway beads are slightly bigger than the large green beads, but I think they work well.

I also used the white rondelles and the brown cube beads along with the green ones.

I made a half Persian 3 in 1 chain to go with the beads and managed to create a necklace.  :)

After I finished this, I realized that I pulled the beads I was most comfortable with -- green, brown, earthy tones.  I added a bit of pink to the beaded beads, but conveniently forgot the pink and blue Michaels beads.

I grabbed those beads -- jewel tones I don't usually work with -- and decided to create something with those.

I turned to a favorite pattern from Sabine Lippert and used the pink beads to create a Bollywood version of her Granada pendant.  (You can find the pattern for this in Sabine's book, Beaded Fantasies.)

I wanted to make an elaborate necklace to showcase the pendant and tried several different things, none of which seemed right to me.

In the end, I went with something simpler.

I love the green sari ribbon.

These are colors I never ever .. ever would have chosen and I am so pleased with how this turned out.

I took a part of the Granada pendant and made a single components.  They made great earrings.

At one point during my necklace trials, I made a few drops with the blue/gold beads.  Not one to let anything go to waste, I whipped up this simple pair of earrings.

I was sad that I didn't find a use for the brown rectangle flower beads.  However, I did use them in the last Michaels challenge.  That counts, right?

Heather and Lorelei, thank you for a fun challenge!  I have a new favorite necklace thanks to the two of you!

Please check Heather's blog for the link up and see what the other participants did with these beads.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Recently, I've been playing around with Cindy Holsclaw's Double Pinwheel Beaded Beads.

These guys are so cute and bead up in a snap.

Cindy gives directions for five different sizes, which is great for something like this.

This necklace is inspired by Erin Siegel's "Greenwish Punk Necklace" in her book, Punk Chic Jewelry.  I loved the design and whipped up a quick half Persian 3 in 1 chain to complete the necklace.

However, the pinwheel beads seemed to large for the smaller chain.

I made a larger chain using the same weave and I think it works much better.

I also made a small pair of pinwheel beads and paired them with charms from Sharyl's Jewelry.

I thought they turned out nicely.

You can find more of Sharyl's charms and beads in her artfire store.

Cindy sells her tutorials and kits in her store, Bead Origami.

Erin has other tutorials for sale in her etsy shop and her book is available here on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Conway Beads

One of the things I love about Gwen Fisher is the way she uses beads to create complicated mathematical shapes.  Her Conway Beaded Bead is a perfect example.

The tutorial is aimed toward experienced beaders.  Gwen designed the Conway bead using tetrahedrons and triangular prisms made with a modified cubic right angle weave (or, in this case, tetra right angle weave?).

Gwen gives instructions for two different bead sizes, but suggests trying the larger size first (with good reason).

Not one to go the easy route, I started on the smaller one.

The first step gave me a bit of trouble because I couldn't visualize the shape or the beaded structure.  Gwen's illustrations and photos were very helpful and I followed her thread path, confident that she wouldn't lead me astray.

Step 2 was easier and, after the third step, it "clicked."

After that, it was (mostly) smooth sailing.

If you try this pattern (and I highly recommend that you do), remember that the first few stitches are fiddly, but it gets much easier (and faster) and you progress.

The next bead went very quickly.   The bigger beads were easier to work with and I had the pattern down.  Gwen mentioned in her blog post that the design is intuitive and she is totally right.  I was able to do the second without double checking the pattern.

I even made a small one using size 15 seed beads.

These little beads are fun to make and, once you get the hang of it, they work up very quickly.

I might have a problem.

You can find the tutorial for the Conway bead here.  You can find more of Gwen's patterns on her etsy shop and you can find other designs by Gwen and Florence Turnour on their website, Bead Infinitum.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

More Intricate Chain Maille

I think this is quickly becoming my favorite weave.

The colors are taken from Blue Buddha's Spring kit for "Large Coiled Butterfly" (a building block for Intricate Chain Maille).

I think it will work for summer also.  :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jens Pind Linkage

As you know, I've been mailing as much as I've been beading.

The other day, I decided to try my hand at a somewhat difficult weave -- jens pind linkage.  From what I can tell, this weave can scare even the most experienced chain mailers.

I started out with Sue Ripsch's pattern from her book, Classic Chain Mail Jewelry With a Twist.  I was surprised that I was able to start the weave without any trouble.  Keeping it going, however, proved to be harder.

Jens Pind is a spiral weave and each new ring matches the orientation of the 3rd ring back.  While this sounds straight forward, it's hard to see the emerging pattern (especially when using all copper rings).  I took out more than a few rings in learning this weave.

I finally turned back to ZiLi's tutorial (ZiLi is a chain maille genius and a regular on the chain maille facebook group I've joined) and something clicked.

I am really taken with this weave.  It's both delicate and hefty.  The spiral pattern is amazing.

I only had enough of the proper size rings to make a bracelet.  I paired my chain with a focal from Staci Louise Originals.  Staci's bead looks amazing with the copper.

The intimidating jens pind may now by my favorite weave.

I'm excited to try JPL 5, which is the same weave, but using 5 rings instead of 3.  (I think I need to order more rings.)  :)

As I menI've already ordered more rings.  I can't wait for them to get here.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dancing Rivolis

I love reading reviews -- of books, make-up, iPad apps, recipes, and anything in between.  (I even have the kiddo reading app reviews before asking if she can download an app.  "Please, Mommy, all these people said it was good.")

I really love the reviews, though, in which the reviewer "missed something."  I'm sure you've all read the shrimp scampi review from the person who used chicken instead of shrimp, used butter spray instead of butter, didn't have scallions, so used dried something or other, and decided to bake the dish instead of sautee.

That said, I'm not above "tweaking" a recipe from time to time, or even a design, though I try to remember that any difficulties result from user error.

Case in point:

When I saw Laura Luepke's "Dancing Cabs Necklace" in the June issue of Beadwork magazine, I immediately wanted to try it -- like that minute.

Of course, I didn't have cabs ... or brick beads, but I didn't let that stop me.  I dug out some rivolis (not in the right sizes) and went to work.

The centerpiece of Laura's necklace is embroidered.  When I grabbed my bead backing, I realized that my rivolis wouldn't lie flat like a cab.  Instead, I bezeled them.  I ended up with a bit of funky stitching to attach the superduo beads (in place of the brick beads) to the bezel, but the result was worth it.

I hope that I captured the essence of Laura's beautiful design, even if I went about it in a different way.

I really like the strap.  It's a lovely variation on the daisy chain.

If you want to make a necklace of your own, but don't want to end up off the path like I did, Laura offers several kits in her etsy shop.

I had the good fortune to meet Laura at Bead and Button last year, and see a bit of her work in person.  She is sweet and super talented.

If you would like to see more of her work, check out her website and blog.  You can also follow her on facebook.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

World Traveler

Wow!  It's been over two weeks since my last blog post.

Where have I been?

Well, I'll give you a hint:

Last year, my husband came home with news:  he had to travel to Europe on business AND he would be there on our anniversary -- our 10th anniversary.

Before I could open my mouth to say anything, he added that since his trip and hotel was totally paid for, I should go as well.  Happy anniversary to me!

Our trip started in London.  After a 9 hour flight, we walked almost 3 miles from our hotel to see Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

We also strolled around the outside of St. James Park, which is just gorgeous.  I couldn't resist a few macro shots.

The view from the park was amazing as well.

We only had a few days, but managed to make it to the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Of course, I couldn't resist visiting a few other museums:  the Sherlock Holmes Museum

and the museum in the Dr. Who shop.  The entrance to the museum was an actual TARDIS.

The owner of the shop was really sweet and made sure to take a picture for me.

We took the Eurostar train from London to Paris.  The train ride was one of the best parts of the trip.  The meal was amazing -- seriously amazing and the view of the French countryside was gorgeous.

My meal was gone in seconds, but my husband was snapped a photo of his meal before finishing it: salmon, potatoes, wine, and a delicious dessert.  (See that, Delta?  This is how you should feed your passengers.)

Our first day in Paris was May 1, or May Day (Labor Day in France) and almost everything was closed.

It was also rainy and cold, so not the best day.  Still, we managed to wander around, see a bit of the city and snap a few pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe -- scratch those off of my bucket list.

Maybe because Thursday was a holiday, on Friday, we found that Paris was not just the city of lights, it was the city of lines.  Everything was crowded and the wait times were several hours.

We opted to take a train to Versailles and visit the palace and the gardens.

The Gardens of Versailles are gorgeous -- and huge.  We didn't see a third of them before it started to rain.  We were both cold and wet and ended up cutting our visit shorter than we would have liked.

As we strolled along, we saw a bicycle rental station.  Had the weather been better, we would have biked around every inch of those gardens.  At least now we have a reason to return -- add one to the bucket list.  :)

The lines were shorter on Saturday and we were able to visit the Louvre and the Musée de l'Orangerie.

Interestingly enough, while we liked the Louvre and were happy to have visited, my husband and I both preferred the impressionist art at the Musée de l'Orangerie.

We also were able to walk around Notre Dame, which was beautiful inside.

I wanted to tour the towers of Notre Dame and was even willing to brave the almost 400 steps to do it, but again, the lines were longer than I wanted to wait.

Instead my husband was kind enough to walk around with me as I looked for bead stores (didn't find any) and walked in and out of various shops.

He was also a trooper in the evening and braved chilly winds with me so I could see the Eiffel Tower light up at night.

It was so pretty.

Then, the light show began.

I must have taken 100 photos of the light show, just hoping to get one good one.

Seeing the show was a fabulous way to end the trip, even if it was quite cold.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip.  We missed the kiddo terribly, but we knew she was having fun with my in-laws.

She was a bit mad at us, though.  She didn't mind us being gone, I don't think.  She was made that she didn't get to go.  I  think her first words to us were:  "I missed you!  What did you bring me?  When do I get to go to Europe?"

At least "I missed you" was first, right?