May 30, 2011

New Beads

Hello there!

Making the beads, making the beads! It's fun and exciting getting ready for the show.  I love seeing stacks and stacks of my favorite beads piling up.  Here are some new things for the show - they are curved cuff beads for bracelets in some awesome summery designs.  I'm super happy with them!
I need to finalize my booth display.  I want it to reflect the themes of the book - so woodland, garden and sea.  Trying to think up the best way to showcase my work that is flattering, eye-catching but not overwhelming.  We are driving to the show this year, so I can bring along a few bulkier display items.  Last year my entire booth packed up into a suitcase!  I still don't know how I managed that.

I can't wait to see my beady friends - that's the best part of the show!  Meeting up with all my favorite bead artists and shop owners.  Seeing my favorite teachery peeps and then meeting old and new Humblebead fans.  If you could see me right now I just did a little dance in chair. 

The best part about getting ready for Bead & Button this year?  Full time help!  Jess is such a trooper.  We've been painting beads into the wee hours of the night.  All this week he will be rolling disk beads.  That's my least favorite part about making beads and he just sits right down and does it for hours at a time.  I think that's what you call true love. 

Hannah modeled my bracelet for me and then walked away with it.  I guess that means it was a hit!

I'm talking a few hours off to spend with my family today.  Bead & Button or not, I must spend time with my dearest ones and make sure they don't feel neglected.

Are you going to Bead & Button?

(Oh, and in case you aren't on my mailing list - and why aren't you?  I'm having this beyond awesome group-on inspired sale until Tuesday or until the 20 vouchers sell out.  I have a few left, grab one while you can!)

May 25, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday - Cuff Bracelets

So I blogged about cuff bracelets on the Art Bead Scene today and had the idea to create a memory wire cuff bracelet with tiny charms at the end.  The first one is made with a mix of peanut seed beads and copper seed bead with one of my petal headpins and a Green Girl Studio pewter nest.

The second one is a little smaller with one of my tiny nest charms, a Vintaj brass bird and 3 amazonite bead dangles.  This color of peanut seed bead is called seafoam and I love it!  Reminds me of robin eggs.

And here we have a big ol' chunky bracelet with 5 stands of peanut seed beads in a copper color.  Using the peanut seed beads adds a nice texture and bulks up the strands.  This one almost reminds me of braided leather.  The charms are one of my tiny starfish and a ceramic sand dollar from Erin of Every Heart Crafts - I wish she still made beads!

So that was my quick afternoon diversion from a million unpainted and half-finished beads.  OH and speaking of quick - I used a handy little bead spinner to whip those seed beads unto the memory wire in just a few minutes. I use the end of the memory wire instead of the curved needle. LoVe that thing!

What's on your Bead Table today?  Are you getting ready for shows, making summer jewelry or just letting the beads speak to you through the piles?

P.S. - you can find peanut beads at, or

May 22, 2011

Bead & Button prep and new charms!

I have an ominous heavy metal tune nagging in the back of my head: "This is the final countdown..."
The piles of beads are growing - awesome.
They have holes drilled - sweet.
They are naked - what the heck!  I have some serious days of painting ahead.

This is only 1/2 of what I'm bringing to Bead & Button. I still have disk beads, birds & eggs, woodland creatures and clasps to finish.

What me - freaking out?  No way, I have 2 weeks left.  OH my lord - can we say denial?

Another bead inspired by my illustrations.  I actually have a children's book I've been working on with a bird character who loves beads.  You can see her below.

Some of you asked if I sell my artwork.  I do have a Zazzle shop, that print things on-demand.  You can get the images on t-shirts, bags, cards, magnets, etc. etc. etc.

You can find them here.

I have listed 8 new tiny charms in my shop - have a look!

May 18, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday - Summertime!

Officially in love!

I had this little brilliant idea for a charm based an a block print I did of fireflies in a jar.  And it turned out just like the print.  Art inspired by life, beads inspired by art.  Love, I tell you.  Love!

I've worked up a whole series of new charms.  My favorites will go to Bead & Button.  Here we have a dragonfly and Queen Anne's Lace.  Yep, I'm ready for warm summer nights, watching fireflies in the distance, hearing crickets put on a show, drinking ice tea while citronella candles flickr on the porch.  I'm ready for cookouts and splashing in the pool.  And SLEEPING in and a loosey goosey schedule.  But first I have to survive the prep for Bead & Button and then I can play like a carefree kid on summer vacation!
Here is the block print, carved and printed several times with different plates and colors.

So that's what is on my bead table table.  Hop on over to the flickr group and see what the rest of the beady gang is up to today!

May 16, 2011

Bead Cruise 2012

I've finally worked out all the details for Bead Cruise 2012.  It takes a team to get it all working and thanks to Memory Crusin', my travel agent, for all the hard work they do behind the scenes.  I get the fun jobs, like planning our events and picking another round of awesome instructors.  And then we get to work out what amazing classes to offer.

I am teaching two classes on the cruise next year.  The first one is shown above, it's a Faux Sea Glass pendant.  I will teach how to make a flexible mold, how to work with 2-part resin, adding colorant and other tips and tricks to create these beach-inspired pieces.

The second class is a variation on a project from my book.  I'll have new photos for that soon.

Joining me for 2012 include instructors Tracy Stanley, Kerry Bogert, Jill Wiseman and Beverly Herman!  I'm really excited to work with such a fun and talented group of artists.  Classes range from beading, to metalwork, wire-work and we have fun classes like the resin and even a jewelry photography class.

You can read some of the details about the next Bead Cruise on the website and full details will be up by Wednesday.

May 15, 2011

Facing Fears

I made this little card for myself and printed it out, it's next to my computer as a good reminder of changes that are coming soon.

This summer will be filled with new directions and new adventures.  I will share more about that when I can.  But what I will share with you is my fear over change.  The things that are taking place, I want them, really really want them.  But I'm also afraid of what that change means.  I'm afraid my little adventure won't be successful or that it will cause undue stress on me and my family.  I'm afraid I won't be up to the task and challenges that will be demanded of me.  I'm afraid of falling back into old patterns that have long been resolved.  But then I think to myself, it will all work out, there is no challenge you can't face, you are a different and more mature person, you won't fall back into the old when you've learned so much from those times.  The rewards will be greater than the risks.  And I breathe and trust in things bigger than me and know that everything will be okay.

Speaking of old patterns, you will not believe what I did this weekend - cleaned off my bead tables!!!  I'm gearing up to turn this room into a serious bead factory for the next few weeks and needed a fresh start.  I can't believe it.  I should have taken a before picture - you wouldn't believe then either!  Sadly, it won't last as I go into a polymer clay frenzy and bead trays will be stacked all over this place.  (This is one of three tables that I work on.)

And I thought I'd share this very cool box that my daughter Evangeline made for me for Mother's Day.  You can see it on the shelf in my studio.  It's made from phone book pages.  That kid is brilliant I tell you!  I was talking to her the other day about what she wanted to do when she grew up, it went something like this:

Mom: "And so what do you want to do after high school."
Vangie: "Have fun and travel with Hannah."
Mom: "That's cool, but what about after the summer, you know like for college."
Vangie: "I don't want to go to college."
Mom: "Well tough, you have to go for at least two years.  You can take business classes and study some things that you like."
Vangie: "Why?  I'm going to open an Etsy shop.  How hard can it be?" (Last sentence dripping with sarcasm.)

End of conversation.  As I walk away shaking my head and trying not to laugh!

May 13, 2011

Tropical Garden Pendant

Today, I wrote a post on the Art Bead Scene about pendants with links and decided to whip one up this afternoon.  This one has a new pendant that I had sitting on the bead table for awhile.  I'm cleaning up the studio today and ran across them.  I paired them with one of my favorite dogwood beads.  I love the dogwood beads so much, the flower came from my grandmother's antique spoon collection.

It's summer here, that means I like to wear light jewelry and long pendants.  This one hangs about 28" long.  I want to do some summer shows - I have very fond memories of doing summer art in the park shows with Jess when we were younger.  Outdoor shows are so hard and such a gamble.  My hats off to those brave crafters who pitch their tents, lay out their wares and plaster on a smile during those long, hot days.   

And hey, speaking of Jess - he has a blog now and he is quite funny.  Check it out here.

May 11, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday - Panic!

My bead tables are crazy, crazy messes at the moment.  I dare only show you what's on the photo staging area only.  These are some new prototypes of vintage image pendants I'm working on.  There are technical issues to work through that may end up being solved with a coat of resin.  I'll keep you posted.

Okay, I don't even want to know how many days are left until Bead & Button because the math only adds up to one thing: not enough time!!!

Actually I'm not really panicking.  I'm not running around screaming or throwing thing.  That will happen in about 2 1/2 weeks.  No, I'm just trying to work as much as a I can in serious production mode while at the same time trying to create new work for the show.  It will all come together, I just don't see it happening without a few sleepless nights between now and June 7th. 

But it's all exciting just the same.  I can't wait to see everyone, see all the beads.  SHOP for all the beads.  I'm going to meet some online friends for the first time, see lots of beady friends and I get to spend a few days with my dearest Erin!!! 

So help me out - what things would you like to see in my booth, whether you'll be there or not - what items would you like to oh and ah over?

So what's on your bead table?  Share with the flickr group here.

May 10, 2011

Designing with Toggle Clasps

I thought I'd share this design alternative to the project I have in the Beads 2011 issue. 

Both projects use my toggle clasp as the pendant.  This one features my Harvest toggle with amber glass teardrops, square smoky quartz beads and these cool square jump rings that I found at Hobby Lobby!  The chain is from Ornamentea.
The project in Beads 2011 features my toggle in mulberry.  You'll have to check out the issue to see the other project!  I love this magazine and eagerly await it to come out each year.  It's stuffed with new sources and tips.

A few tips for using toggles:
  • Add a tiny bit of chain to the bar end so that it will lay flat against the toggle. 
  • If you use beads on beading wire, they will rest funny under the clasp and it won't lay quite right.
  • Add the chain to the bar and pull it threw the toggle, pull the chain to see how much you'll need for the toggle to lay flat and attach to the first jump ring or bead on your necklace, trim the chain after you have the correct length.
  • Unless you create a long necklace, the toggle will rest at an angle so plan your design accordingly.
  • Bracelets with artist made toggles are a great way to dress up a design with just a little effort!

May 5, 2011

Charming Design Ideas

Okay, I better make a bijillion more little charms because they are WAY too much fun to play with, ideas are just popping up left and right! 

The inspiration for the charms were for small gifts for graduations and birthdays for the younger crowd - so I was thinking of pairing them up with simple Vintaj charms, Czech glass and stamped disks on delicate cable chain.

Above, A Mighty Oak - I love that acorns symbolize potential - such a small seed grows into a mighty tree.  Kinda perfect for a birthday gift don't you think?  Loving the new charms and pendants from Vintaj.

The second pendant is a copper blank that has been stamped with a texture plate and antiqued.  I layered on a Willow Charm in midnight blue.  A simple piece like this would be great for impulse purchases for summer shows.

I have two free projects that will be in my newsletter tomorrow featuring the new charms - make sure you are signed up

And another new bead design I have in the works - some simple faux bois pendants that would be great for layering on charms.  I'm thinking of doing them in a few colors like red and teal - I'm kinda going for an old barn wood feel.  They would look super cute with a brass owl charm layered on them.

I think adding a collection of simple pieces to your booth during shows or in your shop can really boost your sales - impulse purchases rule!  I wish I was doing some summer shows, I miss those fun arts in the park ones in West Michigan.  Outdoor summer shows in Texas are torture - let's slow roast the crafters!

OOOHH - totally random alert - wait until you see the beads that Jess is making.  Such a talented guy and who knew he could design such cuteness!!!

May 4, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday - New Beads!

It's Bead Table Wednesday and my tables are filled with new beads.  I don't know what's up but I can hardly keep up with all the new ideas popping into my head.  My latest are these teeny-tiny charms.

I was thinking the other day of using my willow branch charms with a stamped copper disk as an example for a cute graduation pendant.  You could do the person's name and/or year of graduation.  Well that got me thinking of other little charms that would be cute for that idea and before I know it I had almost a dozen new designs whipped up.

The Woodland Collection: here we have a snazzy little fox, curious little hoot, a wee acorn and oak leaf. 
Garden Collection: The bees are abuzzing in this series - a tiny hive, mini bee and a sweet little blossom in golden honey and fresh greens.

Queen of All Collection - I thought these would be fun charms for those us who rule a little kingdom - if only in our minds!
Garden Collection - a sweet nest and butterfly in hues of teal, copper and burnt umber.

Except for the flower and key, all of these designs come from my sketchbook, hand-carved into molds and hand-painted for a watercolor effect.

You can find them in my Etsy shop, if they speak to you!

I have so many more beads that I'm working on, including an expanded selection of my Willow designs.  I have teardrops, connectors, headpins and my favorite, the leaf pendant.  Love that I can round out this collection.  Oh I have willow disk beads in mulberry and navy too to match that pendants and charms.  And there is the whole series of vintage image pendants - those will be for later this week, depending on how quick I am!

So that's a glimpse of what I've been working on and what is buried on the mess of my bead tables, yes more than one messy bead table is filled with my current creations in all stages of progress. 

We're gonna need a bigger table...(you have to say that in the accent of that crazy guy from Jaws.)

Which brings me to ask - what's on your Bead Table?  Share with the BTW flickr group and meet some new beady folks over there!

May 3, 2011

Jump Rings & Wire Bails

A customer was asking about jump rings and bails for my pendants so I thought I would share some ideas with you today on a few variations. 

First, I recommend a 10-12mm jump ring in 18 gauge wire, they work the best with my pendants.  You can find them commercially made or you can take a few minutes and whip up your own with 18 gauge wire.  If you want to antique the jump rings do it before adding them to the pendants.  Use a good pair of flush cutters to cut straight edges on the jump rings.  You can use anything for a dowel for your jump rings. I often use makers or the handle of my exacto knife. (Blade removed!) There are also some handy jump ring making kits on the market. Here are directions from Jean Campbell on making your own jump rings.  They are so easy-peasy!

Next up is a simple wrapped loop wire bail with 18 gauge wire.  I wrapped it once and then wrapped the remaining wire to create the more free-form look seen here.

The exact same technique done with about 8" of 22 gauge wire wrapped over and over again.

Here is a simple version of my nest wire wrapped bail.  I used 24 gauge wire, pulled it through the hole 3 times and then did a little wrapping to secure the wires.

 And in case you missed this tutorial on the Art Bead Scene here is the Wire Nest Bail project.

So there you have a few options for attaching your art bead pendants to a beaded necklace, chain or ribbon.  Happy Creating!

May 1, 2011

Let Nature Recharge Your Creative Batteries

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. ~Eleonora Duse

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,

The brooks for the fishers of song;
~Sam Walter Foss

Yesterday I spent the morning at the local botanical garden, sketching and taking photos, visiting with other artists.  It was a good reminder that not everything in my life has be about business, I can take a break.  I didn't realize how burned out I was feeling until I spent an afternoon not worrying about things. 

Reminders to myself:

Take care of yourself - spend time in nature - walk - sleep well - eat good - laugh - spend time with loved ones - let go of a few worries - trust in bigger things - breath.