Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Work in Progress: Oodles of Embroidery

The bead tray is looking a little chaotic right now as I try to wrangle several projects and get caught up on missed work. All the beading I've accomplished since last week was done within the last 24 hours or so, and there’s a lot of wasted hours in between.

Several days ago I was feeling a little under the weather, so I dusted off a favorite video game to veg with and it was so much fun that I didn't want to do much else. The same often happens when I get wrapped up in a good book, too. Although it’s pretty unproductive at the time, when I’m finally ready to get back to work, I’m bursting with ideas and eager to get going, so it does provide a nice creative boost in the end.

Fish Leather Embroidery in Progress

Right now I've got a couple of different embroidery experiments on the go, including some pieces using tilapia fish leather. It is really cool stuff; I’ll share more on its merits when I’m finished, but for now I can say that it really satisfies my craving for the natural patterns that I miss out on by not using gemstones.

Last week’s medallion is almost finished. Apparently for this one we’re going to be repeating transparent cherry and Montana sapphire throughout. So far, I like it! My summer collar idea is still on the drawing board until I get these more exciting experiments out of the way.

What are you working on this week?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mood Board: Fiesta

Although I love all four seasons just as much as anyone, as far as I’m concerned the months of the year are best divided into two categories: those when you can wear shorts, and the rest. So now that Easter is behind us, I’m ready to put away the pretty pastels and bring on the heat!

For this month’s mood board, I’ve refined the look a bit, and reserved the bead picks for their own mosaic. I started with a sort of Cinco de Mayo theme in mind, and searched for exciting statement pieces, hot colors, and a hint of natural goodness. With so many multicolor and mixed media jewelry pieces to showcase, I chose a simple but still interesting dress for a background. The huge daisy print is definitely a great show-stopping complement to the full-texture jewelry.


In a beaded design, this theme could be carried out not just with color, but with carefree abandon. Lots of unique elements, some freeform techniques, and a mix of materials would make the look. For this mood, I chose lots of multicolored beads and mixes, then added some bright pops of color and a few more of those natural elements. Honestly, it was a challenge not to just look for the most exciting bead mixes and those with a multicolored finish. This theme really calls for some big statement beads to bring everything together. These are my picks for perfect summer explosion designs:

Summer Fiesta Bead Inspirations

1. Red Jasper Seed Bead Mix by Spirit Bear Beads
2. Murano Diamond Pendant from
3. Ashanti Glass Disc Beads from Happy Mango Beads

4. Saffron Recycled Glass Rounds from Auntie's Beads
5. Czech Glass Ladybugs from
6. Paper Flower Lampwork Beads by Mermaid Glass

7. Rainbow Mix Seed Beads from Beadaholique
8. Chili Pepper Glass Beads from Strum and Sparkle
9. Multicolor Sari Silk Ribbon from Lima Beads

What kinds of beads are you in the mood for this month?

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Favorite Beads: Czech Glass

Sari Silk and Glass Pendant by Bead Soup Jewelry

They’re gorgeous, affordable, and versatile - nobody does beads quite like Czech glass artisans. Today my guest is Andrea from Bead Soup Jewelry, who shares her love of these perfect and inspiring beads.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all-time favorite bead? Why do you like them?

Andrea: This might be cheating but my all time favorite bead would be anything Czech glass. There are so many shapes, sizes, and designs. You can really pull off any design with glass beads. I think that Czech glass has come so far since I first started making jewelry. The Picasso finished beads are to die for!

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite technique or method to use them?

Andrea: I really like using the Czech glass beads to make knotted projects like necklaces and wrap bracelets. With a few strands of fire polished or druk beads you can make a really eye pleasing and affordable piece.

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you've made with these beads, which one is your favorite?

Andrea: One of my favorite pieces of jewelry made using the knotting technique would have to be this Woodland Knotted Necklace, I used a polymer clay focal piece that I made and a brass patina leaf charm. I use some vintage Lucite beads and wood beads to give this necklace more detail.

Woodland Knotted Necklace by Bead Soup Jewelry Owl and Glass Pendant by Bead Soup Jewelry

Inspirational Beading: Do you have any tips for making the most of these beads?

Andrea: To make the most out of your beads or to use them sparingly, I would break up a design by not using just Czech glass but put other beads in too. That will also give your jewelry character.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite bead or material to pair them with?

Andrea: I guess my signature pairing for Czech glass beads is sari silk, I use the silk in many cases for the back of a necklace or just simply in a bracelet.

Orange Pink and Seafoam Woodland Necklace by Bead Soup Jewelry

Inspirational Beading: If you were stranded on the moon, and you could have only one kind of bead with you, would you choose these? Why or why not?

Andrea: I love this question, yes I think I would take some Czech glass beads if I was to do some beading on the moon.. I would take these because I am so familiar with them.

Inspirational Beading: What’s your favorite method for storing your bead collection?

Andrea: I really don't have a special way to store my beads, they are just in little baggies in big plastic tubs, I love plastic containers, use them for everything. I guess its my way for looking organizer but not bring organized.

Navy Blue Wrap Bracelet by Bead Soup Jewelry

Inspiraitonal Beading:In your opinion, what is the best source for Czech glass?

Andrea: I really don't have a brand, Czech glass beads come from a hand full of manufacturers, and I really just buy them on etsy, and local. Czech glass beads are pretty common and everybody sells them.

You can see more lovely Czech glass jewelry designs at Bead Soup Jewelry on Etsy and on Facebook. Also check out Andrea’s blog to see new designs, and the latest additions to her supplies shop Bead Soup Beads, where you can find an amazing selection of Czech glass and handmade polymer clay beads and pendants.

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Bead Soup Jewelry
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Work in Progress: Spring Colors

This week I’m feeling a little slow and distracted in my workspace, and I’ve taken a couple of days to rest my creative muscles. Sometimes it’s good to just step away for awhile, and when it’s time to work again, there’s that much more enthusiasm.

I’m still just getting started on the new medallion pendant, but I’m loving the colors so far. Before I get any further, I’ll have to clean up that bead spill! I’ve recently switched to Nymo for embroidery, and although the technique doesn’t really call for conditioning, I find that the extra stretch involved in waxing the thread really helps. Plus the beeswax smells divine.

Medallion and Collar in Progress

I’m also testing out colors for a new collar idea. It’s a spring/summer palette with yellow, pink and chartreuse, inspired by 1960’s patterns. We’ll see how it goes!

What are you making this week?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Medallion Pendant Collaboration

It’s time to reveal the secret behind my new line of bead embroidered pendants! So far this ongoing project has been one of my absolute favorites, and I hope to continue it for as long as I can. It all depends on my new beading partner.

Several weeks ago, I was reading an article about a mother-daughter art team that creates the most unusual and exciting sketches. First Mica Angela Hendricks takes some portrait inspiration from vintage photos. Then she lets her daughter fill in the rest of the picture with her limitless imagination. Mom adds a bit of color and an amazing work of art is born.

Spring Pharaoh Embroidered Pendant Mermaid Print by Mica Angela Hendricks and Daughter

I loved the prints, but it was the collaboration that really caught my attention. I immediately wanted a piece of that creativity for myself. I turned the idea over and over, hoping to come up with an teamwork method that I could use with my own designs. Then I had it! Embroidered medallions are quick to make, and offer a design process that would allow me to involve my own munchkin without expecting him to work a needle.

He was really excited at first, and it only took a few seconds for him to make his first selections. We start with the focal bead, which he chooses from 3 or 4 options that I provide, rotating through my collection of coins and cabochons. Then he picks a felt color and the first round of seed beads. One by one he selects all of the following rows, and I keep on adding color until he tells me it’s done.

Earthy Blue Medallion Pendant Snow White Embroidered Pendant

Not only has the project been a great way for us to do something together, but we’re both learning a lot. At his age, the names of colors are particularly interesting, and it’s fun to watch him catalogue them for future reference, then bring them out again when it’s time to choose the next round. Robin’s egg is a favorite right now.

For me, it’s been another experience in letting go, just like with the Ugly Necklace series. There have been a few times when I thought his color choices crazy, until they absolutely worked. I've learned to be a lot more trusting, and it’s awesome to be able to say to him “You made this, and it’s perfect!”.

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