Thursday, December 29, 2011

Waiting for Santa Claws

I can't end the year without at least one cat photo! Below is sweet Harold who loves to lay by the holiday centerpiece. The only thing I added was the hat and border, courtesy of the Picnik application on Picasa. Harold and I wish everyone a wonderful end to their holiday season!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MIA No More

Wow - 60 days since my last post. If this was a job, I'd be fired by now! I am not making excuses but I have been "heads down" focused on the holidays and since my last post, was determined to complete the 28 snowflake ornaments designated for this year's gift to friends and co-workers. That might not sound so daunting but I sandwiched in bits of beading between work, travel and those dreadful chores. Plus I did need to talk with hubby from time to time. I was thrilled to finish all 28 and the photo below shows a few artfully (hopefully) displayed on my jewelry tree.

I also had a great time baking this year. I think I was possessed by my dearly departed Mother's spirit because I was a literal dervish in the kitchen, making dozens and dozens of cookies for who knows who. Virtually everyone I saw over the last two weeks received merry bundles of sugar. I wish I would have taken pictures of them because my guess is that this baking frenzy may take a couple years to return.
Pulse: New iPad App Discovery
I also discovered a new (to me) iPad app that makes it so much easier to keep up with my favorite blogs. It's called Pulse and below you see a screen shot. Now, when I turned in at night, I can lay in bed and scroll through Pulse to see what my bloggie friends are up to. I'm not promoting the app, just sharing if any of you experience similar time challenges. And because I have learned so much from my bloggie pals, especially this holiday season, I vow to do a better job in 2012 - for my 9 or so followers! :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful!

Well, not so much here in Arizona but I saw the weather reports for the Northeast and thought this was a good post title, especially since it's Halloween week-end!

It also reflects how I have spent my beading time these past few week-ends, as I get a jump on my holiday ornaments. Each year, I pick a new pattern and make ornaments for the special folks on our gift list. This year's pattern is from last year's Bead&Button: Star Pendant by Smadar Grossman.

I  like to personalize gifts and this pattern gave me the perfect opportunity. Below you see two ornaments, one personalized with the Steelers logo and the other for our golf club, Tatum Ranch. For the Steelers logo, I used earring dangles, which gave me just the right size with a durable finish for a reasonable cost: $5.99 for two! For the Tatum Ranch ornament, I used small golf ball markers and trimmed off the pin. And these were an even better deal -- pilfered from my hubbies golf cache! I am having great fun figuring out options that will have special meaning for each gift recipient.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Hard Year For Bead Stores

I was so sad to read about the closing of Fox Den Designs, one of my favorite online sources for great seed beads. I probably wasn't their highest-volume customer but made at least five or six purchases each year and always knew the shipment would be on-time, with no bead spillage, contain high-quality items and a friendly hand-written "Thank You" on every receipt. Terri Ann's post indicates the store is closing as a result of their move to be closer to family. But it's still a loss to the seed bead family. I've made two purchases so far this month and there were still good choices in the remaining stock, including tulip needles, which I had read about but never used. I LOVE THEM! I don't think I can ever go back to the regular beading needles.

The closing of Fox Den came on the heels of the closing of Moonrise Beads in Oakmont, PA. I first found Moonrise during visits back to Pennsylvania. It was a must-do part of every trip's itinerary and this past June, my visit fell on their last week of business. So it was a bittersweet excursion with great bargains but regret at the store's closing.

And earlier this year, two LBS closed here in Phoenix, I believe casualties of the economy.

So, if you love your LBS or online provider, let them know! And make some purchases! :-)

I am hard at work on my 2011 holiday ornaments but included the picture of a project completed a couple weeks ago, which I never had a chance to post. Emerald Skies started with a great dichroic cab purchased from one of my favorite eBay sellers. I was delighted to find complementary seed beads for the strap in my stash and worked on it on and off over the summer.
Emerald Skies

Friday, September 30, 2011

Andrew Thornton September Reader's Challenge

I enjoyed the July challenge so much, I thought I'd try the September challenge as well. I had a difficult time coming up with a design idea for the last challenge but, this time, I developed an approach fairly quickly, inspired by the "grow" bead. I pictured something ornate and elegant and decided to build a filigree foundation to turn "grow" into the focal point.
Photo Courtesy Andrew Thornton

Here is my final product and below that, I captured a step-by-step pictorial of the creative process.

Building the Necklace

I started with a filigree base for the "grow bead" and lined it with bead embroidery backing from Nicole's Beadbacking, which I have on hand for bead embroidery projects. I glued a single filigree connector, shown on the left, to the back of the lined filigree and then glued on ultrasuede backing  to give the back a finished look. The filigree components (focal frame, connectors, bead caps, and jump rings) came from Vintage Jewelry Supplies.
Focal Components
Filigree Connector Glued to Back of Focal
Then, to hold the focal in place, I carefully bent two filigree connectors around the bead in front and around the back on top of the ultrasuede, and used a little glue for extra security. This is a tricky process because you need just the right amount of pressure in just the right places on the connector, else it will snap or distort (and I had a couple casualties as proof!).
Finished Focal
I've been going crazy for beaded mandalas lately and I liked the reinforcement of the circular shape as well as the stylized floral theme. The mandalas incorporated the round crystals provided in the kit and I used seeds, round pearls, and hex beads from my own stash. I made two large mandalas and two smaller ones and layed them out on my work surface to determine the best design. I decided that I needed two more smaller mandalas to complete that portion of the design.
Figuring Out the Lay-Out

My last step was to make the strap and toggle closure. For the strap, I wanted to use the remaining crystals.

And here's the toggle closure.

One last shot of the final necklace.

Visit Other Challenge Participants

Check out the great creations of the other challenge participants:

Andrew Thornton has photos for Christina Porter, Darby Lohrding
Lorelei Eurto
Sally Russick
Tara Linda
Melinda Orr
Beth Emery

Stay tuned for phase II of the reveals on October 12.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hair Beadies

It all started with a search for a beaded poinsettia pattern. After spending more money than I wanted on a couple patterns that missed the mark, I happened to read about The Beaded Garden by Diane Fitzgerald. I ordered the book and it is terrific. Not only did I learn enough to complete the poinsettia, I was inspired to make these hair beadies for my nieces, Mary Grace and Josie. I made the flowerettes according to Diane's directions but fixed them on a circular piece of bead embroidery backing and sewed the backing to a hair clip. My sister-in-law, Pam, thought they would be great in school colors. In keeping with my poinsettia search, I thought they would be great in holiday colors. The options are endless!

Hair Beadies for Mary Grace and Josie

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Project Catalysts

First, to all my beady friends who left such lovely posts -- thank you! The Andrew Thornton challenge drove more traffic to my blog than any post since I started it and I was pretty accustomed to being a lone voice in the wilderness! So I got in the habit of not checking my comments. Thanks so much for your comments and apologies for taking so long to publish!

Seems every time I try a new project, I find myself obsessing with variations, inspiring bead purchases to try my new idea. Good for project back-log, bad for the budget. The Sassy Sunflower bracelet is my all-time favorite project this year.
I had clipped this pattern from the BeadAndButton Magazine (April 2010), a design by Merle Berelowitz. I ordered the supplies long ago and finally got around to completing it last month. The bracelet base is a 2 inch metal blank lined with ultrasuede, with a herringbone cover, a sleek understated foundation for the sparkling sunflower component. So what were the variations this design inspired?

I really like the herringbone base. It worked up pretty quickly in size 10/0 delicas and think its simplicity is a great background for other components -- say a dichroic glass cabochon or any other really gorgeous cab (and I have many of those!). The sunflower component would make a terrific brooche and an eye-catching accessory for a black cocktail dress, so I ordered supplies in black and silver and gold (yikes!). Since I don't own a black cocktail dress, I will need to make it as a gift for one of my sophisticated friends!

Beyond Beadery is my supply source and offers one-stop shopping for the beads, bracelet blanks and even ultrasuede.
And, now a new blog section: one that counts the project-in-process but not finished in my exploding bead room!

Project Count for the Week: 6
  1. Poinsettia pin for Christmas
  2. Beaded flower hair barettes for my nieces
  3. Two bead embroidery bracelets
  4. See #3
  5. Spiral herringbone necklace with great cab
  6. Crazy cab ladeez pin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Andrew Thornton's July Reader's Challenge

I've never participated in a bead soup challenge and thought, why not? I happened upon Andrew Thornton's blog shortly after he announced his July Reader's Challenge. Here is the enticing assortment of beads provided in his first-ever challenge:

Ingredients for a Fun Challenge, Courtesy Andrew Thornton

Not shown is the beautiful mystery component, a hand-crafted copper coin pendant featuring a leaf. At first I thought I would turn the component into a cabochon and make that the centerpiece of my design. But after spending a week-end on that approach, I decided against it. See the very last photo for my cabochon.

Finally, this past week-end, I decided to use some memory wire and turn some of the delightful beads into dangling charms with the beautiful leaf from Earthenwood Studio as the focal point. I'm still not sure how I feel about the end product but here it is!

And here is the necklace with the cabochon as well as earrings I made earlier this month. I thought they made for a nice set.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July Fave's

July has  been a bit of a challenging month.  Vacation, a party we hosted and other unplanned items. So it was difficult to add as much as I would like to my beading repetoire but here are two of my favorite July creations.
Forest Fantasy Earrings

I just love earrings using brick stitch around a decorative bead. I had saved this pattern for a long time and finally got around to making it.

Next up was a birthday gift for one of my office-mates. I am having a terrific time with these ruffle cabochons and really like the Piccasso-like design in this one.
PIN Picasso!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th!

I love this photo a friend took at last year's Fiesta Days Parade in Cave Creek. It seemed a great image to wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July! And for anyone who looks forward to my beading entries, below is a photo of a cute earring pattern from BeadnButton magazine. The bead caps are formed with herringbone stitch and are a festive addition to any summer outfit.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Colorful Cabochons

By now you might know my love for cabochons. These past couple weeks, I completed two, one using a technique documented in the Beading Daily blog, which captures the cab in a weave of peyote and herringbone. Below is the result, which I call Tangerine Time. This took a couple tries since I used too many beads in the first setting and it hung too loosely on the cab. So, when the directions advise to pick up an uneven number of beads that is almost the length of one side – pay attention. I don’t have a purpose for this cab but I will hang onto it until inspiration hits.
Tangerine Time Cab

My next cab project had a very definite purpose – as a birthday gift for my terrific admin. I thought this pin with a double ruffle would be a great accent to a black business suit (doesn’t every banker have one of those?). I bought the cab on eBay, which I return to again and again for good bargains on unusual supplies.

Elegant Ruffled Cab

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Bead Frenzy

A holiday added to the week-end and few personal obligations make the perfect ingredients for a beading frenzy. Like most beaders, I have a stack of patterns lying in wait for just an occasion. And the following earring pattern from Bead&Button Magazine has been calling to me. The pattern name is Lemon Squeezy by Jane Danley. I guess the name came from the golden rivoli used in the pattern but I substituted blue to come up with my version. I thought these would be really pretty in holiday colors - red and white or silver or even red and green.

And, yes, it is time to think about the holidays even though they are six months away -- especially if you are planning to make gifts or ornaments. In fact, I learned that I will be teaching a class at Paradise Valley Community College this Fall and we will be making the Sandra Halpenny snowflake pattern featured in my holiday post from last year. Take a look!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Easter Entry in May!

Where oh where did April go? I had a great story to share and was saving it for my Easter entry but Easter came and went so I'm sharing it with you now. Because it's so darn cute. We are having some fairly serious work done on our home and Ed has been busy managing workers coming and going to complete their tasks. The Thursday before Easter, one of the workers brought a big shop vac into the house to discuss the next step in the operation. The shop vac had a fairly wide hose that had been curled up outside for most of the day. When the worker unrolled the hose, out popped a baby bunny that had fallen asleep inside. I'm not sure who was more startled -- the men or the bunny! Baby Bunny found the first small opening where he could hide -- a crevice that led to an inaccessible spot under our kitchen cabinets. DH spent most of the day trying to conjure up safe ways to trap Baby Bunny before he was located by our killer kitties. The day ended without the capture of Baby Bunny and we finally gave up and retired for the evening. Several hours later, just about asleep, I heard a commotion in our dining room and ran out to investigate. Harold, of the killer kittie variety, was chasing Baby Bunny around the dining room table. I quickly snatched up the cat and screeched for Ed to come and capture Baby Bunny who had run into the hallway and was trapped in the corner. The poor little guy. Ed said his heart was beating so fast, he could feel it as he was urging him into a pail. We released Baby Bunny into the wild, fingers crossed that he could find his Mama Bunny, to complete their Easter errands. I must say the visit from Baby Bunny made this one of the best Easter holidays I have had in a very long while. And, just to commemorate the event, I purchased a Sandra Halpenny necklace pattern and used the bunny component to make a necklace for my sweet niece, Kara, to wear to church for Easter service. It's not nearly as cute as Baby Bunny but Kara sure liked it!

Kara's Bunny Necklace

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crazy For Cabochons

In all of my beading projects, cabochons are my all-time favorite. Cabochons or "cabs" are flat-backed stones or decorative items that require extra stitching and sometimes adhesive to place them in the design. Each cabochon is different and assumes a distinct personality. And you needn't worry about copyright infringement unless you copy an existing design stone for stone or technique for technique! The stitches are easy to learn and can be extended to bead embroidery for some really amazing work!

I learned my first cabochon techniques from the book Beading With Cabochons by Jamie Cloud Eakin, published by Lark Books in 2005. In fact, my first every attempt turned into a great necklace that earns raves every time I wear it. The cab is made of dichroic glass and the color shifts with movement and light.

My First Cab Piece
I was so encouraged with that result that I made a bead embroidery bracelet for my friend, Becky, and usually have one cabochon project going at all times. I love to buy glass pieces on eBay, such as the cab in the pin below, which is a gift for my friend, Sandy's, birthday. The ruffle edging really accentunates the marine colors in the cab.
Sea Foam Serendipity
My bead embroidery heroine is Sherry Serafini, a bead artist from near my hometown in Pennsylvania, and her work is just amazing. I aspire to come within 60% of her talent some time in the future. Any of her patterns or books is a great place to start for the bead embroiderer-in-training. Check out her web site anytime you need a little cab inspiration!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Double Duty Components

Before I get into today's topic, I have to share that Spring brings of mixture of elation and dread. Elation for obvious reasons: the dreary days of winter are over - not that we have many of those in Phoenix! But dread arrives with 80 degree temperatures and snakes moving out of their winter habitats to find food and mates. Snake sightings are such a common rite of Spring, I have become more accustomed to them than when we first moved West. No matter how accustomed, I admit to shivering at the story of our next-door neighbors who called the Herpetological Society last Sunday to remove three four-foot rattlers from their property! Yikes and double yikes! Hopefully that included some from our property who slithered on over to their place for a visit!

Now, let's talk about double duty components. When you finish a piece, pay attention for opportunities to expand on a pattern or use a portion of it for another purpose. In the necklace pattern below, a kit by Michelle Skobel, I used the theme of the flourettes that make up the necklace centerpiece for earrings. In this case, I made earrings in blue but you could easily make them to match the necklace and have a great set! I glued the flourettes to pierced earring posts but you could also make a connector and hook them on wire findings.

That's the way to get double duty out of your pattern purchases! Wouldn't these also make adorable snowflake earrings for the holiday season?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow in the Desert and Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer

It's the rarity of snow in the desert that turns me into a kid, running for the camera every time it happens. This was the most unlikely of reactions when we lived back East when February brought that slushy, messy snow and yearnings for the beach or other such warm sunny climates! But this was the scene that greeted me this morning as I made my way to the kitchen to start the coffee maker.

When I ventured out for a few photos,  I was able to form a small snowball to bring inside for curious kitties.

This week-end also marked the deadline for the mailing of my contribution to the Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer event run by Jeanette Shanigan from Wasilla, Alaska, who explains how she started this event in the mid-2000's as a tribute to her mother who died of breast cancer. For more details, please see Jeanette's web site.

This was the first year I participated in the event and created two squares. The first was my own design using a Carl Sandberg quote superimposed on an image of two hands and held in place by a beaded frame. The second square was a design offered on Jeanette's web site. The beaded quilts are sold in auction with the proceeds donated to the Medical College of Wisconsin. Kudos to Jeanette for her fine work!

The Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer and Jeanette's program is endorsed by Bead and Button Magazine. Click here to read a blog post for the 2011 program.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Magic Mandala Earrings

This week-end, I made something just for the heck of it. No working on gifts or projects for the web site. I used beads from my stash and a pattern from I had not done the mandala technique before and it's so easy. Stitching is pretty basic with circular brick and picot edges. I fell in love with these sassy earrings and am trying to decide who would enjoy them. They're a bit large and swingy so you need a more bohemian personality, I think.
Magic Mandala Earrings
Pattern from

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Delights

As part of my resolution to work on my kit inventory, I finished a Nancy Peterson design for a Valentine's heart theme necklace and heart slider. Then, I took a small splurge for cutting back so severely on my budget and purchased a Sandra Halpenny pattern for a beaded heart.

Sandra Halpenny Heart Pattern
I am a fan of kits. For the most part, they are a reasonably-priced way to gain exposure to different stitches, approaches and materials. When I was starting out, I made many purchases on the Ready to Bead web site, which is now defunct in a cloud of mystery -- no notice to customers or on the Yahoo group. The web site was still up last I checked but none of the page commands were working. It's a shame because the kits were good quality and the patterns were generally successful.

Heart Slider

Occasionally, you may find a hiccup in the pattern instructions. I had such an experience in making the heart slider for the Nancy Peterson necklace. I worked for about one hour ripping and reading the instructions, ripping and reading and finally giving up to tell my husband my tale of woe. So I decided to send a note to Nancy and guess what! She wrote right back to inform me of an omission in the instructions. Well, yeahhhhh. The omission was one step which made all the difference in the world.

So the moral of this story is never be timid to write to your pattern designer to ask for clarity or assistance. They depend on good word of mouth and I have never found anyone unwilling to help.

Nancy Peterson Heart Slider and Spiral Strap

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Finds! Bead Buddy Design Save 'N Go Caddy

I think most beaders usually have a couple projects going at any one time. There are many different methods for storing projects. Personally, I like trays. I have four of them that I line with a bead mat and then cover with a terry towel to keep curious kitties away from the beads and threads. But I am always on the look-out for clever travel options. During a recent trip to Joanne Fabrics, I came across the Bead Buddy Design and Save 'N Go. I had never seen them there before and, of course, I didn't have the weekly coupon with me to save 50%. I somehow fought the impulse purchase urge and promised to return the next day with coupon in hand.

The next day I returned, coupon in hand, and saved a cool 50% on the $18 caddy, paying about $9! Feeling smug and rather self-satisfied, I could't wait to get it home to see how it worked out. It's just a tad big for travel but I carry a fairly large carry-on duffle that should hold it.

I will give it a test run during an upcoming trip to Las Vegas and will report back on the portability factor. The padding in it is quite nice - very thick. There is also a cardboard ruler guide which I found somewhat worthless but that's just me. Others may find it useful.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Mark Gifts - Even For Your Friends With Reading Gadgets!

Even if your book-loving friends have acquired Kindles, iPads, Nooks or any other electronic reader, chances are they still possess and even buy the old-fashioned variety because, after all, they are book lovers! Book marks make the perfect gift for these friends and can be cleverly customized in themes reflecting hobbies, activities and passions. Here are the materials needed:

Shepherd's hook book mark form
Beads and/or charms in your chosen theme
Size 11 seed beads - two colors of your choice
Wire guard in either gold or silver to match your book mark form
Fireline 6 pound test
Size 12 beading needle

Below you see the book mark form, wire guard and some fun sports beads.
Bookmark form, wire guard, assorted beads

Make a spiral rope long enough to dangle from the book mark form and support the charms or beads. Be sure to leave a nice long tail as this will serve as the thread to attach your charms or other theme beads.

See some of the photos below for the spiral. Post back if you would like instructions for the stitch - it's quite easy and works up quickly.

When you have made the spiral to the desired length, thread beads and one half of the wire guard. Attach the wire guard to the circle or jump ring at the top of the book mark form and go back through the second half of the wire guard. Proceed down through the beads and connect securely to your spiral. Go back up through the beads, wire guard and back down at least one other time and twice if possible to secure. Thread through your spiral, securing with a couple half hitches and trim the Fireline.

Here's one I made earlier this month for my good friend, Karen, as a birthday gift.
"I Love My Dog" Book Mark

At the bottom of the spiral, attach charms or accent beads using a fringe method. Below you will see several theme book marks I have created for friends who are cat lovers, dog lovers, Steeler fans and wine lovers! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Paula's Cellini

I'm finally back to show you my variation of Michelle Skobal's Cellini. My modified version is longer and adjusts the cabochon attachment as well as the closure attachment. I found Michelle's cabochon attachment a bit formal so I replaced the gold crystals from the kit with gold metallic size 8 seeds along with the black crystals from the kit. The gold of the metallic size 8's really complements the gold of the delicas in the Cellini.

Paula's Variation

Below you see Michelle's design so you can see the adjustments to the cab attachment.
Michelle Skobal's Design

Then came adjustments to the clasp. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Michelle's pattern did not provide directions for attaching, so I found some online (see previous post for reference) and added three large black crystals on either side, along with the metallic gold size 8's and a metallic clasp. This particular clasp was so strong, it pulled out the crimp bead on one side, breaking my wire.

Metallic Clasp Closure

Arghhhhh! Without pulling every hair from my head, I was able to rebuild the broken side with Fireline, 10 pound for added strength, and it seems to be holding well.

The moral of the story is, even when using a kit, don't be afraid to adjust to make it your own!

© Cave Creek Beads