Sunday, December 23, 2012

A wish for you in 2013

Monday, December 17, 2012

Packaging is everything

Well, if you just spent an entire week-end laboring over a special beady item, you would probably disagree that packaging is everything but I used to have a boss who made that statement frequently when someone would turn in a sloppy bit of work.

And, after receiving beady items that were packed haphazardly and other that took my breath away upon opening, I must say that the extra TLC taken with packaging makes an impression that will serve your business well -- or even create that extra element of delight in gift-giving.

I rely on a couple packaging staples to help add that little something extra to my beady packages:
  • Stickers
  • Custom tags
  • Heart-shaped necklace boxes
  • Hand-printed earring/ornament cards
I ordered the below stickers on but in a recent trip to Joanne Fabrics, found a do-it-yourself sticker kit. They only had the templates for ones smaller than this one but they were less costly than ordering online.

Custom Stickers from
Below you see the smaller do-it-yourself sticker on a glassine envelope puchased in the wedding favor section. This is a  great solution for earrings or other smaller items. At the lower right, you see the custom tags purchased from Girlsfever on They come in batches of 100 tags for $23 which I think is pretty reasonable at $.23 per tag. Off to the right in the below picture, you see my easy-peasy earring or ornament cards. I just bought some heavier card stock and came up with a design with my information included at the bottom. An earring punch turns this into a great custom earring card or a single punch in the middle makes it a nice display for a flat ornament. I just print these as I need them.

Custom tags from Girlsfever on
I don't buy wholesale quantities but still like a good bargain and have come to rely on Nile Corp for very reasonably-priced packaging. Below is one of my favorite items from the site. I buy these heart-shaped necklace boxes in black and they come in packages of 12 boxes. The current price as shown below is about $30 for 12 or $2.50 per box.

Heart Boxes from Nile Corp 
These are great not only for necklaces but below you see that I have used them for some fabulous earrings. I glue my business card to the top underside and voila - customized packaging!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snowflakes in Future Floor Wax?

If you have made any of Sandra D. Halpenny's snowflake patterns, you won't think the title of this post is strange. But if you haven't, you are probably shaking your head and wondering if I have completely lost my marbles.

Sandra D. Halpenny was one of my first introductions to bead weaving. I was introduced to her designs on the now defunct Ready to Bead web site which kitted and sold designs from many well-known bead artists. All of Sandra's patterns are available from her web site and she is also an active Facebook poster. These kits were a great way to learn bead weaving because everything I needed was in one place (even the thread) and the directions were usually super-clear.

One of my first purchases was Sandra's 2006 Snowflake Collection:

Sandra D. Halpenny's 2006 Snowflake Collection

My all-time favorite was ornament #11 and everyone on my gift list received one of these beautiful ornaments that year.

Sandra D. Halpenny Snowflake #11


Imagine my surprise as a rookie beader to read Sandra's instructions to dip the snowflakes in Future floor wax to stiffen them. And it worked beautifully.

Sandra consistently updates and offers new patterns and it has become my yearly holiday tradition to try one of her new snowflake patterns. This year it was Snowflake # 79:

Snowflake #79 Pattern
You can make the pattern with Tila beads or bugles and I did one of each, shown below with one snowflake of pattern #11 which I made with turquoise chips for a Southwest flair. For packaging, I use earring cards but instead of punching them for earrings, I make a single punch in the middle and pull the string through the hole with a little tape to hold it in place.

And below you see the work-in-progress when I had dipped them in Future Floor wax. Who'da thunk it?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Activity

Yikes! How is it possible that it is December 2nd?  I'm making fewer beady gifts this year due to lack of time but did make one consignment gift and one special necklace for our dear auntie.

Here is Aunt Dee's necklace. She had commissioned a piece earlier this year and this was one of the possible designs that she liked. I stored that away in my cranium and, lucky for me, this was a much easier piece than the one she requested for her sister's birthday gift! This design is called Zig Zag Scallops, by Sheryl Yanagi from the December 2011 Bead&Button. It's a very delicate look and I used a magnetic clasp which I figured would be an easier clasp to manage.

My consignment piece was (what else) Steeler jewelry! Unfortunately, I don't think we will be wearing it to any playoff games this year.

Hope you are having fun preparing for the holidays! Now I need to go dip my beaded ornaments in Future floor wax. More about that on the next post!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What To Bead When There's No Time To Bead

I think many of us have non-beading day jobs that often limit our beading time. (darn!) Seems like my past couple months have been filled with non-beading events and with this nice long Veterans Day week-end, I carved out a couple hours of beady time. Did I work on the many UFO's sitting in my bead room? Of course not! I just had to try the Fun with Fringe Earrings posted by Chloe on the Beading Daily site. Lured by the words easy and quick, this seemed like the perfect solution to limited bead time. Probably because I am not super-adept at wire, this project took me a bit longer than I anticipated but it sure was fun. I used all existing materials including some shiny silver thread that made these perfect for a future dress-up event. The part that gave me fits was the coil wrapping at the fringe top but after several tries to find the right gauge (I used 24), I got a uniform coil.

Next up was a multi-strand necklace, inspired by a cool necklace I just had to buy during a visit to Steinmart's. If you have a Steinmart's in your area and haven't checked it out -- you definitely should. They have great bargains, trendy styles and I just love the jewelry. No, it's not hand-made but it always gives me ideas for something I can try at home. Below is the necklace I purchased for just $13.00. It has 21 strands and a really cool mix of crystal beads, seed beads and a bit of chain for funk factor.

Steinmart Multi-Strand Necklace
I was a bit daunted at the time required to string 21 strands so I settled for half that number and rummaged through my stash to find some interesting sizes and shapes. Below is my creation, finished in just a few hours and not bad for my first-ever multi-strand! I didn't have the chunky crystals but I used a variety of seeds: 11/0 and 8/0, bugle beads and hex beads. It was so much fun, I think I might have to make one in holiday colors.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Patriots In Petticoats on Veterans Day

Imagine my surprise to see the below article in the Altoona Mirror online! I have my Google search set up to find any recent articles about my hometown area and earlier this month I saw a picture of my cousin, Connie! I have always known about Connie's passion for quilting but our lives and geography rarely intersect these days. What I didn't know was her work with the Daughters of the American Revolution to create the quilt as a fundraiser for area veterans. I have recently become interested in beaded quilts and now I have another reason to visit my cousin for a quilting tutorial. Just click on the picture caption below if you want to read more about the Patriots in Petticoats quilt.

Patriots in Petticoats Article

Connie is a veteran herself having served as a nurse in Viet Nam. She followed in her father's footsteps and, after seeing the article about Connie, I thought it only fitting to mention her father, my Uncle Con, who served during World War II and was injured in March of 1945, after which he was honorably discharged. Here is a photo from what I think was early in his service while stationed in Georgia.

As I was looking for Uncle Con's picture, I remembered that my niece, Kendall, had interviewed  Uncle Con for a school assignment and sent me a copy of the interview. Uncle Con, like so many veterans, was never one to talk much about his service experiences but because of his soft spot for family and with the passage of time, he agreed to talk to Kendall. Thanks to Kendall, I had some sobering details about Uncle Con's service days. Here is an excerpt from Kendall's school report:

"His first active fighting was in Guadalcanal. They moved on to Bogainville where he fought for several months. They moved onto the Philippines where Con was in battles at Leyte and Cebu. Con reported that Cebu was a beach landing where several thousand men took on fire while they were on open beaches. Con was injured in March of 1945 in the Battle of Cebu. He was shot between the shoulder blades and in the head while wearing his helmut. He was transported to a field hospital for immediate care. After being stabilized, he was transferred to a permanent overseas hospital and was shipped home to a hospital in the United States where he spent six months recovering from his wounds."

Uncle Con earned many medals for his service including two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. I am so grateful to cousin Connie and Uncle Con for their service to our country!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beading Organization by Evernote

Beading is such a creative enterprise but I spend much time on organization - not just organizing my bead stash but organizing projects. This includes documentation for past projects so I remember the materials, patterns and inspiration and ideas for future projects. And after spending several years in this pursuit, I find myself frustrated with the existing methods. I don't save most old issues of BeadAndButton or Beadwork but I do pull out patterns and keep them in various files marked "have materials" and "need materials". I have a humungo binder of projects I have completed but it doesn't have any separators so every time I want to find an old pattern I end up paging through the entire binder and the pattern I am seeking is invariably in the back. But I hate the paper and can't imagine the size of the files as time progresses.

Thus enters the Evernote application. If you are not familiar with it, you should definitely check it out. (No, I am not receiving any remuneration for this recommendation.) It allows you to sync your computer with iPad and iPhone and makes capturing and categorizing ideas and paper super-easy and even fun. I first signed up for Evernote when I got my iPad two years ago. There is a free version and a premium version and, so far, I have used the free version and think it's great. I used it off and on but have really started to get obsessed with it when I discovered its power in helping me organize my beading life. The visual aspects make it a bit like a private Pinterest, which is good when you are working on top-secret things! The desk-top application allows you to easily clip a web page and populate it into a note which is then synced across all your devices. The cameras on the iPad and iPhone applications allow you to take a snapshot of a pattern or notes you may have scribbled by hand so you can organize them when you have time. You can even do voice notes!
Evernote Screenshot

Now, when I read a beading magazine (which I still prefer in paper form) and come across a pattern I want to make, I snap a picture of it or scan a copy to my computer. If I am reading an electronic magazine, I just snap a screen shot of the pattern pages I want.  Once scanned, I can save the patterns to my computer, Google docs or Goodreader and hyperlink in Evernoote so I can easily access it. Below is a sample screen shot of how a pattern snap appears in Evernote.

I have a notebook for Christmas ideas that I add to throughout the year so going Christmas shopping is as easy as opening the notebook, accessing the web sites I have saved and placing orders (assuming money is in the account for payment!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Talavera Trick or Treat

It's been a busy business travel month leaving little time for beads. But I did have time to shop and bought the cutest talavera pumpkins, two as gifts and one for us. The larger ones are a really good size and were just perfect for my electric candles which are on timers, making these the most low-mess pumpkins I have ever had. Talavera pottery is one of my favorite things about living in the Southwest and the colorful Halloween colors were just made for this treatment! The fellow at Bronco Bill's in Cave Creek told me this was the first year they carried these and they went flying out of the establishment.
Talavera Pumpkins
Happy Halloween season!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beading Hall of Fame: Heidi Kummli And My Finished Project

Earlier this summer I received Heidi Kummli's The Spirit of Bead Embroidery which I pre-ordered on Amazon, sight unseen because Heidi Kummli is well.... Heidi Kummli, one of the most talented, inspiring beading artists of our day. I first became acquainted with her work in the book The Art of Bead Embroidery which she co-authored with Sherry Serafini, another BHOF (Beading Hall of Fame) member! Both books deserve a prominent location in every beading library.

Heidi's work is as much or more about nature as it is about beading. Also, the pure engineering of the pieces is a challenge alone. Take the below creation, for example. You use a foam ball and masking tape to build a pattern which must be sewn together in beaded pieces. I dread to think of the many possibilities for me to mess this one up!
Creator Heidi Kummli

Here's another one called Bear which actually was in BeadAndButton or Beadwork quite awhile ago. I saved that issue for the day when my skills are sufficiently advanced to give it a try. And don't worry that all the patterns are advanced, there's a good variety of difficulty for all expert levels. I highly recommend the book and anything else that Heidi happens to do.

Creator Heidi Kummli

In case you think I am taking the lazy way out focusing just on Heidi's work, I wanted to show you the finished piece I mentioned in my last post. I have been working on the pattern Floral Memory, a design by Jacquelyn Scieszka from the February 2011 Bead&Button as a piece requested by my dear Aunt Dee as a gift for her sister. I likened it to building the Hoover Dam and below you see the finished product as well as the original design. It's just a bit different as Aunt Dee didn't want the individual rosettes on the side. So I just made the herringbone connectors a bit longer and used matching pearls between them for visual interest. I think my favorite element is the nosegay closure.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thank Goodness for Personal Hotspot!

Getting ready for work yesterday morning, I checked email as part of my everyday routine and horrors! no Internet service. Thinking there must be a bird on the wire (which happens regularly out here in the boonies), I re-set the modem but still no luck. I picked up the phone to make a call and you got it - no dial tone. Long story short, after I made some technie miserable for 20 minutes, I learned that the line was out (well yaaa) and repair was not possible until Sunday. How can that be? Two 1/2 days without Internet? Muttering with frustration, I proceeded to get ready for work and had a Eureka moment when I realized my new iPhone has a personal hotspot. Glory Be! So here I am with you today.

I realized that I haven't posted much about beading in my recent entries. You heard about my button obsession and my lunch with the girls but nothing about my beady projects. No, I haven't hung up my needles, I'm just knee deep in a commission piece for my dear aunt-in-law. Aunt Dee is my surrogate Mom and she asked if I would make her a necklace for her sister's birthday this year. I sent her 8-10 pics of designs I thought might be appropriate and she selected  Floral Memory, a design by Jacquelyn Scieszka from the February 2011 Bead&Button. It's a good thing she gave me plenty of time (birthday is in early December) because it's like building the Hoover Dam - only prettier. Here's a pic of the work in progress.
You  make each of the little florettes and then stitch them together in three's. Then you stitch the three sets of three. Not to mention building the adorable closure (in the background) which looks like a little nosegay. Now I am working on the strap. I'll come back with a pic of the finished product in a couple weeks.

Plus how do you like how I gussied up my pic with PicMonkey? I used to use Picnik all the time but when they were bought by Google, the features seemed to change. In one of Michelle Mach's recent posts, she wrote about photo software to try and low and behold, PicMonkey seems to be where some of the Picnik engineers have landed and I did a happy dance to find an even better product than the old Picnik.

And, since I have beaders' ADD, I have several projects going at once. Some dear friends game me a gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems and I took the opportunity to buy my first-ever loom. Of course, what to try for a test pattern? Why a Steelers bracelet of course. Here is that project-in-progress.

And, last but not least, a design by my idol, Sherry Serafini and her pattern called Ripple Effect, which appeared in the June/July Beadwork 2011.

I started this project several months ago and it's pretty time consuming. So I have been taking lots of breaks to work on other things. I think I like my colors even better than the ones in the mag! OK, now back to work. I have to finish something!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lunch With Olivia Newton-John!

Actually, our waiter told us on the QT that Olivia Newton-John was dining a couple tables away from us yesterday when I met two friends for lunch at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn. I have loved Olivia ever since her "let's get physical phase" and all I can say is that time should be that kind to all of us. We didn't disturb her for an autograph but did pass her table several times just to be sure it was her!
Lon's and the Hermosa are "must-do's" on the Phoenix historical and culinary trail. It was the third in a series of visits we decided to make this year to fabulous resorts in our own backyard. Our first two stops were to Rita's Kitchen at The Camelback Resort and T. Cook's at The Royal Palm. Our crowd size varies with more ladies in attendance during the cooler-weather months and this lunch found just three of us and.... Olivia Newton-John according to our waiter.

Resort Romp at Lon's
The Hermosa is a wonderful Old Phoenix place, much more comfortable than some of its over-the-top cousins. Interspersed among lovely little casitas are fantastic art works, some by the original owner, Lon Margargee, and a newly-acquired collection featuring sculpture of Native American artist Allan Houser.

Here's just sample of the Hermosa Inn art:

And what would a girl day be without shopping? When I saw my friend Janet in these sandals, I just knew I needed a pair too.
Shopping: End to a Perfect Afternoon!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Button Obsession

Last week, I wrote about using button covers to make custom buttons for a wrap bracelet. I used flat button covers and added my team logo under a page pebble. I decided to make these for all my fellow Steeler fans for this football season and made my way to Joanne Fabrics for more flat button covers. Here's the button I was trying to reproduce.

ALL GONE! Yikes! So I searched online and found some on eBay for three times the price. The skinflint part of me decided to go to plan B. I bought some black shank buttons with a flat top and below you see the results. Just as good as the button cover version and less costly!

Then, I had a flat button I wanted to use but needed a shank button. So I searched online and found an article about how to convert flat buttons to shank buttons. The article advised the use of a size 6/0 seed bead but the ones I had on hand had holes that were too skinny for the cord size that had to pass through. So I decided to use a closed jump rink and voila! My flat button is now a custom shank button for a fraction of the price.

While in mid-obsession-frenzy, I also found a cool tool called the iTop which I did purchase. Apparently the iTop took the world by storm at the CHA conference this year. It hasn't arrived yet but when it does, I will give you a review. Meantime, I hope these suggestions help any of you who are looking to create custom shank buttons.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yay! Football Season Is Here

It doesn't exactly feel like football season with our 118 degree temps this week but our Steeler fan club will gather tomorrow to watch the Steelers pre-season game against the Colts.

And here is a trio of Steeler bracelets to start the season off right.

On the left is a wrap bracelet, inspired when I read Lisa Peter's post about being addicted to making wrap bracelets. Never one to shy away from an obsession, I did some searches and learned that I am possibly the last beader on earth to have discovered how to make these wrap bracelets. And Lisa is right, they are addictive. After buying materials last week-end, I made the two shown above and a couple rejects. Instead of a regular old button, I bought button cover kits and made the custom buttons shown. I think the one on the right would even be good for a guy since the button is cloth and it's not too girly-looking. And nestled in the middle is my favorite cuff-style.

Below is a closer look at the wrap.
Steelers Wrap Bracelet
While I'm blogging, I'd like to congratulate the winners of this year's Wesley Cup golf tournament.

Team Good Guys, Winners 2012 Wesley Cup

And lest you think they take themselves too seriously, here is the trophy. Unfortunately it is sitting on our fireplace. (Yes, that is a chicken. Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Very First Guest Post

Last week, I shared news about the blog started by my brother, Paul, and his wife, Cathy. Well, my guest blog is up. Click here if you'd like to read it and see some pics that go all the way back to when I first started beading. Thanks to Paul and Cathy for inviting me!

Now I'd like to pose a question. How many of you get into a bit of trouble when your spouse or significant other is away from home? I don't mean serious trouble, but a little mischief with things they might grumble about. I guess too much time on your hands can be a dangerous thing. I had a mischief experience recently when my hubby was away playing golf. It started innocently enough when I had lunch with two friends at a tony restaurant in Scottsdale. We then headed for some chi-chi boutiques where we ooh'ed and ah'ed at all the lovelies. In one particular gallery, a beaded cow skull caught our fancy. Cow skulls are an iconic item of decor here in the Southwest but the process of adding beads and paint just took my breath away. We were mesmerized by them and even more fascinated by the price tags. Not inexpensive!

All three of us being crafty types started discussing how we might create one. Well, my friend, Janet, was the first to give it a try and below is her inaugural effort. We took the picture at work so the lighting doesn't do it justice - pretty darn amazing for cow skull #1.
Janet's Creation
Inspired by Janet's bravery, I procured my very own skull.

I found a great article online with prep instructions and here I am just getting ready to clean the skull.

Then, I had to wrap the horns before I added a coat of paint.

Here it is after the first coat of paint. I took the pic outside so  you could see the metallic aspect of the Rust-oleum Metallic Antique Brass.

Now I just need to figure out the bead design so check back to see the finished product!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where are you in your 10,000 hours?

Anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers will know what this means. And if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, it’s a fascinating theory, especially when applied to skills where we hope to gain mastery….. like beading. My brother, Paul, invited me to guest blog and this was one of the first things that popped into my mind. In a nutshell, Gladwell offers examples illustrating that mastery at anything requires at least 10,000 hours of practice. And, if you’d like this translated a bit, this comes out to 20 hours per week for at least 10 years. So if you are doing something for your full-time job, I guess you have it licked in five years. But if you are building a skill as an avocation, then it all depends on where you can find the spare time! I find this daunting when applied to my beading, which I try to do most week-ends but sometimes life gets in the way! Anyhoo – that  will be the subject of my guest post and I will let you know when it hits the web-waves.

But back to my brother, Paul, and his wife, Cathy. This summer they started a new blog to focus on something that has been a passion for years – their painting art. But their posts touch on life in general, filled with the same good humor and witticisms that you hear when you are sitting with them in person and lots of amazing pictures. Since we are on almost opposite sides of the country, we see each other rarely so their blog is the next best thing to them, along  with the Facebook posts from their kids. What would we do without technology?

Back to the point. Their blog is One Creative Couple and I encourage you to check it out. Paul and Cathy are both skilled and beloved teachers in their Community but, by night, week-end and all summer, they turn into painting fiends, traveling about, giving and taking classes and finding just the right found objects to turn into their next treasure.

Some of us would be proud of one successful career but they have two, well four! To Paul and Cathy: best of luck with your blog and with your next artistic challenge!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day of the Dead Interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody

When I saw Christine Wilson's Bohemian Rhapsody pattern in the July/July issue of Beadwork Magazine (page 53), an idea immediately hit me to modify it in a Day of the Dead design. In case you think this is overly morbid, Day of the Dead is a holiday, accompanied by music, food and dancing - in addition to remembrances of loved ones who have passed on. (Apologies if you already know this; I was a Day of the Dead neophyte before moving to the Southwest.) I think of it as a somewhat Mexican equivalent of the New Orleans-style funeral processions. More on topic, Day of the Dead inspires some terrific creative interpretations. You've probably seen the exaggerated colorful skeletons. So I went on a search to find some Day of the Dead theme fabric and below you see the results.

I had the Day of the Dead cabochons on hand from an interrupted project several years ago. But I had to buy an eyelet installer and eyelets, which were new skills in my creative vocabulary. In fact, I found the whole eyelet business pretty tricky and had many failed attempts before arriving at the final installation! I made two sizes of the bracelet and while Christine's ribbon closure sure adds to the cute factor, it makes it really hard to put on the bracelet, especially if you don't have help! So I think I am going to buy some pretty elastic ribbon and use that instead. The pattern itself is a bit time-consuming to cut and prepare the fabric, prepare the cabochon and install the eyelets. But it is so unique and well worth the extra time.

Christine's Etsy shop, Brewed Adornments, offers a pattern and kit for the exact bracelet shown in Beadwork and also offers some other terrific patterns and kits. She is also fine with selling work you create from her patterns so long as you don't take credit for the pattern. I also feel a kinship since she is a refugee from corporate America where she was a financial analyst. I'm sure glad she discovered her creative passions!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bead Goddesses: Jamie Cloud Eakin

Anyone who's spent any time reading about bead embroidery has come across Jamie Cloud Eakin's books. Several years ago, I purchased her book Beading with Cabochons and the necklace below is a testament to the clarity of her directions. This pattern was on her book cover and I was amazed that I could actually complete it. I was hooked!
Jamie Cloud Eakin Pattern
Jamie teaches techniques that you can use for your own inspiration. But sometimes, her patterns just can't be beat. Last year, I purchased her new book Dimensional Bead Embroidery and was stunned at the new stitches and techniques she shared. Here is a link to Jamie's web site with more information about her books. She offers a PDF download of the various stitches, which is a great reference when you are in design mode!

Below is my rendition of her pattern Classic Chic Earrings. I had to order the mother of pearl flat oval beads but had everything else on  hand.
Classic Chic Pattern, Dimensional Bead Embroidery

I just love the texture of the chocolate beads, created using a picot stitch. Jamie is a truly gifted bead artist and she has given me hours of reading and beading pleasure!
© Cave Creek Beads