Saturday, October 31, 2009

Collector's Edition Beadwork

There's a new magazine out from Beadwork, 41 Favorite Jewelry Designs. While none of the designs are new they are all past favorites collected in one edition. I've often bought these 'Best of' collections rather then perusing my older issues for my favorite designs, so it that suits you it's now available. In this issue there are many additional features which make it worthwhile including product reviews, Tips from jewelry designers and a pull out stitch guide. I personally sat down and read everyone of the 50 tips and came away with some new knowledge.

I'm privileged to say that a few of my past designs are featured so if you missed Disco Squares, Earth and Sky, Little Black Dress Earrings, Ellipse Necklace or Terracita you'll find them here. Along with designs from Laura McCabe, Tina Koyama, Shelley Nybakke, Maggie Meister and many more.

Marlene Blessing, Editorial Director for Beadwork reviewed 'Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence'. I hold Marlene in high regard so I was thrilled with her kind words, calling the book a RAW Tour de Force.


I haven't dressed up for Halloween since I gave up my Donald Duck costume when I moved several years ago. It is one of those things that I let go that I dearly regret as it was all handmade by me with white fake fur, with the sailors top and a pull on head complete with sailors cap. If only I could find you a picture. At the same time I let go of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum another excellent costume.

I also used to dress the stuffed bear collection in Halloween costumes, and I can't even imagine when I found time to do that, although it must have been pre-beads....

But here is my friend Judy in a most excellent costume, called Shutter Bug!

She's a true talent, having made this costume entirely herself and mind you she is one busy gal, with her fabric shop at the Grove and her full time job at the Fashion College.



I love this beaded ring over at Try to be Better's blog

Try to Be is actually Sabine and I've loved her blog for awhile. I think designing a ring to be really elegant is somewhat of a difficult feat given the small dimensions, but Sabine has done it excellently in these rich jewel tones. Sabine also has an excellent eye with the camera so her photos are always stunning.

And while you're persusing, look at the excellent cuff designed by Carol over at Sandfibers.

In Carol's Etsy shop you can see the same mirrored swirls in orange and silver. It is so hard for me to find time to do beadwork that is not directly related to my own design work and sample making, but man this cuff is gorgeous, who knows?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Crystally Bits

Sandi asked 'Do you label your boxes so you know what color in case you need more?' And the answer is....

Not the boxes because I may reuse them and confuse myself. I take 5 of any new crystals, put then on some beading wire with crimps, use a small label and add it to a 3 ring binder ring. It's also easy to take them shopping with me this way.

For the seeds, I pour a few into a 2 x 3 ziplock, label with with color and price and hang them on the slatwall.

I love my little boxes for crystals and other sparkly goodies. I got mine at Creative Castle in Newbury Park, California.

Clutter Fairy

It was suggested that a Clutter Fairy would perhaps help with my studio regorganization. But there were no Clutter Fairies in sight and the studio was in need of some updates. Most importantly some of the beads needed to come out of hiding.

So off to the fixture store .....Formerly the crystals were hiding in here.

I found the perfect acrylic tray which holds one row of my crystal boxes. Fortunately for me Mark installed slot wall in my studio.

Kits used to behind these closed doors making visual inventory difficult.

Another perfect solution, they are out in the open, easy to see and I gained storage for shipping supplies etc which belong behind closed doors.

I'm happy with these improvements and although I have some more cleaning up to do, it's a great start!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brilliant Design

Stunning beadwork is being produced, I love it. Look at this exquisite pendant from Bev over at No Easy Beads....

I love everything about it, the coloration, jet nut and jetab2x, what's not to love. And look at how she incorporated seeds into the chain, yep brilliant!

I met Bev on the Bead Cruise first in 2008 and again this past February and she is as nice as she is talented.

Bev described needing to put her beads front and center in order find the inspiration. And to that end I have taken the crystals out of their closed door storage space and up onto the the slot wall.

So I'm off to the fixture store to get some more acrylic trays so that the crystal may see the light of day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brilliant Design and random other things

I've been absent, taking a tiny rest, but lot's of things have been going through my mind so today's post may be a bit random.

In Dallas this past weekend, Jill Wiseman was going to come play beads with us, but then she succumbed to the hectic schedule and got herself sick. Jill had been to Dallas a few weeks earlier and taught Night at the Opera. I was totally enamored of her design aesthetic.

First of all the design completely showcased the tiny 2 mm Swarovski crystals, something that is sometimes hard to do with a crystal so small. The bracelet had the look of fine jewelry, was finished beautifully and very wearable. The fact that I saw many completed I think is also a testament to good design. The piece was achievable and everyone had an excellent result. Great job Jill! Loved it!

I will be showcasing more brilliant design going forward, there is a plethora (I just wanted to use big words like Rachel does...) of great contemporary beadwork jewelry being done at the moment and it's very exciting.

My friend Val has been 'playing' with beads, although she continues to insist she is not going not going to give in to the beads. A full tray of earrings later, I'm not sure that I believe her. This is one of her beautiful pairs. I love the shiny with the felt and the bottom component is from Gail Crosman Moore.

Yesterday (my day off) I made this metal bead bracelet. The original bracelet came from Shelly Nybakkes metalsmiths match. Rita, a student in Florida had done it up in size 8 metal beads with crystal cal and it was so stunning I was completely smitten and couldn't rest until I too was able to wear this sparkly cuff.

Then needing earrings to match I headed off to Fashion Valley and found these Alexis Bittar earrings. I may never take them off (I'm always that way with a new piece of jewelry) but these do suit me. I think they will inspire a few new pieces of jewelry. I've loved Alexis Bittar forever and his new combinations of Lucite and crystal,brilliant!

The wind is howling, which is a sound I love, and the pepper trees are swaying in the breeze, and it's a gorgeous fall day. I'm home until next week and well rested, although I have business to tend to when I'd rather be beading, but then that is always the balancing act.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New York City!

Mark took this picture in Barnes and Noble near the Metropolitan Museum of Art
It may not be totally obvious, but there are two copies of my book, in very good company I might add...A nice selection of bead books....Kind of exciting.....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live Blogging

Taking some class time to share more Dallas photos!

Lexi tested Queen Anne's Lace, this is her Newspaper colorway

Beth made this fabulous earring....Kokoschnick

Here is Joans leaf, with maroons......per Denise

And Linda's soft blue pallette and gently curved leaf

The phobics in the group are flourishing!


I'm in Dallas with the Dallas Bead Society, 3 days, 42 students total, tons of fun. Two years ago we collaborated on the chorus of urchins which was accepted into BeadDreams, and was the cover image for the Bead and Button show catalog. ppssst, It's also my blog banner, so you can see it above.

And now plans are underway for a second collaboration!

I've been beautifully hosted and classes have been great with lots of enthusiasm.

Bonnie joined in on Saturday. Bonnie was my illustrator mentor (and saviour) when I was writing the book.

Here's Kathy with her well done Etruscan Treasure

And Mandy, my facebook friend and now real life friend, I like that

Lexi's variation to Etruscan Treasure, wonderful!

And Karen, modeling her urchin lariat while working on Porticos

Today, freeform and I understand we have some freeform phobics in class, so we'll be working through the phobias while developing leaves for the falling leaves lariat. Pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Studio classes

Kate is my studio. I have a lovely, large studio in my home. I comfortably sit 8 to 12 folks in an artistic setting which I love to share. And Kate McKinnon will be the teacher/artist this December 5th, 6th. She'll be teaching seed beads, and I think you might like to be here.

The two-layer Groovy Cuff, Kate McKinnon, 2009

Excerpt from Kate's blog...

Speaking of San Diego (and we were) did you know that I will be there in the first week of December? I have a beady class scheduled at Marcia DeCoster’s private studio, on December 5 and 6, and in addition to learning some neat things like my Groovy Cuff, and my Bat-Ended Screwt, and a cool way to combine square stitch, right angle weave, and surface embellishment to make a four-way reversible cuff, and Ndebele earrings, and great ways to hook beadwork to connection pieces and clasps, you will get to enjoy fellow students like Marcia DeCoster and Jeannette Cook! Can’t wait Why don’t you come and join us? I have room for four more students and I’d love it if you could be one of them!

It's going to be an excellent weekend.

And then on Saturday evening I'll be off to the Grove for a Saturday night South Park Walkabout, always a stellar event. And if you're attending class you're welcome to join and if not, and if you live near San Diego, the walkabout is a wonderful event, so please consider it.

Orange and Pink and Lime, oh my!

I love this combination. And I love little seed beaded ringlets, along with glass ringlets, in this case with a bit of ndebele in between. Ndebele....not right angle weave, just so you know that I can indeed do other stitches.

The girls in Dallas will be playing with Ringlets this weekend

and Falling Leaves

and Porticos

And Jill is coming to play as well. I suspect we'll be having some big fun.

And I get to spend some time with Bonnie Brooks. Bonnie is an extraordinary bead illustrator, who helped me immensely when I was illustrating Beaded Opulence. She was generous with her knowledge and it is unlikely that I could have had such a good result without her guidance. Thank you Bonnie!

And I will meet my web people. Again, gracious guidance. Stephanie and Barry develop websites. They took mine over from a prior developer, created a manageable site and helped me learn to manage it myself. We've spent much time on the phone, but never met and this weekend we will!

Off to finish packing! I think I'll take the laptop this time....look for a little real time blogging from Dallas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Work surfaces.....

I was going to title this Creature of Habit, but when I typed that, I realized that I already named a previous post 'Creature of Habit'.....hhhhmmmmm....I guess I am one!

My point this time is that for years I have beaded with size 11 long pony needles on a velvet pad with a leather tray. I have several scattered around the studio so as to be able to begin a new project on a whim. They are also portable from room to room unlike a vellum bead mat.

And then....

Dustin was in my class, beading from a shallow wooden bowl, beads mixed together and he was fast...I was intrigued. He graciously gifted me a bowl and I must say I quite like it. My hand fits nicely into the roundness, it is shallow enough to pick up the next bead, they don't bounce like in the porcelain trays, it's good. Now to find a few more bowls, you know, for multiple projects.

I've also recently discovered that I do like size 12 sharps, they are easy to work with and they don't bend, well at least not as easily as a long needle. They are a tad harder to thread, but I'm finding them comfortable to work with, especially when doing something like cubic right angle which can create some really tight spaces to bead through.

So I may be slow to change or try new things, but it can happen. Do you have a definite beading setup, set of tools, or do you change things up?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Creative Castle Reunion

At least it feels like a reunion when I teach at Creative Castle. Nine years ago Carole picked me up from the Burbank airport for my first engagement. We know that because she recently found my original proposal. I've been coming back every year since and so have many of the gals who take classes there.

Carole herself is lovely and engaging and never ages!

Lisa and Hannah came. When Lisa first started taking classes Hannah was 9 years old. Now she is an avid beader and Mom and Daughter take classes together. We've also shared knitting stories over the years with Lisa always presenting the most intriguing knitting. Yesterday she gifted me with a beautiful yarn and pattern that I'm excited to start. Here's Hannah wearing a bubble blower from oh so many years ago...

And me taking a picture of Lisa taking a picture of Hannah and I.

Then there is Chris. It hasn't been ten years but maybe five. Chris is a very accomplished beader with a keen sense of color who always does beautiful work. Her Romantica is one of the prettiest I've seen with pale aqua gemstones and subtle golds.

True to my hopes for a process class, Chris designed this necklace using the diamond and ellipse shapes. It is going to be very graceful. Despite looking simple, there is a lot of thinking that goes on to shape and connect the ellipse and diamonds in a pleasing arrangement and Chris has done it well.

Hannah was working on a double double bracelet with diamonds and ellipses on one bracelet intersecting with ellipses and diamonds on a second one. Lisa worked on a reversible bracelet in soft browns and bronzes, which will be edged in the new light gold metallic. Despite my initial disappointment that it wasn't gold aurum 2x, I really like the new light gold metallic. It has a platinum look and looks great with the new platinum glass pearl.

Armenah and Nita both worked a reversible pendant and Susan was working square medallions with a bezeled vintage rivoli which were destined for a box. Judy was using the shapes for a full size mask to be hung on the wall and Carole was busy learning the shapes and developing ideas to use them.

The drive up and back, just under 3 hours each way afforded me time to listen to 'Help' recommended by a friend. You're right Lisa, it's a wonderful story, thank you.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Freeform may be the ultimate process class as with some instruction and suggestions it becomes what you bring to it. I'm teaching falling leaves lariat in Dallas next weekend.

Process was the overwhelming response to yesterdays question, Project or Process. I'm finding myself a tad confused however, because if I have a look at the majority of venues bringing artists in to teach, there is a project. And if it's a guest instructor, it seems that it is a largeish project, one worth of spending two day so time and money on.

Kate said ' she was mining the project for the process' and I think that must be what is happening. I think it's a shift as we get a larger and larger population of experienced beaders.

Liz likes to take a component and apply 'artistic license' something I am totally for. I love it when a design is taken in one's own personal direction.

Katie said, 'I love the pieces' and so do I. I like for the creativity to be part of the technical process, so while I am working I can change up color, size, finish or style of beads and get something new.

Lexi, Nancy and Glen all thought both project and process was the right answer, a project which allowed you to explore process but change it up to be your own.

So as I continue to create designs destined for sharing I will give this more thought. And after this weekends class I will have some more practical experience to ponder.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Project or Process?

This weekend at Creative Castle I'll be doing something a little different then I've done before. I'm teaching a 'design class' with ellipses and diamonds. For those who prefer,there will be a pattern to fall back on. But first we'll begin with discussion on the general form of the ellipse and diamond, considerations of color and size and placement. Center diamond ellipse, ellipse; two diamonds, ellipse,ellipse; interweave two pieces together, or join them at the edge, add a rivoli, make a pendant, bracelet, choker....

A few variations,

with rivoli


A pendant


I haven't taught a class this way before, but I'd like to explore it more in the future, so I'm interested in how it goes. I'm hoping that it is a good combination of project and process.

How about you? Do you prefer project or process or the opportunity for both?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Win Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence

Beadweaver writes a wonderful blog that I have been following for years, lots of useful information and pretty bead pictures. And this week she is giving away a copy of my book, Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence. So you may want to go have a look, you have until midnight Wednesday night, October 14th, that's tomorrow, so go now.....and good luck!

More Miami....

The promised pictures, now that I am home I reviewed the weekends photos and selected some for your viewing pleasure.

It was a fabulous weekend. Miami is tropical and lush. I'm not a fan of heat and humidity, but the exotic plants and beautiful foliage was a visual treat. Myriam graciously drove me around many pretty parts of Miami.

Myriam was such a nice hostess and her husband Bob a nice host. It's not everyday you get to feed the pet squirrel his daily ration of nuts. Pretty darn cute.

Lynn came to class with this urchin complete and we paired it with one of my ringlets and a Heather bead. Fun!

Lynn also made this version of Quetzal from the book and then gifted it to me.

Diane made this small urchin and put 2 mm crystals in the spine, a great variation.

Here is Harriet looking lovely on a self acclaimed good hair day.

And a picture of my host Myriam and her beading neighbor Leann.

I was welcomed home yesterday by the San Diego sky, a loving husband and a happy happy dog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Aaahhh Birthdays!

Mine was wonderful. In general 10/10 is a good birthday to have and I'm married to someone whose birthday is 9/9 which seems like a good omen and since we're approaching 25 years of marriage, I guess it has been.

The Miami girls certainly did a nice job of making my birthday special with a Sunday night gathering at Myriams house for dinner, cake and Blue Bell icecream, a novelty which had escaped my attention up until now.

Lynn gifted me a ring and Diane gifted me some pretty beads and the day was really pleasant. We had two ladies for the ringlets class that I hadn't met before. They drove over from Naples and arrived well adorned with bright fun jewelry.

Yesterday was ringlets and each made 1 to 2 great examples.

Today I fly home to Mark and my birthday dinner of sushi! And my own computer where I can upload the weekends fun events and share some photos.