Search This Blog

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Tale of Four Bails

EDITED TO ADD: I am having a 20% off sale on the tutorial for this project this weekend, Sept 19 and 20.  In fairness to those shopping for the tutorial because of the sale, I am posting the new kit at 8:00 am, since I feel the need to tell those buying other kits that this one exists.  If you want one and did not get one, I will make more this week.  Sorry for my change of plans! 

I have a new colorway for my Fall Flame Leaf kits.  I wanted to capture the full color of the Sugar Maples, and ended up also realizing imagery of the Forest Fires on the West Coast in this 2020 edition.  I think this particular color scheme is especially dramatic worn on black clothing

I have added this colorway to my tutorial and if you have an older edition and want these color names and numbers, please just Convo me on Etsy and I will send the new version along to you.  I also found an F near the end of Row 4 of the original tutorial that should have been an E.  So amended, AND corrected.  

As most things Pandemic, this was a little struggle.  I made four leaf samples to get one I liked, and them also created 4 bails to find one that supported the rope and leaf without taking too much focus.

Here are the leaf efforts.  I wanted to use silver-lined beads for their luminosity, and found many I liked.

I saw a little pink in the leaves I was collecting as models, and used a Toho #2226 Raspberry Silver Lined (Raspberry Fade above) at the very edge in my first sample.  But it was a dyed bead.  I rarely have trouble with those, but in this case, the color rubbed off, leaving silvery blue glints I kinda liked, but I worried about long term wear and durability.  So I switched to a Matsuno #638JS Silver Lined Rainbow Ruby, which had the blue and pink flashes I liked in the original.  I thought it looked BODACIOUS! But the work was extremely curly, given the larger size of those Matsuno beads with the tiny shiny black Miyuki Delicas I was using for the vines and edges, the Matsuno beads really pushed forward, both visually and physically.  That leaf was amazing, but more challenging to bead and very curvy indeed.  So I thought I would switch to Miyuki beads for the entire project., but the yellows (Lemon-Lime above) were a little too lemon-lime yellow, and the orange and flame red too close to each other in hue.  So I thought I could switch to Toho shiny black edges and veins, but I needed wholesale quantities and could not find them at my local supplier.  So I switched to Toho Jet Black Matte for the veins and their Semi Glaze Black for the edges and Went back to some of the Original Matsuno colors I loved, with a Miyuki Ruby AB E bead, and finally!!!had a leaf I thought was good.  

Let me say right now, if you like the Bodaciousness of the Matsuno S/L Rainbow Ruby, just tell me, and I'll replace the Miyuki beads in the kit for you with the Matsuno.  I have made the kit I think it easiest to bead and representative of the results I was aiming for. 

 I really like the matte black beads over my original shiny choice.  It looks all the more like flames and forest fires to me, and that seems so right for this year.

Now, about those 4 bails.  Most of the other kits have a rainbow finish Aiko or Delica as their bail, and some have a mix of beads.  My first two guesses for the bail failed to belong to the work in any real way.  I used both colors in the original sample, one in the first few rows and the second in the last few, to equally poor results!  GAH!

Then I tried a black matte bail.  It became complete focus of the necklace to my eye.  Nope.

Then I mixed Delicas in the B, C, and D colors of the leaf.  This was a step in the right direction and seemed a part of the whole.  You could choose to do it with the kit as provided.

My final bail choice was to take the three BCD colors from the leaf and organize them into a gradation similar to the leaf.  I felt like it pointed at the leaf, and put the focus where I wanted it.  I have included a closeup photo of this work in the kit, and I was not super strict with where the beads went exactly, just tried to put as close to the same number beads of each color in each row as I could, given row counts.  The color shift is subtle, and gently random, but I really felt it was a good solution to the problem.

The pile of beads purchased and not used is ridiculous.  BUT I am at peace with what I have to present and that means more to me than anything else.  I might also feel a new beaded Autumnal Bag coming on.  I might need all those rejects after all!  I am so spoiled by the two great Twin Cities Bead shops Bobby Bead and Stormcloud Trading.  Thank you for being here!

Kits for the new colorway will be available in my Etsy shop tomorrow, September 19th, probably 10:00AM CST.  I doubt there will be a huge rush, but if I am wrong, I can re-kit fairly quickly, now that all the hard work is done.  Stay safe, my beady buddies, and enjoy this beautiful autumn! I'll drop in a link tomorrow for the kits, and if you want the updated tut, just convo me and I'll be sure you get a copy.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Back In Stock Fall Flame Leaf in "Singe"

Yup.  Singe is back in stock.  It's been a long time since this one was available.  Find it here in my Etsy shop:

I was planning to restock this using the new Toho Permanent Finish gold beads, but Covid seems to have robbed me of that opportunity.  There are few to be found and the kit requires 11 grams.  So it's back to the original 24k gold finishes.  This makes it a more expensive kit that the others, but honestly, it is also REALLY elegant in person!

I love the rope in particular with the real gold shimmer guiding the eye through all the color transitions.

I have also made one change in the leaf beads.  I was never best pleased with the D bead, which was a soft gold transparent rainbow bead.  It's the one next to the smoke topaz at the edges of the leaf above.  All the other beads have a silver lining and this one did not, so I have replaced it with a silver lined topaz, which has better presence and punch.  You will have to take my word for it, since I did only a scrap of sample to be sure I would approve.

I have been spending my energies on finding a new colorway for this fall.  And yesterday, I thought I had it.  But when I finished the first half of the leaf, I noticed the Raspberry finish was rubbing off the bead, leaving some pale pinks and some flat silvers.  GAH!

See the Raspberry beads near the black edge?  See how some of they are pale pink?  There's on at the bottom center that has lost almost ALL of its color.  Sigh.  I looked the bead up on my favorite Toho suppliers website, and sure enough, there is a color stability warning.  So I have made another choice and a new sample is underway.  But I think you can see where I was going.  It screams October to me, and I think it will be good worn on black.

Yes, I do still have other design ideas, but the fall Gem and Lapidary Workers show was again cancelled like the spring one.  Until I have better access to unique and beautiful component shopping, I am kinda stalled.  Plus every other bead I decide I need seems to be impossible to locate.  SO... hang in there.  I am not done with beads, but the struggle is real, as they say.  If everything goes well and nothing is impossible to buy, this kit should be ready for next weekend.

OH!  And the 12mm Pearl Acorns are back in stock.  They went fast!  THANK YOU!! That tutorial is also half price again for this long weekend, through Monday.  I bet you know how to get there, but just in case:

Monday, August 31, 2020

12mm Pearl Acorn Earrings

EDITED TO SAY:  Kits are re-stocked in all four colors!

I am pleased to say that I have a tutorial in the FINAL Bead and Button magazine.  I made up a few kits and re-vamped my 12mm tutorial in honor of the event.  It's on sale half price (normally $5, now $2.50) for the rest of the holiday weekend.  I should have written this post on Friday!!!

The tutorial is very similar to the one I did for the Peach Caramel's Claws necklace, and if you own that version, there is no real need to buy the new one.  Except of course that I believe I improved the illustrations and layout just a bit.  But I am just like that. And it includes all the bead lists for the new colorways.  But I'll just give you that here. Not the best quality image, but the best I can do right now.

They are pretty, simple, and I like the scale with my smaller face and bones.  Here are the glamor shots.

I am also working on re-kitting my Fall Flame leaves.  Some are done and in my shop, and the rest, plus one new colorway should be ready this week.

I have done no beading this summer.  I have spent my time in my garden, community parks, and on our many lakes in my Covid kayak.  I have always wanted one, but have never before had the muscle to move one around on my own.  It's a wonderfully peaceful thing, and good for my soul.

I think about many of my repeat clients often, and hope that you are all weathering this year of challenges well.  I do have a couple new projects in mind, and maybe with the cooler weather, I will stay off the water and put some of them together for you.  Till then, a virtual, socially distanced hug to you all!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Blueberries in Season!

Holy Cow, my second post in a single day?  I have been working all week to collect supplies for more requested Blueberry Kits for the Caramel's Claws Necklace.  They are listed in my shop, although the last couple kits are still a few beads short.  Hopefully they do not sell out fast!  A reminder of the piece and a link below to the kit listing.


In any case, I wanted to use this space to post the focal photos, so you can take a good look and fall in love.  This time I have kitted with both the Polished AND Matte focal beads.  You can also choose whether you want a Blue Laguna acorn bead, or a Copper one, which would look very acorn-y indeed.

Here are the polished focals!

A nice soft blue with a little cloudy grey.  A small pit on the second side. SOLD OUT!

Great texture on the first side and a sweet little color ombre on side 2.  SOLD OUT!

Soft color with a cool fracture line.

Nice textural blend of light and deeper blues. Like an arial view of waterways. SOLD OUT!

Storm clouds rolling in.  Maybe that fracture line is lightning?   SOLD OUT!

And now the MATTE Focals.  I've not used these before.  
The colors are really vibrant and YUMMY!

OMGee it's just so pretty.  That patterning!  I'd have a hard time choosing a side.  
There is a little geode-ish pitting in the dark areas

Subtle patterning would allow the coppery prong setting to really shine.  SOLD OUT!

I love the swath of turquoise on side one.  Maybe I am beach lusting? Tide pool craving?

Deeper, richer royal blues here, with interesting patterns on both sides.

This last one has awesome patterning, but there is a little ding missing on the right side,
 near the drill hole.  I believe the bezel would fill it out without a problem.  
I've worked with similar pieces.  I may steal it for myself!


The Struggle is Real

This will be a short post.  I am finding that moving ahead with new projects is challenging.  As a designer I have (finally!) realized that unless the parts are available for my design in process, there is little point to spending gobs of time perfecting, photographing, illustrating and writing.  I am going to show you something I just made for myself, that inspired a potential new project.  I'm calling it "Crazy."

This was a pretty awesome piece of Mexican Crazy Lace Agate from one of my favorite lapidaries.  I was looking forward to seeing her at the local Gem and Lapidary Workers Show, but of course, Covid19 cancelled that gathering.  Her work is always impeccably calibrated, and that I love, but this piece has a crystalline bit that I think must have been challenging to work with.

I know that is not a great photo, but it does allow you to see the crystalline part.  Like it wanted to be a geode.  :)  It's a substantial piece of stone, and the base row for this peyote bezel was 116 Toho Treasures.  So of course, I wanted to echo that crystalline structure in the bezel and yoke.  I used some 2.5mm Swarovski bicones at the edge and then, given summer on the way, I wanted a light yoke and needed to scale down to a delicate chain.  That I accomplished with a small bail and progressively smaller crystals in a variety of shapes and colors, snugging neatly up to the chain.

This lapidary is local, but has only a PO Box contact.  I may try to ask if she is willing to cut for me for a project for you, but in the interim, I am working with a Swarovski crystal as a base.  The 2.5mm bicones in the colors I want seem to be hard to locate at a good price and in reasonable quantity, but I have not given up yet.

I just wanted to share that I have not entirely given up on writing tutorials and kitting.  But the current circumstances provide challenges.

Stay safe, and keep beading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


I have two limited sets of my stick pearl necklaces to release tomorrow, and then all of my messes will have been cleaned up and I will be free to begin a new project.  Yay!  I am calling them "Kingfisher" and "Bluebird".

Both of these new colorways feature 2X AB Swarovski bicones instead of crystal pearls.  I love the flashes of color and mystery, plus, eliminating the line of pearls at the top of the yoke allows me to imagine the shape as a bird in flight with body, tail and wings.  When the stick pearls are not white, I find the design looses much of its wintery aspect.  These sticks are a luminous golden copper.  When I first went button hunting for them I found this, and loved the colors.

But it was too big and lacked any luminosity that might have equalled the pearls.  Then I saw a beautiful photo of a Dwarf Kingfisher Fledgling by Miguel David De Leon in the Philippines. And that led me back to the colors I had originally imagined.

I used Dark Topaz Matte AB in the yoke to hint at the beautiful depth of the wings, and tasked the 2XAB Topaz bicones with adding flashes of lavender and pink.  I can't effectively show you those flashes in still photos, and I did not try to get all the vibrant color in the finished product.  Well, actually, I did, but I personally would not have worn it anywhere, for fear of knocking observers eyes out.  I made four bezels before finding one I really liked and let it teach me about the rest of the work.  I love the necklace on white, black, and neutrals, and especially on an orchid sweater.  I think I got the essence of the beautiful bird without going too far over the top.  Here's a link to the Kingfisher kit:

The Bluebird colorway is similar to this one.  But I had only 3 sets of stick pearls and only one of them has all 19 sticks.  The other two have only 17, so the result will be a 3/8" shorter necklace.  My Kingfisher sample (and most of my other samples) is made with only 17 sticks, so it would be similar to my Kingfisher sample in size, except for my using a 1" button for the Bluebird focal, instead of the 7/8" one for the Kingfisher.

I re-colored my illustration in what I think is a reasonable image of the finished piece.  Since I had only three sets of parts, I did not make up a sample. But I will , if you don't want them, lol!

Here's my color inspiration, with some of my bead selections.

And here's more of the beads with the stick pearl and button sets.

I colored the buttons for this version with Alcohol Inks.  They are not a perfect match for the sticks, but they have fabulous nacre and great rainbow effects.  The bezel beads reflect their gold and copper sheen and I think they will be lovely in situ.  The Smoke Topaz Matte AB Yoke hints at the birds reddish browns, while flashing a bit of blue, and Swarovski Smoke Topaz AB continues the flashes of blue and periwinkle. It's all mysterious blues and browns with hints of purple. Here's a link to the Bluebird kit in my Etsy shop:

I'll get my listings completed this evening, and all the beads packed up and will list officially at noon tomorrow.  I will mark down the two Bluebird listings with only 17 instead of 19 sticks by $5, and if you are quick, you can choose.  

The brown stick pearls are drilled through the flat part of the stick, so they are more likely to sit sideways instead of flat in the completed project.  Many of them have interesting character but not as much size variation as usual.

So.  That concludes the informational portion of this post.  But now I want to wish you all good health.  Please stay safe through the Covid 19 crisis.  Keep your social distance.  There will be a time to have your beautiful jewelry admired up close again, but this is not it.  There will be a time to wear it out to dinner, or to a concert, even though we can't today.  I have gotten to know some of you well, especially you repeat buyers, and I love you all.  Please take good care of yourselves and families, and I'll see you on the other side!