Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Enchantment

I would think that in a poll of "What is your favorite season?"  Winter would probably be the least favorite.  Living in Northern Western New York, one needs to come to terms with Winter.  I'm still working on that. 

One of the things that has opened my eyes to the beauty of winter is the never-ending various shapes of trees.  Without leaves to cover the branches, the sheer number of branches on a single tree  and the odd angles at which they sometimes grow is fascinating to me.   I decided to try to capture that beauty in beads using just a tiny bit of the multitude of choices offered through

I was looking to pick out some materials I've never worked with before, and Artbeads offers a ton of options.   

Some copper tubes in 20 mm and 12 mm lengths make up some of the branches.  I was a little concerned the edges would be sharp and break my thread, but they are finished very well and not a single broken thread.  Nice!

I've always wanted to incorporate chain into my beading and this project lent itself to that thought pretty well.  This particular chain is very fine and has such a nice draping quality, I felt bad tacking it down!  It would make a great fringe.

I thought these laser cut wood links would make for an interesting element on the tree trunk.  Kind of like a knot in the side of the tree.  They are adorable and so detailed.  I can't decide which wood I like the best; maple, cherry or walnut, so I used them all. . . . 

Filling in with my favorite Toho hybrid seed beads (size 11 and 8) in that wonderful Matte Apollo shade, finished up my naked tree.  These beads have such a cool color to them and are very uniform in size and shape. 

In addition to beading the entire background in various shades of white and crystal beads, my original thought was to use the beaded buttons I made and stack them like a snowman, but they were too large and over powered my tree.  I made up the smaller sized buttons and the outcome was just downright scary  (Nightmare before Christmas, anyone???)

So, I'm not sure what the background is going to look like. . . . .

 looks like a snow drift has developed so far.. . . .  

~Bead Happy and Often~

  FTC Disclosure:
The chain, wood links, and Toho seed bead were provided free of charge from Artbeads in exchange for my unbiased review of the products.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A story worth telling

I had received an email from MzuriBeads awhile ago telling me about their efforts to make a film documentary about the Ugandan bead industry.  They were asking for support by purchasing a bracelet made from a bark cloth bead, recycled paper bead, and a cow horn bead. 

I made the purchase and I just got the bracelet in yesterday's mail and am so happy with it. 

It's simple yet effective.  The beads are huge (1") and compliment each other nicely.  The cow horn bead has a beautiful finish to it and has taupe and cream accents, which are just barely visible in the pic (I should have turned the bead before I took the shot).

Check out the cool recycled magazine page gift bag it came in.  How clever is that??!

If you want to help support Kirstie Maclean in her efforts to help the beadmakers of Uganda, you can read more about the project here.

~ Bead happy and often ~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

beads interrupted

I was having so much fun using Nicole's super-duper, awesome, how-did-I-ever-bead-without-it Beadbacking, making this (probably) pendant:

but then my Artbeads blogging for beaders program beads came in the mail, so I jumped over to that project (which, ironically, I'm also using Nicole's super-duper, awesome, how-did-I-ever-bead-without-it Beadbacking).  I'm still in the beginning phase, so I'll dedicate my next post to my progress, but here's a sneak peek at the first stitches:

Hmm, whatever could that line have anything to do with the Winter Enchantment theme??!  Stay tuned to find out ;)

This morning I had about 7 minutes before I needed to get to work, so I thought I'd get a bit of beading in.  Remember my messy beading table from a few days ago?

Well, I still haven't cleared it off and I paid the price this morning.  I set my coffee mug right down in the center of my beading mat (because my coffee coaster which sits off to the side was covered with, umm, stuff) and when I went to lift up my Ottlight to turn it on, I hit the edge of the mug and coffee spilled all over my project, beads, scissors, thread, etc etc.    UGH!  So, needless to say, I didn't get any beading done this morning and actually wound up being late to work because I had to clean up the mess.  Hmm, and it wasn't even a Monday!  Go figure.

~Bead Happy and Often ~

Friday, January 14, 2011

And baby makes 3

Here's the last of my snow buttons.    Its my favorite 'cupcake top' stitch!

 Its fun to see that although they are all the same size base, they made up so differently.
 While I was poking around, I came across this ring that I have no idea where I got it from:

So I made up a similar little flower that I stitched onto a small piece of that super-duper, awesome, how-did-I-ever-bead-without-it, Nicole's Beadbacking:

The beads I used were larger than the ring, but I still think it makes up into a sweet little buttercup kind of flower.

I'm in one of those frenzied beading modes where I don't take the time to clean off my table completely between projects.
 If you look under the small pair of scissors, you'll see the components of what I'm working on now.  I have no idea what it's going to be, but I mounted that blue/gray cab onto a piece of that super-duper, awesome, how-did-I-ever-bead-without-it Nicole's Beadbacking and am embellishing away,  just having fun.

 Even Rainy has given up trying to find a place on my table - now he steals my chair!

~ Bead Happy and Often ~

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gearing Up

I'm planning on making a 5" x 7" piece with the theme "Winter Enchantment" as part of the blogging for beaders program.  Although I haven't received my order from them yet, I'm starting to collect a flurry of white beads from my stash.  Poking around to see what I can find is always fun - there's always a surprise or two of things I come across that I had completely forgotten about!  For example, I came across a couple packages of button forms that I bought ages ago.  

With the white beads I had already put on my work table, I stitched these up in less than an hour. 

Looks like in insect to me!

So Fun to do!  But also a real lesson in editing -- not too many beads can fit on a 7/8" button top.  I have one more form (they came in a package of 3  ~ Imagine that, my favorite number), so I'll do one more all white  for my Winter Enchantment piece.  I've got another package of 3/4" ones, but I'm going to set those aside for something else - maybe on a BJP piece, not sure.   Gee, or maybe I'll end up forgetting about them again and stumble across them months from now!  Wouldn't surprise me......

  ~  Bead Happy and Often  ~

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Whole "KIT" 'n kaboodle

I'm holding off on any bead embroidery projects until I get my order of Nicole's BeadBacking.  From what I hear, its some pretty fantastic stuff.  So in the meantime, I was scrounging around the studio and came across 2 kits gathering dust.

The first one is a simple bracelet kit from Mzuribeads featuring those awesome handmade paper beads.  I'm not a 'stringer' kind of girl, so I  tried to embelish the beads.

Neither attempt was any good, and I was getting annoyed.   Simple stringing it is then.

Next I came across another one of those fan-tab-u-lous Toho Ring Kits that I got at  I have said it before and I will say it again:  I LOVE these kits!  So organized, clear illustrations, gorgeous beads and takes just a bit over an hour to put together. 

Just look at the focal bead!  Just beauty-full.

Sunlight brings out some gorgeous turquoise green hues
You can see how domed the ring is - just loaded with beads!

A Family Portrait....

Psst,  my ring family will soon be expanding.  I just ordered another kit!

Links to the goodies:
  Beadbacking -- Beadwright
Paper beads -- Mzuribeads
Ring Kit --

Bead Happy and Often

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January BJP

I decided to make my Bead Journal Project pieces 2 3/4" circles.  Ok.  Great. 

Now time to choose a "theme."  Not that choosing a theme is a requirement of the Project, I just thought it might help keep me on track.  I happened to be digging for change one day and pulled out the Montana state quarter.  Hmm,  I wonder how many states I've been to.  Well, looky there--I've been to 12 states.  Sweet.  There's my theme!  Ok. Great.

Now what would I do with 12 circles at the end of the year?  Hang them like a banner?  Sew them together like a quilt ? No I didn't like either of those ideas.  And then it hit me -- I'll make them into magnets and stick them on my fridge.  Functional beadwork.  You know I'm all about that.  Ok. Great.  Let's get started.

I put all the quarters into a little jar and chose one at random.  Florida.  Ah, nice to think about being in Florida when it's winter in Western New York.

Although I've been to Disney World twice and to Sarasota with my parents, that's not what I think about when I think of Florida.  Instead I think about when I 'worked' in Miami for a summer as the adminstrative trainer for the company I worked for at the time.  I find that to be really weird; but for whatever reason, Miami is what came to mind when I looked at that quarter.  Not the family vacations, but work.  Really?  Gosh, that's weird.

It was in the early 1990s right at the time when South Beach was just beginning its rebirth.  So many boarded up huge hotels, with a few reclaimed places scattered about.  It was a neat place to be.  I have great memories of the people I traveled with and those that I got to know who worked in the office.  I remember the week after I finished up down there, Hurricane Andrew came to town and destroyed our office.  It was hard to believe. 

Oh for heaven's sake, girl, show the beads already!  Sorry about all that blabbering on......

I thought I was going to peyote stitch the coin on, but I realized the beads would cover up too much of the coin, so I just glued it down. 
As usual, you will see elements of 3 and 5 throughout the piece (symbolic of my 3 daughters and myself being 1 of 3 sisters and coming from a family of 5 and now being a family of 5).

Most obvious are the 3 leaves and the 3 waves, but let's take a closer look:
a stack of 3 flower sequins

3 little turqouise rounds
a little net of 3 triangles

3 Swarovski Bicones along the base of the coin
  Just a small bit with 5 elements:
5 sequin bugle stacks surrounded by 5 pink and orange bugle paths
and if you look really close, 5 baby stacks in front of the bugle stacks
Here's a side view to get an idea of the texture. 

And here's the back.

I split the edge colors to represent the sunset over the ocean.  I stuffed it with just a bit of polyfill to try and fill out the edges (you can see the impressions of the 2 round magnets).  My biggest concern would be if the magnets would be strong enough to keep it from sliding down the fridge - they are :)

I'm really looking foward to this year long journey of reflecting on where my life has taken me and I want to thank you for coming along for the ride!

Bead Happy and Often.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Here's hoping 2011 will be filled with creativity and inspiration!

I personally am hoping for that and lots more, but I most hope to keep my attitude sunny and positive.  Lately I've been letting myself get dragged down into this pit of ~b l a h~.  That thick, sticky, hard-to-shake, motivation-creativity-sucking feeling of not wanting to do anything but sit on the couch and watch reality tv shows (my personal guilty pleasure).  And even with all the support and caring and encouragement you guys send my way, I realize no one but me is going to be able to turn that attitude around.  That's the only resolution I'm making this year - positive attitude. 

I made two small beaded gifts this year:

A picture frame ornament for my niece Ashlee and her husband Adam.

I choose the red/black/white theme specifically because those were the colors of their wedding (this past August).

And an embellished drink coaster for my mom.  Every year I give my mom something 'bird related'. 

I had the perfect fabric in my stash (not that you can see very much of it in the finished project!). 

And I choose my colors based on the chickadee.

I thought encasing the coaster with these stacks rather than a peyote stitch would be quicker.  Not sure if it was.

I was so committed to using these beautiful potato pearls I had gotten at Artbeads ages ago, that even though their holes were so dinky tiny I had to use a long size 12 needle, I stuck with it.  Believe me, I wanted to swap out different beads.  Trying to bead through poster board, pellon, and the fabric with that long flimsy needle was a pain!  So tedious. 

Speaking of being, silly, not in that way!  I haven't been shoved into the rubber room (yet).  I finished my first Bead Journal Project piece for January.  I don't have any pics yet  It was too dark tonight to take any, but as long as my computer continues to behave, I will post those up real soon!  In the meantime here's the colors I used (except the loose beads - those didn't make the cut).

Big Hugs to everyone - thank you for saying all the right things when I need it most! 

Bead Happy and Often!