Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chain Mail + Color

Several months ago, I received this book from the author.  I had contacted her and explained that I had a blog site where my craft book reviews appear.  She graciously sent me a copy.  I began to peruse the book and was blow away.  The pictures, details, instructions, chain mail designs, etc., are perfection personified.  Each and every project is presented in a very well organized manner and all tools, and materials are listed.  One can also order all the supplies from the author for the various designs.  Takes away the frustration of "where to source the materials."  The colorful jewelry examples illustrated on the cover tease one to look inside and get lost in a remarkable assortment of projects utilizing aluminum jump rings, scales, and disks.  All of the designs are doable even for a novice chain mailer.  I can't wait to complete and wear the "Goddess of the Sun" collar.  It's striking elegance will make me feel like royalty.    

Friday, May 1, 2015


Beth Stone

When I think of stitching, I think of all the wonderful skeins of thread and countless embroidery stitches I learned as a child.  My interest in this form of embellishment even continued into my adulthood.  The hoops were both large and small and occupied my lap or a stand on the floor.
Interestingly enough, many of the patterns in this delightful book by Beth Stone and published by Kalmbach Books remind me of this long ago interest.  The tiny seed beads creations reintroduced me to many of my embroidery stitches such as the French knot, which to me was an integral part of the Russian spiral variations featured on pages 82 and 85.  The bugle bead bracelets reminded me of the feather stitches which I practiced on a newly starched pillow case.  I vividly remember the charming little daisy chains which I embellished on my mother’s tea towels as I viewed the jewelry presented in the various projects in this book.

Thanks to Beth Stone, many of the seed bead patterns rekindled my love of stitchery from the past, and a new appreciation of the transformation of “stitchery” with beads into the present.  Very good explanation of various types of seed beads and supplies needed to start and complete all of the projects. 
This book definitely offers the young and old beader “creative variations on traditional techniques” using the peyote stitch, brick stitch, right angle weave, and tri and quad stitches. 







Thursday, April 16, 2015

Decorative Wire Findings

Have you had trouble finding the right method or material to finish one of your creations.  On several occasions the right finding just isn't "right."   Completed, or should I say incomplete  necklaces, bracelets, and earrings spread out on my bench, eager to become a treasured accessory, to no avail.

"Decorative Wire Findings" recently came to my rescue.  Published by Kalmbach Books, and authored by Melody MacDuffee, it has a plethora of "how to" create custom clasps, connectors, and more.  The instructions are very easy to follow and full blown up photos of completed projects are presented in "living color" at the start of each and every project.  All tools and materials are listed in a box next to the various designs.  After perusing the book, I was inspired by the variety of choices I had to "close" this jewelry chapter in my inventory.  
There are various segments at the end of the book starting with "TECHNICAL  BASICS and continuing on with beautifully illustrated and explained COMPONENTS, CLASPS AND CLOSURES, BAILS, WRAPS AND CAPS, LINKS, CONNECTORS AND SPACER BARS, BEZELS, PIN BACKS, and WIRE BEADS.  There is also a most helpful resource list provided in the book. 

Dilemma solved!  No more half-finished jewelry pinning for an end to it all.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The clasps from Claspgarten are both functional and beautifully designed.  The ones, enhanced with Swarovski crystals, sparkle like a queen's tiara.  Both the artisans using these clasps and the purchaser of one of their creations would be the recipient of something very special.
I have been invited to participate in a juried exhibition "Maturity and It's Muse."  My design consists of a series of 11 aught Miyuki seed beads in 22 kt. gold.  Claspgarten has provided me with many wonderful choices for closures.  Even though the clasp will be at the back of the neck, I am tempted to design the piece so one of the exquisite clasp becomes the focal point.
Are you tired of the same old peyote toggles for your beaded bracelets and necklaces?  Claspgarten has solved the problem.  Their site has an exciting selection of perfect clasps for your beaded projects.  These rectangular forms have a concave section where one can glue in seed beads to finish off their jewelry concept.  
Hopefully your local beading and jewelry supply stores sell these unique clasps.  If not, please share this information with them so everyone will have an opportunity to avail themselves of these "true to form" lovely products.     

Thursday, March 5, 2015




The expression "there is lite at the end of the tunnel" is true.  Like many in the beading and jewelry making community, working with small links and beads really was a challenge.  My labors of love, became tortuous.  The small holes in the 15 and 11 aught beads tumbled about on my mat board as if to say, "I dare you to enter."  Their bright colored surfaces beckoned me, but the small holes daunted me.
Recently a lite in white shinny armor appeared, delivered by UPS. This was the answer to a handmaiden's dream.  The Ottlite 13w Slimline Task lamp seduced me.  It enabled me to see clearly and comfortably as I approached each new bead design.  I discovered that it projected a natural daylight illumination and help reduce glare and extreme eyestrain.
The above model is quite reasonable in price as are many of the other Ottlite products.  In fact, I was contemplating hiring an electrician to put in additional lighting fixtures in my studio.  Saved myself a lot of money and many of my beadwork projects have been completed. 
Many thanks to the Ottlite at the end of the tunnel. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When I first received this book, I was reminded of the Rogers and Hammerstein show "Oklahoma."  The scene where Curly invites Laurey to a box social in a fancy rental carriage was delightful.  The imagined surrey with its undulating fringe captivated me.  At the end of the production, the surrey became real as they rode to their honeymoon.
The fringes featured in "Bead Play with  Fringe" are real.  Jamie  Cloud Eakin is an excellent teacher.  She shows examples of the various fringes, illustrates how to make them, and then displays projects using the myriad of wonderful delica and seed beads in a rainbow of colors.  Nothing is left to chance.  Right from the beginning you are given a list of supplies and taken down the path of "how-to."  The illustrations are very explicit which made me feel as though Jamie was in front of me and guiding my way.
I can now envision the surrey further enhanced with Jamie's delightful beaded fringes, can't you?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stringing Along with LAY3r 3D DOODLING PEN
I am into meditation.  Not that old kind of chanting a mantra, but the whole immersion of mind and appendage to paper.  The official terms for this absolute form of relaxation and loose as a goose creativity is an art form called "Zentangle."  No need to go into it at length with this posting, but this is where my review of the 3D Doodling Pen comes into play.
In essence, these Zentangle patterns are normally created on a paper after drawing a series of "strings" - lines which divides this paper tile into different sections.  I immediately thought that with the use of this pen, I could add an extra dimension to my patterns.  It worked just as I had envisioned.
The process was simple and the pen adapted itself to my experimentation quite easily.  Following the Quick Start Guide, which came with the pen, it was ready to go within a very short time.  My filament strings could be extruded long or short, and I could manipulate them to be curvy or straight.  There was an ample selection of black ,white, and red, but inasmuch as my paper tile was white, I used the black filament for the first meditative drawing.
I place a thin line of Aleene's Quick Dry Tacky Glue over the pencil drawn strings and then affixed the filament to same.  The three dimension impact was a "pop" happening.  The patterns enclosed within these strings took on a life of their own.
Thank you, Lay3r 3D Doodling Pen.  Maybe the art world will recognize a Warhol incarnation.