Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to Louisville

Just got back from a 5 day whirlwind to Louisville (Loo-a-ville) - at least that's the way the natives seem to pronounce it.

Stayed with my friend Sharon and her 3 kitties. Taught an all-day Friday beading class for 14. One item in the morning and another in the afternoon. It included everyone from very advanced beaders to never-threaded-a-needle-in-my-life, and all had a good time.

I taught the necklace Planetary Gears (Steam/Bead Punk Style) and some ladies wore their necklaces home that afternoon. The second class was beading around a crystal pendant from Bead City in Tampa. Look at their website for some great values in beads - better yet stop in and say Hi to Jim.

For instructions of the Planetary Gears, in PDF format, email me at and I'll send them to you.

If you are in the Madiera Beach, Fl area, I am teaching classes at Celestial Beads, so drop in, look at the class schedule and sign up to take a class with me or one of the other great beading instructors.

Until next month, the beading tip is: Shorter thread means less knots. Or for those who don't like to add thread, pulling thread through the beads more s-l-o-w-l-y means less knots.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Time Flies and so do Beads!

When I looked at how long it has been since my last post, I couldn't believe it. In Dec of 2008, I took a part-time position as the Assistant Minister at Unity Church of Palm Harbor, Florida and have been so busy, I seem to have lost track of 1-1/2 years of blogging. I never quit beading or designing though, so now I'm planning to restart the blog and post monthly.

In my profile I stated that I teach a weekly class of beaders where I live. Each month we start a new project and work on it throughout the month. We have everything from beginners to advanced students, so it's really a challenge to get ideas and patterns for all ranges. The wonderful thing that happened in the group is that now the more advanced beaders are helping the beginner and intermediate ones and everyone keeps up with the work.

Last week we did Loop de Loop earrings and started with a 10mm Split ring and brick stitched 9 size 11 beads on it. Then added 2 more rows of 11's and two rows of Size 8's. The last row needs an odd number of beads to make the loops come out even. See the diagram of the fifth row and the start of the loops. You start at one edge with Size 11's and string on as many as needed (20 to 25) to make the loops as large as you want. Then go into the center bead. Then go to the next bead to the left and then back to the right (follow the arrows in the diagram). Add an ear wire and enjoy. Add Image

Tip for today - Sometimes you can use split rings in places where you might use open jump rings and this eliminates threads slipping through the opening.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bracelet not fit? Here's an easy fix.

I have a bracelet pattern that seems to shorten each time I do it no matter which beads I use, and that made me find a new method to ensure flexibility.

First the pattern - then the closure. The pattern is a stringing pattern that looks more complex than it is. The beads used are top drilled drops, pearls, or leaves, no larger than 3mm to 4mm. Top drilled means the hole runs left to right across the top narrow end of the bead. See drawing for clarity.

Other beads added to the bracelet can be crystals, gemstones, lampwork, or just about anything you choose, but one should be size 5mm to 7mm, plus other smaller beads or spacers.
I use Power Pro and a size 10 needle for this project, as you will be going back and forth through the all beads, except the drops, (that's why you can use top drilled pearls for this) multiple times.

Start by putting a beadstopper on the line, leaving enough to weave the tail back in. Now string a pattern of beads as follows in this example, but be creative and try other patterns as well:

1-4mm, *1-Bali bead, 1-6mm, 3 drops, 1-6mm, 1-Bali bead, 1-4mm

Repeat from * until length is slightly larger than your wrist.

At this end add a closed jump ring or a spring ring.

Now go back through the beads and when you get to the section where the drops are, add three more drops. When you get back to the (start) tail, add another closed jump ring or spring ring.

Go back and forth two or three more times. Each time you go back through the beads, you are adding three to the cluster of drops until you have 12 to 15 per cluster. Weave in tails with a few half-hitch knots, and clip excess thread.

My dilemma has been that no matter how long my original group is, as I add beads in the drops section, the bracelet seems to shorten, and inevitably becomes too short for the clasp I intended to use.
Now for the solution.
Lobster clasp and 1" of chain, attached to opposite ends on the jump or spring rings. And now my length is flexible. The other advantage to this is now I can make bracelets for potential customers without knowing wrist sizes. On the free end of the chain, I add a dangle for weight which makes the bracelet easier to put on single-handed.

Tip of the Day: By draping the chain end of the bracelet over my wrist away from me and coming up underneath with the lobster clasp, the weight on the chain holds it in place until I can secure the clasp in the chain. Works the first time 99% of the time.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A new idea for an old pattern - Flower to Butterfly

Barb Grainger's Book on Dimensional Flowers, Leaves, and Vines is a classic for generating new ideas and creating new designs.

Her netted flower became a butterfly for me. The patterns is worked by netting five points and joining them in a circle. I had done that and just couldn't find anything I liked to go with that purple bead to complete the flower, so it sat in my UFO's (un-finished-objects) until I started playing with it.

It had been gathered on the inside edge (straight edge) with a 10mm bead in the center, but I wasn't all that pleased about the look. So I took the gathering thread out and opened it to it's fullest.

The drawing may help you visualize the process as I describe the steps.

Now I had a star shaped item with a hole in the center. I re-gathered it so that the opening was about the size of a half-dollar (remember them?) By folding the top center point down, I had the butterfly shape, Voila! So I tacked the center point in place and added the body beads, the spots on the wings and plan to string it from the top wing points for a necklace.

I hope this inspires you to look for new ideas in old classics.

Tip for today: Project storage seems to be a problem for many beaders. I've seen a number of stackable items that can be used for this. My friend Sigrid gave me a flat plastic box that is 9 x 11-1/2 x 3/4 deep, used by scrap bookers and will hold printed instructions, a bead mat, many tubes of beads, needles, bobbins, triangle scoop and scissors. They come in a variety of colors and stack nicely. The only drawback I've seen is that you can't leave loose beads on the mat as they escape between the cracks where the box closes. Look in departments other than beading for ideas. Happy beading.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Notes for Posterity (or at least Forever)

How many projects have you seen where the color combination just reaches out and grabs you, yet the person can't remember the beads they used? And even with all the choices at the bead stores, it's impossible to remember and choose the same colors.

One thing I discovered when I began teaching certain patterns is that many (if not most) beaders want to create the project in the same colors you used. So I began the practice of noting which colors (by manufacturer's number) I used in the project. I keep these in a small notebook that I later transfer to a spreadsheet on the computer.

Then when I took the Diane Fitzgerald class on Gingko leaves, I found it imperative to note the colors and the sequence of colors, especially when I wanted to make a pendant and a pair of matching earrings.

This was just one use I found for making notes on my projects. I've also found that when I buy unique or unusual beads that I need to note where they came from and how much I paid for resale purposes. Of course this doesn't apply to the standard Delicas or seed beads. In my computer spreadsheet, I can also post a photo of the beads.

Tip for today: Don't forget to stretch that nylon thread before beading, other wise it can stretch and make your work sag.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flat Spiral's - A Virulent Strain

Well, is there any beader on the planet who hasn't done a Flat/Square Spiral? Thanks to the video on Auntie's beads, it seems as if every beading group on the Internet is inundated with dozens of pictures of new bracelets made in this pattern. Every one different and every one beautiful.

The pattern works up so quickly that a bracelet can be completed in one sitting and the beads used are reasonable in price. I've done two, one I did almost two years ago in all blues and one I did recently that is reversible - See picture. When you pick up the string of 11/0's, pick up the first group in one color and pick up the second group in another color and that's how you get the reversible look.

For the core bead I have a tendency to use Firepolish as I like the way they sit and look. The facets give the sparkle of crystal, yet not the sharp edge of bicones or the expense of rounds. For the edge bead I use 10/0 Cuts which are sometimes hard to find. I got mine from Foxden on the net.
Some of the more ambitious beaders made this pattern two and three rows wide which then takes on the look of a pattern published in Beadwork in the February/March 2007 issue under the name Black Magic by Liz Smith.
If you haven't made one of these bracelets yet, there is still time before Christmas to whip out a gift for someone (maybe yourself). My pattern below lists the beads I used in the reversible, but please do a couple and try different beads. 15/0's can sub for 11/0's. Round gemstones could be used in place of the Firepolish and 8/0's in hex or triangles can sub for the 10/0 cuts.
Beads needed: Core beads 4mm Firepolish(FP) with 11/0 seed beads (two colors if you want reversible A & B) and 10/0 Cuts. Can be woven on Fireline, Power Pro or nylon beading thread.
On a comfortable length of thread, pick up two FP, (beginning of central spine)leaving a 8” tail to add the Toggle closure.

Then string three 11/0's Color A, one 10/0 Cut and three 11/0's Color B and go back up through the two original FP to form a loop - Push this loop to one side. Repeat this step and push the second loop to the other side.
*Pick up one FP, three 11/0's Color A, one 10/0 Cut and three 11/0's Color B then loop around to go back up through the last two FP on the core. Then pick up three 11/0's Color A, One 10/0 Cut and three 11/0's Color B and go through the same two FP.
Repeat from * until bracelet is the desired length. Then one half of the toggle closure on this end. Put the needle on the other end and sew on the other half of the toggle closure.

Enjoy your bracelet and congratulate yourself. If you need to see the video, go to Auntie's Beads and under the Karla Kam look for the Flat Spiral. Happy Beading and Happy Holidays.
Today's tip: Flatten your thread, especially thick Fireline or Power Pro with pliers to make threading your needle easier. Otherwise it's like putting a round peg in an oval hole.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have had a fantastic couple of weeks and so busy I couldn't get to blog. I flew to Louisville, Ky to visit a friend who had set up a beading class for me to teach with Geri (one gracious lady). Geri has a Beadweaver's shop in the Mellwood Art Center, where she holds classes and sell beads, finished jewelry and has a second store where her students can sell their work.

I taught a 4 hour bracelet class with an Ndebele base and embellished with flower, leaves and a butterfly. Five wonderful beaders participated and we have a great time. I can't wait to go back and teach again.

The next day, I spoke at the Unity Church in Middletown. (In my previous life, I retired from ministry in Colorado.) Then I did a workshop for the church.

For the next three days, my friend Sharon drove me all over Louisville and showed me the sights. There is a wonderful glassblowing factory in downtown. It was fun to watch how this hot liquid becomes such a beautiful creation. We also visited an art installation in the hotel 21C. In the ladies restroom is a mirror with small TV screen set in it and constantly showing on the screen are the eyes of people looking around. The we went to the Kentucky Arts and Crafts Museum where many Kentucky artists have items for sale and the current major display was of woven tapestries. You have to see them upclose to realize how much work is involved. The one that really caught my attention was of a woman's face (and many other images) but the face was so realistic in color, texture and shading, you almost waited to hear her speak.

As soon as I got back, I had a class that night, then duties at church on Sunday and Monday. Then Monday evening I found a group of beaders who meet in the Palm Harbor area at Uncommon Threads and I joined them for an evening of beading and chatting. Some exquisite work was shown. One lady was working on the Star Compass Purse in the recent Beadwork Magazine, but she had enlarged it to about 10" across.

Then on Tuesday I participated in the Great American Teach-in at an elementary school in the Clair-Mel area and had 30 girls to learn a 2 drop peyote. They were so eager and so much fun, but by the time I finished, I was hoarse.

On Wednesday, I met with my usual group and taught them a new trick on an old techique.

Then Wednesday night I met with 6 beaders for another Ndebele bracelet with inclusions. I'm winding down now, but what a great time I had.

I'll look for another project for my next blog and in the meantime, a tip I learned was to use chapstick to coat your thread if you forget your Thread Heaven or microcrystaline wax. Rub you finger lightly over it and then pull the thread through your fingers. It seems to help with the Fireline tangling too. Try it.