Guest Blogging!

Happy weekend, everyone! I’m still digging out from all of the snow over the past couple of days, trying to keep warm. I don’t have a Weekend Inspiration for you, but I am guest blogging today over at Beadazzled’s blog! I’ll be talking about seed beads, the different types and what kinds of projects they lend themselves best to.

Beadazzled is a great local bead store, with beads for nearly every type of beader. It was the first real bead store that I ever went into, and I was instantly in love. They carry tons of pearls, gemstones, and lots of global and ethnic beads, including some phenomenal African trade beads. Hop on over and check them out; they’ve also got a well-stocked online store with free shipping on orders over $50.

(I received no compensation from them; I just really love their selection!)

Stay warm this weekend, and happy beading!

Weekend Inspiration: An Abundance of Amethyst

Well, it’s official! Dear Husband and I locked in the apartment that we wanted, so around mid-April we’ll be moving. I’m super excited; we’ll have more space, save a TON on rent, and to top it all off, I’ll have my own little worktable and beading space in front of the sun room window! I’ll be sure to post pictures when it’s all set up.

This weekend I wanted to focus on something bright and colorful as an antidote to all of the cold winter weather we’ve been getting. (There’s freezing rain falling outside right now.) Nothing makes me feel warmer than lots of bright color, and February’s birthstone makes a perfect candidate: amethyst! From the paler hues of Cape amethysts to the deep purples that look as if they could have come from a Roman emperor’s toga, there are so many beautiful designs out there.

First off, we have a simple but lovely asymmetrical necklace. I love the way that the roughness of the amethyst point contrasts with the delicacy of the overall piece.

 

 

Next up, we have a fun and lovely use for amethyst chips. They have knotted between each chip to space them out, but I can’t help wondering what a similar piece might look like crocheted with cord or wire. And what if you used different shades of amethyst? You could even play around with an ombre effect.

 

Found at Macy's

Found at Macy’s

 

Another great use for amethyst chips, this one is a lovely wire-wrapping project. I’ve been seeing more and more tree pendants lately, and I really like this one’s frame/bail shape. The oxidized copper wire also contrasts really well with the pale purple leaves.

 

 

With this next wirework pendant, I was blown away by all of the intricate wire coiling. Whoever has the patience to coil wire so evenly has my admiration! Plus, this is a great way to highlight a single yummy leftover brio.

 

 

Last up in the wirework category for the week is a lovely amethyst earring and earcuff combination. What a brilliant use for a lightwweight stamping! I was also really inspired by the swags and dangles of chain; the effect they create is gorgeous and I really want to try something along these lines with a bunch of my leftover garnet odds and ends:

 

Created by LotEarCuffs

Created by LotEarCuffs

 

Next up is my favorite piece of the week, a multistrand combination of freshwater pearls and deep purple amethyst points. Thick, fluffy, and yummy — this is something that I’d enjoy wearing over and over again. Plus, just think of all of the possible variations with the different types of quartz out there these days:

 

Created by catrocks

Created by catROCKS

 

Last up is a budget-busting showstopper. I really like the use of amethyst brios to highlight a truly stunning focal. (Yes, that pendant is amethyst too; could you imagine being able to create with those kinds of resources?) The different shapes and sizes of the brios in each cluster are what really make the effect for me; there’s such a high level of texture in each cluster that my eye is drawn to them even more than the pendant:

 

Found on 1stdibs.com

Found on 1stdibs.com

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel an itch to dive into my purple bead bin and see what I can come up with! Purples of every color make such a nice antidote to the white monochrome winter blahs; they make me think of crocuses and springtime. Not to mention that when I wear those deep purples, there’s a part of me that can’t help but feel a connection to those long-ago Roman empresses… I hope that you’re inspired to treat yourself royally this weekend; happy beading!

Life Chaos

I promise I haven’t forgotten or abandoned you; Dear Husband and I have been planning a move for a while and just last week we found out that an apartment that we wanted would be opening up in April. We’ve since been running around frantically like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get the lease arranged. Since time and sanity are at such a premium right now, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you, and I will return on the 20th with a Weekend Inspiration.

Thanks for your patience!

Weekend Inspiration: Elegant Egyptian

My apologies for a light week again; Little Lovey’s really starting to walk now so we’ve been running after her picking up all of the things that we didn’t realize she could or would get into! Hopefully both she and I will get the hang of this whole walking thing soon so I can get into a better rhythm and a more predictable routine.

This week I thought we’d take a look at one of my favorite styles of jewelry: Egyptian. I didn’t think I’d spend as much time as I did trying to find unique pieces that weren’t just another version of a broad collar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with broad collars; I just wanted to give you a bit of variety!) With that being said, I was especially taken by this beautiful Art Deco inspired winged scarab collar. What a showstopper!

 

Collar created by LuxViviensFashions

Collar created by LuxViviensFashions

 

If you wanted to DIY an Egyptian collar without too much trouble, you could always fall back on seed beads and safety pins. I’m in love with the bright colors used here; it’s a modern beachy twist:

 

 

If you’re looking for a play on a collar that’s not too bulky, try something like wire crochet. I thought this was a really clever and unique take on collars, plus it gives you the look of a collar without taking up your entire neckline:

 

Made by CatsWire

Made by CatsWire

 

This next stunner isn’t a broad collar in the strictest sense, but I’m amazed at the visual balance of the piece despite all of the asymmetry:

 

Found on beadsmagic.com, maker unknown

Found on beadsmagic.com, maker unknown

 

I saw quite a few wire Eyes of Horus as I was browsing around, but the intricacy of this wire wrapping really took my breath away. The eye cabochon is really amazing too:

 

Created by LadyPirotessa

Created by LadyPirotessa

 

I love the simplicity of this next piece: an Eye of Horus pendant, an ankh pendant and some chain combine for a delicate lariat:

 

Found here on Luulla.com

Found here on Luulla.com

 

Finally, another delicate piece: a strand of iolite rondelles highlights a small bronze Horus pendant. I’m a sucker for Y-necklaces and I really like the small scale of this piece:

 

Created by MenatDesigns

Created by MenatDesigns

 

I love Egyptian jewelry — especially the broad collars. (Maybe I’ll have to do an Inspiration just focused on them!) It’s really neat, though, to see how other people have been inspired by Egyptian elements to create things that are inspired by elements of the land of the Pharaohs. From pieces of high-end jewelry from the various Egyptian revivals to creations found on the internet from today’s artists, Egypt continues to be a source of wonder and inspiration for many. Happy beading!

Weekend Inspiration: Charmed by Chainmaille

I’m so sorry that this is so late; I’ve had a horrible migraine for the past couple of days. After lots of aspirin and hot tea, I’m back to the land of the living. Yay! Since this is a three-day weekend, I thought I’d take a look at something a little more complex: chainmaille jewelry. It’s not something that I’ve ever tried, but after seeing these awesome pieces, I’m going to have to start playing around with it soon!

I love the way that this first pair of earrings simply takes a small piece of Turkish Orbital chainmaille and uses it as the focal element; it’s a delicate way to highlight the intricate craftsmanship of this technique:

 

Created by SteamPunkGarage

Created by SteamPunkGarage

 

This next set of earrings also uses small segments of chainmaille, but they’re suspended along chains for grace and length:

 

Made by Femailler

Made by Femailler

 

I really love all of the different ways that chains and chainmaille can be combined, like on this bracelet:

 

Made by WorldWise Jewelry, whose website is now nonexistent. Anyone know of a new site?

Made by WorldWise Jewelry, whose website is now nonexistent. Anyone know of a new site?

 

The play of size and the color fade in this necklace both really intrigue me; this would be great in all different kinds of color combinations:

 

 

The understatement in this next necklace is phenomenal, with chainmaille and chain once again combining to stunning effect:

 

Asymmetrical chainmail choker by Wrapt in Maille

Created by Rapt in Maille

 

For those who like bib necklaces, this is a statement to be sure:

 

Made by JAMDESIGN

Made by JAMDESIGN

 

This last one is a showstopper, and one of my favorites. I love the idea of a high chainmaille choker and when it combines with elements that remind me of an Egyptian collar, I’m in heaven! I’d invent excuses to wear something like this:

 

Created by Fannie Schiavoni

Created by Fannie Schiavoni

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried picking up a new technique, but these awesome pieces have me feeling really inspired. I don’t know when I’ll have time in the near future, but chainmaille is definitely high on my list of to-learn techniques. Pliers I’ve got; the hard part will be deciding on a small piece to get started with; I’m kind of a go big or go home girl when it comes to beading. Enjoy your holiday weekend, and happy beading!

 

Weekend Inspiration: Awesome Aquamarine

Things are finally starting to get back to normal around here after the holidays; I hadn’t realized just how much I’d come to rely on my routines until they were disrupted for a week and a half! (Little Lovey and I loved having Dear Husband around, though. Those two are best buds.) We finally got our first snowfall of the year, just a dusting of less than an inch, but it got me thinking about the icy beauty of aquamarine.

Aquamarine’s another stone that I love but don’t get to work with all that often (pesky budget!). It can range from the high-grade clear gem quality that one usually sees in rings to lovely milky, matrix-y beads that look lovely mixed with things like pearls and silver or gold. Our first piece combines lovely clear aquamarine rondelles with gold and a druzy pendant for an upscale take on the druzy trend:

 

 

If you have a few rondelles left over after a piece like that, these swirling silver earrings make a stunning statement with only a few beads. I love the way that the beads are wrapped where they touch the wire frame; it gives them the appearance of gemstone nailheads:

 

 

If you’re looking for an aquamarine and wire statement earring, check out the crocheted apatites that set off these beautiful blue aquamarine focal beads! A lot of patience went into these gorgeous beauties:

 

Created by yifatbareket

Created by yifatbareket

 

This wire bracelet is a stunning statement, and I’d be able to hide any wire flubs in the nests that anchor each icy nugget:

 

Creator unknown; found on 9thandelm

Creator unknown; found on 9thandelm

 

For those of us who enjoy things a bit simpler, how lovely is this simple earthy aquamarine point necklace?

 

 

The weaver in me can’t help but think how gorgeous this delicate necklace would be reworked in tiny hematite seed beads with aquamarine brios (plus it’d be a WHOLE lot cheaper than what this piece actually sold for – $10,000!)

 

Maker unknown; found here on Sotheby's

Maker unknown; found here on Sotheby’s

 

Last but not least, for those who want to drape their wrists in lush strands of aquamarine, we have this beautiful bracelet. I have to say, though, I’m way more in love with the findings than the stones. It’s getting SO hard to find unique elements for large multistranded pieces now that the metals market has gone through the ceiling. (Remember those days of $6 an ounce sterling?) All the same, this bracelet and its colors are absolutely stunning:

 

Created by Mary Esses; picture found here on Haute Tramp

Created by Mary Esses; picture found here on Haute Tramp

 

Although nearly all of our snow here has melted, these gorgeous aquamarine pieces almost have me excited for the next snowfall – almost. I am not one of those people who enjoy shoveling and scraping cars. With aquamarine, I can capture some of that feeling without all of the work. With this latest cold snap, I’m very thankful to be inside where it’s warm and cozy, a bead tray in my lap. Happy beading!

New Year, New Changes

Eeek. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve posted, and I’m really sorry about that. It hasn’t just been holiday chaos (although that’s been a large part); our home schedule is also in a huge state of flux. Little Lovey’s sleep schedule is undergoing huge changes and we’re never sure when or if she’s actually going to sleep. We’ve also been reevaluating our social commitments, so I don’t really have regular blogging nights anymore. I’m doing my best to figure out a workable schedule that lets me post once or twice a week while still getting Weekend Inspirations up on Fridays. If I’m a less than regular poster for a couple of weeks, please bear with me!

I’d love to know what marketing genius decided that the gem and jewelry show should come to town less than seven days before Christmas. Needless to say, there was a lot of drooling going on but funds were limited. What can I say? I have a lot of fun spoiling the people that I love. Dear Husband and I left Little Lovey with the grandparents and went shopping. I finally found some nice bezel-set ruby links for a future project. That one will take a while to get done; I also need to buy a strand of ruby rondelles and a strand of ruby brios. (Good things come to those who wait.)

I was also looking for some silver to go with an amethyst commission I’ve been working on. I was lucky enough to find a Hill Tribe silver vendor. Hooray! It’s been WAY too log since I’ve had access to a large Hill Tribe selection. I really hope they keep coming back. I found some great accent beads as well as two large skinny crescent pendants. (This is the first time I’ve gotten out of the bead show for less than $100. I feel like I deserve a medal for restraint!)

Gem show goodies!

Gem show goodies!

 

I was also lucky enough to get my $50 reward from Beadazzled last week, and we all know what that means — guilt-free beads! I splurged on a gorgeous pale grey peacock strand of freshwater pearl nuggets, as well as some teeny turquoise rondelles. It was nice to treat myself to a couple of strands without worrying about converting price into resale value. I even had a project in mind for those pearls.

 

IMAG0924

 

The silver spacers I bought for the commission wound up not looking right, so they got re-purposed into the necklace I made out of those pearls this weekend. I got a lovely dusty teal dress for Christmas, and the pearls were the perfect color to set it off, so I appropriated one of the Hill Tribe pendants for myself as well.

 

IMAG0927

 

After all of that, the necklace didn’t hit the dress neckline where I wanted it to. Oh, well. I really love the necklace, so I’m keeping it as is. I have a few things in my closet that it will go well with. I’ll just have to make something else to match the dress. Back to the bead stash!

Thanks for bearing with me during these crazy holidays; I’m determined to be a better blogger in 2015. I hope that your holidays were as wonderful as mine were, and I look forward to sharing more beading adventures with you this year.

Weekend Inspiration: My Personal Inspiration

Thank goodness it’s the weekend! I’m pretty sure I can feel another tooth, which certainly explains why I feel like Little Lovey’s been running me ragged. At least now I’ll have a chance to sit down with a cup of tea and recover from a rough week. If I’m really lucky, I’ll even be able to get started on a few project ideas that I’ve had rattling around in my head. As promised, here’s a peek at some of the things that are currently inspiring my bead designs.

First off, this awesome Egyptian inspired scarab necklace. I actually have a large bronze scarab bar pendant that’s somewhat similar, and I’ve been struggling for years to design around it. After seeing this piece, I think I’m going to play around with chain layers and possibly a small pendant or two.

 

Pinterest pin says trashydiva.com, but the link is broken. Does anyone have a working link?

Pinterest pin says trashydiva.com, but the link is broken. Does anyone have a working link?

 

Next up is an emerald and gold multistrand wire-wrapped necklace. I actually have a strand of green Roman glass that would look perfect in a recreation of this piece, and I’d love to use freshwater pearls as well. A few small faceted emerald rondelles wouldn’t hurt, either. (One of these days, I’ll finally splurge on a strand…) Plus, I could wear this to SCA events!

 

Can anyone tell me where this picture came from?

Can anyone tell me where this picture came from?

 

Next up is a piece that I can’t believe actually exists in real life. I adore Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, in which octopi (octopuses? octopodes?) are featured, so when I found these stamped brass octopi a few years ago I bought two, wanting to make a play on a Victorian lady’s chatelaine. Then while looking at Victorian jewelry last week, guess what I found? AN ACTUAL VICTORIAN OCTOPUS CHATELAINE! Now I really need to find some nice antique keys!

 

Chatelaine from the Missouri History Museum

Chatelaine from the Missouri History Museum

 

Finally, we have the piece that I really want to get started on now. I’m becoming fascinated by body jewelry, using beads and chains to create statement jewelry that goes beyond necklaces or bracelets. (I think it’s a side effect of not being able to wear much jewelry right now.) I’m picturing a cross between this next picture and angel wings, but I haven’t yet ironed out the picture of the piece in my head. I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I do attempt a piece like this, though. It’ll be a lot of time but I know that the results would be well worth it.

 

Picture of Mira Betz taken by Taboo Media

Picture of Mira Betz taken by Taboo Media

 

Those are the things that are tickling my creativity the most right now. I have to say that ADD can really come in handy as a designer; it leads to me being intrigued by and mashing up elements that aren’t usually paired together. I’m always thrilled when something comes out better than it looked in my head, but there are also plenty of things that will never see the light of day. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this peek inside my head, and that you’re inspired to try something new this weekend. Happy beading!

My Bead Board: Seraphinite Just for Me

So I think I’m finally getting past my creative slump. Yay! I’m getting reinspired and just having lots of fun looking for new ways to be creative in my jewelry design; I’ll be sharing some of those inspiration pieces with you on Friday. In the meantime, as promised, here’s the piece that I made for myself over the weekend.

I’ve had this lovely strand of seraphinite ovals sitting in my stash for a few years just waiting for a pendant to present itself. I love the texture of the stone; it’s actually named seraphinite because the shimmery feathered appearance of the stone is similar to the look of an angel’s wing. Photos really don’t do it justice; it’s so much more vibrant in person. Anyways, I recently stumbled across the oval pendant in another bead store and had to pick it up to go with my strand.

I’ve been stuck on a design for these beads for a long time, but after drooling over lots of Victorian-inspired jewelry I finally had a design concept. It wasn’t strictly Victorian, but had a nice vintage-y feel to it. To the seraphinite, I added small dark peacock freshwater pearls and little Hill Tribe silver accents.

 

Seraphinite raw materials

 

I began wire-wrapping beads into three separate strands; one would be choker length while two others would support my pendant. Figuring out the pattern I wanted took way longer than it should have (not that I’m a perfectionist or anything!).

 

Seraphinite in progress 1

 

Then after the strands were finished, all that was left was assembly and tweaking the length. Repeatedly. I’m fairly happy with the way that the pattern came out around the choker section, but I’m still debating whether or not I want to tweak it a bit. I’ll probably just keep it as is since I can’t seem to think of a better arrangement.

 

Seraphinite finished

 

I’m actually really happy with the way that this one turned out. It’s nice and high like a choker, but I’ve also still got the visual impact of a large pendant. Because of the pearls and silver, it’s also a versatile piece that I can dress up or down. I’ll get plenty of use out of it, and I’m looking forward to debuting it at a gift exchange on Thursday. It was really nice to plan and execute something just for myself; a big part of my slump has been feeling like I don’t have the time to take do do things for myself. Even though it’s been over a year since Little Lovey arrived I’m still learning how to balance everything. I’d like to think that I’m getting better at finding that balance, but every once in a while I need to step back and recalibrate. Projects like this are great for helping me do that.