Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Not a Beader but...

Some time ago, I got a custom order from a customer at Malibu Tan (one of my consignment shops). I have created pieces for this customer before and she has very exquisite taste. The request was a necklace with a large blue focal piece. She then saw a beaded necklace and asked if I could make a similar type necklace to go with the focal piece... so... my mind starts thinking... can I bead crystals?

First... the focal piece needed to be large and it had to be a Swarovski crystal (pear shaped). So... checking with all of my suppliers and the largest pear shape I could get in was about 30mm. Not big enough! I was looking for a piece that was about 40mm (1 1/2 inches). I finally hunted down a dark sapphire blue crystal through a chandelier supplier. OK... I have the crystal now have to think about the necklace. Swarovski came out with a new color this year... an indigo blue which I thought would look good with the pendant but... what size do I need... what is the best shape. I ordered in 2.mm bicones, 3mm bicones and 3mm round - I know... fairly tiny beads but hey... I do love a challenge.

Now, the beads are in what is the best way to approach this? Pulled out some of my beading books and thought I would do either a round peyote or spiral stitch but... either way, I knew I needed to bead a tube that would be strong enough to hold a 40mm crystal. First, I thought I would run a rubber tubing inside the beaded tube but, when I tried that, the color of the tubing showed through the crystal beads. I've thought about this project on and off for a couple of months and this weekend, I came up with another idea. First, I took 2.5mm crystals and strung them onto sterling silver Accu-Flex. I figured this would give the piece strength. Next... using a combination of the round and bicone crystals, I did a spiral stitch around the crystals I strung onto the Accu-Flex. I hadn't beaded in a long time so, it took a few efforts to get it just the way I wanted it and even while working on it, I wasn't sure if I was doing it the right way.

Well... I finished the piece today. There are over 820 individual crystals in this piece and because crystal can cut thread, each crystal has been stitched with the thread passing through it a minimum of 3 times. The ends of the necklace have been finished with sterling silver end caps. I will be taking it in for the customer tomorrow - I hope she likes it... if not... I can always put it in my Etsy or Artfire shop! :) I'm not a beader but... I think it turned out OK!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Copper for a Friend

I know it's been a while since I posted a blog and I apologize. Some of my readers have been concerned, asking where I am and if I am all right. I am very touched and I just want you to know that I am fine - just been a little busy. Now... onto my latest project.

A few weeks ago, Sharon, a very dear friend of mine asked me if I could create some pieces for her using copper. She loves the look of copper and the warmth it gives off. Of course, she had some idea of what she wanted and this is what she sent me (she wanted the bracelet without the extra chains).

Both are very nice pieces but... in my mind they are not quite her! When I design pieces for Sharon, I do them to suit her personality which is fun, loving and very out going... these pieces did not scream that to me... they were more of a whisper of what she really needed. So... I went to work. I used the same weaves (Euro 4 in 1) as the above pictures but, I added what I call the Sharon flair! Here is what I came up with!

I sent these pictures to Sharon yesterday so, I'm not spoiling the surprise for her by posting them here today :) And her response... "holy crap...these are STUNNING!!...like em...more like LOVE EM!!!" I think I'm safe to say, she likes them. :)

Sharon has inspired a few of my pieces so far... maybe I'm going to have to start naming my pieces by the people that inspire them... this is part of "The Sharon Collection".

Sharon - thanks for the inspiration... and most of all, thank you for allowing me to create these pieces for you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tetra Orb Earrings

I've been slacking in creating new chain maille pieces. I looked at my shops and realized that I hadn't posted a new item in over a week. For those of you who sell on Etsy and Artfire, you will agree that's not too good because if you don't post new items... you don't get new traffic to your shops. No traffic to shops = no sales!

Part of my problem has been filling in person orders for items that I have previously created. One of my post popular bracelets for men and women is the byzantine weave. Sure... I love the weave and I think it looks great but, it does get boring after a while.

This weekend, I took a time out. I've had a list of new weaves that I have been wanting to learn so... I started working on that.

This first little weave is called a Tetra Orb. It's tricky and it took me a while to figure out the right combination of ring sizes to make it work just right. To complicate it further... because I love incorporating crystals into my work... I had to figure out how to get a crystal inside the orb. In the end (once I got the ring size figured out), they were fun to create and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out. I posted these earrings in my shops last night.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Featuring Honey Beads

I love lampwork beads and I really look up to those that can make them. For a while, I have been wanting to incorporate lampwork beads into my chain maille pieces but, I don't think fire and I would get along too well as I tend to burn myself a lot.

My next and probably best option was to find myself someone who makes the beads and order them. That's how I came across Kristina from Honey Beads. I was searching Artfire and found her shop. I really liked the colors of one of her beads and contacted her to see if she could make a long bead using the same colors. She could and... she did. It was stunning!

Kristina has been mastering her skills over the past few years and her work today is absolutely beautiful. Every time I look at her shop I find more and more beads that I want. Her turn around on custom work and her customer service is amazing!

If you haven't checked out her lampwork beads yet, I suggest you do here at Honey Beads.

Here are some of my favorites and yes... I currently own some of them :)

Aren't they beautiful! It is truly an honor for me to feature Honey Beads!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Would You Like to Win Some Chain Maille?

Would you like to win one of these beautiful chain maille creations?

Well, you can and I'm going to share with you how!

The Etsy Chainmailler's Guild had a contest for their members. We were to create a chain maille item fitting a "Romance Blossom" theme. The entries are in and now, we are asking you to vote for your favorite! Vote for your favorite, leave a comment with contact information (email) and on April 18, winners for the voter prizes (pictured above) will be chosen via random number generator.

For all the details and to vote, please click here and you will be directed to the Etsy Chainmaillers Guild blog.

Want to get some extra opportunities to win these fabulous prizes? Twitter the URL to the blog, blog about the contest, post in any forum, use Myspace bulletin or Facebook announcements and leave a separate comment for each of these things that you did. Each one of these will give you an extra opportunity to win one of these prizes.

Thanks for voting and good luck - hopefully you will win one of these prizes!

What to Make with Crystal Beads?

A couple of years ago, I purchased some phone charm holders. They've been waiting patiently for me to do something with them. This weekend I was playing around with crystal beads and just started sewing them together. I finally put the phone charms to use!

Nothing fancy... very simple, I made these little Swarovski Crystal balls and attached them to the phone charm holders. It had been a while since I've done any beading and it took me a while to figure out how to make these little balls but, in the end, I think they turned out pretty neat!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Artfire Easter Egg Hunt

The Easter bunny has finished painting all of the eggs and they are safely hidden in various Artfire studios. Now, it's up to you to find them!

Who can participate? Anyone can participate. You don't need to have an account with Artfire and there are no fees - it's free!

Here's how it works...

The contest will run for 3 weeks (April 1 - April 21). Colorful Easter eggs containing letters or the word "space" are hidden in the participating studios. You will need to get the contest form which contains the clues that will help you find the eggs. Click here for the contest form.

Once you have the entry form, go to http://www.artfire.com/ and using the clues, navigate through the shops (utilizing the search function available on the site) to find the eggs. At the end, you will have enough letters and spaces to form a sentence. You will receive points for each correct letter and for each correct word in the sentence. The sentence has to be in the exact order to score all the points. When you start assembling the sentence, you will see when it is correct (that's a tip). Once you think you have it, complete the entry form and submit it. The people with the highest scores will receive gift vouchers which they will be able to use in any of the participating shops ($50, $20 and $10).

While you are searching for the eggs, take a look around for any goodies you might want to purchase with the vouchers should you win one! All participating studios are looking forward to your visit and will welcome you with open arms... and an egg! Each studio has a "contact" button should you have any questions about the products they sell. If you are not a member of Artfire, you can make purchases without the need to register, making the buying experience very easy for you.

For complete details, please go to the official Artfire Easter Egg Hung blog. If you have any questions, enter them in the comment section after the topic on the blog and it they will be answered for you as soon as possible. Also check back on the blog during the contest as further hints may be provided.

Good Luck and happy hunting!