Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Purple Bracelet (because I can't think of a better name)

Here is my next cuff bracelet.  I just hate how the camera shows the, um, "quirks" so much.  But in person it looks rather nice.  I just need a little work on my peyote stitch.  I think the problem was that bottom row was 6/0's and the next rows were very skinny 11/0's, so the size difference made it difficult for me.  I'm just learning peyote, though, so be gentle with me.  Also, my picot stitch in person looks pretty good but the pic doesn't make it look very good.  :(

So what should I call this one?  Come on ladies...I know you're all creative!  Give me some good ideas!

I had a fun thing happen today.  I showed this and my mom's cuff to a couple people today.  One lady just flipped over my mom's bracelet and wanted to buy it from me right then!  I told her I couldn't sell it to her, though, because it was specifically for my mom.  So she ordered one!  yea for me!  My first cuff order!  She didn't give any specifications except to say that she wanted some gold beads in it.  Ok...I can do that.  Off shopping I go tomorrow!  woohoo!

Off topic from my beading.  I have to show you my two little ones.  It's the start of baseball season, so between their two teams we're at the field about 4 or 5 times a week.  Very tiring, busy nights!  But here they are, Matthew (10) and Sara (8).  I know I am a little biased, but I do believe I have beautiful babies! :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Springtime

Here is my BJP piece for April.  It is definitely a departure from what I normally do.  I had two challenges this month.  One was, of course, April for the BJP and the second was the theme "Spring" for my Artbeads' Blogger Community order.  The very first thing that popped into my head was a meadow--a lush, green meadow with wildflowers in a spring rain.  That's what I tried to create.  I didn't try to get complicated and fancy with it.  I did almost a childlike approach to it.  Very simple and understated.  I have been wondering about my pieces being too complicated, so I wanted to go the other direction with this one.  My pieces are always encrusted without a speck of fabric showing, and I wanted to try to leave a little open this time.  It was VERY difficult for me!!! 

At the bottom I used Kiwi Organza that I swished across the bottom.  I have never used anything other than beads in my projects, so this was something new.  It made me think of big, sweeping watercolor strokes.  In between the ribbon I used a little bit of seed beads to show some lines, but I left some of the fabric showing.  Hard for me!  In the grass there are little clumps of, oh, I don't know, maybe moss covered stones?  I simply fell in love with the 6mm Emerald Isle Mix Glass Pearls!!!  They have the most luscious luster to them!  (I can't wait to use them in another project and my mind is swirling with ideas on how to feature just those beads.)  Here is a shot of them, so you can see them close up...it comes with 3 shades in the mix...just yummy!

I also used several different kinds of flowers.  I used Czech glass lily flowers in turquoise, Czech glass hole star flowers in light blue/amber and pink/white silkCzech glass large flat flower in sapphire/white/coral, and a matte amethyst resin buttercup flower.  I think they made a nice mix of wildflowers that I saw in my mind.  I wish the Swarovski butterflies came in a little bigger size.  They did get swallowed up a little bit in my big project, which is a shame because they are very pretty. 

(oh, wow...my enlarged pics really shows my crooked lines!  lol.  oh well.  They looked pretty straight when I was doing them.)

And the last thing I absolutely fell in love with are the 9mm Swarovski teardrops that I used as big raindrops.  They are so sparkly and a beautiful shape.  I saw them and immediately thought of rain!

So, here is my imagined meadow,
Springtime in Heaven

(you can click for a larger view)

Oh, my gosh!  the grass border became a big problem!  I did the grass before I did the sky, and I really shouldn't have done that!  Every pass I made while beading the sky, the thread got wrapped up and tangled in the grass.  Ugh!  I was going to pull my hair out by the end.   Not only did the organza ribbon remind me of watercolors, but I was thinking last night as I was looking at it how the sky made me think of a sky blue Crayola crayon.  :) 

And I cheated a little bit.  My BJP pieces are 5x7.  On this one I put on the ribbon first and put it all the way to the edge of my limits, and added the flowers.  But I couldn't help but think it was missing something.  That's when I added the grass border.  Now this piece actually comes out to 6x8 because of my poor planning.  But the picture part is still 5x7!  So, do I get a slap on the hand for breaking the rules?  lol.  Sorry.  It really needed the border, and I wasn't going to tear it all apart and start over.

This piece really speaks to me in what I think Spring should be.  I don't get these kinds of springs in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona, and I really miss them.  On this one I practiced simplification, a literal interpretation rather than the abstract that I normally do, showing some fabric, and using something other than beads.  Even though the design is a simple one, it was a huge challenge!

Happy Spring to you!

p.s.  after I posted this, Robin Atkins at Beadlust posted some commentary and tips that I struggled with in this piece.  I recommend reading it.  Thanks Robin!

Disclaimer:  Artbeads.com has sent me product free of charge.  I am not being compensated for my honest opinion of their products.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cuff for Mom

My mom saw my first cuff and really wanted it.  But I knew it would be too big for her.  She says, "You know, my birthday is coming up."  lol  yeah...in June.  So I knew I wanted to make her a bracelet, not for her birthday or for Mother's Day or any other day except an "I Love You Day".  I didn't tell her I was making it, but she said she wanted one like the first one.  I went out and bought the same package of doodads that I used to make the first one, but of course they never turn out the same.   On hers I omitted some of the doodads and I added some gold colored discs, which give it a nice little flair.  This one, with the edging a little wider, is 2 1/4" wide.

I used a bracelet blank this time.  I have to tell you, though, that I was a little disappointed when I got them.  They are 6" long, and the opening gap is so big that it falls right off.  My solution was to put two buttons on one side with two strings of beads and loops on the other just for security.  Next time I'm going to custom order them at 7".

I know I've got things to work on, like not being afraid to trim closer to the blank and making my picot edge stitch more even.  All in all, though, I'm happy with it.  I hope she likes it!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What an amazing day!

Yesterday I had the best day.  I spent the afternoon having one-on-one bead time with Robin Atkins!  She was in the Phoenix area on vacation with her husband, and I live just a hop-skip away from where they were staying.  If you've never met Robin, I have to tell you that she is one of the warmest, kindest people I have ever met.  It was a lot of fun because not only were we beading, but she also had some great stories to tell. 

She asked me to bring all my embroidery work, and I had to blush a lot because she was so complimentary of what I had to show her.  She is my bead idol, and to get such praise on my work from her was like winning an Oscar! 

I met her husband, Robert, too, and although I didn't spend a lot of time with him, you can tell right away that he is a lot of fun to be around.  They make a great couple! 

I felt so fortunate to be able to sit with her for a few hours.  I learned a couple great beading tips along the way, too.  She was working on some spirit dolls in the most fun fabrics of vegetable prints to go with a towel and pot holder set.  They were pretty great!  Robin is such a talented lady, but more importantly she is just an awesome person to be around.  You can't help but feel happy when with her. 

I had an amazing day!!!

Robin Atkins

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Waaaaaaaaay back in September '09 my dad wired me money to buy beads for some loom projects for him.  He lives down in Mexico and wanted something Mexican and oceany to go in his beach house.  I had a hard time finding pics that would fit the bill, but I found these two, one of a photograph of a Mexican beach and a painting called Mexican Riviera.  He said yes to both.  I didn't have any projects to work on at the time, and I just loved looming, so I was very excited not only to get some projects to do, but also to make something special for my dad.  Did you catch the part where I said September of last year???  It has taken me 6 freaking months to do these two pictures for him!  I have felt so terrible about them taking so long. 

Well, I took Robin Atkins' two day class on bead embroidery the first weekend of October and I HAD to do some more of that...right away...a lot!  I got the beach and palm tree done pretty quickly.  It is 7" x 5.25" and uses 35 colors (10,080 beads).  I think this one only took me 2 or 3 weeks.  That's because I got a good jump on it before Robin's class.  So I finished it and then started the Riviera, but it just went so slowly.  The Riviera is 6.5" x 8.5" uses 51 colors and 14,976 beads.  I had such a hard time with this one for some reason.  Maybe because it had so many colors.  I would get to the end of the row and I'd be 1 bead short, or 1 bead too many and I'd have to rip out the row until I found the mistake and then redo the row.  It seemed like I was ripping and redoing as many as I was getting right.  And I got so incredibly frustrated with it.  I just couldn't keep my concentration.  Then the BJP started, and of course I HAD to do that.  And my dad kept saying, "There's no rush.  Take your time."  But I couldn't help from feeling guilty.  So in the beginning of February I decided I have GOT to get this done for him.  So I worked very diligently.  I forced myself to concentrate.  And I was getting into a really good groove.  I was feeling good about things.  Then one day my darling Sara (see previous post for a cute pic) was dancing and spinning around in the kitchen.  My bead tray was hanging off the edge of the counter just a little bit, and WHAM!  She knocked it and all the beads went flying EVERYWHERE!  All 50 or so colors of them.  That day I had one of the worst anxiety attacks I've ever had.  It was so bad I wanted to go to the hospital and beg for a sedative.  It lasted 9.5 hours.  Sara came up to me as I was sitting there in shock in horror and with the saddest little puppy dog eyes she said, "I'm sorry Mommy."  All I could do was take her into my arms and hug and console her.  And she burst into tears.  I think she felt almost as bad as I did.  So the next day I had to chop down the pattern to the row I was on and rework how many beads of what colors I needed to rebuy to finish this project.

Well I finished the beading about 2 weeks ago.  Then I had to weave in all the ends.  And that was taking forever.  Last night I finally finished the top side.  And this morning I was bound and determined...dammit, I'm going to get this thing done!  So I sat ALL day weaving in ends...and I finished!  And the skies opened up and the angels started singing.  Ok, not really, but in my mind they were! 

I took some pics for you to see.  I'm a little bit unhappy with the pics.  They weren't laying nice and flat.  In actuality, they are very nice and square and evenly measured from top to bottom.  In the pics they're not lying smooth and don't look as good as they do in person.  But I'm not going to keep messing with it.  You'll get the idea.  So here they are...The Beach and Mexican Riviera for my dad...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On A Roll

My adorable 8 year old daughter, Sara, always watches over my shoulder when I bead.  And she always says how I need to make her something.  After all, I've made Sami (my 14 year old daughter) several things.  I have actually made Sara a few things, like a little loomed coin purse with her name and several square-stitched bracelets.  But her memory is short.  Very short. lol.  So I decided to make her an embroidered bracelet.  (I had so much fun with the first one!)  I bought a little package of doodads from Joann's in fun, happy, summery colors...they remind me of a swimming pool and green grass.  Although, living in the desert I can only dream of the soft green grass in the midwest. 

She wasn't home when I cut the felt, so I guesstimated.  Guess what!  You shouldn't guesstimate.  I got it too short.  BUT...I had already started the beading, and I was not going to rip it all out.  When the beading was done, I made a an extension with the beaded loop for the button, and I think it looks like an "on purpose" instead of fixing a mistake.  This was rather challenging.  The beaded area was very small...5.5" x .75", and I wanted to make it look "fancy" for her with different doodads.  Of course, she wanted them all, but they just wouldn't fit.  I made this one symmetrical, unlike my first venture, and used just a few doodads in different styles and colors.  It's backed with soft tan microsuede and finished with a picot stitch around the edges, which I think I did a better, more even job of this time around.

I think it's very cute for a little girl!  What do you think?  (You can click on the pics for a larger view.)  Oh, haha, I told her to take it off for a minute so I could photograph it.  She kind of panicked and said, "You aren't going to sell it, are you!?"  No, punkin, I'm not selling your bracelet.


The modified, extended loop makes it fit just perfect.  Now if I can just convince her not to grow anymore!

Sara, my happy camper!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I did it!!!

I did my first cuff bracelet!  I had no clue as to what I was doing most of the way through it, from buying the foundation materials, to the closure, to the backing, to the picot stitch all the way around to sew the front and back together...but I managed to get one done!  woohoo for me!  The pictures didn't show the colors so well, but the main focal beads are sort of a mossy green with brown spots.  I used some awesome bugle beads from Fusion Beads that are silver-lined transparent brown...they are kind of a cross between brown and copper.  Very neat.  I used Czech chocolate mud pie mix, some different shades of green in 11/0 and 15/0, a package of coordinating doodads and some coppers. I used microsuede to back it, and stiff felt for the foundation.

This was my first time doing peyote stitch around the focal bead.  I usually use tall stacks, so that was a first.  Also, it was my first time using the picot stitch to sew the front and back together.  So this was a journey in firsts for me!  Which is why I'm calling this bracelet "Journeys". 

I liked this piece because it is not symmetrical and has interesting things to look at.  What are your opinions?

The other issue for me was size.  I used myself as a dummy for sizing, which probably isn't a good idea.  I'm a big girl.  Whereas my wrist is only 6.5", this bracelet measures 2 1/4" wide, which means it's going up my arm.  That's where the problem came in.  It fits a little loose on me, but it is 10" long!!!  I see bracelets that are 7" on average, which would fit just my wrist, but being so wide I had an issue.  What are the standards for bracelets?  My daughter is average with skinny wrists.  She can fit it closed over her hand and it fits very loose on her.

I really enjoyed making this cuff, so thank you, Carol, for making my mind up for me!  I would like to make more, but I would really like to hear your feedback, kudos and criticisms on what I did right and what I did wrong.  Be honest!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Signs of a Bead Addict?

(*update 6/19/10...for those of you coming to me from Google, Yahoo, or some other search engine...I do not know why the engines give most of you this particular post even though it has nothing to do with what you were searching for.  On the lower part of the side bar you will see a topic list.  That might help find something on my blog.  Also, if you have ANY questions about bead embroidery, bracelets, etc., i will be MORE than happy to answer your questions.  My email link is on the right side toolbar too.  Just drop me a line.  Happy reading!!!)

Well, I've FINALLY finished the beading on a hard (for me) loom project that I've been working on for months, I've finished March's BJP already, I'm waiting on TWO orders from Artbeads.com (one for the blogging community and one because they were having an awesome March Madness sale), and I'm feeling Lost and Lonely without any projects to do.  I'm wandering around aimlessly, continuously coming back to stare longingly at my stash.

I'd like to try some new things, like a bead embroidery cuff bracelet, but I've no idea really how to back it or add a clasp (or what kind of clasp to add for that matter); I want to try a beaded box, but am looking at the pattern with a blank stare and don't know how to start.  grrrr! 

Anyways, so I had to touch and play with my beads somehow, some way.  So what do I do?  I sort!  I've got all my colors sorted in separate freezer bags (because I have no other system) and then I've got another bag for doodads.  That's what I call the interesting little focal pieces and add-ons that are not regular seed beads...doodads.  It's a very technical term, I know.  But given that I don't have THAT many beads, I finished pretty quickly.  Now I'm left feeling lost and lonely without my beads again.  I think I'm an addict...I'm going through withdrawals.   Now I'm again wandering aimlessly, staring longingly at my stash; waiting to feel the tiny, smooth beads in my fingers again, stitching away on a new project.  Either I need a "fix" or I need a cure.  I would prefer a fix.