Sunday, October 9, 2016

Honk If You Love Car Parts!

Who doesn't love a good flea market?

Pasadena's Rose Bowl Flea Market, held once a month, is a treasure trove of goodies for jewelry makers. When I stroll through flea markets, thrift stores, collectibles shops, and so on, I keep an eye out for bargains that can be turned into nontraditional jewelry components.

This necklace is a fine example.

I scrounged a magnetic metal letter "P" from a bowl of auto bits and pieces at one dealer's booth a couple of years ago. Although I didn't have an immediate vision for it, I liked it and knew it held possibilities. One would have been a fridge magnet, for instance. Another would be holding important papers on the front of my file cabinet or as a gift tag on a wrapped present.

This necklace came about from upcycled parts: an old ball chain and the thrifted letter, joined by a simple (strong) jump ring. It's a fun nod to automotive interests and old-model cars and a unisex jewelry piece.

What do you have sitting around that would make an interesting piece of jewelry?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Recycled Halloween?

My crafty crafter friends, if you have vinyl/vulcanite disk beads (from recycled record album material! How cool is that?), here's a fun bracelet to make for Halloween. :-) This idea is easy to adapt for any season or holiday, too. Just vary the vinyl disk color. (You can do this with sequins as well--stack them on memory wire. They appear almost translucent.) I buy these vinyl disk beads at

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Fall Frolic Bracelet, Deconstructed

For each of the past five years, as autumn began dropping hints that she was on her way, I've enjoyed making a variation or two of the Fall Frolic Bracelet. (I sell kits for them too, here.)

This beauty is tougher than she looks: With a memory wire base, she can survive countless on-and-offs, even if they're not as gentle as they might be.

I like to use about 4 loops of memory wire, always cutting it with heavy-duty wire cutters from our garage workshop and not my jewelry wire cutters. (Memory wire is made of stainless steel, which can trash regular jewelry wire cutters.) I also cup (with my free hand) the place where I make the cut on the memory wire (to prevent anything sharp from flying free), and I shield my eyes. 

Along with memory wire (gold-plated, silver-plated, stainless steel finish, whatever), I use the following supplies: black or brown neoprene or rubber tubing, copper-plated coiled wire beads in varying sizes, stone beads in carnelian, agate or other fall colors, and glass beads in assorted sizes, also in fall colors. It's nice to include a few faceted ones, either in stone or glass. 

I cut the black tubing into different lengths to fit onto the memory wire between groups of beads. When working with memory wire, I like to start somewhere near the middle of the coils and work out from there so I'm not sliding every component along the full length of the piece. I slide a piece of tubing on, add a group of beads to my liking, and slide on another piece of tubing, making sure that the tubes and beads fit snugly next to each other - no gaps! As the tubes and beads near either end of the memory wire, I use round nose pliers to curl one end of the wire so the beads don't slide off. Fill up the entire length of the memory wire, varying the bead groupings if you like. It's fun to add a little themed charm to dangle from either end - or both! Be sure that the dangle can't slide off the curled end of the bracelet.

This is an easy design to adapt to Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, etc. It's a great way to use just a few beads to create a multi-loop bracelet too. 

Have fun! Send me a picture to share if you make your own Fall Frolic Bracelet!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Three of my entries are up for voting in BeadStar Contest 2012!

I'm having a hard time writing this because I'm giddy with excitement. Out of my six entries, three of my pieces are among the top 20 in each category for BeadStar 2012!

Votes are what will carry each work to the next round. Beading friends, I'm asking you to take a look at my pieces, and if you do like them, please vote for them! Vote for all your favorite entries in each category while you're on the site! :-)

Note: You need to sign in to Beading Daily to vote. If you're not already a member, I recommend becoming one. You get access to lots of patterns and ideas!

You can see my Pearls entry at: Pearls and Abalone. My Plastics entry is at: Green Goes 'round and 'round. My Stones entry can be found at: Turquoise Retro Style.

Thank you for your support. I'll be glad you help you in contests, as well!

Happy beading,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Mango Beads' "Trash to Treasure" contest, and lessons learned


After a hiatus from blogging, I'm back with an exciting announcement: It's time for Happy Mango Beads' "Trash to Treasure" beading contest!

This is a fun one, with categories such as "Trash to Cash" (paper, plastic, bottle caps, etc.) and "Scrap Metal" (metal, old keys, chain, etc.). Prizes are gift certificates for Happy Mango Bead products.

The deadline is May 13th, so put on your thinking cap, create a new piece and enter it!

Lessons learned in a beading class. . .

Okay, I won't say that everything I ever needed to know, I learned from beading. But I did learn some valuable lessons the other evening when I taught a beading class. It was a class on making a simple strung bracelet. Simple? Not necessarily. Here's what I took away:

 - 25 people is probably too big a group for one instructor unless you have a giant projection screen up front.

 - Don't teach crimping to 25 people at once (without said giant projection screen) and expect them to be able to crimp their own bracelets just like that.

 - Do call on friends to serve as assistants who can travel around the tables and help beginning beaders.

 - Put your handouts (with instructions to follow at home, coupon code for your Etsy shop, contact info, etc.) by the exit door, not in the opposite corner.

 - Don't set up your own station in the darkest corner of the room.

 - Don't open a tube of crimp beads while standing up and then bend over to pick up something from the floor. . .

 - Repeat people's names when you are introduced; this can help you remember them later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bead an Adjustable Ring

Since I don't have a ring sizing stick, adjustable rings are a nice finding to use. I've picked up a couple of kinds - ones with different numbers of loops on top for attaching stones or beads, and ones with a flat metal surface on top for gluing on bezels, stones, etc.

This ring, which I call Funderella, is based on a looped adjustable ring with a silverplated finish. Its frou-frou look reminds me of cocktail rings my mother used to wear for dressy affairs.

It's easy, albeit not fast, to make. I took short silverplated headpins and wrapped Czech pressed-glass flowers, then attached them to the loops with simple wire wraps.

You can make these in a huge variety of color combinations. What about a Valentine's Day ring in an explosion of reds? Wedding party rings that coordinate with the wedding colors? A patriotic burst of red, white and blue?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Bag of Inspiration

A few weeks ago, my "tip of the day" was about assembling bead kits to supplement your jewelry sales. As I looked at the pictures of one kit I'd put together and listed on Etsy, I realized that selling kits is about more than making money.

It's about inspiring another beader - or even introducing someone to the art (and pleasure!) of beading.

Getting a kit with colors, shapes and sizes already chosen is a great way for someone who's new to beading to dig into the craft. Too many choices can be overwhelming, as one of my close friends says when we go to bead shops together. She likes to ask for suggestions in choosing her beads because - although she creates truly beautiful pieces - she doesn't trust her own instincts when it comes to picking out the materials. Kits are a nice option for someone like her.

Another benefit of putting together kits is that you get to exercise your own eye for color and form in a relaxed way. As you sort through your beads and find ones you're willing to part with to create a kit, you may find yourself feeling inspired all over again by your bead stash.

Then, too, it's surprising what you turn up as you dig through boxes and drawers, too! When I put together kits a couple of weeks ago, magnetic clasps I'd been looking for turned up in bags from shopping trips I'd made months ago and never sorted into my beading drawers!

Although I've got a huge supply of beads, the next time I'm feeling uninspired, I may purchase a kit from someone else. How fun to craft a piece from someone else's creative choices! :-)