Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yippee! A Contest Win!

I found out yesterday that my entry in the Happy Mango Beads "Bead My Valentine" contest won the "Second Time Around" (recycled/repurposed) category! Yippee!! After seeing the many amazing entries, I didn't think I'd be bringing home a prize in this contest.

Here's the necklace. I cut strips of sari fabric and anchored them in ribbon ends, then added dangles made of vintage Lucite beads, huge Swarovski glass pearls, metal charms, and one small heart in the center.

You can view all of the winning entries here: Bead My Valentine Contest Winners 2012.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Memory Keepers

Apologies in advance for the Very Bad Picture Quality. . .

A year or so ago, my friend Cilla gave me a big plastic bag filled with jewelry in varying stages of repair and including many different styles of beads. The jewelry had been her mother's, who passed away in the last few years. Cilla's request: Custom-make a piece of jewelry for each of eight women in her family, plus one toddler.

Have you ever been rarin' to go on a project, yet overwhelmed by the choices at the same time? What direction to take?? Which beads to favor over others?? How to accommodate the different ladies' preferences for styles, colors and actual piece of jewelry (necklace vs. bracelet, earrings only, hippy vs. uptown girl, one request for a Gothic Lolita style)? And what to make for a toddler that I would consider safe from swallowing or breaking??

I dug in, starting with the piece of my dreams--a knobbly necklace made of round beads for one of the adult women in her family.

As I finished each piece, I emailed a photo to Cilla to make sure I was on track.

Despite the blurry photos (my ace photographer, aka teenaged son, wasn't available at the drop of a hat), Cilla sent back encouraging replies.

I was still flummoxed over what to make for the little girl. Finally, I took a wire snowflake ornament form and filled it with blue and crystal-clear beads from her grandmother and lots of smaller beads from my supplies, then added a pretty ribbon.

I sent off the finished collection and heard back that the recipients were delighted. After listening carefully to each of Cilla's requests, it seemed that I had nailed this very important commission.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another contest to win beads at Happy Mango Beads!

Fellow beaders, not only is Happy Mango Beads about to announce the winners of their "Bead My Valentine" contest, but they're currently holding a contest in which some happy beader will win a bunch of beads! Hop over to Happy Mango Beads to enter their Mardi Gras contest.

May I say that winning prizes in individual categories in two of their past contests encouraged me hugely to keep beading and selling my work? We all need a boost sometimes. If you're even a teensy bit hesitant about entering your work in contests or submitting it for publication in magazines, WADDYA WAITIN' FOR?? If not now, when?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Silk Necklaces?

For the past couple of years, every time I saw a project idea that included supplies from Ornamentea, I checked out their site but didn't buy anything. Finally, the week before last, I surfed their tutorials and project ideas, then their sale items (naturally) and then their other listings.

Many of their sale items were sold out, but I did pick up a cute brass bulldog charm and some other goodies at nice prices. I also ordered a few lengths of dupioni silk ribbon at regular prices to use as stringing material.

What is dupioni, you may be wondering? I did, so I looked it up. "Dupioni" (sometimes spelled "duppioni" and "doupioni") comes from the Italian word "doppio," which means "double." If I understand correctly, that's because this fabric is made from the silk of two silkworms that have spun a cocoon together. Dupioni silk has variations in thickness, along with bits of cocoon left in the silk, which result in a nubby texture in the finished cloth. It's also woven with two threads. The finished cloth is sturdier than some other types of silk.

Dupioni silk - and any silk, really, I think - is gorgeous. Editorial note: I researched whether silk worms are killed when their cocoons are unravelled. Sadly, yes: The majority of silk worms are killed to obtain the cocoon, but a small percentage are left to live on. I now rank silk right up there with pearls when it comes to luxury materials that come with a high price on a few levels. (See my posting on pearls below.)

I will use it with respect.

The necklace below was inspired by a design I've seen in a couple of jewelry-making magazines and by ideas posted on Ornamentea's blog. I tried it first with strips of sari fabric I'd been storing for years, but they frayed much faster than the dupioni.

Have you made something similar? Send a good photo and I'll post it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snappy Chic

There's something very satisfying about finding odds and ends around the house and garage and incorporating them in jewelry. I enjoy putting together charm bracelets with unexpected materials - in this case, betel nut beads, old keys and toolbox finds, and big clothing snaps, all mixed together with lots of pretty glass and plastic beads.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love, Simply

A kindly shopkeeper (sounds like the beginning of a Dickens novel. . .) gave me a deal on some pale pink tape binding, which she had treated to give it a wrinkled finish. I held onto it for a few months until today. As I was paging through a magazine of necklace ideas, I was wishing I had the silk ribbon specified for a particular project, then remembered the pink binding. . .

With lots of changes (different beads, different ribbon, different closure), here is what I made. I call it "Love, Simply."
Love, Simply

If you're inspired by this design to create something, please send me a picture and I'll post it here. If you're selling it online, send me a link and I'll post that!

Have fun!