Archive for July, 2012

Misty Monday

Monday, July 30th, 2012

misty monday kitty seed bead bagIt is a cool misty morning. As I look out my window I see that the trees in the distance have faded to a light pastel blue-green. The sidewalk is a little damp, and the merest whisper of a mist is falling ever so gently. Maybe I can finish the strap in the next few days and start working on the fringe. Here is what I have done so far.

I love the kitty cat theme for my seed bead work – especially when I’m in a quiet morning beading mood. You can see a couple of other variations on this theme in my Rainy Monday post.

Oop! Here comes the sun, so I’ll pick this up when it’s misty again.

(Photo updated as of August 22)

by Beverly

Summer Care for Silk Thread & Beads

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

summer jewelry no-nosIt’s summer and the sunshine means lots of sunscreen – not a good mix with silk thread. Silk thread doesn’t mix well with perfume, makeup, hairspray, hair gels and treatments. Even water is hard on silk thread, so be sure to remove your jewelry when you shower or swim. Remove it when you’re having your hair done. A good rule of thumb I heard is, “Put your jewelry on last and take it off first.”

I know we ladies don’t sweat – we “glow.” Well, that glow is acidic, so keep an eye on your jewelry and clean it regularly. Wipe real pearls with a damp cloth, and glass pearls with a dry cloth. Don’t use any harsh soaps or cleaners on any type of pearl, because you might ruin the nacre or equivalent faux finish. If you aren’t sure if your pearls are real, only clean with a dry soft cloth to be safe.

Swarovski crystal beads and pendants are durable. If they are strung on wire instead of silk, it’s okay to wash them with water and a soft cloth or a soft toothbrush. If they are on thread, string or soft cable – just use a soft dry cloth and no water.

Another popular summer bead is the color-changing mirage bead – also known as the mood bead. According to the manufacturers, mirage beads shouldn’t be immersed in water. So wear and clean mood beads with the same care as you would your glass pearl or silk strung necklaces.

by Beverly

How Do You Organize Other Types of Beads?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

This post is in response to Kristy’s comments on my Organize Your Beads post.

Kristy asked, “How do you organize other types of beads, i.e., glass, crystal, gems, metal, etc.? They come in all shapes and sizes, so they need different size containers, etc. I have so much invested in containers, trying to keep mine somewhat organized, but it still seems to be a struggle for me. Maybe I should quit buying more beads…..no, I don’t think that’s the answer! Also, chain.”

Big beads and large amounts of beads can be awkward. That’s when I go to inserts for my trays. They are sized to fit the standard jewelry trays I use and have internal dividers. Here are some pictures, so you can see how they work. I also rely on baggies. These don’t last for more than a few years, so they should not be used for long-term storage – but they are handy for temporary storage until you find the right container.

tray inserts for bead organization

I used to have the beads in tackle boxes, but my collection outgrew even the big ones early on. Most of all, be creative and keep your eyes open for a method that works for your beads.

Thank you for your comments, Kristy. I hope this helps.

by Beverly

Carnelian Agate Gemstone

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

carnelian-stone-beadsCarnelian is the red form of chalcedony. It can be found in a variety of shades – from light ochre to rich bright Chinese red to reddish brown. Often carnelian will be banded with several shades in a single stone. This is a hard stone but not brittle like many others. Carnelian can be carved with a little effort and takes a polish well, and it has been prized by both ancient and modern people for its beauty and durability. A longtime favorite for its natural beauty, some of the earliest carnelian beads found date back to at least 2500 BC.

The Romans used carnelian for signet stones, which is a stone with a design carved into it and set into a ring. The signet ring was worn by the paterfamilias as a badge of authority over all of the members of his family. Paterfamilias is a Latin word that means “head of the house” or “father of the house.” The paterfamilias was the oldest and wisest male of the family. That’s right, women were not equal partners in the Roman world back then. The neat thing about carnelian is that it doesn’t stick to wax, making it perfect as a signet ring for sealing and authenticating documents.

Metaphysically, carnelian is believed to have a grounding energy, enhance creativity and boost physical vitality.

Mohs scale hardness: 6 to 7

by Beverly

Types of Seed Beads

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Seed Bead TypesSeed beads are those tiny beads that were first made around 1550 in Venice, Italy. They were a less expensive replacement for seed pearls, which were a very popular ornament for high-fashion clothing worn by the very rich. The real pearls were remarkably rare and expensive.

A hundred years later, the French made slightly larger beads called rocailles, which were faster and easier to make than the original seed beads. These days the difference is not considered, and the terms seed and rocaille both refer to the same type of bead.

Some beads got modified by having a facet ground into one side. They reflect light and have a definite sparkle. These are called charlotte beads.

In 1575 the English made bugle beads. These are very different and are made from tubes of leaded glass. A silver lining makes them sparkle. Bugle beads are longer than they are wide and come in a variety of lengths. Be careful – sometimes they have sharp edges.

Cylinder beads have straight walls and large holes. The early ones were very large and were known as pony beads. The Native Americans often wove them into their ponies’ manes – hence the name.

Please keep in mind that all of these beads were made by hand and required lots of time and attention to detail. They were an expensive luxury. It was not until the early 1800s that seed beads could be made by machines. Mass production reduced the cost considerably.

In 1983, the Japanese Miyuki company introduced tiny cylinders called delicas. You can read about how Miyuki seed beads are made in the Harlequin Beads bead library. You can see additional variations like tila, hex, cube and triangle in Harlequin’s seed bead section.

by Beverly

When to Use Stretch Magic Cord

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Sample bracelets strung with Stretch MagicUse Stretch Magic cord for stringing bracelets and anklets when you want to avoid adding a clasp. You can use it to make rings, too.

This stretchy cord is so simple to use. You don’t need a needle or pliers. You string beads on the cord and finish your jewelry piece by tying a neat and tidy square knot – right over left, and left over right – then dabbing a little glue or clear nail polish to secure the knot. Let the glue/nail polish dry and snip off the extra cord with scissors – the only tool you’ll need besides your own hands.

Your finished piece will slip on and off like a breeze. If and when your stretchy jewelry breaks, you can restring it in minutes – and Stretch Magic is super affordable.

The drying time for the glue/nail polish is the only part that requires time, but the bracelets are otherwise completed in minutes.

I never worked with stretchy cord before, because stretch bracelets weren’t my style. I recently picked up a spool of this stringing material for my mom’s sake. She casually mentioned one day that she couldn’t wear many of her favorite bracelets anymore. She reminded me that she’s now 81 years old with arthritis in her hands, and she simply can’t work those small clasps anymore.

I restrung one bracelet on Stretch Magic cord. As is my habit, I had to restring it a second time with extra spacers, because I miscalculated the length the first time. Argh! I think I shaved a couple minutes off during my second attempt. I immediately felt like a stretchy-bracelet expert.

I’ve strung quite a few stretch bracelets now, including one for myself with double-drilled beads I’d had lying around for a few years. Every time, I’m delighted with the result. I’ll try not to get too dependent on the stretchy stuff.

Stretch Magic Bead & Jewelry Cord is a strong yet light-weight stretchy cord used for making bracelets, anklets and rings – a great choice for easy jewelry and beaded craft projects. This is the preferred stretch cord used by beaders, because it is non-fading, resilient, non-cracking and is available in different thicknesses for small or large beads. Not only is Stretch Magic easy to work and knot, it’s so comfortable to wear.

All of the bracelet kits pictured can be found in Harlequin’s jewelry-design-ideas section, along with illustrations and instructions on how to make each piece.

by Margit

Organize Your Beads

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

“Where are my Miyuki 310 black matte beads?!!”

It was 4 AM on a Sunday morning, and I’d been beading all night. Now, I was looking for some matte black delicas to finish a project. Where were they?!! I couldn’t find them anywhere. They had to be there somewhere!

Well, I turned the house upside down, and when my husband John came home from a field exercise, he found me in tears with little bags of beads all over the living room. He had been in the desert for two weeks and came home filthy and exhausted. That great man was so calm and understanding. All he did was wrap me in his arms and start to laugh.

Here we were. We could face instantaneous deployments, long overseas separations, change-of-station orders telling us we had to move with a week’s notice – all faced with a calm demeanor – yet here I was crying because I couldn’t find the beads I wanted. We held on to one another till I couldn’t cry anymore and had to start laughing, too.

That was the day the spreadsheets began. (more…)