How Do You Organize Other Types of Beads?

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

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

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

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Beginning Beading Video – Classic Knotted Silk Pearl Necklace

June 27th, 2012

If you’ve never made a classic knotted silk pearl necklace, you’re in luck. We have a how-to video you can watch anytime that is like a Beading 101 class. It’s short and sweet, and you can watch it as many times as you need to complete your first masterpiece.

You’ll need: Read the rest of this entry »

Lady Angela at Oregon Country Fair

June 20th, 2012

Angela was a Fair goer long before she opened shop there. She especially loves the parades and recalls the enchanting gnome parade she once happened upon with her good buddy, Harlequin Lady Nome. Every year Angela looks forward to munching out at her favorite food booth, the Golden Avatar, where tasty Indian cuisine is served up by the Hari Krishnas. Her most memorable experience was being approached one year by a Psychedelic Flower at sunset, an enlightening encounter and magical conversation that left an indelible impression on her forever. Read the rest of this entry »

A Family Affair at Oregon Country Fair

June 18th, 2012

For 35 years and counting, Harlequin Lady Michele has been holding court at her Oregon Country Fair booth. At the spunky age of 15, she waltzed into the WOW Hall in Eugene and forked over her forty dollars to register a booth for her mom to showcase her oil paintings. The following year, Michele spread out her jewelry at mom’s table and, at that point, pretty much took over responsibility for their annual booth. Four beautiful bouncing babies, a marital makeover, and many enriching years later, Michele loves hanging out and selling at the Country Fair more than ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Following in her Daughter’s Footsteps

June 14th, 2012

Meet Adrianna from our Tuesday Beading Circle. For years, whenever her daughter came to visit her from Idaho, Adrianna brought her to Harlequin for beads and supplies. About a year and a half ago, her daughter finally convinced her to try beading herself. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cup of Thread

June 13th, 2012

I work primarily with seed beads and go through a lot of thread. Now I get thread on big spools, but for a while I had trouble with the thread getting tangled every time I pulled a length of thread. Then one day a friend said I should put the spool upside down in a coffee cup and draw the thread from the bottom of the spool. What?!! That sounds crazy! I tried it, and it works really well.

Cup of Thread beading tip

Drop your thread down through the spool with a bit to spare. Place the spool upside down in a cup and draw the thread out through the base of the spool. The weight of the spool will keep the thread from unraveling. I also like to keep a pair of scissors in the cup, so it’s always ready to use. These pink scissors were a garage sale find long ago and are my favorites.

by Beverly