Posts Tagged ‘seed beads’

Beading Helped Me Survive Chemo

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

We’ve all heard the horror stories about cancer.

I also have a story to tell, but my story has a little twist to it. Not only do I have the good fortune to be able to brag about being a two-time cancer survivor, but I also get to tell you about a remarkable gift that was given to me by cancer. Sure, I have the life-altering new outlook on life that many cancer survivors have, but I also have the gift of beads and how they have changed my life.

When I was first diagnosed in 2009, I was briefed by my doctor about the different treatments I was to go through – surgery, chemo and radiation. He explained all of them to me in depth, but what kept resounding in my head as I drove home were his words about chemo. I’d have to sit in a recliner for up to five hours while I got my chemo drip every three weeks.

Five hours! I dread boredom. What was I to do for five hours? So, I went to the bookstore to see if I could find an engrossing novel that was a minimum of 3,000 pages. What I found instead was The Art of Bead Embroidery by Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kummli.

Art Deco Seed Bead Embroidery Piece by CenyaI’ve always been artsy-craftsy, and I have embroidered my fair share. I’ve loved seed beads ever since my mother bought me my first tube when I was six or seven years old (the tubes were glass then). As I leafed through the book, I found lots of beautiful beadwork and simple-to-follow directions to create each project. I bought the book, stopped by Harlequin Beads to pick out some seed beads and supplies and put everything in a bag to take to my first chemo session.

I found that I LOVED beading. During those first eight chemo sessions, I made over 125 beaded brooches and gave them all away to friends and supporters who had helped me through my treatment. Afterwards, I kept beading. I joined the Beading Circle at Harlequin and, since I was starting to feel like I had gotten quite good at it, I started selling a few of my pieces on Etsy and to friends. In the spring of 2011, I was invited to share a booth at our local Saturday Market in Eugene – a thriving microcosm of wonderful artisans.

I was selling each week and enjoying it immensely when I was hit by a return of the cancer. So, I went through more surgery and more chemo – and my beads went with me.

Featured Artist Cenya at ArtWalk 2012I just had my 6-month scan and I am cancer-free. I bead almost every day, and this year I’ve been at my Saturday Market booth every weekend. I was the guest artist at Harlequin Beads during one of Lane Arts Council’s First Friday ArtWalks. I love my connection with other local artists and the time I spend in my bead room stitching away at some little beaded something.

I feel very calm while I bead and believe that my healing was helped by it. I doubt that I would have gotten into beading if I hadn’t had cancer, because my job ate up all of my time. I would never wish cancer upon anyone, but if they were to get it, I hope that they could find a gift in it as I have.

by Cenya

Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Feature at Harlequin

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Harlequin is featuring a Think Pink Bead Special to inspire you to show your support. Create some meaningful pink beaded jewelry to wear and give as gifts to those who share your hope for a cure.

Mala Beads for Design and Prayer

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

rudraksha seed and wood mala beadsMalas can have 54 or 27 beads, but they typically have 108 beads and are traditionally used in Buddhism for praying and counting recitations. The mala is comparable to a Catholic rosary, which has 59 beads.

Stacy tells me that Buddhists actually keep track of their recitations throughout their practice, and some malas have counters on them. Your guru may tell you to do a recitation one million times, and the extra 8 beads are for good measure in case you missed a few.

We’ve just added these Rudraksha seed and wood mala beads to Harlequin’s wood bead section. You can also wear mala beads as a necklace, or take apart the strand and combine the beads with other complementary beads in your jewelry designs. The sandalwood varieties even have a wonderful scent.

I love using wood beads in my designs, because they date so far back in history. When I wear earthy wood, seed and stone beads – I feel like I’m following the well-worn paths of ancient footsteps. Beverly shares my appreciation of wood beads and has contributed a couple of wonderful articles to our bead library about the history of wood beads and how to make wood beads yourself.

I associate the intrinsic beauty of natural wood and seed beads with fall. Imagine earthy natural stones combined with wood – especially brown, green and rust colored jasper and agate beads. Wood and stone beads work well with silver, gold, copper, bronze, brass and gunmetal – so you can really achieve a variety of jewelry styles. And all of these organic colors work beautifully with the rich, warm earth tones of your autumn wardrobe.

This summer I made a couple of sweet pieces with dark wood, turquoise and mirage mood beads, antique copper chain and findings. Another of my favorite combinations is almost-black, dark brown wood with sterling silver beads and findings.

I hope you’ll explore some new looks with wood and feel a connection with your earliest ancestors.

by Margit

Muggy Monday

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Completed Misty Monday Kitty seed bead bagThe temperature has dropped, but the humidity is way up. It was like this last night, too. I decided to stay in next to the air conditioner. The heat and humidity just drains all my energy. All I want to do is to sit in the cool and bead.

Wow, the strap is done! When did that happen? Maybe during NCIS? Guess I was on auto-pilot last night and finished the strap while I was watching TV.

Here is Mysti Kitty, done and ready to wear.

by Beverly

(Beverly has been working on this seed bead purse during the occasional misty days of summer.)

The Casino Bag

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Casino Bag Seed BeadworkI love casinos. Well, I love casinos that have buffets. Hmm, almost. I love big fancy buffets in casinos. That’s more like it. It’s the food that gets me into a casino, and the games are a definite second.

My sweetie and I used to take long drives all over Oregon. We would spend hours just watching the scenery go by and finding new restaurants. That was when we found out about casino buffets. They were big, fancy and had really good food – cheap.

John didn’t gamble, but I like penny slots. He would watch me play, shake his head in complete bewilderment and smile. He never did understand that it wasn’t the thought of winning big that made me happy. It was the flashing lights and spinning wheels that I found fascinating.

Well, one time we were at a casino (I think it was Spirit Mountain) and looking forward to an early dinner about four o’clock in the afternoon. I had a new amulet bag that looked just like a slot machine. The pattern came from Suzanne Cooper’s book Dimensions. It was gorgeous, and it felt good just playing with that ample jingly fringe I’d put on it.

There was a couple behind us in line for the buffet, and the lady asked about my bag. Well, if you know me, you know I can’t keep quiet about bead work. We started talking about beads, pouches – all sorts of things – and all the while she was fondling my casino bag as it hung around my neck on its long strap.

John and I went to our table, the couple behind us went to theirs. John and I talked a lot during dinner and it took awhile before we finished. The desserts were super good, and the coffee was very fresh. Well, the couple I had been talking to quickly finished dinner and went back to gaming.

Just as we left the restaurant area, the lady I had been talking to rushed up to me and said, “That bag is so lucky, I have to have it! How much do you want for it?” She was very excited, and I was quite startled and started to back up. She stepped right up again and, before I knew what was happening, she had a hold of the bag. At this point I was more than a little flustered, and if John hadn’t been standing right behind me, I would have bolted for the door. Being the calmer and more sensible one, John held me by the shoulders and whispered in my ear, “If you don’t want to sell it, set a really high price.” While this was happening, the lady was chattering about how much she loved the bag and how perfect it was. It was beautiful and on and on and on.

Okay, I can adjust on the fly. I took a deep breath and said, “I can’t part with it for less than eight hundred dollars.” I really thought she would be sad and go away.

Boy was I surprised when she asked, “Are hundreds okay?” I think I froze. I certainly didn’t know what to say. John came to my rescue again. He whispered, “You know, you can make another one.”

Suddenly, it hit me. Bead money! Yes, I can sell my work – if it means I can buy more beads!

I soon made another casino bag, and it was just as much fun to make as the first one. I’m not so flustered about selling my work now. It’s still a thrill when someone likes my work well enough to pay for it, but I still mostly bead for the love of beading. When I wear my beaded bags and pouches, they still make great conversation pieces. And who doesn’t love a great conversation?

by Beverly

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

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

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…)

A Family Affair at Oregon Country Fair

Monday, 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. (more…)

World’s Smallest Beads

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Mangalsutra - the smallest beads in the worldThe smallest beads in the world are probably the Mangalsutra beads. Traditionally, these tiny glass seed beads are made by hand in small workshops in India. Strands of these beads are tied by the groom’s family and given to the bride to be worn throughout her married life. The beads are a symbol of love and fidelity.

You can find Mangalsutra beads at Harlequin Beads & Jewelry.

by Beverly

Seed Bead Sizes

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Ever wonder about the size numbers on the beads you buy?  What is size 11/0 or 11s, 13/0 or 13s, or tiny 15s? Who created this byzantine code? (more…)