Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Playing With Beads and....Air Plants!!!

I'm sure I don't need to admit to being a bead hoarder here and I'm sure I'm not the only one, Right?!
And as much as I love my mini printer tray bead storage, with all it's wonderful little spaces to keep all my lovely beads neat and organised (and that I lusted after for sooooo long) it still makes me feel just a little sad thinking that realistically it may well be years till some of those treasures see the light of day (other then the occasional fondling), So after Sue's wonderful post Rainbow Bead Garden Stake Project I got to thinking how else can I display those beads that are just too cute to leave in a draw (other then just blue tacking them randomly the walls, yes I do that)!

Then one day at the garden centre I saw an air plant display and... "light bulb".

So to make your air plant display you will need
  • A large piece of drift wood (or an interesting rock)
  • Some air plants and moss (mine are from Love Tilly)
  • Silicone rubber sealant
  • Air plant fertiliser
  • A selection of animal and mushroom beads
  • Some interesting crystals, tiny stones or even tiny shells

The first thing to do is to have a play around and get a rough idea of where you want to place things. I used one of the larger plants at the top of my drift wood in the hope that it would resemble a tree and a smaller plant in the middle with lots of moss around the bottom. 

Once you have decided where to put things then comes the glueing. The Silicone rubber sealant that you can get especially for the air plants is some what of a pain to use as it takes a few hours to dry. It suggests that you use rubber bands or wire to hold things in place while drying but I found this some what fiddly so as you will see in the next photo....

I held everything in place by propping things up or leaning heavy items on top of the things being glued. I glued an acorn cup into the "tree" as a birds nest and a few crystals and shells here and there for a bit of colour.

When the Silicone rubber sealant is dry then comes the fun part, adding the beads! Now of course I did not use the sealant on my precious (insert Gollum style voice) beads, because that would be daft and then I would not be able to use them! So instead I used blue tack....

One little owl in the nest and another on the ledge (I think I will need to replace him with a hedgehog or a lamb) and a couple of random mushrooms, oh and I am sure I have a pair of tiny rabbits some where! And there you have it a little display piece for some of your lamp work beads which has now got me thinking how cool would a desk top zen garden look (one of those little sand gardens) with beads instead of stones and a little wire wrapped rake with a tiny lamp work bead handle!!!

I would love to know if and of our readers display your beads in an unusual way?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer! Flower Disc Bead Earring Tutorial

Since we're all in Summer mode here at AJE, I thought I'd share a tutorial for some earrings I made with my flower disc beads.  I made these beads a while ago, but in a rustic style:

Since then, I've started making them with the glass that I am currently obsessed with (from GG Glass):

What came to mind for me was a tutorial I wrote for a magazine called Bead It Today (August 2013) which has since gone out of publication.

I also referenced this tutorial post by Jenny Davies-Reazor where she made earrings with enameled discs.

In this case I used flower petal beads I had made, and a swarovski crystal heapin to make the design pop.  Today I'll show you my flower disc beads and two designs you can make!

I'm using my red flower disc beads, and two teeny tiny rubber o-ring beads I got from Yvonne at MyELEMENTS on etsy.

I'm also using some awesome headpins I got from our own Jennifer at Glass Addictions.

Add the flower disc bead, then the bumper bead, to the glass headpin.

Using your chain nose pliers, fold the copper wire over, preeeeeeety close to the bumper bead.  The bumper bead is going to help you (hopefully) from breaking any glass in case you tighten too much.

Use your round nose pliers to make a wrapped loop.  In this case, you really only want to wrap about one time, to make the earring hang right.
Then cut the copper wire very close to the loop, making sure not to cut the rubber o-ring - it would be aweful to waste that gorgeous headpin by having to start over!

 Here's what it looks like!  Make sure your heapin and loop on the back are oriented in the right direction - if they aren't, adjust as necessary.

Here's the back - what you're going to do is use your thumbs or your thumb and a plier to push the loop up toward the glass flower bead - using the pliers very gently - and get as close to the glass bead as you can.
Here you can see how the heart design on the headpin and the loop are oriented so that dangle will hang correctly.

 Make another, and add your ear wires!

Here's another quick little tutorial using different beads.

This time, I thought these beads would look good with gold findings.

I started out wanting to use these awesome gold beads, they go so well.  However, I didn't have headpins with a big enough to head to use them, and even though I tried to use a little filigree bead cap (flattened out) it just didn't look right.

So next I got out my gold flower heishe beads, but they were just too small, and I didn't have bigger ones to use.
So, in the end, I decided to use these gold round beads, and they look fine.  However, when I get a chance, I'm going to redo them with those awesome textured gold beads above!

Working in the same fashion as above, add your gold round, the flower disc bead, and the small heishe (that I decided to use as the bumper) to the headpin.

And again, in the same manner as above, make your wrapped loop and push the loop up as close to the glass flower disc as possible.  On this set of earrings, it actually works well to put the ear wire in the loop before you push the loop up to the glass flower disc bead.


And your finished earrings:

I'm sure you can think of other ways to use these flower disc beads!  You can find them in my SueBeads etsy store, and in some of my trunk shows on FaceBook.  I am also happy to make some on request!

Susan Kennedy

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Struggles

I remember when the summer was the best time of the from school, long days playing with friends, no bedtime, fun trips, et cetera.  I've discovered though, as an adult, summer has transitioned into my least favorite time of year.  People on vacation from work, allergies, heat, just seems like the world is conspiring to use up every free minute of my time.

In the midst of the madness, it's really important to carve out some time for myself - really, it's the only way to make it through!  Somehow I manage to squeeze in a few fun events and short trips.  I also tote easy projects to work, so I can be sure to have something other than a tablet game to do at lunch.  Today, I thought I would share some of my recent projects and a shindig.
At work I help to organize a "wellness" group for the other creatives on staff.  Twice a month we are scheduled for one of the big conference rooms during lunch, simply a dedicated time to socialize and craft!  Most of the time the group is pretty small, and we just have a really nice time getting away from our desk, chatting with other people that know what we deal with all day long.  It's also great see what everyone is working on...and for some of us, this is the only time that we are able to dedicate to our creative side.  The last meeting we had I was able to do a "Jewelry 101" session, focusing on badge lanyards.  I had 2 students, one made a neck lanyard, and one wanted a stretchy bracelet lanyard.  I brought in beads to share and they went to town - the purple pearl lanyard is my own!
If it's not a craft group day, I usually eat lunch at my desk.  I put my headphones on and listen to a book.  I might play a couple of games on my tablet...and then I color.  I have a stash of coloring books that I keep at work, with a box of crayons, colored pencils, and markers - occasionally I even have time to break out the coloring when I'm on the phone with someone long winded.  It's a great break for my brain, and that need for my hands to be busy.
I have made a bit of time lately to cut and sew some new clothes for one of my ball joint dolls too, including...
Tiny Alice!
Awhile back a friend invited me to one of the Belle Meade Plantation's Nerd Night events.  We met up at the visitor center after work one day, dressed in our wonderland finest for an "Underland" twisted Alice in Wonderland themed tea party.  We lounged and chatted in a lovely garden with other fantastic creative people.  Tiny Alice received much appreciation, and it was so lovely to just sit outside for a few hours with nothing better to do.  One of the things I thought most interesting was that with no planning at all, not a single person was dressed as the same character!  Our host Genevieve had even made a bunch of headbands and hair pieces decorated with playing cards - I found a small one and Tiny Alice was able have a veiled fascinator.  So much fun!

And now I'm back to the weekend nose to the grindstone of studying for my impending insurance licensing exams.  And attempting not to break out in hives from some unknown allergen.  Perhaps I will brave the outside world for a trip to the flea market when I get study blind...Or maybe I'll color instead.

Do you have a way to make time for your creative endeavors when life takes over?  We would love to hear about how you make time for your projects in this crazy season!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Traveling Bag O'Crafts

As many of you know, I'm in the process of moving from New Jersey to upstate New York.  My studio is packed at this point and all the beads, tools and craft items are packed away in cardboard boxes.
Boxes full of beads
I can't bear the thought of being without crafts for too long so I decided I needed to pack a traveling bag o'crafts!

I grabbed my trusty 2012 Bead & Button tote and my bead travel case and started selecting some projects to take with me.
Traveling bag o'crafts and bead case
Before packing up the seed beads, I pulled a few for two new projects using a lampwork cabochon by Sue Kennedy and one of my own stoneware starfish cabs.

Bead embroidery projects
I also found these two unfinished turquoise pieces that have been sitting for a loooooooooong time.
Long unfinished cabochons
In addition to bead projects, I have this cool special edition of Flow magazine.  It's filled with all sorts of fun papercrafts including; stickers, envelopes, paper dolls, scrapbooking, etc...
Flow magazine
I just need to toss some scissors and a glue stick in the bag.

Coloring book and markers
I'm also taking a coloring book and some fine tip markers with me because sometimes you need to get all zen after unpacking and this is the perfect way to do that.

Sketch book
While packing up the office, I found this unused sketch book.  Perfect!  I can use this to put down any new bead/pottery/craft ideas I have.  My new ceramics studio won't be ready until early September so I can keep all my ideas in this book.

These few items should hold me over for now.  I honestly just can't wait to get the new office AND studio set up so I can get back to work.  

If this were your traveling bag o'crafts, what would be in it?

Happy Beading!

Monday, June 20, 2016

What's new in beads for 2016.

After the whirlwind of new beads that came out last year I was honestly wondering if there would be anything new to strike my fancy this year.  Well the folks at Starman and Toho have truly blown my mind.

Demi beads.

The Demi™ is more than a shape; it is a new concept in seed beading. Developed by TOHO in collaboration with Starman, the Demi Round™ is a thinner version of the traditional round seed bead with the same hole size and diameter.

This exclusive innovation is made possible by the quality glass cane and precision cutting of TOHO manufacturing.

Look at just one page of the amazing colors available.

I had to break my fast.  Let me tell you that as soon as I opened my package this Dainty Beader truly gasped!  I was expecting them to be a fun element.  I was expecting them to challenge me.  What I was not prepared for was just how tiny and precious they would be.  Any of you that have followed me know I am, for lack of a better term, obsessed with the tiniest of seed beads.  for me the smaller the better.  Of course maybe that is why I need yet another prescription change in my glasses.  This time I was very picky and very smart when ordering.

And just for a bit of perspective here is a picture of the size 11/0 Demi right next to the regular size 11/0 rounds.

There are a few patterns out for them from the Starman Trendsetters.

I began to play first by using Nichole's pattern.

I plan on making this into a memory wire bracelet with two of Caroline's amazing birds I have been hoarding for awhile.

At first I was a bit wary of the delicate nature of these beads.  As I began working with them I am overly pleased with their durability.  They may be tiny but they are also very strong I have not broken one yet.  I also started playing with a couple other of my favorite stitches and have found that I really like the possibilities.

As I was working with them I saw yet another potential use.  When I am bezeling a cab there are times when I need a bead bigger than a 15/0 but not as wide as an 11/0 and this surely fills that need.  I also have a few attempts at a pattern where I have found myself needing something bigger than an 11/0 but not as wide or as tall as an 8/0( which as you can see in the diagram above they also make them in 8/0 size which I have not tried yet).  I cant wait to test this theory out.

 In short my opinion on these new Demi beads is that they are going to quickly become an important addition to my weaving stash.  I will be saving to get as many colors as I possibly can.