Thursday, July 29, 2010

Etsy Beadweavers Team August Challenge Entry

As a new member of the EBW Team, one of our priviledges is to participate in the monthy challenges.  This month (August) the challenge theme is "Gold & Silver".  I decided to focus on silver for my necklace which I've titled "Three Graces". 

I focused only on silver for this piece, to create an elegant but understated look that will make a beautiful addition to any wardrobe. These deep purple stones (mountain "jade" - a dyed dolomite marble) are beautifully set into an arrangement of seed beaded bezels accented by silver-lavender glass pearls, silver metal spacer beads and a beautiful silver metal leaf toggle closure. I have used size 11o seed beads in a matte silver and size 15o seed beads in transparent rainbow purple to create these bezels using peyote stitch and bead embroidery techniques, and they are backed with dark blue ultra-suede fabric. The necklace is a lush spiral rope featuring the silver matte, silver-lined crystal, and lavender seed beads and has just a hint of sparkle.

The necklace measures about 26" long and the pendant area has a 4" drop. The larger center stone is 2" x 1.5" including bezel.

Please visit the EBW blog between August 9th and 15th, choose your favorite challenge piece and vote for it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bead Show Bonanza: and how to choose the right bead.

This weekend, the Bead Mercantile Show came to Raleigh and so did I!  Raleigh is about 90 miles away, so it's close enough for a quick day trip.  And it's as close to a bead show as I'll get, I suppose.  I went to the Gem and Bead show there last month and picked up some pretty "rocks", but this one was geared to seed beads, crystals and czech glass primarily.  I brought a couple of my "rocks" to try and match, and I hoped to find some czech glass flowers and leaves.  My dear friend Linda came with me in search of some seed beads for some Native American beadwork her husband is working on.  It was a pretty modest show, but I was a kid in a candy shop!

It's really tough sometimes to find the right colors of seed beads to accent the gemstone cabochons I work with, and there are a few colors that seem to me much more difficult to find just the right shade: Cream (most have too much yellow), Turquoise (ya got your greenier tints, ya got your bluesier tints), Green (olive, emerald, teal, kelly, forest...too much!), and Brown (dark topaz, especially transparent, just doesn't get it - and don't get me started on rust/russett).  And once you have the color and hue figured out, well now you have to work through the finishes and types.

First, I should say that I work primarily with size 11o seed beads (with a little help from the 8, 6 and 15's here and there).  Since I'm apparently something of a magpie, the shiny, bright and colorful beads always capture my eye (silver-lined, rainbow and AB), but they are not always appropriate to what I'm trying to acheive.  My favorite finish right now is a simple opaque luster (also can be called a "Ceylon" finish).  Not so much sparkle, but still catches the light.  I don't have much use for simply transparent beads; it seems like instead of adding light and luster, they suck the light out of a piece.  But transparent rainbow or AB (aurora borealis) give enough reflection to make a good blend.  Color lined beads (generally transparent colored glass with either a white, silver, gold or copper lining) can be a little iffy to work with, though I do like the silver/gold/copper lined beads to add just the right touch of sparkle.  I've begun to really appreciate the matte rainbow/AB finish as well for it's elegance and blending ability. 

As far as type of beads, it kinda depends on what you're doing.  If you're working an intricate peyote or loomed pattern, you really need to use the Japanese cylinder or Delica beads.  Their total uniformity and huge array of color choices helps create a nearly perfect final product.  My "go to" bead choice has been Fire Mountain's "Dyna-Mites" Japanese beads by Matsuno.  The have a pretty good uniformity at half the price of the Delicas.  I also prefer their rounded (donut-like) appearance and texture in a finished piece as opposed to the very flat cylinders.  The color selection with the Dyna-Mites is somewhat limited, so that's when I turn to the Czech seed beads (Jablonex is one of the primary manufacturers).  Czech beads have that nice donut shaped texture and come in a vast assortment of colors and finishes.  While not completely uniform in size, I still find them very nice to work with, and in bead embroidery, uniformity is not terribly important.

So, back to the bead show...I went a little (OK a LOT) crazy at the first table I came to.  Bead Biz had a huge selection of Jablonex Czech seed beads as well as other Czech glass items.  They also had wholesale prices after a certain amount.  Yep, I went for it and I'm not gonna tell you the amount.  But I was able to find all the colors I was looking for and added a few 13o charlottes to the mix.  I've always wanted to do something with those little 1-cut faceted beauties.  I came away from the show with a great selection of Czech leaves and flowers as well.  I'm not a big crystal fan, so I left most of those behind.  I thoroughly enjoyed rearranging all my bead boxes and cabinet to fit all the new treasures in.  Now I'm anxious to get started on the next project!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Fanpage 500 Celebration Giveaway!

The Bead-N-4-Fun Facebook fanpage hit 500 fans (likers) today!  Thanks to all of you who stopped by to like my page and link up.  So it's time for another giveaway!  This giveaway starts today and will end at 7pm (est) on Monday, July 12.  Here's how to enter:

1. Stop by the Bead-N-4-Fun fanpage and like, then post your comments in the July giveaway discussion.  If you haven't already, post your links in the link-love discussion too!

2. Follow the Bead-N-4-Fun and Beyond blog then leave a comment after this post.  Leave your blog link while you're there if you have one!

3. Share this giveaway with your fb friends and blog followers.

The giveaway is a beautiful necklace I call "Copper and Caramel".  It features a 2" spoon shaped glass focal in shades of copper and caramel, suspended by a spiral rope necklace of delica beads in copper and caramel colors.  It has a bead and loop closure and is accented at the back with a sweet little butterfly charm.  Can be worn with or without the focal pendant. 21" long.


Friday, July 2, 2010

It Can't be July already!

No, I can't believe it's July already!  Time flies while you're beading!  The month of June was filled with building the Beadn4fun fanpage and in the next few days, it should hit the 500 fan (liker?) mark!  Wow...hurray for the link-love, and many thanks to everyone who generously stopped by to take a look.  Thanks also goes particularly to Elfie of paintingfromtheheart, who is the one of the goddesses of the link-love and keepers of the social networking for crafters path.  She encouraged me to get the beadn4fun fan page started and get on the link-love train.  Now the trick is not to spend an inordinate amount of time on Etsy and Facebook (and blogs and web groups and...well, you get the picture) so it starts to significantly sap my time away from the actual beading...yeah, and maybe the occasional housework and such (as if!).  But since I was "hooked up" very early this year to the universe of beady people by a lovely friend from the past (thanks Cathy Cohen!), I'm all but obsessed with reading all the blogs and tips and perusing the latest work for information and inspiration.  Can I help it if all the pretty beadies just make me happy?

I'm completing at least two beaded projects a week right now.  At this point, my goal is to create "stock" and attempt to fill my Etsy page.  These projects are also allowing me to experiment with new stitches or changing up old stitches, and helping me perfect the ones I feel I already have firmly in my beadweaving arsenal.   At some point, I'm gonna need to address what to do and where to go with my work.  My goal is not to create the largest collection of beaded objects, but to create works of artistic and, yes, commercial value that folks will want to own, and to get them "seen" by prospective buyers.  So, when does that nagging feeling that your work will never quite be good enough ever go away?  And then, when you do feel that your work has reached some level of professionalism, does that mean anyone will buy it?  And what about pricing?  When I look at my fellow etsians, it seems I'm undervaluing my work.  Not good for me, and not good for them.  But I do want my work to ultimately be affordable to all while adequately compensating me for my time.  Of course, as I told my husband, my pieces can just as easily not sell for $25 as for $50.  Hmmm, maybe it's best not to dwell on the deep thoughts for now and just keep beading!