Monday, February 27, 2012

Laura McCabe's beaded vessel for I Might Make That! Monday

Laura McCabe's "A Well Kept Secret"
from Lark Books' Embellished Beadweaving
I will have to keep this post short, since I don't want to miss the start of the Academy Awards--the opening number is always the best part!--and of course I waited until Sunday evening to prepare my Monday morning feature.

I am an ardent admirer of Laura McCabe's beadwork--who isn't?--but so many of her pieces are way beyond my skill level. This one looks do-able to me. Instructions for making it are available as a PDF from I can't remember if I've plugged the site before [Attention, Patti: Notice I didn't say flogged], but it has some great free tutes, and is not limited to jewelry making.

The beaded vessel is one of the patterns in Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving. I'd love to make the necklace on the cover someday, too!

(For newcomers, an archive of past I Might Make That! Monday patterns can be found by clicking the IMMT!M Archive button in the top right corner.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stuff Beaders Say

Just stumbled on this on Jean Campbell's site! (Be sure to watch to the end; the vacuum is the best part!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bead room makeover, part 1: the plan

Craft closet design idea from the Container Store
(Apologies--this is a very long post. Go ahead and get some coffee. I'll wait.)

A few weeks back, I posted that I was in the midst of transforming my home office into a, well, "bead studio" may be overdoing it, but let's just say it will be a place where the beads will finally have a proper home and I will have a proper place to work with them.

What with my job plus grad school--and dealing with the mess the space had become--the makeover is taking longer than I expected, but it is coming along. I decided I should at least milk the project for several blog entries, so this is Part 1. My hope is that what I learned along the way might be useful to others contemplating a reorg.
Rolling cart from HSN

From Workplace to Respite
A little background: For about 15 years, up until 2006, I was a fulltime freelance writer/editor. My home office was a tiny bedroom in our house that held a desk with computer, two very tall bookcases, a printer, a file cabinet, a tiny closet stocked with office and computer supplies and not much else. It was a space dedicated to paper.

In the six years since I returned to the life of a regular paycheck and health benefits, this office has become transmogrified. For a while it was overrun with yarn, knitting supplies and knitting books. I remember thinking a couple of years ago, when I replaced knitting with beading and jewelry making, "Well, at least this hobby will take up much less space." Har!

Alex drawer unit from Ikea
(a taller, skinnier version
is available, too)
Into the small office I somehow managed to cram a six-foot-long table that I used for beading. I began destashing books from the bookshelves so that I could stack bead storage boxes there. I ran out of shelf space and began storing beads in shopping bags and shoeboxes on the floor. The bead table got heaped with half-finished and abandoned projects and objects I just simply didn't know where to put. (Oh, and did I mention the table with lightbox that somehow got squeezed in by the window?)

The weeks before crafts fairs, as I was trying to churn out pieces, it got especially crazy-lady, call-up-Hoarders bad.

I Dream of Drawers
Sauder craft armoire with
foldout table from Target
In November, I realized it was time to seriously rethink the space. I told myself I would tackle the reorg between Christmas and New Year's, when I was off work. Realization #1: bookcases are for storing books, not beads. I needed drawers, and lots of them, so that I could stop sifting through--and knocking over--perilously piled up bead boxes and jewelry trays trying to find what I was looking for.

Realization #2: A nice long beading table is not necessarily an advantage if you are someone, like me, who tends to just pile stuff up on every horizontal surface.

So I started shopping online. I checked out Target, Ikea, Container Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond and a bunch of sites I stumbled on just by Googling "crafts storage."

I came very close to buying this multi-drawer unit, below, from Best Craft Organizer:

crafts storage triple unit
from Best Craft Organizer
What I liked about it was that you could customize the drawer inserts--getting any combination of shallow to deep. But I was leery of buying something online, without ever having seen it, touched it, test-driven it by pulling out the drawers, etc. (The company apparently tours bead and crafts shows, but none I had been to.) I just couldn't judge the quality, and the product is not cheap.

It was right around Thanksgiving that I was doing heavy online shopping, and on CyberMonday, Best Craft Organizer offered a sweet discount. I don't remember exactly how much, but I wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger, and I assumed that a similar deal would be offered after Christmas.

Well, Christmas came and went and no discount. I was kicking myself--you know how you can't bear to pay full price once you've seen something on sale? But my procrastination paid off, because it was suddenly January and time for the Container Store's annual Elfa sale!

I have bought Elfa shelving in the past and admire its quality and design. It is also not cheap, but taking 30 percent off took a bit of the sting out of it. I liked the flexibility of the units, and the fact that I could go to the store to inspect the pieces in person. I spent a lot of time poring over the designs, like the craft closet configuration at the very top of this post. I measured and re-measured my small room and the limitations that the placement of windows and closet doors wrought.

The Container Store now offers a service in which you can order online, have it shipped to a local store and pick it up there, without paying shipping charges. I took advantage of that, and it was a pleasant experience.

I'll talk more about the storage solution I bought in Part 2, as well as the new work table I ordered.

I wasn't on Pinterest at the time, but I'm sure I would've wasted endless hours there looking. Here are some design inspirations for you.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Source: via Lori on Pinterest

Source: via Tina on Pinterest

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beadwoven pearl necklace via Pinterest for I Might Make That! Monday

Source: via Nancy on Pinteres
I've mentioned Pinterest a few times in the past few months. (Really, I'm trying to limit the plugs. My addiction is best kept to myself.)

I found today's tute by following master Pinterest pinner Nancy Gound. I don't know anything about her except that she started following me so I started following her, and she finds the most exquisite beadwork. She has literally thousands of pins devoted to beading and jewelry. Check out her boards on zipper jewelry and tiny purses, why dontcha. Jaw-dropping stuff.

If you click through her pin of the above necklace, you'll wind up here, where there is a simple diagram for making this pattern. Unfortunately, the designer is not credited.

(For newcomers, my archive of IMMT!M entries can be found by clicking the link in the top right corner.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bead show haul

I spent a bit too much of yesterday at the Innovative Bead Expo in Clarksville, Md. (Thanks, Mandy, for alerting me to it. Although we weren't able to meet up, you'll see I was able to spend plenty on my own without any enabling from everyone!)

It's a small show that seems to travel to small cities in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region, and it apparently comes to Clarksville every three or four months. Check out the link above for the schedule, if you're interested in learning more.

I've only been to a couple of bead shows, but I know enough to know this one is on the small side, with about 35 vendors. Still, there was plenty to see. I buy most of my supplies from Fire Mountain Gems and Shipwreck Beads, and support a local bead store (Accents Beads in Rockville, Md.). It's nice to check out beads and findings from small vendors in person.

Behold my haul. The real treasures for me were the beautiful brass filigree pieces from Kabela Design. They had filigree in several finishes and an astonishing array of designs, and I could have gone seriously crazy at that booth. The pewter flowers and leaves were from Talisman Associates. The purple loveliness in the right corner consists of four strands of tear-drop amethyst beads; I can't remember the name of the vendor. I'm anxious to see how these work up in a kumihimo braid.

The seed beads on the left are from BeadMyLove. Although the two vials may look the same, one is size 8 beads and the other is size 3.4 drop beads in the same finish--matte black AB. (Isn't it amazing what AB finish does? You would never know they had a black underlying base color.) Again, I want to try these in a kumihimo braid, using the 8s on both ends of the rope and the drop beads in the center.

Not pictured is a length of cool brass chain that I bought, and some bail-making pliers.

I'll wind up this post with a snippet of overheard conversation that made me smile. One woman was giving another some detailed instructions about some aspect of jewelry-making that I didn't quite make out, but she concluded with: "Then you have to put it somewhere where the cats don't get at it."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be My Valentine

One of my Pinterest boards
Alas, no big plans for me tonight--I'll be in class. At least the instructor promises to bring chocolate. The graphic above is a screenshot of a board I have on Pinterest. What I like most about Pinterest is that it allows me to be a collector without spending any money. Once I found the photo of two kittens, bottom right corner, I just started collecting images of hearts where you might not expect them.

(Does anyone know how to post a Pinterest board itself, so that it would have live links to all the images? I can't figure out how to do that.)

Bonus tute! A simple beaded heart. I like that it's 3-D and not flat.

Beaded heart by Laura

May you have sweetness in your life today. Or bacon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Caged bead and bonus tutorials for I Might Make That! Monday

Caged bead from Studio Heath
I have limited wire-wrapping skills--I can wrap a loop or a briolette bail and make simple coils, and I have a WigJig that I've played with some and need to do more with.

Here's a simple tute for a caged bead by a wire and glass artist named Remy Heath. I've seen lots of caged beads before, but most are done by coiling spirals and then wedging the bead inside, like the copper one shown below.

I like the vertical lines on this one, and the little flourish at the top. The tute also shows a version with cute dangles beneath the caged bead.

I can't remember how I stumbled on this website, but you can download the tute for free without any kind of signup or login process. Remy Heath also has some gorgeous tutes for sale, like her Enceinte Melody earrings.
Another caged bead. (I can't link
to a tute for this one, because the page
has been deleted.)

I also recommend exploring the WigJig website for some great wire component tutorials. You don't need one of these gizmos to make many of the patterns they illustrate. The website is butt-ugly to look at, but it is a treasure trove if you're willing to not be put off by that hot pink type and keep clicking until you get to the galleries of tips and techniques.

Oh, what the heck, I'll throw in a bonus tute today. I've long admired this WigJig dove, perhaps as a Christmas pin.

Wig Jig dove pin/pendant
I wouldn't attempt this one without a WigJig, but perhaps you, dear reader, are braver than me.

And just to make sure you feel like you're getting your money's worth today, I'll share one more website I discovered recently.

It doesn't show a jewelry-making technique, or I might have featured it all by itself today, because it's so useful. It's on jewelry photography, an art I'm sure we all can never learn too much about.

The website is TableTopStudio, and it sells light boxes and related equipment, but there are tons and tons of lighting and photography tips here. The link above takes you directly to the bead photography tips section.

(And for newcomers, the archive of past I Might Make That! Monday entries can be found by clicking the link in the top right-hand corner of my blog.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crystal blackberry charm for I Might Make That! Monday

Crystal Blackberry, designed by Mollie Fabric
I notice in trolling through patterns saved on my computer that I have an abundance of earring patterns. I'm always looking for something beyond the quickie "string three beads on a headpin" model. These earrings are one of the hundreds of free projects available on Jewelry Making Daily.

Actually, this pattern is for a charm or dangle. I just thought of them as earrings, perhaps made with smaller beads. Make two and attach to ear wires or make one  to dangle on a chain as a focal.

Called "Crystal Blackberry," the charm is designed by Mollie Fabric for The link to download the pattern is here.

I believe I've flogged Jewelry Making Daily before as a great source of free (and also not-free) projects. You might have to sign up to get access to patterns, but it's free to do so.

Here's another great find I'll pass along for inspiration: Etsy's 100 top jewelry sellers, courtesy of Handmadeology. It's fun to click through and see the many sides of success!

(As always, the archive of past I Might Make That! Monday entries can be found by clicking the link in the top right-hand corner of the blog.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So you may have noticed....

...that I have not posted any jewelry-making pics lately.

I'm smack in the middle of transforming my office into a bonafide bead studio. What I thought was a two-weekend project has become much more than I bargained for. I promise to post pictures when it's done. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this pithy observation: