Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Monthly Challenge Recap

The magical illustrations of Edmund Dulac colored my childhood fantasies. Mysterious depths, encrusted treasures, barnacles and tentacles, ethereal beauty, watery mythology all painted with a muted yet lush palette of blues, purples, greens, browns and creams. This challenge painting was filled with inspiration, from the colors and textures, to the sea-life shapes and forms. And you gave us quite a story to tell this month from the water to the tail!

Your turn!
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July 2014 Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge Recap.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Jennifer LaVite + Bokamo Designs

Every time I come back to the challenge painting I am mesmerized by the seemingly magnetic pull of those suction-faced tentacles reaching toward our delicate mermaid. It is a wonder that she escapes their clutches on her quest for whatever she is seeking. This fringe-laden design by Jennifer LaVite of Dry Gulch Beads looks just like one of those crusty limbs reaching out. All those many seed beads with just a hint of coppery leaves feel as those they are in motion with the currents. And that focal lampwork glass bead is certainly a treasure of the deep!
Featured Designer :: Jennifer LaVite

Featured Bead Artist :: Bokamo Designs
Join me here tomorrow, July 31st, for the monthly challenge recap!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: Beads, Buttons and Braids Bracelet Tutorial

I recently came across this delicious package of leather bracelets for braiding at Michaels and I couldn't resist.  I thought they would make a great topic for one of my Tutorial Tuesday posts.  So a few days ago I laid out the braided bracelets and began to think about the art beads that I had in my stash that would would work well with the leather.

I was quite sure I wanted to use some of these beautifully colored polymer beads by Heather Powers and of course leather and ceramic beads always go well together.  So I put them together-- the round strings of beads being from Heather and the ceramic ones that I had made. I added in one of my bird charms since I thought they might go well too.  I decided I would make up the three bracelets I  had already braided.  These bracelets come in an 8 pack from Michaels.

They come unbraided  but luckily there are very clear directions for making the braids on the back of the package.

So if you decide to try some of these you can use their directions.  I managed to follow them after several tries despite the fact that I am not good at following written directions.  The pictures are very helpful.  So I think you will be able to make them too.

What I came up with is three bracelets, all in different styles and all sporting art beads.  This first picture is a Rustic Style Bracelet using some of my ceramic charms.  

Rustic Style Braided Bracelet with ceramic charms
 by Mary Harding

This next bracelet is a bohemian style one with beads by Heather Powers

Bohemian Style Braided Bracelet with art beads by Heather Powers

And the third bracelet is a tribal style one with an art bead copper clay button by me.

Tribal Style Braided Bracelet with copper clay button focal by Mary Harding

These are all quite straightforward and uncomplicated to make.  The braided leather adds a nice additional texture and complexity to these otherwise fairly simple designs.  The list of supplies and directions follow.

1 package of Mystery Braid Bracelets ( includes 8 leather bracelets ready to braid)
Please note that snaps can seem not to snap at first but some extra pressure solves the problem

For the Rustic Style Bracelet:
5 assorted ceramic art bead charms 
2 balled end head pins
4 copper plated pewter Heishi spacers 1x5mm  (
5  antiqued copper jump rings 18 gauge wire  10 mm

For the Bohemian Style Bracelet
4 art beads by Heather Powers  (   or
4   balled end end pins copper 20 gauge wire
16  copper plated Heishi  spacers 1x5mm(Fusion Beads
3 yards turquoise blue waxed linen 
16 copper cube beads  (

For the Tribal Style Bracelet
1 copper clay art bead single hole button (
18 inches dark rust waxed linen (
1 hollow copper bead 5mm   (
8 copper cube beads (
2 copper plated Heishi spacers (
12 myuki delica seed beads Tangerine DB421 (
6 size 8 Matte transparent topaz seed beads ( or any variety of small seed beads you have on hand)
12 inches of sari silk to weave through the braids on the bracelet  (
2-3 double balled end copper end pins for wrapping around sari silk ( 20 gauge copper) about 4-6 inches long

For the Rustic Style bracelet

1. Make wrapped loops on your charms or beads that have holes. String on the balled end end pin one Heishi spacer the bead another Heishi spacer and then make a wrapped loop.
wrapped loops for charms and beads

Use the 10mm jump ring to attach to the leather braided loops on your bracelet. If your charm or bead come with a loop attach it to the bracelet with the jump ring.  Add up to 5 charms or beads, 1 to each of the the braids.  

                Add the charms to the loops in the bracelet along the bottom of the braid

For the Bohemian Style Bracelet

Bohemian Style Bracelet

1.  Make wrapped loops for all 4 of the art beads as follows:  using the balled end end pin add a Heishi spacer, the bead, another Heishi spacer and then make your wrapped loop.  Repeat for each bead.

2.  Cut 4 eight inch pieces of the turquoise waxed linen. (This may seem long but it makes it much easier to tie the knots.) Fold the waxed linen in half and string on the first bead.  Even up the ends.  Then tie the bead to the leather braided loop with the linen making two shoelace type knots ( i.e. like the first knot you make when you tie your shoes.) On each of the remaining cords add two copper cube beads and a Heishi spacer. Tie an overhand knot and cut cord leaving about a quarter to 3/8 inch of cord.  Repeat for each additional bead.  

         attaching the wrapped loop beads to the leather braids with the waxed linen

For the Tribal Style Bracelet

1. Weave the 12 inch piece of Sari silk through the center row of braids.  Leave an extra inch or so for the beginning and at the end of the bracelet wrap the remaining ribbon a couple of times around the bracelet and tie.  Leave the tail and wrap one of the double headed balled end pin around it in the middle for decorative effect. 
See picture above
2. Use one of the double headed end pins to wrap around the ends of the sari silk to secure attachment to bracelet.
attach wire with balled ends through one of the braid slat openings

example of how wire wrapped ends might look

sari silk ends with wire wrap

3.  Attaching the copper clay one hole button:
Cut the 18 inches of waxed linen in half and line the pieces up evenly.  Find the center of your bracelet by snapping the bracelet and finding the spot opposite the snap.  Place the button on the leather where you want it to be.    Coming from behind, pass the four piece of linen around the leather and through the single hole in your button. 

button being strung onto leather braid 

Then string on the hollow bead and tie a knot. You will have quite a bit of cord left over.  Again I used long pieces to make the tying of knots easier.  String a series of small beads onto each of the four cord ends and tie a knot.My cords are about 1 inch long (the outside ones) and 3/4 inch (the inside ones).  I strung the Delicas and seed beads on the outside cords and the copper cubes and Heishi and a couple of Delicas on the inside cords. Cut off the extra cord leaving about a quarter of an inch below the knot.

Completed cord decoration on the button bead

The three leather bracelets.  What a stack!!!!

Now  you have completed 3 bracelets!!! Super!!  What will you make with the other 5 in your package?  Please share in the comments below by leaving a link to a picture of what you created . Can't wait to see them!!
Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Inside the Studio with Ema Kilroy

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations Shaiha! You have won a $10 Gift Certificate from Tari at Creative Impressions in Clay. 
Please send Tari an e-mail with your information.

I've gone from a deserted waste land of inspiration (approriate for the hot summer we're having here in the Northeastern part of the US) to an almost overwhelming surge of ideas. I'm grateful to my fellow ABS contributors for throwing a few ideas my way when I was feeling I had none. How did I find inspiration again? I came by inspiration in a couple of different ways. One way came to me via an unexpected route and the second way I actively sought out.

I unexpectedly found inspiration in Heather Power's posts on Facebook for a fall retreat she'll be hosting. Heather's beads are always gorgeous! I say unexpectedly because I don't usually work in polymer clay. On this particular day I found Heather's beautiful photos were just the inspiration I needed. The photos reminded me of some pieces I had created last year when I had dabbled in polymer. I decided to pull out the polymer bin and take a look at those pieces.

Some of the pieces I created last year, some of them are newly created. I baked the new pieces and added color to all. Adding color was quite fun. I used alchohol inks I had on hand.

I was thinking these would make a cute pair of earrings paired with lampwork beads.

Or perhaps paired with these?

Dragonfly pendant in reverse blues.

Sleepy Owl pendant.

A day with polymer was just what I needed. Feeling inspired again I decided to hop on over to the Patone site and look into the 2014 fall color palette.

I took the color palette to the torch. Working with the Radiant Orchid, Sangria and Royal Blue in mind I created this set.

Inspired by the Royal Blue, Aluminum and maybe a little bit of Misted Yellow I created this pair of spacer beads which I'm naming Silvered Royals.

Thanks for stopping by ABS today. Leave a comment for your chance to win this pair of Silvered Royals. Just answer this question, Do you work with the seasonal color palettes or do you stick with your favorite colors when creating your jewelry?

Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tool Talk: Wood Forming Block + Curving Your Metal

I recently added a new tool to my work bench. Yay! I love adding new tools to the studio, especially a tool that makes metal working easier. The new addition is a wood forming block.

The block has two sides which enables me to acheive varying depths of curve. The above photo has the two large nylon rollers in place.

This photo shows the smaller nylon rollers in place.

I begin with a flat piece of metal.

Place the metal into the largest forming block. You always want to work from the largest form to the smallest form. Following this technique will form the bend into the piece without creating a crease in the metal.

Place the appropriate nylon roller into the block and press.

A lovely bend is taking shape.

For this piece I wanted a bit more shape so I went to the next form down and repeated the process.

So much better than creating a curve using a mallet and a baseball bat. That's how I used to acheive a curve to my pieces.

The wood forming block is inexpensive, under $40.00. There are other tools available to create a curved shape in metal but the wooden block appealed to me. I like the price. I like that it sits stable on a table top (as opposed to pliers), I like the ability to acheive various depth of curves and the nylon rollers won't marre the metal. I think this just might become my favorite tool! I purchased my forming block from Rio Grande.

Thanks for stopping by ABS today. Do you have a favorite tool in your studio? Share with us your favorite tool that you love to use.

Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Klassy Joolz + Mandrel

Holy crusty underwater goodness!
As soon as I spotted this deep sea treasure I knew that it was the one for this week. There is so much going on in this piece, yet it feels so very cohesive. The way the glass undulates and the slick surface give the feeling of movement and shimmering water. I love the little globules on the jellyfish-like pendant and the swirly stripes on the long stalactites that seem to be dripping from an underwater cavern. The color palette feels very authentic to the inspiration image and the finishing touch is that sweet little mermaid charm.
Featured Designer :: Klassy Joolz

Featured Bead Artist :: Mandrel

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Growing Garden Earring Tutorial - Free Project

I created these fun matchstick charms for a quick and easy earring option.  What I didn't know when I made them is how adorable they are as flower stems paired up with Czech glass beads. This simple wire project can be made in just a few minutes.

2 matchstick charms
2 14mm Czech glass coin flowers
8" 20 gauge brass colored wire
2 brass kidney wires
10 2mm copper beads

1. Cut 4" of wire, center the wire in the middle of the matchstick charm and pull both ends up and around the top of the charm.

2. Bend one wire straight up, above the matchstick charm and wrap the other wire several times around the first wire.

3. String on the flower bead, create a wrapped loop above the flower, trim the wire and tuck in the end of the wire using needle nose pliers..

4. String the earring onto the earwire, add 5 copper beads. Underneath the last bead add a tiny drop of glue applying it with a piece of scrap wire to the earwire.
Matchstick Charms: Humblebeads. Flowers: Nirvana Beads (wholesale only, here is an alternative retail source.) Wire, earwires and copper beads: Rings & Things.