Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretty Orchid

I know, I know... I haven't updated in forever. I've still been taking pictures and such, just haven't been that great about sharing them. Here's an orchid photo for you. This bloom just fell from the orchid today. It lasted several months. I'm not sure if the flower just naturally faded or the problem was that I watered it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anniversary Gemstones

Did you know there are particular gemstones and jewelry for anniversaries? This list of gems and jewelry gifts is endorsed by the American Gem Society, Jewelers of America, the Jewelry Industry Council, the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gem Trade Association, the Cultured Pearl Association of America, and the International Colored Gemstone Association. Treat the list like you would a birthstone list: find the year to be celebrated and then seek a gift that incorporates the gemstone or a simulant that resembles the gemstone.

Anniversary Gemstone
1 Gold Jewelry
2 Garnet
3 Pearl
4 Blue Topaz
5 Sapphire
6 Amethyst
7 Onyx
8 Tourmaline
9 Lapis Lazuli
10 Diamond
11 Turquoise
12 Jade
13 Citrine
14 Opal
15 Ruby
16 Peridot
17 Watches
18 Catseye Chrysoberyl
19 Aquamarine
20 Emerald
21 Iolite
22 Spinel
23 Imperial Topaz
24 Tanzanite
25 Silver Jubilee
30 Pearl Jubilee
35 Emerald
40 Ruby
45 Sapphire
50 Golden Jubilee
55 Alexandrite
60 Diamond Jubilee
70 Sapphire Jubilee
80 Ruby Jubilee

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Russian Frost Earrings - Coraling Beading Technique

These lacy earrings look like coral or frost. The branched fringe or coraling beading technique is easy to do and yields stunning results. Once you master the stitch you can use it to make necklaces or to adorn clothing.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time Required: A few hours - can complete pair of earrings in a weekend

Size 11 Seed Beads - I used a main color and a contrast color. Smaller beads work well (e.g., 13s or 15s), but larger beads will yield heavy earrings.


Bead Tips

Flatnose or Chainnose Pliers

Thread Snips

Beading Needle

Thread - I used size D Nymo. Personally, I find other types of thread too stiff for this technique. Nymo B is great with size 14/15 beads.

Accent Beads - Optional. I used a pair of 4-mm beads for the white earrings and a pair of 8-mm beads for the tutorial.

Start Coraling
Coraling is easy, but it does require that you have practice controlling your thread tension. Also, it uses a large number of beads and takes a bit of time. Feel free to vary the number of beads between branches, the length of the branches, etc. Have fun!

To start, cut at least a meter of your chosen thread. If desired, condition your thread with beeswax or Thread Heaven. If you can, it's better to work with a single long thread than to have to add thread, since adding thread will make it harder to keep the beads under tension. I threaded one seed bead onto the string, let it fall about a third of the way down the string, and tied a knot around it.

Put both ends of the thread through a bead tip. This bead will support the beadwork.

Using the shorter strand, string on 1 seed bead, your accent bead, and 40 main color seed beads (this will be the final length of your earring, so adjust it longer or shorter as desired by adding or subtracting beads in multiples of three).

String on three accent beads. Go back through the last two main color seed beads. Tighten the tension so there are no gaps between the beads. If you are using nymo or any other nylon thread, remember that it stretches over time, so your beadwork needs to be fairly tight. On the other hand, if you are using Power Pro or another fluoropolymer, remember that this thread will not stretch, so you want the tension such that there are no gaps between beads yet loose enough for the beadwork to be fluid.

Add two main color beads and three contrast beads. Pass back through the two main color beads. Congratulations, you have completed your first pair of branches!

Pass back through the next 5 beads, going toward the bead tip. Adjust your tension.

Add 4 main color beads and three contrast color beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add two main color beads and three contrast color beads.

Pass back through the two main color beads, the two next 2 main color beads of this branch and then through the next 3 beads toward the bead tip (total of 7 beads you go back through).

From here on, you are just repeating the previous step. Add 4 main color and 3 contrast. Pass back through the last two main color. Add 2 main color and three contrast. Pass back through the 7 main color on the 'branch' and 'stem', going toward the bead tip. You will continue this pattern until you are as near the bead tip as you like (5-6 beads for me).

Thread up through the accent bead and bead tip, go through the bead in the bead tip (reinforcing your thread), tie a knot using the other thread, and pass back through the 'stem' beads. I ran the thread through several branches to secure it and cut the thread. Thread your needle on the other end of the thread and pass it through the seed bead and accent bead so that it is exiting the accent bead. Make the next stem with branches. This thread should be dangling from the base of the accent bead. I added 26 main color beads.

Add three contrast beads and pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add 2 main color beads and 3 accent beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads and the next 5 main color beads on the stem (7 main color beads total). Continue making branches until you are within 5 beads of the accent bead. Pass through the main color beads to come out just below the accent bead.

Make the third stem/branch identical to the second stem/branch. When you are finished, you can knot your thread or work it back through several branches to secure it. Cut the thread. Use pliers to attach the bead tip to the earring finding.

Here's a finished earring. Make a second earring to match the first.
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Mermaid - Peyote or Brick Stitch Amulet Bag Pattern

This tiny mermaid-themed amulet bag measures only 1-1/4"x1-3/4" using Matsunos (it would be even smaller in Delicas). It works up very quickly in tubular peyote stitch and requires few beads. The photo is enlarged so you can see the detail.

Basic Information

Tubular Peyote (could could use Brick stitch and do the pattern on its side or use flat peyote and stitch the sides of the bag)

Finished Size About 1-1/4" x 1-3/4" using Matsuno size 11 seed beads

Colors Shown

Opaque Blue (waves)

Opaque Jade Green (rock)

Opaque Light Green (rock)

Opaque Turquoise (dress, wave swirl, eyes)

Opaque Light Blue (dress)

Opaque Yellow (crown)

Rainbow Translucent Orange (hair)

Rainbow Translucent Ruby (lips)

Pearl Purple (background)

Pearl Peach (flesh)


I recommend using a very pale background color as opposed to the pearl purple that I used (because it's my daughter's favorite color). I beaded a slightly different version of this pattern, in which the blue border framed one side of the bag and not the other. However, when I drew the pattern up, I felt that a border on both sides would be nice. You could center the mermaid with the crown by moving her up and to the right one row, but then her crown will touch the top border... whatever you prefer. The bag is stitched in tubulur peyote and then folded in half. The bottom of the bag 'zips' for easy stitching. I'll add another photo when I have completed the strap and fringe. Enjoy!
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beaded Stars or Mandalas

These beaded stars or mandalas are easy to stitch. Make earrings, as shown, or use them as pendants or small ornaments. You can adapt these instructions to make stars of other sizes or with more/fewer points.

Skill Level -- Suitable for beginners, although previous beading experience is helpful.

Time Required -- 15-30 minutes per star.

Beading Thread - e.g., Nymo D or B
3-4 mm Beads
Size 11 Seed Beads
Wire Cutters or Thread Nippers

These instructions will make a 7-point star, but you can easily adapt them to make stars with other numbers of points. The number of beads in your starting row will give you a finished star with the same number of points. You can also work with multiples of this number. For example, I could use 10 smaller beads as a starting row for a 5-point star. For outer rows, which have more seed beads, you could substitute bugle beads. You will still want a seed bead for the point, to protect the thread from cutting, to give sharp points, and as points for adding new rows of beadwork or for attaching your star to jewelry. Have fun and feel free to experiment!

Cut approximately 1 meter or yard of your preferred stringing material. I used white nymo size D, but other threads or fine wire are suitable, too. If you like, wax or condition your thread with Thread Heaven (I left my thread unconditioned). Thread your needle and string on 7 silver size 11 beads. Slide them down to within about 6 inches of the end and run your thread back through the first bead or two, to make a circle. Alternatively, you can tie them into a circle, but if you knot the thread, leave it very loose to make room for more beads. Leave the thread tail - you will weave it into your beadwork later to strengthen it.

String a 3-mm or 4-mm bead (oval crystals work well too). Skip 3 silver beads and run your needle through the 4th silver bead.

Add 1 matte blue bead and run your needle through the next silver bead. Add 1 matte blue bead, run the needle through the next silver bead, etc., until you have completed the circle. (I pushed the 4-mm bead to the side to make it easier to see the beading, but it normally sits in the center of the circle.)

When you reach the last silver bead (added a total of 7 blue beads), run the needle through the silver bead and also up through the next blue bead. You have just completed a 'step-up', which puts you in place to add the next row. You want your thread tension to be loose enough to allow the beads to lie flat. I normally use a very tight tension, so I find I need to periodically loosen up the beadwork while making a star. Add a rainbow blue bead, run the needle through the next matte blue bead, add a rainbow blue bead, run the needle through the next matte blue bead, etc., until you have completed the circle.

As you go through your last matte blue bead, step up through the rainbow blue bead. This time, add 3 silver beads, go through a rainbow blue bead, add 3 silver beads, go through a rainbow blue bead, etc., until the circle is completed. The silver beads should start to form little star points.

When you get to the last rainbow blue bead, pass through it and step up through the next 2 silver beads. (You always want to come out through the point bead - a good thing to keep in mind if you find yourself so excited that you keep making the star bigger and bigger!) Before you go any further, you need to think about the ultimate use for your star. If it is to become an earring, look at your earring finding so that you can see how your star will fit on its loop. For very small earring loops (attachment points), you can string the earring finding onto your needle, just as if it were a bead. Alternatively, you could attach a jump ring onto the star and then attach the jump ring/star to the earring loop. For larger loops, complete the star and then simply open the loop, slip the star in place, and close the loop. For this row, our last, add 5 matte blue beads and pass the needle through the point (second) silver bead. Add 5 matte blue, pass through the 2nd silver beads, etc., until the star is completed. (Note that you always use odd numbers of beads to make points. If you wanted a more rounded shape, as for making a flower, you could use an even number of beads.)

At this point, you could simply tie a knot and trim your threads. My preference is to pass through the outer row (no beads added) a second time to reinforce the stitching and stiffen the star. In fact, I keep stringing through various rows until I either run out of thread or can't stand it any longer, and then I cut the thread. I thread my needle onto the tail thread and run it through a few rows before cutting it, too. I didn't do this for these stars, but if you really want to accentuate the points of the stars, you can skip under the point bead as you go around the star a second time (in other words, pass through all of the beads except the point beads). If you are making earrings, make a second star. Did you know you just successfully used the techniques of peyote (gourd) stitch and netting? You did! Congratulations! If you would like your star to be even more stiff, you can dip it in Future floor polish or a similar acrylate and hang it to dry. This also works well if your beads have the sort of finish that would rub off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ladder Technique for Beadwork

Single Needle Method

String the first bead, leaving a 4-inch tail. Add a second bead and pass through the first bead, from botton to top. Pass through the second bead now, from top to bottom. String on a third bead (this is bottom-to-top), and pass back through the second bead (top to bottom). Continue this pattern, making certain thread tension is even so the chain doesn't start to bend or twist.

Double Needle Method

Alternatively, you can use two needles to make a beaded ladder. Some people find the double needle method works up more quickly and results in a ladder with more even thread tension. For this method, enter the first bead from the top with one needle and the bottom with the other needle. Leave a 4-inch tail with both threads. Continue the chain by crossing the threads through a new bead, pull the chain snug, and cross through a new bead.