Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bead Addicts, Jewelry Making Machines & Connoisseurs of Handmade

ABS April 2014 Monthly Challenge brings us the dynamic yet delicate ballet dancers painted by Edgar Degas in -  Swaying Dancers.


And below are art beads and components by a few skillful artists that I picked to go with the theme and color palette...









While most of the above art beads and components are typically representative of the artists' work, you may find some of them as active listings in their store, and some may be requested as custom orders !  

Brandi explains the color palette with POINTERS - so draw some inspiration and design on !

And in the process, stay PINNED to the Art Bead Scene Challenge Boards


(Jewelry Artist at Ornament Lounge)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pinterest Picks with Claire Lockwood

Regular followers of this blog will know that Kaushambi Shah has produced some fabulous pinterest boards for the monthly challenges, and has taken on the role of ABS Pinterest Curator.  Unfortunately, Kaushambi isn't able to post this month so I'm stepping in.  Kylie Parry did a one-off post several months ago, sharing a number of art bead related boards.  Today I thought I'd shared a selection of pinners I follow, who pin fascinating and inspiring things.  Some have no interest in beads, and aren't particularly concerned with jewellery, but I love to seek inspiration in all manner of places, and if you are like me, I hope you'll be interested in checking out the collections these pinners have curated.

It's peculiar to be writing this post, talking about individuals I know next to nothing about.  What I do know are their tastes and interests and I find lots to admire in the images they pin.  The first pinner who came to mind when I started compiling this post was -SAND-, Sandrine Gergaud, a painter based in Pornic, France.  She has a great selection of boards, ranging from more general collections (drawings, mixed media artworks) to the peculiar and quirky (little houses, spinning tops and girls with moustaches!)  I particularly like her colours combo board.  Here's a selection of images from her collections.

(clockwise from top left: jazzman (flickr); Boomkamp (tumblr); paperiaarre (flickr); ngaiolenz (flickr); Nancy Chow (flickr))

Next up, a pinner who shares some really fabulous jewellery finds.  Amanda Thon is a metalsmith based in Florida. Beside her collections of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc., there are boards devoted to packaging, display, tools, sketch books, and much, much more.

(clockwise from left: Nikki Couppee; Ed Wiener; Moorigin; Reka Fekete; Becky Crow)

Vicki P of Sky Gypsy Studio has similar selection of jewellery-focused boards, alongside a great range of art in different media.

(clockwise from top left: Stacey Bently; Kathleen Dustin; Nina Bagley)

Next, something for polymer fans. Cara Jane Hayman is a polymer designer based in Bristol in the UK.  Her enthusiasm for her medium can be seen in her vast collection of polymer-related boards.  There are also stacks of tutorials, so if you are a clayer you may want to check those out too. 

(clockwise from top left: Maniguette (flickr); Kathleen Dustin; Artybecca; Elena Fadeeva)

Finally, an artist from the North of England, Helen Birch, aka draw draw draw, whose boards include '2D drawings', '3D drawings', 'Found drawings', 'Sketchbooks', 'Textile, Surface, Pattern'.  I'm always finding fascinating new images via draw, draw, draw.  

(clockwise from top left: Fiona Rae; Thomas Jackson; Yves Kline; Nick Turpin; Antoni Tapies; John Ruskin)

I hope you've found something here that catches your eye. Do feel free to share your favourite boards in the comments, art bead related or more general.  While I'm here, here's a link to my pinterest boards.

Bye for now, Claire

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Tres Jolie Designs by Sue

Miss Sue is a polymer clay powerhouse!

I have no idea how she engineers these delicate swirling tapestries of color and texture and light, but they are fascinating. Miss Sue has created each of these seemingly impossible petal-like forms out of polymer clay paired with a combination of bugle beads, matte seed beads, and wire to connect it all together. There is a graceful flow to this piece and the colors look as though the fabric of the dancer's tutu floated out of the frame and onto her clay. She was also inspired to create a complementary second design inspired by the challenge painting. Do check out her marvelous creations!

Featured Designer & Bead Artist :: Tres Jolie Designs by Sue


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday - Wire Birds' Nests with Rebecca of Songbead

Spring - the perfect time to incorporate all things bird-related into your jewellery. They are something I work with all year round, but particularly apt right now - I thought I'd share this tutorial I posted on my own blog back in January. I wanted to share with you how I make these little birds' nests that are so popular in bead and wire jewellery these days - the ideal compliment to your art beads. This is the way I personally make them; I'm sure there are plenty of other variations too though, so don't be afraid to experiment! 

For this nest I've used:

.8mm copper wire
(If I was working with the smaller Robin's Egg beads (6mm rather than 8mm) I would move down to .6mm copper wire.)

(I've got more of these lovely speckled rounds in different colours - just search for 'eggs' in my shop and they will appear!)

My plan is to oxidise this once I have a bunch of them made up. 

 1. Cut at least 1.5m (just under 2 yards) of copper wire. Slide on 3 beads about 10cm along and make a ring by pulling the long tail of the wire round the beads. You will need to have the beads a bit spaced out so that they will bend round in a ring.

 2. Wrap the long tail of the wire around the beads a few times. I've done it 5 times here. Then bring the wire over itself to secure the 'nest' you're building. 

 3. You can see more clearly here the path of the wire. 

 4. Repeat this, binding the nest in-between each pair of beads. Then continue to wrap the wire around in a circle, building the nest. I did this a couple of times. (There should still be a longish wire tail, you just can't see it in this pic! You need it for the base in step 6.)

 5. Tuck the short tail into the nest if you haven't already, to keep it neat and tidy. 

 6. Turn your nest over and curl/coil the wire back on itself to make a little base for the nest (so the eggs don't fall out ;-) ). You can wrap the coils into the sides of the nest if needs be. Once you are happy with the look of the nest, tuck the wire tail in. You want to try and bury it in the nest so that you don't end up getting spiked by the wire when you're wearing it!

7. Here you go - a couple of nests, ready for oxidising! 

Here is how to attach a nest into a bracelet ~

 8. Here's my bracelet, laid out and ready for stringing. I don't always do this, but with nests, I do. 

 9. String all the beads before the nest as you usually would, and then slide the bead wire through the base of your nest. This of course depends on how tightly you have wound the wire on the back of the nest. Tight enough to be secure, but loose enough so that the wire can pass relatively easily through. You might need to add a couple of extra spacers on each side, but that's something you can play around with. 

10. And here you go, on my wrist! The nest sits nicely between the other beads and against my wrist, as you can see. 

The finished piece...
Nest Called Home

Art beads from ~

Eclectic Prairie
Kylie Parry
Leah Curtis
Anne Gardanne

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Monday, April 14, 2014

Amuse Your Muse Monday with Rebecca of Songbead

Hello everyone! I hope you're having a great April. I can't believe we're nearly halfway through it already. Not least because it's my birthday in two days....feel free to send beads!

Watery beads this month! And thank-you to Sarajo for sharing this beautiful necklace she created using one of Jade Scott's cloud pendants. 

Speaking of clouds, I thought you might like to see this wooden cloud - I shared one last week but missed this one with the sun peeking out behind. How cute!

And what do you need when the rain's out? One of these sweet umbrellas from Grubbi!

And after the rain.....

And now for the BeadBlogger Links - have a great week!

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Friday, April 11, 2014

Inside the Studio with Claire Lockwood

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 to Kathy Lindemer! You have won a beautiful toggle clasp from Ema Kilroy.
Please contact Ema so you can claim your prize.


I was looking forward to doing my first Inside the Studio post.  I got the date several weeks ago, around the same time that I decided that a table tidy was in order.

I've taken on several writing responsibilities recently, so whilst in this tidy frame of mind, I bought a diary to keep track of deadlines, etc.  Look, you can see it there, at the top of the table. Want to know what I've actually written in that diary?  Precisely nothing. So it was with a little alarm that I discovered/remembered that I was due to be doing this post today.  This was heightened by my realisation that I didn't have a great deal to share!  I've been doing some magazine pieces in the last week or so, which obviously can't be shared here before publication.  I did a market this last weekend, which meant I had to give a certain amount of time over to unphotogenic things like pricing and tags.  I've also been working away from the studio/home a bit recently....

which doesn't make for very exciting images either, does it?  And then, in the last few days, I've fallen into one of those fallow slumps where I can't think of things to make.  I do have a number of pieces in varying states of completion, so I thought I'd share a few of those, in the style of a Bead Table Wednesday.  This first necklace is one I've been pondering over and carting around for some time.  Does it need more, do you think, like a larger focal, or should I just link it up as is?

(raku rectangles - Jubilee)

Then there's this raku connector with rose quartz drops - I can't decide how elaborate to make the rest of the necklace.  And should I just use more rose quartz or mix in some czech glass, which is what I originally planned.

The connector, as you may well recognise, is from Scorched Earth. I order from Petra once a fortnight when she updates her shop, so there's usually some Scorched Earth on my desk.

I love these freesias. 

I'm not sure if I'll get this frame set up to work, or if I do really want to use them together.  I'm sure these...

(ceramic connector - Round Rabbit)

...and these...

(etched copper pendant - Thea Elements)

...ought to be paired, but what else will go with them, I don't know.  These aren't paired with anything yet, but they're on my table and I'm delighted with them!

(lampwork beads - Glass Geo Beads)

You know when you have something in your Etsy cart for an age and you finally order it?  So pleased I did.  I'm really not sure what to make with them yet; I just decided they had to be mine!

As far as making my own beads goes, I haven't done much in a while.  A few custom orders...

...but no new designs.  I'm kind of between things at the moment, with my own beads, and I've yet to decide which of several ways I want to go.  But I have to offer a giveaway, so I've dug out some clay especially for it, and rustled up this trio of these perennial favourites.

The question is: What do you do to jumpstart your creativity? Answer below and next week a winner will be drawn, at random, who will receive this prize!

Ta-ra for now, Claire

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Etsy Picks Inspired by the April Monthly Challenge Swaying Dancers by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas  Swaying Dancers

I have been inspired by the lovely greens and oranges in Edgar Degas painting Swaying Dancers for my Etsy picks of art beads to inspire you to create and participate in  this month's 
challenge.  I have also included some colorful fibers to add to your palette.   

posted by Mary Harding