Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gemstone Palette March Monthly Challenge

Gemstones, we all have them and love them. 
The thrill of running your hands through strands and strands of beads.

I created this palette to show options for this months challenge.  
Gemstones are the supporting actors with Art Beads being the main characters.

From top to bottom:
1) Agate-Comes in so many different colors. I pulled out the creamy, peachy, pinky ones for this months inspiration piece. Colors are in the sky, building, totems and ground.
2) Fluorite- Shades of green, violet with clear. Colors in the totems and foreground.
3) Amber-Varies light to dark with inclusions. Colors in the building and hillside.
4) Malachite- Variations of Green with dark striations. Colors in the building and trees.
5) Sodalite-Shades of light blue to dark blue, grayish blue to violet with veins of white or other markings. Colors throughout the painting.
6) Brecciated Jasper- Known for it's interesting color formations and patterns. Jasper can be solid, mottled, ringed or striped. Colors in the eaves of the building and hillside.

Deadline to enter the Monthly Challenge is March 31st! 
Enter on Pinterest in either the Jewelry Board or the Bead Board.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Inside the Studio :: Erin Prais-Hintz, Tesori Trovati

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 Catherine Sorenson!
You have won a bird and Wedgewood bead set from Heather Powers. (I totally want one of those!) Email Heather to claim your prize. 


Hello, lovelies! 
My company name, Tesori Trovati, is Italian for 'treasures found.' And that is exactly what I think of when I place each bead just so or when I make new clients. Each is a treasure to me. In fact, when I am asked to work with a client, I call that the 'treasuring process,' where we come together to make a piece of wearable art that is original and unlike anything else.

I have had the good fortune over the past few months to have worked with a new client named Miss Linda. Now, she is not totally new-to-me... her husband had me create a special something for her a few years ago, but I really never had met her until December 2014. That is when she contacted me in a huge rush requesting a very special custom creation. She wanted something eclectic and unique, and I am very delighted that she remembered me. I literally had about a week to get it all together. You see, Miss Linda works for a large community foundation in our area and one of their founding members, Miss Helen, was retiring. She wanted me to create something special for her to remind her of how deeply she affected them all and how deeply she would be missed. 

Miss Linda was the perfect client in that she gave me mostly free-range. She shared with me snippets of the Miss Helen's personality (she is the kind of person who makes up funny lyrics and sings them to you), her tastes (loves owls and says 'hoot hoot' when someone does something great), her favorite color preferences (brights), and special words and phrases that are meaningful (inspiration, hope and look what we found!). It was easy for me to get a picture in my mind of who Miss Helen was and what might appeal to her even though I had never met her. And from there I had a vision. 

One of the best things a client can tell me is 'I trust you.' That means that they have faith that I will come up with something that meets or exceeds their expectations. That also means that I have a panic attack right before I give the completed creation away. What if they feel they made a mistake? What if they don't like the direction that I went in? What if I selected the wrong words or colors? What if... what if... what if...?

But I needn't have worried because Miss Linda was moved to tears by the personal touches that I added into this piece. And the reveal that Friday met with the same awe by the recipient who was overwhelmed by the details of the piece. In addition to the piece all packaged in my signature box with ribbon, I included a little card that detailed all the parts of this long talisman-style necklace that can be slipped on long or doubled over short. Each piece had a meaning. They read this to Miss Helen at her party so that everyone could enjoy the gift. (Click it to see it larger!)

And then Miss Linda gave me another honor: a repeat performance! Another dear colleague and friend was leaving the foundation. Would I be able to come up with something as special as her?

Miss MaryO has a vibrant and fun personality. She signs her signature with a characteristic flourish of an "O" and she loves bright colors. She travels, drinks wine and coffee. Watches Project Runway. She also is a jewelry designer. 

When you create custom for a client, there are so many rewards. But when you know that you will be creating a piece for an accomplished jewelry designer, the nerves can be a bit intense! So I really knew that I had to step up my game.

When the reveal came for Helen's Amulet, Miss Mary immediately keyed in on the word bead by Diane Hawkey and indicated that it was by one of her favorite bead artists. Mine, too! Small world, indeed! So I started with the word beads I had from Diane.... luckily I had placed a huge order for them in the fall so I had a lot to choose from and "Inspire" was the one that stood out for Miss Mary's personality. That bead set the color palette. Miss Linda had told me that the two of them had often talked about the blue bird of happiness. This symbol was something powerful that I knew I could add and, as luck would have it, I happened to have a bluebird from Miss Diane herself! Sweet serendipity!

I just knew that the "O Doodles" that I created for my starring role in the Wire Doodle DVD through Interweave last fall would be the perfect start to this necklace that had to make a statement as big as Miss MaryO herself! (I actually had to finally break down and watch the video so that I could faithfully reproduce the O Doodles! And I wasn't too bad of a teacher, if I do say so myself! ;-) I created these "O Doodles" in 18-16 gauge steel wire and then hand patina-ed each link with various colors, sanding off to let the wire show through. I used a touch of gold on the center one, because it is obvious that when Miss Mary is around that people gravitate to her sparkling personality!

Inspire Happiness
Created especially for Miss MaryO

The rest just sort of fell into place with pyrite diamond-shaped beads, raspberry stick pearls, inlaid turquoise brass beads from Nepal and the most gorgeous rough cut nuggets of amethyst with an AB finish from my favorite gemstone supplier Beads Direct Online

For the presentation, I did a similar thing with a card that detailed my choices. That is something I think I will consider doing for future reference for custom orders like this because I know they appreciated the thought behind it. 

Here is what Miss Linda had to say about the experience...

She was absolutely blown away and delighted by each personalized piece that you included! She wore it to work the next day – which was her last day – and it looked just stunning. She was wearing all black – with a turtleneck top, black skirt and black leggings – so the outfit was entirely about showing off the necklace. She received so many compliments on how it was just perfect for her. I know that she especially appreciated the bluebird bead, as did I.

Thank you again, Erin! I’m an extremely satisfied customer!!!
XO Miss Linda

I don't always get to know the people that I do the custom work for, but I have never had anyone come back and tell me that I didn't get it absolutely right. That always gives me warm fuzzies! Knowing that my clients really do trust me helps me rise to the occasion and makes for a really delightful experience all around. I really do love to make original, one-of-a-kind creations, far more so than being in any gallery or boutique, where I am not sure what to make that might sell. Making treasures is what I am all about. It allows me to really put a lot of love and intention behind the choices and tailor them for a perfect fit to their lifestyle, tastes and personality. Yes, it can cause a bit of stress, but by asking a lot of the right questions and getting an image in my mind of who that person is it turns into a vision that really works. (In fact, I just found out that I will be creating a bespoke necklace for a woman from the UK who saw one of my creations on my cousin who travels the world... looking forward to that treasuring process!)

But I know that not everyone feels the same way about custom work.

So.... my question to you....

Do you take custom orders or not?
Why or why not?
Would love to hear about your experiences!

A winner will be chosen at random to get a $20 gift certificate to spend in my shop!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tutorial... erm... Thursday - Floral Cap Earrings

I'm not sure if it's been mentioned on the blog at all but, behind the scenes, the team have been having a bit of a rethink about how we plan our monthly post schedule.  Nothing is entirely set in stone just yet, but today I have a tutorial for you and it isn't a Tuesday.  It's for a relatively simple pair of earrings but I hope it will give you some ideas for different ways to use bead caps.

I love these vintage tin bead caps from Lorelei Eurto. There's so much cute detail it seems a shame to hide them away at the top of a bead, especially if another bead will be sitting directly on top of them. Here I've used a wooden disc as a backing so that the surface of the bead cap becomes the focal component. What other materials you use is mostly up to you. I've wired the cap and bead so that they have loops at the top and bottom. From the bottom loop I've hung a combination of czech glass beads.

The yellow flower is one of those dinky button flowers with the hole at the back. I've added the angel wing bead above to stop the flower twisting around. Other similar shaped beads can also do this job, for example, a large peanut bead.  Of course, you may wish to hang something completely different below your bead cap link. Moving on to the cap section, I have used 26 gauge wire. This was because the hole in my wooden discs was relatively small. If your beads have larger holes then a thicker wire would be good.

I found that the best way to keep the cap centred on the wooden disc, was to start making the wraps on each side and increase the tightness in each at the same time, rather than finishing one completely before starting on the next. Once this is done, make a wrapped loop at the bottom of your cap section, adding the czech glass drop before closing the loop.  Turning to the top of the earrings, I've added a little stack of beads.

I've used a large holed bone bead and a washer then added a vintage acrylic flower cap, which sits nicely in the large holes below. If you don't have such a thing, you could try using one of those little flat-ish czech glass 5-point star flowers (this sort of thing). I then sat a little wooden seed bead in the vintage cap and made a double wrapped loop, to compensate for the finer wire. Then you just need to add your ear wire and make your second earring.

Bye for now, Claire 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Perfect Pairings :: Ditsy Blue

The adventure that Emily Carr embarked on in the wild woods of the remote landscape of British Columbia intrigued Miss Karen of Ditsy Blue so much that she made all the main beads in her totem talisman style necklace to reflect this rich historical inspiration. Blue and white carved headpins, the tiny house and the added touch of the simple feathers all tied together on a linen cord with some earthy Czech glass beads make for a wonderful interpretation of the Haida Totems art for March.

Featured Designer + Bead Artist :: Ditsy Blue
Just a friendly reminder... We have a slightly new format for uploading your pictures for consideration for the Perfect Pairings each Wednesday, as well as the Monthly Challenge Recap post. We are now using Pinterest! You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes, including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge! (Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!)
Pretty please make sure that you post a link in your Pinterest description so that I have someplace to attribute the picture to! And don't forget to tell us about those art beads!
Deadline to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post is Thursday, March 26th!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Building Beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

Hi everyone, and welcome to a new week! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments last week about the bunny troubles we've been going through - or bunmageden, as I've taken to calling it! It should come as no surprise to me that so many bead people are also pet people. They are a precious part of our families, and I really appreciate your support :-) Rufus isn't out of the woods but things are still moving in the right direction, hopefully. 

And so onwards with building beads. As I promised last week, I am planning on sharing some of Heather Humblebeads' gorgeous house beads. These are some of my favourite, favourite handmade beads to work with, and Heather usually brings out a few new ones for the different years and seasons. 

Which one is your favourite? 

I don't think I can pick a favourite myself! 

Here's what I've turned some of these beads into:

Have you tried out any of Heather's wee house beads? Do you have any designs featuring them to share? Leave links in the comments below! 

Next week, I'll be sharing some lovely building beads from some of our other ABS Editors, and a few more etsy finds.....leave any links to building beads you've made or found in the comments below. 

And now for the Bead Blogger Links. Have a great week!

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in Edinburgh, capital of her native land. 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, March 20, 2015

Inside the Studio with Humblebeads

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 Marie, the Inquisitive Knitter!
You have won a flower pendant from the very talented Mary Harding. (I'm jealous!) Email Mary to claim your prize. 

Welcome to the Humblebeads Studio - again! 
It's been a busy, crazy time over the last few weeks. I've been working on lots of behind the scene projects and working on new beads that will be heading to my Etsy shop soon. One of the themes that have been recurring lately in my beadmaking are borrowing techniques and inspirations from pottery. 

I've been a fan of Sgraffito for a while, it reminds me so much of block printing and uses a similar carving technique that I so enjoy. Sgraffito pottery are glazed with a dark glaze on leather hard clay, the dark glaze is carved away to create an image. I love the graphic and folk-inspired look of these pieces. 

Ceramic molds and impression-making techniques translate so nicely to polymer clay. I love the idea of creating your own stamps and molds to use as a beadmaker. In another life I would have been a ceramic beadmaking but I'm too darn impatient and want instant gratification and I'm so not techy and glazes seems like a science to me. Thank the bead gods for polymer clay! I can handle a toaster oven. 

Both the sgraffito and stamped beads above are part of a spring workshop that I'm teaching in May. You can see the details here. I'm sure I'll be teaching these classes in other places too and hey, if you have a polymer clay guild or bead society in your area consider talking to them about having me out as a guest teacher. 

And my last bit of pottery influenced beads are these Wedgwood inspired beads, the ones with the white vines/leaves. I've been having fun making these bead totems in spring colors - inspired by Vanessa Bell's paintings and her Charleston farmhouse

My question today is what other medium or craft influences and inspires your jewelry designs? Leave a comment to win one of the bird/Wedgwood sets like the ones above.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

To Cap it All - Bead Cap Inspiration

Hello all! It's my turn today on Art Bead Scene, and I thought I would share a post of mine from back int 2012 which I have long thought would stand a revisit. Things have been a little busy/hectic/stressful here, and I haven't had time to finish writing up the post I had planned - but never fear, that will wait for another day, and hopefully you will find a little inspiration in one of my favourite components to work with - the humble bead cap. Enjoy!


We all love beads here at Art Bead Scene - readers and writers alike. But I bet I am not alone in saying that my personal love of beads extends way beyond 'small, decorative object(s)...usually pierced for threading or stringing.' (Wikipedia). Findings, fibres, cords, found objects that can be incorporated into my jewellery - all these are things that, alongside beads, I couldn't live without. Well, perhaps that's going too far but sometimes it can feel like that! 

Today though, I want to talk about one of my favourite of all non-bead components - the humble bead cap. When I first started out beading with wire, quite a few years ago now, I found these sweet little things endearing - they were, as you would think, tiny little caps; miniature headgear for the little beads I loved to work with. (I don't think I could have told you what an art bead was at this point!) They sat and looked pretty, and occasionally served a useful purpose in keeping my beads from falling off headpins if the holes were too big, but that was about it. I played around with having them on the bottom of a bead too, a cup rather than a cap, and also sandwiching a bead between two caps. All very pretty, but nothing earth shattering there! 

When I discovered art beads a few years later, I also discovered artists such as Shannon LeVart (better known to you and me as MissFickleMedia), and her stunning hand patinated components. I went ahead and bought some bead caps. They were really pretty and almost seemed too lovely to use with some of my beads....and when the caliber (and price tag!) of the beads you are working with changes, you don't always want to cover them up with bead caps, however pretty. And the bead caps were so lovely in their own right, I didn't want them to be secondary to the beads themselves. So I started to think, how else could I use these lovely components....I tried a few things out but wasn't totally I stuck with the capping and cupping, just with more expensive headgear than before. 

Earrings made for the Bead Soup Blog Party earlier this year.
Still, my quest to elevate the bead cap from it's lowly status as a finding continued....and then I had several lightbulb moments over the past year....why not turn the cap around? Not merely cupping or capping, but springing out from the bead like a flower? Now I was onto something! (This is not to say this was desperately original. I know many people have done the same and many people continue to do the same! It was however, new and striking to me.)

Cupping, capping, layering and flipping of Vintaj and Fallen Angel Brass bead caps - all in one pair of earrings!Polymer clay rondelles - Humblebeads
The lightbulbs continued to flash - layer the caps! Stack them! And then I discovered more and more bead artists creating artisan bead caps - ChelleV2, GardanneBeads and TheaToo to name but a few. These caps didn't need beads to be beautiful - they could work all by themselves, turned into flowers or bells with cord, wire, headpins for stamen. 

Here are some examples if you are struggling with a stash of beautiful bead caps like I was:

A tiny ceramic bird from BoHulleyBeads perches atop a handmade bronze flower beadcap (TheaToo), handmade brass headpins form spiralling stamen. 
Patinated ring and headpins from MetamorphSupplies.
A series of earthenware clay bead caps from ChelleV2 are knotted on waxed linen cord and hang down artfully, mimicking faded flowers, or tears. 

This was made for Erin Prais-Hintz' Challenge of Music earlier this year. Watch out for her Challenge of Literature on Thursday! 

The difference that different media can make - look at these bell earrings, this time bead caps from NadinArtGlass. The light and delicate ridging on these caps make for an elegant pair.

I made these shortly before going on stage to sing as I had forgotten to bring any jewellery with me!
A different look again - these Vintaj bead caps make perfect earrings as well, or even a single one as a sweet pendant.
Created for one of Andrew Thornton's blog challenges last year.
Enamelled flower bead caps add a pop of colour wherever needed - these bead caps from Anne of GardanneBeads are some of my very favourites, being a lover of colour. One hangs from an antique brass branch, a perfect complement to this cute lampwork owl from SoulSilver

These wee flower dangles are the perfect addition to many pieces of jewellery - Anne has just made me a custom rainbow hued order!
What components (other than beads!) do you love to work with? What handmade elements have you elevated beyond the ordinary? If you are a bead or component artisan, what are you working on beyond beads and pendants to make our jewellery making ever more unique and beautiful? 

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in Edinburgh, capital of her native land. 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