Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Monthly Challenge Recap

My daughter just finished up her annual recital and performance group show last weekend. So I have had dancers on the brain all month long! One of the dances this year included about 25 dancers, aged 7-17, all wearing powder pink table-top tutus. It was stunning!

"People call me the painter of dancing girls," Degas told Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard. "It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes."
“People call me the painter of dancing girls,” Degas later told Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard. “It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes.”

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Degas was smitten with the Paris Opera Ballet. He lurked in the hallways and practice rooms. He gained backstage access by pressing for favors from the rich male patrons of the ballet, the abonnés, which allowed him into the private world. He painted the aspiring ballerinas in the most mundane moments, in poses that were more relaxed, from intriguing angles, and less in the spotlight. These are the most enduring images of the 18th century that he left us with all these centuries later. Yet, they feel timeless. And having just come from a full weekend of dance performances, I can tell you that they are spot on.

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March 2014 Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge Recap.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: A Layered Bracelet Design

As promised I have a tutorial to share with you, a bracelet tutorial. With the warmer weather comes bare arms and the chance to show off gorgeous bracelets. I like bracelets that have the stacked look built into them so I designed this bracelet with layered strands to work with the focal toggle clasps from my Natural Impressions line. I am having so much fun designing around the toggle as a focal. I'm also finding a new love in Czech glass beads. Just look at those scrumptious rondelles and leaves!

Copper Focal Clasp from Ema's Natural Impressions Line
8 - 12 mmCzech glass rondelles
7 - 10 mm Czech glass leaves
31- 4 mm Czech glass rondelles
22 - 4 mm copper rounds
13 - 5 mm copper rounds
17 - 8/0 Miyuki glass seed beads
6 - 2x2 copper tube crimps
Stringing wire
Jewelry making pliers
tape measure
6 - 3.5 inch lengths of 22 or 24 guage wire

The measurements in this tutorial create a 7 and 1/2 inch bracelet. If you're creating a different size bracelet adjustments to materials will have to be made. I'd also like to mention that I am a big fan of Soft Flex beading wires. I've had problems with other stringing wires slipping out of the crimp tubes rather easily. I never have that problem with Soft Flex. This is a just my personal opinion so please feel free to use the stringing wire you prefer.

So let's get started by gathering your supplies.

Cut three lengths of your stringing wire, 9.5 to 10 inches. Add one strand of the stringing wire to the focal portion (I'm using a 1.5 inch round focal clasp for this tutorial) of the clasp, use a crimp tube and crimping pliers to secure the wire to the jumpring. Repeat for the other two stringing wires. 

On the first wire, string one 5mm copper round, 12 mm glass rondelle, 4 mm copper round, 8 mm glass rondelle, 4 mm copper round. Continue the pattern from the 12 mm rondelle.

Continue stringing until your desired length is reached. Finish with a 5 mm copper round. Add a crimp tube. String on the toggle portion of the clasp and bring the stringing wire back through the crimp tube (and a couple of the other beads if you can). 
*(Don't be confused by the measurements on the tape...I use a scrap piece of measuring tape that has been cut up. I'm not making a 48 inch bracelet.)*

Crimp the tube to finish this strand.

Trim the excess stringing wire as close as you can to the beads.

Begin your second strand with a 5 mm copper round. Add 3 - 8 mm glass rondelles, 5 mm copper round, 3 - 8 mm glass rondelles, 5 mm copper round, 3 - 8 mm glass rondelles. Continue the pattern for the desired length of the wire.

Add a crimp tube, string wire through the toggle portion of the clasp. Using the same jumpring the first strand is going through. String around the jumpring, back into crimp tube and through a couple of beads if you can. Use crimping pliers to crimp the tube. Trim the excess wire.

Here's what your piece should look like so far. Two strands done. One to go.

For the third and final strand we're going to string on a 5 mm copper round. Followed by a 4 mm copper round, 2 - 8/0 seed beads, a czech glass leaf (aren't these just precious?), 1 seed bead, 1 - 4 mm copper round, 1 seed bead, continuing the pattern with the czech glass leaf bead for the length.

Finish the end of the third strand in the same manner as the other two strands. I tried to begin and end each strand with a 5 mm copper round if I could manage it.

And drum roll please.... 
Your piece is finished. That is if you want to be finished.

You can add crimp covers to cover the crimp beads if you wish or you could continue on with the optional portion of this tutorial. I have taken to adding wrapped wire to the ends of my pieces. I like the look it gives to the piece.

I find that adding wrapped wire to the crimp covers tend to tighten the stringing wire, making the strands a bit stiff. Almost as if I had used actual wire to string the beads. Just something you should keep in mind if you are going to try this. It may also shorten your bracelet up a tad. So if you're bracelet is fitting you perfectly you may want to skip this step.

Bend the end of the 3.5 inch copper wire up about a half inch.

Put the crimped tube into the crook of the bent wire. Starting at the end of the copper round bead. Hold the wire tail with a pair of pliers and begin wrapping the wire around the crimp. I tend to wrap around the crimp in a neat fashion and then wrap back to where I started the wrap.

Trim the excess wires.

Tuck the cut ends neatly so they bury under the wrap. I start and end at the copper round to give the cut ends a place to hide. 

You'll have to complete this process six times. One time for each crimp tube.

The finished layers and those delicious czech glass beads.

A final look at the finished piece. 

Additional options:
I used a large, 1.5 inch clasp from my Etsy shop. You can easily use a smaller clasp and/or make less strands to suite your own personal taste.

I purchased my Czech glass beads from my local bead shop. If you can't find the exact beads in the materials list you can peruse, our own, Rebecca Anderson's Etsy shop, The Curious Bead shop. Rebecca has a lovely assortment of Czech glass beads.

Thanks for visiting with me today. I hope you've enjoyed the tutorial and I look forward to seeing your creations.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Amuse your Muse - April Showers - with Rebecca of Songbead

Afternoon all! Here we are at the end of the month and we have our last lot of April Showers beads - watery, shower-y, rain-y beads. Thank you to Liona and Claire for sharing their finds this week! Next month, we complete the rhyme with May Flowers. Share your flower bead links in the comments below. 

Liona of Blue Merlin Creations shared these beautiful 'West Coast Beach' beads - don't they make you long for some sea and sand? These are from Stephanie Beads.

Liona also shared these lovely 'spring waters' lampwork beads, from Moogin Beads. Yum! You've got to be quick off the mark to snap up any of Moogin's mini-masterpieces.

Co-editor Claire Lockwood shared these sweet ceramic fishes - aren't they fab? They are from Happy Fish Things, and very happy they are indeed.

Claire also shared these beautiful teardrop beads. What a stunning water-y glaze! These are also from Happy Fish Things.

And now for the BeadBlogger Links. Have a lovely week everyone!

Art Bead Scene
Visit Mary Harding in her studio and be in with the chance to win one of her handmade copper clasps. 

Breaking the Yarn Bank
When is it okay to spend a bunch of money on super fancy yarn? 

Mother's Day Craft Tutorials 
Mother's Day is coming up May 11th. Now's the time to start thinking about what you'll create for Mom or Grandma to show her your love.

Resin Crafts Blog
Today's post features a classic one pour resin project!

Carmi's Art/Life World
I imagine that miniature vials will always appeal to those of us who like unique and unusual beads. This week I featured them in a necklace.

A Bead A Day
Love using jewelry making components in interesting ways? Lisa does too and is sharing a simple, but fun bracelet made on the beach!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Come and see the lovely online book which Rita Toltec made of the recent Blog Hop she hosted which included fifty designers: THE COLOR OF DREAMS ! It is such a beautiful book! So dreamy! 

Beading Arts
Beads? Free beads? Who doesn't like a good bead giveaway? Cyndi's got one going on!

Mixed Media Artist
Do you enjoy painting your own fabrics for your projects? Cyndi has compiled all of her fabric painting tutorials into one place for you!

Painted Glass Beaded Mushrooms
Cherie makes some glass mushrooms for the garden.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Guest post from Marcie Abney Carroll - Laminate Pendants

Hello ABS-ers! I come to you today with a guest post from metalsmith and jewellery artist Marcie Abney Carroll of La Bella Joya. Recently, she has been experimenting with some new and rather lovely laminate layered pendants (I may or may not have some in my collection....) and today she shares with us a little behind the scenes. Oh, and make sure you read all the way through to the end for a super special ABS coupon code!

Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to take a few classes with one of the heavy hitters in the metalsmithing world, Melissa Manley. She taught me the necessary techniques to begin my own journey in working with metal. My favorite tool and the one that I've spent the most time practicing with is the jeweler's saw.

I enjoyed using the saw on sheets of silver, copper, and brass. But about two years ago, I was inspired by Thomas Mann's book, Metal Artist's Workbench to experiment with different mediums that could be cut using the jeweler's saw. This opened a whole new world of materials. I was particularly interested in the work I had seen other artists doing using laminate countertop samples and I wanted to see if I could use these tiles to create work that reflected me and my own unique style.

I was fortunate enough to source most of my samples from local wholesalers who were willing to let me comb through Formica sample graveyards and carry home boxes of discontinued colors and patterns. I started sketching shapes and themes and brainstorming ways to connect and combine different tiles to add more color and texture to my work.

I ended up with a pile of failed attempts as I tried to make something that still looked and felt like a kitchen counter. It wasn't until I began to look at the laminate as a vehicle of color and started taking advantage of its sturdiness that I started really creating unique pieces out of the tiles.

Inspired by my Pinterest travels, my feathers were the first batch of pendants that generated interest when I posted a photo of them on Instagram (follow me @labellajoya). I have since wielded my saw to create other pendants and components and I'd like to give you a little peek into my creative process.
Each  component begins as a sketch in my sketchbook. I usually scan and make a copy and then run the individual sketches through my Xyron sticker maker and adhere them to the laminate samples that I've chosen to use.

I then cut each shape out individually using my jeweler's saw. I end up with a big pile of laminate cast offs, all of which I hoard thinking I'll use them again for smaller charms! 

I drill tiny holes in each piece of laminate and rivet them together securely using copper wire. I've mostly made pendants, though I have a few pieces with two holes that could be used as connectors. 

The backs are left raw and all the edges are sanded smooth for comfortable wear.
I've really enjoyed wearing and creating with these pendants. Laminate, as a material, is light as a feather (no pun intended) which means these components are wonderful in asymmetrical designs and work well with the very trendy necklaces that feature groupings of similar charms and beads on long chain.

When I listed my first batch on Etsy, I was so excited to see them fly off to other jewelry artists to include in their creations. It was definitely an exciting feeling to think that another artist was inspired by my work!

I'm currently working on birds and still enjoy rummaging through my laminate piles to create new color combos with the feathers. I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration. The color possibilities really are endless and some of the laminate samples have such great faux wood and stone textures that they lend themselves to natural inspirations. 

I'm constantly adding new pendants and components to the shop as I make them. I've got a sketchbook full of ideas!  Birds, butterflies, pansies, and an idea to combine the laminate with metal are currently filling my pages. The best way to follow my creative journey is to follow me on Facebook or Instagram where I post new creations, sometimes as soon as I make them!

I'd like to thank the editors of Art Bead Scene for the opportunity to share my creative process, and to celebrate I'm offering a special 15% off coupon in my shop! Just type in the code ABSFEATURE14 in the coupon code box upon checkout and receive 15% off your entire purchase! Here are all my important links:

Also, if you create something with one of my laminate pendants, I'd love to see a photo and I would definitely feature your work on my blog! 

Thank you so much Marcie for sharing so generously with us today - I have loved reading this post and can't wait to see where you will go next with this versatile technique. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

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 Lecia Woessner !! You have won a $25.00 gift certificate from   Please send Heather an email with your information so you can redeem your gift certificate.

Today we visit the studio of
Signs of Spring in Northern New York

I have been enjoying the change in light and since my last Inside the Studio post.  I love Daylight Savings time because it makes my studio day longer. Thanks to our cats, I am up earlier every day and because afternoons are so nice and long, we have put our dinner hour 1 1/2 hours later.  All that extra time is just great for making art beads.  I am totally enjoying all the transformations to the earth that Spring brings like melted snow, green leaves and warmer weather.

I thought this visit I would share some transformations in my work and  show you some pieces I have been making in copper clay and sheet metal recently.  Sometimes I think I like the process of making as much as the product.  It is such a thrill to see the changes materials go through on the way to the finished bead, bracelet bar or toggle clasp.  Take these toggle bars for example.  They start off as wire on a roll

Then the wire is cut into pieces

Then they get annealed and formed into the toggle bar

And then they are patinaed with Liver of Sulfur

And  rubbed with steel wool  and tumbled and polished

And finally get paired up with a toggle clasp which also was transformed by patina.

Copper Clay also goes through many changes before the final art bead goes into the shop or into a piece of jewelry.  I find each of these stages exciting and an important part of the creative process that continues to drive me back to the studio with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. Copper clay starts off as a lump of copper brown clay like material.  After it is conditioned and formed into a shape it needs to be dried at which point it is a light reddish brown.

When copper clay is in this stage, it is very flexible and can be cut into a more desirable shape with scissors or an exacto knife. The edges can be smoothed with a wet sponge.  Once it re-dries it is fired in a brick lined ceramic kiln (for best results) in a stainless steel container buried in a bed of coconut carbon.  During the firing process the binder that is mixed in with the copper burns off and the pure copper metal remains.

 These pieces are just out of the kiln and some of the  carbon they are fired in is still sticking to them.  Notice their dull surface.  It takes a good spin in the tumbler to get that off.

Tumbled copper clay pendants  Mary Harding

Tumbling can be the final step or a further transformation occurs when a liver of sulfur patina or a flame patina is used.  I think this is my favorite transformation.  But sadly, it is not always possible to get a good flame patina.  Below, as my last example of transformations for this post,  I have included a few pendants that were flamed with my torch with varying results.

Lilac Bloom Pendant  Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Rosemary Donut  Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Cedar Bough Donut   Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Carrots Liver of Sulfur Patina Mary Harding

Thank you for visiting with me in my studio today.  I have enjoyed showing you some of the transformations that occur in my work space.  Now comes  my question for you:

  What is one of the most rewarding/exciting transformations you find in the creating you do?  

Tell us by leaving  a comment below and you will be entered in a random draw to win one of my copper clay nature pendants from my Etsy store

The winner will be picked next week.   Have a great one!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Art Bead Palette :: APolymerPenchant

Fantasy Flower Pendant - Pink Tones

Fantasy Flower Pendant - Purple Tones

Fantasy Flower Pendant - Red Tones

Fantasy Flower Pendant - Orange Tones

Fantasy Flower Pendant - Yellow Tones

I'm going to blame my current flower fixation on it being springtime. Can you blame me? After the winter we all had (and may still be having, for some), bright colors are the ticket.

Enter these Fantasy Flower beads, from Emma Todd's shop, A Polymer Penchant. Aren't they gorgeous? At first, I thought they were ceramics, but they're made from polymer clay! Beautiful. It's a hard choice, but I think my favorite pendants are the yellow ones, with the orange ones coming a very close second. How about you?

To see more from Emma, be sure to stop by her Etsy shop!