Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Monthly Recap

Frida Kahlo was a fascinating woman. Her short life was filled with great pain and great passion. This month's challenge painting was filled with a great array of images rich with symbolism and perfect for finding your interpretation. I was blown away by the awesomeness in beads and the inventiveness in jewelry design. I am sure Frida would be proud of all we've created. Let's start the show!

April 2015 Monthly Challenge by Slidely Photo Gallery
Just click the picture above to start. Best viewed in full screen mode.
If that doesn't work, try this link: April 2015 Monthly Challenge

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Perfect Pairings :: Evie & Beth of EB Bead & Metal Works

The mother-daughter duo of Beth and Evie McCord are back at it again with their entry for this month. They create these marvelous hand cut and enameled focal pieces. I have one of these hummingbirds from a few years back. They are substantial and a definite look-at-me piece. The colors shimmer and dance like the real plumage of the hummingbird. And while they are at it, they also know how to whip up a few lampwork beads to coordinate!
Read all about their process on their blog.

Featured Designer + Bead Artist :: EBBeadandMetalWorks

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 April 28th!

TIP: If you upload your photo to pin it rather than pin it from your blog or shop, edit the pin (the little pencil button) and add your link as the source. Save your edits. This will allow us to click directly on your photo and go to your blog or shop to read more about your entry. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Dawn Dodson of La Touchables

For some time now I've been big admirer of the work of Dawn Dodson of La Touchables. If you participate in or follow the monthly ABS challenge, you're likely to have come across her jewellery designs. I know her entries have been featured in a number of Erin's Perfect Pairings posts. They're like no other I know of: Dawn's pieces have a style that is immediately recognisable and all her own. They have a primitive feel and yet they seem subtly luxurious, in part because they're always loaded with beautiful things, including lots of art beads. She also takes fabulous photos that are brilliantly styled. There are plenty here for you to admire. You'll find more on her blog and in her shop. As I find her designs so compelling, I thought I'd see if she fancied telling us something more about her work.

When did you first get interested in beads and beading and how did it come about?

One night in the late 1960's, playing in the backyard of our apartment complex with my brother, I took an ugly garden pot in my hand and held it up in the air stating, "This is a great artifact from the days of the Egyptians!" Then I hurled it to the ground where it exploded into shards, each one more beautiful than the next. Blame it on the eerie outdoor lighting and the marshmallows, an epiphany followed and my brother grew up to be a ceramicist while a seed was sown in me which lay dormant for decades till just a few years ago.

I started making necklaces out of pure curiousity. In art school in the 80's I had taken a metalsmithing class, and abandoned that to concentrate on painting. So art history and color had always held me in a stranglehold, manifesting itself in a funky way of dressing, cutting my own hair, or altering my clothes. For years I more or less floated along regarding my creative life, never quite taking myself seriously enough to do anything about it. Then one day the tides changed.

My love of personal adornment began to grow when I came into the possession of vintage bakelite and multi-part antique metal buttons, and thought I could make something out of them. At that time I was working from the diningroom table on my bags and things.

I see from your blog and your Etsy shop that you work a lot with textiles and also make jewellery using different fabrics. Did this interest start before your interest in beads? Can you say a bit about how your work with textiles informs your jewellery designs.

I'd say it was a parallel development. Working with textiles makes me predisposed to finding other solutions to construction techniques, which fascinates me because of my love of contrasting hard and soft. But it's not about a technique shouting. For me, it's about the beads.

You use a lot of art beads in your designs. Who are your favourite bead makers and what is it in their work that appeals to you?

I look for a singular voice, show of hand, sculptural organic forms, attention to detail, artistic development and especially passion.

I've only touched the tip of the iceberg, and forgive me for leaving anyone out. Happy Fallout first caught my eye with her Tea in the Sahara ceramic beads. Her layering of glazes and textures is hypnotic. Balela Ceramics makes magnificent  sculptural porcelain and stoneware beads with subtle glazes and powdery pastels and neutrals. Edooley seduced me with her translucent color and delicate lampwork forms. Donna Perlinplim has such a refreshing take on things, from delicate decals to ancient looking glazes on embossed ceramic. TwoSistersDesigns makes organic painterly beads and I love her matt effetre lampwork. LaccentNou's pitfired and gold glazed beads have me swooning. RaggedRobyn robbed my heart with her tribal handpainted ceramic beads. Calisto makes gorgeous luminous lampwork, and I have just discovered NuminosityBeads (delicate explosions of natural beauty in her lampwork) and Something to do Beads (your work is at once modern, fun, and delicate, and I love how you paint with glaze, leaving raw ceramic edges). 

I'm still educating myself about bead artists, trying to better manage my time and budget.

 Do you have a favourite medium when it comes to buying art beads?

Stoneware, porcelain, lampwork, bone, and other natural materials. I'm open for anything though, and always ready to experiment.

Do you have a dedicated studio or do you work around the home? Can you describe your work space?

My studio is in the garden with a view to the garden house.
I work best in organized chaos, so at the end of the day I can close the door and leave things sitting around on the table. I don't have a decent photogenic image. It is what it is, a space I can take my hat off in.

On occasion I'll work at the diningroom table.

Do you have a favourite piece or pieces?

The one I'm working on. When I'm finished with that one, the next one will be my favourite.

Most of my pieces are accompanied by a story, and I'll often consider a piece to belong to one of three lines: Lost City, Earth Lines, Stone Diaries.

Are there any designers (whether of jewellery or textiles) who have been a particular influence on your work?

My inspiration comes from the women and men in my past who made beautiful things with their hands, because that was what they had. I'm also influenced by street fashion, mythology and history. I gravitate to things that have a warm human nature, yet are designed with skill and imagination with a tendency to minimalist simplicity. It could be a loaf of homemade bread, or the wooden hull of a sailboat. Both forms, by the way, require some design element. To that effect there are no shortcuts.

Thank you, Claire. It's a pleasure being featured on the Art Bead Scene Blog.

Thank you, Dawn!  For more eye candy and insight into Dawn's work, head here:


Monday, April 27, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Flower Beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

Hello ABS-ers! How's your week been? Good? Sunny? Beady? I hope so. My week has been more 'song-y' than 'bead-y' but I think this next one will be both, with any luck. And bunny-y too. Every week is bunny-y at Songbead Studios though! (You can check out how my past few weeks have been here in my Inside the Studio post - and be in with the chance to win a gift voucher for one of my shops!)

Anyway, enough about me - on with the beads! Flower beads to be precise. It's our last week, and next month we will have a new theme.....what will it be? You will just have to wait and see (when I've decided...!). 

A gorgeous floral collection from Hillovely. Can you believe these are polymer, not ceramic?

Wow. These stunners absolutely stopped me in my tracks! Do check out the rest of Cool Vintage's beads because they are truly wonderful. 

I just had to include these gorgeously colourful floral buttons from Bo Hulley. These particular ones are reserved, but she still has plenty of individual ones available in more glorious colours!

I also couldn't not include these gorgeously fun crocheted flowers from Kikamora Crafts which I stumbled upon in my flowery search. Are they art beads? I'm not sure, but they are super-fun and would add a fun, artful and colourful touch to your jewellery, don't you think? 

And lastly for now, a very sweet little hexagonal flower pendant from She Amores in lovely, rustic tones. 

And now for the BeadBlogger 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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Inside the Studio - Sunday Edition! - with Rebecca of Songbead

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 Renee M!

You have won a $35 gift certificate to Humblebeads
Send Heather an email to claim your gift certificate. 


2015 has been a bit of a funny year for me so far, as frequent readers may have gathered. There's been a lot going on behind the scenes for me and my family which has made the past 9 months or so quite tricky, with 2015 really throwing a spanner or seven in the already messy works. 

Perhaps needless to say, I haven't been at my most creative. I know that historically, we look at artists as often achieving greatness through tortured emotions, but I don't know about you, but that is *not* me. I am at my most creative when things are good - calm, a feeling of positivity in the air, possibility  around the corner. Sure, then you can plough those more difficult times, but I find myself unable to tap into my creativity so much when things feel unsettled and difficult. 

Happily, it feels like we are turning a corner and (along with the Spring sunshine we've enjoyed recently) this seems to have awakened a little spark of something or other within me. It feels good to be doing a little making again! 

I thought I'd share a little photo rundown of what's been going on with me these past few weeks. Out and about in Edinburgh, birthday celebrations (and shoes, beautifully modelled with pyjama bottoms!), a work trip to Aldeburgh via London, some teeny tiny handwoven beads, handmade jewellery and hanging out with my wee bunny boy. Action packed! And in no particular order...

My 34th birthday!

Birthday shoes...and pyjamas.

Henry Moore sculpture in the grounds of the Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh). 

A new necklace, featuring a unique pendant from Something to do beads.

Dean Village, Edinburgh. A country feel in the middle of a capital city.

 Aldeburgh Beach.

Teeny tiny handwoven beads.

The view from London Bridge - that's Tower Bridge you're looking at!

Outdoor art from Nathan Coley at the Dean Gallery (Edinburgh). I *love* this, and I'm not quite sure why!

A new bracelet, featuring hand-enemalled flowers from Gardanne Beads and a ceramic round from Kylie Parry

A weir along the Water of Leith (Edinburgh). 

St Bernard's Well (Edinburgh). 

A new bracelet featuring a Green Girl Studio flower and bee clasp. 

Me and Rufus! 

I'm hoping that lots of these images and experiences will prove as inspiration for the next few weeks. 

As always, we like to bribe you into commenting by offering up a juicy prize! This week, my prize is a £14 voucher for either of my shops - The Curious Bead Shop or Songbead. 

 My question for you is this - when are you at your most creative? What conditions are optimum for you to be most productive and inspired? Do you have tips or tricks to kickstart your muse? Or do you just sit it out? 

Leave your answer in the comments below to be in with a chance to win!

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tutorial: Art Beads. Macrame and Leather

                           Leather and Macrame Bracelet Wrap by Mary Harding

Although I haven't done much macrame in the last 10-15 years, it was one of my favorite ways of beading when I first started making jewelry.  I give macrame credit for sending me in the direction of making ceramic beads when I could not find beads with large enough holes for my hemp macrame cord.
                                            Macrame necklace with added art beads

Although this original macrame necklace I make some time ago has no art beads, I lay some out on it to show how well they go with the hemp and with macrame designs  in general.  Art beads pictured include beads by HumblebeadsNKP Designs and Mary Harding Jewelry.

 For today's tutorial I had to brush up on the basic square knot and how to figure out how long a cord to begin with.  My first attempt ran a bit short!!  I still have my book, The New Macrame which gives excellent directions for making the knots and has lots of great projects.
                                      The New Macrame by Katie DuMont

For our  project you are going to need some hemp cord.

                                                Hemp cord very thin.

I chose the thinnest one I could find  at Walmart in their craft section, and I still had to enlarge some of the holes in Heather Power's beads.  Since my leather is only 10mm wide I wanted to keep the macrame part of the bracelet about the same size and that was the best option easily available.  I really like how it works up and the color.

The directions below are for a long version of this bracelet.  You can use the formula below to decide on a shorter version as seen in the picture at the beginning of this post.

Long versions of the Art Beads, Macrame and Leather Wrist Wrap--measures about 29  1/2 inches.  The shorter version is 21 1/2 inches.  Both are made with 14 inches of 10mm leather.

You will also need about 14 inches of 10mm flat leather cord.  I chose burgundy but it comes in lots of different colors.  I got mine from Bokamo Designs.  10 mm flat leather cord is readily available on Etsy and at many beading shops, as well.

                                                   Burgundy 10mm flat leather

I used 2 Tierra Cast Rock and Roll strap tips:  one brass and one copper;  and two Tierra  cast compression rivets (4mm) made to fit them--again from Bokamo Designs--but these are also available on Etsy and at many bead shops.

I  used a small magnetic clasp from Ornamentea which I attached to one of the strap tips with a 5mm jump ring and then macramed in the other half of the clasp at the end.

For the beads, I used quite small art beads from Humblebeads; small ceramic beads that I made, and some copper seed beads.
For a second bracelet that I plan to make, I have some small ceramic beads from NKP designs  and Humblebeads that I plan to use.

   Art Beads for a wrapped leather and macrame bracelet:  beads with the light tan sprigs are by NKP Designs; the turquoise and green beads are by Humblebeads and the brown disk bead and round solid turquoise bead are by Mary Harding.

Tools you will need:
Rivet setter
bench block
leather hole punch
2 pairs of chain nose pliers to adjust jump rings
Bead Reamer with diamond tips

Directions for the Macrame and Leather Bracelet Wrap
1.  Rivet a  strap tips to each end of your 14 inch flat leather. Full video instructions from You Tube for setting the rivets on this size flat leather:  ( see instructions here) .

2.   Measure out your hemp cord.  The rule of thumb is 8 times the length of your finished macrame piece.  In this case,  I wanted the macrame part of the bracelet to be the same as the leather so that would  be 14 inches.  I then multiplied 14 times 8 and got 9 feet 4 inches.  This piece will be folded in half and will be the working cords I tie the knots with.  For the center cords that I will make the knots around I will double the length which in this case would be 14 x 2 or 28 inches.  The core doesn't get used up much but I want to play it safe.

3.  Once you have your two cords, fold them each in half . Then insert them into the stringing hole on one of your strap tips and make a lark's head knot.  Then secure you bracelet by using a clip board or pinning it to a bead board through the stringing hole.  Keeping tight tension on the square knots as you tie them makes them come out nice and even.

                          Hemp cord attached to the strap end cap with a larks head knot

5.  Begin making the square knot sennets.  Decide how many knots you want between beads:  I used between 5 and 6.  I also set up a pattern of beads that I would use:  Humblebead, my disk bead, 4 copper seed beads, Humblebead, my round bead, 4 copper seed beads( I used size 6 antique copper beads from Fusion beads)-- and then repeat the sequence.   For a good directions on how to make the square knots view this video on You Tube.

6.  When you get to the first bead you want to add, slip the two center strands of the hemp through the bead and  and the other two strands around the bead.   Continue to tie your square knot. See examples in picture below.  If the bead is a thin disk bead, and has a good size hole you can fit all 4 strands through it and continue on making your square knots.

                          example of  how different beads are included in the square knots

7.  Once you get near to completion of your strand of square knots you will want to add  one half of the magnetic clasp to your macrame cord and the other half to the tip end you riveted to the leather.

      Magnetic clasp attached to metal tip end and macrame cord.

Attaching one half of the magnetic clasp to the macrame core:

 To do this you will string the the two working cords through the loop on the clasp.  See picture below:

stringing clasp on working cords

Then you will fold over the working cord towards the area you have been making the square knots

                                        working cords folded over towards square knots

Next you will resume tying the square knots and go over the working cords heading towards the clasp

Tying square knots over the working cord that attached the clasp

Working cords completely covered with square knots and clasp secured  
Finally you will tie 2 knots around the clasp.  Cut all the cords and apply clear nail polish or epoxy glue to the cord ends around the clasp.

Knots tied around clasp

  Yeah!! You are finished and now you have a festive bracelet wrap for the Spring and Summer season.

And your bracelet can double as a necklace:

Your bracelet is also a  necklace

Bracelet as a Choker

Art Beads, Macrame, and Leather Wrist Wrap by Mary Harding

Thanks so much for stopping by.