Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Monthly Challenge Recap

It seems that this painting, while intriguing and certainly not lacking for color or details, was a bit overwhelming for people to grasp. I read comments on Facebook and in blogs and elsewhere that it was something interesting but that the Muse was not striking.

I think that for me what I wanted to do and what I actually did differed, because I had in my head that I needed to make things as difficult and intricate as Lesage, when what I really needed to do was just focus on what I loved most about it: color.

I find it easy to be intimidated by the monthly challenges, either because I am trying to be too literal, or the inspiration is so far-reaching for me. Either way, I have set myself up in a personal challenge to make something - anything - based on the inspiration. It is the only way that I grow as an artist to take on challenges like this and find what speaks to me, even if it is just one tiny part of the whole picture. Sometimes when I am faced with a painting that I don't feel is talking to me, I will print it out and look at it from different angles, sort of like when you would hang off the edge of the couch and pretend to be walking on the ceiling. Or I might even cut the print into pieces and rearrange them, or focus on one. Try that next time you are stuck!

There were some really delightful entries filled with color and details and a pure joy. I hope you enjoy the gallery I have created to show them off!

May 2015 Art Bead Scene by Slidely Photo Gallery

Now it is your turn! If you blogged about your entry, please post it here for a chance to win prizes!

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Friday, May 29, 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 prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.

Congratulations to Katherine Thompson!

You have won a $20.00 gift certificate to spend in Mary Harding's Etsy shop.
Send Mary an email to claim your prize. 
Hello bead tribe!

I don't know about you, but I feel a bit like I am barely treading water right now. Spring is always a bit frenzied for me. I am having a hard time keeping up!

Dance was over in April (but starting up again) and now travel softball (first tournament next weekend) and rec league are about to start for my daughter. Today is the last day of school for my son. Tomorrow he will officially be a senior for the 2015-2016 school year (wait...what?!!!?). Next Wednesday his baseball team takes on a regional semi-final baseball game on their march to State (they made it past the regionals only to fall in the last game - sectionals - two years in a row. Feeling hopeful that this is the year we can make it!). My daughter will be graduating from 8th grade next Thursday and I have been up around the clock working on the big through-the-years slideshow celebrating all 64 graduates. Add into that the fact that the grand-daddy of all bead shows is coming to Milwaukee (about 3 hours away - how could I miss it?!), and of course back in December I signed up to take classes on Wednesday  with Thomas Mann, Eva Sherman (yes, I will be missing the baseball game...and the weekend softball tournament), and on Sunday with the Thorntons (Andrew and Cynthia) all of which I am SOOOO not ready for. Needless to say, I am going a bit out of my mind!

Examples from past Thomas Mann classes - can't wait!
I didn't sign up for classes last year and I really missed it. I typically set aside a few hundred dollars for classes/workshops each year and last year I didn't really do anything that wasn't virtual. I miss the face-to-face. So I was excited to get in a class with Thomas Mann. Sometimes I take classes with artists that I admire, not really caring about what I am learning, just to soak up their genius. That would sum up my feeling about Thomas Mann. I had the good fortune to meet Miss Eva Sherman when I filmed a episode of Beads, Baubles & Jewels in December (which will go live in July! Woot!). She is dynamite and so sweet, so I knew that I had to take a class with her. And what more can be said about Andrew Thornton and his sister Cynthia of Green Girl Studios fame? They are absolutely delightful, so I know that I will be captivated by their magical class. 

Lisa Peters Art beads from 2011... I know I still have one of those tubes in my stash!
Of course, I love to shop at the bead show, but I have been on a self-imposed bead diet for over a year (that really hasn't stopped me so much as slowed me down - thanks to Miss Heather Millican of Swoondimples for helping me cheat recently!). I have stacks, bins and boxes of beads that I have purchased over the past few years at B&B that I have been hoarding. So I really don't NEED any more beads (but I know that won't stop me). I am actually hoping to put together some kits that I was asked to design, so that might be the only way that I will get my shopping fix.

Best beady friends!
So I will be heading to the classes I am taking with Thomas Mann and Eva Sherman on Tuesday night. And I will be coming back on Wednesday night as soon as my last class ends so that I can be present for the graduation festivities on Thursday. Then back to Bead & Button on Friday-Sunday, meeting up with my best friend and ABS Editor, Heather Powers and her Aunt Rosanne. It is something I look forward to every year. We really never get enough time to be together as friends and bead shoppers, it is always a whirlwind, more so this year than ever. 

I was honored that a necklace design I made last year was selected as a class for this year's Bead & Button co-teaching with Miss Brenda Schweder using her Now That's A Jig tool. Unfortunately, the world of Bead & Button Show classes is pretty competitive and my class ended up being cancelled due to low enrollment. Bummer! But I do believe everything happens for a reason, and it would have added to my stress level to teach on that large a scale. Plus, this won't be the last you will see of this necklace idea.... ;-)

And when one door closes, another opens... I am delighted to say that I will be teaching two make-and-take mini-classes on Saturday, June 6th at the Now That's A Jig booth #901/903. I think that space is limited, so if you are interested, be sure to sign up! I just saw the template of my original holiday ornament design that I will be teaching, and I am so looking forward to it!

Since I will be at the Bead & Button show next week, my prize for you will be to have me be your personal shopper at the Bead & Button Show. I am a really good shopper (just ask Heather!), and I need an excuse to go and fondle... er.... buy some beads, so it will be fun for me to pick out some things special for one lucky random winner. I will be sure to pick out some nice things for a surprise bead stew! Here is my question for you....

Would you rather....
...spend your money on BEADS? If so, what would you be looking for at Bead & Button?
...invest in taking classes with MASTERS? If so, what would you most like to learn or who would you like to learn from?

A random winner will be selected at the next Inside the Studio
and in the meantime, I will be shopping for something special just for one of you!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I've Got to Run but Let's Talk about Niobium First!

Niobium jewelry by Moon Heart Studios

I have news to share with you today. I'll cut straight to the details ...I have come to the conclusion that the time has come for me to resign from Art Bead Scene. Life has a way of rolling away with me. Between the day job, family life and having fun I'm not finding much free time to settle into a creative schedule. Leaving me feeling that I don't have much to share as of late. I'm also feeling a strong urge to pull back and learn. I have a sense that it's time for me to develop, digging deeper into my own creativity.

Over the course of the past two years I've been presented with many exciting and amazing opportunities, one of those wonderful opportunities was becoming a contributor at Art Bead Scene. I have been honored to join in and share the Art Bead Scene journey with a group of wonderful, kind and talented women and to have had a chance to connect with so many kind hearted and equally talented readers. It's a bit scary moving away from the fantastic opportunities that have been presented but I'm a firm believer in life shifting and changing. I know that doors will open again when the time is right.

It's my plan to take some classes, develop additional skills and hopefully I'll be able to share that journey as I learn more.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to visit the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference which was held in Boston, MA this year (just around the corner from me - well sort of - close enough that I couldn't resist popping in).

I didn't have the chance to take classes but I thoroughly enjoyed the student show and trolling through the vendor room. Some of the big name vendors selling metalsmithing tools and equipment were in attendance; HalsteadOtto Frei and Rio Grande to be exact. I was excited to see so many tools in person. You know that feeling when you get to see and touch all the tools you've been eyeing in the catalog! eeeek! Joy!

I also discovered another vendor and an incredibly fun type of metal. Billy Seeley of RMS, Reactive Metals Studio Inc introduced me to Niobium. OH What fun you can have with niobium and an anodizer! Billy gave me a fantastic demonstration and I'm excited to try my hand at making something with Niobium. The ideas are running rampant in my head.

An example of Niobium metal sheet which can be purchased at RMS

A few facts about Niobium:
  • Niobium is a somewhat rare and pure metal, found on the periodic table as a natural element (Nb)
  • Niobium is hypoallergenic and nickel free, which means most folks with metal allergies can wear it. 
  • It's light weight yet very strong.
  • Niobium is sold in various forms (wire, sheets, jewelry, etc.) which looks similar to sterling silver (and costs about the same too).

Anodizer photo - Rio Grande

The really fun bit about creating with Niobium is that by using an anodizer (a safe way of bringing electricity into the creative process) you can easily change the color of Niobium. By adding an electric current it creates an anodized coating on the metal (similar to a plating or patina). The Niobium will change to a specific color based on the voltage used (read repeatable results).

This beautiful niobium jewelry was created by Joan at Moon Heart Studios over at Etsy.

Unfortunately I don't have any pieces of my own niobium to show you. I think the above pieces from Moon Heart Studios are simply gorgeous.

I did purchase a sheet of niobium from Billy at the SNAG conference but haven't had a chance to work with it yet. Well technically I still need an anodizer. I've been looking into building my own. I'm not sure I'd take this path on my own but since my husband is a licensed electrician I'm sure to be safe building it with his help. Now we've gone full circle and we're back to the time issue again (as in he has none and many projects already on the honey-do-list). Maybe I'll just have to buy one. :)

As always, I thank you for stopping in for a visit at ABS today.

I extend a heartfult thank you to Heather Powers, my beautiful co-contributors at ABS (Rebecca, Tari, Erin, Claire and Mary) and to all you fabulous ABS readers. You've all made writing for ABS a delightful experience.

I invite you to follow my FB page Ema K Designs if you'd like to stay in touch and see where this journey takes me.

Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Perfect Pairings :: SJ Designs and Shaiha + Tesori Trovati

At the risk of committing an act of nepotism, I decided to select two entries this week that each feature the pendants that I sent out to the Simple Truths Sampler Club inspired by this month's painting by Augustin Lesage. Earlier in the month I had shared the process that I used for creating the base pieces, but didn't have the finished layer of glossy resin over the top. You can see from them both that each one is different (just the way I like it!) in both the placement and the colors used.  I couldn't be more impressed with the way these two talented designers have used the pieces, choosing colors and beads and patterning them and wrapping them in such a way that they make these pieces finally feel finished! They really made them sing!

Featured Designer :: SJ Designs and Shaiha

Featured Bead Artist :: Tesori Trovati

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 May 28th! THAT'S TOMORROW!

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, May 26, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday: Earthy Momma Multi-Strand Bracelet

- 1 polymer bird or nest charm (
- 1 pewter nest or bird charm (
- 7 Rich Kibbons wood beads, petite (
- 23 6mm Picasso luster finish Czech glass rounds
- 25 brass colored seed beads, size 11/0
- 8 thin brass heishi spacers and thick brass heishi spacers, both 6 mm
- 2 8”x1” batik ribbon, one blue or green, and one brown
- 1 8” piece of leather lace
- 2 brass swivel lobster clasps 9x17 mm
- 4” of 6x9mm open link cable chain
- 2 long brass headpins
- 20” of 3 or 4 ply waxed linen cord, brown

Finished bracelet is 7" long with a 1" tail. 


Braided Bracelet:
1.  Insert headpin through the bottom of one czech glass flower. Make a wrapped loop on top. Do the same with the other flower and headpin, set aside.

2.  Separate your chain into, after opening the rings you need to do not close them, set them aside:
two 1” sections
two single links
one section of 3 links

3. Roll all three ends of the ribbon and leather together tightly and attach one of an end clamps.

4. Braid the ribbon and leather until it's 6” long. Trim the end, roll your ribbon and leather together again and attach the other clamp.

5. Attach one of the single chain links to a clasp and also one end of the clamped braid, close the link. Attach the open end of one of the 1” chain sections to the other end and close it, opening the last link on the section, add one of the Czech glass flowers you wrapped, close the link. This bracelet is done, set aside

Beaded Bracelet:
1. Attach the other clasp to the other single link and close it. Fold your waxed linen in half, thread the looped end through the link about 3/4” and slide the two cord ends through the loop, connecting the cord to the link by pulling firmly to tighten.

2. Add one of the thick brass heishi, make a overhand knot and begin stringing the seed beads and 6mm rounds alternately on ONE of the cord strands, beginning with a seed bead and about half way through add 2 seed beads just once and continue the pattern. Do not tie off, set down.

3. Begin the other strand with a thin brass heishi spacer and then alternate them with the wood beads. 

4. When finished stringing them, bring both strands together and make an overhand knot. Add the second thick brass heishi and using a slip knot, tie the ends of the linen to the closed end of your other 1” chain section. Pull each strand tightly individually, this will help to ensure your knot is good and tight. 

5. Add your other wrapped flower to the open end, close link.

6.   Attach the open end of the 3 link chain section first to the 2 seed beaded section of the bracelet, then slide on the polymer charm, close the link. Open the other end of the chain section and add your pewter charm, close the link.

7.   ENJOY!

Waxed linen cord and batik ribbon: Jewelry Accord, 
Czech glass flowers, round beads, seed beads, findings, and chain : ShipwreckBeads, 

Today's guest designer is Mary DeTray of Brass Rabbit Studios. Visit her website to see more of her amazing work. Join Mary tonight for a fun supply destash event in her Etsy shop, she'll have batik ribbon along with other goodies! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Tribal-Inspired Beads with Rebecca of Songbead

Happy Monday everyone! Here's to a warm and sunny - and inspiring - last week of May. And without further ado, here's your last dose of tribal-inspired beads! Have you enjoyed this month's theme? I know I have. My style doesn't often lean towards the tribal - rustic, yes, but somehow not tribal - so it's been really fun to discover lots of new-to-me bead artists, and thinking how I could use some of these more unusual components within my own work and style. 

Here's what I found for you this 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, May 22, 2015

Inside the Studio: Mary Harding Jewelry

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 Gloria Allen

You have won a $20.00 gift certificate to spend at 
Send Heather an email to claim your gift certificate. 
Glazing new work by Mary Harding

This week you are in the studio of Mary Harding.  I have been busy these last weeks making new pieces for my Etsy shop and for auctions at the Ceramic Art Bead Market. As I write my kiln is cooling off.  I will be sharing some pictures of what I find inside when I open it in a few hours.  Always an exciting moment. 
I have been using a new clay these last couple of weeks.  It is not all that different from the clay I have used for the last years but it looks very different when it  is wet.  It is Gray.  My usual clay is white.  So it is a bit of an adjustment.  Up North here where I live, it is not advisable to purchase clay during the winter months because it will freeze on the truck and the ice breaks up the structure of the clay.  My closest clay distributor is 120 miles away.  So when you run out, as I did you use what else you have on hand.  Here is what it looks like wet. 
New gray clay  comes from Laguna Clay

 This has been the warmest Spring I can remember.  I have been so inspired by the dramatic change in the world from Winter to Spring this year that I thought I would share some photos of the emergence of new leaves and lots of the greenness  and a few wild flowers that I love to use in my work.
These are emerging needles on our tamarack  tree.  It is deciduous even though it has needles and tiny pine cones just like the firs and pines.  I love that red pink around the new needles.
Emerging grape leaves
Lilac leaves after a short shower

                                                       Skunk Cabbage
                                                 Grass and Violets
Clover  There is more clover growing everywhere this year than I have ever seen before.  It makes our Woodchucks happy and hopefully will keep them out of my veggie garden.
Lilac Flowers
Maple Seed Wings  in abundance.  Just recently we had a very windy day and lots of baby seed wings were blown off another tree.  I have those in my studio.  They are so nice and small.

I just checked on my kiln and it is at 154 degrees F.  I looked inside and took a picture  looking down in

I am going to wait another hour to unload even though it is cool enough. They are a still a bit hot to handle.  So far it looks promising to me.
One  hour later I unloaded the kiln and was so happy to see they came out well.  Ceramics can be a bit of a hit or miss craft no matter how skilled you are.  That is why I always put my kiln goddess on top of the kiln when I fire.  
A group shot of some of the pieces  in this  kiln load.  Please check out my Etsy shop later today and some of them will be there .

I hope you enjoyed my visual indulgence into the greenness and beauty of this very special Spring. 
And now my Question: Are you inspired this Spring and if so what is making you feel so good and energetic?
Just answer this question in the comment section below and you will be entered to win a $20.00 gift certificate to spend in my Etsy shop.  A winner will be randomly picked and announced next Friday.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Etsy Picks

How are you getting along with the challenge? I've heard a couple of people say that they feel slightly daunted by the challenge image this month. So, if you're up for the challenge but struggling to think of what to use, here are some suggestions. As you'll see, I've focused on the stripes and dots in the challenge painting and the first place I thought to look was Graceful Willow Beads:

(these sticks are actually listed as decorations but they are very like the beads that Heidi makes and there's no reason why, with a bit of knotting or wirework or careful drilling, you couldn't use them in jewellery)

I particularly like this last option: 'It's no use: I just don't have the right beads in my stash for the challenge! I must treat myself to a set of wondrously intricate and beautiful lampwork beads'. Makes sense to me! 

Bye for now, Claire