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Sunday, April 26, 2015


     I have been dying to write this post for months, but I had to wait so that I didn't spoil a wedding surprise last weekend.  Back in February, I had a lot of fun making statement earrings for my niece Melanie to wear on her wedding day.  She sent me a photo of the dress, we talked about what she might like, and then I made 3 pairs to give her a choice. 
     From the left, the photo shows a) a needle-woven pair with 3 mm Swarovski crystal pearls, fire polish rounds, crystal bicones and drops, and seed beads; b) a pair with glass flowers and silver chain holding dangles of 4mm pearls, 3mm pearls, and crystal rondelles; and c) another needle-woven pair with 8mm and 4mm Swarovski crystal pearls, crystal bicones, and silver-lined seed beads. 

Here are a few things that I learned from my earring marathon:

1.  Pinterest is a wonderful thing.  Of course you can look for photos of jewelry to inspire you and find beadwork patterns to follow (for free or a small fee), but the real advantage of a Pinterest board was as a place for discussion.  I set up a Wedding Jewelry board and designated my niece as a pinner so that we could both pin wedding jewelry that we liked and leave comments about the pinned photos.  It sure beat trying to do the planning through email, Facebook, or messaging.

2.  A good length for statement earrings is 2-2.5 inches (5-6.5 centimeters).  If your bride is taller or wants shoulder dusters, you can go crazy.  Just keep the weight of the earrings in mind; you don't want to make them too heavy to wear comfortably.

2.  Small, faux pearls are another wonderful thing because you can't find real ones anymore.  I wanted 2-3mm pearls for the earrings on the left (with the mint crystals) so I stopped at Wonder Sources, Inc. in NYC and talked to Mike, the owner.  Boy did I get an education on pearls!  It turns out that 2 and 3 mm pearls are hard to find these days because the pearl growers can make more money with the larger pearls so no one is growing small ones.  Apparently the sorting costs are the same for big and small pearls, so they don't bother with small ones anymore.

3.  Real pearls have very small holes, so you may not be able to use them in a design with many passes of thread.  I bought some real 4mm pearls but the holes were only large enough to get a 24 gauge headpin through them (to give you an idea of size), so they ended up on the earrings with all the dangles.  Luckily I figured this out before I plunked down the big bucks for 8mm pearls.

4.  If you need precision, you don't want real pearls.  I love the natural look of real pearls but a design like the one on the right would not work in real pearls; it needs the pearls to be the exactly the same size.

5.  Crystal Fireline in 4 or 6lb weight worked well for the needle-woven earrings, since you are dealing with sharp edges on the Swarovski crystal pearls and the crystals.  The 6lb worked the best but you could use 4lb in a pinch.  You would just need to make more passes through the earring to stiffen it.

So which pair did the bride wear on her big day?  Here are the winning earrings:

I was really thrilled to have helped make her wedding a special day.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Yikes, April starts tomorrow, which means that I need to remind you that online registration for my Luminous Tweed cuff class will end April 6, 2015.  After that, you can still register for the class when you get to Bead Fest Spring.  I hope you can join me for this fun class that uses the new etched farfalle beads.  You will learn a variation of Right Angle Weave and how to glue a magnetic clasp to a bracelet.  Here is a registration link with more details: Luminous Tweed.  See you at the show! 

Monday, March 9, 2015


I am so excited to announce that registration is open for my 3 classes at Beaders Best 2015 in Hamburg, Germany from August 21-23.  Registration is open for all of the beadwork classes (and there are some beautiful projects) but I am most excited about my classes.

Friday, August 21 from 9 am- 12N will be a Mimi-Wreath Earring class using the Russian Spiral stitch.
For more information and registration, please visit Workshops.

Saturday, August 22from 9am-4pm will be the Opposites Attract bracelet involving a Turkish bead crochet stitch and WireLuxe, knitted wire.
For more information and registration, please visit Workshops.

Sunday, August 23 from 9am -4pm will be Luminous Tweed cuff, using etched farfalle beads in a version of Right Angle Weave with embellished crystals.
For more information and registration, please visit Workshops.
I am looking forward to seeing many of the European beaders there-hope you can join us.

Monday, March 2, 2015


      When York Beads closed, many of us were sad to lose a great resource for Czech beads and a fun place to visit.  Luckily, two former York employees have opened mail order businesses to fill some of the void left by that beloved family business.
      In my last post, I mentioned Bon Beads, which saved my bacon with lovely colors of etched farfalle beads.  They have much more including fire polish beads, mushrooms, pyramids, superduos, and aged seed beads.  There is a $100 minimum for an order, but there is much to tempt you.  Here are some of the mushroom beads that I couldn't resist.
Bon Beads

These are some of the etched farfalle beads that I bought for my Luminous Tweed bracelet kits.

     Bon Beads is not the only new source because Kelly Stevenson, a favorite in the bead world, has opened Back2Bead, with his own selection of Czech Beads.  Kelley has buttons, charlottes, dragon scales, fire polish, daggers, rhinestone roundels, aged stripe seed beads, and more.  There is no minimum order at Kelly's online shop.  These are some of the fire polish beads and donuts that are calling my name.


More Back2Bead

So check out either or both of these new suppliers when you need some Czech Beads.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Luminous Tweed bracelet class at Bead Fest Spring

I thought you might like to see a peak at the issues that we teachers sometimes face as we try to bring you the best classes possible.  As I have mentioned, I will be teaching the Luminous Tweed bracelet class at Bead Fest Spring 2015 on April 11 from 5:30-8:30 pm and at Beaders Best 2015 in Hamburg, Germany.  When I used the etched farfalle beads in this bracelet I had no idea what a merry chase it would be to find more of these seductive beads.

Last year, I grabbed two small hanks of the red etched farfalle beads from York Beads at Bead and Button  2014 and came up with the bracelet design.   This was the first bracelet:
Perry from York Beads (the inventor and sole distributor of the beads) promised us the next shipment of beads was due in October.  Due to circumstances beyond his control, October turned into November, November turned into December, and December turned into January.  Yes, last month.
By the beginning of January, I was getting pretty worried because I had no beads, had no way to get them from anyone else, and didn't want to disappoint the students who had already signed up for the class by cancelling it. 
Non-etched farfalle beads from John F. Allen

As I substitute, I bought some lovely non-etched farfalle beads from John F. Allen, but they turned out to be too shiny for the design Then, sadly for all of us, Perry announced that he had to close York Beads, a family business that had just celebrated its 90th anniversary.  He assured us that he would still be receiving the last shipment of farfalle beads that we had all been awaiting since October.  Then the news came that the order would be transferred to another distributor and should arrive in March.  YIKES, I was in a real panic.

Two weeks ago, like a knight in shining armor, Alfred Dorante (a former employee of York Beads) opened a wholesale bead business called Bon Beads and offered new etched farfalle beads as part of his stock!  "Whew!" does not begin to describe my feelings.  I immediately bought some etched farfalle beads in lovely colors from Alfred and started playing.

new farfalle colors for Luminous Tweed

The photo above shows a few of the additional colors for the Luminous Tweed class.  The original red is on your left, but I also have silver and copper.

aqua color for Luminous Tweed

I grabbed some of this season's aqua/ silver beads, as well.

gold bracelet in progress

Plus, I have a lovely gold kit in progressTo balance my earlier panic, my friend Judith Bertoglio- Giffin even found me some of the remaining red etched farfalle beads at a retail booth at one of the Tuscon shows .  So now I have plenty of color choices and Alfred is tempting us with even more new colors.

Now that my supply drama is over, I can say "come and join me for my class at Bead Fest Spring 2015."  This bracelet, done with a variation of Right Angle Weave with the elusive etched farfalle beads and 8/0 seed beads, is suitable for all levels of beaders.  After you make the basic framework (which could be left unembellished), you add crystal roundels for more glamor.  As the last step, you will learn how to glue on one of the stylish magnetic clasps.  For more information and registration, visit Workshop Registration.  Hope to see you there.

Monday, February 9, 2015


      I have been busy with class samples (more about that later) but I wanted to take a break and tell you that Kalmbach Publishing Co. has announced the release date of Beaded Chains and Ropes.  This  new book has patterns for 27 beadwork ropes and chains that can be worn by themselves or as support for a pendant or special bead.  I am privileged to have 2 patterns in the book, one of which can be seen in the middle of the cover- yes, the pink and white rope.
     Along with two of my patterns, there are also designs by Jill Wiseman, Julia Gerlach, Anna Elizabeth Draeger, and many more talented artists.  The projects employ a variety of stitches including bead crochet, herringbone, RAW, spiral rope, St. Petersburg chain, and kumihimo.
     For more information (including a peak inside  the book) or to pre-order a copy, you can go to the Jewelry and Beading Store.  I know I have my eye on a few patterns from the book.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Because the weather forecast for Christmas Eve was not good, wind and lots of rain, we did our tour of the wonderful Christmas windows in Manhattan on December 23.  First was Barney's.  The theme was "Baz Dazzled Holiday" created by director Baz Luhrmann and wife Catherine Martin, which meant fantastical woodland scenes.
Barney's exterior

Metallic mushrooms and a giant boombox

The next 2 window could only be captured properly with movies.

Still shot of window 2. 
Movie of window 2. 
Still shot of window 3.
Movie of window 3. 

Then it was off to Bergdorf Goodman's and the nearby building that always displays large candy canes.

Bergdorf's theme this year was the arts.  Here are some of our favorite parts.




The Literature window didn't really grab me until I realized that all of the portraits of the writers were actually done in needlepoint or embroidery.


Plus a soft-sculpture typewriter by Heidi Hilkin of Charles Butterworth

Even the small windows are interesting

The next treat was the window next door at Van Cleef & Arpels.

Van Cleef & Arpels

After that, it was a stop at Tiffany's.

More jewels on Tiffany's building.  The blank spots in the strings of lights are because the lights made patterns.

 One of the windows.

The 2 twirling, skating dogs were my favorite part of this window.

Harry Winston decorated their building with their traditional jewels of light.

Then it was down to Rockefeller Center to see the tree.  When we got to the tree, it was dark-no lights!  No one knew why.  We didn't get a photo of the tree without lights because just as Don and I went to take photos of the dark tree, the lights came back on.  Seriously, I pushed the button on my camera and the lights came on.

The Rock Center Tree with lights back on, but the star on top has not been turned on.

I found out later, courtesy of the local news, that the lights had been turned off on the tree as a tribute to Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were murdered on the past Saturday.

Saks building

Our next stop was across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue.  The theme was "An Enchanted Experience" and the windows showed fairy tales transplanted to NYC.

The Wicked Witch selling a poisoned apple to Snow White in Times Square

Sleeping Beauty

Rumplestiltskin in the famous, closed City Hall subway stop. 

Red Riding Hood and the wolf


The end windows at Saks displayed 2 costumes made by my friend Janet Bloor.  Sadly, I didn't realize they were hers until we got home so I only took a quick photo of the one costume.

costume by Janet Bloor

A close-up shot

Next on our tour was Lord & Taylor, whose theme was "On Holiday" with human-like animals and fairies.

The Lord & Taylor designer even included Patience and Fortitude, the lions in front of the new York Public Library's research building.

Our last stop was Macy's, whose theme was "Santa's Journey to the Stars"  showing a boy who receives a magical telescope that lets him see Christmas being celebrated across the solar system.

The boy and his telescope

Santa's workshop on Venus

Last minute work under the sleigh

Hmm...a Dalek disguised as a Christmas tree?


Familiar parade


Jupiter and Saturn

Uranus and Neptune

Although Macy's was open for business 24 hours/day, that was the end for us.  As we headed for home, it was so hard to remember that it was only December 23 and that we wouldn't be opening presents the next morning.  Still, our early window tour was a wise decision because the weather on December 24 was not nice!