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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Snake Class Added at Beaders Best

We interrupt the regularly schedule review of my Bead and Button adventures for an exciting announcement:  Beaders Best had added a bead crochet snake to my classes.  Florencia la Serpeinte will teach you how to do the single (European double) crochet stitch with beads, how to increase and decrease, how to crochet on both sides of a foundation chain, and how to draw a pattern that looks straight.  So join me on August 22, 2015 in Hamburg, Germany to explore the making of a snake.  More info and registration here at Perlen Poesie.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bead and Button 2015

       As usual Bead and Button Show was a real adventure, one that started this year with major travel trauma.  I was scheduled to leave on Monday afternoon but awoke to the news that my flight was canceled due to the effects of heavy rain (up to 3 inches of rain/hour at one point, flooding, etc.) the day before in NYC.  Since I had a class on Tuesday, I needed to be in Milwaukee on Monday.
      I rebooked a 3 pm flight that was cancelled and snagged a seat on a 4 pm flight that had a 1.5 hour layover in Minneapolis.  Then our flight was delayed 1 hour because the plane that was scheduled couldn't get to the airport and they had to find a different plane.  We got to Minneapolis in time for me to run past a kiosk and buy my mom a souvenir key chain, get my new boarding pass, and board the plane.  Whew!  We got to Milwaukee with no problems, but then the baggage carousel broke and we had to wait 45 minutes for our luggage.  After that fun, the airport shuttle was delayed because of airport construction.  It was 11 pm (NYC time) before I got to my hotel room, but at least I was in Milwaukee.  New York friends were still having trouble getting to B&B the next day.
       Tuesday was the Queen Margot Cuff class with the lovely Kinga Nichols of Crimson Frog Designs.  This project is a bead embroidery cuff with labradorite cabochons, brass imps, and various stones and seed beads.  Below are examples of what we are aiming for.

Queen Margot Cuff

Wednesday was a busy day with 2 classes almost back to back.  First was the Filigree Riveted Cuff class with Gwen Youngblood of Metal Art Lab, one of my favorite teachers.  We cut out and textured a strip of copper that was riveted to a brass sheet to make a cuff.  Then we riveted filigree flowers from Kabela Design to our cuff.  Again, here are the class samples because I am still working on my cuff.

Filigree Garden Riveted Cuff

Then, it was off to another metal class, this time a wire wrapped, tumbled stone pendant with the talented Kaska Firor.  Since I am a newbie at this kind of wire work, I didn't finish my pendant and I may finally have to buy a torch to finish the ends of the wires.  Still, it was an interesting class.  Our class samples below:

Tumbled Stone Pendant class

Then it was time for a quick bite and the fun of Meet the Teachers, where I looked at a lot of lovely bead and wire work and chatted with many friends.

Thursday was a free day for me and I had a great time with old and new friends.  First we had lunch at the the Uber Tap Room, where I had the gourmet toasted cheese sandwich with gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic aioli accompanied by a lovely pear cider.  Here is most of the lunch bunch.

  The decorative theme of the bar is cows and we found one that was apparently a little too popular.

After lunch, we wandered next door to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, the source of all of the cheese in our lunches.  Of course, we bought cheese but we passed on the aged cheddar for $180/pound.

part of the Wisconsin Cheese Mart

As we wandered back to the bead show, we ran across another hallowed destination:  The Spice House.  This is an amazing purveyor of spices and herbs, their own culinary blends, and other goodies like freeze-dried corn.  Since I can get a lot of items in NYC, I didn't go crazy but I did buy a few things that I knew I could use.  Here are my purchases:

beer cheese, smoked cheddar, smoked paprika, Saigon cinnamon, freeze-dried shallots, unground Garam Marsala, and a Creole spice blend.

Thursday was the shopping preview, which they shortened by 1 hour so that I didn't have as much time to shop as I wanted.  I foolishly didn't allow a lot of time to figure out and buy what I might need for future projects-thank goodness for online purchases.  Here is my meager haul:

A copy of Beaded Chains and Ropes (with 1 of my designs on the cover) for my mom and Kaska Firor's wire book

Blue and green rubber-coated beads, big-hole pearls, the new Toho semi-glazed seed beads, 2mm fire-polish beads, seed beads, Matubo 3-cut seed beads, and a tool that cuts hole for riveting that are the exact size of the wire you are using

Friday was back to class with Finger Crowns, taught by the incomparable Nikia Angel.  Who could pass up making a small crown for your finger based on the crowns of Henry VIII's wives?  Here are the class samples:

 Finger Crowns

This is the one I am working on.

Friday evening I had fun doing a wire flower demonstration at the ParaWire booth.

some of  the wire flowers I played with at the ParaWire booth

Saturday I did another wire flower demo and took the Ginkgo Cuff class with the inventive Stephanie Eddy.  This project required us to make separate ginkgo leaves, embed them in epoxy clay, and decorate our cuffs to our hearts desire.  This one I finished- I had to because the clay starts to dry in 3 or 4 hours.  Here is my finished bracelet:

my finished Ginkgo Cuff on it's little drying form

Then it was back to the airport on Sunday for an uneventful plane ride home (thank goodness), carrying my new goodies and many memories of good times with the talented beaders that I am fortunate to call my friends.  Next post will be a few shots of the BeadDreams 2015 finalists.

Monday, June 1, 2015


I am shortly leaving for the airport, but I took a quick photo to let you know that I will be demonstrating wire techniques at the Parawire booth at Bead and Button.  Stop by on Friday from 5-6pm or Saturday from 12N-1pm to see how to make some of these simple wire flowers.  See you there!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The smoky beads in question
      Getting ready for the Bead and Button show reminded me that I had a post to write about how to remove the smell of cigarette smoke from glass beads.  It all started when I was packing some new beads that I wanted to take to Bead Fest Spring the weekend before the show.  I opened the sealed plastic package on some brand new Czech beads and recoiled at the smoke smell coming from the bag.  Yikes, I can't use these as is!  A web search revealed some suggestions, so here are the results of my experimentation:

Airing out the offending beadsgreat method if you have a year or two.

Placing in baking soda:

     I placed baking soda in a container, added the beads, covered the beads with baking soda, and left it overnight.  Sniffing the beads left me confused: was the smell any fainter?  I really couldn't tell.

Washing the beads:  Then I got smart and asked our own bead guru, Beki Haley of Whim Beads, who suggested that I wash them.  Following her suggestions, I put some water (maybe 3-4 cups or around 800 milliliters) in a small bowl with some unscented dish-washing liquid and a small amount of ammonia.  Sorry, I don't remember amounts but it wasn't a lot of either.

     Now the important part: I removed the string from the beads because it had also absorbed the smoke smell.  Heck, it probably soaked up more smoke than the glass beads.  Then the loose glass beads went into the bowl and let soak for a while; 10 minutes did it for my beads.  I did swish them around a bit.

Beads soaking in dish-washing liquid and ammonia
After that, I drained the beads and rinsed them in clean water.
The last step was to simply leave my smoke-free beads on a paper towel to dry.

     This method won't work on beads that are damaged by water, but it sure worked well on glass beads.  I also read a suggestion that you put the beads in with a dryer sheet but many people wouldn't like to receive beads smelling of fragrance either.  Spraying the beads with Fabreeze, as someone else suggested, would only mask the odor.
     Then end of the story was that my wholesaler knew about the smoke problem from other customers and was returning the shipment to the manufacturer.  He sent me replacement beads but I was able to take my squeaky-clean beads to Bead Fest Spring in the meantime.

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.