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Friday, November 28, 2014



       Did you ever wonder, as you are eating Thanksgiving dinner, why our national bird is called turkey?  It turns out that the North American turkey (Meleagris gallapova) had traveled the world long before the English settlers encountered it in North America.
       One linguistic story is that the Portuguese, using their new trading privileges granted by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, brought the turkey, among other items, from Spanish territories in the Americas to Goa, the Portuguese colony in India.  To this day, the Portuguese word for Turkey is peru, perhaps referring to Peru, the South American country.  From India, the turkey was traded to a number of countries, including  Egypt.  There, turkey entered the Turkic language as hindi (from India).  If you are interested in what turkey is called in other languages, take a look at Pulsations. When traders took the turkey to Spain and the British Isles, the bird was named turkey (from Turkey) because Egypt was a province ruled by the Ottomans, a Turkish dynasty. While that's an interesting story, there are questions about whether the Portuguese actually brought back a guinea fowl, a different bird from the American turkey.
      There seems to be more documentation for the North American turkey to have come to the attention of the Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva in Mexico in 1581.  Hernan Cortes found both domesticated turkeys kept by the Aztecs and wild turkeys on his expedition just a year later.  The explorers brought the American turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) back to Spain, where it spread to the rest of Europe and the British isles.  The name turkey came from a confusion with the guinea fowl, an African bird that was briefly referred to as turkey because it was thought to have been imported into Europe by way of Turkey (as in theory #1).
      Domesticated turkeys became an important source of meat in Western Europe by 1580.  Turkeys were recognized as very useful birds by sailors and traders because the birds provided more meat than a chicken, could be stored on small cages on ships, and ate just about anything.  George Peckham even suggested that English colonists head to North America take male and female birds with them.
      Imagine the surprise of the English colonists to encounter wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) when they landed in North America!  The bird had come full circle.  So that is a quick version of how our national bird has traveled the world and why we call it a turkey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I realized that I have been remiss in sharing information about some new books, so I will be doing a few book reviews on the blog. The first is Bead Play with Fringe by Jamie Cloud Eakin (JCE Publishing, ISBN: 978-1500777418, around $17.54 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble)

As the title announces, this book is all about fringe. It consists of 94 pages divided into 8 chapters covering topics such as supplies, fringe basics, standard fringe, loop fringe, kinky fringe, branch fringe, twisted and spiral fringe, and basic procedures. One puzzling mistake in the Supplies section that I want to correct is that Silamide thread is not a "rice-filament" but it is actually a pre-waxed, 2-ply, nylon thread with twisted filaments made by the A.H. Rice Company of Pittsfield. MA. Long used in garment construction, this thread has become a favorite of many beaders so its mischaracterization made me wonder about the quality of research.

Aside from that error, there is a lot of information in this book for someone who wants to learn how to make beaded fringe. Chapter 2 has a useful photo index of which fringe instructions are found on which page, making for a quick overview. It also covers treatments for ending fringe and how to attach the fringe to different types of bead stitching, i.e. loom stitch, brick stitch, or herringbone stitch. The subsequent chapters cover specifics of each type of fringe and include projects that are based on a simple ladder of beads so that the reader is concentrating on the fringe techniques; a few fringes have even faster projects of earrings for those impatient beaders. There are lots of illustrations and charts to guide the beginner fringe maker.

The drawback to the book is that the photos are okay but not up to the standard set by the majority of beading books published today. They are good enough for you to sort of see what you are making, but you will be frustrated if you are one of those people who learns better with visual material and counts on clear, detailed photos to guide you. There are a large number of charts and illustrations to make up for the photos, but the presentation of the beadwork is not the eye candy that many expect.

I am not sure how much of the problem with the photos is due to the fact that the book was not done with a high-end, four-color, offset process on coated paper but was done as print-on-demand, which uses a process such as laser or inkjet printing on a matte paper.

Still, this book could prove useful if you are new to beaded fringe and a few ideas might even appeal to experienced beaders. I showed fellow, New York beaders the book to make sure that I wasn’t being too critical and, while they were not impressed with the visual aspects, they thought the book would be useful for beginners. A few ladies thought the spiral fringe looked interesting. So, if the cover of Bead Play With Fringe appeals to you or you are new to fringe, you should find this book helpful.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I am so excited to be teaching my Luminous Tweed bracelet using the new etched farfalle beads at Bead Fest 2015 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Philadelphia on Saturday, April 11 from 5:30-8:30 pm.

In this class you will learn a variation of right angle weave as you stich this stunning cuff that looks like a tweed fabric translated into glass. After completing the main stitching with Czech etched farfalle beads and size 8 seed beads, you will learn how to embellish alternating spaces with crystal roundels. Once all of the beads and crystals are in place, you will learn how to attach the bracelet to the magnetic clasp with glue.

Registration is now open for those of you who really like to plan ahead and here is the link Workshop Registration.  I hope you can join us.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


In answer to requests, I have listed 2 patterns in my RecklessBeading Etsy shop that will make quick and fun holiday presents.  First is the tutorial for the Mini Wreath earrings/pendants using the Russian spiral stich.
Mini Wreath tutorial

 This tutorial will first show you how to make a beadwork tube of bugle beads and seed beads using the Russian spiral stitch. The tutorial will then show you how to turn the tube into a circle, add a bow of seed beads and crystals, and finish the wreath with ear wires or a ribbon to make quick, festive earrings or pendants.

The second is the tutorial for the Bloomin' Wire crochet flower.

Bloomin' Wire flower

The tutorial for these charming 2.5 inch (7 centimeter) flowers crocheted of craft wire, long Magatama beads, and seed beads is just the ticket. The flowers need only basic knowledge of crochet, making them perfect for beginners to advanced crocheters. A Swarovski pearl and a few basic wire working techniques complete the flower. Instructions are given for making a flower pendant but the flowers could also be attached to hair clips, hung as ornaments, or used to decorate packages.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


My intention was to write this post on Saturday night as a kind of  "see what good things are at the show, come join us" entry, but a stomach bug or food poisoning laid me low.  Instead, here is a story about what fun I had at the Whole Beads Show on Saturday.

After I finished my stint at the Bead Society of Greater New York's table, I stopped to see my friend Michael Harrington of Beads That Bounce.
Michael Harrington

He always has such interesting beads and his new experiments didn't disappoint, as you can see below.
Some of Michael's latest line of beads.

These were my favorite new beads; they look so 1950s.

Then I stopped to see renowned bead artists Tom and Sage Holland.  I first met Tom when we were both attending the bead conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 2007-me as a speaker and teacher and Tom as a teacher.  I was checking the info board in the lobby of the Hotel Richmond one night for my friend Yoshie, trying to find out where her class was being held, when I hear the desk clerk say "Ask her-she'll know."  I turn around and there is this travel-weary man who introduces himself as Tom Holland and explains that he is trying to figure out where he is supposed to stay because the hotel does not have the promised reservation for him.
While we were talking, Carole Morris (of the Bead Society of Great Britain) stopped to chat because she knew Tom and as we were all talking, the desk clerk found Tom a room in a nearby youth hostel for only about $40.  The next day Tom found out that the organizer did have a room for him, but at different hotel; so that was my introduction to a talented bead artist.  This year, I was privileged to meet Sage Holland at Bead and Button.  You can see more of their work at

Tom and Sage Holland

Some of their lovely beads

This snake necklace made of individual beads is one of Sage's signature pieces.

I bought a pair of earrings (made by Sage) that caught my eye.  Much as I love big, eye-catching earrings, sometimes you just need to wear something simple and elegant.

After visiting with Tom and Sage, I set off to buy something that had caught my eye: Libyan Desert Glass.  I thought the merchant was pulling my leg, but it turned out to be a real item (thank you Google).  Libyan desert glass is a naturally occurring glass made of silica that is generally found in the Libyan desert.  It is believed that the glass was formed 29 million years ago when a meteor crashed into the Libyan desert, causing enough heat to turn the sand to glass.
 My purchase of Libyan desert glass.

The glass is yellow or green in color and the pieces can range from small to chunks up to 16 pounds.  As you can see, I bought 2 small, yellow pieces with some lovely patina.  The glass was used to make sharp blades in palaeolithic times and carved into a scarab for Tutanhkamen's pendant. It was rediscovered by Western explorers in 1846.
Tutanhkamen's pendant with the carved scarab of Libyan desert glass in the center.  Sadly, this was not on view at the show.

After buying my lovely rocks, I stopped to see my friend Meg Fillmore Mullen of Bead My Love; that took some doing because her booth is always so popular with shoppers.

Meg and her intrepid assistant.
Some of Meg's bead embroidery.

Then it was time to say hello to my friend Ren Farnsworth of  Designs in Glass and, of course, I had to buy a few of her lampwork flowers.

Here's Ren wearing a necklace and headband made of her lovely flowers.

Two of Ren's new flower beads made with silver glass.  The black flower actually has a lovely silver sheen on it.

Then, I said a quick hello to Perry Bookstein at the York Beads booth; it has to be quick because he soon had more shoppers needing attention.

The infamous Perry Bookstein.

I scored one of Perry's new magnetic clasps.

Then I got distracted by all of the lovely titanium-covered hematite shapes at Eagle Gemstones.  I have been looking for shapes that were a little larger than bugle beads and these might just do the trick.  Of course. they had so many other shapes, I couldn't resist.

Titanium-covered hematite shapes.

Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of my friend Anne of Gardanne Beads when we were chatting and then she was busy with customers, but here is an example of her charming enamel work.

Enameled leaves by Gardanne.

After that, it was time to head for home with my new purchases.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


      Those of us who use Fireline for our beading projects have heard some disturbing stories about Berkley, the manufacturer, changing the formula to make the fishing line biodegradable and less able to stand up to those crystals and heavy beads.
     Beadsmith, the distributor of Fireline to the beading community, has posted a whole page of questions and answers to clear up our confusion.  In a nutshell, the formula for Fireline has not changed and there are no EPA regulations that would require it to be biodegradable.  The stories may have come from a defective batch of Fireline Crystal that was manufactured about 18 months ago; those rolls have been replaced or money refunded.
     To read the whole set of questions and answers, visit Beadsmith.  I want to thank Stephanie Eddy for alerting me to the information from Beadsmith.  I am so thrilled that I don't have to hunt down and stockpile massive amounts of our favorite thread!

UPDATE:  Beki Haley (of the popular Whim Beads) has been in touch with the Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Berkley about our recent concerns with Fireline.  You can read about the conversation at Beki's Bead Blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


     I fell in love with the new etched farfalle beads from York Beads the moment I saw Maggie Roschyk demonstrating what to do with them in the York Booth at Bead and Button.   Now I have finally had a few minutes to play with them.
     Following Maggie's lead, I made a bracelet of etched farfalle beads in peyote stitch and finished it with a great magnetic clasp from York Beads.

     I was partly inspired by Shelley Nybakke's similar bracelet using the Right Angle Weave stitch and really appreciated the knowledge she shared about working with these beads.

     Notice that Shelley used size 8/0 seed beads at each end of the bracelet to make the ends fit into the magnetic clasps.  I would also heartily recommend that you use doubled 14 lb Fireline to stitch a bracelet of these etched farfalle beads because they need the support.  I also ran the doubled thread through microcrystalline wax to protect it;yes I know that it is Fireline, but the wax helped keep the thread intact longer.
     For another view of etched farfalles done in 3 different stitches, check out Jennifer VanBenschoten's Beading Daily blog.

     For me, one bracelet was not enough.  I also snagged some of the etched melons when I visited York beads, so I combined both in a bead crochet bracelet.

bead crochet with etched farfalles and melons

Then, I played with more bead crochet techniques.

various bead crochet stitches

I took a moment to play with the Turkish flat Bead Crochet Stitch that I learned in Turkey with some melon beads and seed beads.

Then, I had one more idea for the farfalles: a version of Right Angle Weave with seed beads.  It looks very nice on it's own but I wonder what would happen if I filled in the holes with another bead?
A version of Right Angle Weave
I seem to be in York Bead mode as I made a bracelet in June using a pattern by  Kerrie Slade, Modern Antique Cut Glass Beads from York, and a clasp made from a vintage 1939 World's Fair cabochon from A Grain of Sand.
Now, while I wait for York to get the next shipment of etched farfalle beads, I have their new 9x7 mm Old Copper Nuts to play with.
9 x 7 mm Old Copper Nuts