July Pattern Review 2019

Hey, guys! July has been pretty hectic for me. We had a lot of family stuff going on. So, I just wanted to pop in and show you some of the patterns I checked in on this month.

First, I wanted to try my Artful Arcos again. I got my hands on these really cool metallic green Arcos and really wanted to do a full bracelet with them. The seed beads are a matte yellow and metallic brown. I like it!

 

After than, I was REALLY feeling a strong urge to really whip out some earrings. So, first I hit up my Perky Pips pattern and combined them with some art bead dangles I had. The center one is from Fire and Fibers and the other two dangles are from Scorched Earth on Etsy. ❤

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And then I was still in an earring mood, so I dived into my Dainty Duo Drops pattern. I did notice that that pattern was missing a cover photo, so I did add that. The other two patterns were good, though.

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Sorry for such a brief update. Like I said, this has been a rough month for us. But I did get the beading done that I wanted and I’ll check back in soon. ❤

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Clasp Wars: Toggle Clasps

It’s time for another Clasp Wars post! This month, I wanna talk about Toggle Clasps.

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So, I’ll admit,  I’ve been putting off writing about toggle clasps because I have mixed feelings about them. I certainly do use them- I think customers can easily intuit how they work and they can add a real nice finish to a piece. But… they don’t work in every piece and situation and it can be a bit tricky to describe why.

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First off, toggles are cute! The T and O combo fits together in a visually pleasing way (I think they look a little less like hardware than, say, a lobster claw) and they are available in every size, metal finish, and aesthetic possible. You can find them easily online and in most craft stores. When you get that exact right style match between your toggle and your piece, it feels so great!

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Because you can find them in so many places, however, you can end up with differing levels on quality as well. I have come across poorly-made toggle clasps where the “T” was too small and slipped right out of the “O” and I’ve also seen the opposite problem where the “T” was super long and barely fit and was very difficult to get on and off.

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And I think that’s the major drawback to toggle clasp – they need room to maneuver properly and they need tension to stay closed. You have to be careful not to use a huge, loose toggle on a bracelet or that “T” bar can slip right through. You also have to be aware of how slim your bracelet needs to be to allow the “T” bar to maneuver through the “O”. That’s one of the reasons I’ve become keen on using jump rings to attach my clasps in recent years. It gives a little more leeway.

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My general rules for toggle clasps are these – use them for necklaces because they are cute, easy to use, and gravity will help keep them clasped. If you’re gonna use them for a bracelet, it better be narrow enough at the ends for it to be clasped well, and you might want to add it on with jump rings to get more wiggle room in there.

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One last thing to think about with toggles – you can make your own! I have no photos of this, because I really never do it. I tend to make low-key pieces that are casual and I don’t mind adding metal to my jewelry. But people designing for folks with metal allergies or beaders who think a beaded clasp would better suit their piece have the option of beading a toggle. It’s a really neat option that some artist have done really amazing things with.

I’d usually rather slap a chain and toggle on a piece than bead the whole thing, but less lazy beaders than me have done some pretty amazing things with beaded toggles.

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What do you guys think about toggles? Am I just being too fussy with them in my bracelets? Do you find them easy to get on and off? Let me know in the comments!

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June Pattern Review 2019

Happy mid-summer, everyone! Can you believe June is over already? I feel like my summer is slipping through my fingers SO quickly. Probably, my insane busy-ness this month hasn’t helped. I have been making so much jewelry, it’s ridiculous. If you missed it, just two weeks ago I posted a super fun bead swap with my friend and fellow designer, Danielle Wickes, where we sent each other a mystery set of beads and then made jewelry with it. Because of the amount of time and creative juice that took up, I only got around to checking in on two of my patterns this month.

The first one (and the easy one) was a quick check in on my Dragon Blossom pattern. I usually whip up a few of these pieces in red, because the flower shape makes perfect poinsettias, but I wanted to experiment with using the pattern for a more spring look.

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I thought the white and green combo looked a bit like lily pads, maybe? I’m not sure, but I think the pink/green/white combo really worked well and I might make a matching bracelet here soon.

I didn’t need to make any changes to that pattern, so I just enjoyed making the earrings and left it as is.

Then, I decided to tackle one of my oldest patterns – my SuperDuo Fishtail bracelet.

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Click the photo for the pattern link!

As you can see, I made a LOT of new samples for this pattern. It desperately needed new photos, so I tried to get a good assortment of styles. What I love about this pattern is that it’s really simple – just a single column of herringbone stitch – but the different lengths and color options make it really customizable.

The bracelet is a really thin, delicate piece using mottled stone, pale green, and icy blue SuperDuos. The necklace is a looooooong strand that I attached this cool gold ginko leaf to, using an old SuperDuo bead soup that I had.

I also like doing a half-and-half version. This one has one side in a matte brown and the other is this gorgeous honey-yellow Rembrandt finish.

And my absolute favorite way to use this pattern is to make a rainbow gradient with all the SuperDuos in my stash and make a long triple-wrap bracelet. I think I’ve done variations on this bracelet… three times now?

The actual pattern didn’t get changed, but the cover photo has been updated and I had lots more samples to share. I also made the fun discovery that I can make two segments and use a cute connector to make a bracelet (the elephant bracelet in the middle). It was a very productive month and now I just have to list this giant pile of jewelry!

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Aaaaand that makes 16/36 patterns reviewed at the halfway through the year mark, which is not good, huh? I best crank myself a notch and get beading!

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Bead Swap Reveal with Danielle Wickes!

You guys, I have the most exciting post to share with you today! Danielle Wickes and I have cooked up a special bead swap just between the two of us and today is the big reveal day! She’s a supremely talented artist and you should be sure to check out her Etsy shop for her finished jewelry and loom patterns.

So, a while back, we decided to send each other some beads and challenge each other to design with them. I didn’t get a nice snapshot of what I sent Danielle, like a dummy, but she was sweet enough to provide me with some photos. I went with a purple and gold palette with a few fun focal beads.

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She’s gonna be posting her own reveal of what she made. She’s gonna be posting it to her Facebook and Instagram first and then later we’re gonna get a write-up on A Beaded Life, so stay tuned! She sent me some amazing pieces and they were wrapped up so prettily! Look at the cute tape and all the stickers!

 

And the beads inside were even more beautiful! She sent me this amazing mix of Fire-Polished beads, a Firefly focal from SummerWindArt, seed beads, Czech flower beads, and this amazing little owl! It was gorgeous mix and I was so lucky to dabble in it!

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The first thing I made was this necklace with the Firefly focal. I used lots of the Fire-Polished Czech crystals to make the beaded portion and the rest of the necklace is a batik dyed ribbon.

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I mean, just look at this adorable little bug. Summer Wind Art makes great focals.

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After that, I used the rest of the 6mm Fire-Polished beads to make this simple bracelet with copper rings. The colors are SO good together. Danielle has a great eye for color!

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After that, I actually made this bracelet that you might have seen before – one of my Sextet bracelet samples! I just released this pattern last weekend, so check out that post if you missed it!

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I desperately wanted to use the little owl, so I attached him to this cute little branch and added some chain and beads in a cool, blue/brown glass. I think the necklace turned out nifty! Kind of a cool forest, witchy vibe!

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I absolutely adored the little flower beads, so I stitched them into a bronze ring and practices my brick stitch to embellish them. I’m super into how they turned out. These orange ones might just stay with me!

For the amazing blue flower beads, I found that I had some mini silver ones in a similar style! I matched them with some Czech rondelles from my stash and strung them in a double-strand knotted pattern with the beautiful clasp Danielle sent.

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ALSO, I used the “clear” seed beads she sent me and THEY GLOW IN THE DARK, YOU GUYS! I am not joking, they really do! Look at this picture I snapped in a dark closet. I didn’t edit the photo at all – they’re just delicate and blue and I love them. And how clever – for a firefly themed gift bunch of beads!

The last piece I made was so late that I actually made it last night. I HAD to find the perfect way to use these stunning flowers and I decided on a double wrap bracelet.

It wraps around the wrist twice and then the flowers end up offset. I’m pleased with it!

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I had so much fun with this swap and I can’t wait to see the details of what Danielle made. I felt so inspired by the palette Danielle sent me and I had an absolute blast.

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I had an amazing time. Thank you so much for playing at this swap with me, Danielle! I haven’t felt so inspired in a while. I highly recommend organizing a little bead swap with your friends, even with only two people – we had such a great time! ❤

 

 

 

 

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New Design – The Sextet Bracelet!

New pattern time, my loves!

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Click photo for pattern link!

 

This month, I’ve been working on this new pattern that mainly focuses on showing off 6mm Fire-Polished Crystals because I love them and haven’t seen a lot of patterns that give them center stage.

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You can use DiamonDuos or GemDuos pretty interchangeably, though I would recommend Miyuki brand seed beads for the main color, at least. If you wanna use Toho beads for the accent 11/0’s, you should be fine.

I called it the Sextet bracelet because it’s built around 6mm Fire-Polished crystals and 6mm Bugle beads to make six-sided units, haha. I kinda think it looks a little bit like a row of windows or stained glass, depending on your colors.

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It was nice to work with some bigger beads to make a design a little more on the simple side. It DEFINITELY works up faster than my last pattern, haha!

What do you think? Got a stash of 6mm Fire-Polish that you’re ready to bust through? 🙂

 

 

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May Pattern Review 2019

Hey, everybody! I have been a busy bee this month and you guys should be getting a new pattern next weekend. But in the meantime, I’ve checked in on three more of my old patterns and did some major updates on one!

So, I REALLY wanted to make a bunch more of my Bejeweled Collar Bracelet because I desperately needed better photos for the pattern and the Etsy listing. What do you think?

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Three of the five are new. The mustard yellow and stone/bronze one are a little older, but the crystal, turquoise, and melon bead one are new.

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Which one is your favorite? I’m partial to the melon beads on the end, but the Swarovski crystals are just too sparkly to ignore. I’m really happy with how the photos turned out and I’ve updated to pattern with new thumbnails and a better description. It’s a pretty basic tennis bracelet design, but if you need to brush up your RAW, it’s a quick way to refresh your memory!

After that, I wanted to check out my Godet necklace and make sure it’s diagrams still looked good. I like the original photos I had on that one, but drawing the Crescents and the Dagger beads was tricky!

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This is kind of a weird color combination for me – matte gold, dark silver/chrome, and a dark saturated blue. I like how it turned out though! And check out this cool chain I re-purposed!

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After that, I went ahead and made a Toying with Tiles bracelet. I just redid this pattern in the last year or so, so I knew it didn’t need any updates. But! My local bead shop just started carrying these super cool tile beads and I desperately needed to make something with them.

I mean, look at them! They’re so cool!

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It’s been a busy month! Like, I mentioned, there’ll be a new pattern next weekend AND I’m working on a fun secret project you’ll hear about later. In the meantime, happy beading!

 

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Clasp Wars : Hook & Eye Clasps

Hey, guys! So, I haven’t done a Clasp Wars post since… October. Oops! I am so sorry for dropping that series right as we were nearing the end. But, I am officially picking it back up and today, we’re gonna talk about Hook and Eye clasps!

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Let me start this with a confession – I had to dig deeeeeep into my photo archives to find examples of jewelry I’ve made with this style of clasp and I could only find three. Three examples in over 7 years worth of jewelry photos! Clearly, I do not use these clasps often.

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A Hook and Eye clasp is pretty self-explanatory – one side is a hook, which can be made in all sorts of sizes and shapes, and the other is either an individual eye or an extension chain. They rely on tension to keep them closed, so they work best on a necklace that has enough weight to keep the clasp hooked, like the beaded kumihimo necklace in the photos below.

I would never recommend using a hook & eye clasp on a bracelet. They just aren’t secure enough. With the constant swiveling, there’s no center of gravity to keep the eye from sliding right off the hook and I just don’t have any confidence in them. If a necklace is heavy enough, you can usually trust it not to come undone, but a necklace faces much less abuse and constant movement than a bracelet.

With that caveat in mind, there are definitely come advantages to using these clasps. First, they are fairly simple to use, even with arthritic hands. You can still use an extension chain, like with a lobster claw, but you don’t have to be able to maneuver that little catch. They also look really elegant and come in plenty of beautiful styles. I’ve seen some handmade wire ones that are just stunning.

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh on hook and eye clasps? Do you use them?
Let me know in the comments below!

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May Sale 2019!

Hey, guys! Just wanted to pop in and share my sale info for this spring. Mother’s Day is coming up and I bet you know a bride-to-be or a graduate you might want to get a little something for. I offer gift wrapping and always ship things out same or next day. 🙂

Spring sale ad - 2019

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April Pattern Review 2019

So, this months I was supposed to check in and review at least three of my patterns, but I only had time to revisit two of them. Oops! It’s been a very busy month for me in my non-beading life. Family stuff was a big one – my grandma celebrated her 80th birthday (!) and we had Easter shenanigans. I also took a long weekend to celebrate my 6th wedding anniversary. It was all really great, but boy, I did not get as much beading done as I would usually like!

First off, I did check in on my Vistella earrings pattern. I had almost worked through my stash of Ava beads, so I used the last of them making a pendant and a pair of earrings.

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The pendant is a combo of copper, chestnut, and gold. I kept it very warm-toned and put it on a looooooong chain so in slips over the head and sits mid-bust. For the earrings, I did a classic turquoise, black and silver.

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After than, I wanted to check in on my Joystone pattern – which is still my longest pattern I’ve ever written! Both of the rings I had made have sold and I don’t have any available in my shop, so I definitely wanted to make a ring. For this one, I used a bronze rivoli with black and gunmetal beading and pale, pale, pale turquoise.

After that, I was a little paralyzed with choosing what colors to make into earrings – my rivoli stash is a little embarrassing at this point. But a friend of mine messaged me and instructed me to use the coral, so I did. Thanks for help, Leah!

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I used seed beads in matter gunmetal and fire-polished crystals in a soft peachy pink. They’re super girly and I love them.

Both of these patterns were written fairly recently, so I didn’t need to change or update the patterns. Next month, though, I’ve planning to investigate some of my older patterns that need more of a makeover.

The other reason I didn’t do much beading was because I was finishing this monster!

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If you’ve been following me on Instagram (which you should! It’s great!), you’ve definitely seen me posting progress photos on this one. It’s part of a series of brick stitch workshops that Wanda Pitzele has been teaching at my local bead shop, Beaded Bliss. I’ve gotten to take two of her classes so far and I feel like I’m finally showing brick stitch who’s boss!

It’s so round and crisp and it took forever, but I’m so proud of it! If you’re interested in the pattern, you can go to Wanda’s website and use the contact form to send her a message. It’s really well written and I feel so much more confident with brick stitch now.

Hopefully, I’ll be much more productive in May and will come back and swamp you with pattern updates and beady adventures. Until then, Happy Beading, guys!

 

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Free Tutorial – Jumbo Filled Netting with 6x8mm Rondelle Beads

Recently I realized that I have an embarrassingly large stash of 6x8mm faceted rondelle beads. Since I can only make so many Double Split Ring Bracelets, I really wanted to try to find another way to use them. I couldn’t find many tutorials or ideas online, but then I had a thought.

I used to use 3x4mm rondelles in “Diamond Net Weave” (filled tubular netting) all the time. Especially doing a partial segment and then putting it on a memory wire bracelet.

So… These rondelles are double the size, I thought… But the basic technique should still work, yeah? And ooh, boy. It did work, but it was CHUNKY.

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Look at those big boys! First, I used my turquoise 6x8mm Rondelles with matte gold 11/0’s and Chalk Lazure Blue 8/0’s to make a long tube. Then I fed 16 gauge wire through the beaded tube, made some (very messy) wrapped loops, and then softly mushed it into a curve. Then I attached ribbon to finish the necklace.

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Sorry for the weird lighting. Taking photos in direct sunlight wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

After than, I used these mottled olive stone rondelles with matte pewter 11/0’s and limestone 8/0’s. Then I used the same 16 gauge wire and made a curved beaded bead, essentially. This one got long aluminum chain for a long necklace that isn’t too heavy.

 

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It was really fun and I wanted to share my method with you guys! It’s just filled tubular netting, so you might be able to figure it out just by looking at the photo, but here’s the basics if you need them!

First, string one 11/0, one 8/0, one 11/0, and a 6x8mm faceted rondelle. Repeat this three times and then tie the beads in a circle. Reinforce it a few times until it feels secure.

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After that, make sure you’re exiting one of the 8/0’s. Then pick up four 11/0’s, one 8/0, and four 11/0’s. The skip over and go through the next 8/0. Repeat this three times so you have a curve of seed beads over each rondelle.

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To step up, go through the next set of four 11/0’s and the 8/0 at the top. From there, pick up one 11/0, one 6x8mm rondelle, and one 11/0 and then go through the 8/0 at the center of the next curve. So this three times until you have completed the circle and then reinforce several times until it feels secure.

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Cool beans! From there, just repeat the second and third step until you get the length you want. I don’t think this size of beading will curve into a usable bracelet, but it would work as a necklace or a necklace segment like I made with the wire. Or you could make shorter pieces and use them as beaded beads!

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I’ve been having a lot of fun with these beaded tubes and working through my stash of 6x8mm Rondelle beads. But I still have so many! Do you guys know of any beadweaving patterns that use them? I have a serious itch to whittle down this stash.

Let me know if you have any suggestions or if you try out this super-sized filled tubular netting tutorial!

 

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