Sale Time – Happy Birthday, Etsy!

Hey, friends!

I just wanted to pop in and announce another sale.

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I do feel a little bit like my sale events are a little less special since they’re happening more often, but when Etsy says, “Hey, let’s have a sitewide sale!”, you’d best participate!

So, take advantage of this sale, my dear friends! It’s a quick one – less than a week!

Sale runs from June 18th to June 22nd!

Happy Shopping and Happy Birthday, Etsy!

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Clasp Wars: The Snap Clasp

 

Welcome back, friends! In this third installation of my Clasp Wars series, we are going to be talking about snap clasps. I asked which clasp we should talk about next on my Facebook page and the request for these little clasps was surprisingly high.

Just a quick note, I tend to refer to these clasps as “snap clasps”, but you may also find them listed as “ball and socket clasps” or “trailer hitch clasps”. They’re all the same, but just a heads up in case your local bead shop or favorite online store uses one of their other names.

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SuperDuo Rosette Bracelet with Matte Bronze Snap Clasp

Pro’s

So, I am super stoked to talk about snap clasps because I absolutely love them. They’re one of my favorite clasps to use and though I only really became obsessed with them recently, they are quickly becoming my favorite clasp type.

First, I love them because they are wicked easy to use.  To close them, you simply place the loop part over the ball and press it down. Then, to open it, you press down on the ball and it snaps right open. It’s easy to do one-handed, even with limited mobility. They are also very secured, since the pressure needed to pop them open is perpendicular to your wrist, there’s pretty much no way that they’re gonna come off accidentally.

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Bejeweled Collar Bracelet with Gunmetal Snap Clasp

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Snap Clasps do come in multi-strand options, but I don’t have any in my stash at the moment. I don’t usually find myself needing to gather multiple strands into a small point like that. Instead, when I have a wide bracelet, sometimes I will put multiple snap clasps on the end and I get a kinda cool corset-like effect!

 

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Ruched Tila Bracelet with three Matte Bronze Snap Clasps

Honestly, I love these clasps. They’re strong, come on lots of different metallic finishes, and are easy for my customers to use. ❤

 

Cons

It’s is honestly hard for me to think of cons, because these are truly my go-to clasps. I suppose they are a little simple looking. You’re not gonna get the same oomph that you get from an elaborate box clasp.

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Daybreak Bracelet with Matte Bronze Snap Clasps

Also, they don’t seem to be available in a huge range of sizes. The ones I have are all around 12-14mm, which work perfectly for my purposes, but I am surprised that a wider array of sizes (and colors?) aren’t easier to find.

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Tetrabella Bracelet with two Bright Bronze Snap Clasps

I do think sometimes that it would be nice if the holes were vertical instead of horizontal, so I could stitch straight through the loops instead of needing to use a jump ring… But I usually attach my clasps with a jump ring anyway, because it means I can change a clasp if a buyer requests it. So, again, that’s only hypothetical problem. Overall, I am VERY happy with my little snap clasp friends!

When Do I Use Them?

I use my snap clasps on pretty much any bracelet that doesn’t need something highly decorative and is relatively flat. I tend not to use them on necklaces or beaded ropes, because the twisting might make them a little harder to use. And I just don’t think they look quite right on a necklace or rope. *shrug* I’m honestly not super sure why.

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Toying with Tiles 2.0 Bracelet with Dark Silver Snap Clasp

So, there you have it, folks! This post is a little short, but I really don’t have to much to say about these clasps other than OMG, I LOVE THEM and that you should give them a try! It’s so refreshing to have something that is both secure AND easy to use.

What do you guys think, have you tried snap clasps? And do you have any requests on what clasp I should do next? 

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Sale Time – Memorial Weekend Sale!

Hey there, everybody! I just wanted to pop in and remind everyone my etsy shop is having a big sale this weekend! Going from today until the 29th, everything in my shop is at least 20% off! All the discounts apply automatically, so you don’t even have to bother with a coupon code.

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That includes beadweaving patterns AND finished jewelry, so if you’ve got some graduates to celebrate or some weddings to attend, there’s a ton of pre-made pieces just waiting for new homes. Do me a favor and check it out! ❤

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Clasp Wars: The Box Clasp

Hey, everybody! So, a few weeks ago I debuted my first post in a new series on my blog where I talk about different clasps and really get into what I do and don’t like about them. We talked about lobster claws in that first post and the number one most requested clasp to discuss next was something a bit more decorative.

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The Box Clasp

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Box clasps have two distinct sides. On one side is a decorative box (usually rectangular, but they come in lots of styles and shapes) and the other side is a small, angular tab that slots into the box. You can sometimes find them listed as Push ‘n Pull clasps or Tab Insert Clasps.

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Pro’s

First off, box clasps are fairly easy to fasten one-handed. Unlike the lobster claws, the tabs just have to be pushed into the box component, so there’s no fishing around with a hook clutched precariously between your fingernails. They’re even easier to take off, since all you have to do is depress the tab with a fingernail and it’ll spring apart on its own.

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Secondly, box clasps are highly decorative, also unlike the oh-so-functional lobster claw. Box clasps don’t look like hardware and they come in many different styles and shapes. You can find sparkly or antiqued, square or round, filigree and even floral. Lots of the ones I like best come with inlaid crystals, but there are also tons in matte and antiqued finishes to match less fancy shmancy pieces.

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I also find the size of most box clasps to be very useful. With a wide cuff or bracelet that doesn’t come down to a point, wider clasps don’t break up the overall silhouette. When you have a wide bracelet, it can be difficult to find a clasp option with the right proportions. A tiny one-strand clasp can look kinda clumsy on a big bracelet.

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I also love that box clasps come with multiple loops. I usually end up preferring the two- or three-loop options, just because they stabilize a wide bracelet connection. They do make single-strand box clasps (you can find these on a lot of vintage jewelry) and I think they look super classy, even though I don’t use them as often.

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Cons

The biggest con with box clasps is that some of them are more secure than others. I have bought some in the past where the tab has been bent at too tight of an angle and the tension isn’t enough to keep the box secure. When you close a box clasp, you wanna feel a secure and noticeable “click” into place. If the clasp feels mushy or doesn’t “click”, I wouldn’t trust it. Because of this, I prefer to buy my box clasps in person (either at my local bead shop or at a bead show) so that I can open and close them before purchase to make sure they’re secure. This means that buying them online is a gamble.

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Another con with box clasps is that they are decorative.

“Hold up!” you may say. “You listed this as a pro! You are full of contradictions, you clown. How could you betray me with this horrific discrepancy???”

And you’re not wrong. Box clasps being so decorative is definitely part of their appeal, BUT it does mean that you need to take aesthetics into account when choosing a box clasp for your bracelet. Not only does it need to be the right metal and the right size, but the style needs to match the style of your beading. It can really add to your piece, but you need to make sure it doesn’t clash or overwhelm your beading.

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Another quick note is that box clasps usually have a bit more surface area touching the skin, so if you or your clients struggle with metal allergies or turning metals, more of the clasp will be rubbing up against their wrist than with a lobster claw or toggle.

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Another con is that box clasps can be expensive. You get what you pay for and in general, I’m happy to spend a bit more for a bit of sparkle that I trust is secure, but it can cause a twinge in your heart to spend $10 on one clasp, when the same amount could buy you about 20 lobster claws. Especially if you sell your jewelry and that added cost means you’ll need to increase your prices.

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When Do I Use Them?

My favorite use of box clasps is one wider bracelets that can stand a little pop of style without disrupting the aesthetics of the over all piece. I especially love lightweight filigree options with two or three holes.

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Generally, I do not use box clasps on necklaces. Traditionally, single strand box clasps are used on knotted pearl necklaces, but personally, I find it a bit wasteful to use such a detailed clasp when it’ll be hidden under your hair. I’m also not sure I trust box clasps with the weight of multi-strand necklaces.

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Now, I don’t usually make brand-specific recommendations on this blog (unless I’m extolling the virtues of Miyuki seed beads, like I did here), but as I mentioned – box clasps can be hit or miss. So, let me tell you now that I LOVE Elegant Elements brand box clasps. They come with crystals or without and I have never had an issue with them closing properly. They can be a bit heavy, but I find them extremely reliable and high-quality. They’re priced accordingly, but I have found them to be worth every penny. They’re made in Germany and are either 23k gold-plated or rhodium and the crystals and pearls they use are Swarovski.

Elegant Elements is a great brand for box clasps and I 100% recommend them. I am not being paid or sponsored for this opinion, and I use them on my own jewelry all the time.

(Elegant Elements, I love you and if you wanna sponsor me, hit me up!)

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So! Those are my thoughts about Box Clasps! Do you guys have anything to add or any ideas on what clasp I should do next? Let me know in the comments. ❤

 

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Clasp Wars: The Lobster Claw

I wanna start a new series on this blog where I compare different types of clasps and talk a bit about what I’ve learned over the years in terms of what they are and aren’t good for. I’m calling it the Clasp Wars and today we’re gonna start with one of the most basic clasp types of the all.

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The Lobster Claw.

So, you’ve definitely seen this buddy before. It’s a standard clasp that comes on a lot of jewelry, both manufactured and hand-made. You pull the little lever with a finger nail and the claw opens up and allows the clasp to be hooked onto a single ring or a chain. Let’s talk about the Pro’s and Cons of these little guys.

Pro’s

First off, lobster claw clasps are one of the most secure clasp options you can choose. They don’t rely on tension to stay closed, but have an actual locking lever mechanism. They can’t slide off and can usually withstand a pretty fearsome tug. Different lobster claws will have different levels of strength depending on what metal they’re made out of, but in general I consider them to be top tier in terms of security.

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Secondly, using a lobster claw clasp is a really easy way to make your jewelry adjustable. This is really useful in a couple different situations. For example, if you sell your jewelry (like I do), making a bracelet adjustable means that you have a wider pool of customers it will fit. It also makes necklace lengths adjustable, which is great when you’re trying to make your necklace sit just right against the neckline of your top or dress.

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Plus, I love making adjustable clasps on bracelets and then putting a coordinating bead on the last loop of the chain.

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Thirdly, lobster claw clasps are one of the most basic types of clasps, so they are very easy to find. They aren’t some sort of niche finding that you can only find in one or two specialty shops. The ubiquitous nature of lobster claws also means that customers pretty much always know how they work and don’t struggle to figure out how to work the clasp on the pretty bracelet they just bought.

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Fourthly, related to them being easy to find, lobster claw clasps come in a variety of styles. You can find them in drastically different sizes, all sorts of finishes and colors, and sometimes with more decorative elements on them. I generally stock up on the simple ones, but lots of more elaborate styles exist. And because there are so many material and color options out there, finding a lobster claw that coordinates with your other findings is usually fairly painless.

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Fifthly, I find that the simplicity of lobster claw clasps keeps them from distracting from the rest of your design. Sometimes a big statement clasp is a must and positively makes a piece, but sometimes you wanna add other elements to a project and the simplicity of a lobster claw gives you room to include more details elsewhere. In these custom Ravenclaw themed bracelets, the simple a secure lobster claw was an ideal place to attach these bonus Harry Potter charms.

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Cons

The first and biggest problem with lobster claw clasps is that some of them can be hard to use. A low-quality lobster claw might be stiff or have a broken internal spring that keeps the lever from working properly. Even when you have a high quality lobster claw that works smoothly and closes completely, some people struggle to manipulate the little lever. Folks with arthritic hands or people with limited fine motor control can really struggle with that tiny little tab.

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Even if the tab isn’t the problem, sometimes you find yourself chasing the rings with the lobster claw around and around your wrist, trying to fasten it without help. For me, I drape the bracelet over my wrist, so that the chain is dangling down and the claw is reaching up to snag it. Then, I press my wrist up against the underside of a table or cabinet, pinning the chain down, and reach up with the clasp to fasten it. If that doesn’t work for you, you might wanna try the paperclip trick!

When Do I Use Them?

For me, lobster claw clasps are a great basic clasp option. Because they are secure, I like to use them for bracelets, especially when I want to add a few rings and a cute dangle to make my piece adjustable.

I really like to use them on slim bracelets in more casual styles because lobster claws come in lots of small sizes that don’t distract from the bracelet or add too much bulk.

They are also great on necklace chains with pendants because making the necklace length adjustable makes it easier to style with different tops and necklines.

The only major downside is that some customers find them difficult to use. You can mitigate this a bit by seeking out smooth, high-quality clasps or using larger sizes, but in the end, some people just avoid lobster claw clasps across the board and you might get a request to change out the clasp.

So! Did you guys find that helpful at all? If so, what style clasp would you like me to discuss next? Comment below and help me decide!

 

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New Design – Joystone Bezel (8 Projects in 1 Pattern!)

My friends, hello! You may have noticed that I have been pretty quiet here and on Facebook lately. Part of it is that I am going on my first vacation as an adult here soon (to celebrate my 5 year Anniversary!) and have been stressing and prepping for that.

But also! I have a new pattern that I’ve been working on like a mad-woman, because it has turned out to be my most ambitious project ever – my Joystone Bezel!

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Click the photo for the pattern link!

 

So, this pattern started out way simpler. At first, I just wanted to find a new way of making a bezel for a 14mm Rivoli, because I have a huge stash of them and I hate doing peyote bezels soooooo much. I tried a method using Tila beads as a backing and “prongs” of right angle weave and came up with this ring.

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Pretty cute, right? Black and hematite is a classic combo and I thought it worked up pretty cleanly and neatly, so I decided to go ahead and start a pair of earrings. When I got to the step to add the Fire-Polished crystals, however, I realized that leaving the crystals off showed so much more of the beautiful Rivoli. So, I left off that last embellishment step and made these earrings.

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After that, I decided to try the ring again, but this time without the crystals and I made this ring with the slightly more pared-down bezel style.

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Bezels

And I liked that too! So, now I had a dilemma. Which bezel should I write the pattern for? There’s only one step difference between the two, so it would be silly to make two separate patterns, but I wanted to make both versions available since I liked them both so much… So I decided to make a pattern that included options for both and called them the embellished version and the exposed version.

 

After that, I had the idea that if I turned the components slightly sideways (so that it was diamond-shaped, like the earring, instead of square-shaped, like the rings), I could make a cute little “V” motif that would make an awesome little necklace segment and this piece was born.

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From there, I scheduled a class to teach my new bezel at my local bead shop (the delightful beaders at Beaded Bliss always test my patterns for me before I make them available online) and set to work writing up the pattern. For two different bezels. In three different jewelry pieces. Oy.

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Then… I realized that not including a bracelet was just silly. If you made enough components and attached side-to-side, you could have a full bracelet of shining crystals and I was too tempted not to try it.

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So sparkly.

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So shiny.

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And then I was sunk. I wanted to write a pattern that included two versions of a RAW bezel for Rivoli crystals AND included instructions for a ring, earrings, a necklace segment, AND a full bracelet. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

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I think in total that pattern took me 12-15 hours to write. It’s seven pages and has over 45 painstakingly-drawn digital diagrams and since it includes two bezels and four jewelry pieces, you can get EIGHT different projects from the one pattern. It’s the most ambitious design I have ever taken on and I am so pleased with how it came out and SO relieved that it is finally done.

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What do you guys think? Which of the bezel and project combos do you like best? Do you think the slightly increased price is fair, since it’s an 8-in-1 pattern? I’ve legitimately got some nerves about putting this design out there since I worked so hard on it.

But now, it is finally out there in the world and I couldn’t be more excited to share it. ❤

 

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Sale Time – Spring Break 2018!

Hey, everyone!

Just wanted to pop in and announce that Etsy is having a big Spring Break sale and my little shop is participating!

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You don’t even need a coupon code! Everything in the shop (patterns AND jewelry) is 20% off and the clearance section is a whopping 30% off!

Feel free to scoop any patterns you’ve been eyeballing or grab some quick mother’s day or graduation gifts. Tis the season, haha.

Hope everyone is having a lovely almost-spring! ❤

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Learning Peyote with a Twist (Peytwist)

Hello, everyone!

Guess what? My boss has decided that Beads Direct USA is going to have a YouTube channel! So far, there’s only one video posted, but Liz has lots of big ideas for the future and some of the videos may even feature yours truly at some point? We’ll see. I am terrified at the prospect.

BUT! The first video that Liz posted was this gem about how to read a Peytwist (Peyote with a Twist – not crochet!) pattern – something that I actually didn’t know how to do.

Isn’t it great? It’s Liz’s first video and I am amazed at how clean and professional it looks and sounds. And, it’s really educational. Using it, and having no previous Peytwist experience at all, I was able to make this!

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In the video, Liz shows you how to do her snakeskin pattern, but I decided to be a rebel and do her zigzag pattern instead (which is available in the Beading Huddle facebook group for free! Just join the group and check the files). I used Miyuki 8/0’s in Matte Copper (2005) and Duracoat Galvanized Muscat (4206) and Union 8/0’s in Turquoise Capri Gold (8-412-27101).

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Since I was using a different pattern, I wasn’t able to follow the video exactly step-by-step, but I’m already familiar with peyote, so the spot where I really needed the video was the join. It went fairly smoothly and I’m really happy with how the pattern appears.

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The pattern I used was apparently written for 11/0’s, though, so my tube came out kind of… enormous? It was like a chinese finger trap. So huge. So, I decided to only make it a partial tube and to use some stringing to finish off the necklace.

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The actual tube is filled with some brown 6mm glass pearls that I’ve had in my stash forever. The visible pearls, however, are 12mm Swarovski pearls in a deep brown. Then, I used the turquoise and copper seed beads to make little spacers to go between them. Then I attached the copper chain.

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The tube is a little stiff, but the core of beads helps it curve when actually worn. I really, really like how the shape of it came out.

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I’m really excited to mess around with some more Peytwist patterns. The technique is really fun and I’m curious about what other styles and patterns can be adapted to it.

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What do you think? Any interest in learning Peytwist? Any ideas for videos for the new YouTube channel?

 

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Playing with Carrier Beads – Rainbow Ombre Necklace

Hello!

So, we got carrier beads in at work a few months ago and they have been FLYING off the shelves. I quickly grabbed myself a few packs and have been steadily working on designing and stitching up a necklace design. Here it is!

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Are y’all familiar with the mechanics of carrier beads? Basically, they are two-hole beads meant to “carry” strips of peyote. It’s a great way to make really graphic beaded beads. They come in acrylic and glass, but personally I don’t see the point of the glass ones. They’re too pretty to cover up with the peyote and they make necklaces SO heavy.

So, to start, I made 14 strips of peyote that I zipped up into little rings.

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The zig-zag design is one that I came up with off the top of my head, but it’s a very standard design. It’s 6 beads wide and 50 rows long. I used all Miyuki delicas and each strip has Matte Black (310) and Light Bronze (022L).

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Here’s the basic pattern. Yes, it is VERY messy, but I don’t do peyote patterns, so cut me some slack, pretty please.

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You’ll notice that the inner zig-zag part has two colors (blue and turquoise in the graph), but on each of my strips I alternated two colors and traded out one color per strip to get the ombre effect.

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So! They all use the Matte Black (310) and Light Bronze (022L), so here’s the accent color that changes from peyote strip to peyote strip.

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1. Matte Cantaloupe AB (852) and Duracoat Opaque Toast (2110)

2. Duracoat Opaque Toast (2110) and Sparkling Lt Yellow Lined Chartreuse (908)

3. Sparkling Lt Yellow Lined Chartreuse (908) and Opaque Avocado (1135)

4. Opaque Avocado (1135) and Matte Emerald Green AB (859)

5. Matte Emerald Green AB (859) and Opaque Sea Opal (1136)

6. Opaque Sea Opal (1136) and Matte Opaque Turquoise (793)

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7. Matte Opaque Turquoise (793) and Metallic Blue Green / Gold Iris (1052)

8. Metallic Blue Green / Gold Iris (1052) and Duracoat Navy (2143)

9. Duracoat Navy (2143) and Matte Cobalt AB (864)

10. Matte Cobalt AB (864) and Frost Opaque Glazed Grape (2292)

11. Frost Opaque Glazed Grape (2292) and Frost Opaque Glazed Rainbow Dk Red (2308)

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12. Frost Op Glazed Rainbow Dk Red (2308) and Frost Op Glazed Rainbow Cardinal (2306)

13. Frost Op Glazed Rainbow Cardinal (2306) and Opaque Pumpkin (653)

14. Opaque Pumpkin (653) and Matte Cantaloupe AB (852)

Oy! It was a lot to keep track of, but I think staggering the colors really helped the fade.

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Okey-doke. So, once you have your peyote strips, it’s time to grab your carrier beads.

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They’ve got two holes and are relatively flat-ish (to show off more the peyote design, I would imagine). The glass ones are much more chubby, but again, I don’t use those. You can buy these acrylic ones here.

 

I put on a very very very thin coat of super glue on the carrier bead before sliding on the peyote strip. I used one single thin swipe of liquid super glue.

 

And then voila! Beaded beads!

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To make the necklace curve, I took my infamous 20lb Fireline and strung 4mm gunmetal fire-polished crystals through the top holes and 6mm round hematite beads through the bottom holes. I also made big loops at the sides because I knew I wanted to add ribbon.

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Sorry for the terrible lighting. The sun had set by this point in the evening.

I grabbed some Sari Silk and used some lark’s head knots to finish off the necklace!

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I am so happy with the final necklace. I think the rainbow fades gently and fairly evenly and I think the ribbon looks organic, but neat.

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I have so many more ideas for the carrier beads and I am super enjoying color fades right now. So what do you guys think? Any interest in carrier beads? I think I’m hooked.

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New Design! – Artful Arcos Bracelet and Earrings

Hello, everyone!

I finally have another new design to share with you. This one uses three-hole Arcos beads and seed beads to make a square-tiled design. What do you think?

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Click through to get the pattern! 

So, I’ve been intrigued by Arcos for awhile now. I like the simplicity of their shape and the third hole seems really useful. I wanted to highlight the soft swoop of the curve on those beads, so I used different colors of seed beads to emphasize the shape.

For that first one, I used spring green 15/0’s, bronze Arcos, and Miyuki 11/0’s in Metallic Chocolate (461) and Salmon Luster (596).

Then, I wanted to try using a rainbow of colors. So, I used Black Arcos, gold 15/0s, and matte black seed beads (401F) for each unit and then different accent 11/0’s in nine different colors (all Miyuki and in order, as follows, 4491, 4474, 4481, 2074, 2075, 4490, 2047, 4470, 4458).

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I am SO happy with the rainbow gradient effect! It’s almost like a subtle pride flag.

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Since I’d only used Miyuki so far, so I also whipped up a pair of earrings using Toho beads. Not only did it work, but it was actually easier to maintain tension, since Toho 11/0’s are slightly chubbier than Miyuki 11/0’s.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have the bead name or numbers for the Toho 11/0’s. But the 15/0’s are matte cream AB Miyuki beads (492fr). I think the earring shape turned out pretty cute, though! There are instructions for both the earrings and the bracelet in the pattern.

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So, what do you think? Are these Arcos beads speaking to you at all? Any crazy rainbow ideas? I really enjoyed using so many bright colors. I might have to break out of my earthtones comfort zone more often!

 

 

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