Fringe Binge!

You guys are so going to make fun of me for this, but I have fallen in love with my “unloved” beading technique from the Isolation Beading Challenge. I cannot stop making fringe earrings!

So, I’m sure you guys remember my original post about experimenting with fringe earrings last month for the Isolation Beading Challenge. I had made these two pairs of earrings and decided that, even if you can’t use Fireline, fringe isn’t so bad after all.

I knew I wanted to add some sort of little dangle in the gold hoops, and I was lucky enough to find these dainty little leafs for their centers.

After that, I REALLY wanted to use my stash of art beads, so I made the pair on the left to match these gorgeous lampwork beads I’ve been hoarding forever. They sold pretty much immediately, so I don’t have them any more. But I was really happy with how the colors turned out. I did the swamp-witchy ones on the right to use up the rest of the green drops. I really LOVE how the drops add some visual weight to the bottom and you know I’m all about these earth tones.

I also got my mitts on some gorgeous Tierracast frames and I wanted to experiment with a different silhouette, so I made these purple monsters this weekend. They are big and bold and the purple is way outside my comfort zone, but I really loved making them. And I got to use some Swarovski crystals, which always feels indulgent in a lovely way. I also used some magic copper Union seed beads, so there’s some added dimension to the seed bead bits.

I have been having a lot of fun getting to compose pieces purely based on complimentary shapes and colors. It’s kind of a nice break not to have to worry about specific beads types or sizes to fit a specific pattern. And these work up so FAST. I’m definitely hooked for now. ❤

So you guys have any specific thread recommendations for doing fringe? I’ve tried One-G thread and S-Lon so far. I love having the color options that I usually don’t get with Fireline and I’m willing to experiment a bit!

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Isolation Beading Challenge Completed!

Blow the trumpets and fling your confetti, guys! I finished the Isolation Beading Challenge!

The last one on my list was actually the first one – finishing off a project. I mean, I made and completed many projects since I first issued the Isolation Beading Challenge in March, but not one that met the spirit of the challenge – something that I had been procrastinating or that had been left behind and forgotten.

Then I found my kumihimo disk in the very bottom of my beading cart and realized that it had a project on it! Half of a necklace. That I’m pretty sure had been there for many, many, many months. OOPS.

So, I finished it, realized it was way too long, and made TWO (2!) necklaces out of it!

The first was a full length necklace with Long Magatamas as far as the eye can see.

I love making these. I used a bunch of different colors and picked up the magatama beads in random directions, so they don’t lay in that smooth dragon scale way. It’s random and ruffled and puts me in mind of a pile of autumn leaves.

For the caps, I used my favorite oversized floral caps and a simple toggle. It’s a bit heavy, but I love the drama of this big fluffy necklace. ❤

For the second one, I only did a partial length of beaded Kumihimo and then made the rest of the the necklace with segments of beads on S-Lon cord in a warm burgundy color.

Here’s a close up on the beaded section and the super cool toggle that I love!

And with that, my Isolation Beading Challenge is complete! Have any of you guys been playing along? What’s your progress look like? There’s no deadline! Feel free to jump in at any time! 🙂

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Flirting with Fringe

Hello, my dear beady friends!

Last week I posted about my struggles to learn Ogalala stitch and fulfill one of the last items on the Isolation Beading Challenge. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time finding an “Unknown/Unloved” stitch because I’ve tried so many of them and couldn’t think of any that I particularly disliked.

But then inspiration struck!

Fringe. I do not love making beaded fringe.

I almost always avoid using fringe because I hate using non-waxed thread so much. I really only use Fireline (6lb or 8lb in Black Satin, almost ALWAYS) and Fireline is just not good for fringe. It’s too stiff and instead of getting a nice, soft drape of beads, you get an awkward layer of legs all akimbo. But, in the interest of completing my own challenge, I went for it!

And you know what, it really wasn’t that bad. I did still dislike using the One-G thread that I had, but being able to pick between more colors and finding something that complimented my bead colors was actually really gratifying. I think I ended up using Beige One-G thread to match my color palette of Miyuki Duracoat Forest, Matte Opaque Cream, Matte Lt Tea Rose, and this unlabeled salmon that I’ve had in my stash for YEARS.

I used Brick stitch for the top and then added the fringe in a sort of soft ombre that got longer in the center, with tiny Fire-Polished crystals at the tips. I made the top all one color because I wasn’t confident I wouldn’t mess up anything more complicated, but in the end I decided that large green portion needed something. So, I added a tiny bit of chain with a little pearl drop. I’m about halfway done with the matching earring and I think I like it!

But, after seeing so much gorgeous fringe on Instagram, I wanted to go all out and make a pair of ombre shoulder-dusters with these gold frames I got at Beaded Bliss!

I used the same color palette that I had been wanting to use for my failed Ogalala project to make this warm-tone, kinda summery-fall ombre situation. I really love how the blend turned out. This time I used S-Lon in a shade of burgundy, which matched the bottom of the fringe, but added a neat contrast to the warm olive at the top.

I still think they might need something. Some sort of drop or dangle to fill the center of the gold hoop? I haven’t found anything in my stash that quite fits the bill, but I haven’t given up yet!

And even though using non-Fireline beading thread was a little unpleasant and I didn’t wax it like I should have (I know, I know, shame on me), I actually had a pretty good time making the fringe? Deciding on the colors was SUPER FUN and I was definitely impressed by how quickly it worked up in comparison to basically any other beadweaving technique.

I think I may even make more!

Technically, this does mean that I’m done with my Isolation Beading Challenge, but I am unable to share the first task (the completed project) because it’s a sample for an upcoming beading pattern. So maybe I should knock out one more before I feel like I’ve REALLY completed the challenge.

What do you guys think? What are your feelings on fringe? Do you have an unloved stitch you’d be interested in revisiting?

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Ogalala (Oglala? Ogallala??) Blues

Hello, my wonderful beady friends. Last time I posted, I was giving an update on my Isolation Beading Challenge. I had almost everything done except for revisiting an unknown or unloved beading stitch.

I’m so close and I’ve been really motivated to find a stitch to revisit and bury the hatchet with. I wrote the challenge, so surely this part shouldn’t be too hard, right?

WRONG

The issue that I’m running into is that I don’t really have any stitches that I hate?? I was unfamiliar with brick stitch, but I recently started taking some workshops from Wanda Pitzele and have become much more comfortable with it. I even made this full Brick Stitch Zigzag Cuff last year. So brick stitch is definitely not unloved or unknown any longer.

I used to also really struggle with peyote beaded bezels. I would do anything to avoid them, even developing my own Joystone bezel design that I could use instead. But back in 2018 I finally figured out what I was doing wrong (I was reinforcing the first loop, making it too tight for the rivoli) and went bonkers making bezels left and right. So, I think that one’s disqualified too.

I frequently use RAW, peyote, herringbone, square stitch, ladder stitch, St Petersburg, brick stitch, and netting. I’ve tried Peyote with a Twist and CRAW. I know spirals, (flat, Russian, double etc). I’ve played with chenille and chevron and Cellini and ropes of all kind. I was really, really stumped.

So I did a bunch of googling and remembered that I’ve never tried Ogalala (or butterfly) stitch! I mean, just look at these gorgeous necklaces for sale on Etsy! The depth of color and the ruffles – it’s SO outside my wheelhouse, but that’s what makes it fun and exciting. I love how they seem freeform, but actually have a specific netting structure and the ombre effect of the frills is just to die for.

But man, I struggled to find a tutorial! The only ones I could find that thoroughly explained the technique created finished products that weren’t as lovely as the photos above or were a slightly different technique all together. I found one tutorial in a foreign language that I tried to follow (after spending a LOOOONG time making a gradient that I liked), but I just wasn’t happy with how it was working up.

And I will mention that not knowing the proper spelling of the stitch does not help! Results pop up for “Oglala”, “Ogalala”, and even “Ogallala”, so I am just at a total loss. It’s hard to research a stitch when you don’t know how to spell it properly.

So, if any of you could point me in the direction of a book or a pattern that yields similar results as the finished pieces above, that would be lovely. But, for now, I think I might need to continue my search for an unknown/unloved stitch. There are so many stitches out there – I KNOW I haven’t tried them all. But most lists just list the basic ones and I’m pretty familiar with those.

Do you have any suggestions? Either for an Ogalala tutorial or for another stitch that might count as unknown? I’m stumped! Let me know if the comments if you can help save me from my own beading challenge, haha.

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Isolation Beading Challenge Progress

Hey, everybody! I hope you are all well and holding up. I just wanted to pop in and chat about my progress on the Isolation Beading Challenge that I issued last month.

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I didn’t think i had made much progress, but this is actually pretty good! I definitely started with the easy ones at the bottom. I placed at order at Beaded Bliss to stock up on those leather clasps I love and get some needed beads. I also wrote brief, positive reviews for all my local bead stores using Google reviews (it only took five minutes – let me know if you need help finding where to do this!).

Posting photos to social media has been easy because that’s something that I do all the time anyway. You can check out the hashtag on Instagram to see my and other folks’ posts for the challenge! You can search for the hashtag on Facebook too!

The first one I’ve only partially marked. I did finish the bracelet (including the clasp), but it’s for a new pattern I want to write, so I’m not going to REALLY consider it done until the pattern is finished and posted.

But! The one that’s been taking up most of my time is #3 Finally Do that Pattern You’ve Been Saving! I really, really wanted to take this opportunity to dig through my pile of books and do a design from one of them. I ended picking this pattern from this Kelly Wiese book.

She chose this really soft iridescent lavender because Kelly Wiese always picks the prettiest and classiest colors. I loved the look of it, but decided to lean into my favorite palette of Picasso colors.

What do you think? I laid out all of my Picasso 11/0’s into rainbow order and tried to get a sort of tie-dye ombre effect. It’s a little louder than I anticipated – usually the Picasso finish leans a little more earth tone than rainbow, but I still like the overall color scheme a lot.

It was a really interesting technique that she used, almost like a blend of chevron stitch and daisy chain? I highly recommend this book of hers (and pretty much anything she writes). Her style is really different from mine, but it always inspires me and I think her patterns are easy to read and learn from.

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I really never do lariats or fringe and this dainty style of chain was definitely outside my comfort zone. But that’s what made it so fun! The last thing on the list for me (besides finishing that pattern) is to revisit and unknown or unloved stitch and I just can’t figure out what to work on. I don’t really have a stitch that I hate and I’ve at least tried most of them. Maybe I could try Peyote with a Twist again or give Ogalala stitch or Dutch spirals a try… I haven’t made up my mind yet!

Have any of you made any progress on the Isolation Beading Challenge?

 

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Isolation Beading: An Update and a Challenge

Hey, friends. I sincerely hope you are all doing well and that those of you who can are staying safe and staying home as much as possible. Everything is weird and stressful and confusing right now, especially in our crafting community where so many are extra vulnerable to COVID-19.

As for me and my family, we’re doing alright. My husband is able to work from home and has been lucky enough to maintain his day job doing IT for a non-profit. He just finished a tour with his band on March 13th (the day before Ohio announced restrictions on gatherings) and his office decided to go ahead and preemptively put him in self-isolation since he had been travelling. The whole office is working from home now, but he’s been isolated for two weeks now and hasn’t shown any symptoms, which is a huge relief since he has asthma. He’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. I just wish his music room was bigger, especially now that it’s his office.

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My work situation is a little more complicated. I work for an online bead shop called Beads Direct USA. Since we’re an online business that exclusively sells through shipping, we’ve been allowed to remain open under Ohio’s stay-in-place order. We’re a very small company (the owner, Lizelle, and I are the only full time workers and then we have two part-timers when we’re fully staffed), but Liz is a very caring and responsible boss who wants to keep us all safe. For right now, that looks like me getting up as early as I can (5am, most days) to get into the office and ship all your orders before the mailman arrives and then going home early. Liz is working from home as much as possible and then coming in in the afternoons when she needs to so that none of us are in the office at the same time. It’s a tricky balance between staying safe and socially responsible, while still getting everyone their beads while they’re stuck at home.

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So that’s my life right now. Early mornings, a dark commute, an empty office, an exhausted husband, a confused cat, a quiet dinner, and an early bedtime.

Oh, and I did buzz my head! I was planning on waiting until summer, but I can get into the office earlier if I don’t have to worry about my hair. I like it. My sunglasses won’t stay on my head any more and my ears are cold, but you can finally see my conch piercing and I shaved (ha) a full hour off my morning routine. I can’t stop petting it.

So, that’s my life right now. Not as confined as many, but that low hum of anxiety makes the normal routine of work feel fraught and tense. I miss my coworkers and my friends. I miss my Wednesday nights at my local bead shop and my beloved beading ladies. I’m worried for all of them and for their livelihoods. I know that I’m so lucky to have my job and that my family is still healthy. But I do feel a deep mourning for my “normal” life and I’m sure you do too.


So, I want to issue a challenge. Something to do while all our lives are disrupted and a list we can check off to feel more in control (at least, that’s how my brain works). There’s no real deadline since it’s likely that all our different states and locations are going to come in and out of quarantine recommendations at different paces. There are no prizes or penalties. But I really love a checklist in a time of stress, so here we go!

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I wanted to make a mix of beading motivation and community support for all our local bead shops that have been forced to either go online or close completely for an unpredictable amount of time. We can all do our best support them both with direct financial support (for those of us who can) and with recommendations, positive reviews, and a little free advertising wherever we can. My job at Beads Direct USA has been online only since 2013, but I’m also deeply connected to Beaded Bliss, where I go to bead on Wednesdays nights and often teach. She’s very newly on Etsy and orders from her Etsy shop increase the odds that she’ll be able to open her doors back up when she’s allowed to do so. I’m sure many brick and mortar bead shops are in similar positions. And even those of us who don’t have the extra funds right now could still take the time to recommend our favorite shop on Facebook or leave a positive Google review.

So, who wants to join me on this special little challenge? If you do, use #isolationbeadingchallenge on Facebook and Instagram so I can see what you make! Let’s reach out for a little connection with each while we’re separated.

I’ll be thinking of you all. Stay safe. ❤

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Orchid and Opal YouTube Collab!

Hello, everybody! In case you missed it on my other social media platforms, I wanted to make sure to post about something really exciting that happened last month!

 

Gina from Orchid and Opal Jewelry and Beads reached out to me to do a collaboration. She has a fantastic channel that features a lot of bead box reviews, design ideas, tutorials, and general beady goodness and she really wanted to do a guest pattern showcase for my Double Split Ring bracelet.

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Gina is a very talented beader and has such a sparkling presence in her videos and I was so excited to team up with her to make my pattern available to a new audience. If you’ve ever wanted one of my patterns to have a video tutorial – your dreams have come true!

I just wanted to make sure that no one missed it, since Gina put so much work into this video. Her fans have been so kind and supportive (I’ve actually been going in and reading the comments when I need a little ego boost, because her fans are SO SWEET) and I am really excited to have found this great new source of beady content.

I would really recommend subscribing to her channel so you don’t miss any videos. I will be sure to let you know if we collaborate again. It was such a pleasure to work with her. ❤

I’m pretty new to the YouTube beading community (besides the big-hitters like Jill Wiseman and Bronze Pony). Do you guys have any smaller channels I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

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2020 Pattern Review – Cup Blossom Pendant!

Just got a quickie for you all today – February has just completely slipped through my fingers.

I wanted to get back to work revisiting and updating my patterns (after this, I think I only have four or five left!). One of my early, early patterns that I wrote and put up on Etsy was my Cup Blossom Pendant tutorial. I actually developed it while brainstorming ideas for bridesmaid necklaces for a college friend. It’s a vaguely 3D flower made by embellishing a base of 8mm rounds with seed beads and bicones.

It’s a pretty easy pattern, so I don’t think the actual instructions needed much updating. I made four new samples (I already had the purple and green one finished) so that I could take a new cover photo and voila! I think it looks nicely spruced up. It is a beginner’s tutorial and a little short, so I also bumped it down to $4.00.

Hope you guys are having a good month! Happy beading!

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The Beading Community on Instagram

Hey, friends!

I wanted to pop in here really quickly to ask y’all something. Are you guys on Instagram?

Because I am actually very new to Instagram! I didn’t actually have a smartphone until 2018, so most of my twenties went by with limited social media access. You can use Twitter and Instagram on a laptop, but the interface is a little clunky and you really can’t do much on Instagram if you aren’t using the app (like, you can’t post pictures at all, for example). So I’ve only very recently gotten to explore using Instagram for beading and, guys? It’s really awesome!

So, I started with creating a specific account for my beading and Etsy stuff (I have a personal account, but like Facebook, that’s only friends and family – I like to keep my beading interactions separate). So, if you do decide to get on Instagram, you can follow me at my Wescott.Jewelry Instagram page.

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I post the same sorts of things that you would see on my Facebook page – in progress pics, finished jewelry, news about sales etc. I even had a giveaway when I hit 1,000 followers. I’ve been amazed at how quickly I’ve made friends and how fun posting there can be. If you guys remember the really fun bead swap I did last summer with Danielle Wickes? Our friendship blossomed pretty much entirely on Instagram.

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I also just recently took over management of the Beads Direct USA Instagram account – if you don’t know, that’s the online bead shop where I work. I spoke about it quite a bit recently when I wrote a post explaining why I don’t/can’t sell kits. My boss, Lizelle Hards (you may know her from the Beads Direct USA YouTube channel) has the had the account for a long time, but hasn’t been super comfortable using it, so she recently handed me the login and told me to go to town.

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Surprisingly, it’s been a really different experience from running both my personal account and my Wescott Jewelry account, because the focus is more specifically on the beads. I get to really spend time thinking about which products to highlight and how to best photograph them. What are the key features to tell people about? What’s the best lighting for each finish? Which tags should I use? I’m still learning, but I’m trying to post every day or so and it’s been a really fun experience.

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Speaking of tags! I really think that Instagram’s tagging system is one of the things that makes it so well suited to crafting and following your interests. Sure, you can follow individual people (like Danielle) or even follow online bead magazines that will introduce you to new accounts and articles (like A Beaded Life) and that will denfintiely fill your feed with amazing designs and inspiration. But I think that following tags has been my favorite part of my Instagram journey. You can follow topics the same way that you can follow people.

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These are just some of the hashtags that I follow – #handmadejewelry, #beadweaving, #beadwork, #beadingtutorials, #beadweavingpatterns and so on and so forth. By following the tags, I get a steady stream of content that has used those tags, even if I don’t actually follow the accounts posting them. It gives me the opportunity to see more branches of the community and to come into contact with accounts I didn’t know about and may want to start following. If I’m feeling inspired to try macrame again, for example, I can checkout the #macramejewelry tag and find an endless list of inspiration, even if the accounts I follow don’t generally post macrame.

Anyway, I don’t know if this post will be super useful – I am certainly not the first person to tell you that Instagram is fun. But I just wanted to make sure you guys knew that there was this giant flourishing beading community that you could discover and participate in. I really didn’t realize until recently how much joy and what a supportive community was waiting in the same app where I used to only post pictures of Bridget.

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Not that she isn’t worth her own account, for sure. ❤

Anyway, if you’re already on Instagram, feel free to ignore my ramblings. But if you’ve been curious or never realized that there were beaders on there, I encourage you to give it a try. I’m always ecstatic to find a new healthy beading community to join. It’s a real joy to share the love and creativity of other artists and this platform is well suited to it.

Back to your regularly scheduled bead-y content next week. ❤

Oh! And if you are on Insta already or decide to make an account, drop your account name in the comments so I can follow you!

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Beading for Fun!

Hey, guys! I’ve been battling a pretty nasty cold this past week, so I’ll keep this short. But I’ve worked up a few pieces this month that I wanted to share. Since I’ve given myself more time to finish up my pattern reviews and updates, I was able to spend this month working on random pieces just for fun, whenever inspiration hit me.

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My first experiment was wanting to use this Beadslide clasp. They usually work best for loom work (or square stitch, I guess) because of which direction the slide is facing. But! I managed to start off with square stitch, transition to herringbone, and then back to square stitch at the other end. It worked out pretty well! It’s all 8/0’s in flat herringbone, with 11/0’s for the turn arounds. Pretty standard stuff, but I really enjoyed it.

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Then, I was kicking around Instagram (didya know I have an Insta account now?) and I saw that Danielle Wickes posted this SUPER CUTE tutorial for fan-earrings using herringbone and some really cute TierraCast ends. If you wanna give it a try, her tutorial is here and super easy to follow.

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I didn’t have any 2.5mm  Fire-Polished crystals or 8/0 triangles, but I did have some hex cut 8/0’s and those worked just fine. It was really easy to whip up and I think I might make more!

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Lastly, I’ve had thes Cymbal Elements ends for a long time now and wanted to work on something simple for them. That herringbone piece reminded me of how quickly pieces made in 8/0’s work up, haha, so I did some odd-count peyote with Montana Picasso 8/0’s with little dots of silver. I wanted to add a simple slide clasp to the end, but naturally, I have every single color except one that matches the bracelet ends! I’ll have to pick some up so I can finish the bracelet.

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It’s been really lovely to just putter around and work on pieces as I feel inspired, instead of grinding through pattern reviews or new designs as quickly as possible. I really like the pieces I made and was excited to share them with you. Not too shabby for being sick and lazy!

How’s your beading going so far in 2020?

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