Clasp Wars : Partially Finished Bracelet Ends

Well, I thought I was done with my Clasp Wars series, but then these guys came out!

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The idea is that you can make a partial bracelet and then use these endings to finish off the bracelet, a major bonus being that it is adjustable!

Here’s the Beadsmith demonstration of how you can use them-

There’s not a lot of photos of completed projects available, but I’ll post some as soon as I make something. We’ve started selling them at Beads Direct USA (you can find them here) and I’m pretty excited to play with them.

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My initial thoughts are these. I love that they make a project so adjustable, but personally I’m not a huge fan of having lots of dangling things around my wrist? But being able to hang something cute from each end is really nice too and I love how easily the smart bead glides up and down. It seems secure, but easy enough for arthritic hands to use. I really, really, really wish they came in more colors though. I almost never use bright gold or silver – I’m much more into antiqued (matte) bronzes and coppers.

Also, “Partially Finished Bracelet Ends” is a super clunky and forgettable name. The marketing team really needs a do-over on that one, geez. That name is incredible hard to search for and that’s SEO 101, guys. No good.

What do you guys think? Interested in giving them a try? Are they for lazy beaders or an ingenious bracelet revolution? Or both?

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Acrylic Pour Class for Pendants!

Hi, friends! So, I got to take a really fun class at Beaded Bliss last month and I wanted to share some photos with you.

The class was on using acrylic paint pouring techniques to make jewelry – now I’ve been watching acrylic paint pouring videos on Youtube for awhile now, so I was immediately intrigued. The instructor, Barbara Horton, promised to teach us two techniques in one morning – dipping into acrylic pours and using pour skins to make pendants. Check out these two samples she brought us.

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She gave us a really thorough run down on mixing paint and using different flow mediums, where to find the supplies, how to reuse and recycle parts of it, and all sorts of fantastic tips and tricks. She was a really clear and helpful teacher – and it was her first class! I was super impressed. I think my favorite part was mixing colors and getting our paint cups ready. Here’s mine right before we did any pouring.

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For the first pour, things were pretty straightforward. We poured about half our cup onto some plastic sheeting and then tilted our box/trays around so that the paint ran and puddled into some gorgeous different shapes. We even hit it with a blowtorch to encourage the cells to form. I am absolutely in love with mine.

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While it was still wet, we dipped a glass cabochon into the paint, so that we could later use that cab for jewelry making. You can see the white-ish spot where I dipped my pendant in the pour above if you look in the 2 o’clock region. I had to let my cab dry and cure fully before messing with it, but look at the photos I got of it today! I can’t wait to do something with it – I’m actually thinking about using it for embroidery!

Then, we did a flip-cup pour. We took the paint left in our cup and literally turned it upside down on our plastic sheeting. Then we dragged it a bit, and popped it up to start tilting our paint again. My second batch looks completely different! And it was still from the same cup! It was mesmerizing to watch.

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For the second technique, we couldn’t use our paint until it was completely dried and cured, so Barb had us set ours to the side and she let us use dried skins from her own past projects to show us how to fashion the dried paint into pendants. This is what I made with one of her leftover paint skins to learn the technique. I’m in love!

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My paint skins are finally completely dried and I even managed to keep the cat away from them while they were curing! Now, I just need to find the time to sit down, peel them up, and find the best spots to make into pendants. I am so excited to play around with this new technique.

Another fantastic class at Beaded Bliss! Thanks so much to Cathy for hosting and to Barbara Horton for her fantastic instructions. I had a blast.

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September Pattern Review 2019

You guys! We are getting seriously close to the end of the year! I’m still on track to make new samples of each of my patterns, but it is not leaving me much breathing room, let me tell ya. I was super productive this month, though!

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Firstly, I was really enjoying making new samples for my Stash Worm bracelet. When I originally wrote the pattern, I was really keen on making them with mixed bead soups, but lately I’ve been into doing individual strands, leaving the colors separated. Either way, it’s a great way to get through 11/0’s and I have quite a stash.

The gold one in the first photo is an old sample, but these three are all new. The green and blue/brown are the thin version, with the pink/copper at the full width.

After that, I made one of my Oculus Bezels for this crazy wolf cabochon I found at Beaded Bliss. It’s the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen and I’m absolutely in love.

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I had a really hard time getting a photo with out glare – the cab is super glossy. But it’s a black wolf with a pentagram and hellfire behind it. It’s so incredibly kitschy and I had so much fun with it. Since it’s an Oculus bezel, it is double-sided. The back is a glossy black.

After that, I unpacked my Silky collection. First, I used these super interesting table cut cross-patterned Silky beads in one of my Tracery Trinkets. I haven’t made one of these in quite some time, but I really enjoyed picking out the colors and finding these perfect fire-polished crystals for the edging.

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Aaaaaand, last but not least, I just finished this Backsplash bracelet earlier tonight. I was inspired by Carole Ohl’s habit of making bracelets where each unit is a different color scheme and used this opportunity to use up the dregs of my stash of Tangos. They’re all in the gray/black/green/teal family, but this sort of patchwork aesthetic was a really fun experiment for me.

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I really had a lot of fun with these this month. It’s been a long time since I’ve played with my Silky beads, but they really are a pleasure to bead with. I think I might leave them out for next month! Only three months left of the year and still so many patterns to revisit – I’m gonna be a busy, busy beader.

 

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Clasp Wars: Magnetic Clasps

Happy Sunday evening, my friends! It is finally time to finish up my Clasp Wars series!

The last type of clasp I’ll be discussing is the magnetic clasp. This is the official end of this blog series, but I might do a bonus post if I realize that I’ve forgotten any types of clasp or if I encounter a new one. If you wanna go back and read my past clasp posts, they are all collected here.

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So, I used to be really crazy about magnetic clasps. I used them all the time. Nowadays, though, not so much.

There are some major pros to using magnetic clasps. The biggest one is accessibility. I couldn’t tell you how many folks have told me that they only buy pieces with magnetic clasps because arthritis has limited their mobility in their hands, or they live alone and struggle to put on bracelets single-handedly. Magnets are easy to fasten blindly behind your head for necklaces too. You really just can’t beat them for ease of use.

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If you’re trying to sell your jewelry, using a magnetic clasp is a great way to expand your possible customer base. That’s largely why I used to use them. But what goes one easily can also come off easily. Magnetic bracelets are very easily lost. Mine used to get scraped off my wrist every time I put my backpack on in college. I lost more than one to a shopping cart. I’ve found them in the bottom of my car and on my kitchen floor and many I have never found at all.

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There are two solutions to this. The obvious one is to get a stronger magnet. But it can be really hard to gauge the strength of a magnetic clasp if you’re purchasing online. And even if you get a super strong one, sometime a customer won’t realize that you need to slide the magnet to get it to release and end up tugging directly on the beadwork and weakening it.

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You can also use a safety chain, which will catch the bracelet if the magnet fails. These can be a great way to protect your piece. Unfortunately, I just don’t like the look of them. (I also find them very ticklish to wear – I don’t like dangly bits on my wrist). They can be a great solution if they fit the aesthetic of your piece, but I’m just not crazy about the look.

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Also, like many clasp options, magnets also make a bracelet unadjustable, so it’s gotta be the right length right out of the gate. And if you need an extra extension chain, that’s one more measurement to worry about.

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Generally, I’ve sacrificed the extended customer base I would be able to reach if I used magnetic clasps because I just don’t feel confident in their strength. Some clasps use a combination of magnet and another type of clasp (like a folding hinge or something) and theoretically, I wouldn’t be opposed to them. But when you get more complicated, you use that ease of access that folks usually choose magnets for.

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I definitely understand why folks like magnetic clasps and why some people need them. But I just don’t have the confidence to sell pieces that use them, so… I don’t!

And that is my rather lackluster conclusion to my Clasp Wars series! Did I miss anything you wanna talk about? Am I totally wrong about magnet clasps? Let me know in the comments!

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August Pattern Review 2019

Hello, friends! I’ve got a much more cheerful post this week. Thanks for all your support with the last post, but I am more than ready to move on and talk about the important stuff – beading!

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I have been busy! I’ve been helping out at Beaded Bliss this month and it’s given me a lot more beading time than I usually have. So, I revisited four of my old patterns this month.

First up, I REALLY wanted to make a new Ruched Tila bracelet. I think I made four of them when the pattern first came out, but I really hadn’t touched it since then. And since I only ever made the one sunset version with the ombre effect, I definitely wanted to try it again. This time, I did a Picasso ombre version. The seed beads cycle through Picasso Montana (4516), Seafoam (4514), Olivine (4506), Smoky Topaz (4505) and Red Brown (4503). The Tilas are the Matte Metallic Copper (2005) and the 11/0’s on the side are just some random unlabeled copper from my stash.

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After that, I wanted to keep with my Tila theme, so I decided to make a new Odessa sample. I mixed Beige Ceylon Tilas with Picasso Olivine Half-Tilas for the base and used matching seed beads in Picasso Olivine and Matte Bronze for the detailing. The crazy reflective GemDuos are Backlit Tequila (00030-28002).

And after that, I wanted to keep using those same Backlit Tequila GemDuos (they’re just SO shiny omg), so I paired them with Picasso Montana (4516) and gold seed beads for this dainty TipToe chain bracelet. I have a supply of defective “two-hole” lentil beads from work that only have one hole, and I used one of them as a cute dangle.

And finally, because I had one more evening of beading this past week, I made two pairs of my SuperDuo Star earrings! I really indulged some of my favorite colors for this one. The cream and Montana Rembrandt pair are possibly my favorite earrings I’ve ever made with this pattern, but the burnt copper and light rose pair is pretty high up there too.

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It’s been a really productive month for me and I’m really happy with how each of these pieces came out. Of course, now I have to list them, which you all know I am a HORRIBLE procrastinator about. But, I’ll get some more photos and add them to the queue!

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I think I might try to stay in this kind of earthy, Picasso and cream color palette for a bit longer. Clearly I find it inspirational, haha! Why mess with a good thing?

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A Story and a Thank You

Hey, everybody! I have some pieces that I’m working on that I’ll be sharing next week, but something has been on my mind a bit lately and I wanted to chat about it for a minute. Sorry to be posting about a bummer instead of beads, but it is what it is.


So, earlier this month I got a very sweet message from an Etsy customer, warning me that someone had contacted her, explicitly asking if she could make copies of the pattern she had bought from me and send them to her. I’m attaching screenshots of the conversations, but I’ve blocked out all the user names for privacy.

My customer sent me this:

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She included a screenshot of the request she received:

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Guys… That sucks so bad. How infuriating to find out that someone has been messaging my customers asking for illegal copies of my patterns. I mean, ouch.

Luckily, my customer was very protective of my intellectual property and let me know what was going on. Turns out that she’s a designer herself and recommended I report the user to Etsy.

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My first concern was to figure out how this person even knew that my customer had purchased my Odessa pattern. That information shouldn’t be available to just anyone, you know? Especially since my customer had purchased it back in 2017!

It took a bit of sleuthing, but I eventually figured out that this person had gone through the feedback attached to my listing, found a positive review, clicked on the person who left it, and contacted them from there. I have no idea if they only contacted the one customer or if they sent that message to a bunch of folks. I really saddened by the idea that they might have contacted multiple people and maybe one of my other customers actually did make the copies. It really bummed me out.

Once I found out who was contacting my customers and how they had found them, I decided to report them to Etsy. That was it’s own mountain to climb, geez. It is NOT easy to put in a help request on Etsy. There is no “report User” button. You can report a shop or a listing, but not a buyer. So I had to run through a bunch of hoops just to get to the point where I could send a message to representative. I finally got an email out and, to their credit, Etsy did get back to me by the next day:

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Ironically, I also received a message that morning directly from the would-be thief. I didn’t respond, but I guess this means no one sent them copies of the pattern?

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I messaged Etsy-Keith back to let him know that I had been contacted by the person directly and asking if there was a way to block them as a buyer. This was his response:

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So… That’s that I guess.

I didn’t tell this story just to whine about the situation or to drag the user for trying to get my products for free. I’m trying to be respectful by blocking everyone’s names and being vague.

But I wanted a chance to talk about a few specific things.


1). I sell my copyrighted patterns on Etsy and making copies of them is theft. This person was asking my customers for illegal copies of my intellectual property. There is a lot of ethical gray areas in beading that we have to sort out for ourselves. We have a lot of conversations about ethical pattern sharing, teaching licenses, techniques and stitches vs patterns, and how to credit designers. Some of it is legitimately dicey and as a community, we have to sort out what we think is ethical. But this is not one of those situations. Making and distributing (for free or profit) copies of a copyrighted project is illegal (and against Etsy policy) and I’m so, so angry that someone was soliciting illegal activity from my customers as “a favor”. 

2.) I’m very concerned that there is no “block buyer” function on Etsy. Even if this person was willing to pay for my patterns, I don’t want them to purchase from me. They clearly don’t respect copyright, so I don’t trust that they wouldn’t copy and distribute my patterns, but I can’t protect myself from them. Keith says I can “refuse service to a buyer”, but since my patterns are instant downloads, I don’t see how that would help me if I can’t prevent them from purchasing in the first place.

3.) This one is important.

I never, ever want to be the kind of person who responds to someone saying that their on a tight budget with “Well, it’s only $5”. Everybody’s life is different and there are definitely people in situations who don’t have $5 to spare. I get it. I really do.

But… I don’t sell food. I sell instructions to make luxury items out of craft supplies. It’s not a necessary product and this person’s life won’t suffer without it. The materials to make the bracelet will cost more than $5. It is totally possible to bead on a budget. It’s tricky, but being strategic about what beads you buy can help and there are SO MANY free patterns and YouTube tutorials available. You don’t need to steal patterns to bead on a budget.


Those are the things that have been on my mind a lot this month. The user’s profile is still on Etsy, so it seems like they haven’t been banned. I really don’t know what’s been going on, since Etsy won’t keep me in the loop since the original message wasn’t to me. I don’t know if the user has been given a warning or actually punished somehow. I’ll probably never know.

But, one thing has been consistently cheering me up.

My customer let me know what was happening. She warned me and protected my pattern and she isn’t even the first one.

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten messages from you guys letting me know that a YouTube channel was making a video of my design without my permission, or someone was using my photos without credit, or to let me know that a site was advertising my design without my permission. Sometimes these have been false alarms or designs that were accidentally similar (it happens!) and sometimes I had already had contact with the person in question.

But that’s not the point. The point is that: You guys reach out to me so often and it makes me feel so protected and loved. It means the world to me that you guys have my back and value crediting designers and want me to succeed. It warms my heart. Really.

So, when I start to feel bad about people not respecting my designs, I’m going to make a conscious effort to replace that sadness with gratefulness.

I am so grateful for all my customers. All of you who read this blog. Any of you who comment on my Facebook or Instagram or support me in any way. For any one person trying to take advantage of the system, there are so many more of you who support and uplift me.

So,

Thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I can only spend so much time on this because of your support.

Thank you for letting me do what I love. I won’t let the spoil-sports get me down.

 

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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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