Free Russian Spiral Tutorial – Wrangling a Six-Color Spiral

Hello, my dear beady friends!

I’m almost ready to come back from my Etsy hiatus – at the moment, I’m expecting to open back up on February 1st. But. in the meantime, I wanted to share a quick photo tutorial on doing a Russian Spiral in six colors. The Russian Spiral is a super easy stitch that you can find free patterns and tutorials for all over the internet, but I wanted to share my tips for using six different colors and keeping them all straight as you go.

So, first you’ll want to gather your beads. You will need three colors of 11/0’s and three colors of 8/0’s. I recommend bright colors that you can easily tell apart for your first attempt. I would also recommend pouring them out in a circle on your bead mat. Make sure you alternate between 11/0’s and 8/0’s around your circle.

To start, I want you to pick up one of your 8/0’s and go around your circle, picking up two 11/0’s from each 11/0 pile and one 8/0 from each 8/0 pile. Your needle should have one 8/0, two 11/0’s, one 8/0, two 11/0’s, one 8/0, and two 11/0’s.

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Great, now slide them to the end of your thread (you can either leave a tail to add your clasp later, or don’t leave a tail and then add thread later to attach your clasp) and go back through the beads, pulling them into a circle. Tie the circle off and then go through your beads until you are coming out from between two 11/0’s.

Awesome! Now, look at what color the next 8/0 is in the direction that you are going. My next 8/0 is the orangey/terracotta color and it is followed by two berry 11/0’s (because I’m stitching counter-clockwise). So, I’m going to pick up one terracotta 8/0 and two berry 11/0’s.

Quick Tip: Every time you pick up beads during a Russian Spiral with 8/0’s and 11/0’s, you’ll pick up one 8/0 and two 11/0’s. Big, little, little. Big, little, little. Try to keep that in your head. 

Then, I’m going to go through the first of the two berry 11/0’s after the terracotta 8/0.

I’m going to let the new beads lay flat against the circle, making a sort of wing. Then. I’m going to look ahead and see what my next two colors are. This time, I’m going to pick up one cream 8/0 and two terracotta 11/0’s.

Again, I’m going to go into the terracotta 11/0 directly after that cream 8/0, making  a second wing.

Awesome! Once more, I’m going to look at what colors I’m moving toward – this time it’s the purple 8/0 and olive 11/0’s, so I am going to pick up one purple 8/0 and two olive 11/0’s and go through the first of the two 11/0’s after the purple 8/0.

So, that is our first round. Now we need to step up. To do this, I’m going to go up through the terracotta 8/0 that I added as my first wing and then go through the first berry 11/0 immediately after it. When I pull, my three wings are going to curl up into a basket/bowl shape. You’ll want to hold in it your fingers from now on, encouraging that bowl shape, instead of leaving it lay on the mat.

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Alright, so now we’re going to look ahead again and pick up the colors that we are moving towards. Since I’m coming out of the berry 11/0’s and moving counter clockwise, I’m going to need to pick up one cream 8/0 and two terracotta 11/0’s. Then I’m going to go through the first of the two terracotta 11/0’s after the cream 8/0.

This time my wing is going to layer on top of my piece, instead of along side it.
Looking ahead, I’m going to pick up one purple 8/0 and two olive 11/0’s and go through the first of the two olive 11/0’s immediately after the purple 8/0.

Again, I’m going to look ahead and see the next 8/0, which is terracotta. So, I’m going to pick up one terracotta 8/0 and two berry 11/0’s and then go through the first of the two berry 11/0’s after the terracotta 8/0.

Now, we need to step up. Go through the next 8/0, which is the cream one this time, and then the terracotta 11/0 right after it. Then we’ll be in place to begin the next round.

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Quick Tip: Pay close attention to what colors you’re picking up. You can’t just go around the circle on your bead mat because the step-up makes you skip a set of colors. Always look ahead to what color you’re stitching into and choose that set. The color of the 11/0 you’re stitching into should be the same color as the 11/0’s on your needle. 

Alright, let’s do one more round. Looking ahead to the next colors, I am going to pick up one purple 8/0 and two olive 11/0’s. Then, I am going to go through the first olive 11/0 immediately after the purple 8/0.

Looking ahead, our next colors are going to be terracotta and berry, so I’m going to pick up one terracotta 8/0 and two berry 11/0’s and go through the 11/0 right after the terracotta 8/0.

Our next colors are cream and terracotta, so I am going to pick up one cream 8/0 and two terracotta 11/0’s and go through the first of the two 11/0’s immediately after the cream 8/0.

Then (second pic), I am going to go through the purple 8/0 and the olive 11/0 immediately after it to complete our step up.

Alright!  That’s at least three rounds right there, so I think you get the idea. After a nit more time, you should end up with a six-color rope like this!

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Russian spirals are very versatile and a common stitching technique so there are free resources for it all over the place. And, you can get a totally different look just by fiddling with the sizes of beads you’re using. Jill Wiseman has a great video here that uses only one color of 11/0’s and three colors of crystals. Fusion Beads also has a great free pattern here that uses 8/0’s and 15/0’s, instead of 11/0’s.

Have you guys had any experience with the Russian Spiral? Got any favorite versions? Let me know in the comments!

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2017 New Years Resolutions

Hi, everyone! Happy New Years! It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and my living room is SO bright from the refelcting snow outside. It’s lovely. And I want to talk about resolutions!

Last year was my first time making public resolutions, as you may remember from this post. I think I did pretty well on most things and then completely failed on one of them. So, yeah. Here’s a quick overview of how I did on my 2016 resolutions.

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Read 125 Books – A+

I actually ended up reading 150 books this year! I was a little worried that my numbers would be a little “cheated” this year, because I have been reading a LOT of comics. I usually read the trade paperbacks, which gather about five comics into a volume, which Goodreads then counts as a “book” even though it’s only couple hundred pages. But! My page count was actually higher this year than it was last year, so I feel pretty good about it. I even made a sub-resolution to review every book I read in 2016, even if it was only a sentence or two and I actually managed to do that too!

As always, you can see what I’m currently reading on the little Goodreads widget on the bottom right column on my blog. Or, friend me on Goodreads!

Complete Year of Jewelry Project – B

So, in 2015 I joined The Year of Jewelry Project on Facebook. Basically, joining means you’re committing to posting one piece of finished jewelry every single week all year – even if you’re not feeling creative and have to force it. They provide weekly themes if you need inspiration and it’s a really fun group of artists.

In both 2015 and 2016 I managed to share  one photo for every week, although they were rarely on theme and were occasionally late. Most of the time, the piece was finished on time but I either hadn’t taken the photo yet or added my watermark. So, I’ll give myself a B for completing the idea of the project, if not always nailing the details.

I don’t think I’ll be doing the YOJP in 2017, though. I’ve found that I don’t really need an outside force urging me to bead every week and I’m pretty self-motivated to create new things, even in creative slumps. But I highly recommend it if you need that extra boost!

Blog Twice a Month – A

I actually did this! Most months I only did two posts, but I’m a pretty busy girl and I’m not mad about it. I definitely want to continue this trend into 2017. I also want to try to be more creative about my blog post topics. If you have any suggests of things you like to read about, please let me know in the comments!

Finish Purse – F

Ok… So, remember this purse that I made back in November? of 2015??? Yeah. I know. I never finished. I think I picked it up once or twice this year, but I never stitched a single stitch on it and I still don’t know how I want to finish it. *sigh*

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I guess I’ll try again this year.

Try More New Beads – C

I gave myself a C on this one. I did end up developing and writing nine new patterns this year and they did all use new-to-me beads. But, I also had the opportunity to use a lot more new beads that I didn’t take advantage of. Potomac Bead Company, in particular, has been really great about putting out new beads this year and I had the opportunity to work with some of them before they were publicly produced, like the AVA beads. But, unfortunately, my muse has been on the fritz lately and lots of new beads have seemed more overwhelming than exciting.

I’ve taken a bit of a break the last few months and have actually closed my Etsy shop for the beginning of January. It’s been open for over three years with no break, so I’m hoping giving myself a breather will help refresh my creativity a bit for the new year.

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So, all in all, not a bad year! Here are my goals for 2017!

1. Read 130 Books and Review them on Goodreads

2. Blog at Least Twice a Month

3. Finish that Purse!!!

4. Try More New Beads

5. Get the Business Side of Wescott Jewelry Organized

6. Experiment More with Macrame and Bead Embroidery

This could be a pretty tough next few years, but I want to make sure that my craftsmanship and participation in the community aren’t hurt by outside forces. I am going to make it a good year creatively, even if everything else is out of my control. Setting and achieving goals is my way of taking control and making this new year how I want it to be.

How about you guys? Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2017? Tell me about them in the comments or link to your own blog posts about it!

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Upcoming Etsy Hiatus

Hello, my lovelies!

I just wanted to give everyone the heads up that I will temporarily closing my Etsy shop for a portion of January. I’m not sure exactly how long it will be, but I just need to press pause on the whole thing while I get the business side of things all squared up. I’m only 24 and still really bad at things like paperwork and basic organization and I’m going to need a little time to breathe and get things tidy – consider it a spot of online spring cleaning.

I wanted to give you guys a quick heads up, in case you had your eye on a pattern and wanted to snatch it up before I close things up. Like I said, this will be a temporary shut-down, but you won’t be able to purchase anything in my shop while it’s on “vacation mode” and I’m not sure how long it will be paused. So, if you want a particular pattern, you’ll want to grab it before January 1st!

And, I will definitely still be around on the internet! I will be posting my New Year’s Resolutions, as well as grading myself on my goals from last year. And I even have a little surprise free pattern that will be going up by the end of January. I’m really planning on making it a very productive month!

I love you all so much! Happy Holidays!

 

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The Great Christmas Color Chaos of 2016

Hey, everyone! Long time, no post, huh? That’s my bad. I have been VERY busy doing some holiday beading. This year, I spent a lot of time really experimenting with the classic Christmas color combo.

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The winter holiday I celebrate is Christmas, so there’s a lot of red and green going on. I did try to modulate my color choices a little bit, though. These poinsettia earrings (which are made from my Dragon Blossom design), for example, feature a few different Christmas combos. I took the basic red, green, gold, white and tweaked it a bit for each set.

The little ones were supposed to be a bit more casual with mottle light olive and matte green tones. These are still Christmas-y, but in a less formal aesthetic. I wanted to play with an almost yellow/green look and I actually really like how it turned out.

The long ones with dark green daggers were more “evergeen” inspired with Picasso Garnet seed beads and bright snowy white accents. Very dark reds in contrast with a cool-tone green and white. These are probably my favorite of the three.

The last pair were more “Courier & Ives” vintage Christmas, with a beige crystal, a brighter  olive green, and soft cream accents. Think soft vintage fabrics and candlelight and sleigh rides in long coat-dresses.

Once I exhausted that pattern, I decided some bracelets were in order. Last weekend, I taught a workshop on Russian Spiral stitching as a Christmas present to my local bead shop and worked up this little guy. I was still working on that Courier and Ives color palette.I love all that snowy white and warm beige together.

I also HAD to make one of my Tetrabella bracelets in some muted, olive-based holiday colors once I saw these gorgeous dark Candy beads. Here, I toned everything WAY down with lots of bronze and matte colors and Picasso Coral Red seed beads.

After that, I used the same color scheme to make this necklace, using Kassie Shaw’s Whirlagig pattern (from the Oct/Nov 2016 Beadwork magazine). I had to use Toho beads, which I usually don’t like to do, but I can see why they were necessary for this pattern. And I LOVE the way it worked up!

That Whirlagig necklace was also my very first attempt at CRAW (cubic right angle weave) and whew boy. That was a bit much to wrap my head around. But I think I’ve got it now and I am so pleased!

So, how about you guys? Doing any festive holiday beading? Got any favorite holiday color combos? 😀

 

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It’s Time for a HandmadeHoliday!

Hello, my dears!

I hope it was a wonderful Thanksgiving for those celebrating and a lovely weekend for those who didn’t. It’s Black Friday weekend again! (And Small Business Saturday AND Cyber Monday… am I missing anything???)

You know what that means!

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25% off EVERYTHING in my Etsy shop – including patterns and finished jewelry. Just be sure to use the coupon code “HandmadeHoliday” (one word!) during checkout.

Happy Shopping, everyone! ❤

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New Beads – the Super Duo Duet!

Oh my gosh, you guys! I have been holding on to the coolest secret!

Since, I work at an online bead store, I’ve known about this new product for awhile now (and I have been package them with the swift fury of a thousand angry bees, let me tell you), but today is the official launch day!

Behold, the SuperDuo Duet!

Basically, these guys are SuperDuo beads that have two different colors on each side. Some of the combinations are really stark, like the ivory and navy combo, and others are much more subtle. Pretty much all your favorite effect finishes get applied to them too – I’ve seen AB, Picasso, Travertine, Matte, Nebula, and all the assorted Lusters.

Guys, they’re goooooorgeous. These are the ones that I bought for myself. I only have three so far, but I have my eyes on several of the other combo’s as well.

We’ve worked really hard at Beads Direct USA to get these guys packaged, photographed, and all ready for today’s big reveal. I even think my boss wrote in the description for each Duet what SuperDuos can be used to match each side of the Duet! You can find all our available Duets here.

So, now for the big question – what do I do with these?

Well, I am glad you asked! One of the most fun things to do with these beads is make a peyote bracelet that will change colors depending on which way you look at it. But my first thought when I saw them was to use them in a SuperDuo Rosette bracelet.

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My thought was to line them up almost like little flowers that have a bloom of color in the center. As soon as I finished, though, I realized that an even more fun approach would be to change the direction of the Duets with every rosette, so that the inside and outside colors alternated. So then I made this!

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How fun, right?!?

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So, then I decided to experiment with earrings. I really enjoyed making these little flower motifs for the Catherine Bracelet in Lisa Kan’s Bead Metamorphosis book, so I decided to whip up some little flower earrings with two-sided petals.

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Aren’t they precious? I cannot wait to see what everyone makes with these Duets. They are going to add so much spice to everyone’s favorite SuperDuo patterns. I am in love. So, what do you guys think? Are the Duets a hit?

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I certainly love them.

 

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Watercolor Leaves (and my Incredible Forgetfulness)

Hello, everyone!

So, last fall I got to take a fun class at Beaded Bliss from Brenda Meyers (You may remember her from this post about a certain gorgeous painted rose.) The class was on using watercolors to paint leaves on heavy paper to make a gorgeous necklace like this!

Photo Credit to Cathy Feist     Necklace by Brenda Meyers

I took the class and OH MY GOD, you guys, painting is REALLY hard! Watercolors are a mess of water-bending and pigment-focused telepathy. If you give your paint brush so much as a funny look, paint will end up in your hair and down your cleavage and, my friends, I have never been so bested by painting supplies. Watercolors are temperamental. And I’m pretty sure they distinctly disliked me.

I had so much fun, though. I got to make a whole bunch of leaves and then we did line work to fill out the details and covered them in what was maybe modge podge to make them stiff and preserve the paint.

I took them home, let them dry… and then forgot about them.

For a year.

I am so bad at things.

So, I was cleaning off my table last month and found a little container that I had completely forgotten about. It was full of my little painted leaves. So, I made this.

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My painting is still a bit amateur, but I really enjoyed putting this necklace together. I decided to opt for silver chain, because copper and bronze are my go-to metals and I thought using silver for a fall necklace would be a fun challenge.

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I used twisted jump rings and little silver leaves to add some texture and then a mess of Czech glass beads in earth tones and Swarovski crystals in bright padparadscha and topaz AB. Brenda also provided little yarn scraps, so I tied that in here and there.

I made it extra long so that it would fit over sweaters this fall and winter. And when it’s worn long, the leaves tend to jumble in and have a wonderful, jumping-in-to-a-pile-of-leaves feel to it.

It was a really, really fun project and took me completely out of my comfort zone. Incorporating watercolors into my jewelry would never have occurred to me and I’m so glad I got to experiment with something fun.

If you’re near the Cincinnati/Southern Indiana area, Brenda is teaching this class at Beaded Bliss this Saturday (November 12th, 2016), in the afternoon. You can read the details here. I had a really good time last year and highly recommend it.

But… if you take the class, maybe don’t take a whole year to make the necklace.

 

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Babysitting Beaded Bliss!

So, at the beginning of the month, my dear friend Cathy (who owns Beaded Bliss) asked me if I could run her shop for a day so she could take the weekend off to celebrate her wedding anniversary. I gave a whoop and a resounding yes, and then promptly panicked.

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So much responsibility, you guys. 

Those of you who have read my About Me page might already know that I used to work for a bead shop before Beads Direct went online. I was a shop girl for about three years and loved working the counter and getting to know all the customers. I worked there all through college and did everything from running the register, to stocking, to teaching bead weaving classes and designing displays.

But… that was three years ago! I have since completely become an efficient, but very independent office working. I run an entire stock room as if it were an unruly empire and can ship packages like the wind, but I haven’t had to handle basic customer service for what feels like eons.

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Plus, we used a laptop for checkout. This monstrosity of a cash register was terrifying.  TERRIFYING.

But, I missed doing the retail thing a bit. I ADORE my job, but sometimes, I miss hanging out with beaders and helping people with beady problems in person, instead of occasionally over the phone. So, having a chance to very rarely sub at my local bead store was perfect!

So, the Saturday rolled around and I grabbed my comfiest shoes and went to work!

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Pro-tip: Wear comfy shoes! Always!

I got in super early and ate breakfast in the darkened shop. Then, 10am rolled around and I unlocked the door and switched the sign to “OPEN”.

And promptly ruined everything.

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Notice a few letters missing?

Apparently, there are two levers (one on each side) to change the sign. I only thought there was one, so when I struggled to change the sign, it slammed into place and a bunch of letters fell off. I could not get them back on the sign. I had broken the store.

But, despite this dramatic beginning, everything actually went really well! There weren’t many customers before lunch, but after that a bunch of regulars came in and we all hung out. I even used the register correctly.

Plus, I looked really cute.

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Yeah… I don’t have a smart phone, so my selfies all still have a camera in them. 

It was a really good time and I am happy to have the occasional opportunity to sub at my local bead shop. But, goodness, give your local shop owner some love because it is a grueling way to spend the day! I’ll take my comfy office job any day!

Much love to all the brick-and-mortar bead shops and the people who run them! You guys are such a valuable part of the beading community and your jobs are hard. Thanks for keeping your doors open, your shelves stocked, and your beaders enabled. We love you!

And thanks to you specifically, Cathy, for letting me pretend to be you for a day!

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New Design – Tetrabella Bracelet with Candy Beads or Tipp beads!

Hello, everyone!

I have a new pattern for you. Allow me to introduce my Tetrabella bracelet! You can use either Candy Beads (the rose and chocolate version) or Tipp Beads (gold and cobalt). I call it Tetrabella because “Tetra-” is a Greek prefix for four (for the four-sided units) and “bella”, of course, means pretty. And I am more than vain enough to name a design of mine with pretty in the name!

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You’ll notice that the way the beads sit varies a little bit between the two. The Candy Beads tend to sit on top of the seed beads, where the Tipp beads tend to sink under the seed beads a bit. I think it’s because of the hole placement and how steeply the sides of the beads are beveled.

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This is definitely not a pattern for people who dislike making picots and doing intricate unit work, which is why I only have two samples this time, haha. It is a rather time-consuming piece. But I did discover that a single unit makes a good pendant connector! Isn’t that piece of black labradorite to die for?

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I’ve been particularly in love with this bracelet. This autumn, mustard/gold and cobalt has been my favorite color combination. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve been loving the warmth and brightness of this color palette.

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Usually, I try to design simple, quick things around this time of year because I know everyone is trying to whip up Christmas presents and stock up for holiday sales, but sometimes a design just demands to be made. (Besides, I just did my Compass Star pendant, which is super quick to make!)

Click me for the Pattern link!

So, I’m pretty happy with this pattern! What do you guys think? Do you like the Tipp Beads or the Candy Beads better?

 

 

 

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Playing with Potomac’s new AVA beads!

Hello, everyone!

So, a few weeks ago, I received a delightful surprise in the mail!

 

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Potomac Bead Company was kind enough to send me some of their new AVA beads! They should be available in October or November and they’ve been teasing us with previews and photos in their facebook group for awhile now.

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Isn’t the name so clever? 

Basically, AVA beads are V-shaped beads with three holes. One goes through the tip of the V and the other two go through the two “wings”.

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Since I had a day off last Sunday (which rarely happens), I decided to get up early, grab my coffee, and try designing with these fun new beads. My bead room is a mess, but the sunlight was SO pretty and bright. It was a perfect morning for beading.

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Bridget, of course, settled down in one of her favorite boxes to supervise.

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When I laid the AVA beads out on my Bead on it Board, I decided to go ahead and just arrange them in the first shapes and configurations that came to mind. My first thought was, “Duh, Chevrons”, but it actually looks like you could do a lot with these funky beads! I was surprised by how big they are, but with the sides of the “V” already being so delicate, I doubt you could make them any smaller.

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My first instinct, whenever I get a new shaped bead to play with, is to try outlining it with seed beads. (You’ll notice that as the base design for my Tracery Trinket, Backsplash, and Two Years Cuff designs). I tried that with these guys, but quickly ripped it apart. Not a very sexy look, I must say.

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But then I started messing around with other beads and came up with a few configurations. I stopped for a bowl of Fruity Crisp Rice and to photograph my lovely cat and then kept right on beading!

The bottom design is a bit frilly for my taste, but I might revisit it in different colors at a later time. I like the dagger design in the top corner, but I need to get some coordinating chain and wire thin enough to go the the AVA bead to make earrings.

Eventually, I did get around to trying my chevron idea, which I do like. I might revisit this one as well. Again, I think I need to change the colors around before I decide.

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Silky beads are a bit too wide to fit in between AVAs, but DiamonDuos are a match made in heaven. (I actually think Gianna Zimmerman is working on a design with DiamonDuos and AVA beads – hold onto your hats, because I’ve seen preview photos and it is going to be STUNNING). I still want to play around more with Dagger beads and AVAs as well.

I have an idea or two swirling around in my brain for patterns, but so far they have already provided me with a delightful day of sitting in the sun, sipping coffee, and beading to my little hearts content. I love all the new imaginative beads coming out and can’t wait to see what people make of these silly little V’s.

 

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