Friday, March 30, 2012

From the Archives

For your perusal, the latest installment of "From the Archives" where I share some well-loved jewelry that hasn't seen the light of day for a while.

The theme for this installment is Simple. "WHAAAAAAT?!" you exclaim? "Simple? Really? But I thought your style was asymmetrical, free form and the-more-beads-the-better." Well, you are right. I do like throwing beads in a bowl and caution to the wind and just string.

But sometimes it's different. Sometimes you look at a strand of beads and think WOW. Those are so pretty that they just need to stand on their own. The challenge with a necklace like that, (at least for me) is to keep the design clean and uncluttered with just the right amount of enhancement to keep it from being dull. (Insert technical note here: All necklaces are strung on SoftFlex beading wire. .014 for the tourmaline and .019 for the turquoise. I don't use any other nylon coated beading wire brand. I have been using SoftFlex since it came out and it is the BEST.)

I have a couple of necklaces that I think fit into that description.

A simple strand of color-graduated tourmaline. The quality of these gemstone beads were really nice, so I wanted to let the beads stand alone. This is actually two strands that I combined and kept them in color order.

I used a simple toggle clasp and embellished the loop with some wire wrapped freshwater pearls. Also note the finishing detail at the end of the strands. I like my necklaces to have a nice touch at the end and I think this ties everything together. Add a jewelry tag and it's ready to go. I can wear it long or doubled around the neck. I usually wear it doubled with the clasp in front.

When I saw this strand I thought it was the PERFECT strand of turquoise. Graduated, some matrix, great color range. I wanted the strand to really stand out so I had to be careful about what I added to it. I wanted it to be interesting and have whatever I added to it feel like it was a natural extension of the stones.

I had this lampworked bead that I made from my series that resembled rocks. I thought it fit in nicely. The clasp also features a lampworked cabochon that I made. I used a simple brass spacer between each bead. The lampworked bead has a couple of silver daisy spacers around it. Perfect.

So there you have it. Simple and lovely and both are happy to see the light of day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ring Roundup!

Whew! That was FUN! Last Saturday I taught my "Ring Roundup" class at Bead Inspirations in Alameda, CA. Bead Inspirations is a lovely little bead shop that is jam-packed with all things beady and they offer a variety of classes including some of mine. So Saturday morning I packed up my torches and drove over the bridge to the East Bay to share my love of making rings with 8 eager students.

We started off with a warm-up session. A get-to-know-your-torch-and-materials kind of thing. Everyone made a bunch of simple, stackable rings. (You can see a few in the picture above.)

The torch set up. Note the "distressed" soldering surface.
 After that, we moved to some fabrication. The students jumped right in and made rings with set cabochons!

 Everyone made at least one ring and some fast workers even made two. It was a great day had by all. A big thank you to the staff at Bead Inspirations. You all make it easy and fun to teach at your cute store.

If you'd like to join me in a class, I have a few coming up at Bead Inspirations in the next couple of months. There is another Ring Roundup session, Rolled & Wrapped Beads and Embellished Leather Cuff. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Book is Available for Pre Order!

Oh gosh!

It's been almost 20 years in the making. (I started this career in 1992...I was three years old.) I am so excited to announce that my metalsmithing book is available for pre order. (Insert excited happy dance here.)

The official release date is December 11, 2012. It seems like an eternity, but let me tell you... at the rate this year is flying by it's gonna be here before you know it!

You know, writing this book has been an amazing experience and looking through all of the instructions, photos and projects during the editing process makes me really happy and darn proud of myself. My goal with this book was to be able to teach anyone to solder (especially beaders!) and to make them at ease as I do in my live classes. Yeah, the projects are cool, but it's the teaching that takes place in this book (and on the DVD) that gets me going. No experience? No problem. I am going to teach you how to wield that torch with confidence.

So if you would like to pre order you have two options:

1. Go to by clicking on this link Simple Soldering: A Beginner's Guide to Jewelry Making to make a purchase. Clicking on this link does provide a small percentage into my affiliate account. It's hard to beat the price that Amazon is offering and if you are strapped for cash, I totally understand.


2. Buy it directly from me at my Etsy store link. Instead of the Amazon discount you'll get a signed copy and two little bonus gifts in your package when I mail your book out. Shipping will be via USPS and you will receive an email with tracking number when your book is sent out on December 11 (or thereabouts).

Stay tuned to the blog over the coming months for more previews and tips and tricks from the book. I will have more photos to share and some previews and giveaways.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Challenge Necklace

I was lucky enough to grab one of the beaded bracelets for Michelle Mach's Spring Challenge. (You can read Michelle's original post here.)

The challenge was to take an existing piece and use the components and create a new piece with a "spring" theme.

This is the original bracelet:

I struggled with this challenge a bit. I like sparkly things and I loved the two components individually, but my soul rails against a symmetrically patterned, dot-dash kind of design. I immediately cut the bracelet apart, so I could work with the two beads as individual elements. Then I continued the process by paying a visit to my bead stash and pulling some beads I liked.

I couldn't decide whether to go with the off-white freshwater pearls, crystals and other shiny beads on the left of the picture or the more earthy tones on the right.

I went with the earth tones. In my mind, spring means gardening, and gardening means digging in the dirt under the blue sky. (Artistic license can justify just about anything.)

I squirreled away the rhinestone spacers to use in another project. "Spring" just did not include anything that shiny. Unless you are a magpie. In which case I could have used them, since I like birds. However, magpies don't wear necklaces. And regardless of how much I like little animals in accessories, I am digressing and veering way off point. Kind of like a magpie.

Here is the necklace.

I strung a 50" necklace. I call it "Long is the New Short". Here are some detail shots:

Since it is such a long strand I can wear it wrapped twice around my neck or six times around my wrist. (Like I am doing right now as I type this.) Wrist photo, here. Thanks Heather for the suggestion.

Thanks, Michelle for hosting this great challenge. This was a fun piece to string.

Be sure to visit the blogs of the other participants. It's a talented group and I am looking forward to seeing everyone's work.

Michelle - Beads & Books [Hostess]

Andrew - The Writing & Art of Andrew Thornton

Christa - Adventures of One Beady Woman

Dita - Alankarshilpa

Donetta - Simply Gorgeous

Erin - Erin Siegel Jewelry

Heather - As I Bead It

Jean - Snap Out of It Jean - There's Beading to Be Done!

Karen - Over the Moon Design

Kate - We Can Make That At Home That's me!

Kay - Palm Coast Art

Kim - CianciBlue

Kristina - Wild Roses and Blackberries

Linda - Lindy's Designs

Lisa - Pine Ridge Treasures

Marlene - Amazing Designs by Marlene

Michelle - Reverie & Revival

Pam - The Crazy Creative Corner

Pamela - Someday Beads

Renetha - Lamplight Crafts

Sharyl - Catchenthesun

Terry - Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry

Therese  - Therese's Treasures

Monday, March 12, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to Make Fabric Tape

Here is a tutorial on how I make my latest obsession... fabric tape. Super simple and a fun and quick project. You probably have a lot of the supplies you'll need right at home.

This is what you'll need:
1. Parchment Paper (Mine was 15" wide.)
2. Rotary Cutter
3. Rotary Cutting Mat and ruler. (I have old ones that I use for crafts, not for fabric.)
4. Paintbrush 2" wide
5. Mod Podge glue and sealer
6. Kraft Paper Tape (I got mine at my local Ace Hardware Store.)
7. Cotton Fabric (I used Fat Quarters that measure 18" x 21")

Begin by pressing your fabric. I used a couple of sprays of Best Press before I ironed to really make the fabric crisp.

Use a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to cut the fabric into 2" strips to match the width of the Kraft Tape. Using Fat Quarters makes the strips measure 2" x 18".  Cut 6 strips.

Cut a 19" length of parchment paper (it will measure 15" by 19") and tape six 18" strips of Kraft Tape side by side down the length of the paper. (The parchment paper sticks to the tape, but is easily peeled away when you are ready to use the tape.) Use a 2" paintbrush to apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the surface of the Kraft Tape. (Thin coat is the operative word.)

Lay the fabric on the Mod Podge-covered tape and tap it down using your fingers. Use the edge of a credit card  to smooth the fabric if needed. Don't worry about the edges. They will be trimmed off after drying.

Let your strips dry overnight.

After drying, use the rotary cutter to trim a straight, clean edge on the tape. Then cut the tape into choose the width. I cut mine into 1/4" to 1" strips. Remember to keep the parchment paper on the back of the tape. When you are ready to use the tape, cut it into pieces with a pair of sharp scissors, peel away the backing and it's ready to use!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


That's my favorite new number! Nope. It's not just a random grouping of numbers that includes a hyphen. It's the ISBN for my upcoming book with DVD Simple Soldering: A Beginners Guide to Jewelry Making (more info at that link).

I am starting pre-orders for the book soon. It will be available from many outlets, including, but I wanted to entice you to pre-purchase from me by letting you know that all books ordered from me will come to you signed by the author (that's me!) and with a couple of extras as thank-you gifts for your support.

I'll announce all of the details on the blog soon. But if you want to be the first to know, how about popping over and joining my email list? Not only will you get info on the upcoming book release and ordering info, it will also keep you up-to-date on my classes, tutorials and other shenanigans.

Thanks for your support! I am so VERY excited to share this book with you. WHOOOOHOOOO!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fabric Tape!!!

I have been consumed with making this...

Fabric covered tape! I'll show you how to do it next week on the blog. It is my new favorite thing! Tutorial is up and is here.