Monday, October 27, 2014

Playing With Beads

I love metal. Soldering is my thing. But like many of you I started as a beader. The simple act of putting beads on a string is so relaxing, plus you get the added bonus of a necklace to wear at the end of it all.

I have not made a necklace in a while and inspiration arrived in the form of this wonderful post over at the blog, about their employee beading day. It was a walk down memory lane for me, as this is where I got my start in the bead biz back in 1992. Owner Janice Parsons is one of the most gifted bead artists I know. She started beading many years ago at her mother's antique store. That store evolved into The Bead Shop of Palo Alto, CA and the rest is history. Now the legacy of The Bead Shop lives on online at

Back in the day as an employee of The Bead Shop I lived and breathed beads. Every day there was a new challenge, a new necklace to string or earring to wire wrap. We had such BEAUTIFUL beads. Vintage, semi-precious, tribal, handmade... you name it, we strung it. I learned a lot from Janice, my fellow employees and our wonderful customers. That experience started me on my beaded career path.

So... seeing the great bead combinations that JP and her gang put together on their team beading day made me want to get out the beads and create. And that's just what I did. I took photos along the way to share my process. This is a photo-heavy post. To see the pictures in more detail, click on each to enlarge.

I wanted to create a piece that was reminiscent of my early beading days. The first beads I loved had a tribal/ethnic feel to them. I poked around in my bead stash and put this mix together. I really didn't have a finished design in mind other than I knew I wanted to make a multi-strand piece strung in a random style.

Metal  spacers are a MUST! That strand of copper heishi dates from my early Bead Shop days. I used to put that bead in everything I made.

I added some seed beads to the mix. Tiny beads are a must in a random multi-strand design. These great beads came from Baubles and Beads in Berkeley, CA (another great local-to-me bead store.)

Aren't these AMAZING!!! Czech glass picasso beads, also from Baubles and Beads. I threw those in the mix (even though I wanted to hoard them.)

I got this clasp from Saki Silver at BeadFest this past August. The cones are from Tierra Cast. Cones are perfect for closing multi-strands.

I cut 5 long strands of nylon bead thread and began to string. Random pattern. Stringing each strand a bit before passing over to the next so they grow at an even pace.

Added in a turquoise disc for interest. Divided and passed the threads through the center hole. At this point I felt that I needed an additional strand, so I untied the knot I made at the beginning, added another thread and strung it to this point.

Added beads so they covered the thread over the disc. Knotted everything to hold it together under the disc and kept going.

And going.

And going.

Until I reached the end.

To close, I tied all of the strands together in an overhand knot like the one I made at the beginning. I added a drop of Hypo Cement to each knot and let dry. Then I cut the thread just above the knots.

To attach the cones, I cut a piece of 18-gauge wire and made a loop at the end to capture the strands and wire wrapped the loop closed.

I slid the cone down and wire wrapped the clasp to the end and did the same for the other side.

And that's it! The necklace is ready to wear.

This project is a great way to work with beads in your stash. Thanks for the inspiration, Bead Shop team!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Got You, BABE!!

Fall is about many things... baseball (Go Giants!), pumpkin spiced everything, scarves, brilliant sunsets, and falling leaves. It's one of my favorite times of the year.

You know what it's also time for? That fall classic... the BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza) show in Oakland, CA. It's a shopping and class mecca.  Two days of shopping, Saturday and Sunday November 15-16 and THREE days of classes, November 14-16.

I have three classes up on the roster...

Make beautiful beads with cold connections...

Hone your soldering skills using copper, brass and sterling silver...
Twist and forge metal to make chain, components and bracelets...

Won't you join me? The host hotel The Oakland Marriot City Center is offering a great rate and there are so many great restaurants nearby. Plus you get to bead and shop and take classes all weekend! Treat yourself before the holiday rush and do something creative. Hope to see you there.