Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you're on my Christmas list, close your eyes. These just might be for you! I haven't gotten as far as I would like with my list, but these are done.

My thanks go to Ellen Leclaire, a local jewelry artist, for inspiring the design. (Gems by Ellen) We've never actually met, but somewhere in virtual "handmade land", I came across her signature earring design and admired them greatly. She was very kind to share her technique with me and gave me permission to make a pair of my own. I changed them a little, but the basic idea was Ellen's.

Copyright is an important issue in jewelry making and inspiration is everywhere. I don't sell a lot of my pieces, most of the jewelry that I make is for myself and given as gifts, but I always try to give credit to the original designer, especially if I have used their tutorial. Bead & Button magazine has a simple outline of jewelry design ethics and can be found here: Beaders' Ethics.

I need to do some bead shopping before leaving for Grenada, but the weather is certainly a consideration! I'm only going out in emergencies... are beads an emergency? Yup.

Everyone drive safely!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Catching Up

Here are some photos showing the herringbone rope necklace and bracelet that I made for my Aunt Dorothy. The necklace was a commission and the bracelet was a birthday gift and a small attempt at letting her know how much she is appreciated.

We both are extremely happy with them.

Herringbone is one of my favourite stitches; it's right up there with peyote. I will have to post some links to some designers and their work that I admire. 

Sorry for neglecting you, Blog.

I haven't had the productive summer that I was hoping for, but I have been working on some new designs and adding to my project list. Sometimes it hard to focus on what I need to be doing with so much on the go.

Beading Projects:
  • simple rings and bracelets for Grenada's Independence Day
  • more intricate projects using Grenada colours (red, green, golden yellow)
  • bracelet promised to owner of craft store in Grenada
  • continue to add to my inventory
  • commission items
  • repairs
  • keep track of consignment items
  • Christmas gifts
  • jewelry for bartering photo services (thanks Christina!)
  • jewelry I absolutely need for my wardrobe
    • coordinating green ring
    • completed brown swirly ring!
    • bright pink watch band
    • eye glass "leash"
    • necklace with tree agate pendant
    • necklace with jasper links
    • herringbone lariat
    • etc.!
I'm hoping that with my next post I can provide some photos for you. I was hoping to post them sooner, but you can "blame it on Vegas"!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New concept for my blog: a Survey

Please take part in my easy-peesy survey. No brain strain with this one. Once I see how it works, perhaps I can challenge you with one that has a little more depth. Thank you!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sterling Silver wire does not like me.

I'm in a wire wrapped ring phase. Dilemma: I take pride in the fact that I use quality components in my jewelry, but I am finding craft wire so much easier to work with. The sterling silver is just too springy and I can't control it. I've been using Artistic non-tarnish wire and I really like it. I needed to order some more, but found a good deal on Parawire, which I assume is the same. I shall soon find out.

Here's what I've been working on:

I'm really disappointed in the light grey Swarovski  pearls. You can see patches where the finish has scraped off. I got some darker grey ones from a different supplier (Northern Beads) and they seem ok. I hate to dis Beads & Plenty More, 'cause they've been able to help me many times when I needed something last minute . I wonder if maybe they were in storage for too long. Or maybe they weren't really Swarovski. I should really take them back. I'll have more ring pics later next week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Artfire Tool

As you know, I have my creations for sale on Artfire.com. They now offer users the opportunity to put together a "Collection" of products, theirs or otherwise. Mine won't appear on the front page because I am only a "basic" member, but it's still fun.  I can do the same in photoshop, and in fact spent most of a day working on it.  I was designing a new business card. I still needs more work. A business card ends up really, really small. The way it is now, I'd have to give out jeweller's loups with each card!

Wouldn't it be great to have enough time to have a fabulous website and make jewellery?!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beads from Nature: The Tagua Nut

 I just bought a large tagua nut bead to use as a necklace pendant. I really like this "sustainable" bead source idea and wanted to share.
The Tagua Nut

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Da Ring is Da Ting

Rings are fun. As I mentioned in the previous post, they are great for those of us who need instant gratification. All of these rings are now posted for sale in my Artfire Studio.

I found a pattern that I really wanted to try: Flirty Flower Rings. I think I found the pattern at auntiesbeads.com, but I do know that the designer is Shanna Steele. Her ring looks like this:

I really liked the look of the ring and it looked easy to make, but I didn't like the 4 crystals on the outside of the six-petal flower. I ended up giving to a friend.

The day started as a designated "Grenada Collection" research day. I wondered if I could make the Flirty Flower using Grenada's national colours, red, green and yellow. Not a keeper, but one to keep in mind if I ever have a "Christmas Collection":

Now I wanted to try my version of this thing. I knew I could do better. So here is the FranMade Power Flower. (It didn't seem so "flirty" to me...) I like this look better, if I do say so myself.

I had some other crystals on hand so did some more experimenting and ended up with this:

It ended up with this really cool dome shape. A keeper!

Then I remembered that I needed to remake a ring that I had made in Grenada so that I would have a sample to display. I wanted to make a some jewelry as a "thank you" for one of my Grenada friends, Joan. (Jewelry makes great currency, especially in Grenada!) She doesn't wear a lot of jewelry, but admired one of my more simple crystal rings. Here is a version of what I made for her and is now christened "The Joan Ring":

We now have a good example of how obsessive this beading thing can be. I don't know why, but I just had to finish this next one that same day. Yes, my fifth ring of the day.

Whew. I have another ring to show off, but I definitely didn't work on it that day. This isn't a project that I can do in one sitting, but was very, very satisfying. I love doing the peyote stitch and just getting into the "zone". The square ring is a Swarovski crystal which they call "Bermuda Blue" in colour. The seed beads are made in Japan, but I think they had the same image in mind when they named them "Tropical Teal". I wish that we had a decent bead store in London because it's really hard to match colours from online images. The first teal colour that I tried just didn't work.

How else to end, but with a pun...

The Irish lass was disappointed with the engagement ring from her fiance because it was a sham rock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sneak Peak

After making my aunt's long herringbone necklace, I needed a change. Rings are good because they make up fairly quickly. Am I one for instant gratification? You bet! Not that the big projects aren't just as satisfying.

I decided to remake some rings that I made as gifts and finish one ring that I had started in Grenada. Plus, now that I'm back in Canada, I have my go-to-gal Christina to take some professional photos. It's hard to make something you love and give it away. Really. It's always nice to have a photograph as a memento, especially if the piece was a bit of fluke and turned out really well!

Some of these rings I will post to sell on ArtFire and and at least one (can you guess?) will go into my Grenada Collection. The "Grenada Collection" so far consists of a lot of research, but not much finished product. I'll have to post on that more as it has been quite a challenge.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Herringbone Blues

My aunt admired my green herringbone necklace, but she's not really into green. She's very into blue. So I had to rack my brain to remember how to start off the tubular twisted herringbone stitch. You'd think I would be able to remember after making one necklace and two bracelets! Once I get the twist going, it's all about staying (mostly) focused and keeping a good rhythym going.

For those interested, these are 8/0 Toho seed beads, frosted silver-lined blue and transparent blue. The thread is Nymo D and I'm using a #10 needle. The wooden picture frame is from Valu Village and used to have a print in it of dark, shiny butterflies. It's great for keeping everything I need in one place. It's not completely cat proof, but nothing ever really is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I just have to share with you some amazing art/buttons that I found while surfing around the web today. (The heat is making me lazy!) I started at Handmade News Blog, and after much farting around, found this awesome Etsy store: Bas Relief: Handmade Buttons and Fashion Accessories. These buttons are definitely works of art. I was only going to post a sampling of 3, but there were so many cool ones, that I posted 5. I would love to use one of these on a peyote cuff.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lovely Lambeth

I now have six of my bracelets on consignment in Lovely Lambeth. Check out the bead supply store called Jewellery Werx in the Foodland strip mall.

Gift for Ma.

I love my mother-in-law. While she may not have properly taught her eldest son (my hubby) to clean up after himself, she's still fabulous. It doesn't make up for all that she does for us, but I wanted to make her a bracelet as a thank you. At first she requested something blue, but admired these purple beads and my other herringbone bracelets, so voila!

Well, not really. The memory wire that I had experimented with - all my creations can properly be called experiments - kept poking out the ends. I had put loops on the ends, but they weren't big enough. Also, the wire had been exposed to the sea air and had started to rust. So, the bracelet came home with me on our last visit for a repair. I wanted to put silver ball ends on a new piece of memory wire. I bought some new memory wire and I already had some ends on hand. I tried gluing with GS hypo cement. I tried gluing with E6000. I tried gluing with super-glue-like Bead Fix. I have some 2-part epoxy on order, but I'm going to save my gluing experiments for another future bracelet.

I ended up putting large loops on the end of the wire. Man! Is this wire hard to work with! It put up a good fight, but I finally got the loops made. Apparently, you can heat the wire to soften it. More experimentation is definitely necessary. The bracelet didn't look quite right, so I added a dangle with some purple quartz chips.

I don't think I could make any two pieces of jewelry alike. I would always find ways of improving/modifying the second one. I wonder how many I'd have to make before I got the perfect version?...

Herringbone, herringbone.

This is the one project that I really wanted to finish while in Grenada. It's for me, of course, and is definitely not for sale. I love green and a really like this twisted herringbone stitch. The wrapped wire clasp on the necklace was a challenge, but not too bad for my first attempt. Well, my first attempt with .925 sterling silver wire. I practiced first with some cheap copper wire!

My whole life, I have had bad luck with losing bracelets. Yes, I lost the original bracelet for this set somewhere near the Lagoon in Grenada. So the bracelet was actually made in Canada and just finished this morning. This clasp is called a "trailer-hitch" and works well, but would be really hard to operate if you had stubby finger nails.

(For those photography buffs out there... Christina did NOT take this picture.  I'm improving, but it's definitely not up to her standard, so I wouldn't want to mislead you into thinking this was hers.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Is it May already?

My goodness. See the effect that Grenada has on me? It's taken me this long to get back into blogging!

I wanted to update my fans (I know you're out there even if you never leave any comments - hint, hint) on some of the jewelry that I made during my 2 month stay in Grenada. I wasn't as productive as I had hoped to be:
  1. The in-laws were with us for 2 weeks. (Love you Ma and Pa!)
  2. I was there during Independence Day, so had lots of requests for necklaces, bracelets and rings in the national colours
  3. Children are very hard on jewelry and I ended up doing quite a few repairs.
  4. The constant sea breeze made outdoor beading very challenging.
  5. The sun sets early, and I didn't have a task lamp so light was limited.
Here are 2 items that I have just listed on Artfire, "Crytals and Lace" and "Spice Festival":

You can read more about them at www.franmade.artfire.com.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back from Beadland

I had a wonderful adventure today. I visited 4 bead stores and met a bunch of other folks like me who love beads! Not finding some supplies that I needed in London, I headed out on the road in my '94 Jetta to Paris and Brantford.

Paris: 4 Sirius Beaders

What a lovely little store. Full of light and rows and rows of little baggies of beads filling the walls and counters. It was extremely well organized  - all the work of Marion, who showed me what was where. I found almost everything I needed (mostly delicas), and then some. No tear drop pearls or 3mm cubes. Back through a kitchen, into a cozy dining room, a group of women were learning the square stitch and working on a pattern. Talk of beads followed, of course, and I wanted to stay and join them.

Brantford: Alexandra's Beads

Here, I was greeted by the owner, Alexandra. She has a surprising large shop, everything is clean and very, very stylish. I particularly enjoyed her selection of semi-precious stones, even though they were not on my list! She only had a few 3mm cubes, but I found something that would work, as well as a bead reamer. Alas, no luck on the pearls, but she offered to try to find some for me. I mentioned my trip to Grenada and we had an interesting chat about making beeds from palm tree seeds and other natural sources. We exchanged cards and she'll let me know if she can find the pearls that I'm looking for.

Brantford: Designing Sisters

Here, I was greeted by the store's dog. I didn't catch his name, but he was a cutie - a wonderful mix of collie and husky with ice blue eyes. Making and selling beads was the topic of conversation as I wandered around. After the beauty of the last two stores, this one seemed a little chaotic. However, they had a wide, interesting selection. I ended up buying another colour of 3mm cubes that I liked better than I had bought at the previous store. I found some great rhinestone sliders and rondelles that I will use with the pearls, if I ever get them! There was a tempting clearance section and a huge bin of mixed beads that you could paw through (pun intended) and buy by the bag.

Brantford: Flim Flam Craft Supplies

The clerk at Designing Sisters suggested this place, just on the off-chance that they had any pearls. As expected, they had arts and craft supplies with a pretty decent selection of beads, tools and supplies, for the size of the place.

What is it with Brantford? They have 3 decent beading stores only minutes apart. It's not fair. London, however, gained a little of my respect with my last stop.

London: Edwards Glass

I was in the area and remembered that an employee at Michael's had mentioned this place. Well known for their stained glass classes and supplies, they have also been stocking beads and beading supplies for about 6 months now and also offer jewelry making classes. Their selection is small, but the quality is definitely there. I bought some big (huge!) eye beading needles. Once I get back from Grenada, I'll get on their email list and find out more about new stock and sales offers.

What a wonderful day. Tomorrow will have to be a little quieter, but I'm happy because I now have everything that I need to take with me on my "little" holiday. Beads. Ahhhh...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two New Things for Me!

I made these two for myself, but will definitely be making more. The first is an eyeglass holder and can be converted into an ID card holder. I will need this to hold my sunglasses while I'm in Grenada! The second is a peyote cuff with the closure toggle done in peyote too. It's a simple design, but that's what I seem to go for. I was going to embellish the sides, but decided not to.

Photos by Christina. Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Russian Sand Bracelet

I had a fairly stress-free holiday for the first time in years. Last year, I was still doing Christmas cards in February. This year, I even found time to bead!

I bought a kit from You've Got to be Beading to learn the russian spiral stitch. The instructions were not very helpful. I had found some intructions elsewhere in the meantime and ended up using those. I emailed them to complain and they were very apologetic and accomodating. They sent me more detailed instructions and added a free bracelet pattern. I really liked how they were open to my feedback. You don't get that very often these days.

Anyway, the kit was called Pearl Sands and in my hands, after several attempts, it became Russian Sand. I want to make another one, but with a magnetic clasp. You wouldn't believe how strong these little magnets are.

 Happy New Year to all.