Saturday, April 10, 2021

Bead Soup Swap and Create (and Giveaways!!)

(I'm also posting photos on my Facebook and Instagram pages - please check them out and maybe you can win a giveaway from this collection! Leave a comment here, and win your choice from the three pairs of earrings!)

Holy cow. It's been over a year since I posted here. Not that I haven't been creating, but 2020...well, you get it. But thanks to the fabulous Lori Anderson, we have another bead swap event to kick us all in the creative and sharing keesters, so without further ado, here's the Bead Soup Swap & Create!

My partner, Kim Hutchinson, sent me lovely beads in shades of blue and icy whites with gold accents. Lots of seed beads in various sizes and shapes to play with, dark blue glass pearls, vintage looking crystals in gold and clear, a gorgeous sodalite donut with a Chinese coin in the center, an intriguing cylindrical drop, and a heavy chain bracelet with a toggle clasp. Yum!

The donut called to me first (as donuts, edible and otherwise, tend to do), and I found some dark blue seed beads in my stash that complimented the soup to create a peyote woven bezel. Then I enclosed the cylinder in seed beads and one of the vintage crystals, added it as a dangle on the donut, and strung them on a necklace of sodalite from my collection, some of the glass pearls, and the final gold seed beads.

Then I turned to using the clasp, which finished off this bracelet of the vintage crystals, glass pearls, and dark blue seed beads.

(Like this? I'll be giving away! Go to my Instagram page, like and follow me for a chance to win!)

Using the clasp on the bracelet left me the rest of the bracelet chain. In a real experiment in engineering and problem solving, I used the chain as a focal and base for freeform peyote, one of my favorite techniques. The centerpiece is finished with complimentary beads from my stash.

As a final necklace, I turned to the abundant collection of seed beads Kay had sent, and created this spiral weave piece. When I made it, the temperature outside made me think this necklace looked like wintery icicles, but now that it's spring, it reminds me more of the bright spring sky with wispy clouds.

(Like this? I'm giving it away! Go to my Facebook page, like and follow for a chance to win!)

Finally, what's a soup without earrings? Three pairs, using the seed beads, the remaining bracelet chain with some cubes, and the rest of the vintage crystals.

All in all, a lot of fun! Thanks to Kay for being such a great partner, and to Lori, for being the best beady ringmaster there is! Want to see the rest of the participants and what they made? Go here, and feast your eyes.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Using the Treasure Trove - How Do You Tame A Tassel?

One of the first things I pulled from the treasure trove of upcycled goodies to experiment with was tassels. There are basically two types: the shorter versions, which are typically more of a cotton fiber and were more often in pairs; and longer tassels, which are a silky-rayon fiber, usually only one of each color or shade in each trim sample.

Some of the shorter tassels are visible in the lower left quadrant, 
while the longer tassels are in the upper right corner.

So, pairs of tassels = earrings! I made beaded bands for some, kind of like belly bands. Others I left unadorned and dangled from larger beads. 

They were fun, they were flirty, and they were MESSY! In the process of dislodging them from the sample books they were glued into when I brought them home, the fibers suffered a bit in the process. There's a difference between boho chic earrings and earrings that look like they've been on three-day benders.

Poor baby. She looks rough.

Moistening individual strands didn't really do the trick to straighten them out. So I took a deep breath one day and full on dunked them. I swirled them in water. I treated them like a donut in a glass of milk. When the fibers were saturated, I hung them all up and worked the tassels straight, and left them to dry.

It worked!

The single tassels seemed destined for pendants, so I combined them with some cabochons made from upcycled upholstery fabric remnants. There are only a couple so far, but these elegant ladies were much better behaved and avoided the dunking. I'm sure part of it has to do with the difference in what the tassels are made of, but it was nice to have them put up less of a fight. The luster of these tassels would work well with a gemstone cabochon, which is what I think I'll use next.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Using the Treasure Trove - The Ball Fringe Conundrum

The flat trim that I used to make one of these bracelets (the center one in the top photo) originally had ball fringe attached.

As much as I like a good ball fringe (I mean, who doesn't?), the idea of having those tassels flopping on a bracelet didn't sound particularly appealing. Or manageable. Or pleasant for those around you, especially if you use your hands when talking.

So, the trim got a haircut. Or a fringe-ectomy. It became ex-fringe.


The puffy tassels of the fringe were beyond salvage. They were originally glued very securely to the decorators' sample books that they came from. The glue wouldn't come off, no matter how carefully I soaked and scraped, without absolutely wrecking the tassels.

However, in the process of trying to clean them up, I discovered that the tassel could be detached from the lovely thread-covered balls at the top of each fringe.

A good tug (sometimes escalating to wrestling pulling the tassel or the central bundle of thread with a pair of pliers) would release the tassel from the balls. While I forgot to take a picture of all of the liberated balls in a pile, here's a close up of one that gives you a good idea of the lovely luster of the thread covering.

And here are four necklaces I've made with them:

They are super lightweight and, as I said, most have a really lovely luster to the thread. It was a good reminder of the rewards of saying "what if" and experimenting!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Using the Treasure Trove, Pt. 1

As promised, I want to share the process of using some of the fabulous trims I got at the Zero Landfill event

One of the biggest challenges with the trim samples is that they are small, short, and often single. In other words, the braid may not be long enough for a full bracelet, there may only be one tassel in a single color, etc, etc, etc... I wanted to use some flat braids for bracelets. As you can see, unless I'm making a bracelet for a toddler, I had to find a workaround. 

Also, as you can see above, the ends had been stiffened with glue to prevent a (pretty spectacular) unraveling. So the first challenge was how to attach the trim to a backing, while disguising the necessary fray check at each end. 

On bracelet #1, I stitched the beads and trim directly to the backing (faux leather, also from the Zero Landfill haul), using triangles to cover the end. Then, I stitched another row of triangles to cover the butt end of the trim. 

The thickness of the trim and the glue made it difficult to keep lines of beads straight. Also, while the first end was easy enough to attach, because I didn't want to glue the trim down, the second end was tricky to keep straight while stitching beads and trim at the same time. Lesson learned.

On bracelet #2, I decided to weave the bead ends together before stitching them to the trim and the leather. The final result was nicer to my fussy, fussy (dare I say obsessive?) eye.

Then on the final bracelet, because of the wavy sides of the trim, I needed a different approach - solved with a band of peyote stitch on each end. 

I wove each band to the end of the trim and then stitched it to the backing. It's very secure.

It looks a little like a pocket that the trim has slipped into. (Side note - I LOVE the teal color and ostrich print of the faux leather on this one!)

I'm really pleased with the way these have turned out, and with the fun of solving the design challenges. I'm especially pleased that I didn't have to resort to using glue to attach the trim to the leather. I love the colors, which inspire some fun combinations. For all of the goodies in the giveaway haul, there is very little of this type of flat trim. I think I may have to hoard it and use it sparingly!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Upcycling a Treasure Trove, Saving the Environment

Every now and then, it's an exciting challenge to work with new material, something unfamiliar or unusual that kicks up your creative spark and leads you down some new paths. Over the next few posts, I'm going to share my adventures in using upcycled materials in my jewelry.

Last fall, I went to a local event held twice a year, created with the mission to keep material out of the landfill. It's a treasure trove of designer samples, construction materials, and miscellaneous stuff, all free for the taking. Artists, creators, teachers, and anyone who's curious enough to walk in can walk out with as much as their arms (or bags and carts) can carry.

It. is. AWESOME.

This was the second time I had gone. This time, my target was fabrics and trims that could be repurposed into jewelry. Holy crap, y'all, I found the mother lode. Books and books and books of designer trim samples. Tassels and gimp and ribbon trim. Faux leather in every finish and color you could imagine. I was absolutely giddy.

I got five big tote bags crammed full of sample books.
If I could have carried a bag with my teeth, I'd have gotten more.

Each trim sample book had at least three panels full of goodies like this:

I spent a full afternoon carefully removing each sample from the books - they were securely glued to the pages, intended to stand up to lots of wear and tear as a designer used them in consultations with clients. Those babies were SECURE. I sacrificed several fingernails to the process. 

Totally worth it. This is a little bit of the final result, sorted and bagged by type in a futile attempt to organize it...

Right?!? And that's not all - there were two books full of fabulous faux leather samples, perfect for backing bead embroidery projects and other uses.

I'm not gonna lie, these materials have posed some challenges as I've started to use them. But over the next few posts, I'll talk about what I've learned and share some of the things I've made so far. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Rebranding and Refreshing

So it's been a while since my last post, and good grief, it feels like a completely different world. I hope that you and yours are well and safe, and finding your way through the challenges of the pandemic as comfortably as possible.

Amid the adventure of figuring out how to work the day job from home, I've finally decided to take the plunge to rebrand Beadsong Jewelry. The banner I've been using is at least twelve years old (!!!). The last time I re-ordered the business cards I display earrings on, I screwed up the format, and they were unusable. If that's not my subconscious sending a sign that it's time to change things up, I don't know what is!

Not sure if brilliant idea - Cheezburger - Funny Memes | Funny ...

I've never had a logo, but I've had a design knocking around in my brain for a long time. I am NOT a visual artist, but I was able to create this, combining my initial with the ideas of a bead and a musical note:

Adding some refreshed typeface, and I'm happy to introduce my new logo:

So I'm changing the banner at the top of this blog, and then it's on to updating my website, actually getting my Etsy page functional, and keeping my Instagram feed lively. It feels good to focus on adding some new energy to all of this - I hope you'll come along on the ride!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Notes From The Road :The Land of The Incredibly Tall Festival-Goers

Y'all, it's been a while. While I'd love to excuse my silence by saying I had been doing something really cool, it's just been life getting in the way.

life GIF

Surely you can relate.

ANYWAY, life finally allowed me time to do some shows, and I got accepted into three in a row. The first was this past weekend in a lovely, hip neighborhood in Chicago.

Perhaps the only selfie I've ever taken that didn't make me look deranged...
The weather was beautiful, which was obviously a result of my having (after way too many years of getting soaked inside my tent during downpours) put waterproofing sealant on all the seams of my tent roof. Kinda like taking an umbrella to guarantee it won't rain, or getting your car washed to guarantee a monsoon, right?

As always, art shows are great people watching venues. A few random observations from the weekend:

            1) Apparently, it's a requirement that one of every six or seven people who attend this show
                be over 6'2" tall. Seriously, I have never seen so many statuesque people in one place in
                my life.

            2) Two very pregnant women were strolling down the street together, with one of them
                pushing a stroller with no child in it. Either the stroller child was in the park with dad, or
                these ladies were very prepared in the event of labor.

            3) A skateboarding dog will stop everyone in their tracks to watch (sorry, I was too
                 astonished to take a video)

            4) Accosting every fair goer who walks by your booth with a shouted question will, in
                 short time, annoy the hell out of the vendors around you.
          4a) Corollary to this observation, I could recite for you my neighbor's come on questions
                and subsequent sales pitch verbatim. The fact that they were selling candles and kept
                referring to their "best smeller" should sum it up for you.)

            5) Wearing a parrot on your shoulder as you walk the show will stop almost as much as a
                 skateboarding dog (see #3 above).

It's probably also great advertising for your business, which is why I blurred his t-shirt

At a certain point on the first day, I noticed that a number of people were stopping to gaze in the direction of my booth and taking photos with their phone. While I'd love to say they were overwhelmed with my jewelry, turns out they were taking pictures of the house behind me that looks like it's being devoured by ivy....
The windows are nearly covered!!
So all in all, it was a good weekend - one down, two to go over the next couple of weeks.