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Archive for the 'Beading' Category


Bead Week Quickie Question: Favorite Beaded Item?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to the final installment of Bead Week. Sorry it’s late, but WordPress kept spitting me out yesterday, alas! Still, better late than never.

Beads are great of course. We love them. They’re pretty and fun and useful. But many of us also have beads or beaded items that mean a lot to us personally. I happen to have several beaded items that hold personal meaning for me. All the same, there’s one that matters more than the others. That would be my Great-Great Aunt Anna’s jet necklace.

Of course there’s the sentimental value. I inherited the necklace from one of my all-time favorite relatives, and it’s a piece of family history on its own, besides. Still, there’s another layer to my fondness. I have something of a fascination with mourning ritual, and jet jewelry was designed for mourning purposes. When that necklace was first created, the only reason to wear it was because one was in mourning for someone who had died.

Most of us don’t follow a lot of traditions surrounding death, anymore. A few of us might have attended – or held – a wake or sat shiva, but I’m guessing that the most many more of us have done is attend a funeral or memorial service or two. When my Great-Great Aunt Anna was alive, there were rules about how you dressed, what social engagements you were allowed to participate in and which you’d best not join in until the mourning period was completely over, and just about every aspect of how to live life. That necklace, made of the only material deemed appropriate to wear during the mourning period, is a tangible reminder of how differently life was lived not so very long ago.

So what about you? Do you have a bead or beaded item that means a great deal to you? Or one that just makes you happy whenever you wear/look at/fondle it? Tell us all about it!


Bead Week: Pearls of Not So Great Price

Thursday, June 7th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to day four of Bead Week on Crafty Manolo! Enjoy your stay.

Pearls have always been greatly prized jewels. Whether set as cabochons or drilled to make beads that can then be strung together or sewn on clothing, there is no natural jewel considered so elegant, so subtle, or so timeless.

Because of that beauty, elegance, luster, and association with Very Rich People, the pearl was also one of the first jewels that people tried very hard to reproduce out of lesser materials.

In ancient Rome, the method tried was to take glass beads coated in silver and then coat them in another layer of glass.  Not a bad idea, actually. By 1300, ‘pearls’ were being produced using a combination  of white powdered glass mixed with egg whites and snail slime. I shudder to contemplate how that last ingredient was gathered in sufficient quantities!

The real breakthrough came in the 17th century when one Jaquin of Paris came up with a process using hollow blown glass balls coated in varnish mixed with fish scales. The balls were then filled in with wax to make them sturdier. Jaquin got a patent on the process, and people of both sexes began wearing a lot more pearls. Those who could not afford the real thing, used the Jaquin jewels. Those who could afford the real thing did so… but also sometimes used the Jaquin ones for everyday clothes with a massive profusion of pearls. Many rich folk used the fake pearls and paste jewels for daytime wear and saved up the real diamonds and pearls for evenings and special occasions.  Some imitation pearls are still made using Jaquin’s method of varnish and fish scales.

I love it when an old method stands the test of time so very well.


Bead Week: Roll, Blow, or Craft Your Own

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to day three of Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! Set a spell and see if something appeals.

Sure, it’s fun to buy beads. That’s something I enjoy doing on a fairly regular basis, often with no clue what I’ll do with them later. I just like having lots of beads to choose from when I decide on a project.

But what about making the beads themselves? Most of us never do that. And why not? I can’t think of a good reason. Maybe if we all take a look at ways beads can be produced, some of us will find a way that appeals to our crafting genes. Even if we don’t, we’ll certainly have more appreciation for those who do the job!

Over at Shermo Beads, Ann Sherm Baldwin has a great visual tutorial on making lampwork glass beads. She recommends (and I heartily second this advice!) that if you want to try it yourself, it’s probably better to take a proper class. Still, this tutorial will not only help you see whether this is a craft for you, it will also give you a better appreciation of the work involved in making those gorgeous beads. So put on the pretty, sparkly safety goggles she has thoughtfully set out, and take a look.

Art Trader Magazine Online has a good tutorial on using polymer clay to make Pandora style beads. Wendy, this is for you. Wouldn’t this be a great way to come up with beads with big enough holes to use for your knitting?

I’m just sayin’….

Paper Beads.org has a terrific blog on techniques and projects for paper beads. I found myself kind of intrigued with the idea of using posterboard, which is how these beads were made. Learn how here.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make wooden beads? eHow has a clear set of instructions for free. Oh, and if you’re looking for wood and carry your own saw, I’ve got a tree out back that could really use a good pruning. No, really, I do.

You can even make beads from beads. Somehow I’d never really thought about using seed beads to make bigger, more elaborate beads, but the results can be amazing. Check out how with this peyote-stitch bead tutorial on Beading Arts.

Happy beading, everyone!


Bead Week: Do It Yourself… Or Let Tamara Do It

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
By Twistie

Bead Week Continues. Enjoy!


Like this beaded leather cuff? I certainly do! It’s fun and funky and a bit retro and terribly Boho, which is a look I’ve always loved. Anyway, you can buy the cuff for $145.00 from Tamara Scott Designs on Etsy, or…

You can buy the instructional PDF for just $20.00 and choose your own materials and colors to work with.

Don’t want to spend full price and don’t want to go finding all the bits yourself? No problemo! For $80.00, you can get the fully supplied kit in your choice of the black or the brown colorway.

Just add tools and talent, and voila! Awesome jewelry and new techniques to learn!

Oh, did I mention that while this looks a lot like bead embroidery on leather, it’s actually beaded motifs attached to leather? Looks fun to me.

And if leather cuffs aren’t your thing, not to worry. Tamara has a lot of great jewelry (in finished, pattern, and kit form, depending on your preference) to show you.

Go thou and check out this great work!


Bead Week: Where to Get Them?

Monday, June 4th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! All week long we’ll be talking about where to buy them, how to use them, beads in history, and, well, whatever else I can think of having to do with beads.


I love beads. They’re pretty, they’re fun to play with, and you can usually pick up a fair number for a relatively small amount of cash. Today I thought I would share a few favorite sources of gorgeous beads.

The one above is a lampwork bead from Shipwreck Beads. It’s a 27mm dichroic glass bead in shades of blue with a 2mm hole. I love the color, the shape, and the subtle sparkle in it. The price? A quite reasonable $9.99 each.

Shipwreck carries a wide variety of gorgeous beads (glass, wood, ceramic, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, and many, many more materials), findings, tools, books, and even finished pieces of jewelry. If you need a bead or a way to use it, this is a great place to start.

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Announcing Theme Week!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
By Twistie

I think it’s time we had a theme week here at Crafty Manolo, don’t you?

So next week, all week long, we’ll be talking about one subject dear to the hearts of many crafters:

 

 

Beads!

Yes, we’ll be talking about how to use them, where to buy them, how to make them, and their history for a week.

So if you have a question about beading or beads, leave it in the comments and I’ll get to as many queries as I can in the coming week.


How To Use It: Playing Dress Up

Saturday, May 19th, 2012
By Twistie

We love to craft. We love to make things with our hands. We love to show off our work.

Then again, the last thing we want is to look like we’re auditioning to play Ma Ingalls in a low-rent touring company of Little House on the Prairie. We prefer to exhibit a sense of style, a little elan in our homes and our wardrobes.

To that end, I’m going to show you a few classic, well-cut clothes and suggest some hand-crafted embellishments to go with them.

For instance, this silk cashmere knitted turtleneck dress from the Spiegel catalog is a stunner in its own right. It’s a versatile style that can go from the office to an evening of dining and theater without missing a beat. You could wear it to a wedding or on a romantic getaway. It’s also a breeze to accessorize with handmade jewelry, a painted silk scarf, or a jaunty hat of your own devising.

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Two Great Crafts That Go Great Together

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
By Twistie

I love putting things together, and the more unlikely the mix, the more accomplished I feel when I put them together. Still, some things come together more gracefully than others and I appreciate that fact.

For instance, the ancient Japanese braiding technique of kumihimo marries well with modern beading techniques, as shown in this festive and fun spiral bracelet by Susan Jefferson.

Jefferson uses a variety of techniques to create her unique jewelry. Her materials range from seed beads to polymer clay to silver clay (a material I was heretofore unfamiliar with), to the fine fibers that she braids into her beaded kumihimo pieces.

Her work is for sale through her website, and she also teaches classes. Unfortunately for me, I would have to be in the East Rochester NY area… and I live in California. But if you’re in her area, be sure to check out her class schedule on the Let’s Bead store  website.


Polymer Passion

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
By Twistie

I remember well when I first discovered polymer clays. I was busily trying to find the perfect craft for me and thought beading looked fun. I got myself a couple catalogues to check out supplies and educational resources. Lo and behold, there was this amazing new product called FIMO, a colorful clay from which you could make your own beads in the oven. What a cool idea! I ordered some and made a few beads. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I did it a few times… and then I lost interest in actually making the beads. All the same, I really enjoyed seeing what people did with this intriguing new product.

I’d moved on to tossing bobbins, but I still admired a good FIMO or Sculpy bead artist.

So imagine my delight when I recently discovered the Polymer Art Archive. It’s a fabulous site dedicated to polymer clays, their history, uses, and dedicated artists. On the site, you’ll see many lovely pieces like the ones above… but you’ll also see more ambitious uses of this versatile material, like this bracelet at a recent show of polymer jewelry artists in San Diego:

Who knows? With inspiration like that, I might just give polymer another try!


Adventures in Upcycling and Repurposing

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
By Twistie

One idea to make use of all that leftover gift wrap is to make a bracelet out of paper beads. This one was actually made from pages of Rolling Stone magazine, but I think gift wrap would work just as well and give a prettier result.

Find full instructions here at Craftster!

One a more… mechanical end of the scale, I found instructions for making a curiously strong ‘personal massager’ out of an empty Altoids tin and a battery operated toothbrush. Oh, and while the illustrations for this particular project are probably reasonably safe for work, the rest of the site really isn’t.












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