Friday, September 19, 2014


It's been a a grey rainy week in Alaska which some might find disappointing, however my home of San Diego has had record highs all week.  I'm good with grey and rainy.

I had teaching engagements on the weekend and evenings but days have been free to sit in a beautiful space and bead.

We did make the drive to Seward on Monday which has stunning views. There were trees that had turned vibrant shades of yellow and Sunrays shooting through clouds.

Lunch at Rays seafood produced the best chowder I've ever eaten and a stop at a meat processor resulted in reindeer bratwurst that Mark cooked for dinner.

This is the serene view from Rays.

On Monday Linda and I had a dinner at the warm and inviting Rustic Goat.

My time relaxing and beading has resulted in a this new piece, Ancient Bells.

Two more classes and then home to San Diego where I hope the heat wave has broken!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's a travel kind of fall

I have lot's of fun travel plans including this weeks trip to Alaska.  My last trip t here was five years ago!  It was a wonderful engagement and I am looking forward to the return.  Mark will join me for the first few days and I hope to introduce him to Seward….he is a tropical kind of guy so the thought of a Moose sighting or a glacier do not hold a huge appeal but the natural beauty there is so breath taking I wanted him to experience it with me.

I'll be home for a couple of weeks in late September followed by New Hampshire in October which I booked purposely to experience some fall foliage!  I'm from Massachusetts and I still miss the brilliant fall colors.  I'll be teaching at Bead Creative including for the first time the Spirit Flight earring!  I'll also be teaching La Navette and I think the two will wear well together.

Next up will be the Tyler Bead Retreat with a Touch of Whimsy.  It turns out this has been a really fun class to teach because it's possible to complete a piece of beaded jewelry in one day (mind you that is not a benchmark, not everyone will, but most complete it or come close to completing it)  How often does that happen, and it's a very fun happy piece of beadwork.  I love how the polaris balls look like they are lit from within!

We'll follow Tyler with Beads by Blanche where Sprockets will have it's debut!  I'll also teach Santa Lucia and Touch of Whimsy.

I fly from New Jersey to Sarasota to stay with friend Pat and teach for the Sarasota Bead Society.  I've made a new romantica and will also teach santa lucia and duomos romantics.  And last but not least I will end up in Georgia at Beadjoux which I very much look forward to.  And now, I must begin packing, I leave for Alaska tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Double thread…..Do you?

Every time I teach a class and I suggest (sometimes more strongly then others depending on the project) that one use double thread.  I hear many moans and groans….I realize I am in the minority so I will spend a little time telling you why I prefer double thread.

By thread I usually mean 6lb fire line but I am giving Miyuki thread a try since I am worried about the long term availability of fire line suited for beading and I appreciate the color choices.

Back to double thread…..I think that I have both better tension and a longer MTBF (mean time between failures) if I have two threads.  I am often asked if you can use one 10 lb instead of 2 6 lb pieces and the answer is probably yes, but….I am still of the opinion (and it is just that) that a failure comes from a thread being abraded in a place where it is rubbed and that  you are much less likely to abrade two threads in the same place.

Second most popular question 'Can I just make two passes?' Well yes you can but for me these old hands need to last me for a good long time of beading, knitting, crocheting and whatever else may cross my path so I don't to use them twice when I can use them once.

For me I find I have better tension with two threads but I know for sure there are some beaders who are able to get amazing tension with one thread, if that's you and tension is the goal then one thread may be right for you.

On to addressing the most common complaints.

My thread always gets tangles.  Two solutions, use slightly shorter thread lengths (I know that means weaving in more often, but really you are a beader, that part is a fact of life.) and use wax.  I like beeswax on fire line to hold the two pieces together.  So far I've not used wax on the Miyuki, but I do pull slower to avoid tangles.

What if I have to pull my work back?  For me, I actually find double thread easier to pull back.  I  find the working bead, pull until I can grasp the working thread and continue pulling back until the eye of the needle is at the work.  A gentle wiggle will almost always result in the needle following the thread through the beads.  In the event you've turned a corner as in ndebele, you may have to push the needle through some beads eye first and then come back to method one for the next set of beads.  It saves having to unthread and rethread a needle each time you undo the work.  This in my book is faster.

The last question that comes up is what if I have to change my needle because it breaks or I need a smaller needle.  To solve this particular dilemma I cut one of the threads down at the body of the work, unthread my needle and thread a new one.  Then I pull the cut thread 2 to 3 inches past the body of the work and hold onto it for the first two or three stitches and once again I have double thread.  I also use this method if I have to switch from double to single in the course of a piece, for example if I was using double with size 15 and the design changes to s ice 15 beads where I might want to use single thread.

I know I am in the minority but over the course of the years I have managed to convince some of this way of working.  What about you, single or double?

and for those of you who prefer to see pretty pictures, here is some beadwork, all done with double thread!

All three of these designs benefit from the extra tension I get using my thread double.  A Touch of Whimsy looks better if the top is sprightly like here.  It's not good having a floppy top!

Duomos Romanticos counts on having a firm cubic right angle base to hold the fancy stone in place.

Robbins nest ring also needs a firm tension to surround the bird so beautifully.

Friday, August 29, 2014

European beading tour

I started in Scotland and met the delightful Jo Lochhead for the first time.  I fell in love with everything about that experience....her home, her shop, her family, the students.  I also made my very first trip to Edinburgh and was there during the Fringe festival.  We saw quite some sites on the Royal Mile.

Off to England where I taught four classes, one of them touch of whimsy resulting in many wonderful combinations, these included.  My lovely host Lynn surprised me with a visit to Downton Abbey, where Sian met us for a wonderful day.

Off to Hamburg where for the first time I met Miriam Shimon!  which was every bit as much of a treat as I anticipated.  Besides talented, she is warm, friendly, funny and gives the best hugs.

How cute are these to Swedish girls.  Kristina is wearing her battle headpiece.

It's been a wonderful trip!  On my way home I stopped in New York city where I met Edgar Lopez.  Edgar is one of the artists in Marcia DeCoster presents and he signed the book.  We had a delightful visit at York beads where I got to experience firsthand his passion for beading.  I hope we have the opportunity to cross paths again.

I am working on having every artist in the book sign may take me some time as the contributors live in some far reaching places, but that is my goal!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Romantica Re-visited

I've been wanting to make a new Romantica for some time now.  Fist of all it's a relatively simple bead, and second I get to change up that sweet little medallion.  With the advent of all the new bead shapes at our disposal, I am able to use the same thread path and get different results.

Here is one I did form myself using some half tilas, long megatamas and the new Swarovski raindrop pendant.  I won't' be kitting this one, as the key came from a pottery barn gift wrap and I used the large elliptical disc instead of the cosmic ring.

Here is the one currently available in golds and pacific opal.  The encrusted filigree ball informed the palette on this one.

Halfway through the medallion making for the next Romantica I just had to stop and make these.  The crystal was a gift and is violet opal and medium vitral….very pretty.

The medallions take advantage of the long rizo bead to form the center.   Lot's of thread passes insure they stay in place.

I love the new Swarovski spike and the new patina's so coming together in one piece is perfect for me!  One new pair of earrings, and 5 more medallions on their way to becoming the next Romantica.  All beautiful silvers and opaque whites.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

San Diego Bead Bazaar

This weekend August 2nd and 3d is the annual San Diego Bead Society Bead Bazaar.  To print a $2.00 off flyer click here.

This year promises to be amazing with a host of new vendors as well as many old favorites.  The Bird and bronze clay featured on the postcard are from the collaborative artists and partners Judie Mountain and Wayne Robbins.  They have long been favorites of mine. Wayne made the birds for my Robbins Nest Cuff.

For a full list of vendors click here.  My friend Judi Patuti  will be there with bead mats and my all time favorite thread catchers (or as I like to use them tool totes).

If you are a fan of seed beads, and crystals and pearls and all manner of cool stuff, then you'll want to visit Whim Beads.

The ever smiling Jonna  Faulkner will be there with her wonderful Art Clay pieces.  There will be lamp work and eclectic findings and crystals and gemstones and too many wonderful things not to be missed.  I know I'll be there!  It is possible I need another bead or two….How about you?

Evolution of a Design

I started out with an idea that just sort of demanded it be tried out immediately….and it worked how I envisioned it.  It's funny because I was total exhausted, on a plane and yet, my idea could not be denied.

It was cute….but where was it going?  I thought of several bands made into a bracelet….but as I continued on, a circle of sprockets seemed obvious.

and of course the tips needed adornment, and then there was the open center, perhaps a rivoli would be good?  Isn't' a rivoli always good, and what about a rivioli on each side, a different one?  Reversible?

And embellishment of course…..and then since it was already pretty ornate, maybe just a simple bail and ribbon, yes!  And I like it ok, but…..the colors were a little uninspired.  Mostly because I carried on with the original idea and at the time the pewter and blue seed beads were the only two beads I had with me. So…..

A little color was in order…and what about an 0 bead at the tip?

I started over with bright vibrant color, lots of it.  I decided that I needed to drop a pendant from the bottom, changing it from round to elongated, an element I quite like.  Oh wait, that bottom bit, that looks like the perfect earring.

But first, what about a different palette?  Different tips? 

Spikes and Melons?  And then….well I thought I put a sprocket in every other cube, but I didn't get up from the beading chair to confirm, until I realized that every other would be 12 sprockets, not 8 and I like it, a lot.  I changed up every other tip and added 0 beads to the face of the cubes, because I just love those little chalk white matte labrador O beads.

And then I just had to try out the earrings.  What looks fairly simple has a few hidden tricks to shape and join them.

And there you have the evolution of design or my convoluted process.  I think this one will get written as a bunch of options.  You choose your sprocket length, tip, number of sprockets and you put together your own…..Sort of a process/project class combined.  I'm a tad bit excited about this one!

It's debut will be at Beads by Blanche in November!