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Nancy recommends Groovy Looping Pliers for fast and consistent single and double wrapped loops:
I've also begun teaching wire classes at The Spiral Beadery. I fumbled around a bit getting to this store in terms of looking elsewhere to do this, but I have to say I am thrilled to wind up there. Seriously great beads, great owner, great staff.
January 31, 2012: New books. Wahoo! Kathy Fox educated me and spoke to my traveler's soul with The Venetian Glass Bead. I remember prowling Venice's glass making island of Murano in a fruitless search for beads that finally yielded three overpriced beads for 18 euros! I still have two of them - sold one in a necklace - and now have a reference in Kathy's book that includes beautiful photos, lots of info and easy projects.
I'm always looking for new (to me) types of jewelry making projects. Show Your Colors, by Jamie Hogsett and Sara Hardin Oehler, features 30 projects using flexible beading wire in ways you won't believe. And, oh, the colors of the wire. Fun, fun, fun.
February 14, 2012 I'm always developing (or at least attempting to develop) new jewelry designs. Today, I turned my attention to heart jewelry and then realized I am either too late for this Valentine's Day or a year early for next year. With so many jewelry flavored days in the year, I need to get more organized.
March 18, 2012: My classes at The Spiral Beadery are going very well. I continue to meet the best people there and am pushed to innovate. Between the fantastic folks at Francis Tuttle Technology Center and Linda Rains, the owner of The Spiral, I am very fortunate indeed.
But wait. There's more. Kalmbach Books keeps publishing great books. It's like they read my mind.
The latest volume in the absolutely fabulous series, The Absolute Beginners Guide is Making Wire Jewelry. If you are an absolute beginner, or even if you're not, you will love/respect this book. My copy is bristling with bookmarks, a sure sign author Martine Callaghan knows her wire. I suggest every jewelry maker acquire the whole series. It is that good.
And if I haven't mentioned it here, I have a long time interest in jewelry made with cube beads. While my seed beading skills are not my claim to fame, I received a ton of Fireline® for Christmas from my wonderful friend Lynn, a true beader. I intend to make her proud with the help of Contemporary Cube Bead Designs by Virginia Jensen. Bonus: the author hasn't just recycled the work of others. She introduces what she calls the "step stitch." Can't wait to show it to Lynn, Deb, Peg, Faith, Alana and Bobbie. Love you. You, too, Leah.
May 6, 2012: I've got tones of jewelry photos to post on these pages and on Facebook in the next few weeks, but right now there are new books. Wahoo!
The Stitch Workshop series has recently delivered Herringbone Stitch. I was entranced with the two bracelets on the cover. The thing is, seed beads are cute, but when you combine them in almost any color palette, you get magic. Gorgeous, lovely magic. And the Stitch Workshop books are excellent. Trust me, if I can make the projects, you can too. The directions are clear and the illustrations actually show you (me) what to do. Properly. This is a don't miss series.
With Laura Poplin's Unconventional Chain Mail Jewelry, you get a seriously new approach to the ancient and honorable art of chain/chaine mail/maille. The results are dynamite, delicate and beautiful. If you wanted a reason to go beyond the basic closing a few links style of chain mail, buy this book. NOW. You will love it. My students do.
May 15, 2012 "Although I’m devoted to my family, beads have changed my life. I can’t imagine myself without those little bits of glass!" Anneta Valious
June 3, 2012: Bead shows and trunk shows (coming up at The Spiral Beadery and More on Tuesday in OKC) and classes, oh my. After a much needed day with my friends and our beads, I am re-energized. Life is full and rich.
June 9, 2012: Somebody loves me! Last week I won $50 in gift certificates at the local bead show (which our Caryn spent on the weirdest beads ever) and now I've won a Boss' Bead Bag Giveaway from Firemountaingems.com. This contest is still running, so go to their Facebook page and enter. But the best part is I hold a soon to be winning Powerball ticket in my hot little hands. In the meantime, I have jewelry to make.
June 12, 2012: So, I got the bag of beads from Fire Mountains Gems. They retail for $4.99 and are certainly worth that much to ... someone. I culled some things for the nieces. The rest is up for grabs the next time my friends and I get together.
I was blessed by the gods of Kalmbach with real treasure in the same mail delivery. And I have to tell you there is nothing like a new bead book to make ye olde creative juices juicy. As I look at the books next to my laptop, I see color-coded bookmarks (I always have a system - this one helps me keep my focus when I'm searching for something specific) bristling from between the book pages. There is a whole lot of inspiration in my immediate future.
First, and always foremost is Easy Beading, volume 8. I've seen every book in the series except #2, and I have to tell you, these books don't disappoint. They are packed with projects that generally aren't difficult and never require advanced metal working skills. What you will end up with is beautiful jewelry and an organic nudge up the skill level. When in doubt, buy the books in this series first. They are always winners.
Another series winner is Simply Stylish Crystal Jewelry. Like Simply Stylish Chain & Metal Jewelry, it comes from the editors of "Bead Style" magazine, so you know it has to be good. With so many varieties of color, shape and quality of crystal on the market, the design possibilities are endless. Simply Stylish Crystal Jewelry doesn't take brand sides, but the projects are size and shape specific, and you really can't go wrong. Isn't that nice?
One of my favorite authors, Irina Miech, is a genius at experimentation. In Classic Style, Fresh Look, she takes us backward to classic and then forward to contemporary with two different approaches to the same basic design. I always tell my students they will learn techniques in class that can be applied to whatever style of jewelry they want to make. This book is the post child of that philosophy. And so much fun.
Metal Magic's author, Kim St. Jean, is my queen of organic metal effects. Her creativity is inspiring. I love where she leads me in metalwork - from etching and piercing to enameling. Love, love, love the results. Plus, this book not only contains detailed technique instructions, but also practice projects. Real class-like practice projects that end in glorious results. Plus, the projects themselves are gotta have quality. YESSSSSSSS.
July 15, 2012: How did I miss Bastille Day?
Anyone who know me and my jewelry is aware I love wire. So when the latest volume (7) of Creative Beading appeared, I kind of skimmed through the seed bead projects until I get to the Other Techniques section. And that's ok. After some years of guilt over this, I have accepted who I am and what I do best. That doesn't mean I can't grow in other areas, and it does mean my next session with the book was very rewarding. There are so many beaded projects to drool over one would have to be a Philistine clod not to immediately whip out ye olde Fireline® and set to work. Since I pride myself on not being too much of a clod, that's exactly what what happened. Each year, Creative Beading gets better and better and lures me in because the projects are outstanding, the techniques fresh and there really are more than several somethings for everyone.
July 23, 2012 On our Caryn's recent birthday, I presented her with a bag of beads. Now she gets to help me plan out her new jewelry. If I can't get her to make jewelry with me, this is surely the next best thing, thank goodness for my students who want to learn to make their own projects.
As I've frequently repeated on these pages, I never go to a Francis Tuttle class without a stash of wonderful bead books. I can show students how to use a bead book, the wonderful and varied possibilities for jewelry making today and so much more. I think creativity is sparked both linearly, where you learn basic bead stringing and then get a book on the subject like The Absolute Beginners Guide: Stringing Beaded Jewelry to broaden your design approach, as well as randomly, where anything can set you off on a new project. To get the most out of random inspiration, I recommend bead books on any subject for new color palettes, bead combos and so much more. The bonus is exposure to a new technique, which may become one you can't wait to explore. While most of us don't have the budget to invest in books we're not sure we're going to use, I am living proof that bead books have led me to projects I never would have dreamed I could complete even five years ago.
Take metal clay. You can't look through a good book on metal clay, like Mary Wohlgemuth's Metal Clay & Color, without salivating over the projects. And with the right guidance, you, yes you, can make wonderful and totally unique jewelry. Plus, Metal Clay & Color shows how to add resin and poly clay and so more to your projects. This is real pioneering. It's pushing the design envelope . It's the next level.
August 23, 2012 Most of the gang went on a bead hunt today. We started off in Edmond, OK, at Beadle Dee. It's fairly new and quite small but a good time was had by all. Also, it rained for 20+ minutes, so I hate them. Then we headed a few blocks east to Silver Leaf Gems, where big design rules. I love their work. Love it. After lunch, we headed to Elements Beadery in Bethany, OK. We had a great time, bought a few treasures and did out part to keep local businesses in the black.
August 31, 2012 I'm teaching my wire and donut bracelet at The Spiral Beadery on September 15. And new classes start at the Reno campus of Francis Tuttle on the fourth . I am very lucky to get to spread the word about jewelry making.
Speaking of the word, there are new bead books! Yes!
I can't say enough about The Spirit of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli. The projects are gorgeous. The instructions are clear and well illustrated. Just don't miss the project gallery at the end. Yum! If you've ever wanted to give this very popular craft a try, buy this book at once.
Great Designs for Shaped Beads, by Anna Elizabeth Draeger, will make your mouth water over the possibilities for using new bead shapes. My friends have already been using these beads, but all were excited when they saw this book - at least the ones who didn't already have it. If you haven't noticed the fantastic Tila™ and dagger beads now available, you will love them. You will love the 50+ projects in the book, too!
NOTE: I've started putting all Amazon links in as Kindle links except for bead books. Even if a book is available as a Kindle, I find I do better with an actual book when I want to try a new jewelry project or technique.
October 7, 2012: I've been making a ton of jewelry for special projects, trying to develop new classes and just generally running around accomplishing less than I want and need to in every way. Perhaps preparing for the holidays will calm me down. Or not.
Anyway, I'm sad to report those gray plastic wire shape makers from Bead Buddy (about $10) are not great tools. The wire doesn't have a complete channel to lie in so the shape is wonky. It's hard to make two triangles, for example, that match. Earrings need to do that in my world.
The good news is Lori Anderson's Bead Soup. Ms Anderson offers four methods for assembling your own soup plus 32 projects / recipes to spark your creativity brain cells. Mine were thrilled when I opened the book and stuffed it full of bookmarks. Now I have help and inspiration whenever I need it. There is nothing worse, at least in the world of jewelry making, than having some beautiful beads and no good idea what to do with them. Thanks, Lori Anderson.
The good news continues with the publication of another book in the Absolute Beginner series: Working with Polymer Clay. While the whole series is outstanding, I especially like this volume because people don't realize how easy polymer clay is to work with. Author Lori Wilkes does a great job of explaining the basics as well as introducing techniques anyone can master to turn out beads and focals they will love to use in, oh, I don't know ... maybe in bead soup.
October 18, 2012: I've been frantically making up jewelry for the holidays. I started way too late, but nothing can be done about that now. Well, not quite. Kalmbach Press to the rescue. They've just come out with Project Earrings. Almost everyone loves getting new earrings and there are 44 designs in this book. That means you can work your way through all the earring designs in the book, learn some new techniques and end up with a gorgeous stash of gifts and saleable items. Now get to work.
I love making wire pendants. Sometimes I've actually thought I've made or attempted to make every design possible. And while in a sense that's true, there is always more to learn. For this reason, I am positively thrilled with Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin's Build Your Own Wire Pendants. Just about everything you need to know to go wire mad is contained within the pages of her book. So come to my classes anyway. We'll have fun and make beautiful things, but if that's not possible, get Build Your Own Wire Pendants. Think of it as "the pendant bible."
November 14, 2012: The mad rush to complete gifts for the holidays is on. Open your books and create something beautiful, my friends. Or do as I do. Open those books and start dreaming. Arrggghhh.
December 17, 2012: Like you, I've pulled my act together and am about to complete the majority of jewelry gifts I planned to make. Except for several necklaces for my girls and a bracelet and ...
Yesterday, my wonderful bead group met to make chain mail earrings and to exchange gifts. I scored a delicate illusion necklace and delivered a twisted wire, copper washer and pearl necklace. Good friends are a blessing. Good friends with beads are a gift from God. Seriously.
Speaking of gifts, it's not to late to give a jewelry maker (or yourself) some beads and a good book. I strongly recommend Classic Chain Mail Jewelry with a Twist by Sue Ripsch. Chain mail can be daunting, but Ripsch breaks it down into skill levels. Her projects are lovely, and she shows you how to use non round wire for extraordinary results.
I'm not the best seed beader. I'm always looking for easier projects, better instructions, anything. With Nikia Angel's Easy Crystal Stitching Sophisticated Jewelry, I've found my bible. This book does the best job ever of breaking projects down to my level. Using building her blocks technique, even I can make gorgeous jewelry. Trust me, Angel's book should be in your library.
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