Buttons and Coins


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I’ve been in New York visiting my sister and her girlfriend. I haven’t visited any beads stores (can you imagine?) but one fun thing I wanted to do this trip other than visit family was go to Mood. If you are a fan of the show Project Runway, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  During a recent episode, my mother, who also makes jewelry and frequently uses buttons as clasps, said dreamily, “Wouldn’t you love to see that button wall?”  When we realized I would be able to in a month or so, it was pretty exciting. I put that on my New York agenda.


Noel, from the button counter, was very nice and helpful.  I was organized; I pulled out my pad, cast my eagle eye over the three large button areas and made a list of everything I wanted to see.  My sister was the box holder/carrier and took them to the button counter.  Then Noel opened them all for me to see and choose.  Great service!  I was shopping for my mom and dad too.  It’s so stressful to shop for others.  I don’ t think I bought them enough, but I tried.


Beautiful painted coconut buttons.


Metal frame type buttons, bone, and I couldn’t resist this Keep Calm and Carry On.


These Mother of Pearl buttons were difficult to photograph.  The one thing I wish I would have looked at more were the MOP.  I noticed a few boxes I hadn’t seen when my order was being tallied.  I have a limited shopping (in public) attention span, so I just had to keep moving.


A few nice enamel buttons.


A couple of colorful plastic buttons.  My sister had originally pointed out some mosaic buttons that I think might have been a different material.  They were the only ones I couldn’t find on second pass (unless these were it.)


Wood buttons. I love the toggles.


Fancy Swarovski buttons.  It was hard to get a good picture of these.


Colorful plastic shank beads.


I’ve also been seeing a lot of these pins in use lately, so I got a few.

Another thing I asked my sister for is some foreign coins.  She travels and often has left over coins after a trip.  I love Niky Sayers‘ work with coins, so despite my lack of skill in this area, I have big dreams.  She let me comb through her jar, and I got some lovely specimens.


Swatch (who wasn’t on site at Mood, so I took a photo of his portrait) and I say thanks for visiting!


Monochromatic in Color


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Diane Hawkey is one of my favorite artists.  One of the things she makes is beads.  Other than her famous word beads, it’s not easy to get her things outside of bead shows. I got a little stash at the 2013  Bead & Button, and a few things various other places.  But recently, she had a show on a Facebook page. I had my finger poised to pounce, and I was amazed at how many things I was able to get.  Amazed and thrilled.


So, I’ve used my first bead from this group, the neighborhood pendant in the upper left corner.  I bought a variety of Czech glass rondelles from William and Andrew of Allegory Gallery and thought right away that they’d go well with the neighborhood. I often have quick thoughts like that – these beads would go well with this. But I know it is partly inspiration from things floating in my brain.  I think this necklace was inspired in part by this necklace I made with melon beads and a Gaea pendant and this necklace by Andrew Thornton.


I call this monochromatic in color because although this necklace isn’t just different shades of the same hue, the colors of the Czech glass echo the colors in the pendant, so it is kind of blendy that way. I love high contrast and pops of color, but I find this look very comforting and happy. I finished it up with a beautiful copper clasp by Gaea.

Allegory Gallery Design Challenge Reveal: Autumn Fire


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Today is the reveal for the Allegory Gallery Design Challenge – Autumn Fire edition. Challenge kits are put together by artist Andrew Thornton and consist of a variety of fun beads along with one or more Mystery Components hand made by Andrew.  Here is a picture of the kit.


Look at it!  Such delicious colors, a double strand of chip beads in case I decide to make something long and luxurious, browns, umbers, oranges, yellows!  I love it. And then there is the Mystery Component.


I’ve managed to capture a little bit of the sparkly vibrance of these blowing leaves. It really represents my favorite kind of autumn day.

First up, I made a necklace with some of the strand of chip beads and some of the tubes from the kit. This reveal, I thought I’d try showing one of my sketches with the piece it became.


I didn’t know where to find (or maybe I don’t even have) the multicolor fall toned spacers I was thinking of, but I had these apple green seed beads on my table, so I used those. The seed beads that came with the kit were slightly bigger, plus, I’ll be honest, I love the color, so I’m sort of hoarding them.


I added some great paper beads I got from Passion for Paper Beads on etsy a couple years ago. I like that beads wait around until they find a project that is right for them. Then I added three cool beads from the kit at the back of the necklace just for fun. I’m very pleased with this.

Then I made a couple pairs of earrings.  First with these tabs I loved from the kit and immediately decided to make into earrings. The shape reminds me of Elaine Ray’s beads for some reason.  (She’s retired from bead making now.)


Then I decided to make some earrings with more of the chips and two of the faceted yellow beads which I love! When I was sketching, I had noted wanting to use some pop, like sparkle or color, between the chips. So I used some of the sequins from the kit!


I really think these turned out pretty and fun. I moved on to another necklace. I was inspired by this fiber necklace on Pinterest.  I had a variety of ideas, but decided to use the Mystery Component with a variety of beads from the kit and three vintage plastic discs, a bi-colored old wooden round and a textured yellow ceramic bead by Kristie of Artisan Clay.


Next I decided to make a bracelet with some of the chunky plastic beads.  I am very inspired by Lorelei Eurto’s jewelry, and I was looking at this bracelet in particular. If you visit the blog post it is from, you can see she used a premium mix from Allegory Gallery, similar to the Luxury Blends that are included in challenge kits!


I used three of the juicy orange marbled plastic beads from the kit along with an orange, turquoise and olive bead by Yvonne Irvin-Faus of My Elements on one side.  On the other side, I used beads from the kit, my stash and more goodies from the My Elements shop.

Then I wanted to make something completely different – a bookmark!  I’ve wanted to make one since I saw them on Erin Siegel’s blog. She did a tutorial of the bookmark using art beads on Art Bead Scene.  This was a really fun one.


This was a very, very fun kit and challenge! Thank you William, Andrew and Allegory Gallery! If you’d like to see more creations from this kit, please visit the Allegory Gallery Design Challenge Facebook page to see what other participants made.

Art Bead Scene – November 2016


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The Art Bead Scene blog offers a great monthly challenge.  The editors share a piece of art for inspiration, and participants make something based on it using at least one art bead. The inspiration this month is a metalwork owl above the door to a room at the Library of Congress.  The artist is Lee Oscar Lawrie.


I really enjoy participating in the Art Bead Scene challenges, but I haven’t done so lately.  I’m not sure I would have this time.  Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with ideas and find it difficult to focus, but lucky for me I had help this month in the form of Heather Powers’ Bead Table Wednesday video this week in her Humblebeads VIP Party Facebook page.  It was a great post that talked about a few things including the ABS challenge and the uplifting power of art. I came away inspired as I did from last week’s video. Heather is the creator of Art Bead Scene as well as the artist behind Humblebeads.

I thought, yeah, I have some owls in my stash.  I started one necklace, but I wasn’t feeling it, so I decided to look for some other owl pendants in my stash by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery and Claire Maunsell of StillPointWorks. I came across this wonderful bronze owl coin pendant by Andrew and knew I’d found my art bead for this challenge. Metal and majestic, like the inspiration.

abs-november-2016I wanted to add something right above the pendant. After searching around my stash, I decided on this little mood bead. It changes colors, and I like that aspect of it. The necklace will look slightly different at different times.  While I was designing, the bead was mostly green.  Whenever I touched it, blue was the hue.  For some reason when I took the picture, it took on a golden tone like the yellow quartz.  I like that the bronze and the quartz have a bit of a monochromatic look like the inspiration piece.

I love the simple cut, and especially when the stones are drilled so that some are side to side and some are top to bottom.  I think that adds a nice design element.  I was originally going to use one of the marquis cut Montana agate beads above the pendant, but I couldn’t get both strands of the (1-ply!) linen to go through.  However, because I needed a little more length, I got to use two of the beads in the back.  I finished it off with chestnut opal patina hook clasp from Miss Fickle Media.

Please visit the Art Bead Scene Pinterest page to see more creations from the challenge inspiration.

Humblebeads Stacked Fall Necklace


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Heather Powers of Humblebeads makes great polymer clay beads. She also makes beautiful jewelry, and recently shared some tips and design ideas on a Work Table Wednesday video on her Humblebeads VIP Party Facebook page. She has made a colorful innovation to her classic bird beads.  In the video, she shows that she has also used the technique to make owls and offers some cute ideas to use each in pretty necklaces. I was inspired to use the bird I have.


I had so many ideas; this shows just a few of the beads I considered using. Heather showed a variety of leaves and birds together.  I thought about using this beautiful black round by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio because I love the black with the grey bird.  But I couldn’t resist using a leaf. I don’t actually have a lot of leaves in my stash, but this one by Helen Backhouse of Helen’s Bat Cave went so well with the gold in the bird.  I loved the idea of using a Vintaj acorn bead cap. I also loved this mottled brown ceramic bead by Mari Carmen Rodriguez Martinez of Majoyoal. But I decided I wanted a pop of the pink/purple in the bird.  Some choices included dark and light purple ceramic beads by Gaea and a plastic bead. In the end, I used a polymer clay nugget by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery. I used some beautiful patina ball chain in the Steampunk color from Supply Your Soul.


I couldn’t resist also using Heather’s idea to put a flower bead in a bead cap to make a little “crown” on top of the bird. This project was a lot of fun. It’s simple and easily customized to the beads you have available.

Reuse: Bead and Supply Storage


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Most of my beads and supplies are stored in plain cardboard boxes.  They are a great long, shallow shape, very utilitarian and stack well.  But when I envision my finished studio (always a work in progress) I want a little variety along with a bit of charm that I see in the studios I admire like Diana Ptaszynski’s and all these great ideas from Erin Prais-Hintz.

Lately, I’ve found that food packaging has started looking like good bead and supply storage, especially the higher quality packaging I find comes with local, hand made foods.

First up, I love Potter’s Crackers that are made right here in Madison, Wisconsin. (They are sold all over the country and online; I encourage you to try some.) My current favorite flavor is Apple Graham, which I’m pretty sure they were making the other day based on the delicious smell coming from their suite that happens to be just across the parking lot from my office.  I often pass by on my way to lunch.  Anyway, they have various packaging, and I had always bought flavors that come in cellophane. Recently, I bought some that came in a little wooden berry basket.  I just couldn’t throw it away, and I realized it was a nicer fit for my stringing wire than the cardboard box I had been using. It has the added benefit of easily seeing what I have.  Just looking at this picture I see a brand I don’t like that I should move to my practice stringing area as well as three (!) “but it might be enough for a bracelet” spools that, stored face down, fooled me into thinking I have more wire than I do.


About a month ago, I tried my hand at a bead weaving project.  I don’t generally do any bead weaving, so I had to get the needles and stringing material from my mom.  I needed a way to store the needles that would keep them (and me) safe and easy to find.  About that same time, I finished off a tin of Altoids Smalls mints.  The hinged tin is the perfect place to store needles. I can pop it in the drawer that houses my pilers and always know where to find it.


Next I finished a jar of spread (delicious on lightly salted rice cakes) from Gentle Breeze Honey made a little over 20 miles away in Mt. Horeb. I’m left with a sweet little mason-type jar too nice to throw in the recycle bin.  It is such a perfect small size and will be good for a slew of findings, pretty beads or buttons or materials for a project that can marinate together in the jar until they’re ready.


These are products, and therefore containers, I’ll be getting again.  I won’t always need to keep them, but I like the idea of at least considering ways to reuse sturdy containers rather than throwing them away or even recycling them. If I were a really crafty sort, I would even go further to making these pretty, like this idea I saw on Pinterest. Hmm…maybe I’ll have to make that one of our family craft projects.

Do you ever reuse everyday items (and anything creative) for bead, supply or jewelry storage?  Please let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking for ideas!

Pine Ridge Treasures’ French Countryside Blog Hop


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Lisa Lodge of Pine Ridge Treasures puts together really fun kits and blog hops, and today is the reveal for the latest – French Countryside.  The colors in this kit are just luscious.  Look!


I desperately wanted to make a floral pendant with those gorgeous stone pieces at the upper left.  They look like petals.  I couldn’t figure out how to make that work, so I tried to use some vintage leaf beads from my stash with some of the kit crystals based on a tutorial I found online.  I had to take it apart and start over once, and then I got to a point where I’d need to do it again.  I’m not that patient, but I want credit for trying (ha!) so I will show you what I got.


Once I got this far, I was kind of getting the hang of it and could probably have fixed my mistake and made it work.  But it was stressing me out, so I’ll leave it for another time.  But those leaves really go with the kit!

So then I had that lovely green on the brain, and lucky for me I had beautiful green crystals in my kit.  I decided to use those with a Czech glass button that looks like it was made for the kit and make a bracelet.  I used smaller crystals for the loop of the clasp.


I think the colors in this kit are so beautiful, and this bracelet really shows them off. The very name of this kit sounds so lovely – French Countryside.

Another bead I really love from this kit is the lavender frosted glass.  It’s such a pretty color and shape.  I used some in a pair of earrings, along with a few crystals and some metal spacers from the kit.


This was such a fun kit, and I have so much left over.  I know I will make more beautiful things in the future!  Thank you Lisa, for another fun challenge.  Please visit the other participants to see what they made.

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool Jewelry

Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings

Karin Grosset Grange, Ginkgo et Coquelicot

Becky Pancake, Becky Pancake Bead Designs

Ann Schroeder, Bead Love – You are HERE!

Allegory Gallery Magic Potion Special Challenge Reveal


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Today is the reveal for Allegory Gallery’s Magic Potion Special Challenge reveal. I love everything about this kit, even the picture above.  Artist Andrew Thornton puts together these kits for the challenges, and I actually remembered to take a picture of the kit this time.


I also managed to get a picture of the Mystery Components.  Andrew always includes at least one hand made Mystery Component in the kits.  This time there were multiple.


These colors are just glorious, and I was very inspired, as I always am with Allegory Gallery challenge kits.  However, I didn’t get much made due to various things going on.


However, this just means that I have a fabulous ton of beads left to make wonderful things in the future!  I really like this tassel look, although originally I planned to use some of the pretty crystals in the kit at the ends of the chain, so I might still do that.  We’ll see.  The picture makes it look gold, but the dangle chain is silver.

Please visit the Allegory Gallery Design Challenge Facebook page to see what other people have made with their kits!  Thanks, as always, to William and Andrew of Allegory Gallery for hosting these wonderful challenges.

Restrung At Last



I’m the worst at remaking anything.  I don’t like to spend time on redoing things, even if they don’t take that much time.  It’s kind of ridiculous, but there it is.  I made the following necklace and the first time I tried it on, the ring side of the clasp came off.  I decided to string it again with a closed ring, and it took weeks and weeks.  But today I finally got it done!  It took some nominal amount of time, maybe 15 minutes.  So I am glad I got it done because I like the necklace, and now I can wear it.


The pendant is by Jennifer Tough.  The swirl clasp is from Miss Fickle Media.  I think this is one of those necklaces that will go with almost everything.  I’m so glad I didn’t just let it languish like so many of my re-dos.




I was sort of mooning around a lot in the studio today because I wasn’t inspired, and I just hate that because I generally only make things on weekends.  So if I didn’t make something today, it would be another week! Finally, I went up there to try something inspired by a necklace I pinned by Miss Fickle Media.  Of course I didn’t end up making anything like it, but I found these hammered quartz beads in blue grey with wonderful flash that I’ve been hoarding from that shop for a while and decided to try them with some pearls that also have a lot of color.


This picture is kind of dark, but that seemed to be the only way I could get the flash and the color.  I really wanted to use this vintage rhinestone clasp (that doesn’t show at all) but I needed something to go with the hook that would be secure.  I finally found this hammered, asymmetrical silver piece.  It’s kind of jury-rigged, so I might have to modify it to make sure it is secure.

But I love how the quartz and pearls look together, so luxurious.  The pearls are big and gorgeous, and have wonderful color, just like the quartz.  I might just change out the clasp all together, but I really wanted one that looked special. The rhinestone does to me, but I’m not sure about the rest. Let me know what you think.