Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Work in Progress: Ancient Roman Glass

I had been drooling over Ancient Roman glass beads for over a year when I finally got lucky enough to spot a big sale on a fresh haul, while I had enough room in my bead budget to shop. The least expensive strands are always the first to go, so it's a race to snap them up in time. It was so exciting to finally get my hands on a strand of 900 year old glass! This week I've been experimenting with the unusual pieces for a necklace or two.

Ancient Roman Glass Necklace in Progress


What’s interesting about Ancient Roman glass is the variations in color. Some are perfectly clear, while others have strange patterns in varying shades of brown and white. Many of them look matte, but in fact the surface is very smooth - the “flaws” are within the glass, not on the outside. I decided to use this as an advantage, and I started by sorting out my beads by color, then matched palettes to each group. So far I’m loving how they look with simple beadwork.

What are you making this week?

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Moon Inspirations

Last week’s bead giveaway for summery silver and green vintage beads has come to a close. Congratulations to our winner, and thank you very much to everyone who entered! This month I asked about your favorite colors for evening wear jewelry designs. As always, the answers were varied and inspiring!

The winning comment, from Here Bead Dragons, nominated silver and turquoise for elegant jewelry designs. This combination makes a great palette for all kinds of themes to grow from: Western, aquatic, fantasy and many more. With the addition of a little black and some summer fantasy elements, it’s perfect for a dreamy evening.

Summer Moon Treasury


What’s your favorite way to use silver and turquoise?

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Favorite Techniques: Soutache Embroidery

Tigress Necklace by French Mermaid Collection

The beautiful organic patterns and shapes created with soutache and bead embroidery are always a wonder to behold. The combination of unique focals and exciting color palettes used by Suzanne of French Mermaid Collection perfectly showcase the potential of this lovely technique.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite technique?

Suzanne: I specialize in Hand-Embroidered Soutache Jewelry. I first became enchanted by soutache jewelry when I first saw "Helen of Troy" by Anneta Valious. It reminded me of the beautiful fine hand stitching that I learned from my grandmother in France when I was very young. She was a true artist with needle and thread.

I start with an idea in my minds eye and apply fine hand stitching. The creative process takes over as beads are lovingly cradled within more layers of soutache braids. I never know what the finished product will look like, but I'm always pleased with the results.

Inspirational Beading: How did you first learn to do soutache embroidery?

Suzanne: Actually my love of embroidery and beadwork were a natural. I had been doing both for so many years that when I saw the possibility of melding the two, it all came together.

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you've made with this technique, which one is your favorite?

Suzanne: “Sunset” is one of my favorites. The sea shells are a beautiful natural orange coral in color of Florida sea scallops that I've only seen on the near-by beaches of Marco Island, Florida. They work so well as focals enhanced with Swarovski pearls and crystals, complimentary soutache braid and copper-tone metallic braid and beads.

Sunset Soutache Jewelry Set by French Mermaid Collection Harem Peacock Necklace by French Mermaid Collection


Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started with soutache embroidery?

Suzanne: Find someone who is skilled in fine needlework and take lessons until you are comfortable with the results. Start with small things like hankies, pillow cases, tea towels, etc. Or, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer check out embroidery books and YouTube tutorials.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material or color to use it with?

Sahara Necklace by French Mermaid Collection

Suzanne: Since I specialize in Hand-Embroidered Soutache Jewelry, soutache braid is an integral and essential part of my materials list. Though I use a wide pallet of colors, metallic gold is dear to my heart.

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Suzanne: Only if they have a strong background in fine stitching such as embroidery and lots of patience. I personally love this technique. It has a very calming effect for me.

Inspirational Beading: What is your least favorite thing about soutache embroidery?

Suzanne: Only one thing: holding several of the narrow soutache braids in alignment while trying to keep them smoothly together as I begin stitching can be extremely challenging.

Inspirational Beading: Do you use any variations? Which one is your favorite?

Suzanne: I use a variety of focals or center cabochons: Imported hand-carved cameo’s, semi-precious stones, glass covered ephemera cabochons (that I make myself), found sea shells and sand dollars, any lovely and unique item that catches my attention that well incorporates with my design.

To see more gorgeous soutache jewelry designs, check out Suzanne’s blog French Mermaid Collection.

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Suzanne C. Suber
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Bead Giveaway: Summer Silver

Combining metallics and jewel tones will always be a great method for giving a classic look to jewelry designs. It can also create a bit of magic in a piece. This month’s giveaway features beads that would look just right at a midnight fairy festival for summer solstice.

These collections of vintage acrylic and lucite beads are all handpicked, with a few fun surprises in each. The green set includes metallic emerald rounds and 6mm faceted rounds, organic shapes in mossy and lemony greens, olive ovals, and jade green coins. The silver set features beautiful silver-toned 10 mm rounds and shiny metallic spacers.

Vintage Silver-tone Bead Giveaway Vintage Greens Bead Giveaway


How to Enter

For a chance to win all of the beads shown, leave a comment on this post that answers the following question:

What is your favorite bead palette for evening wear jewelry designs?

One lucky winner will be draw on Tuesday, July 29th. This giveaway is open to international readers.

Important: Comments must be posted here on Inspirational Beading to qualify, but no log-in is required. Please make sure to leave a contact method in your comment if you do not have a profile with a public email address. For security, you can type your email like so: username AT yourmail DOT com. Incomplete or duplicate entries will not be included in the draw.

Good luck, and happy beading!

Update: This giveaway has closed.

Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Bead Embroidery

Way, way back in January of 2009, Inspirational Beading was just five months old, and I was just starting to find my creative groove. One of my favorite posts from that month was an embroidery project featuring freeform flowers. It was one of the first pieces of bead embroidery that I had done in years, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

I still look back on that piece with a little bit of pride, although the beadwork was rather clumsy. I loved how the overall design turned out, and only wished that I had had more colors to work with. I've used the same flower shape since then, and the concentric circles are still a great way to play with bead embroidery without taking too many risks.

Freeform Flowers Bead Embroidery Spring Pharaoh Pendant


Getting back into bead embroidery on a regular basis has been a lot of fun, especially since I’ve found a way to get my son to help me out with the process. I’ve changed techniques and improved my approach since that first flowery piece. I’ve also found a lot of satisfaction in working with small pendants. There’s very little commitment to time and beads, and making things in miniature is always appealing.

Do you remember your first embroidery project? How did it turn out?

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