Thursday, May 21, 2015

Work in Progress: Sluggish Green Collar

I have been a big neglectful of all my duties these past few weeks, both in beading and in blogging. Before we get around to an update on this week’s progress, let me say thanks for sticking with me so far! Although I had a little surge of ideas and projects, it turns out that I’m still a bit burnt out from making designs for Ancient Worlds, Modern Beads. It would also seem that taking on two projects at once wasn’t the great idea that I thought it would be. After stitching a few inches of the new herringbone collar that I started, I realized the repacking and unpacking of so many different bead types - all of which I need to have out at once - was just too time consuming, and I’ve been plodding along on the collar without picking up any other projects.

Green Herringbone Collar in Progress

The collar is coming along nicely, though I haven’t spent quite as much time on it as I should. I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated of late, partly because I have no idea what to do with my pieces when they’re finished. Over the past several years, I’ve juggled both an Etsy and an ArtFire store, testing them both out to see which one suits me best. Because Etsy runs on temporary listing fees as well as a 3.5% commission, I decided that it was just too expensive and time consuming to list most of my work there.

Just as I was getting into the process of moving and cultivating an ideal selection for both shops, ArtFire rolled out Google and Amazon ads on all listing pages. Although I’m not necessarily opposed to having third-party ads on pages I’m already paying for, the page design is really terrible, and sellers have no control of the quantity or types of ads that are displayed. The only way to opt out of the ads is to sign up for 3% commission fees - something that I’m not prepared to do for one-of-a-kind pieces that can sometimes be over $100.

ArtFire Page Ads
New ArtFire Page Layout

I'm working more than usual at the day job right now, which is fabulous; but I simply don’t have the time or energy to research and cultivate a shop on a new platform right now, so I’m feeling a little glum when it comes to making new pieces. I’m hoping that giving my workspace a really good tidy and refresh will help me at least get some of the beading bug back so that I can get back to making jewelry just for the joy of it.

What are you making this week? Are there any challenges in your path right now?

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Work in Progress: A Rope and a Collar

I’m a little behind on projects this week, as I’ve been catching up on sleep instead of staying up late to bead. It’s a bit of a double setback, as I’ve taken on the rare challenge of working two projects at once. The red bugle cuff that I had started last week was a bust. One of the seed bead colors that I had chosen didn’t work out – I was spending more time culling them than actually getting any beading done. Feeling discouraged, I decided to set aside the project for later and get started on another design that I had been pondering.

Herringbone Rope and Collar Projects in Progress

I got to work on a new fringe necklace that would combine a black and gold striped rope with some striped Java glass and perhaps a few mother of pearl chips. Then I got a sudden craving to make a new all-seed bead herringbone collar. I started with some cactus green 8/o’s and built a nice palette from there. The beadwork hasn’t turned out quite right, so I’m going to need to restart, but I’m hoping to continue with it until the end.

What are you making right now?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Introducing: Ancient Worlds Modern Beads

Ancient Worlds Modern Beads by Mortira Natasha vanPelt

The time has finally come to reveal the secret project that I’ve been working on for the past two years. There have been many bead teasers along the way, and I’ve dropped a few hints about the purpose behind the exciting designs that have passed through my workspace. At last I can say that it’s all been for the production of my first beading book: Ancient Worlds, Modern Beads.

I am very excited to present this collection of projects, all inspired by Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Some of my all-time favorite designs are included with step-by-step instructions, along with oft-requested tutorials that will finally be available in full detail. There are lots of collars, bracelets, necklaces and rings to make using seed beads, glass, and natural beads. I’ve also bent my metal rules just a bit to include 4 earring projects that coordinate with many of the other pieces in the book. It was a tough decision to make, but ultimately I wanted to create the best selection of projects possible - and there were just too many great earring inspirations to pass up!

There are 30 projects in all – ten from each civilization. The projects are inspired by the culture, mythology, art and jewelry of the time. Many pieces recreate the look of actual ancient artifacts, while others capture an essence of each region and its legacy. The Egyptian projects were some of my favorites to create, of course. Greece and Rome offer up some pretty amazing inspirations of their own, and I can't wait to share them! It was incredibly fun to design each piece, and I hope that readers will love to recreate them as well. The book also includes some gorgeous handmade backgrounds, with textiles by Elaine Partington and glass by Matthew Durran.

Amarna Glass Earrings from The Met Amarna Beadwork Earrings from Ancient Worlds Modern Beads

Amarna Earring Project Inspired by Ancient Egyptian Relics

Ancient Worlds, Modern Beads will be published later this year by Barron's Educational Series. It is available now for pre-order from Indigo and Amazon.The official cover has not yet been revealed, and there are plenty of details still to come. I’m planning to release a full preview of all of the projects for you closer to release time. Meanwhile, I want to thank the creative team at Quarto for helping get this book off the ground, and for all of their hard work on bringing it together.

Roman Medallion Necklace from The Cleveland Museum of Art Juno Pendant from Ancient Worlds Modern Beads

Juno Pendant Project Inspired by Roman Medallion Jewelry

I also want to extend some very special thanks to every Inspirational Beading reader for your patience and support during these two hectic years. Being able to share my projects with you – if only as teasers – and reading your wonderful comments kept me going whenever I felt I couldn’t bead another stitch. Thank you for joining me here every week, and here’s to many more creative journeys!

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Work in Progress: Ruby Bugles

Projects are chugging along on my bead tray once again, and it’s great to finally have a rhythm going. I’ve just finished up a tagua and St. Petersburg necklace that turned our rather nice with some summery yellow highlights. Now I’m about to cut into my hank of transparent ruby bugles and make a new cuff.

I had planned on a new and interesting pattern for this bracelet, forgetting that I don’t have any opaque black bugles. I had to scrap the idea and I’m going to go with something simpler this time around. I’ve shelved the idea to use with another palette in the future.

Red Bugle Cuff in Progress

Next up I’m thinking of making a new rope and fringe necklace with a striped rope. I haven’t yet decided on accents, but a palette is forming and I’m sure I’ll be able to find just the right beads for the job.

What are you making right now?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Spotlight: Decorative Wire Findings

Decorative Wire Findings by Melody MacDuffee

Making custom components and findings is an invaluable skill for any jewelry maker. By learning just a few basic techniques, you gain the advantage of having exactly the right pieces to make your dream designs, every time. Whether you like to string, weave, or wrap, custom findings allow you to personalize all of your designs, make perfectly matched sets - and of course, save money for more of your favorite materials.

In her new book Decorative Wire Findings, jewelry artist and instructor Melody MacDuffee shares her favorite techniques for making one of a kind findings and components for amazing jewelry designs. The book includes instructions for more than 20 versatile essentials such as earring posts and backs, bezels for cabochons, and spacer bars for gorgeous multi-strand pieces. For inspiration and an in-depth look at how each component is used, there are 26 complete projects for earrings, bracelets and necklaces – plus ideas for unique rings and brooches.

Many of the projects feature gorgeous beads from around the world, including Krobo beads created by artists at Soul of Somanya – an amazing non-profit co-founded and directed by Melody in Ghana, West Africa. There are also projects for fans of crystals, pearls and druzy stones – all of them a delight to new and experienced wire-wrappers alike. My personal favorite is an eleven strand bracelet made with stunning teal Krobo beads and golden spirals.

Seven Strand Squiggle Earrings by Melody MacDuffee

With expert care, Melody guides readers through each of the projects; full color, step-by-step photos provide a look at how each design will progress. The materials lists include everything you need to complete a project, including page numbers for each of the components and findings that you’ll need to make ahead before completing a piece. Several projects offer instant gratification with just a few wraps and tweaks, while others provide an exciting challenge in gorgeous wire wrapping techniques. Never again find yourself without the right components for a project with the easy, professional-looking techniques in Decorative Wire Findings!

Want to check it out for yourself? Melody and the kind folks at Kalmbach Books are giving away one copy of Decorative Wire Findings to an Inspirational Beading reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post letting us know what your favorite jewelry components are! One lucky winner will be drawn on Tuesday, April 28th.

Good luck and happy beading!

Update: This giveaway draw has closed.

I would like to thank Meloday MacDuffee and Kalmbach Books for giving me the opportunity to enjoy Decorative Wire Findings. Inspirational Beading has not received compensation for including products or publications in this post.

Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading
Melody MacDuffee and Kalmbach Books
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