2016 Bead Peeps Swap N Hop REVEAL

So the last few months have been kind of crazy.  We have this whole big kerfuffle going on with (our now) old landlord.  I’m not sure we’re quite done with him as we will likely have to sue but at least we’re not living there anymore!  So we moved last Monday – it took us 19 hours between the time we picked up the Uhaul truck and when we dropped it off (at 5 am – yea that wasn’t a fun night, but thankfully I had asked for Tuesday off).   The biggest upside of our new place is the garage – it’s HUGE (practically bigger then our house) so the majority of our stuff ended up out there so I can go through it at will and not have to trip over it in the house.  The downside? I currently have no bead room – well I do but it’s not set up yet.  The desk is in there but I still have to get my chair, my beads and everything else in.  And then in a (hopefully) few months when part of the garage gets converted to my bead room I get to move it all out again!

So on to the swap reveal:

First – what is the Bead Peeps Swap N Hop?  It’s an annual event (we’re in the 2nd year) where designers sign up, get a partner and then swap beads with that partner.  They make a piece (or lots of pieces) of jewelry incorporating what they were sent, then do a blog post reveal, where you can hop around to ooh and aah at everything!  This event is hosted by Linda Anderson of Cherry on Top Design

If you follow my blog you’ll have seen my previous post about my partner Bobbie Rafferty, who was even nice enough to send me extra seed beads since she didn’t know the manufacturer/number!

I was out of character the last few months and did not wait until the last moment to start things – as soon as I unwrapped everything I was searching for ideas and inspiration – which was easy to do considering how much my partner sent me! Here’s a reminder of what I received:

In total I made 17 individual pieces, though some belong in sets, this is how it broke down:

2 sets

4 bracelets

3 necklaces

3 earrings

3 rings


As the number of my pieces increased so did my desire to use every type of bead that was sent to me, not necessarily ALL of them in terms of quantity, but as least use them all once.  This became the ultimate goal.  Last year I had 2 partners, and didn’t even come close to using every type that was sent to me and it left me feeling like I hadn’t done enough.  So did I hit my goal?

Sadly no, the hollow jade squares I just couldn’t get to talk to me. I thought earrings first, or maybe the side of a focal on a bracelet. But just couldn’t make it work. I also didn’t use the Cinnabar fish focal, I’m saving that for later.

But here’s what I did make:



Beads used: seed beads, mother-of-pearl


Beads used: Moonstone, 15/0, AB rounds


Beads used: AB rounds



Beads used: crystal briolettes


Beads used: AB rounds, 15/0, seed beads


Beads used: seed beads, 15/0, unakite



Beads used: seed beads, 8/0(core)


Beads used: AB rounds, 15/0


Beads used: seed beads, 15/0


Beads used: czech ovals


Wearing them all



Beads used: ocean jasper focal, 15/0, delica


Beads used: jasper, seed beads, bugles, 15/0


Beads used: seed beads, long magatama



Beads used: Carved bone, dyed carved bone, clasp, seed beads, 15/0, 8/0 (core) Everything except the earwires was from my partner


Beads used: jasper, delica, 15/0, seed beads

So I definitely feel accomplished!  Hope you enjoyed looking, don’t forget to visit everyone else:


Palak (aka Pallavi Asher)http://kalaabhushan.blogspot.in/
Lori Blanchard YOU ARE HERE

Bead Peeps Swap N Hop Partner Intro/What I got

So I’ve been a little lax in writing my intro – sometimes doing everything from my phone gets a little tedious.  I’m hoping in the next few months to get a new laptop and change that – wouldn’t that be nice!

So for this 2nd Annual Swap I got paired up with an awesome artist named Bobbie Rafferty!  She’s the owner and designer at Beadsong Jewelry – here’s her facebook page, and her blog.  As I perused her blog and facebook I noticed how our style was kind of similar.  Both of us enjoy exploring color, and different techniques – beadweaving, bead embroidery and some metal work.  And both of us are mainly self-taught.  Here is some of her beautiful work:

I was lucky enough to chat with Bobbie the night we got paired up and had a nice long chat(though like it usually goes we talked little about beads and more about life in general).  I learned she recently moved to Chicago for a job of a lifetime – fundraising for the Chicago Symphony – how cool does that sound? Though I’m sure it’s a lot of work.    Her one thing she’s never tried is the new(ish) neon beads ***evil laugh***…… So here’s what I sent her:


I’m really happy with my selections – the focal is a stone/clay creation by Sculpted Windows. All the seed beads I basically had but took a trip to my bead store to get the shaped beads.


…..and my one thing is brown.  So it really came as no surprise that I opened my package and found LOTS of brown – but it’s all gorgeous!  I’ve decided to call it bronze, otherwise I’ll get a brain-block and won’t be able to think of any designs!

So here’s what Bobbie sent me:

12794941_993266440763744_2576642171046204023_o12801441_993266690763719_5034797860497986704_n(1)12803023_993292854094436_9222422893044790916_n(1)12798978_993292910761097_3775493151702098443_n(1)She sent me 2 options for a focal and 2 clasps, an awesome selection of seed beads as well as czech glass, moonstone, mother-of-pearl, bugles, long magatamas and 2 types of carved bone.  The options are almost endless!



I’ve always felt that my journey through jewelry making has been very organic.  I started making jewelry when I needed “quick, easy and cheap” Christmas presents for my family about 5ish years ago.  Little did I know the journey I’d be thrust into.  Simple stringing was my choice for that time, but my mom quickly sent me a jewelry making book that included an amazing bead weaving pattern – and I started out on my first bead woven piece.

Since then I’ve taken on bead weaving and wirework, have made my own cabochons and am looking to make my own metal components soon (just need a saw, and hammer and….everything!)

But I’ve found my greatest leaps and achievements have been through challenges.  If you make jewelry and have never participated in a challenge – any challenge – I urge you to do so.  It pushes your boundaries and makes you think of designs that you wouldn’t have before.  Which brings me to this post.

This challenge was issued by Sarah Rose who runs Jewelry Because, you can read about her great mission here.  What was the challenge?  Create a necklace that represents your personality.  When I first read this I was leaving one store at work to drive for another – and driving is often where I come up with some great ideas – so I thought really really hard about it.  What did I come up with?


So how the hell was I going to make this into a necklace?  I really had no clue – but everyone really wanted to see it! So I felt compelled to at least try.

So I sat down again, this time at home, and put a lot of thought into it – what was my personality?  Ask my cousin or my sister, and they’ll tell you I’m crazy (if you saw any of our videos from my summer vacation you’ll see this).  Ask my coworkers and they’ll tell you I’m kind of quiet and do what I need to do to get things done.  Ask some of my friends and they’ll say I’m an animal lover, or a badass biker, or a great jewelry maker.  But who do I feel I am? I’m all of them!

So this is what I made:  (I’ll explain all the parts and pieces and why I chose them after the pics)

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The gem in the middle is a gorgeous piece of laboradorite with a lot of hidden flash (like me!).  The shape of the stone represents both my tough side (sharp edges) and my flashier side (hidden yet out in the open at the same time).

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The “softer” side of my personality is represented by some shibori silk and a pewter angel wing (everyone calls me Raven).  A little bit of flash/surprise is thrown in with the delica beads that color shift.  The simplicity of the design also shows me as even when I “dress up” it’s simple, very little makeup, very little time spend on my hair.
The “tougher” side is shown through the leather and the dagger(supposed to represent a horn). The leather is a recycled/upcycled leather vest because I ride motorcycles (hubby just bought me a new one for our anniversary!!)).  The delica here also have some flash – and that was on purpose, because sometimes even when being badass you want to look good. (I beaded my name for my leather (see below)).   Notice that the shape of each side also shows these elements – rounded/soft, pointed/tough.


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Since the necklace is split down the middle I decided to do that with the clasp as well – the soft side is the ring, in the flashy delica.  The bar is 2 daggers – pointy and lethal! lol

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The “tough” side necklace is made up of daggers and a lampwork barrel.  They’re wrapped with black permanately colored copper wire.  The wraps are very rustic and elementary, a far cry from the usual neat and smooth wrap I usually go for.

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The “soft” side necklace is labrodorite coins (purchased from Sarah herself) – again they have that surprise flash at unexpected moments – interwoven with random seed beads – you never know what you’re going to get!!


Each of the elements in this necklace was chosen with great care – and I believe is ME, very much so that duality that sometimes I can never even reconcile myself.

Do you have that duality? Could you see yourself in this necklace?

So what does my personality look like?

life * love * beads

Haby Hop (final reveal)

Well over a year ago I signed up for a blog hop with Melissa Trudinger called the Haberdashery Hop.   While the reveal was Aug 2nd (2014) and I missed it by a LONG shot, I felt the need to finish it. 

What is haberdashery?  It’s small articles used for sewing – these days in stores like JoAnn’s they’re called “notions”.  So what do these include? Why buttons, of course!  A few years ago on a random walk through an antique store I picked up a large mason jar of buttons.  It moved around with me and I made a few things from them, like these cute button earrings:


Button earrings, living with my cousin now

So when Melissa posted about hosting this hop I jumped at the idea….I had been thinking of doing a zipper and button piece but it didn’t really go any further then a thought in my head.  Now I had a reason to get it out in the world!  My initial design started out slightly different and you can read about that here.

So I got out my mason jar of buttons and dumped the whole thing on the table.  What did I want to do? What was my color scheme?  I don’t even know how I picked orange and pink to go together but soon I had a generous pile of orange, pink, black and a few white buttons staring back up at me, there were over 50 there of various sizes.  I did some research and discovered the buttons are likely bakelite and celluloid, types of plastics used in the early 20th century.

Then my bead stash came out and I picked 4-5 coordinating delica and 15/0 to go with them all.  I picked 4 different colors of delica: frost, black, pink and transparent salmon; as well as 6 different colors of 15° : black, frost, orange, color-lined dark salmon, silver and light pink. 

I glued my buttons onto pellon and started bezeling them.  One of my first decisions was that no 2 bezels would be the same.  I had multiple buttons of the same size/color so I would do them in groupings.  As I did the first I would count how many beads it took so that I could decide my patterns for the next button. So every single button is unique! 

I didn’t get very far into the process before the reveal date was suddenly just there – and I was no where close to done.  And because the reveal date had gone, my motivation kinda went with it…..the buttons were always within my view but the need to get them done just wasn’t there anymore.   I would work on them here and there.  When the bezeling was done then came the part I hate the most: EDGING…..  It’s just so monotonous. 

Then in the beginning of September I tackled them again and suddenly the edging was done!


Now came the even harder part – something I’ve never done before – putting multiple pieces together to form a necklace.  And it has to hang right! A friend gave me a mannequin to use – and it was perfect because it was styrofoam base so I could pin into it.  So I pinned the buttons on to it for shaping.  Then once again it sat there because I was terrified of putting it together – I didn’t know how to do this and if I did it wrong….there’s all that work just out the window!  So I started with the easy part – the straps – just a simple stack of buttons in a straight line.  I did each one individually with a VERY long piece of fireline.  Then I had to start shaping the neckline – again it just sat there – that part was exhausting – I kept putting it back on the mannequin to make sure it was sitting right. 

Then came my kick in the butt – about 3 weeks ago I scheduled my very first trunk show – where I’d be selling my pieces.  And I REALLY wanted to have this piece done.  So it was my motivation.  In the past 2 weeks is when it’s really come together – the assembly.  I’ve worked on other pieces too – but this was always waiting.  Having the mannequin helped a ton, and one of my smartest decisions, to wait to attach the clasp (which is also a button), was one of the best.

The clasp is a cool accomplish, in my mind at least.  I wanted the clasp to be seamless, so I decided on a larger snap attached to the underside of a button – but I had already bezeled all of my buttons (or so I thought) – so I went back to my stash and found a white button that I had missed. First I had to attach one side of the snap to the “right” side of my backer fabric, then I could glue the bezeled button on and edge it. 

so here it comes: IT’S DONE! IT’S DONE! IT’S DONE!
I can’t even express how happy I am, or how proud I am of myself.  That may sound weird but I’m self-taught and have never taken a class, just book reading, the occasional video, and a lot of trial and error.







life * love * beads

Superstition Blog Hop

A few months ago Tammy Adams of Paisley Lizard gave some designers the opportunity to create with a new design – these really cool “black cat” beads she made of polymer clay.  Each has a slightly different background, and some were drilled while others were left as cabochons


When I first received the bead it got lost on my kitchen counter – I put it in a “catch-all” basket and kept thinking it was a package for my husband lol.  Once it was in my bead room it was time to decide on a design!  I’m still not sure where the idea for this design came from but it’s 3 way convertible – so extremely versatile!

I started with a black/red variegated kumihimo then added red mother-of-pearl beads, star beads, a lampwork bead by Angela Hopkins, and a bunch of jumprings!  It can be worn as one big necklace with earrings, a necklace/bracelet/earring set, or a wrap bracelet and earrings. Very adjustable.  Pretty awesome!


Option 1 - 3 piece set


Option 2 - wrap bracelet


Option 3 - long necklace

Please hop on over to the other designers and see what they made!

life * love * beads

September Artisan Component Design Challenge

So I’m in a LOT of buying/selling groups on Facebook – mostly for beads, components and other pretty shiny things that I probably spend way too much money on!  About a month ago, on the Artisan Component Marketplace a giveaway was announced by Kari Asbury.  Simple to enter, just comment and then you got an extra entry for sharing the post.   I was one of the lucky recipients of the giveaway! The other 3 were: Betony Maiden, Robin Reed and Carolyn of Carolyn’s Creations.

This is what we were sent:

Components we were sent.

Components we were sent.

Each wood piece is unique so mine looks slightly different but you get the idea….they are created by Burl Girl and can be found here.  The colorful ceramic beads are made by Okawa African Beads and can be found here.

So first came the easy part – going through my stash and pulling out anything that even looked like it would match.  To me, each component in the kit didn’t seem to fit, except the wood and the rolo chain.  So I had already created 3 design piles in my head – now to add to them!

Components I gathered to go with the wood and rolo chain

Components I gathered to go with the wood and rolo chain

The wood piece immediately screamed “fall!” to me so I started pulling out oranges, browns and reds. As you can see I ended up with quite a handful of things to work with.

Components I gathered to go with the sari silk length

Components I gathered to go with the sari silk length

The sari silk seemed to match this pendant I have been hoarding for a few years now – I bought it originally with 11 others, each a different color, as part of what I called my “color exploration series” because I caught myself always turning towards the same type of colors.  After I bought it – the design I had wanted for it just didn’t seem to “work” so it’s been in my stash of artisan components (which is growing bigger every month).

After gathering what I had in my stash I started “building” the pieces in my head – seeing what things I needed and didn’t have, made a list on my phone then off I went to my LBS to get what I needed.  The following is what I came up with :

This is probably the easiest of all the designs – the sari silk was made to be a necklace!  I combined it with an amethyst bead by Kristie Brigham of Sculpted Windows.  My original design idea when I purchased the bead just didn’t work for me and I’m not one to force designs – if it doesn’t work I’d rather take the time to rip the design apart then be unhappy with it.

The sari silk is twisted with a white length of silk to accent the focal.  A swarovksi tassle, combining all the colors of swarovski on the amethyst, helped finish the design.  The crystals are on sterling silver headpins.  The pendant is on sterling filled wire and the S-clasp is plated.  The matching earrings combine the purple and white as well, and have a tiny 3 mm amethyst swarovski at the top.  Lampwork is by Susan Wehner.

The earrings

The earrings – lampwork by Susan Wehner, accented 3mm amethyst swarovski, finished with sterling headpins and earwires

The necklace

The necklace – this was probably the easiest of the designs – it all just fell together wonderfully. 

Closeup of the necklace

Closeup of the necklace – sterling headpins, swarovski crystals, pendant by Kristie Brigham of Sculpted Windows

This design was a little harder – I knew I wanted to go “fall” with this one, but couldn’t decide the exact direction I was looking for.  I pictured a filled netting as the necklace and it just seemed TOO blingy and thick for the centerpiece – but the lacquer on the wood screamed for some kind of shine – just not TOO much.  So I grabbed some greek leather cord when I was at the LBS, as well as an antiqued copper clasp.  This was the original design:  I have antique copper beads on either side of the wood piece, topped with lampwork by Jennifer Powers and a beaded bead by yours truly (this actually had to be made twice because on the first the RAW base was too wobbly, and when I decided to remake it the necklace was already assembled like this so I had to cut it off and weave it back onto the necklace directly). The knot above the beaded bead is a Celtic knot, done with 2 lengths (each side of the necklace). It was my first attempt at this so I’m really proud of myself.

The chain is what is throwing me off.  I really wanted to include it with the wood because it matched so well, but I just couldn’t make it happen, it seemed ok until I took these pics, then I was so not for it.

The original design

The original design

So off came the chain and I like it a lot better:


The final design

Closeup of the beaded bead

Closeup of the beaded bead

The earrings - lampwork discs by Jennifer Powers, rondelles by Susan Wehner

The earrings – lampwork discs by Jennifer Powers, rondelles by Susan Wehner.  knotted on greek leather cord, hanging from antique copper earwires

I also made another set of earrings that could be worn with the necklace…once I had taken the chain off the necklace I needed to do something with it!


"Mixed metal" earrings

The Okawa beads also stumped me a bit – this is what I came up with – though I’m not sure I’m happy with it – it’ll do for now but I’m probably looking at a “redo” somewhere down the road.  I hand knotted 5 mm white leather cord, and found some Greek ceramic beads that matched the ones sent wonderfully:

The Okawa beads

The Okawa beads


Leather Feather Blog Hop

This hop is hosted by Rachel Mallis, who made and graciously provided the “feathers”. You can find her post here. The feathers were a component Rachel has used before and thought she’d challenge us to use! They have really cool burnt edges.

Rachel gave us the choice of one or two holes for our feathers, I chose two because I knew I’d want to dangle something and still want the hole to connect to the ear wire.

Here is what I was sent:


Here is what I made:





They have a very “bohemian” feel which isn’t my norm.  All of the beads were ones I got while on vaca at the end of July. I believe they all came in a grab bag from Caravan Beads.  There’s a pearl, pressed glass flower and a hemitite-like bead.  The latter was the hardest to string because I used a thicker cord (like for kumihimo).  I actually had to pull out my dremel!  I’m still not sure about the attachment to the earring wires, but that’s for another day!


SUMMER 2016 UPDATE – these have been reworked and I’m happy with them



Hop the rest of the participants:

Rachel Mallis (host) http://www.mintmonarch.com/

Inge von Roos https://ingetraud.wordpress.com/

Lori Blanchard  YOU ARE HERE

Linda Anderson http://fromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com

Deb Fortin http://www.mhotistudio.blogspot.ca

Rebecca Robertson White http://morganafeycreations.121hub.com/#sec-blog

Lucy Bejarano http://lucybejaranojewelry.blogspot.com

Jenny Kyrlach http://anafiassa.blogspot.com/

Marina Rios http://fancifuldevices.blogspot.com/

Georgie Marcu https://instagram.com/nearlylostjewelry/

Christina Taylor http://www.dreamcatjewelry.wordpress.com