Sunday, December 30, 2012

7000 Bracelets Part 2!

When I first signed up for the 7000 Bracelets Blog Hop, a light bulb went off in my head. Sometimes this can be dangerous, but this time, it was definitely a positive!

My students are required to do community service hours as part of the junior year curriculum. Some of them have a hard time getting to volunteer sites due to family obligations, transportation issues, etc. Having them be able to make bracelets to donate to 7000 Bracelets seemed like a perfect opportunity to allow students to help others, while having fun.

 The students who volunteered will have to write a paper that includes a description of 7000 Bracelets for Hope and what it stands for. The universal appeal of beads was evident as the students loved digging through the huge pile of beads I had bought, looking for their favorites!

While you can't see the ends of the bracelets in these photos, they were all finished off with a lobster claw clasp, and a short length of chain, so that they would be adjustable. This batch of bracelets was sent off to the organization this past week and they should have them by now (fingers crossed that USPS came through!!).

And the good news is that I will have a second shipment of bracelets to send after we get back for the holidays. I still have some bracelets that need to be finished off and a couple of the students need to do a hour or two more service. I'm hoping that we will be able to send at least 50 bracelets this year!

Lastly, I sent in one more bracelet that I created, a simple macrame. There were also some friendship bracelets made for children, but I didn't get a picture of those. :(  My students seemed to enjoy making those because they knew they would be going to children!

I am so proud of the students that decided to volunteer for 7000 Bracelets. It's good for young people to know that they can make someone else happy, even if it's through something as seemingly simple as creating a piece of jewelry. I am hoping to run this opportunity next year if I can get some of the local bead stores to donate to the cause. This way, I can open the opportunity up to even more students!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

7000 Bracelets for Hope Blog Hop Reveal!

Wow, I knew it had been a little bit since my last post, but I didn't realize it had almost been a month! When life gets crazy, it gets crazy!

Thankfully, I signed up to participate in a blog hop for 7000 Bracelets for Hope, an organization that provides blue bracelets to those and their families that are living with rare genetic diseases.

I enjoy doing blog hops as I view them as a challenge to force myself to try something new, or at least something different. I have been becoming more interested in fibers and micro-macrame lately, so I decided I was going to create a fiber-based bracelet for this blog hop. And as I had just received some yummy blue hemp, I figured it was meant to be!

So I broke out my "Shamballa" micro-macrame tutorial that I had purchased from Hannah Rosner and went to town. I had bought some pretty deep blue gemstones at Bead Fest, so they formed the beaded part of my bracelet. The rest is the blue hemp, a couple of seed beads and a whole lotta knots!

Love It!

I love this bracelet! It's the first time I made something with an adjustable slider like this, and I plan on using this technique a LOT! The tutorial calls for square knots, but I knew I wanted the twisted look to add some flair, so I am happy I went with my vision on that. I am amazed at how quickly the bracelet went together, so I won't have to be sad that I am sending this one in to donate--I can just make myself another one!

Please check out the creations from the other participants in the 7000 Bracelets Blog Hop:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pay It Forward: Gift from Terra Beadworks!

I signed up to participate in a Pay It Forward event that will be on-going throughout the year. While I am still in the midst of creating and dreaming up something pretty for the three wonderful people who signed up to receive a gift from me, I have received my first gift!

I had signed up to join in the Pay It Forward event on Katherine Gale's blog, Terra Beadworks. Katherine was a sweetheart. She contacted me, saying life had been crazy, and would I mind, as my pay it forward gift, a selection of beads?

Seriously? You're asking a bead addict if they would mind more beads? Could there be anything that would make me happier?

So delicious!!!

So here is the gorgeous assortment of beads Katherine sent. She knew I liked purple, and threw in perfectly coordinating pinks and blues! Since she also included in the gift two toggles, and some focals, I am going to attack this bevy of beads as a "bead soup" and use them together to create some pretties. There are so many cool polymer clay beads in the selection, I will be able to make some really unique pieces! I will be sure to share these creations with you when I get them completed!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

WINNING! My beautiful prize from Sherri Stokey

Sometimes, you just hit it lucky.

As part of the launch of Artisan Whimsy, an all-encompassing jewelry social media site, I entered a give-away for one of Sherri Stokey's micro-macrame bracelets. They are a-ma-zing. And I won! I WON!

Call me Khaleesi--I have my Dragon!!

Isn't it stunning??? This is not your grandma's macrame! I have to say that Sherri told me she makes these to order--and I still received mine lightning fast! I was amazed at how quickly she completed and sent my bracelet; and if this is how great her service is for a donation, I can't imagine how wonderful she is when you order from her!

So if you want a truly unique, gorgeous, handmade item to adorn your wrist, check out Sherri's shop, Know Just Macrame!  Tell her Rachel sent you! :)

Gorgeousness with Dragons!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kalmbach Bead Soup Party!

This past summer, I took part in the gigantic Bead Soup Blog Hop, hosted by Lori Anderson (check out what I made here). Little did I know, Lori was in the process of being published by Kalmbach Publishing Co.--she had created a book of gorgeous blog hop creations entitled, Bead Soup: 32 Projects Show What Happens When 26 Beaders Swap Their Stash. As part of the promotion for the book, Kalmbach had arranged for local bead stores to donate some bead soups, which they sent some lucky beaders...and I was one of the lucky ones!

My soup comes from Just Beading Around, a bead shop located in Epping, New Hampshire.

My beautiful, delicious, soup!
I have to admit right off the bat that I did not do the gorgeous wire-wrapping on the focal--I was again lucky, because it came that way! I decided I wanted to take the wire-wrapping idea and use it gently in the design. I love wire wrapped jewelry, so I was excited by the idea...and discovered that I much prefer to have others wrap the wire! I give kudos to all of the wire-workers out there--I wish I had their patience and fine motor skills!

I also decided I wanted to use the soup completely, and with very few, if any, additions. The beads I were sent were so beautiful together, I feel like I was, again, very lucky! Because of the large focal, I knew I was destined to make a without further ado, here is my Bead Soup Book Creation:

The finished piece!

A very simple design, but I think it is gorgeous. I feel like the beads were meant to be this way! I love the weight of the necklace and how the wire-wrapped links go along with the beautiful focal, yet allow the focal to still shine. I didn't add any beads from my own stash--this is all due to the beautiful beads sent to me by Just Beading Around.

The only bad part about the necklace, is the design did call for the pretty toggle to have to be in the back, so here is a close up of the closure:

The lovely gold-tone clasp
And just in case you can't see how lovely the focal really is, here is a close up. It has light veins and specks of a green-grey hue, which are so pretty!

Fabulous focal!

I want to thank Kalmbach Publishing for arranging this fun and generous promotion. I would also like to thank the beading fairies that helped me to get lucky enough to have my name drawn as a participant!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Four ways to help find true artisan-made lampwork beads!

One some of the online groups I frequent, I have seen people asking how they can try to weed out the mass-produced glass beads from the artisan made lampwork beads. Sadly, two of the largest online sites, ebay and Etsy, are FULL of the imports (yes, even our “handmade” ally Etsy has allowed the mass-produced beads to infiltrate the site, mainly by turning a blind eye to reported importers, but that's another post).

This is my own simple advice to help sort through the mass of listings as efficiently as possible, while allowing a buyer to focus on beads they can be reasonably assured are made by a single artist. I know I run the risk of possibly offending someone, so I apologize now, unless you are a reseller of imported beads hiding as an artisan...then you deserve to be upset with me.

1. Use SRA to search

SRA stands for self-representing artist, and is a term that is used throughout the arts. However, large numbers of lampwork bead and jewelry artists took to using that term as part of their fight against the influx of cheap, mass-produced products that invaded ebay a few years back. Now, it is true that anyone can claim to be a self-representing artist, so it is not a perfect way to insure that the beads you are looking at were made by a single artist. Also know that not every artist uses this term in their listings. However, it will help to weed out a lot of the re-sellers and focus your search.

An example from my shop: the letters "SRA" are added to every title

2. Look at the number of listings

Unless an artist has built up a considerable inventory or has a great number of made-to-order items, the average lampwork artist can not crank out a hundreds of beads a day...and have the time to clean the beads, photograph the beads, and list the beads, and ship the beads....well, you get the idea. There are some very prolific lampworkers out there, but even they rarely have a hundred listing of ready-to-ship beads.

3. Look closely at the beads

If the beads look really familiar, take pause. Now it may be that they are simply a popular style. But if you swear you have seen the beads before, do some more research. A popular tactic of the resellers is to use stock photos of popular sets. So you may really have seen the exact same picture before (I won't even get into the fact that resellers have actually stolen artist-taken photographs of beads for their websites—just know that it has been done and more than once!)

These beads look familiar from Etsy or Ebay? They might...even though they are actually from a major re-seller!

4. Pay attention to the following:

  • Does the seller mention that the beads are kiln annealed? (yes, it makes a difference)
  • Does the seller mention anything about their studio?
  • Does the seller mention that they personally make the beads (not “design” them, which is a clue someone else makes them)

Using all of these tactics together can help you figure out if you are dealing with artisan-made beads, or dealing with a re-seller trying to pass them off as artist made. They aren't foolproof, but they can help you in your search. Any other advice out there we can give to help our customers find our handmade beads amongst the mass-produced?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beads of Courage Challenge Results

I just wanted to share the results of the Beads of Courage Challenge that I had the pleasure of participating in on September 15th. I joined other lovely lampworkers at Expressive Glass Studio, just outside of Buffalo, NY. Here is the cache of beads that were created!

Photo Courtesy of Vicki Schneider, owner of Expressive Glass
Taking part in this event was a joy--not only did I get to connect with other lampworkers, which is rare for me, but knowing that my work would be touching the lives of children made it even more special.

I would love to hear from other lampworkers who may have taken part in the bead challenge! Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your blog post, so we can all see how many beautiful beads were made for the children!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Earrings, earrings and more earrings!

While at BeadFest, I bought a lot of great artisan made beads--especially clay beads! Since I've gotten back, the only thing I've felt compelled to make have been earrings...but who can blame me when I have such pretty beads to work with? Here are snapshots of my most recent creations, all of which are available in my Etsy shop!

Blue Butterfly Wing

Blue Bell


Purple Cogs
Thanks for looking!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bead of Courage Bead Challenge

I am taking part in the Beads of Courage Bead Challenge, this Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. I will be melting glass at Expressive Glass studio outside of Buffalo, NY.

Children who participate in the Beads of Courage program are undergoing treatment for various cancers and other chronic illnesses. When they show courage during their treatment, they are allowed to select an artist-made bead to add to their strand, so they have a visible, meaningful reminder of their own strength. You can read the specifics about Beads of Courage on their website.

I figured a lot of bead lovers, and some bead makers check out my I would love to spread the word about Beads of Courage by encouraging you to check out their mission and the many ways you can help this great organization! Even though this one is a "glass" event, Beads of Courage accepts donations of other beads, as long as they are safe for use by the children they serve. So if you work in clay or glass, or have some extra beads of those type that are looking for a new home, consider donating them to Beads of Courage!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Enameling Fun!

I wanted to post the results of my second class taken at Bead Fest, and enameling class with Gail Crosman Moore.

I have to say that Gail was a phenomenal teacher--her enthusiasm is infectious! She made me feel like I could actually have fun and experiment, rather than being worried if I was going to be able to make anything worth bragging about!

I have never played with enamels before, even with my lampwork. I own a small bottle of Orchid from Thomson Enamels, which I have never opened. So I was really walking in with no experience, but we were going to be able to play with a torch, and that is right up my alley!

Like any new technique, there was a learning curve...I figured out pretty quick that some of the components wouldn't work as good as the others...and I realized I needed to be more generous with my heat. You can see some of the pieces that didn't turn out so well below.

It's a learning curve, right?

Now a few, I really loved. While they aren't at the point where I would use them in a piece of jewelry I plan on selling, I can see the definite improvement from the first few pieces I wrestled with.

Now, for the ugly. I mean, really ugly.

Non-intentional fiber art?
That, my friends, is what you get when you drop a hot brass component on a piece of carpeting. Or maybe it's a new type of component: the polyester-glazed bead. What the above was supposed to look like was more like this:

That's a little bit prettier. And a lot less furry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pay It Forward Handmade

A number of Handmade artists are participating in a handmade Pay It Forward event. In it, we promise to gift three pieces to three lucky commenters...and in exchange, they must pay it forward by doing the same on their own blogs!

I am joining by way of Terra Beadworks. Please check out her lovely beadwork and jewelry!

Here are the rules if you would like to join my Pay It Forward:

I will send a surprise gift to the first three people to comment on this post. The gift will be a handmade surprise by me and I will send it to you sometime in the next 365 days. All you need to do is the following: 

1) Leave me a comment and include your email address (if your profile doesn’t link back) so I can get in touch with you about your mailing address and some other information about yourself. I want to make sure I send you something you will like and cherish!

2) To complete signing up, you MUST blog a similar post and pledge to make a surprise for the first 3 people who comment on it. I would appreciate you posting within the next three days, so I know for certain who I will be creating for!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Hop Giveaway!

I can't believe it's September 1st! I assigned numbers to those that commented on my Bead Soup Blog Hop Reveal post, and then used the random number generator at to choose the lucky winners!

The earrings go to Jo of Jojo Beads!

Our new home will be across the pond!

And the bracelet goes to Terri of Blooming Ideas!

If the winners could please email me (address is in my profile), and let me know their mailing address, I will send these pieces on to their new homes! Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and look at my work!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bead Enemy No. 1

Last night, I was working on the computer when I heard caterwauling...which is not unusual, because whenever my cat, Gordon, re-kills the fake mouse I bought for him, he lets *everyone* know about it. Then I heard thumping...again not too unusual, but my cat's 15, has thyroid cancer, and has made me believe he is within an inch of death on numerous occasions (can you say drama king?).

Then I heard tumbling down the stairs. So either he got so excited by killing a fake mouse that he took a tumble while celebrating, or something else was going on.

Something else was going on.

I go up the first flight of stairs and spied his of my brand new artisan-made polymer clay beads! The nerve of him! By then, he was no where to be found, so I hiked up the second flight to my work area...where I found the little imp coveting a stash of beads he had spilled off my bead table...all over the carpet. As I picked up *my* beads, he had to nerve to start screaming at bead is safe.

I wish I had thought to grab my camera when he was in the midst of his bead-induced frenzy...he was like a furry little precioussssss....

So I found a picture that most suits his criminal nature. This is Bead Enemy No.1!

oooh, my precioussssss

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Hop Reveal!!

The day is finally here for my reveal in the Bead Soup Blog Hop, hosted by the lovely Lori Anderson! The rules were we had to use the clasp and focal sent to us, though not necessarily in the same piece. We had the option of using the coordinating beads.

 I was matched up with fellow designer, Menka Gupta, from sunny California! As a reminder, here is what Menka sent to me:

Faceted agate & some faceted gemstones

Dyed agate focal and silver & copper clasp

Silver links and bicones

I love green, but I find that I don't work with it very as a main color, so I was thrilled to see Menka sent me a "green" soup! I wanted to use the blog hop as a way to help stretch my skills, and part of that is being forced to break out of the colors you are most comfortable using!

Ironically, the first piece I made, was not "green" but pink! I fell in love with the silver links, and was holding them in my hands when I imagined they would make a good frame for a dangle. I had just picked up some pink acrylic beads that were the juiciest color of pink.

Next, I found myself looking at the larger faceted agate beads, and envisioned them on simple copper wire-wrapped links.

However, I wanted a little more color, so I added some green seed beads to the silver jump rings that connect the links. It's subtle, but enough to make the bracelet a bit more interesting. In this piece, I used the silver and copper clasp. The drape of this bracelet on your wrist is so elegant!


I struggled a bit with the focal...because of my own limitations in skill. I had tons of ideas, and wished that I could magically do beadweaving, or some funky stitches...I then had a design pop into my head as I was falling asleep last week! I tried wrapping the focal to some gunmetal chain, with more seed beads and some of the small faceted gemstones as well. It looked beautiful in my head...but not so pretty in person. So I pulled it all apart, using a few choice words.

I then went back to what I know and strung some seed beads on two different lengths of wire...I wanted an unique drape to showcase the focal. I was going to add a third strand, but when I held it up to my neck to test it, just two strands looked a lot more striking and allowed the focal to be the, well, focal.

I apologize that the photo isn't as good as the other two pieces--I pulled out my necklace display, and I must have dragged it along something, because it looks like someone took an axe to it! (Note to self: buy new display). So I had to hold the necklace up, so it would drape properly, with one hand, while I took the photo with the other. And while it drapes perfectly while on, I didn't want to make you all have to stare at an up close shot of my neck ;) I finished the necklace with the gunmetal chain I had cursed at earlier, and it just goes over your head--no clasp.

To thank everyone who visits, I am hosting a giveaway of the earrings and the bracelet (two separate giveaways). I am going to hold onto the necklace, because, in my heart, I have a feeling I am going to still work a bit more with it! To enter, just leave a comment waaaay down at the bottom of this post, and make sure you say if you prefer one over the other. I will assign everyone a number, and then use a random number generator to pick the winner on September 1st!

 Now, please visit the rest of the 3rd reveal participants to see some lovely creations!

Hostess, Lori Anderson, Pretty Things

Agi Kiss,
Moonsafari Beads 
Alice Peterson,
Alice Dreaming
Alison Sachs, Beads by Earthtones
Amanda Dittloff, Passion Smashin'
Andra Marasteanu, Bijoux de Monanage
Angie Szlovak, SweetBeads
Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
Ann Sherwood, Ann's Blog
Arlene Dean, A Glass Bash
Audrey Belanger, Dreams of an Absolution
Barb Solem, Vivi Magoo Presents

Barbara Blaszczyk, laboratorim Flory
Bianca Odenthal, Zydies Glasperlen
Birgit Klughardt, GitesBeads
Bobbie Rafferty,
Beadsong Jewelry
Bonnie Coursolle, 
Jasper Gems
Cece Cormier,
The Beading Yogini
Charlene Jacka,
Clay Space
Cherrie Fick,
EnLa Lumie're
Cheryl Foiles,
Get Your Bead On
Christie Murrow,
Charis Designs Jewelry

Christina Miles,
Wings n Scales
Christina Stofmeel,
Feng Beads
Christine Stonefield,
Sweet Girl Design
Cindy Cima Edwards,
Live to Design
CJ Bauschka,
4 His Glory Creations
Claire Smith,
Embergrass Jewelry
Cynthia Riggs,
Cynth's Blog
Dana Fowler,
Trunk Full of Treasure
Dawn Pierro,
Turtle Moon Designs
Dee Elgie,
Cherry Obsidia
Donetta Farrington,
Simply Gorgeous

Dot Lewallwn,
Speedie Beadie
Elizabeth Bunn,
Elizabeth Beads
Eva Kovacs,
Ewa gyongyos vilaga!
Evelyn Duberry,
Sheba Makeda
Fay Wolfenden,
Torch Fairy
Fen Li,
Bead Flora Jewels
Gail Zwang,
Angel Moose Enterprises
Geneva Collins,
Torque Story
Grace Dorsey,
Fan of the Flame
Gretchen Nation, 
Art Food Lodging

Hannah Annear,
Hajer Waheed,
My Beaded World
Heather Goldsmith,
As I Bead It
Heather Otto,
The Craft Hopper
Heidi Kingman,
My Bead Therapy
Hope Smitherman,
Crafty Hope
Isolina Perez,
Isolina Perez
Jacqueline Keller,
Jane Haag,
Did You Make Something Today?
Janeen Sorensen,
Wild Vanilla Designs
Jean Peter,
Jean P. Designs

Jennifer Judd,
Jen Judd Rocks
Jennifer L Justman,
Soul's Fire Designs
Joanna Matuszczyk,
Bizuteria z filcu
Joanne Brown,
Jo's Jewels
Joanne Lockwood,
Jo Bunkum
Joyce Becker,
Joyce's Joyful Gems
Judy Riley,
Three Red Beads
Karen Mitchell,
Over the Moon Design
Karen Williams,
Karin von Hoeren,
Creative Ideen

Karla Morgan,
Texas Pepper Jams
Kashmira Patel,
Sadafule .. always in bloom!
Kate Richbourg,
We Can Make That at Home

Katrin Lembke,
Kathy Combs,
Torched in Texas
Kathy Lindemer,
Bay Moon Design
Kay Thomerson,
Kayz Kreationz
Kelley Fogle,
My Life, One Bead at at Time
Kelly Hosford Patterson,
Traveling Side Show

Klaudette Koon,
Only Road
Lara Lutrick,
Lampwork Beads by Lara
Laura Guenther,
Blue Antiquities

Laurie Lalonde,
Simply Mod Jewelry
Lilik Kristiani,
Soul of My Embodiment
Linda Younkman,
Lindy's Designs
Lisa Chapman,
Beach Cat Beads
Lisa Lodge,
Pine Ridge Treasures
Loretta Carstensen,
Designs by Loretta
Lori Bergmann,
Lori Bergmann Design
Lori Dorrington,
Lori's Adventures in Etsy Land
Lupe Meter,
Gem's PC Corner
Lynn Davis,

Malin de Koning,
Beading by Malin
Mandi Effron,
Mandy Williamson,
Mimi's Beading
Margot Potter,
The Impatient Crafter
Maria Rosa Sharrow,
Willow Street Shops
Marianne Baxter,
Simply Seablime Jewelry
Marina Dobrynina,
Savon Feutre
Marjolein Trewavas,
Room for Change
Marelene Cupo,
Amazing Designs
Marsha Neal,
Marsha Neal Studio

Marta Kaczerowska,
Mary Govaars,
MLH Jewelry Designs
Melissa Trudinger,
Bead Recipes
This is my partner!
---> Menka Gupta, Menka's Jewelry Blog
Michelle Burnett,
Reverie and Revival
Michelle Escano-Caballero,
The Cabby Crafter
Miko Wiropati,
Uniquely Yunikua
Milla Hope, 
LB Creative Arts and Crafts
Mimi Gardner,
Other Curiosities
Miranda Ackerley,
Natalie McKenna,

Noemi Baena,
fuego, metal, y color
Pam Ferrari,
Ferrari Originals
Pam Sears,
Crazy Creative Corner
Penny Neville,
Copper Penny
Rachel Baron,
R. Baron Designs
Rachel Myers,
Rockabead Jewelry
Rana Wilson,
Definitive Designs by R. Wilson
Rebecca Anderson,
Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag,
Becca's Place
Riki Schumacher,
Riki Jewelry

Rose Binoya,
Ahtee's Blog
Rossana De Gaspari,
Rdegas Blog
Sally Anderson,
Wild Sally Road
Sandi James,
Do Be Do Bead Do
Sandi Volpe,
Sandi Volpe
Sandra Wollberg,
City of Brass Stories
Sarah Goode,

Sarah Small,
blog by salla
Shai Williams,
Shaiha's Ramblings
Shawn Mills,
Shawn Marie Designs with Bent Wire
Sheila Davis,
Stone Designs by Sheila

Sheryl Stephens,
Babble Bead
Shiraz Biggie,
Secret Song Designs
Solange Collin, 
Ahowin Handcrafted Jewelry
Sonya Stille,
Dreamin' of Beads
Stephanie Dixon,
The Dixon Chick
Susan Kennedy,
Sue Beads
Susan Sheehan,
Strands of Thought
Suzann Sladcik Wilson,
Sweet Freedom,
Sweet Freedom Designs
Tabatha Dinger,
Modernly Created
Tania Hagen,
Pelima Jewellery Design

Tanya Boden,
Fusion Muse
Terri Gauthier,
Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter,
Tapping Flamingo
Tracy Stillman,
Tracy Stillman Designs