| Something Old to New!
For Christmas and other gift giving times, my mother likes to give my niece jewelry from her old stash, some of her mother's and grandmother'st too! My niece is very into vintage clothing and jewelry so this is just her thing.
I was just going through my email from the weekend and was hit with more beautiful pictures of embellished ladder stitch bracelets! I am not sure I have ever made a video with such a pictorial response! It is so amazing that you all continue to encourage me with the videos...
How I took a suggestion as a challenge!
Part of my daily Auntie's Beads routine, is to pop on my Facebook and check out what everyone is doing. I also check to see if there are any questions and the like that need my attention. Well I found one on Tuesday...
Spark Your Creativity with a Beading Challenge
Do you ever find your creative juices needs a little boost? Need to get over a dreaded case of "beader's block"? Take some advice from our guest blogger Mortira and give yourself a beading challenge!
Do you brainstorm with others when contemplating a design, about a new finding or bead? In her latest blog post, Karla says two heads can definitely be better than one when it comes to beading design inspiration!
Well as most of you know by now, that is if you are on Facebook, I have hurt myself…well really, why did I think I could roller skate after uh um..25 plus years...
Do you think in Beads?
Do you think in Beads? I posted as my status the other day on Facebook, that I thought if I hit my head with my hand, beads might roll out my ear. Seriously...
Welcome Back, Karla!
Auntie's Beads is happy to welcome back the ever popular Karla Schafer! Check out her Project of the Week, chat with her on Facebook, and more. And yes, we do plan to get her busy doing new project videos, by popular demand. Read More
Did you know that if you shop at Auntie's Beads you are automatically enrolled in our Rewards Program? No signing up, no hassles, just start earning and saving with every purchase. Every dollar you spend, earn a rewards point. Redeem your rewards points for actual beads and jewelry making supplies! It's simple! No gimmicks. Just spend a dollar- earn a point. Save them up, then spend them on the things you really want- BEADS!
What a Trip! Part 2
Wednesday morning in Tucson, after a 24 hour travel fiasco, we finally hit the bead shows! We got some really cute new steampunk items, like this vintage looking key charm and this adorable clock pendant. The cool thing about the clock is we are also going to sell a bar separately, so you can buy and use it as a toggle or alone as a charm
! Choices are good!
What a Trip! Part 1
Well! Going to Tucson was really quite an adventure. First, we had what I think qualifies as a BLIZZARD in North Texas, as I'm sure you all know since the super bowl was held here last night and people were all worried about getting in and out of town for it. So when did this lovely winter storm decide to hit? The day we were schedule to fly to Tucson! Yikes! It certainly didn't make the trip easy, but it did make it interesting.
Tucson here we come! - Win a FREE Swarovski Grab Bag!
While this time of year may be best known to some for football (blah!) it's best known to us for the Gem Stone and Bead Show in Tucson, Arizona! Susie and I are heading out on a 6:45 AM flight tomorrow morning to go shop for gemstones, learn some new beading techniques and attend Swarovski's annual party!
FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Approved Beads ... What?
Nope, they're not for snacking. They're a precaution for your children's health. Apparently, there is a demand for beaded jewelry that is kid-friendly. Anyone who has a very little one knows that a shiny bauble in a child's hands is also likely to end up in their mouth.
The Daily Grind
So this is my desk. Part of it, anyway. My boss puts these sticky notes on there as a non-confrontational way of telling me what to do...
Create Your Own Holiday Necklaces
I love love love cutesy holiday stuff. Well anything tiny and adorable really. I can't help it, I find it irresistable. So for this approaching holiday season, I decided to use our Create Your Own line of ......
10 Common Beading Problems
Let's start the week off right- with a new blog post! This is a collection of some of the most common questions our designers get. Maybe we can help you avoid trouble before you run into it.....
Beads of Courage
I was surfing the web this morning and I stumbled upon some information about a very heart warming organization called Beads of Courage. Members include glass bead makers, bead shop owners and many other beading community members, who all share a sense of altruism and a passion for creativity.
The California organization focuses on helping children who suffer from pediatric cancer. They give each sick child a piece of string with letter beads
spelling out their name. Then, each child is allowed to pick out a glass bead
, from a large donated collection, to commemorate certain milestones in their treatment- a red bead for a blood transfusion, a white bead for a chemotherapy treatment, etc. The beads the children receive represent a kind of medal of honor as they go through their treatment journey. They watch their necklace grow in length as they complete more treatment goals, reminding them of their strength and accomplishments.
Members of the organization commented that they were amazed of the beading ritual's profound effect on the children. While they expected the small bead gifts to be a nice treat for the younger children, they were surprised and inspired by adolescent patients' application of deep meaning to each bead and usage of the ritual as a rite of passage.
For information in general or to donate to Beads of Courage, contact:
Director of Development
Beads of Courage, Inc.
Auntie's Beads Designer
Life Lessons Learned from a Bead Board
Those of us who are beadaholics know that part of the addiction to making jewelry comes from the fact that you never stop learning. Whether you are exploring a new technique, tool, medium, or material, it seems as though there is always something to discover. I have noticed in my years of designing that beading has taught me a lot about myself and a lot of valuable lessons that can be applied not just to my bead board but to life in general.
A few things I have learned along the way:
1. Frustration only breeds more frustration. Have you ever noticed that the more frustrated you get, the more negative you get, and the more this whole cycle of frustration and negativity hampers your creativity? The things we tell ourselves when we feel like we can’t do something are the very things that block us from being able to do that something. The solution: walk away from the bead board and return when you feel refreshed, relaxed, and more positive about yourself and your work.
2. Patience really is a virtue. Most people assume that designers—or creative types of any kind—are always “on” and just have those creative juices flowing all the time. This just simply isn’t true. I can’t tell you how many times I have had an idea in my head only to find that the piece isn’t working out quite the way I envisioned it or only to find that the pattern I am working on just isn’t going to measure out the way it should. All the creativity in the world won’t help solve the problem; patience is the only real solution. My favorite, most original pieces have come from a perfect fusion of creativity and patience.
3. Work from your strengths, not from your weaknesses. A few months ago, we went through a strengths training workshop to discover what really moved, motivated, and inspired us. This changed the way I thought about beading—and life. Admittedly, I am not a person who likes repetition so I don’t like creating the same finished piece over and over again nor do I like making long necklaces (especially if they are straight strung or wire wrapped). Knowing what I don’t enjoy frees me to concentrate on the things I do love so I can grow and further my knowledge in those areas. I learned that it is okay not to be a jack-of-all-trades and it is perfectly fine to spend more time doing what you love.
One of the biggest perks of my job (besides being amongst beautiful beads all day long!) is hearing from people whose lives have been touched by the amazing rewards beading can bring. What life lessons have you learned from your experience as a beader? When you walk away from your bead board, what emotions do you have when you have finished a piece that has that “wow” factor? Share your experiences with me—and your fellow beaders—by commenting below!
Shanna Steele, Auntie’s Beads Designer
Important Beading Lessons I’ve Learned So Far
In the past month or so, I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with beading, and I don’t see that love fading anytime soon. But like any passionate relationship, there have been times when my beads and I haven’t gotten along so well. I find myself occasionally throwing a nipper tool across the room or yelling curse words at innocent little seed beads. Still, slowly but surely, I have learned tidbit after tidbit that has made my bead blunders fewer and farer between. I thought I would list a few beginner beading tips here and maybe save some poor ring mandrel out there from bead-abuse.
1. Always over-estimate the amount of beading wire or chain you’re going to need. I’ve had to pull off my beads and start over with a longer piece a few too many times.
2. Crimp covers can be your best friend. They are easy to use (just use your pliers to squeeze them over your crimp bead) and hide the ugly part.
3. When you’re working with wire, run it through your hands a few times first. This is supposed to warm the wire and make it more flexible. I don’t know about that, but it’s important to show it who’s boss.
4. On that note, wire wrapping is difficult. Be patient with yourself and remember that it will take practice. Be ready to end up throwing away a little bit of weird looking, kinked wire. You might want to use the cheaper stuff when you’re first learning.
5. After you crimp your wire at the end of a necklace or bracelet, string it back through the first several beads. This makes your piece stronger and helps hide where you trimmed off excess wire.
6. Ever wondered how you tie off a piece of elastic so it won’t come apart? Well I did. Turns out you just tie a regular knot, but you put a few drops of strong glue (like hypo cement) on top to secure it.
7. Be an organized beader. It will relieve your stress. You can get little plastic bead organizers all over the place (I got a few from Wal-Mart for around 4 dollars). Put your gold jump/split rings in one compartment, your silver in another, separate your crimp beads and your crimp covers by color. Put your Swarovski Crystal in one compartment and your Czech glass in another… you get the picture.
Good luck and happy beading.
Kelly McCoy, Auntie’s Beads Designer
Been There, Done That
In my last blog, I talked about the roots of what can only be described as a lifelong beading adventure. Having been a beader off and on for about 15 years now (and having more money at some times than others to invest in my hobby), I have learned a few things about the do’s and don’ts of jewelry making. The following are a few tips and rules for those of you just starting out on your beading journey.
1. Always use high quality crimp beads. Whether you are using silver or gold, try to avoid anything plated or anything that is not tube-like in its appearance. The plated crimp beads are okay for making simple illusion necklaces, but are not sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of your beaded jewelry.
2. Do not sacrifice quality for price when it comes to beading wire. Although 49-strand wire may seem expensive, in the long run it will save you time, money, and frustration from having to recreate pieces that have fallen apart due to the use of less durable wire. And although Supplemax is a great product for creating illusion necklaces and woven pieces, it is not sturdy enough to hold strands of beads. Neither is Fireline. (I speak from my experience and the experience of others on this one!)
3. Use the most project appropriate findings and clasps possible in your pieces. It is embarrassing to admit but when I began making jewelry again, I used beading wire and crimped the bottom so it would act as headpin. Though this may seem creative, it was actually not very attractive or very sturdy. And clasps… Don’t even get me started! I used to buy my clasps in bulk and I used the same clasp on every piece of jewelry I made, whether it was delicate or bold and chunky. Now I cringe when I see those old pieces with those plain silver plate toggles. Also, when choosing a clasp, you will want to keep in mind what the finished piece will be. I generally use a lobster and chain at the back of necklaces (so the length is adjustable) and use toggles on bracelets (because they are sturdy, attractive, and easier to take on and off than a lobster clasp).
4. I would never say that you shouldn’t use inexpensive beads; plastic, glass, and base metal beads can make some great fashion jewelry pieces. What I would say is that you should never mix your less expensive beads with your more expensive beads. For example, I probably wouldn’t use Czech glass to create a necklace around a $30 sterling silver pendant. I also probably wouldn’t mix plastic beads with Swarovski crystal. The main reason for this is that you will ultimately devalue your finished piece. Remember: a person’s perceived value of a product is just as important as the actual value.
5. The best advice I can give is to learn, learn, and learn some more! I am a person who does not like to be taught by others. I don’t read instructions and I don’t learn from a classroom environment; I am more about being self-taught and experimentation. Some people, like Karla, find they do better when they have a trusty friend or magazine to help them learn a new technique or skill. However you learn best, learn as much as you can! Take classes, subscribe to beading magazines, look at free online jewelry projects, watch online videos. All of these things will teach you not only new techniques, but what kinds of tools and materials and resources you can use while you learn your new craft. And I believe one of the best things about this hobby is that you never stop learning!
You will get out of this hobby what you put into it and, whether you are selling your pieces or giving them as gifts or keeping them in your own jewelry gift, you want to make sure you are creating nothing but the best. Happy beading!
Auntie’s Beads Designer
Beating Beader’s Block
Whether or not we like to admit it, it happens to all of us from time to time and when it comes around, we try to pretend it doesn’t exist but there is no avoiding it. I call it beader’s block and it feels like it literally drains every creative juice I have. Because I make a living being creative, people often assume that I am always “on” and full of great ideas and fabulous new designs. The truth is that often times, it seems that because I do make a living being creative, I experience beader’s block more than I ever did when making jewelry was just a hobby and a therapeutic creative outlet for me. So what do I do to work beyond the frustration?
The first thing I do—and I know this is going to sound like the most confusing, contradictory statement ever—is walk away from what is frustrating me. I have learned (starting a few years ago with the eight hour session I spent trying to learn the puffy heart) that getting frustrated gets me nowhere. I start sending myself all sorts of negative messages which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; that is, the more I tell myself I can’t do something, the more I find myself not being able to do that thing. When I feel my frustration growing and the negativity setting in, I simply walk away from whatever project I am working on and wait until I feel my patience, passion, and creativity return before beginning work on that project again.
Now, I am not advocating that you quit beading entirely. What I would advocate instead is working on something with which you are familiar. For example, I make all of the puffy heart pendants available at Auntie’s Beads. One day, while trying to do something new with the right angle weave technique and Supplemax, I kept getting stumped. I started working on puffy hearts that needed replenishing and I began to see a pattern emerge. I got out colored pencils and graph paper and sketched what I was seeing. I quickly put down the puffy heart I was working on and got to work trying to create my vision. The result was one of my favorite pieces to date: my Into The Garden Bracelet . Other great works have emerged as a result of this process so trust me: go with what you know, do something repetitive, and you will begin to see each material you are using in a new way.
Another thing I have learned is that inspiration is EVERYWHERE. When I feel stumped or stuck on a particular thing, I look outside my bead board to find the answer. Nature, for example, has always been a great inspiration to me. Many of my favorite pieces, including my Cornucopia of Leaves Bracelet, Earthly Elegance Necklace and Down By The Sea Necklace (just to name a few) were largely inspired by colors and themes outside my window. In fact, many of the Swarovski crystal mixes I helped create for Auntie’s Beads were inspired by my perception of the natural world.
I also find tremendous inspiration in magazines. By this, I don’t necessarily mean beading magazines. While beading magazines are great for learning a new technique, I have found that my best sources of inspiration are often books or advertisements within fashion magazines and even the Sunday paper. Not only do I see great pieces of jewelry, but I also see great color combinations that I never would have created on my own. Art books can also help in this regard (for those of you who often find yourselves in more of a color rut than a design rut.) I mentioned earlier that the natural world inspired many of our crystal mixes, but several of my color palettes and/or designs have largely been influenced by—but never directly copied from—books, magazines, and advertisements. My Cool Jewel Earrings, for example, were inspired by 2 different sources; the color scheme was inspired by a make-up ad and the style of the earrings was inspired by something I saw in a sales advertisement in the Sunday paper.
Another great source of inspiration for me has always been my closet. I can’t count how many times I have put on an outfit only to discover I don’t have the right pair of earrings to match or the perfect necklace for my neckline. I have discovered that it is best, when creating a piece, to make sure I make a full set—or at least matching pieces so I am never caught without a piece of jewelry. I have also found that when I buy something new and it is a different color scheme or print for me, it often offers endless new design possibilities. So… If the magazines and books and advertisements and outdoors aren’t working for you, try opening up your closet and seeing what inspiration lies within.
The best thing I can say about beating beader’s block is this: work through it however you need to and at your own pace. Don’t get yourself too frustrated and don’t give up! You WILL get through it. My father, who was a graphic designer, once told me that the profession of design essentially boils down to problem solving. You, as a beader, have materials and colors and patterns you need to fit within a certain space. Sometimes it all works well and sometimes something seemingly simple will have you wanting to throw beads across the room. When that happens, try to remember the following: avoid the source of your frustration; work on something familiar; try to see the world (and images) around you with a designer’s eye; and wait for that perfect balance of patience, creativity, and logic to help you produce your next masterpiece!
Shanna Steele, Auntie’s Beads Designer
Change the World
Today I choose to take my life back. I will no longer turn my head to the CNN’s and Suzi Orman’s of doom and gloom. There are positive stories, people, possibly even news-worthy events, taking place, being ignored, to the benefit of the negative. I cannot change the television networks. I cannot change world events. But, I am not powerless. Here is my plan:
Today I choose to focus on being thankful.
Today I choose to walk into my office with a smile and kind words.
Today I choose to go the extra mile for my co-workers, my family and you.
Today I choose to be a blessing.
God does not want us to be in turmoil, filled with worry. What He does want for us is to be filled with peace, joy and LOVE. That is how we will change the world.
Owner, Auntie’s Beads
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Something Old to New!