Archive | February 2016

Bead Jar Bonanza

We do a fun activity at our Bead Society each month that pays off well once a year.

At each meeting, every member is asked to bring a nice bead or two, or a beading supply item, and drop it in a huge plastic jar. The only caveat is to “donate a bead that you’d like to win back”.

This goes on throughout the year, and in the following January, we raffle off the bead jar in its overstuffed glory. We held the raffle a month late, however, so we raffled it off this past Monday.

When the red tickets were tossed about and mixed thoroughly in a large pitcher (we used what we could!), our Society President reached in and drew a ticket. Several people sighed aloud and said they were off a number.

I wasn’t off a number. I won the bead jar. It practically left me speechless.

This is the bead jar I won at our February 2016 Bead Society meeting.  Yes, it's stuffed to the brim! Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

This is the bead jar I won at our February 2016 Bead Society meeting. Yes, it’s stuffed to the brim!
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

Last night I took the jar and brought it to our porch and spread out the plethora of beads atop the forest green towel I laid across the table. Two hours or so later, I had them roughly sorted and looked through.

Cup chain, Swarovski bicones, cloisonne, glass pearls, handcrafted glass, bead wire; this is just a taste! Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

Cup chain, Swarovski bicones, cloisonne, glass pearls, handcrafted glass, cat’s eye, bead wire; this is just a taste!
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

There were a lot of good quality beads, some handmade beads, clay beads, fresh water pearls, wood beads, cloisonne beads, gem chips, metal beads, Lucite beads, charms, findings, partially completed projects, some beads I’m not sure what they are, and lots of wire, thread, and other sundries.

These look like Czech fire polished in one of my favorite hues:  Hyacinth.  Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

These look like Czech fire polished in one of my favorite hues: Hyacinth.
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

And so, what to do with all these beads?

One stipulation that we have at our Bead Society is that I make an item with some of the beads. Easy. Actually, I already have several projects in mind that I will donate for our regular raffles that we hold at each meeting.

Wow!  Glass pepper beads.  I LOVE pepper beads.  They'll be a part of something fabulous. Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

Wow! Glass pepper beads. I LOVE pepper beads. They’ll be a part of something fabulous.
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

After all, it would be a nice “thank you” to all the members who donated. You can’t beat that.

Claw beads.  Intriguing. Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

Claw beads. Intriguing.
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

No, no one lost a tooth.  It's a tooth-shaped bone tooth.  I'll have to put some teeth into the project that will incorporate this one. Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

No, no one lost a tooth. It’s a tooth-shaped bone tooth. I’ll have to put some teeth into the project that will incorporate this one.
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

In future blogs, I’ll share with you my creations from these tremendous beads.

Feast your eyes! Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

Feast your eyes!
Original photograph ©2016SusanMarieMolloy

©Susan Marie Molloy, ©Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, ©Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

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Tip: Doing Test Runs with Thread

I believe that all of us who are beaders have had short pieces of thread that wound up being too short for any project, yet too long for our sensibilities to allow us to throw them out. So there they sit, in little piles on our studio tables or stuffed in a drawer like abandoned birds’ nests.

We had that happen to Gene and me. Although Gene may have a tendency to eventually throw out an odd length, I, on the other hand, will hang on to pieces seemingly forever, so there are always snippets available around the studio.

A couple of weeks ago, Gene came across a pattern for a necklace that he wanted to make. He chose his initial colors and placed them on the bead mat. After moving little piles of Super Duos and seed beads around, then replacing and rethinking colorways, he believed he finally had a good esthetic combination.

But why take a fresh length of thread and potentially ruin it if the colorway really doesn’t look good and the piece needs to be dismantled?

Gene took a leftover piece of beading thread and stitched a few inches. Well, the colorway wasn’t right – the seed beads looked washed out against the darker Super Duos. He dismantled the sample.1

On his next try, and using the same scrap thread, the colorway proved just what he wanted. It was a go, and he cut a fresh length off the spool. The project turned out well.2

This tip to use scraps of beading thread will also work if you want to practice a stitch before beginning your project. In the past, I ruined many feet of thread because I didn’t have the foresight to do a little practice work on a scrap.

It’s well worth it.

Do you save scraps of beading thread? If so, how do you re-use it? We’d like to read your ideas.

©2016 Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Bead Retreat: The Third Day

"My Table" Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

“My Table”
Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

This day was a little more relaxed at the 2016 Emerald Coast Bead Society Retreat, and I had just one class to teach.

Gene and I began our morning with a quick bite and a brisk walk to the conference rooms.   We missed the sunrise, but it actually felt good to sleep in an extra hour.

While I was setting up my class at the table, Gene kibitzed with some of the other teachers.  I could hear them exchanging artistic ideas, with laughter and smiles, and even flipping through the pages of their books.

At my table, my students and I picked out our colorways for my Princess Lindsay Necklace, and we began.  This was a good project using daggers, two-hole squares, and Super Duos, with additional Super Unos within the stitches.  I am a big proponent of using Super Unos in place of Super Duos, in projects where you won’t be threading through both holes of a Super Duo.  I don’t care for beads that leave holes with no cover up or no thread.  In the case of Super Duos, replacing a bead with a Super Uno takes care of that concern with a beautiful touch.

Together, we made a small modification to my tutorial, thanks to one student’s sharp eyes and suggestion.  Replacing an 11/0 seed bead with an 8/0 one at each end of the focal helped the necklace look a little bit better. 

Here are a few photographs of the works in progress:

"Blue Daggers with Peacock Finish" Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

“Blue Daggers with Peacock Finish”
Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

"Beige Daggers" Original Photograph by©Susan Marie Molloy

“Beige Daggers”
Original Photograph by©Susan Marie Molloy

"Red Daggers with Peacock Finish" Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

“Red Daggers with Peacock Finish”
Original Photograph by ©Susan Marie Molloy

We all worked in tandem and discussed each other’s’ ideas and experiences, both in this project and with other projects offered during the retreat.  When one of the dagger beads turned out to not have a closed hole, i.e., a portion of the glass at the top of the hole was missing, we learned, as with some other specialty beads, you have to double check all the holes to ensure they are fully closed.  We initially thought the hole was correctly made (it really did look closed!), but it had such a miniscule missing section that when the beading thread went up against it in a certain way, the bead fell off the thread.  We resolved the problem with a touch of E6000 on the edge. 

In this project, I also taught how to use thread/wire guards at both ends of the necklace.  I like to use them in most of my bead threading work because the guards help to minimize fraying between clasps, thread, and beads.

All of us at my table were pleased to finish the necklaces that morning.  When everyone packed up and headed off to lunch, I spent time talking with some of the other teachers who were free.  It’s good to share ideas and tips in wire working and beading, too, and to catch up on the latest in our lives.

Since Gene and I were already checked out and our suitcases and tool kits in the car, we opted to grab a quick lunch at the hotel before heading out.  At the table, I panicked because I thought I left my two cell phone chargers back in the room.  Gene went to the desk, they sent someone to the room to check – nothing.  I thought I left them up there, still connected to the outlets.  I just couldn’t picture unplugging them. 

Our drive back home was just as our initial trip – light traffic and good weather, so we were home in no time flat.  When we got home and I unpacked my suitcase, the two cell phone cords were there, nestled between clothes.   I guess it was too early in the morning and I was too sleepy when I packed them up.  It was a relief to have them.

All in all, the 2016 Emerald Coast Bead Society Bead Retreat was educational, well-organized, fun, and a success.  We had nationally known teachers, as well as local teachers who shared their knowledge and talents with us.  The retreat would not have been the success it was without the hard work our own Mary J. did to organize it!

Oh, and we had raffles between classes.  The prizes were great and the raffles themselves were entertaining!  I won some unique beads that will eventually find themselves in some yet unknown design of mine.  We are very appreciative of all those generous people who donated the raffled items!

In the meantime, I am organizing my notes I took on useful techniques, updating one of my tutorials, and getting a list done of projects that I need to do for my next art show in a couple of months.

There’s always something fresh and exhilarating around the corner!

"The View from My Table, Looking Out Over the Gulf of Mexico" Original Photograph ©Susan Marie Molloy

“The View from My Table, Looking Out Over the Gulf of Mexico”
Original Photograph ©Susan Marie Molloy

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

 

Bead Retreat: The Second Day

"Welcome, Artists!" ©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

“:Welcome, Artists!”
©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. fresh and ready to greet the day.  Well, I first needed my obligatory fifteen minutes of reading the news before I had my cup of java.  Once that was out of the way, I got ready.

Gene and I walked down to the hotel’s sunny and welcoming restaurant.  He was excited to take his second beading class, an instruction on the Cellini spiral taught by one of our Bead Society Board members, Eleanor C.  But first – breakfast was at the top of the agenda.

We met one of our friends downstairs at the hotel restaurant and ate at her table.  Eggs Benedict, though rich, was my ultimate, albeit rare, treat.  Gene opted for the manly steak and eggs.  The food was good, the conversation enriching, and our day began on a good footing.

"A Rich Treat" --Eggs Benedict with Cantaloupe and Strawberries. ©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

“A Rich Treat” Eggs Benedict with Cantaloupe and Strawberries.
©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

My first teaching class of the day was at 9 o’clock.  My students and I worked on a bracelet constructed with 3mm cube beads and seed beads.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures to share.  Nevertheless, we had a good time and talked about nearly everything, including beading.  Ha!

Closer to noon, we broke for lunch.  The weather was around 60OF and sunny.  Our walk around the hotel campus was delightful.  I especially enjoyed the sunbathing frog near one of the many waterfalls!  Our lunch was prolonged and relaxing, and by the time the next group of classes were to begin, we were refreshed and ready.

"Bathing Frog" (c)2016 Original photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

“Bathing Frog”
(c)2016 Original photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

Gene and I took the Cellini Spiral class with Eleanor C.  Admittedly, I was confused and exasperated that I just could not get how the stitch is constructed.  I must have taken my project apart four times and swore I was incompetent!  Gene was understanding it, yet wasn’t satisfied with the tension of his work.  Then – it clicked for me.

"My Cellini" ©2016 Susan Marie Molloy - Original Photograph

“My Cellini”
©2016 Susan Marie Molloy – Original Photograph

On the fifth try, I understood what Eleanor explained.  When I initially picked up my needle, I understood the pattern and construction, but of course, I was erroneously looking at one of the beads as part of the same row I was working on instead of a previous row.  Once I jumped over that hurdle, I went to town – Now I have that stitch locked into my memory.  Eleanor is a fabulous teacher, and I’ll always remember her for that!  (She’s a very nice person, too, by the way.)

"Red and Black Cellini" ©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

“Red and Black Cellini”
©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

"Gene's Beach Feel Cellini" ©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

“Gene’s Beach Feel Cellini”
©2016 Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

Eleanor shared her personal Cellini projects with us.  She had pieces that demonstrated her talents in reversing the stitch, changing the pattern, using unusual beads, and the most impressive one was a thick – very thick – black and white project that had varying beads and formats.  Very jazzy, for sure.  She is very talented and left me in awe.

During this class, we all laughed and complained, and laughed some more, and in the end, we all learned the Cellini Stitch.

Since the next group of classes didn’t begin until 7 o’clock, we headed back to the hotel proper and grabbed a bite to eat. Gene and I went over the day and our future plans. Then we headed back to the conference room post haste.

I began my evening class with my students and good energy.  We worked on my Carly’s Twist Bracelet, which is a delightful combination of hex and seed beads in a spiraling pattern.  While most of my students got it, a few needed a little more help, but since the day was long and we were tired, we plan on getting back together to work on it at our next monthly Bead Society meeting.  One student asked for a private session instead, and I complied.  (Note to self:  Schedule that private class!)

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Bead Retreat: The First Day

This past weekend both Gene and I travelled to Fort Walton Beach, Florida to attend the Emerald Coast’s Bead Society’s 2016 Bead Retreat.  We were planning this for well over a year and the weekend finally arrived.

The drive to Fort Walton Beach was pleasant, traffic was light, and we were there before we knew it.  After we checked into our room, we got ready for the first evening class.  I went through my bag to make sure I had all my kits and tools for the class I was scheduled to teach.  Everything was set, and we walked to the top floor conference room to our evening activities.

Gene took a class with Marcia Balonis, a well-known designer from Florida.  He learned the brick stitch via her beautiful pattern, “One Moon Circles.”  Being a very careful and methodical beader, Gene will be working on the project when we return home, and when he finishes it, I promise to post it here on my blog.  Here are a couple of pictures of him working on it:

Gene Molloy brings his threaded needle carefully through the beads.

Gene Molloy brings his threaded needle carefully through the beads.

Though still a work in progress, Gene Molloy shows his meticulous work on Marcia Balonis' "One Moon Circles."

Though still a work in progress, Gene Molloy shows off his meticulous work on Marcia Balonis’ “One Moon Circles.”

Meanwhile, I taught my Charming Chainmail Charm.  The finished piece can be used as a decorative charm for purses, beach bags gym bags, et cetera.  I designed it as a beginner level project for people who don’t have any experience in working with chainmail, yet it’s enjoyable enough for the experienced chainmailer.  I handmade all the jump rings in various copper wire sizes and colors.  I showed my students how to connect the jump rings by two, and “twisting,” or turning, them such that they have a crisscross look.   This technique also makes the jump rings stronger as a whole element.

Not only did we learn how to make a handcrafted chain, I taught my students how to wrap beads on headpins.  This, perhaps, was the most time-intensive portion of this project.  First, you need to choose the right combination of beads (color and sizes) to place on the headpins.  Then it’s the business of wrapping the beads onto the headpins, then attaching the clusters to the already-made chain.   Here is a picture of one of the student’s work in progress:

An interpretation of my "Charming Chainmail Charm." The olive and wheat hues complement each other well on the handcrafted chainmail.

An interpretation of my “Charming Chainmail Charm.” The olive and wheat hues complement each other well on the handcrafted chainmail.

You can see that she has more wire wrapping to do, but it promises to be a pretty piece!

There were seven classes going on the first evening, including an introduction to bronze metal clay, how to make your own findings and beads, and several beading classes that demonstrated various stitches.  The room had a nice, soft hum to it as everyone talked and laughed, and what was nice about it was none of the white noise was distracting to anyone.  Sometimes too much chatter, particularly off-putting topics, can be disruptive to both beader and teacher.

As the classes finished, many of us headed to our rooms to freshen up and head towards the hotel bar where they served light meals and drinks.  Gene and I opted to have a nightcap, as we were not too hungry.  We met two of our friends who were already in the bar, and the evening passed quite nicely – and quickly—with intelligent conversation and rib-tickling laughter.  We all had a good time, and before midnight we called it a day and headed to our respective rooms to get some much-need sleep.

The next day would prove to be very busy.

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Wireworking with Beads and a Shell

My finished pendant.

My finished pendant.

Last month at our Bead Society meeting, we had a wirework class that was perfect for those who like working with wire, and for those who never tried it before.

Using both 22 gauge and 20 gauge copper wire, small gem chips, and small glass beads, plus a clean olive shell from the beach, we worked a wire cage around the shell. Taking the thinner wire, we added our chips and beads to the cage. It took some manipulation and tweaking with flat nose pliers to ensure that the wire cage stayed secure on the shell.

The result was gorgeous! I plan on beading complementary rope so that I can wear this unique pendant.
©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.