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Winding Down 2017 and Looking Forward to 2018

It’s been a busy year at Miss Poppy’s Boutique. I haven’t had such a busy year since I opened in 2013, so it’s true that perseverance pays off.

Two of my biggest sellers this year were my handcrafted metal bookmarks and rosaries. There are some left, and since I’m running a 30% off sale (with free shipping) until December 31st, now is a good time to pick up Grab Bag and Christmas gifts. My offer applies to everything, except my tutorials (patterns), which are $4 and under.

My most popular tutorial remains Noelle Christmas Ornament Cover. It’s a steady seller during the year, but from October through February, it sells like gangbusters.

Lately, I’ve been devoting much of my free time working at Poppy and Gene’s Beadery, helping with taking new photographs of beads and supplies and writing fleshed-out product descriptions. A lot of research is involved, from bead hole sizes, how certain beads are manufactured, giving ideas on how to use the beads (particularly in bead weaving), and the like.

What is in store for 2018? Well, I’m working on new tutorials, using some of the new Czech glass beads on the market. I’ll be teaching. And I’m going to make it a point to keep up this blog, at least on a weekly schedule. I’ve been lax in writing this blog, mostly because of the busyness of a long-distance move. No excuses now!

Thank you for a great 2017, and I look forward to 2018 with you.

Happy Beading!

~Susan

©Miss Poppy’s Boutique

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Cleaning Your Art Medium

One of the most important tasks the bead artist does is to make sure beads are clean before using them.

I was preparing to create a new item the other day.  I gathered all of my strung peridot chips and started to take them off the strings to place them in a bowl.  By the time I was done, my fingers were grey and those bead chips needed cleaning!

The easiest method for me was to put them in a small jar, add a tiny drop of mild dish soap, add some water, tighten the lid, and shake, shake, shake. 

They then went into a mesh strainer and under running water to be rinsed well.

Placing the bead chips on a paper towel is the best way to lay them out to dry.

Leaving them to dry overnight ensures that all the moisture evaporates.

Now they are bone dry and ready to use — squeaky clean!  This cleaning method works well with all types of beads; just remember some only may need a damp rag wiped across them, some need deeper cleaning, and use your best judgement in getting the grime off.

(c)Miss Poppy’s Boutique and all works within.

Blending the Centuries

Lately, I’ve been going through my personal belongings, organizing them, and giving away what I really don’t need, because how much “stuff” does a person really need? Sentimental things aren’t a consideration. They stay. I need them.

One of those sentimental things is a necklace that belonged to my great-grandma. I have a black-and-white picture of her wearing this necklace sometime in the 1940s, sitting in the backyard, cleaning string beans, her head wrapped up in a printed scarf, and the necklace just barely discernable between her dress’s open collar.


The necklace is a string of tin cut faceted 1910s or 1920s-era Czech crystal beads, in graduated sizes, with the original brass spring ring. My understanding was that it went through a couple of re-stringings in years past before I inherited it in high school. The medium back then was black cotton sewing thread, and when I restrung it in high school, I followed suit, using a doubled-up length of white cotton thread, needle, and patience, and a lot of knots.
Over the years, the thread turned green where it met the brass rings, yet the thread itself was in good and seemingly strong condition. However, it was time to restring it with more a reliable material.


Taking it apart was fairly easy work, but the knots were a little difficult to remove from the rings. Once done, I cleaned the brass with dry cotton swabs.


Next, since the beads were hazy, I gently cleaned them and rubbed them with a cotton terry cloth to bring back the brilliant sparkle. Going through each bead, there were two mismatched glass beads with an unusual – maybe antique cut? – shape. Nonetheless, I kept them and used them at each end so they would only be seen from the back if I wear my hair up.


Taking 49-strand AccuFlex, brass crimp beads and crimp bead covers, and wire guards, I restrung the crystals and glass spacer beads, and added three extra vintage era new old stock (NOS) tin cut beads (purchased from Beadtopia Vintage in Flushing, New York) to make the necklace a touch longer. The old and new old stock beads are barely discernable. They look natural.


Now my great-grandma’s necklace is more solid, and I don’t have the queasy feeling that, Heaven forbid, it comes apart while I’m wearing it.


In the past, I wore it for my high school graduation picture, my wedding picture, and countless other special occasions. I’d like to think that Great-Grandma would get a kick out of how her necklace survives and how I’m making sure it lasts for decades to come.

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

The Designing Process

il_570xn-1050051277_g9yxThings are still hopping in our bead shop, and while we’re busy with that, I thought I’d share another of my original designs with you.

When I’m not teaching art, or working on my books (yes, I’m a published author, too), or travelling, or being involved with the day-to-day routine of life, I find inspiration to create from the world that surrounds me. Last year, I designed an easy beaded Christmas ornament cover that proves to be a huge hit with my customers time and again.

Just like with anything else, designing a project is easy, and it’s not. The Beading Muse was kind to me with my Noelle Christmas Ornament Cover project. One evening, I was organizing my Czech glass beads and came across some pretty pink ones I forgot I had. I paired them with some green ones, and liking the combination, it was natural for me to accent them with some silver lined seed beads and a few larger black beads. They looked good on the beading mat and would look even better as an ornament cover.

The color combination may seem unlikely Christmas colors, but my thinking is that if you like it, it works. For example, I’ve seen Christmas trees decorated with all purple – ornaments and lights – and though that’s not my preference, it works for others. Anything goes.

So, I settled into my studio, dug out a clear, round ornament, a needle, scissors, and Fireline ® and got to work. After a few tries and a few restarts, I was on a roll to creating this ornament cover. The picture of how it should look was in my mind; I didn’t even sketch it out first, as I usually do, for each method is different in creating something.

This particular project turned out well, in spite of all the backtracking and a few restarts. The trickiest part was actually taking clear photographs of the steps, then adding diagrams to each to show what needs to be done to create a pretty finished piece. Lighting was key to producing clear images, of course.

As I mentioned earlier, this became my most popular ornament cover tutorial to date. It takes little time to make and can be made in your color combination. Several of my students and customers shared pictures of their finished ones, which I will share here at a later date. Their color combinations are creative and pretty!

If you’d like to learn more about my tutorial, CLICK HERE.

Happy Beading!

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

Ruffled Wreaths

RuffledEarrings3aThough it’s still the sweltering dogs days of August, my thoughts have been floating over green pine needles and fresh red cranberries like white snowflakes on a calm winter morning.  I like the combination of pine needles, fresh cranberries, and soft flurries; they evoke winter warmth and hospitality to me.   Besides, thoughts of cooler weather do help during this summer heat.

Some leftover lava red rizo and minty green SuperDuo beads were sitting on my studio worktable in a jumbled pile.  I had some creamy white rulla beads, too, so I added them to the pile.  Beautiful!  The colors melded and played off each other so well, that a new tutorial was in the works.

Developing this new tutorial took a few attempts.  However, how I envisioned the final product was different as to how it came out – ruffled, rather than flat.

It wasn’t a mistake – it was meant to be!  The beads seem to burst like little fireworks, or the hodge-podge orderliness of a cluster of snowflakes.  They are like ruffled wreaths.

My new tutorial is now available in my Etsy shop, Miss Poppy’s  Boutique; cliek HERE for more information.

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

Desert Song

DesertSongWrapBraceletBySusanMarieMolloyPhoto3The new Diamonduo beads arrived in my studio a couple weeks ago, and this past week found me doing more design work.

The Diamonduos are approximately 6mm x 8mm and come in a large amount of colors. For my new design, I chose the coral color.

A few mint-colored beads in my supply room caught my eye, and I coordinated the duet of coral and mint with antique gold. Laying all the beads together on the studio worktable, the first thoughts of a soft desert song floating on a breeze came to mind – thus, this piece’s title, “Desert Song Wrap Bracelet.”

As I worked the beads, this project seemed to be (subconsciously) inspired by the many creations of Deborah Roberti of Around the Beading Table. She creates down-to-earth tutorials that can turn any creative artist’s head. You can see her work and shop her tutorials by clicking HERE.

As with my “Queen Twosret” wrap bracelet, “Desert Song” has a beaded peyote stitch toggle clasp. The look is clean, yet elegant.  Depending upon the piece, I would rather have a beaded clasp than a metal one.  Again, it depends on the piece.

The tutorial is now available in my shop, Miss Poppy’s Boutique. Click HERE to read more about it, purchase it, or request one made just for you by me.

In the meantime, listen for that soft desert song wafting in the warm desert breeze.

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

Spiders!

At our last bead society meeting, I filled in for another teacher at almost the last minute. With only a few days to consider what I could teach, and being ever mindful of techniques, wire beaded spider ornaments seemed just the ticket.

Using wire, seed beads, larger beads, and minimal tools, I created a spider ornament that is easy to make, uses a minimal amount of beads, and is unique.  We learned how to wrap wire, create loops, and create wrapped loops.

Each member was eager to get started on the project.

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They designed unique spiders.

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We finished our spiders by the end of class, too!

ZSpiderBlueBlack

ZSpiderHalloween

 

One of the nifty things about this ornament is that it can be hung in a window using nylon thread, placed on a table or fireplace mantel, or hung with a hook on a Christmas tree. With the right large beads and a pin, it could be a brooch, too.

And – why a spider Christmas ornament? In my nationality, there is a traditional story about a widow with children who had a hard life. One spring day, a pine cone fell through their house’s window and sprouted. By Christmastime, they had a grown tree, but no ornaments with which to decorate it. On Christmas Eve, while the family slept, a spider wove its web on the tree, covering it from top to bottom. When the family awoke on Christmas Day, they saw the tree covered in a cobwebs, but only until the sun shone on it did the cobwebs turn to gold and silver, giving the family beauty and wealth.

My tutorial is available on Etsy at Miss Poppy’s Boutique (click HERE).

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