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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.

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Bead Counters

Most needlework-type art requires counting of some sort. It may be stitches, rows, rounds, beads, threads. loops, et cetera. The trick, sometimes, is correctly keeping track of the patterns.

When I crochet and knit, I keep a piece of paper and a pen at my side and tally off the number of rounds or rows. When I cross-stitch off of a printed design, I use a highlighter to delineate stitches I completed. When I bead, I use beads.

Beads? Yes. Beads, to count beads.

I have a small handful of defective two-hold squares that are fused together and  cannot be taken apart. That happens from time to time, and it’s just a circumstance of the manufacturing process. Now, I’m not one to mindlessly toss out anything that just night have a useful second life.

BeadCounters1a

I use these beads to keep track of my beaded stitches. I’ll count how many stitches I will be doing ahead of time, place them in a pile on my beading board, and then start my work. As I finish each row or round, I’ll toss one bead on a small plate. When all the beads are on the plate, then I know my rows or rounds are done, and I’m ready for the next steps.

It’s a tried and true method for me. Some of my students do the same, and some are able to keep track in their heads.

How do you keep track of your stitches?

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

The Importance of Culling

This morning, I am working on a large wire work/beading order.  Part of this includes using fire polished beads.   

When I begin any project of this type, I first go through the beads that I’ll be using, looking for broken ones, misshapen ones, odd sized ones, et cetera. 

This morning I found one of the fire polished beads didn’t quite make it to being a true fire polished bead.  As you can see in my photograph, the one on the right is what a fire polished bead should look like, facets and all.  On the left, well, that’s just a smooth round bead.FirePolishedExamplesI cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure that all of your beads for your project meet your approval before you begin.  It’s awful when you’re deep into a project and discover a bead or two aren’t up to par and you don’t have enough beads to replace them right away.

The extra few minutes culling your supplies will save a lot of time, aggravation, and money.  Luckily for me, this was the only “wrong” bead in my supply.

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.

2016 Wishes

Another year is under our belts.  It went by quickly for me, as it probably did for you, too. 

This was a busy year; busier than I ever could have imagined. 

Handsome and I participated in two bead shows and did quite well.  They were a lot of fun and educational, too.

We also opened up our on-line bead shop, Poppy and Gene’s Beadery.  I invite you to check it out and see what we have available in beading supplies and beads.  If you don’t see something you’d like, please contact me and we’ll see about getting it for you.

In my shop, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, I’m starting to include tutorials, so if you’re inclined to bead, please check out what I have to offer you. 

To add to my repertoire, I am now teaching beading and a variety of other arts, too, such as wire working, crochet, embroidery, et cetera.  I’ll be teaching classes this coming February at our bead society’s bead retreat.

I’ve been busy today, cleaning house and getting ready for our New Year’s Eve party. 

Here’s wishing you a superb 2016 filled with humor, laughter, prosperity, and all that is good

Happy, Peaceful, and Artistic 2016 to you!  See you on the flip side!

 new year wallpapers with beads golden

~Susan Marie Molloy

 ©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

Spring Show

We set up our table at the Emerald Coast Bead Society Spring Bead Show earlier this month, and the event was successful. It was held at a local church in town.

My husband, who is an artist and owns Gene’s Joint, and I shared a table. This arrangement worked well. We could take breaks and cover one another’s’ items, and not skip a beat.

There's Gene from Gene's Joint preparing for the show.

There’s Gene from Gene’s Joint preparing for the show.

We visited our fellow artists’ tables, and we found some pretty nifty creations and supplies. We had a lot of fun talking and laughing with a fellow member whose table was behind ours. Fun times!

All of our fellow bead society members made lovely art, including jewelry, handcrafted glass and polymer clay beads, and similar art. I only wish I remembered to take a few pictures to show their outstanding work.

View from my side of the table with a few of my handcrafted charms and earrings.

View from my side of the table with a few of my handcrafted charms and earrings.

Lunch was tasty. The spinach quiche I had was delicious, and my husband’s turkey sandwich was to die for. The ladies of the church made a large selection of great-tasting and healthy food for our bead society.

One of the things that I would do differently would be to better organize our box of organza bags, gift boxes, and sales slips. I threw everything in a box (including extra business cards and pens) under the table, and it was sloppy. I’ll be better set up at our next show.

Show 1 Table

This is a mess. Organization is the key for the next show!

 

Overall, my husband and I had a fun time and sold a lot of our work. I even garnered a few custom orders.

I heartily suggest attending a bead show anywhere there is one available in your area. The work is beautiful, and sure beats the cheap, breakable junk that’s imported from China.

Before the crowds.

Before the crowds.

Support your local artists.

Happy Beading,

Susan Marie Molloy

Designer and Owner, Miss Poppy’s Boutique

 

For Book Readers

When I read books, I like to have something a little more special to mark my page than a ragged-edge piece of scrap paper, and I think you do, too.

One day I decided that I would make a beaded metal bookmark for myself. It turned out so well that I started making some to sell.

They are a popular item. For starters, I use high quality 14K gold plate and sterling silver plate markers. That’s the simple part. It’s choosing the right combination of beads that sometimes presents a challenge, because I want each bookmark to be as individual and unique as the readers who use them. Therefore, I only use high quality glass, porcelain, crystal, and gemstones, including unusual vintage beads.

Once I decide upon material and color, I painstakingly place the beads in pleasing combinations. Once that’s done, I hand wrap each bead cluster before adding them to the metal bookmark. I like many beads to make the bookmark sparkle and throw off great colors!
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When you visit my shop (CLICK this LINK to Miss Poppy’s Boutique), you will see a couple that are for sale. I do take custom orders, so I invite you to contact me to discuss the possibilities! (Click on any of these three photographs to learn more about the product details.)

I look forward to doing business with you,

~Susan
Owner and Designer at Miss Poppy’s Boutique
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Bookmark Mardis Gras

The Importance of Hand Wrapping Your Beads

The Importance of Hand Wrapping Your Beads

By Susan Marie Molloy at Miss Poppy’s Boutique

Many moons ago, when I was just barely venturing into the world of beads, I tried my hand at using wire headpins to connect my beads. It was clumsy, at best, and definitely sloppy work at first. Bending too much or too little, and bending inconsistently gave my work an amateurish look. I even gave up the whole idea of being able to make a circular loop that didn’t turn out oval and went into the easy world of elastic bracelets. Looping and wrapping beads seemed to elude me.

Then something magnificent happened. Gene, from Gene’s Joint, saw that I was struggling with wire wrapping. He offered to take the time to show me exactly how to bend the wire just so and loop the wire around the headpin to make perfectly formed and esthetically pleasing wraps. His patience put up with my continued frustration until one day, I got it – I made professional level wrapped beads!

Indeed, just like everything else, practice is key. It took a lot of beads and wire to get my style down pat – and if it wasn’t for Gene, I might still be making cheesy-looking single loops without the wrapping.

Creativity does not operate within a vacuum. Indeed, the artist pulls whatever he can from the world around him, uses the knowledge and talents from others, and hopefully creates something unique from his own mind and hands.

One of my most fun creations is a pink, red, and white beaded charm bracelet. I took more than one hundred beads in various media (cat’s eye, crystal, vintage glass pearls, glass, crystal, lamp work, Murano glass) and hand wrapped each cluster with gold wire. As you can see in the photograph, hand wrapping gives a clean, finished look. Moreover, hand wrapping keeps the beads securely in place.  Gene even specifically created the hook you see on the bracelet.

I invite you to click on the photograph to learn more about this lovely piece, and to look around my shop for the newest items I listed.

Valentine Pink Bracelet

To see what Gene creates in his studio, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/GenesJoint

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