Tag Archive | Beads

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.

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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.

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!

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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.

 

Pièce de L’élégance

Here at my studio, this seems to be the season for patrons and customers commissioning me to create pieces for them. I’m creating bracelets and wall art, and all this is keeping me busy every day.

One commissioned work in particular stands out for this week.  I was asked by one of my longtime customers and art aficionada to create a purse charm based on a metal bookmark I recently designed. Looking through my supplies, I carefully handpicked Swarovski crystals, Czech glass beads, and a two-tone hand carved Czech glass melon bead. I arranged them in groups for their most aesthetic appearance, and hand wrapped them in delightful clusters with gold plated wire.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

To make the chain, I fashioned my oval-shaped jump rings as the base for this piece. Then I added each cluster of beads to it, starting at the end with the largest, a cube-shaped peachy hued Swarovski crystal, end capped with crystal Swarovski caps and marguerite flower beads.

I continued adding each cluster to the chain, connecting them with smaller oval jump rings. At the opposite end, I attached a small lobster clasp and tiny wrapped bead cluster.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The purse charm in its final incarnation is pretty! It sparkles and shines, and adds just the right amount of interest and effervescence to make this a conversation starter. The lady who commissioned this purse charm recently bought a new purse, and this charm is just the ticket to add that pièce de l’élégance and je ne sais quoi to her ensemble.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

Most of all, I hope the charm brings joy and that little something to my customer/patron.

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

Kon Tiki Earrings

In 1947, Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl organized an expedition via raft to sail across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia. He posited the idea that pre-Columbian South American peoples could have settled in the Polynesia islands. The raft was named for the Inca sun god “Viracochoa”, and “Kon-Tiki” was an old name for the god.

My friend, Deborah Wear-Finkle, designed a pair of beaded earrings that evoke olden days of the Incas and Polynesia, and she rightly named them “Kon Tiki.” They do have a South Sea isle look about them. I imagine a time long ago, and a Polynesian tribal princess wearing them for a casual cookout with the gang on a beach:

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These are easy earrings to construct. I made my version with silver and grey seed beads, pink crescent beads, black O-beads, black dime beads (in the picture, they’re the smaller beads towards the bottom), and large beads topside (I used black wood beads from Africa on mine).

You can get the tutorial for Deborah’s “Kon Tiki Earrings” at her Esty shop, Shosin Arts. Click on this link: Kon Tiki Earrings.

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

The Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet as Art

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Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet by Shoshin Arts

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a single peyote stitch bracelet, and immediately knew that since I enjoyed making it so much, this was going to be my “Summer of Peyote Stitching.”  Well, it appears so.

My friend, Deborah Wear-Finkle is a talented artist, an intelligent woman, and a lot of fun to be around.  She expanded her creativity recently by opening her own Etsy shop, Shoshin Arts, and offering some of her original peyote patterns, among other delightful items.  Her Japanese brushwork-inspired bracelet, “Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet,” was my second peyote stitch work I tackled this past week.

(As an aside, I like things Japanese:  I enjoy reading about their history, politics, culture, and art, and savoring the cuisine.  One of my cousins spent her childhood living in Japan, and in college one of my Bachelor of Arts degrees focused heavily on the Japanese political system, art, and history.  So, this bracelet was one of those excited “I want it!” things.)

Deborah’s pattern calls for 8O round seed beads, but I took my version in a different direction by using 11O Delicas (cylinder beads) instead.  I liked how theses beads make the plum branch very delicate-looking, and the overall look is smooth.  Seriously, I am delighted at how delicate the branch looks, with that almost-paint-brushed-look about it.  Yes, to me it looks like Sumi-e, or Oriental brush painting.

Additionally, it made for a much smaller (4” x 5/8”) piece, and stiffer, too.  I was pleased with my result, although since the piece was about half the length it should be for a bracelet, I was going to stitch more rows to add to the length.  Then I thought I’d add tassels and make it a bookmark.  Then my husband, Gene, suggested I add a beaded loop to one end and hang it as wall art.

Brilliant!

I did that.  I added a row of peyote stitches for the loop, and hung it.  It’s a simple, delicate, and an interesting piece of wall art that reminds me of my friend each time I see it on my foyer wall. 

Here it is on my foyer wall. The wall color maybe isnt' the best against the piece.

Here it is on my foyer wall. The wall color maybe isn’t’ the best against the piece.

You can purchase Deborah Wear-Finkle’s Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet tutorial/pattern at Shoshin Arts through Etsy.

I like it!

I like it!

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

Our Ordering Process and Seizing the Silver Lining

From time to time, we – Gene and I – special order beads for our customers who shop at our bead store, Poppy and Gene’s Beadery. A couple of months ago, we special ordered beads for a customer who wanted to create Tamara Scott’s “Sandbox” bracelet. The customer gave us the numbers of the Miyuki Delicas, and we went ahead and ordered them. Part of our special ordering process is that both Gene and I double-check and triple-check the numbers and/or colors and sizes of what our customers want. And, of course, in this case as always, we did just that.

The beads came, the customer took them, and by the same evening, the customer had a couple of different excuses why she didn’t want them. One of the excuses was claiming we didn’t order the right beads. We checked, and yes, we did, according to her written instructions and the numbers on the pattern. However, for whatever real reason, she returned the beads, and I took that opportunity to create my version of the “Sandbox” bracelet with the very same beads.

This piece is such an eye-catcher, that I already have orders for several bracelets for my friends, in these colors. Looks like I’ll be in the “sandbox” for awhile!

“Sandbox” is a flat peyote (gourd) stitch using even-count. It worked up quickly. It’s an elegant piece that really can be worn day or night, dressed up or down. I particularly like the snaps used to close the bracelet. They give it a seamless, professional looks. What really makes the piece a knockout are the patina charms placed in each box, or “sandbox” if you will.

You can find this pattern on Tamara Scott’s website, Tamara Scott Designs. She also sells the charms via her Etsy store, Tamara Scott Designs.

Always see the silver lining in every experience. I do, and that makes for a lot of positive dynamics and beauty in life.

Tamara Scott's "Sandbox," without and with the patina charms. Yes, the charms really make this a knockout bracelet!

Tamara Scott’s “Sandbox,” without and with the patina charms. Yes, the charms really make this a knockout bracelet!

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