Monday, December 16, 2013

Re-purposing Vintage Crystals

A favorite shopping excursion for my husband and me is to check out the local antique shops where ever we travel.  A recent find in Naples Maine was boxes full of old crystals from chandlers.  My mind immediately began racing and before I knew it, I had purchased literally a bucket full of potential projects.  After carefully removing the old wires, I soaked the crystals in ammonia and water.  As I laid them out on my dining room table to dry, I sorted them by shapes and sizes, and ideas began to form.  I could envision beaded bands around the various shapes using netting, peyote and Ndebele stitches.  Several of the crystals had small chips, so I knew I would have to conspicuously place bead work to cover those spots.  Still other crystals had unique shapes that would lend themselves to beaded bands, bales, etc.  My husband pointed out that this was an excellent opportunity to also re-purpose some of my bountiful supply of surplus beads.  At this point I see no limit to the variety of combinations that can be created.  Below are a couple examples of ornaments using several different sizes of crystals, embellished with Delica beads and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How To Work Around A Discontinued Material

Have you ever finished a new design that you can't wait to offer as a class or kit form, only to find out a major component has been discontinued?  This scenario can be a source of frustration, or motivation to get creative in a new or varied, "colorways."  This has happened to all of us who design and over the past year it has happened to me twice on the same project.  My first design of this bracelet included a favorite color combination of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS and Delica Beads.  As I often do, I purchase materials that catch my eye and then sit on them until my mind can put them together in a design.  By the time this design was in teachable form, one of the element colors was no longer available.  My first revision maintained as much of the original color combination as possible, but again, by the time I had a wearable bangle, another item was discontinued.  This time I was forced to create outside my colorways comfort zone and the result turned out to be my favorite combination of the three.  The moral of the story is, let inconvenience be another motivation for creativity.

                                                          Kaibab Bangle, version 1
                                                         Kaibab Bangle, version 2
                                                          Kaibab Bangle, version 3

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How To Feed Your Creative Spirit!

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing more quickly than being around creative people.  I belong to a social group of artists who get together occasionally for good food, good conversation, and some free time to work on projects.  We all have our roots in spool knitting and pot holder weaving.  We originally got together as a group of beginning beaders, however most of the group members have gravitated to different handwork.  One is a quilter, two are knitters, one is a wire worker, and while I like everything, I spend most of my time beading.  Each member of the group attends workshops in their various areas and each arrives back with our group eager to share new techniques, new designs and new creations.  One of the regular activities of our group, when we meet, is "show and tell."  From this group I have learned a wealth of interesting artsy techniques, for example, did you know you can dye yarn with Kool-Aid? I should have realized this as my son was growing up!  I have also learned how to knit socks, and I have become fascinated with quilting. As a result, I took a workshop at the Sisters Quilt Festival in Oregon this summer. What a fascinating and wonderful experience; I would highly recommend this festival to anyone who likes sewing crafts.

One of my recent creative project ideas coming from our group was a desire to make a bangle with a quilt-like design.  I used the traditional Flying Geese pattern, and a technique I developed called Quilted Peyote stitch, to come up with the bracelet pictured below made with Delica beads and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How I got started with beading!

Every now and then I am asked, “how did you get started in beading?” It turns out to be a long story involving love of crafts (especially needle and thread work), a motivational home economics class in school (the stichin’ part, not the stirrin’), and time to focus on creative projects.

One such time, in the early 80’s, found my husband, son, and me at Alden Farm Camps, a turn-of-the-last-century fishing camp in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine; we were vacationing with my husband’s parents and sister. We stayed in amenities and facilities-challenged cabins (known as camps in Maine) at the water’s edge; indoor plumbing was the most cutting edge technology on the premises, and the septic system would have been considered emergent technology. The cabins did include the wilderness beauty of a northwoods view across the lake, the plaintiff calls of loons, and frequent evening aurora light shows. The rustic dining hall was the communal gathering place for meals, cribbage and bridge games, and conversations amid the mounted fish, and trappings of a bygone era. The food rivaled any five star restaurant anywhere. Aldens was the most nostalgic location on the planet for my husband’s family, and our son represented the fourth generation of the family to gather here. Camp activities included fishing, eating, reading, sleeping and more fishing, which brings be back to my original focus – “how did I get started in beading?”

As I don’t fish (I do eat, sleep, and read some), I had some time to spend while the rest of the camp was occupied. After finding a supply of beads in town, my sister-in-law and I prevailed upon one of the cabin boys to build us small looms. For a week, we sat on the cabin porch and made woven beaded bracelets. From this vantage point, we could watch our son and his friends playing along the lake and at the beach, and we could see the comings and goings of the boats and fishermen. Although the equipment was crude, and the materials were not uniform, our bracelets turned out very well and they were admired by the whole camp. When I got home to PA, I gave the bracelet that I made to my mother who was thrilled with it. She wore it to her next hair appointment and explained to her hairdresser that her daughter had just come back from camp where she had made the bracelet, where upon her hairdresser asked, “how old is your daughter?”

Since those days, I have come to love beadwork and Maine, and I look for every opportunity to bead in Maine at our own camp (with amenities and facilities) while my husband goes fishing. The equipment is very different now, the techniques are more sophisticated, and the supplies are the far more elegant and uniform, SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS and Delicas, but the love of the craft, and the excitement of creativity is the same.

The moral of the story is that it really doesn’t matter how old you are when you first go to camp and learn arts and crafts.

Our Camp in Maine

Alden Camps

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Beading at Lodi's Beads

This year, on my way to Bead Fest Santa Fe, I had the good fortune to be invited to teach two classes at Lodi's Beads in Bosque Farms, just outside of Albuquerque NM.  What a wonderful experience beginning with a welcome DIANE HERTZLER sign in front of the store.  Lodi's Beads provides an extensive supply of all beading necessities, including SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.  Lodi's classroom is large, bright, cheerful, and always a hum of industry.  The warm, comfortable, atmosphere attracts a sizable enrollment of regular, serious beaders who are as friendly as the surroundings.  Saturday's class (Tucson Bangle II) utilized cylinder beads and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.  Students completed a representative segment of the bangle and left with the skills needed to finish the project at home.  Sunday's class (Four Strong Winds Bracelet) also employed cylinder beads and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.  The class included repeat beaders from Saturday, and I have already begun receiving photos of completed projects.  The overall experience was accented by the relaxed, congenial, atmosphere, the tasty, catered treats (by Lodi's husband), and the comedic talents of several of the beaders, e.g.  "Diane, will you tell me if I'm where I think I am?"  Before class concluded, we had already begun planning for next year.  Below is a group photo of Saturday's class.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Bead Away the Winter Blahs!

The exciting holidays are behind us; the Super Bowl is history; the novelty of the new snow blower has worn off; and worst of all, the Ground Hog has seen his shadow.  How do you face this long stretch of indoor winter living?  The first thing you do is get out your favorite summer clothes and lay them out on the bed, then get out your bead stash and start matching colors.  Ask yourself, when I am wearing this outfit in my new tan, ten pounds lighter after February and March at the gym, what bead accessory do I want to be wearing to make this outfit pop?  Perhaps you already have a favorite pattern, or you may decide to let the creative juices flow.  Either way, as you sit by the sunny window working on the "summery" project, you"ll find your winter mood softening, and your thoughts migrating to a beach somewhere.  The bracelet in the photo, entitled Brazilian Bangle, was inspired by a Carmen Miranda hat.  What could make you feel like a warm June day more than working with these colors?  The bangle band is done with cylinder and seed beads in a Crossover Ndebele pattern and it is embellished with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crystal Jewelry Inspiration

Simply Toggles Bracelet

                                                                        Trapeze Ring

This blog will introduce my contribution to Crystal Jewelry Inspiration from the CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors, 2013, Karin Van Voorhees, Editor, Kalbach Book, Waukesha, WI.  This is a beautiful compilation of inspirational crystal projects submitted by thirty of the CREATE YOUR STYLE with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassadors. The book also includes an international gallery of photographs.  My particular project, “Simply Toggles,” is the final project in the Ambassador section of the book; as the most recent addition to the Ambassador Team, I am thrilled to have been a part of this publication.  The diversity and scope of the projects are quite impressive.

My project was originally taught at the CREATE YOUR STYLE IN TUCSON, A SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS EVENT 2011, under the name “Beads & Buttons Bracelet.”
The large Checkerboard Crystals were purchased at Beadin’ Path in Freeport Maine, and I studied these for quite a while before coming upon the inspiration of a series of toggles.  The complete directions for this project can be found with my bio in the book on page 130.  If you give this project a try and you have any questions, you can find my contact information through my website, and I would enjoy hearing from you.

Thank you for looking in on my blog; if you leave a message with your name, I will be pulling one name at random and sending that lucky person a kit to make my “Trapeze Ring.”  This project was taught at the same venue in 2012.  See picture above.  You can learn more about the Ambassadors at their links below.

All names will be forwarded to Kalmbach Books for an additional drawing to receive a free copy of the book.  

Their online store can be found at:
January 14th                        
                                    June Beach
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