Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Pretty Palettes :: Dark Matter

It's time for Pretty Palettes again! To learn more about the Pretty Palettes blog hop, go to This month's palette selected by Erin Prais-Hintz is glistening and sophisticated! Check out the palette, fit for a New Year's Eve party:

The beads that Erin chose were so pretty, but I couldn't find all of them at my local Michaels Store. (There's a Michaels in my town now, and it has the really pretty bead section up near the front with lights! When I walk in there, I can spend an hour just looking at them all!) 
I could find the mixed metal cubes and the black faceted cubes, but the pretty little stars and pyramids were out!
The ones I did have were the little mixed metal cubes and I had plenty of black faceted glass beads and pearls, which I thought would work, but I didn't really have a strong direction. It wasn't until I saw this image in the National Geographic magazine that I really gained a direction with this project.

Isn't this crazy? This machine is used to track/investigate dark matter in the universe. I read a bit about it, but to be honest, the kids were running around, and to really absorb all of it, I would have needed my reading glasses, some quiet, and my thinking cap. Anyway, I loved this image, and it really jump started my creative process. The reflective metal squares arranged in circles got me thinking.

I found some oval links and wired the mixed metal cubes around them for a pair of earrings, then I did a larger version with some more black faceted beads for a pendant. I found that attaching the dangles to the oval links before wire wrapping the cubes to them made the process a lot smoother than trying to attach the loops after the wire was wrapped. 

The finished product is alright, and has a sort of Art Deco feel with the black, white and the metallic cubes, especially the earrings. 

What do you think?
Thanks for hopping along with me! Join Erin by checking out the Halcraft USA blog next Wednesday, January 7 for the January Pretty Palettes bead selection and palette! 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November Pretty Palettes :: Frost on the Pumpkin

This month's pretty palette features very familiar colors for me, as a pile of pumpkins sit jumbled next to the door to my house, which is sided in a gray so similar to the gray in this month's Pretty Palettes blog hop! Find out more about Erin Prais-Hintz' Pretty Palettes blog hop on the Halcraft USA Inspiration blog.
Actually, when I checked them this morning, one looked decidedly squishy, so I think it might be about time to clear the pumpkins out to make room for some Christmas decorations!

I've seen so many color block style necklaces lately that I just loved that I decided that this was my chance to give making one of my own a try. I just had to find the right beads.

When I saw the white gradient pearls in the Bead Gallery aisle at Michaels, I knew that I had to use them in this project for the warm grey tones. They're so easy to use, in that you just string them in the order that they are strung on the plastic cord on the card. Each card has two strands, so it took 3 cards to make this 3-strand necklace. The best part of this is that you can remove a few faux pearls from the ends of the strand near where the clasp attaches to create the right drape for the necklace as well as lining up the more strongly colored beads near the center of the necklace.

One other pick was a bit of a luxury: these faceted banded onyx beads are a little larger than I usually wear, but they're so amazing in their colors and striations.
All I needed to do now was string some strong orange rounds and add a few rhinestone spacers for flare, and I've got the perfect necklace for my trip home for Thanksgiving! I think this would look great with a pair of brown cords, slouchy sweater, and boots, as it's on the long side, which makes it feel more casual than a traditional pearl necklace.
 To see others' project for this month's Pretty Palettes blog hop, jump on over to the Halcraft blog & thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October's Pretty Palette Challenge :: Cowgirl Chic

Oh, was this one a hard one! I don' t know if it was the fact that I was too oh-so-in-love with this color palette or that I had mostly rounds to work with this time. For more information and to see the rest of the participants' creations, click here to be whisked off to the Halcraft Pretty Palettes Challenge, hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz for this month! 

Here is our inspiration piece and the palette I chose to work with, by Erin Fitzhugh Gregory
Isn't this gorgeous!?!

Even though the painting is decidedly floral, the colors, when pulled out together, gave me a feel of leather and blue jeans, a sort of cowgirl chic, which gave rise to the Cowgirl Chic necklace.

I have been digging the often undervalued but very useful rounds lately, and this color palette really worked with the beads I had on hand. A few of the beads that I used have facets, but most are the smooth, round workhorses of the beading world.

This palette includes so many wonderful colors, and they're all over the color wheel in intensity as well as color value, giving me a brain bending workout in that way, as well.

Did anyone else struggle in this way with this palette?

Although it looks simple, it took me a surprisingly long time to design the Cowgirl Chic Necklace (hence my evening post)! I'm probably not alone in this, but although the techniques used to create this necklace are common, I find that choosing the beads for the almost-symmetrical look is challenging for me.

One special part of this necklace is the golden honey-colored beaded bead. I used Beadalon's WildFire cord to make this one.

I couldn't stop at just a necklace so I went ahead and used some very cowgirl-esque leather in one bracelet, some stretch cord to make another bracelet, and a traditional beading wire bracelet, along with a pair of earrings, perfect for horsing around. ;)

Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find the time to play along next month! Erin will be revealing next month's Pretty Palette on the Halcraft blog next Wednesday, November 5th!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Pretty Palettes Challenge :: riding a bike...that sparkles

Beading is best when shared! 

For months, a couple of my friends and I had been striving to schedule a beading "play date" for ourselves. Our busy schedules, our kids' busy schedules, and the fact that we don't live in the same town made it challenging, but soon after Erin posted September's Pretty Palettes post, my friends contacted me and let me know that this was THEIR palette and we couldn't let this month go by without giving this palette a go.

After bunches of messages, Jenn, Rachel and I managed to carve out a few hours to work together to make something beautiful based on this gorgeous palette from Jessica Colaluca of Fresh Hues. YUM!

To get ready for our beading play date, I made an amazing--but so easy--roasted tomato and pepper soup the night before, stocked the little fridge in my studio with some drinks and snacks, and set out the goodies for us to play with that worked with the palette. All of these beads are from Halcraft's Bead Gallery line available at Michaels Stores.
These are some of the goodies that we played with during our play date!
Jenn and Rachel and I went to college together, traveled together, and wrote poetry together. It was about time the three of us sat down and created something sparkly.

Speaking of sparkly, I have to share a photo of what happens in my studio on sunny mornings when I put the beads out on the table. Kinda dreamy, right?

Sometimes I just need to watch the beads sparkle!

After rifling through beads, Rachel and Jenn and I chose the ones we liked best and went from there. Jenn, who has a penchant for sparkles, chose a rose gold slider and coordinating beads. Jenn is known for her need to balance, in her life, in her work, and definitely in her beading! Jenn and I have been beading together for over a decade, and I most definitely noticed this trend in her work. Jenn described our morning like this: "I beaded today...for the first time in a long time. It was like riding a bike...that sparkles. Also, yes, I did, in fact, put a bird on my earrings."
Rachel chose some gorgeous glass points and made "grape cluster" earrings. I taught her to pinch her crimps shut to hold the marquis-shaped chain to the strand of glass points, which she carefully placed in an order so that the longest points were in the center of the necklace. Aren't they beautiful? I realized during our time together that I didn't have a mirror in my studio, so Rachel was clever enough to think of using the Photo Booth on my computer. Did I ever tell you that Rachel is, like CRAZY smart? (I think that the carving on this one is beautiful. Maybe when I win the lottery?)

I found myself drawn to  coppery chain as well, but I used a smaller version and hung little dangles from it to create a lariat-style necklace, and I couldn't help but make a few stretch bracelets to layer, too.

Thank you so much for taking the time to peruse our beading projects. I hope that they inspire you to participate in the Pretty Palettes challenge next month, and maybe even plan a girls' night to make a grouping of projects like we did! I know I'd love to be able to do this every month. 

Visit next Wednesday, October 1, to see Erin's October's Pretty Palette!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Unexpected Findings :: The Book Blog Tour!

Welcome! You've made it to day 5 of the Unexpected Findings blog tour! 
For information about Michelle's Giveaway, click here and scroll down to see the prizes.

When Michelle Mach asked me to be part of Unexpected Findings: 50+ Clever Jewelry Designs Featuring Everyday Components, I didn't hesitate. First of all, it sounded like a really fun challenge; second, I knew that I'd be among a bunch of wonderful designers, as Michelle is an editor extraordinaire who knows so many wonderful designers! 

Michelle has always had an eye for clever design and writes amazingly easy-to-follow instructions; I first met Michelle when I was the editor of Simply Beads magazine. Michelle always impressed me with her inventive designs and was adventurous when working within a theme.

The first thing I've gotta say about this book is that if you're a beader or an aspiring beader getting ready to set out on your beading journey, YOU MUST GET IT! Really, the beading ideas in here are some of the most original I've seen, and they all have such flexibility and are easy to apply to your own designs, no matter what your style. 

Not only that, these projects are accessible and with the guidance provided, easy to accomplish. Most beaders will already have many of the supplies in their bead kits to make these projects. The extensive guide at the beginning of the book works as a basics guide, and once you master the basics, you'll want to takes leaps in different directions as shown through the following pages.

Michelle even included another form of versatility in the book by adding a Variations feature, in which we designers were challenged to use another designer's technique to make a project. It's amazing how different the two can be and demonstrates exactly how easy it is to make the technique and a project your own.

I made four designs for the book--all of which I really love. In fact, when these projects were returned to me, I opened the package and popped one on, just like that, because I'd missed it so much! Here's the first one: Connect the Dots.
Connect the Dots, featured in Unexpected Findings

Connect the Dots uses eye pins to make a latticework of sorts as well as decorative spiral headpins. When is an eye pin more than an eye pin? When it's a headpin, too! I also include a tip on how to stretch your eye pin budget, so you use only about half as many as you'd think! I have a love affair with Golem Studio beads, and these sweet melon-shaped beads are from them. The rest of the beads are Halcraft's Bead Gallery beads, and the ovals that make the links have the prettiest finish. They're available at Michaels Stores.

One of my favorite projects from the book that isn't my own also features the modest eyepin, and the effect is beautiful. Check out Michelle's Two to Tango earrings on page 36. Who knew eye pins could be so eyelash-tastic!

I'm going to share one more project with you, and I'll let you search through the gorgeous pages of the book to find my others. This is called Tidal Treasures, and it's one of those understated pieces that packs a wallop when you slow down and look through it, but because of its muted color palette, it is understated as well. It's a longer necklace that I made with some pieces that I'd been hoarding. One is the fabulous clasp from HandFast by Kim Fox; the fish and coral branch are from Green Girl Studios; and the perfectly tiny faceted silver rounds are from Shiana, one of my favorite places to get fair trade silver.
Tidal Treasures, featured in Unexpected Findings
Now that you've seen a little sneak peek of my projects in the book, get yourself over to Michelle's blog to enter the contest! Today's the last day to enter, and the prizes are amazing! What I could do with a $50 Etsy gift card!

And while you're at it, check out this list of the other designers who joined the our book blogging tour this week. I wish I could share my favorites from each one, but I thought I'd better leave something for you to find for yourself in the book:

Monday, Sept. 15
Michelle Mach

Tuesday, Sept. 16
Lorelei Eurto
Erin Siegel

Wednesday, Sept. 17
Cindy Wimmer
Erin Prais-Hintz

Thursday, Sept. 18
Andrew Thornton

Friday, Sept. 19
Denise Yezbak Moore
Molly Schaller- You Are Here! :)

Today is the LAST DAY to enter Michelle's contest to win these wonderful prizes:
Etsy Gift Card Grand Prize
$50 (Fifty Dollars) Etsy Gift Card (1 prize)
You can spend this on anything offered at the many individual shops on Etsy.  This could be fabulous art beads, cool jewelry findings, a hand painted coffee mug, a knitted scarf ... whatever you want.  (Note:  Not all Etsy shops accept gift cards, so if you win, you may want to do a search for those that do.)
First Prize
Fun with Findings Kit (2 prizes)

You can win some of the exact findings used in the book, plus a bunch of other findings that Michelle thought were cool. Prize packs include everything pictured here: jump rings, head pins (handmade by Miss Fickle Media and C-Koop), filigree links, clasps (hook-and-eye, ball chain, lobster), bead caps, cord ends, and more!
Fun with Findings Prize Pack
Second Prize (3 prizes)
To play off the "unexpected" in Michelle's book title, three winners will receive a small mystery pack of findings (valued at $8).  No photo or preview ahead of time.  It will be a surprise!

Happy beading,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Words :: Sea of Sunflowers

 As we walked in reverent wonder of it all
sun-drenched curls never looked so good
as they did on you
today amid sunflowers 
that nodded their silent heads
in assent

The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...

Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).

Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.

Post it each Thursday.
Find more 30 Words Thursdays on Erin's Blog

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Halcraft's August 2014 Pretty Palettes Reveal with Barb Switzer

I'm so excited to finally have this blog post up! Have you ever had a project that wouldn't come together for you? I do occasionally, and this was one of them. I'm late to the party, and in being late, I also have made Barb Switzer's entry late as well. You'll be excited to see Barb's project later in this post!

If you've never played along, here's how the Pretty Palette Blog hop goes: Halcraft Dream Team member, Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati shares a palette as well as inspiration beads from the Bead Gallery line available at Michaels Stores on the first Wednesday of each month. Anyone who wants to play along can visit her local Michaels--or just find something that she already has in her stash--and make something that follows along with the inspiration image.

Here's the beautiful palette that Erin found along with Bead Gallery beads that coordinate for the August Pretty Palettes challenge. Click here for more information and to see what others have made.
I grabbed some of my favorite beads, faceted pink agate, larger swirled pink agate in smooth rounds with light swirls of white, and Phoenix stone round and ovals. There were a few other strands I chose, but incorporating them seemed to complicate and muddle the design. 

First this was a bracelet, then this was a necklace, then, well, I felt like giving up because the deadline was looming close and I wasn't happy with what I'd made. 

But then I found this strand of beads:
I loved them! The palette has a distinctly Bollywood flavor to me, and these beads resonated with the colors. Using these beads made all the difference for me. Suddenly, I had a focal point and a shape that dictated the rest of the piece.

I quickly used this bead as a focal point in what I thought was going to be a bracelet, but as I incorporated some gold chain, I realized that this was one of my last chances to make a summery project. It just had to be a bottomless sandal! Is there a name for one of these? It's nearly the end of summer, so I named them Last Fling Summer Anklets. It's more than an anklet but less than a sandal, and they're surprisingly comfortable. And my hubby thinks they're sexy! *blush*

The following project is by Barb Switzer, Wire Maven, who wanted to participate in the blog hop, but doesn't maintain a blog. I'm so excited to include her project here!

********************Designing Diversely*******************
By Barb Switzer

This month's Pretty Palette color selection is very diverse. To compose the colors together, I felt I needed to start with a focal element. Because wire is my most favored medium, and I am obsessed with teardrop shapes, I had an idea of where to go next.

Barb Switzer's Wire Wrapped Centerpiece
I designed the focal element to anchor the colors as well as the shapes and styles of beads. This allowed me to build a mixed bead chain without having it overshadow the focal. Design challenges are your best ally, encouraging creative solutions and innovative elements.

If the colors are strong, the shapes can also be bold, and the size can even be pumped up a bit. This design reminded me of some of the things I learned in design school. Don't ever be afraid of strong colors, big beads or dominant shapes. Instead, let these elements set the mood. Step away from your safe place; I guarantee it will surprise and delight you to get outside of the fence.
Barb created her own components using different gauges of wires.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

30 Words :: Woman's Best Friend

For Pierre on National Dog Day (albeit one day late)
Just you
and me, 
our feet padding over 
wet, dewy grass
toward the foggy sunrise.
Spiders flicker their legs
proving their absolute mastery
of fiber creation and

The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...
Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.
Enjoy seeing what others have captured by visiting them and leaving a comment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July's Pretty Palette Challenge

This month's Pretty Palette challenge was a bunch of fun, once again. Thanks, Erin, for hosting and choosing such a great set of colors to use. This palette was similar to something I might use, but the yellows and more grey-blues were slightly outside of my normal color comfort zone. 

Here is the palette, inspired by Erin's niece's wedding:

And here is the set that I created!

The funny thing is that I made this set while sitting in a car during my son's soccer practice. This was my view: 
Needless to say, the boy got wet!
I just grabbed a few of those cards of finding sets that have jumprings, clasps, crimps, headpins and eyepins, and some bead strands that I thought went with the palette, put them in my handy beading tray lined with a bead mat and my go-to tools: a pair of round nose pliers, chain nose pliers and wire cutters. By the time soccer practice was over, I had this great set!

Green and turquoise gradient beads are beautiful together! (And notice that I used jumprings as spacers like in the Jazzy Jumprings post!)
This bracelet is really, really gorgeous, and it has that gradient effect that is so simple to achieve. I used a strand of the green faceted beads that are in a repeating pattern, and divided them into their colors, and added two of each hue. Then the three beads at the center are actually from a strand of beads that are repeating hues of turquoise blue. The colors worked great together!
These simple earrings use the same dangles as the necklace.
 I found that my findings kits didn't include ear wires, so I fashioned these out of the eyepins. I think I did alright!

The necklace hangs a little low, like I like them lately, and it just happened that the second set of beads that I strung near the back of the necklace are slightly darker than the first strand, so the ombre effect happened on its own in this necklace, sort of like the bracelet!

Thanks for hosting, Halcraft and Erin! I look forward to next month's challenge! To see the rest of the designs, head to There's more inspiration and some beautiful projects!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

May Pretty Palettes Reveal

It's time for another Pretty Palette reveal! This month (well, last month, but the website had some problems that had to be worked out which made the post a little late) Halcraft's Pretty Palettes colors really spoke to me. I love Erin's choice!

I don't know if it was that the winter was so long, or that the colors were so luscious, but I could hardly wait to put something together using these pretties.

Here's the palette:
April showers are sure to bring pretty May flowers in this pretty palette from Design Seeds.
And here's my design. I decided to just choose beads to string onto memory wire to look like a bunch of stacked bangles. What do you think?

Want to see what Erin, Barb, Katie, Mykeall, Michelle & Denise all made?  Just click here!

Want to play along? Erin Prais-Hintz finds gorgeous inspiring palettes every month and shares them on the Halcraft USA blog. June's Pretty Palette will be revealed next Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The New Girls

Oh, it's been too long since I've written here, but there has been good reason. The reason looks like this:
Meet Muffin. She as well as 5 other little ladies--and one rooster, oops!--were added to our budding homestead the week before Easter. Muffin likes riding in tiny farm equipment, or rather, she did. Now the chickens look more like this:
The ladies (and the rooster who was supposed to be a hen) enjoy a snuggle under a bush for their afternoon nap.
I have wanted to try my hand at raising chickens for years, maybe for the better part of my life, but I had never had the space or guts to give it a shot. Technically, chickens aren't allowed in Muncie town limits. Now that we live out of town and have our own acreage we're giving this a try.

We have Nudge and Tater Tot,two amerucaunas who should lay blue eggs, Muffin the buff orpington, Rosie the Rhode Island Red, Fudge the miscellaneous rooster who must have been in the wrong bin at the feed store and was supposed to be a silver laced wyandotte, but doesn't look at all like one, Fang the austrolorp, and Tooties, a puffy white silky, who is significantly younger than the rest because they didn't have silkies the first time I went to the feed store but did the second time. I had to do some convincing to buy just her; the store usually sells chicks by the half dozen and I can see why, these girls--and boy--like to stick together and have a distinct "cry" peep when they're left alone.

We're working on turning my old college loft into a coop. We've almost finished it! I'll post photos when it's done.

Until tomorrow, when I am going to post a my May Pretty Palettes project for Halcraft, have a crafty day!