Friday, January 31, 2014

January Monthly Challenge Recap

I really needed some tropical sized warmth this month with the deep freeze that we are caught in in, and this print just makes me so happy! I imagine that sitting on a settee or gazing at drapes from the 30s with this print would transport you to warmer climes instantly.

Welcome to a new participant, Rozantia, who created this great abstract contemporary necklace featuring the colors of the challenge print. This is a work of art in and of itself! We are glad to welcome you to the challenge and hope you will join in again! See more at Bairozan.

Sometimes we don't know what to do for the challenge until I find the perfect bead. I am so glad that Miss Cate of Fulgorine got her shipment of this special bead. The idea that this is like a seed pod fits in so well with the natural subject matter and I love how she described the 'effervescent' effect of the sari silks that she used. Read more on Fulgorine.

Esfera Jewelry tells us that she shies away from the color orange. But that is the predominant color that popped out at her in this month's challenge. I think that after seeing these two delightful bracelets she should definitely rethink her aversion to this color, because it absolutely sings in her hands! Read more at Esfera Jewelry.

Miss Melissa put together the right ingredients for a fun and flirty necklace that references the big florals in this textile. This is sweet and romantic and makes me long for spring! Read more at Bead Recipes.

Vera is challenging herself to add a new skill - beadweaving - to her repertoire. She chose the bright parti-colored palette to make this bracelet with a big tropical bloom clasp. Are you learning something new this year, too? We look forward to seeing where you new techniques will take you. Read more at Designed by Vera.

Understanding how polymer clay artists create canes is fascinating. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of math, a lot of vision. That is what Jill Palumbo shows us in her completely hand-crafted necklace. She recreated the leaves, the buds, the flowers in clay and made this stunning statement necklace, perfect for that tropical vacation we all long for at this time of year! Read more of her incredible process at Palumbo Jewelry.

Miss Kelly headed to the dark side of the spectrum with this great design. The bead choices and placement nod to the leaves, the veins, the cool of their curves. I love the pop of the bright chartreuse green to freshen it up. Read more about it at Mackin Art.

Miss Sarajo was doubly inspired this month and created two necklaces. This necklace reminds me of hothouse flowers. It is romantic and feminine and I love it! Read more at SJ Designs Jewelry.

While the warm tones are the ones that leap out of this textile, it is the cooler and deeper tones that draw me in. Miss Shaiha used that as her inspiration and made this tassled pendant necklace perfect for the pending holiday. Read more on Shaiha's Ramblings.

Miss Karin has an enviable stash of art beads, but was stuck on what to do for this month. She decided to turn this pretty pendant into a brooch! I love the addition of the tiny flowers that look like a gathering of garden blooms as a perfect touch to your sweater as you dream of spring! Read more at Gingko et Coquelicot.

Miss Oksana made these sweet little earrings that feel like a breath of fresh air. And they also have the Pantone color of the year, Radiant Orchid, in them!

Miss Martha of Ruby Acorn blended all the colors together in this beautiful necklace. I like how the colors shade from cool to warm with lots of interesting things to look at along the way, like a path through the rainforest.

Miss Kathy reminds us that warm colors can get us through the bleakest winter. This pretty dragonfly reminds me that spring will come again! Read more at BayMoonDesign.

Thank you for your beautiful submissions for this month! A great way to kick off the new year! Stay tuned for the February challenge (I think you will like it!).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pinterest Style/ Inspiration Boards for Jewelry Designers with Kylie Parry

Pinterest style/ inspiration boards can be a really useful tool for creative businesses.

For artists, Pinterest is the ultimate virtual way to collect and organize inspiration and creative motivation. Style boards help  tell a story- your story- your artwork's story (and the story you are trying to sell). Boards can be curated based upon themes, seasons, colors, etc. I tend to create beads and jewelry in themed collections. My inspiration boards reflect that. The multi-media aspect of creating style boards is so true to life. As artists, we draw inspiration from so many sources: places, experiences, clothes, paintings, photography...Pinterest boards help capture that complexity.

ahhh...glorious spring. My 2014 Spring Inspiration board. 
 Kaushambi Shah's pastel and eclectic Vintage Inspired Spring Garden Tea Party board. 
Pinterest style boards are also practical. They assist in organizing favorite supplies, tutorials and information in a visual and easy way.

In a single glance, visitors get a 'feel' for the artist's work- which I love. Peek into the brain of an artist.

When Heather starts pinning beautiful floral prints and photos, we anticipate new feminine and flowery beads. Heather's Inspired by Spring board.

Boards are a way to keep inspired, keep motivated and share in the inspiration of others by following their boards.

Pinterest is also a business tool. In creative businesses, making connections and fostering relationships is key.

Having style boards, creates opportunities to connect with like-minds.
{Someone searching for a vacation spot in Fiji may happen upon a photo on my 'take me to the sea' board. While perusing my board, they might spot a whale bracelet they can't live without, or a starfish necklace they love, or... you get the picture.}

The possible connections are vast.

Pinning a variety of things is important for drawing more (and new) people in and keeping them interested. Sharing resources, where you found a cool supply, cross promoting other jewelry/ bead makers and pinning other relevant things, gives people (and potential customers) a reason to keep following along. I like following other style boards to stay current on trends, this season's colors and the styles that are 'hot' (since I am not. read: new baby (i.e. I don't get out much)).

Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp's 'on trend' Gypsy board.

The changes beyond our control to sites like Etsy and Facebook, that make it increasingly difficult for our artwork to be found, make resources like Pinterest a valuable (and fun!) way to diversify and promote our creative businesses.

AND this blog post has just justified all those hours you've spent pinning. You are welcome :)

Have a great week!


p.s. feel free to follow my boards and the Art Bead Scene boards!

(We are re-publishing this post due to a scheduling error. I think it's fab enough it deserves repeating. Share your favorite jewelry mood board in the comments!)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Sarajo Wentling + Tesori Trovati

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I have selected this simply elegant necklace from Sarajo Wentling of SJ Designs for this week's Perfect Pairing. Sarajo is a brand new member of my Simple Truths Sampler Club, a gift from her dear husband from the Typhoon Relief auction that was held in December. A sweet and generous soul!

So of course, I loved this the moment I saw it.

There is a simplicity in this design that is hard to find in my own. I appreciate the subtle combination of colors that complement the tones of the pendant that I created. It is altogether exciting to see how your own beads and pendants look all grown up and dressed in such finery!

And I will echo what another commenter, Just Beadey said, 'I love this, so simple and unfussy yet so different I was immediately attracted.'

Tropical Tapestry - Limited Edition
I created these pendants especially for the January Sampler members, each one formed from my own hand carved texture stamp interpretation of the textile and colored to match the spirit of this tropical fabric. The picture above shows the variation of what I made for them. While I am out of the brass bases as shown, I would be willing to make up a few more in either gunmetal or silver. I will leave them on my website for a limited time in case you would like to take a peek. 
Featured Designer :: Sarajo Wentling

Featured Art Bead :: Tesori Trovati

Let's see what YOU can create inspired by this tropical themed textile!
Join me here on Friday, January 31st for the Monthly Challenge Recap
with a picture gallery and InLinkz blog hop!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Amuse your Muse Monday with Rebecca of Songbead

Last week for handmade beads in red, glorious red! I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have. What's up for next month I hear you ask? Well, I'm returning to a perennial favourite of mine - have you guessed it......bird beads. I know I am not along in loving birds beads of a feather and I hope you will join me in searching out favourites, old and new. 

But before we move onto birds, let's share a few more red beads. Of course, red is becoming more apt as we approach the big V Day.......{And a quick reminder - you can win some of my handmade heart headpins by answering my question in my Inside the Studio post from Friday! Hop over there when you're done reading this post.}

Pick up a delicious, glossy enamel lampwork heart from Beads by Laura - Lub-Dub.

Another lampwork heart, this time from Tempting Little Charms.

Lovely lampwork headpins from Earthshine Beads.

A very cute clasp from Something To Do Beads.

 A gorgeous 'Heart of Sakura' from Helen Jewellery.

What's super cool (to me) is that all the bead artists featured today are from the UK! And they all ship worldwide. I love that handmade beads can put us in touch with people all over the world. 

And now for the BeadBlogger Links:

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inside the Studio with Rebecca of Songbead and The Curious Bead Shop

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations Steph L.! You have won a set of four Facet Effects in whichever ombre colour palette you like from  Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati.
Please send Erin an email with your information.


Today we visit the studio of Rebecca Anderson of Songbead and The Curious Bead Shop.

This is my first Inside the Studio post in a good while! A lot has changed since my last post. You see me here every Monday now, bringing my 'Amuse Your Muse' posts to you, sharing your and my beady finds in different themes each month. So you may have some idea of what's been going on in my life recently....but today I'll fill you in a little more.

Back in September, my partner and I - and our 3 house bunnies! - moved over from Manchester in England to Belfast in Northern Ireland due to my partner's work. Neither of us had visited N Ireland for more than a single day before, and that was back in the '90s. So we really were diving in head first, with no real idea of where we would land! It was exciting and scary as you can well imagine. I also had craft fairs booked up over on the mainland (Britain) up until Christmas. So there would potentially be a lot of travelling backwards and forwards through 2013 - both plane and ferry. And car at either end! 

Although there have been more than a few hiccups along the way, Belfast is proving to be a fun place to be, albeit for only a short length of time (again, partner's work). I was able to give up my school teaching that I had been doing for the past 8 years (and very gladly so, the time had come to end that particular chapter in my life, much as I got a lot out of it at the time) and work solely from home. 

Ok, I admit it....I'm not the tidiest of souls....! Although it's not looking too bad from this angle....

We were lucky that renting costs are not as high as elsewhere in the UK and we live in a beautiful big house and I have my own dedicated studio to work from home in. Of course, that's not without it's challenges. We didn't know a soul here when we moved over, and that was having a house empty of furniture for the first few weeks (months really!) made things extra challenging.

My packing station. No Polar Vortex here, just drizzle torrential rain and yuckiness! Bring on the Spring.

However, 2014 is here and I can keep my feet here in Ireland for the next few months at least. That is  GOOD feeling. I can get used to the rhythm of working by myself, find out what works for me and what doesn't. For example, even though I would consider myself very much an introvert, I find that being alone in all day every day during the week quite lonely. So getting out and about and working in local cafes a few times a week has proved a god-send, even if it does mean I have to get out of my pyjamas! Free Wi-fi is an excellent thing and very much worth the price of a cup of tea. 

My very fancy photography set up in my home studio!
I had all sorts of plans for New.Things. in 2014.....which so far have not come to much! I was totally burned out after 6 weeks including 5 plane trips, 3 ferry trips and goodness knows how many hours in the car...and I think I actually need some mental head-clearing space before I move onto some of the many ideas I have cluttering up my head and studio space. Metal-smithing, polymer clay-ing and torch-fire enamelling are just some of the things I have bought most of the equipment for and have plans to dive into over the next few months. But head space first. Allow myself to breathe. Not put too much pressure on myself to come up with designs that are New! Original! Ground-breaking! moving on in great leaps and bounds. Slow and steady. It is only January, after all ;-) 

Because of this pressure I was putting on myself since 2014 began, I found myself in a bit of a creative rut until about a week ago. I stopped trying to think new and different, just laid some beads out, and started creating. I am sure some of those pieces will get cut up and go back into the stash, but it allowed me to get going again, and get into my groove. It felt good! Long may that continue. I still have those ideas percolating but I've got to allow myself less-pressured play too. 

One of my new creations - Feathering the Nest. Sweet, simple and hopefully very wearable. Not everything has to be ground-breaking...lovely can be 'enough'! Art beads from Humblebeads and Blueberri Beads. 

What's the best way to get your creative mojo flowing again? Why, with new beads of course! Here are some of the lovely goodies I've treated myself to - a destash from mixed-media artist Barbara Bechtel of Second Surf.

Yum! Are you jealous?!

These came straight out of the box and became jewellery straight away. See what they grew up to be!

Pacific Depths

As yet nameless....what do you think?

Peacock Pearl

Here are some totally gorgeous polymer art beads I bought from Leah Curtis of Beady Eyed Bunny, an American artist now based in the UK.

Look at these beautiful rosebuds! They were a special gift to me for being Leah's 300th sale. Thank you Leah! I love them. 

These beads haven't become anything quite yet, but they will. Cute wee beasties with sweet hearts adorning them. Absolutely gorgeous, and very much my folky, whimsical aesthetic. Can't wait to create with them!

One of the new designs I have come up with this year for The Curious Bead Shop are my wirework Heart Headpins

Heart Headpins in antiqued copper

Just in time for Valentine's Day! It's less of a big event over here in the UK (at least that's my impression) but we still see a lot of hearts and flowers about the place - and who doesn't love hearts and flowers? They have proved super-popular which is always a lovely feeling, and I'm now offering them in two different metals and finishes. 

How about you? What's new for 2014? What's staying the same? Leave a comment to be in with the chance to win some of my heart headpins in the metal and finish of your choice - either 6 sterling pins or 10 copper, antiqued or shiny. Or a mix of both. 

Just comment below, telling me about your plans for 2014, to be entered.

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pinterest "Birds of Inspiration" Board

I find it completely enthralling to lose myself on Pinterest. I can find a wealth of inspiration without leaving the comfort of my bed or my home. Page after page of amazing pictures and incredible ideas! I could spend hours, and have, pinning anything and everything! If there was one thing I could say I am addicted to, it would be Pinterest!

So naturally I was asked to become the Pinterest Administrator for the Art bead Scene! What a perfect job for me! If only it came with a pay check! Lol! One of the things I am doing is creating inspiration boards about specific subjects. Things that already inspire me, or that I have found inspire you. My first board for this month's post is "Birds of Inspiration". What more inspiration do you need than the amazing colouring of a tropical bird! Or the wise look of the Owl, or simply a birds next with Eggs in it. Nature inspires us all in one form or another. Birds have always inspired me tremendously.

Birds are truly limitless in their inspiration. I find myself creating my own art beads from this inspiration, as well as my art bead jewelry. I know I am not the only one, so check out the Pinterest board to see for yourself!

A mix of many different artisans that were very much inspired by birds in their creative endeavours.

I love the different styles, interpretations and uses of inspiration portrayed in these pieces.

Please take the time to let this board inspire you, I know it certainly has inspired me. Share it with your friends and certainly give ABS a follow on our Pinterest page!

As always thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Mackin Art + Round Rabbit + Bead Swede

You are all making it so tough on me!
The submissions this month are so varied and special, it is really difficult to pick just one each week!

While there is a riot of color in the textile by Lois Maillou Jones, I think what attracted me to this gorgeous necklace by Kelly of Mackin Art was the spotlight on just one color - the bright chartreuse in the components by Kristen Varian. The veined leaf in the Round Rabbit cabochon shines in its simplicity and pairing that with the zebra jasper with its snaked lines works so well. (Nancy Adams makes the most beautiful focals and they are hard to get! Watch for her regular sales.) The pops of the bright acid green draw your eye around the design and make this tropical without being literal.

Featured Designer :: Mackin Art

Featured Art Bead :: Round Rabbit + Bead Swede

Let's see what YOU can create inspired by this tropical themed textile!
Join me here on Friday, January 31st for the Monthly Challenge Recap
with a picture gallery and InLinkz blog hop!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday :: Bobbers

 I love fishing. 
You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end.
Your imagination is under there. 
~Robert Altman

One of the calls for submission for the Summer issue of Stringing Magazine was Upcycled Jewelry. Basically, using materials that are not traditionally meant for jewelry. When I started making jewelry that is exactly what I did, re-purpose and re-cycle. In fact, that is where my company name, Tesori Trovati (Italian for 'treasures found') originated.

I made this necklace for their consideration, but it was not selected. So I thought I would share with all of you a little tutorial of sorts to get you thinking about new sources of inspiration.

Whenever I get stuck or feel uninspired, one place that always intrigues me is the hardware store. We have one of those little mom-and-pop shops that has a little bit of everything and all of the bits are stored in those mysterious little drawers. I like to walk the aisles, peeking into the drawers and discovering what is there. I always come home with a little baggie of something and put it in a box with all the other hardware store trinkets. Sometimes these things show up in my work directly, and sometimes I am just inspired by their shape or construction.
Barrel Swivel with Coast-Lock (mine are a different metal tone)

On one such trip, I discovered items that are meant for fishermen. Little baggies containing what looked like wire wrapped beads. I don't fish, so I wasn't exactly sure what they were for, but I thought that they looked cool. Turns out these are called barrel swivels with coast-locks. In reading online about them, I can tell that they are used in tying bait to hooks and they swivel so that the line does not get tangled. The gold color of mine would flash in the water attracting the attention of the fish. One end has a wire wrap closed hook called a coast-lock. I quite like the look and the usefulness of this coast-lock and will attempt to do that in some wire real soon.

Adding to these. I decided to add a little flash with some external tooth locking washers, square nuts and some tiny brass washers.

And here is the instruction to make this quick necklace that looks like you spent hours on the wire wrapping! (Resources at the end of the article).

First, open the coast-lock by squeezing it gently, and add a tiny brass washer. Open a second coast-lock and attach it to the same washer. Before closing both of the coast-locks, add an external tooth locking washer for a little movement and flash. Continue making sets of the barrel swivel links for a total of six barrel swivel links.

For the beaded sections, cut galvanized steel wire into 5" lengths. Create a loop on one end and string on a barrel swivel link before closing it and wrapping the wire securely. String a Czech glass bead, a brass washer, a square nut, a ceramic round, a square nut, a brass washer, and a Czech glass bead before closing the loop and adding the next barrel swivel link.

Continue connecting the barrel swivel links alternating with the beaded links. This necklace doesn't need a clasp, as it is long enough to fit over your head, but you can always pinch open one of the coast-locks if you need a clasp!


These beads from Jennifer Heynen of Jangles looked just like bobbers or floats that you see fishermen using, and so that is what this necklace is called. Bobbers!

Just slip it on and start fishing for compliments! ;-)

What items can you find at the hardware store to inspire your designs?

12 barrel swivel with coast-locks - your hardware store or fishing tackle shop
6 external tooth locking washers - your hardware store
18 brass washers - Objects and Elements
12 Czech Picasso finished fire polished faceted grey glass rounds
24"galvanized steel wire - your hardware store
6 ceramic rounds - Jangles