Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spring Class Sneak Peek

Although there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air, I've been thinking spring as I design beginner projects for my local craft shop. Here's a sneak peek, and if you're in the area, the schedule opens up in January!

Stretchy bracelets with matching earrings:

Key to My Heart Bracelet and Necklace set (lots of loop practice!):

and my current favorite, Summer Sunrise necklace and earrings:

Here's wishing you a little sunshine, and a very merry, happy, warm and fuzzy holiday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


My town is a great walking town. There are two large lakes, and most weekend days will find an eclectic mix of people walking, running, or strolling around the "lake loop." On my most recent walk, I passed a woman pushing a cat in a stroller. Yes, a cat. That can only be topped by what I saw this summer: An adorable pug in full life jacket, floating on a boogie-board while his big-brother black lab played an endless game of water-catch. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the cat or the dog. But here are a few of the view:

Poor little duck, enjoying the last rays of sun as the ice begins to form...we'll have ice-fish houses out there before you know it!
Our town is nick-named Five-O's (get it? OcOnOmOwOc!) I thought this view from the bridge was appropriate:

Enjoy the beauty in your day, even if it includes a little ice!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rumor has it

A little bird told me that Absolute Beginners Guide: Stringing Beaded Jewerly is about to go into its third printing!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Colors of Fall Design Challenge

My first job out of college was at a small advertising and public relations firm in Philadelphia. I was a PR writer and I loved everything about that job -- my new Mac (circa 1985), my downtown office and commute, crisp business cards, exciting clients, demanding deadlines -- all of it. But what really intrigued me was the art department. They did magical things with x-acto knives, tissue paper, typography books, markers, fine-line pens, and Spray Mount. But the most magical of all was the Pantone color set. I found it mesmerizing.

I must say 25 years later the world of graphic design is still magical and mysterious to me. But thanks to modern technology, I can pretend every now and then, and play around with type, color, and layouts on my own.
That's why this month's Artbeads Blog Partner challenge was so much fun. We were asked to visit Pantone's site and review the newly released Fall Fashion Color Collection. I had a little too much fun playing with the Color Scheme Designer 3 tool. It helped me see combinations in new ways, and kept me from relying on my usual favorites.

For my inspiration colors, I selected lagoon, chocolate truffle, rose dust, and endive. I started with chocolate truffle (who wouldn't?). In the glass bead category I found 8mm deep cut nuggets in brown tiger eye and topaz. For the endive, I went to the gemstones and selected these adorable little peridot rounds. The copper-plated leaf links brought in the rose dust. At first I was challenged to find a blue that was true to Pantone's Lagoon and then I remembered to check the ceramics. These aqua glazed porcelain roundels were just the accents I needed.

Here's my two-strand necklace, accented with autumn leaves and copper chain. For fun, I tried adding color to the copper components with ammonia. My hope was to capture the color of the porcelain beads. You can see traces of aqua on the leaves. It worked much better on the earrings!

These earrings combine peridot dangles with porcelain beads and copper leaves. Perfect for summer-into-fall accessorizing.

Finally, I took all the extras and assembled this jumbled bangle bracelet. I love how the tiny peridot beads peek out from the copper web.

What are your inspirations this fall?

Disclaimer: The beads and copper links used in this project were provided to me free of charge by Artbeads. My review is my opinion and I have not been paid for my endorsement.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Happy Saturday at Ben Franklin

What a great day. Thanks to everyone who came to see me on Saturday at Ben Franklin. I loved meeting new beaders, hearing about projects, answering questions, and visiting with such interesting, crafty people. Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Day Giveaway!

In honor of my official book launch party tomorrow, I'm giving you a chance to win big. First of all, you can pick your own prize:

A book: Absolute Beginners Guide:Stringing Beaded Jewelry
A DVD: Stringing Beaded Jewelry -- Top Techniques
Jewelry: A bracelet from the book

You can pick how you play, and increase your chances with each entry:

* Comment on this blog , and tell me about the first piece of jewelry you made.
* Link to this contest on your blog
* Become a new follower of this blog
* Review my book or DVD on Amazon

If 10 people play, I'll choose one winner. If 20 people play, I'll choose two winners, and if 30 people play, I'll give away all three prizes.

Drawing will be held on August 15. Good Luck!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bead&Button Show

This year was a whirlwind, to put it mildly. I kicked things off with a day-long workshop on Sunday with the amazing Mary Hettmansperger where I had fun with metal clay for the first time, learned a lot about torches, and was delighted that I could just play and create for 7 hours.

Monday night I caught up with Sherry Serafini, Amy Katz, and Paulette Baron, who have just turned in a spectacular book that I now have the pleasure of editing. Look for its release at next year's show.

Tuesday through Thursday were packed with meetings. So many talented artists and so many great book ideas! I hope they come together. The early acquisition stage is so exciting, but I enjoy following the process through to proposals, manuscripts, and finally books!

Wednesday night was the Meet the Teacher's reception. This is truly an event to experience. Eager fans were lined up around the length of the convention center. The doors opened and the room literally buzzed all night. I was proud to see so many of our authors -- past and future. That night was a combination of a high-school reunion and a high-class exclusive shopping event. There are really no words to describe it.

Thursday afternoon I slipped away for a quick class on torch techniques with Steven James. I learned to fuse fine silver links, add color to headpins with fused glass, and torch a tasty treat during the break. Steven teaches all over the country, so if you have a chance to take a class I highly recommend it. He's working on Eco Chic jewelry right now -- fun!

Friday morning I had my demonstration and book signing for The Absolute Beginners Guide. It was hard to compete with the opening of the show, but I had a few lovely ladies sit with me to practice wrapped loops. I love teaching, and I hope I'll do more of it this coming year.

I had about an hour on Friday to booth hop. I didn't shop at all, but there were a few old and new friends to find. I stopped by the Wubbers' booth and saw a demo of some new loop-making pliers. They were thrilled to see their pliers in the book. I also had a quick visit with the fab Jill MacKay. Jill gave me some clasps last year, and was pleased to see them in the book this year. Jill's designs are pretty and practical -- I 'm a big fan. Here we are hamming it up for Mary Wohlgemuth:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Me and my Ippy

Shameless self promotion -- you betcha. Haven't you been wondering what an Ippy looks like?
photo courtesy of William Zubak/Kalmbach Publishing Co.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Are you a visual learner?

If you're a visual learner, you'll love Absolute Beginners Guide: Stringing Beaded Jewelry. The projects are easy, the pace is great for beginners, and there are over 300 photos to guide you step-by-step. The book has 30 projects plus lots of bonus ideas, and teaches one step at at time. But, if that isn't easy enough, you'll really love the DVD version. The DVD takes the most popular techniques and guides you through each step. Plus, the first project from the book is shown, start to finish., I had to giggle when I looked the DVD up on Amazon and saw it was rated "G." Would you expect anything else from me?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Days, Summer Nights

This month's Artbeads blogging theme was summer-time fun. When I think of summer, I think of sun, sand, and slowing down. These sunny day bracelets are a perfect way to capture the mood.

I love, love, love the Czech glass from Artbeads. My new favorite is the fire polished fuchsia and lemon. Just like a summer sunset! I combined the fuchsia and lemon with Ruby AB, Orange AB, and a mix of pink tones. I like using pre-mixed blends for bracelets like these, because there are always some unique colors I may have not found myself.

Whenever I went on vacation as a little girl, I would always pick a silver charm for my charm bracelet to remind me of my trip. Today, you can pick charms like these to represent a memory, or maybe just to dream about a vacation you wish you had! Check out all the charms here.

When I finished my sunny day bracelets, my thoughts immediately turned to summer nights. What better frame for this dragonfly charm than a twinkling of crystals, just like the first stars that emerge from the twilight?

I am still having camera trouble, but hopefully these pictures are clear enough to spark your imagination and inspire a little summer time creativity!

Disclaimer: The charms and Czech glass beads were provided to me free of charge from Artbeads. My review is my opinion and I have not been paid for my endorsement.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yippy Skippy! I won an Ippy!

The Absolute Beginners Guide: Stringing Beaded Jewelry won an Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in the category How To - Crafts & Hobby. How cool is that?
It's also been getting some great reviews. Check out a summary, here. Just click on the "reviews" tab. And, if you're coming to Bead&Button, stop by on Friday morning -- I'll be signing books and demonstrating some easy techniques.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Meredith's art show

Yesterday Meredith had her senior IB art show. Her theme was "Life is Beautiful." Here's my girl, with her work:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Beautiful Baby Girl

My baby turns 15 today, and proud mother that I am, I just have to share some pictures...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Humblebeads...humble beading

I've been a huge fan of Heather Powers since I was first introduced to her work in the early days of BeadStyle. I love her beads, I love her style, and she's a super-nice person. When I was writing The Absolute Beginners Guide: Stringing Beaded Jewelry, I knew the bead glossary was a very important part of the book. I wanted to show as many kinds of beads as I could and help newcomers to the hobby understand all the choices they had. Heather generously gave me some polymer clay beads for this "visual dictionary" of beads.

Now that the book is finished, I wanted to make something special with the beads. I thought of all the things I admire in Heather's work: beautiful beads, natural elements, asymmetrical design, rich, earthy colors ... I must say it was a little humbling to approach this project. I wanted to showcase the beads, of course, but I also wanted them to be fully integrated in the work. Heather's beads are gems to be waiting to be discovered, not dominant focals shouting "look at me!"
So here's my little bracelet. Please visit Humblebeads to see more of Heather's work, or visit her Etsy shop for even more inspiration.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A room with a view

There have been many variations on the "old window as wall art" projects, but I just love the version I came up with.

All you need is an old window, a high-resolution photo, some foamcore, a staple gun, two eye screws, and chain.

First, I washed the window. Believe me, it was dirty. It had been sitting in our garage for ages. It's one of the only "old" things that was left in this house, so I had to do something with it.

After the bath, I let it dry for a few days. I wanted to be sure all the moisture was out of the wood. Meanwhile, I picked a favorite photo (I took this one last summer of the neighbor cows when DJ and I were on our morning walk). I ordered a poster-sized enlargement from

I glued the poster to a piece of foamcore, and stapled the entire thing to the back of the window. Steve helped me with the eye screws and chain, and here's the result:

Look! Look! It's My Book!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Earring Giveaway -- don't forget

Don't forget to leave a comment on the Happy Spring post to be entered into a drawing for my spring-inspired earrings!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Spring

Today is the first day of Spring, and after a little snowfall yesterday, we have sunny skies and warm(er) temperatures. In honor of this delightful day, I bring you my latest Artbeads creation.

When I heard the theme was "The Beauty of Spring" I went immediately to the Czech Glass and selected large bell flowers in translucent white and pink crystal. I also chose small fuchsia crystal and a blue/purple/jonquil combination. I knew balled headpins would add the detail the flowers needed. Because I would be using plain loop connections, I only needed 1 1/4" long headpins. Here's my tray of goodies before I got started:

I was going for the look of a group of naturalized flowers that had just burst forth from the ground. While we do have a few shoots peeking out from the muddy ground, we're still about a month away from flowers, so I had to use my memory and imagination for inspiration. Fixing the looped flowers to chain would give the clustering look I wanted. I started with the largest beads, since I had fewer of those. I added a tiny daisy spacer to the headpin, and then the glass flower.

Are you wondering about that out-of-place coral round? Well, that's what I use to measure so I get uniform loops. It takes 1 cm of wire to turn a plain loop. My red bead is a 10mm. So, by placing it on my headpin, making a flush cut above it, and then removing the bead, all my loops will be even. I ended up making more than 60 for this necklace, so having a guide really helped.

Here's the cut wire just before I made the loop:

Enough of the tutorial! I know you really just want to see the end result! Here's the necklace:

And a closer view:

I made these silver connectors to help space out the crowded chains. I like a lush fullness but not a jumbled mess!

I liked the connectors so much, I thought they would make nice earrings:

And just for fun, I made a hula-hoop inspired pair:

How did you celebrate the first day of Spring? To win a pair of earrings, leave a comment and let me know! Become a follower or link to this post on your blog, and you'll get a second entry. I'll draw the winning names on March 31 -- one for the hoops and one for the dangles.

Disclaimer: I have received these beads (glass flowers and headpins) free of charge from My review is my own opinion and I have not been paid for this endorsement.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Like Christmas and my birthday

I really love my day job. Publishing a book is a long cycle (ask any author) but there are two days I love the most: The day a new manuscript arrives, and the day a finished book comes back from the printer. Last week, I got both! First, Perfectly Paired: Designing Jewelry with Polymer and Metal Clays arrived from the printer. Here's the cover:

This book is a perfect balance between metal clay and polymer clay. Both are fully featured in every project. The book is written in such a way that if you have experience in one but not the other, you'll be able to learn what you need to know without wading through a lot of information you may already know. It's an intermediate-level book, but an ambitious beginner will do just fine. I really enjoyed working with Patti Kimle on this book. We met two years ago at the Bead&Button show to talk about her proposal, we met last year to exchange the projects, and this year she'll be doing a book signing! Check out Patti's blog here, and her etsy shop here.

The other great thing that happened last week was a big box came from Kim St. Jean with projects from her book, Mixed Metal Mania, which is my next big project. Before we saw the projects, the art director, Lisa, and I were brainstorming cover ideas and thought maybe a single image would be good. Well, after we opened the box, Lisa walked away with about 10 cover candidates. Our cover meetings are next week, so I can't wait to see what she comes up with. I can't tell you much more about this book, but let me say that if you like Kim's style, you'll love this book. Kim has a way of making a copper cuff bracelet look like supple leather. Can't wait to dive in and learn how she does it!

In the meantime, there's a long stretch between the day a manuscript arrives and the day the book comes from the printer. That's when the editing takes place, and the design and layout, and the proofreading, and so much more. My current in-the-works project is Lacy Wire Jewelry by Melody MacDuffee. When I edit a book, I have the opportunity to sort of get inside the artist's mind, and understand where the creations come from. I am having a delightful time with Melody's book. If you like filigree (but don't like soldering) this book is for you. If you think filigree is a little frilly, don't worry. Melody does some great work with heavy copper wire and beautiful Krobo beads. See Melody here, and learn more about Soul of Somanya, too.

Do you have a book idea? As an author and an editor, I can tell you that it's a wonderful experience to bring your idea to life. I'd love to hear what you're thinking about!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Must-have tools

A measuring tape and a mirror can be your most valuable tools. Case in point ... this bracelet and earrings set. I was shopping at Michaels and I had to have these cool brass rings. I knew just what I would make -- a multistrand bracelet. When I got home I got to work on the bracelet and while I was at it I whipped up the earrings.

I loved my creations until I tried them on. The focal ring on the bracelet is out of proportion to my wrist, and I have a pretty big wrist. The earrings are attractive, but much too long. Time for a quick re-design.
The earrings have a similar look without the extra dangle:
and the bracelet became half of a necklace:

I like the end result much more than what I started with, and it fits better, too.