Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

Cold (low 50s which is cold as far as this California girl is concerned) and the last couple days have been rainy. That hasn't kept me from visiting a lot of great blogs out there in the Beadosphere, where the weather outside just doesn't matter.

From the Annual Reindeer Bead to this week's featured design project every day at A Bead A Day, Lisa shares fun beads and ideas.

Beading Arts - If you're into using seed beads Cyndi is giving away "Seed Bead Fusion" next week - check here for how to enter.

The Beading Gem's Journal will link you to some great tutorials - like this necklace of exposed wire loops and 3D Crystal Animals (know a Hello Kitty fan? You'll want to click that link).

BunnyBlogs - Pretty baubles, bracelets and a shout out to yours truly! Thanks, Drea!

Davinia over at Deez News worked on her wire wrapping and strung a lovely mixed bead necklace. Oh, lets also wish her mother a speedy recovery!

At Designs by Blanche (aka Sha-sha Handcrafted Jewelry) her post "Family and Inspirations" has lovely photography - including a really impressive background for a jewelry set. She also very kindly shares links, including mine (thank you!) and a sneak peek at the items she got from Artbeads Blogging for Beads.

AJ over at ErtheFae's shares some Artbeads goodies she's working with and got to take a class from Marcia DeCoster and shows what she made there.

Just A Tish features Corse Crafts, shares links to giveaways, but best of all talks about her lovely featured work in Bead Trends - go grab your copy!

See great designs with The Beadin' Path Lucite beads at Pretty Things.

At Silver Parrot gorgeous new pieces, 3 Things and Friday bead porn. This is a really fun blog, I hope you're following, because those were only three of the fun posts from last week.

Willow Walker shared two great sets on Thursday, but the entire week's posts are truly gorgeous. I really appreciate her sense of color and the interesting shapes of her dichroic glass work.

Artbeads blog - last minute gift ideas, gorgeous bracelet, and information on the Use the Muse III reveal, coming soon

Beadalon blog Technicolor Bracelet Tutorial.

The Beadin' Path - Weekly Beadditude with Dara: Felted Christmas Ornaments

Friendly Plastic - Too hard to choose between the two posts this week - Glisten and Shine or Go Dramatic. One of these days I'm going to get my hands on this stuff and try it.

Ornamentea - Fun felt ball wreath

Rings & Things - What are 'findings'?

SoftFlexGirl - Free project idea "Simply Irresistible Headband"

Don't see your favorite blog here? Just leave me the link in comments and I'll be sure to check them out.

Also, if you follow* this blog, you'll never miss the weekly wanderings because you forgot to check - I'll be delivered right to your reader or Blogger dashboard every day!

*Look up at the uppermost left hand side of this page - see the boxes that say "search blog" "flag blog" and "follow blog" - just click the "follow blog" box!

Hope you have a great week - see you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Feature: Artbeads CZ design #4 & Review

Only one more day of Artbeads Cubic Zirconia Beads to go after this. Today I'm sharing the 7mm Dark Purple CZ Coins I was provided and have used in the earrings below:

Under my Ott Lite® the faceted CZ teardrops I used for the earrings appear much lighter than the coins, but in less intense light they seem to the eye to be the same color. Also, the teardrops I've used are not from Artbeads, but a suitable substitute should be these 5x7mm Dark Purple CZ Pear beads. The gold-filled lever back earrings are from Artbeads, they are sold individually, with price breaks at 6-11 and 12+.

Beadalon makes special sized jump rings (see ring X) that can be used with their CZ-Gem Dropz™ and I've used those to link the teardrops and create the short (4 link) chains.

Since on Thursdays I sometimes do reviews, I thought I'd give some opinions about the CZs I've received. On the minus side, the faceting on some of these isn't aligned on a straight horizontal or vertical and some of the drill holes are off center. I find this a bit disappointing, but perhaps at the price it's to be expected. On the plus side, the colors are lovely and the price does seem reasonable. The channel set clear CZs were wonderfully bright and I love the way they look.

On Friday I'll be asking you to comment on your favorite CZ piece from this week as your entry in a random drawing for a $25.00 Artbeads gift certificate. The winner will be drawn on Saturday and will get their certificate directly from Artbeads, so I'll be asking you to email me your full name and email address, if you're chosen. Beads and Jewelry Supplies

For a chance at a $100 Artbeads "Holiday Cheer" prize go to their Facebook page to read how and enter. $100 Gift Card Sweepstakes

Hope to see you tomorrow when I share my final Artbeads CZ design!

FTC compliance notice of material connection: some of the CZ elements, as noted above, were provided to me for free in exchange for design purposes and/or promotional consideration by Artbeads.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

This is really late today - my apologies!

This week at A Bead A Day, Lisa shows off some beautiful glass heart pendants, among other things.

Beading Arts - Last week I mentioned the Lady of Shalott necklace as a work in progress - check here for the finished piece. Also, check out the Artbeads giveaway and CZ products from Artbeads Cyndi will be designing something lovely with soon.

The Beading Gem's Journal is another one that's hard to choose just one post from, since it's full of wonderful ideas and links each week. The post about enlarging holes in pearls is handy, and the post "It's OK to Change Your Mind" is another good one.

BunnyBlogs - Drea shares some lovely garlands and other decorations she's made.

See what Wendy made with the ebony wood chain from her Rings & Things blog partner items at Craft Dinner.

Davinia over at Deez News tries out magnetic clasps and practices her wire-wrapping .

Over at Just A Tish you can see her new CZs from Artbeads, some wonderful designs using vintage Lucite from The Beadin' Path and the adorable Christmas charm bracelet made from lampwork beads from Rings & Things. If you only visit one link, though, check out her December giveaway and enter!

At Silver Parrot there's the story of a charity auction with some darling chicken lampwork jewelry. Also, check out the Friday 'bead porn' post.

It's hard to pick just one day from Willow Walker's blog, but I think my favorite pieces of the week are her untitled "living flame" set. Be sure to check out the whole week, though.

Artbeads blog - $100 Giftcard Giveaway

Beadalon blog - Beadalon acquires Artistic Wire

The Beadin' Path - Weekly Beadditude by Dara: Candy Cane Jewelry and last week, which I missed while in L.A., but worth reading - Beading for the Holidays

Friendly Plastic - A number of great posts, but a good one to start with is this one about Friendly Plastic and Textiles

Ornamentea - Pre-order Steampunk Style Jewelry by Jean Campbell from Ornamentea and get a free kit

Rings & Things - Garnet, January's birthstone and other fun posts all week.

SoftFlexGirl - Spotlight on writing articles for bead publications

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - Wubbers Review

I've had enough time with my Wubbers now to feel comfortable giving a product review.

First of all, Wubbers are pliers that are made by Euro Tools and hand finished to reduce marring on the relatively soft metals used in jewelry making. Wubbers is a word created from the initials of "Wired Up Beads", which is a company that is now a division of Wubbers. L.L.C.

The catchphrase Wubbers uses is “Made to Make Jewelry™” and I would have to agree.They have been engineered for comfort and balance. The joint of the pliers moves very smoothly and the grips are a cushioned foam that is quite comfortable during extended use. More about the designer of Wubbers and other information can be found at the Wubbers website.

I was given some Wubbers for review purposes by Blue Buddha Boutique with their recommendation for use in chainmaille construction. I can see why Blue Buddha would recommend them - the constant gripping and twisting of jumprings to construct even a small bit of maille can be very wearing on one's hands, but using Wubbers reduces the strain. When I first got the Wubbers I noticed a distinct odor from the grips, almost like artificial cherry flavored candy smells, but it's dissipated with continual use.

Additionally, the surface of the tool which touches the wire or jumprings is just matte enough to grip but smooth enough not to leave gouges. I've now made several items with a lot of jumpring manipulation, including a couple of charm bracelet chains, that I can truly tell the difference when I'm using Wubbers versus other tools - no tool marks or shiny spots on colored wire or jumprings. The one exception has been copper - I can't seem to eliminate all scratches or nicks on copper, especially patinaed headpins or wire. Even so, the depth and amount has been significantly reduced. Perhaps it's just me not being cautious enough.

I have Classic Wubbers (flat nose: 6.5 inches long, with a 7/8" jaw) and Baby Wubbers (flat nose: 5 inches long, with a 3/4" jaw). I prefer the Baby size as I have fairly small hands, but the leverage of the larger size may be more helpful with larger gauge wire. I haven't really tested that since the wire I use is 20 to 26 gauge. When working with pieces that have very small spaces for manipulating a wrap, like a fine gauge wrapped loop fitted tightly against a bead, the Baby size is easier for me to use.

Unless I'm clumsy, or the finish on the rings is particularly delicate, I've had great results as far as tool marks or scratches go. I think that for some finishes nothing is going to help eliminate the occasional nick or flake, but the Wubbers keep that to a minimum compared to other tools I've used, and most of my tools are Euro Tools, so it's not as if I'm not using pretty good ones, although I'd like to try Wubbers against Lindstroms one of these days.

You can purchase Wubbers at Blue Buddha Boutique and other jewelry making suppliers.

FTC compliance disclosure, notice of material connections: Two pair of Wubbers were provided as promotional gifts for review purposes by Blue Buddha Boutique.
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