Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

Congratulations to A Bead A Day for being asked to join not only the Rings & Things blog partners program but also for being asked to join a blog circle that shares links every week - if you follow Margot Potter, The Art Bead Scene or Earthenwood Studios, among others, you'll have seen these weekly promos for each other. Don't miss any of her daily posts, but I really enjoyed the one yesterday about the Swarovski sculpture ring she created, what a cheerful and fun piece!

Just A Tish is running a contest! Enter soon, she picks a winner on July 1st. The whole week was great on her blog, with a game and a Rings & Things challenge post, just to pick two.

I particularly liked Willow Walker's "Peachy Keen" this week - very elegant, and check out the beautiful cabs she photographed on Thursday and Friday!

That Russ Troll really gets around! See him at his visit to Silver Parrot Designs. Then check out what Wendy T. Gibson has done. She's put up a cool Google Map to follow the adventures of Russ Troll. There's a Rings & Things Flickr page with lots of Russ "sightings" pictures, too.

ErtheFae has a lovely blog and designs gorgeous jewelry, if you're not following or bookmarking her blog, I highly recommend it. She works in all sorts of media, too. Very inspirational!

Check out Cindy Gimbrone's (aka Lampwork Diva) post about the Rings & Things Bead Tour stop she visited.

Margot Potter did a post on slick surface embossing - something I would love to try one of these days. It looks like a great technique for making unique and customized focals, among so many other things.

I'm usually a bit hesitant to toot my own horn here, but I certainly was thrilled when I saw that Soft Flex Girl mentioned me on her blog the other day - I'm such a fan of hers!

I completely understood the way Jessica felt in her post "Adventures in Asymmetry" on the SmuTopia blog. It's always a bit scary to move out of ones comfort zone, but she did a beautiful job.

The Daily Jewel posted about the Saul Bell Design contest - I won't duplicate her effort except to say the deadline is September 1st. Please check out her post for more details and also check out the rather sad post about the Japanese cultured pearl industry.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - Soft Flex Trios from Rings & Things

This month Rings & Things provided their blog partners with the opportunity to select what product(s) we wanted to review. I've been reading about the Soft Flex Trios on the Soft Flex Girl's blog as well as at the Flex Your Creativity Contest and the free patterns on the Soft Flex site. So my selection was a variety of Soft Flex .019" diameter, 49 strand Trios. Each Trio has three coordinating colors on 10' rolls.

The wire is color coated stainless steel with a test strength of 26 lbs. They say it can be knotted, which I tried with some light yellow quartz beads and the bone color from the Harmony Trio (Bone, Lemon Quartz and Copper)

The beads curved instead of lying along a straight line when I tie simple knots between them, so I went to the site to see what they recommend, which is a figure 8 knot. I couldn't figure out how to get the knot tight to the bead, however, and until I learn how, I won't be using this for knotting.

The pricing at Rings & Things is lower than the list price, but you do have to meet their minimum purchase requirements and there's a small additional cost for purchases under $50. The plus side is a full selection of trios, quantity discounts, and great customer service (plus a candy treat in the package).

By the way, if you do get a product from Rings & Things, there's a contest on this month - you only need to submit a review to enter.

There are several things I want to try, but first I decided to make a quick and fun necklace using some glass beads I'd gotten from various bead mixes. I used three strands, quartz (white) and Rhodocrosite (light pink) from the Romance set and Pink Tourmaline (a bit darker pink) from the Mystical set. I used a large sized tube crimp that all 6 strands fit into (unfortunately, I don't know the exact size) to form the loops for jump rings at the ends so I could add a clasp.

I also knotted the strands as tightly as I could against the last beads on each side and then left the rest of them bare to show off the color. Unfortunately, I had to do some adjusting and one side got a bit kinked. I'm hoping that the weight of the beads might pull out the kink, but I'm not too optimistic. Next time, I'll forgo the knots. The small pink beads between the larger glass ones are strung on just one of the three wires, by the way, to allow some additional color to show.

(click to enlarge for detail)

I'm having fun thinking up new things to try with these colors and may even make something I feel good enough to enter in the contest (deadline is September 1, 2009).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

~Happy Father's Day to any dads who happen to be reading. I'm enjoying my dad's company this weekend, but I made sure to schedule this post in advance~

Had a busy week? Not able to peruse a lot of beading, crafting and other artisan's blogs? Dawno's traveled the Beadosphere and has these "catch up on the week's highlights" suggestions for you:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - Lisa from A Bead A Day

One of my favorite blogs in the Beadosphere is A Bead A Day. It's a daily dose of cheer, with shiny beads tossed in! Lisa, the author of the blog, has also been a steadfast commenter here, bringing her enthusiasm and support to my blog and efforts to become better at my craft. I am so grateful for that and her generous feature of my work not that long ago on A Bead A Day.

On February 5, 2008 Lisa said in her first post "This is a new site geared toward all beaders who appreciate the individual beauty of beads and the unique works of art they are used to create." And indeed, each day since she's done just that.

You can also follow Lisa on Twitter. Now, let's hear what Lisa has to say!

Dawno: How did you get started blogging about a bead a day on A Bead A Day? It's a great idea!
Lisa: Thank you! I am working on a jewelry book that is being published by North Light Books at the end of the year. Prior to the Acquisitions Editor presenting my proposal, she suggested that I begin a website or blog. I wanted to get something up and running that day and the first thought I had was to talk about beads since they make me so happy. I didn't realize then how much joy this blog would provide and how many friends I would make in the process. It has been a wonderful experience!
Dawno: Did you have any goals or hopes for your blog when you started? Has that changed? How?
Lisa: I wanted to maintain consistency and produce something the publishing company would think was appropriate. I never dreamed I would get to know so many talented and wonderfully encouraging and kind beaders and crafters! I also had no idea of my potential for rambling on about beads!! : )
Dawno: Have you always been interested in beading and are there other crafts you like to do?
Lisa: I've always loved crafts, but until I started to bead, I had no idea of the wide variety of crafts and products available. I started to bead in 1990 after a vacation to San Francisco where I purchased my first piece of beaded jewelry from a street vendor. It was a strung bracelet using all the same hematite beads. It dawned on me when we got home that I could probably do something like that and I started buying beads at Joann Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics. I didn't have any awareness of swarovski and glass designers, etc. until much later. Several years later I got hooked on memory wire. In the last 8 or 9 years, I have taken classes and started reading every book and magazine I could find about beading techniques.

I also enjoy decopauge and anything having to do with hot melt glue and glitter!
Dawno: What has been your most challenging project?
Lisa: Good question! Sometimes I find projects challenging that do not even appear to be challenging. That's when I know I need to step back and realize this is supposed to be fun! That usually happens when I know I am making something for a specific person or purpose. Otherwise, since I'm not doing craft shows right now, most of my beading is for fun or gift giving.

Several years ago I made a woven bracelet using hemp cord and wooden beads that required every bead to be reamed in order to get 2 strands through each bead. That was definitely a tad challenging, but it wasn't until a couple of craft night friends admired it and I decided to teach them how to make it that the challenge began! I then had to ream beads and prepare kits for 5 other people. That was a bit of a challenge and my fingers were pretty sore afterwards. The reward was that they all turned out great and everyone was happy!
Dawno: What kind of beading do you like best?
Lisa: I have a love for memory wire. It is easy to use and has so many possibilities. You can make formal or informal pieces with it and technically just need one pair of pliers to turn the ends as long as you have a heavy duty pair of scissors to cut the wire. If you plan to use a lot of it, definitely invest in a memory wire cutter! It's a wonderful medium to teach because it is not intimidating to most people. It is usually adding a clasp and crimping that many people are concerned about learning. With memory wire, you can focus more on your design.
Dawno: You have a great eye for colors - any idea how that developed or if there was an early influence?
Lisa: That is very nice of you to say, thank you! I haven't thought of myself in that way, I just sort of go with things.
Dawno: If I were just starting to think about getting into making my own crafty jewelry, but was on a hugely limited budget, what "must have's" would you suggest starting with?
Lisa: Memory wire!! As I mentioned above, especially if funds are limited, you can get away with using a $2.00 pair of pliers and some kind of cutting tool you might have around the house, if you begin by using memory wire. Once you buy a package of memory wire, all you need are beads! As many or as few as you like. There are just a few limitations regarding beads. If they are too long or too fragile, they might not produce the results you are looking for on memory wire. However, most beads work great and if you are looking for immediate gratification, most projects are quick and easy!
Dawno: Sort of a "desert island" kind of question - you're going away somewhere and you can't buy any supplies while you're gone. You can only take a small tote full of stuff to work with to keep you sane, but you can also use anything you might find in your hotel, as well as your tote stuff to craft with. I'll be kind and let you come back to the world in one week :-) What is in your tote?
Lisa: Lots and lots of crystals!! They don't take up much space, but they provide lots of sparkly happiness wherever they go. You don't even have to make anything with them really, just LOOK AT THEM! I promise your mood will improve!

What do you think you could find to use? Gosh, I'm stumped! All I can think of is taking the laundry bags to put more stuff in! : )
Dawno: You can buy $500 worth of only one type of stone or bead to use in your jewelry - what would you pick and why?
Lisa: How funny, as I just mentioned above, I would buy crystals and for the simplest reason of all, the happiness factor. I don't know how you could look at even $10 worth of them and not become happier. Looking at $500 worth of all shapes, sizes and colors would be heavenly!
Dawno: As a beader/crafter, why is blogging and/or social networking important?
Lisa: Up until a year ago, my world was so much more limited. Once I began blogging I was able to better communicate my thoughts and feelings associated with beading/crafting. I have learned about many more techniques and products available. I have had the privilege to "meet" some of the brightest, and most popular, jewelry designers who are all so encouraging and willing to share what they have learned.

Once you begin meeting others on blogs or through facebook and twitter, you just can't go back! It restores your faith in humanity because everyone who is out there doing self promotion is also willing to take a minute to help you do the same. I would definitely encourage individuals hoping to promote either their craft, their art of themselves in general, to get on twitter and facebook and begin building relationships.

Thank you so much, Lisa, for letting us get to know you better. I hope everyone will bookmark or subscribe to ABeadADay and enjoy her fun and fascinating posts every day!

PS: There are no pictures of Lisa on her blog, so I thought I'd share pictures of her adorable pups, who you can also read about in: "The Magical Doggie Bead"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

I'll start off with some of my favorite bead/jewelry/crafts blog posts of the week and wrap up with other sites of interest (I hope!) for you to visit and hope you'll consider adding to your RSS readers or bookmarks.
There is one other post from last week at A Bead A Day that I didn't mention above - it's her Friday Featured Designer post. The designer, Molly, has a lovely banner and does a great job with her Etsy store and photographs of her lovely vintage button (and other media) creations.

Then I visited Whimsy House's blog. I wish three things:
  1. she'd post more - I like her friendly 'voice' and she's got a fascinating niche
  2. she'd change from white text on black background, which is very hard to read, at least for me
  3. she'd not center all her text which is also difficult to read.
Maybe nobody has mentioned it to her so she didn't know? How often do we visit blogs that might have promise but not go back and establish a rapport for any of the above reasons or others? I'm guilty as charged, but working on it.

That brings me to wish #4 but it's for myself - I wish that if you ever have constructive criticism to give me, that you will. I want my blog to be a place you'll keep visiting. If I'm doing something that might prevent that, let me know!

Apparently there's quite an overlap in the tech world and the crafts world - I guess I knew that some techie folk liked papercrafts (my husband helped me realize how many techies are into Origami), and I knew there were a number into Steampunk, but I really didn't know the extent of it.

Take Maker Faire, for example. Since it was the weekend right after Bay Con, I didn't go, but you can see from the Maker links at the 2009 website, where the two interests intersect.

Speaking of Makers at this year's faire, one of the crafters linked above (link: "two") was Absolutely Small who is a new friend of mine on Twitter. Get over to her site and get in the know about Chickenpants!

Another intersection of tech and geek and craft (and so much more) is BoingBoing, where many arts and handcrafts are often featured, like the Trekkie Meerkats or Steampunk jewelry.

Also, this week Wired magazine featured an article about Geek Art: Needlework Brings Together Programmers, Crafters and shows some beautiful embroidery and quilting with a techie slant.

Via a tweet from Dave (@Rings_Things), I wandered over to Flapper Girl, where she showcases this wonderful Vintage 50s Bead Kit.

Artbeads "Tweet your Prize" Twitter promotion is going strong - there's a new contest through Tuesday synched up with their Express Yourself sale.

The Beadin' Path has finally opened for business in their new space - here are a couple "work in progress" pictures Heather posted - from the floor and the next day - wow, the colors! I wish it were possible for me to visit in person (and probably break the bank on vintage beads).

SoftFlexGirl Sara posted about Beading Wire Diameters - extremely helpful! Thanks, Sara!

I got a Lima Beads newsletter the other day informing me of the creation of a new community section: The Garden

This week, we launched an exciting section on our web site. It's called The Garden, and it's a community section dedicated to meeting new beaders, sharing ideas, asking questions, and more.

Get started by seeing who's online, creating a profile for yourself, checking out groups to join, or browsing the beader directory.

Ok, I think that's plenty to keep busy with for today - see you tomorrow, I hope - I'll be showing a re-make I've been working on this weekend, if you visit.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

Thank you to NiftyKnits for giving me such a lovely feature post on her blog! And, putting me in an Etsy Treasury, too! In this post she also talks about how we became acquainted.

As always, it's been a week of great beads at A Bead A Day, be sure to scroll down and read the whole week's worth!

Tish told us on Monday that Corporate was in town and she's been quiet since. Hope she gets back to her usual chatty self next week!

Jessica at SmuTopia "spaced out" on Friday. Ok, not really, but she did share some great space/sci fi themed finds on Friday - including the NiftyKnits Trekkie meerkats mentioned above!

Blanche at the Sha-sha Handcrafted Jewelry Blog shows the Canvas On Wood Pendant she chose from Artbeads to review and the lovely necklace she created for it.

The other day I was looking around for Twitter-themed graphics and happened upon the lovely blog of Amanda Davies, "articulations". She has created the most adorable birds she calls "Tweets" which are available in her Etsy store.

I recently bought some lovely vintage buttons from The Beadin' Path to add to a stash I'd started collecting and this post from Design*Sponge about making your own 9-hole buttons is great synchronicity!

Speaking of The Beadin' Path: do I ever love this Betty Paige Necklace (when I was young I thought Paige would be a cool first name. Guess I was reading a lot of 50's books as a kid in the 60's).

How do you get from 'dapping blocks' and Russ Troll beads to 60's era anti-war songs? Follow me, @Rings_Things and @wendytgibson on Twitter! Also, Rings & Things has a new contest for June, write a product review, get entered for a drawing for a $50 gift certificate!

Tammy Powley at The Crafty Princess Diaries talks about Project Ties that Bind, which asks bloggers to spread the word about their raffle "with 100% of the proceeds going towards the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund." I hope you'll help spread the word, too.

Margot Potter's ReclaimU Radio interview was great. Valuable insights, interesting life story, well worth the time.

Dee at Watch Me Create blogs about the inspiration for, and shows the steps used to create, her beautiful African Sunset piece.

Lots of folks last week were getting ready for, going to, and arriving at the Bead & Button show. Wish I could be there, too! Here are some links I rounded up:
Well, that's enough of a round up for today. Please remember that I archive these at Dawno's Beadosphere and would love to have you bookmark or follow there. Also, that blog has a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Which means you are welcome to copy and use those posts, or pieces of them, at your blog non-commercially (and other stuff you can read about if you click the link) if you'd like to spread these links around, I wouldn't mind one bit. It would be especially nice if you'd add a kind word about my blog, too.
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