Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review: Foxy Epoxy by Kristal Wick

"Foxy Epoxy:  44 Great Epoxy Clay Projects with Serious Bling" by Kristal Wick
Published by Lark Crafts

I admit it, when I first received this book for review, I set it aside.
Epoxy Clay is not a chosen medium that I work with often - and apparently not often enough, as I quickly discovered once I had more time to "flip through."

I found myself enamored with some of the pieces, smiling at Kristal's use of vibrant color, and her unabashed love of bling.  Its contagious!

Epoxy clay is a unique medium, consisting of two parts.  One is a resin and the other is an activator / hardener.  When mixed together, the substance will hold almost anything.
The craft industry has seen a vitalization, of sorts, of this material by adding color.  Common brands are:  Crystal Clay and DeCoRe.

I have some minor experience with Crystal Clay and have taught a couple of "how to" sessions in the Boutique.  I've witnessed instructors, like Nikia Angel, take Crystal Clay and turn it into magic, right before my eyes.  Once you start, it IS addictive.

But I digress, with little time to create on my side these days, Crystal Clay isn't one of the top few craft items I get out to play with.  I haven't had enough time to experiment on my own.

Little did I know the diverse projects and designs you could create with this material!

Kristal, with the help of twelve talented designer friends, have put together a great collection of projects that give you a variety of things to work with, full of inspiration and ideas!  This is truly a craft technique to try your hand at.

Not all of the projects in the book are my style, but that would hold true with any book.  Some I just didn't understand the "why," of it.  Yet others kept me smiling at their whimsy, their innovative use of materials, and their complete wearability.  This speaks of a diverse group of projects, for every style.

This sourcebook will take you from the very beginning to a endless road of possibilities.  There is a comprehensive "what" and "how to" section, followed by projects that start out simple enough and  become more complex as you browse through.

The usual suspect projects are there, as in Kristal's "Bling Rings", and Deb Saucier's "Compact Mirror" (which I have actually made both of these!!).  These two are the things that come to mind when I think "Crystal Clay."

Then there are more!
My favorites are:
Kristal's "Doodle Pendant" is a multi-medium dream!  What a great way to spend an afternoon using many of your talents.
Stephanie Dixon's "Over The Moon"necklace is just adorable and very wearable.
Jean Campbell made some really cool & innovative earrings called "Tire Swing" earrings.

And the one that IS my style & makes me want to go get some epoxy clay?
"In the Round Earrings" by Candie Cooper

If you've ever wanted to try Crystal Clay - consider this book as a really great reference tool to springboard into your own unique designs.  It will open up your mind to things you didn't know were even possible with Crystal Clay.

Very nice work, Kristal - I love the whimsy & talent you bring to designs!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects, Design & Construction, Ideas & Inspiration by Jamie Cloud Eakin (Lark Books)

An inviting new publication from Jamie Cloud Eakin, the Go-To Maven for everything bead embroidery for jewelry design.

Jamie's past publications are chock-full of valuable information, and she's taken her writing one step further to put it all together for you.  This is the 5+5 = 10 in her series.  

If you are a beginner, don't start here.  Begin with either "Beading with Cabochons" or "Dimensional Bead Embroidery," both from Jamie.  "Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects" is an intermediate to advanced level book on bead embroidery, a manual of sorts.

Jamie breaks out each chapter with categories of projects.  She spells out the "how to" and the "what nots" of how each illustrated piece came together.  In addition, there are a lot of variations that allow you to focus on what you've learned, while at the same time, giving you the tools to take a design in the book from concept to fruition, adding your own ideas and designer's eye.

What I love about this book:
- plenty of 'how to' photographs and illustration
- a description of the techniques used on each project
- the tips in breakout boxes, with valuable information
- variation examples of projects to help you see what else you can do with your newly learned techniques

Her expertise shines through in all of her publications, but this one solidifies all of the other writings she's done.  
Don't use this book as a "flip through," please.  Read it.  Absorb the skill set she's relaying - it's all good stuff!  I promise, its worth your time.
Jamie's style is to be very specific in what she's teaching you.  It feels like she's by your side, almost holding your hand & pointing to where to *exactly* put that needle, through your projects.  

A journey together

"Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects, Design & Construction, Ideas & Inspiration" by Jamie Cloud Eakin will be available at Bead & Glass Boutique next week.  We're excited to support her work, again!

Thank you, Jamie - for all of your hard work and generous sharing of your expertise

Friday, September 6, 2013

Operation Tackle That Bead Stash's Bead, Book & Bounce - Beaded Colorways

Operation Tackle That Bead Stash is an online beading group that I've recently joined.
Each month, they select a beading book and encourage their members to create something from the book.
Here's what they say:  "You can choose any project from within the current book and you’re welcome to make that project ‘as is’ or make your own adjustments - whether that be to color  beads or the basic pattern. We do not want to limit you, we want to encourage you!"

For the September reveal, the book is "Beaded Colorways" by Beverly Ash Gilbert.
The book opens with an in-depth discussion of basic color theory and progresses to explain how you may put the information to use in creating your own bead soup!
What is bead soup you ask?
Well, for someone with a strong case of organizational OCD, its a nightmare.
However, my creative side took over and I mixed the heck out of some seed beads !!
No regrets, just dumped and mixed.  
When I thought it needed a little more of a sprinkling of this or that, I added it!  Like salt from a salt shaker.  When I thought it needed less of something, I'd add something else to reduce the saturation of the strong color.

I chose to mix the same size seed bead (11/0) in my soup.
Here's what I came up with (which, for those of you that know me, this is SO out of my color palette).  

For me, however, in such a creative frenzy, I neglected to actually READ the OTTSB's guidelines that we should actually be making a project from the book.....  (oops!)
Fortunately, there is that caveat up there, that says, "make your own adjustments"  ---whew---

Because while I do believe the book is a wonderful color reference & resource, with a few great patterns, most of the patterns involve freeform beading of some type.  I'm a little too linear for most freeform bead work.

Instead, I made a bracelet with a netted base (using my new bead soup), and a sparkling embellished top!  Technically, the bracelet is reversible and can also be worn with the crystal embellished side down, if one chose to do so.

Meanwhile, feeling like I'd failed at my first assignment at OTTSB, I quickly whipped up a pair of Freeform Earrings, page 57.  Now.... I succeeded in completing a project from the book  ;)

The bracelet is 1.5" wide, the earrings are about 2.75" in length.
I used:  11/0 seed bead soup, 3mm crystal rondelles, 13/0 czech cut charlottes, freshwater pearls, 6/0 hex beads, Rizo beads, copper ear wires, and copper ball & socket clasps.

This is my first Operation Tackle That Bead Stash's Bead, Book, and Bounce!
What fun!  I am excited to see what is next on the list of 'things to do.'

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Life has a funny way sometimes....

I keep mental lists.
I keep paper lists too, but my mental lists stretch far and deep.
On these mental lists are things that I want to do, not the things I have to do.
Things I have to do go on paper, and I scratch them off when they're successfully completed.
I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can physically scratch things off of a list.

Mental lists are different.
And if I didn't have such a level of responsibility each day, I might be able to focus a little more on the items that make it onto my mental lists.  But for now, work and life keep me so busy that the mental lists don't usually make it to paper or typed print.
They're just for me.  These are the "things I'll get to" or "things on the someday list."  
Often times, these are things (projects or tasks) that I've already mentally completed in their entirety:  a beading project that I was given the pattern for - I've already walked through every step, mentally, and can tell you exactly how to make that project, never putting needle to bead (I'd be a killer technical editor!!).  It might be the process of set up I'm considering for our store's new website.  It's the kit construction and design that's manifesting itself each moment I have to dedicate mental energy to it.  It's all of the books that I've read through, mentally making notes, mentally writing the review for Lark, and storing that in the mental folder for the day I have the time to sit and tap out the actual typed print review.  And it's the design of display for the new soutache we just received....  These are all of the things on my mental list today.  Each one has had energy spent on it just today.

In addition, I've crossed multiple things of the paper lists too (the "have to do's").  So by the time it's 11pm, and dinner is just wrapping up, it's not likely that I have much mental list making ability left to spend.  

Life has a funny way of throwing things at you, while you're standing on one foot, on a balance beam.  It laughs in your face and tests your deepest resolve.

So today, I'm putting a new thing on my mental list...
Laugh right back at it...figure out how to do this...make more mental lists if I have to (let's face it, that's a happy place for me), then laugh right back at it.

Because I got this!  

Now - start tackling some of those "mental lists" before the paper list gets in the way.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beads for Blog Post winners collaborate !!

Preciosa offers a Beads for Blog opportunity where you can enter to win a box of beads.
If you are a lucky recipient, you get to play with all kinds of goodies that they will send.

Two of my friends, Jennifer VanBenschoten and Kristen Stevens have both been lucky girls.
Both have received boxes from Preciosa's Brads for Blog program.

Want to see how they put their talents together?
Jennifer wrote a pattern, and knowing Kristen had the beads to make the project, she asked Kristen to text the pattern for her.
Here's the result & a very happy Kristen:

Go - check it out - and share Kristen's enthusiasm !!

On a side note - I did apply & I am hoping to be chosen to play with Preciosa's beads !!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beads for Blog by Preciosa - January's Packages

Will you just look at these bead packages from Preciosa???

I'm *drooling* over these two:




Look at what they are sending four lucky beaders:

Don't you just LOVE these ??!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Betty Stephan shares a thought on change

Betty Stephan not only produces amazingly inspirational bead embroidery pieces, her attitude for her art is SPOT ON !!

Read the story, its not long - and she'll inspire you too !!

Betty Stephan Beadwork:  To change or not to change

Preciosa Beads For Blog Winner - Jennifer VanBenschoten

Recently, a friend of mine, Jennifer Van Benschoten (you know her as the editor of Beading Daily) was chosen as a recipient of Preciosa's Beads for Blog Post program.

Each month, Preciosa chooses a few recipients to receive a box with 1000 grams of their czech beads in it !!

YES - 1000 GRAMS !!!

Who can't party on that?

Check out what Jennifer started to play with first...
She blogged about it today at Beading Daily.

I'll give you a hint - its a bead... it has TWO holes

Beading Daily Blog Post

On a separate note - Cross your fingers - I've applied to Preciosa for the Beads for Blog Program & sincerely hope I get the opportunity to play with their great beads !   I'm loving the color combinations they are packaging up!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop by Mary Hettmansperger

The new year is the perfect opportunity to renew my interest in metal and wirework.
I've been so absolutely focused on seed bead weaving for the last few years, that I've set aside all of my metal tools.
Last year, Bead and Glass Boutique hosted a demonstration for our local bead society using the Vintaj Big Kick machine.  We embossed lots of metal blanks, used hole punching pliers to punch holes in the blanks, and connectd them together, adding beads & embellishments.  It was a blast!!
This month, Jessica, our resident metal smith, is teaching the session at the Boutique!!

Since my interest in metals is being rekindled, I've picked up a few books to review.

"Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop" by Mary Hettmansperger
Combining sheet, clay, mesh, wire and more
Published by Lark Books

This book is a really great resource for those interested in the various types of metal clay.  While she does cover basic sheet metal techniques such as forming, annealing, patinas, and soldering, there is a strong focus on metal clay techniques, tips, and tricks!!

Mary goes into quite a bit of detail in her Equipment and Tools chapter, sixteen pages to be exact.  It's the most comprehensive detail on tools I've seen from most metal focused books for jewelry.  Bear in mind, however my point of reference is of a beader, so I'm sure there are others out there that I haven't been exposed to.

I think this is a fabulous resource for anyone seeking to get started with metal clay.
She details silver clay, bronze clay, and copper clay.

The projects are just fabulous, and if I ever try my hand at metal clay, I would want to make an attempt at the "Perforation Pendant" on page 84.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oh My Neglected Blog

Here you sit - patiently waiting... my neglected blog.

I haven't forgotten you, I've just been so SO busy between working very hard in the new location for Bead & Glass Boutique and my full time job was quite busy in 2012.

I managed to escape town, not once - but THREE times !!
San Diego
and a road trip to Georgia.

Looking forward to a great 2013 !!

And more blog posts....
I've got TONS of book reviews to get caught up on.

For now... 1am says I have to get some sleep.