Monday, December 31, 2007

Bronzite and Tiger Eye Bracelet and Earrings

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The one great thing about designing your own jewelry is the ability to combine whatever gemstone you like.

Debbie flexed her designer's prerogative and chose the ever popular bronzite tiles to go with tiger chips for both her bracelet and earrings. The different shapes plus the brighter tone of the seed beads all contributed to the contrasting elements needed to make this all brown design work.

Geologists often use the suffix "-ite" for minerals, which tends to produce rather unattractive gemstone names. But bronzite is luckier than most. It is actually a form of weathered enstatite. Its name comes from its sub-metallic lustre due to its iron content.

Beads from Widget's Beads Collection

Beader Design #: 247

Squid News

Need a gemstone fix? I have just added the first recommended gemstone store on Gemstone Place Names with great prices to save you money. It belongs to Szarka who was a featured designer on this blog. She has a passion for great quality gemstones and handpicks them for her design use and store.
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

How I got my idea for my Squidoo lens

By on Sunday, December 30, 2007 2 Comments

After a long gestation and labor, I have finally produced my first website. But it is not just any website - it is a Squidoo lens.

Squidoo for those of you new to the concept, is a modular based website builder to get out lots of information in a unique and fun way.

My idea for my first lens came from my own name. My parents must have thought me beautiful (one can hope) and valuable to have named me Pearl which explains the Beading Gem bit. You could say I was born to bead. There are also women and girls named Rubies, Jades and even Emeralds out there. So what about places? Evidently, discovers and founders often do get their naming inspiration from gorgeous gemstones.

Researching took many, many hours. But very early on, I realised there were just far too many gemstone lakes, rivers, bays, mountains and other geographical features to be easily digestible so I chose to limit the selection to just settlements. Like hand made jewelry, these gemstone place names were crafted by people not nature, with the hopes that each creation will turn out beautifully.

I found to my surprise, many places, small and big which were named after gemstones, sometimes several in a single country. Did you know that settlements called Diamond can be found all over the world in countries as diverse as Canada, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and the USA (13 states)? And Sapphire in Australia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and the US? I don't claim the list to be exclusive for I am sure I have missed more than a few. So I am hoping people will add to the list via feedback.

So go travel the world on Gemstone Place Names, and travel through time with some fascinating past blog stories on gemstones and jewelry.

If you are a fellow lensmaster, be sure to drop by and say hello.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Review : Free Jewelry Making Video Tutorial Sites

By on Saturday, December 29, 2007 4 Comments

We can learn to make jewelry in many different ways - from books, website tutorials or in classes. But if the written word doesn't do it for you or if you cannot find a local instructor, then free video tutorials are the next best thing.

The best known video site is You Tube which has all kinds of videos besides the instructional ones. Being able to find the one jewelry making video you want though will depend on how good you are with keywords, a little luck and your patience and time going through a number of possibilities.

5min.com has some practical videos but the jewelry section is sorely lacking - the site only has a few and doesn't even have a Hobbies category. Expert Village is better with a crafts section and but it is not subdivided so searching via keywords is necessary. Su Tree is yet another instructional video aggregator but unlike the others, has a well subdivided arts and crafts category allowing you to zoom in quickly on the growing beading and jewelry making section.

Like the other sites, videos can be uploaded by anyone - great advertising for your business or website if you do. Su Tree as well as Expert Village also lets you suggest videos from other sites such as You Tube which means you'll see a larger collection. But Su Tree does something else unique - it allows users to create "courses" linking appropriate videos together with notes. Anyone can view the videos but registration (free) is required to take any courses.

I first found out about Su Tree when they invited me to be their field expert on jewelry making given my teaching and blogging experience. As a field expert, the Su Tree widget is displayed on my blog where you can spot the changing set of jewelry videos. I have also so far contributed two free basic "courses" on Su Tree - how to make a bracelet (necklace, anklet) and how to make earrings for beginners.

You can learn about a great variety of things in mere minutes on Su Tree. These include "How to make a water bracelet" for a kid's party, "How to make a light saber" for your budding space warrior or even "How to make a lava lamp" for your retro fan. Those are from the section on crafts for kids! So check Su Tree out and have some fun.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Exquisite Free Form Wire Jewelry

By on Friday, December 28, 2007 2 Comments

Feature Designer

Bernadine Stoopman, an Australian jewelry artisan, is a master or rather, mistress of free form wire work. Wire and jewelry designs are her passions and it shows. Her skillful twisting and weaving of wire by hand results in unique and exquisite free form or abstract designs not held together by glue or solder. Wire in her hands truly becomes art. (In my hands, chicken wire perhaps.)

Bernadine has won numerous accolades at jewelry competitions - one recent top win was at the 2007 Sydney Bead Extravaganza Competition. You may also have noticed her designs, as I did in jewelry magazines published in both the US and Australia.

What caught my eye were her cuff bracelet with amethyst beads woven in the design and her spectacular tiaras. No prizes for guessing Bernadine also specialises in bridal jewelry and hair accessories. Her bridal website's gallery showcases her amazing designs. Besides the Mermaid's Tiara shown here, she also created the spectacular Argyra's Crown and Copper for Cleopatra with Swarovski crystals, both award winning designs. But the design which speaks most about our common interests is her Medieval Queen tiara. Bernadine loves ancient history and names her tiaras so they evoke the aura of past civilisations.

She also writes a blog appropriately called Hooked on Wire. Find her on metalchasers.com.

Photos with kind permission from Bernadine.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Elegant Amber Nugget Necklace

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Erica bought this lovely amber nugget on her travels and saved it until she could make it into a necklace worthy of this richly hued natural gemstone. There were fortunately no entrapped insects which some people may find off putting. The gold or honey colour is the best known characteristic of amber but other colours like green are also available.

She carefully chose chunky gold foil beads as well as antique gold beads to flank the focal bead. Brown beads of different intensities completed her necklace. The final design is elegant with more than a touch of history in it for amber or fossilized tree resin, is millions of years old.

Beader Design #: 246

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Labradorite "Northern Lights" Earrings

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Carolyn must have heard about the Inuit legend of labradorite. So she had to make TWO pairs of earrings using this gemstone named after a Canadian province. The photograph here does not do this grey gemstone justice for if a bright light source were nearby, flashes of iridescent blue can be seen.

The flat square gemstone tiles were almost exactly matched by the heart shaped glass beads above. Carolyn used dissimilar seed bead colours for each pair. These are good examples of varied results using different colours in jewelry designs. The clear seed beads made those earrings look somehow paler. In contrast, the peridot green seed beads highlighted the yellowish-green tones of the glass beads more.

Beads from Widget's Beads' Collection.

Beader Design #: 245

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season to all!

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The Beading Gem wishes all her readers a wonderful Christmas and happy holiday season!

Bejewelled Christmas Tree
Singapore is an island nation located very close to the equator. But its tropical climate does not mean they cannot have Christmas trees.

This artistic tree was created in 2006. The $1 million dollar diamond encrusted creation by Soo Kee Jewelry stood six metres high (almost 20 feet). There were 913 carats of real diamonds, 3762 crystal beads and 456 lights. It took 12,966 man hours to complete this project.

Via Lussorian.com and Soo Kee Jewelry
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beadweaving with Single Focal Beads

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Bead weaving with seed beads can be made much more interesting by adding focal beads in the middle.

The two bracelets were designed by Sarah (top left) and Sandy (top right) using seed beads which coordinated with the porcelain focal bead and the lamp work one respectively. These beaders began their weaving from both sides of the large ones.

Adding the focal bead wrapped on a head or eye pin after bead weaving is an alternative to weaving it in - as Laura did on the bottom left picture. For her necklace (bottom right), Sarah deviated from her earlier bead weaving pattern by crossing over just once on each side of the focal bead. If you missed the posts on beading with multiple large beads, check here and here.

Bead weaving Collection #: 3
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Alison's Wire Crochet Bracelet

By on Saturday, December 22, 2007 0 Comments

Alison is a very good friend who also loves to bead. And what do two beaders do when one comes to visit from far away? They bead!

Alison rummaged through my collection and chose a lovely collection of earth tone beads, clear and picasso beads. The green colour beads she chose were muted but went well with the browns and copper. She strung the beads randomly on copper wire and then used a crochet hook to make three simple chains. One bead was incorporated with each hooked stitch. The three chains were then braided to form the bracelet.

For a great tutorial on how to do make this type of wire crochet jewelry, check out this free video link which shows how to make a necklace.


Beader Design #: 244

Friday, December 21, 2007

Swarovski Toilet Bling!

By on Friday, December 21, 2007 3 Comments

Stressed out with your Christmas shopping and preparations? Don't be. Just flush all your cares away with this unusual use of our favourite crystal beads. Okay, maybe a little smile?

Swarovski crystals are the finest cut crystal beads we can have to create gorgeous adornments. Apparently, other designers concur. It has become fashionable to add crystals or even real gemstones on just about anything.

I thought I had already covered all the things that could be covered in crystals when I blogged about Swarovskis Everywhere in the Home. Evidently, I was wrong!

This $75,000 toilet (Isis Collection) by Jemal Wright Bath Designs is covered with Swarovski crystals in a variety of sizes and shapes and in 40 different colours. The designer also has a matching sink and is planning a tub for the spring.
Any takers?

Via Gadgets Reviews and Bornrich.Org

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Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Making Colours Work in Jewelry Design

By on Thursday, December 20, 2007 2 Comments

Feature Designer

Jennifer Miller is the lamp work artist behind Beadguiling Designs, a perfect name for the beautiful beads she makes. Jennifer is still in the process of launching her business. Her gallery pictures on her new website show drop dead gorgeous beads many jewelry artisans will love to get their hands on. Jennifer is not afraid to 'fess up to her mistakes but such is her skill, even her "beads gone bad" are still beading possibilities.

Her eye for colour is unerring. Take this funky bracelet design for example. The colour combination was not her personal preference but she has grown to like it. I do too. Purple, red, green and orange can all be made to go together. What worked is the proportion and tones of each colour - the green is muted, light and minimally used. Purple was used as the linking colour as it appears most often. Red and orange gave the colour punches here and there.

She is also the first bead artist I know who admits she detests her lamp work bead chores which she illustrated in her blog post here. I'll never complain about picking up dropped beads again!


Perhaps in a while, when her business starts taking off, Jennifer will get a studio of her dreams instead of a little corner in her garage and all the organized storage she could want. Somehow, I think she will.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Colour Theory Basics in Jewelry Designs

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This sunny and cheerful set on the left was created by Chris who is drawn to yellow. Chris loves wearing black so this set is a stand-out and sure to brighten many a wintry day!

She rather liked the rectangular painted porcelain beads and used them strategically placed around her necklace. Interestingly, Chris did not choose a contrast colour. She went with lots of round, orange fibre optic cat's eye beads. The little yellow flower brass beads picked up on the floral decoration of the porcelain beads. As the porcelain beads were so large, she wisely omitted those for her matching bracelet and hoop earrings.

Beader Design# : 243

Colour Theory Basics in Jewelry Designs
Trying to find harmonious colours is perennial challenge for designers in many fields - make-up, paints and home decor, commercial art, fashion design, fabric design, quilting and of course jewelry designs. There are very complex theories on what works and what doesn't.

Some basic tips includes the use of similar colours as Chris has done with her design. On the classic colour wheel, these analogous colours are found next to each other. Complementary colours, such as green and purple are found opposite to each other. Another way to express this opposite harmony is warm vs. cool. A particular colour can also look very different depending on what you choose to go with it. For example Erica's design paired the same orange cat's eye beads with a dark green gemstone called Indian Bloodstone.

For a mercifully brief overview of colour theory, check out this website.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Donna's Turquoise Jasper Illusion Necklace

By on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 0 Comments

The humble beading wire is again featured with Donna's necklace. Unlike typical illusion necklaces, Donna used only one gemstone flanked by tiny silver beads. Why? Simply because she liked it and did not want any other bead to detract from the turquoise jasper. The weight of the gemstone keeps it centred so there is no need for crimp beads.

Turquoise jasper is jasper gemstone dyed to imitate the colour of turquoise. Whilst the patterning is dissimilar, turquoise jasper does, in my opinion, merit a place as a very pretty gemstone. It certainly caught Donna's eye. The photo here does not do the gemstone justice.

Beader Design #: 242

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cindi's Illusion Necklace with Moss Agate Pendant

By on Monday, December 17, 2007 0 Comments

Cindi had designed a necklace once before. So she was ready to try something new.

Illusion necklaces are so called because they give the impression of floating beads. Often, fishing line is used but Cindi designed her necklace on beading wire. The funky choice of cube beads and faceted crystal beads were secured in place by crimp beads on either side. If you need instructions, the Beadage website has a good tutorial on how to make an illusion necklace.

What made Cindi's necklace different from other illusion necklaces was her choice of a large round moss agate wafer focal. The gemstone was a deep tan colour with the characteristic dark green feathering pattern which explains the name "moss" for this agate. Cindi chose to suspend the agate from a sliding bail.

Beads were from Widgets' Beads' Collection.

Beader Design #: 241

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Carol's Dagger Bead Earrings

By on Sunday, December 16, 2007 0 Comments

Carol enjoys making earrings so much, they are often the only jewelry items she makes at each beading session. The pair she created here featured dagger beads which are side drilled. They therefore don't lend themselves easily to the typical strung-on-a-head pin or eye pin technique.

Carol came up with a refreshingly different way of incorporating these beads in her earrings. Each pair of daggers were strung, one above the with beading wire using peridot green seed beads in between. A bit of bead weaving at the top and viola! A new conversation piece for the water cooler at Carol's work.

Beads from Widget's Beads' Collection.

Beader Design #: 240
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Metalchasers:Social Network Site for Jewelry Makers

By on Saturday, December 15, 2007 1 Comments

Social networking sites are all the rage. The best known are Facebook and MySpace. Even bloggers like me lurk around MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog communities where we can "meet" and interact with others who share common interests.

So when I came across a new social network site just for metal and jewelry artisans, I was quick to join Metalchasers.com. The brainchild of Marcy aka Jewelry Geek, Metalchasers was born out of a need for a one-stop venue for jewelry enthusiasts. She felt there had to be a better way to learn and to socialise than just forums. Membership is free and open to those who are interested in any jewelry making crafts : bead stringing, metal smithing, chain maille, lamp work, metal clay, wire work and so on. Jewelry Geek was adamant Metalchasers be absolutely free of charge because artisans are so often charged for offering their art for sale on some sites, whether the pieces sell or not.

Only a month old, Metalchasers already offers several features with more in the works. Navigation is very easy to figure out. When I got stuck, a quick message to Jewelry Geek soon put me straight.

Virtual Studio
After I joined and filled in the essential account/profile information and uploaded a mugshot, a ready made mini website appears. The screen capture above shows mine still in the default design. You can then customize the look a bit further if you wish. The URL of the studio is provided for you to send to interested parties. This is a fantastic option for those who want a website but not the additional cost and hassle.

Galleries
If you like to drool over jewelry designs, this feature is the ticket. Browsing is also a good way to revive your creativity when you temporarily lose your mojo to bead. Uploading and labelling photos are easy tasks. Just select the Submit Items tab when in your account. Wrong photo or tag? Click on the My Items tab to correct. To see your gallery, go to your studio and click on, yes you guessed it, Gallery. The photos not only appear in your studio but are also streamed into the general member gallery for everyone to ogle and perhaps rate. There is even a fun competition which picks two random designs and allows members to say which one they liked more.

Blogs
A nice option for those who wish to blog but don't have the time or inclination to maintain an independent blog like mine. A blog linked to your virtual studio is a useful tool to inform and update viewers on what you do. The Metalchasers blog view is very basic as you can see from Jewelry Geek's blog. Writing a blog does require discipline, routine and some creativity, so this is a good way to find out if you are cut out to be a blogger.

Social Interaction
This is the fun part. You browse through other members' studios and find the artisans you admire and want to be friends with. You can publicly comment on other member websites or send them a private message.

ForumsThe format here is typical of forums where members can contribute comments, suggestions, ask questions under specified topics.

Groups
As jewelry making is such a broad field, I was pleased to see this feature where focus groups are created for those interested in a specific skill. This site is still very new but I envisage more groups forming with increasing membership.

Marketplace
Basically a classified ad section. It's still too early to say how this will perform as a selling site. However, within the community, members could potentially sell off excess beads or unwanted books or trade/barter material or skills.

Videos
As the site is all about learning and sharing, artisans can also upload their videos. Future plans include video interviews and weekly video newsletters.

Polls
I have a poll on my own blog where readers can vote for their favourite jewelry item - necklaces, bracelets, earrings,rings or brooches. Over time, the statistics could be surprising and fun to see. In Metalchasers, poll questions can be uploaded by any member but is subject to site owner approval.

So check it out. If you bump into me there, be sure to say hello.

UPDATE : This site is has been renamed Jewelrygeeks.com and later closed down.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Tibetan Mandala Wire Puzzle Bracelet

By on Friday, December 14, 2007 3 Comments

A reader recently sent me an email and a couple of mobile phone pictures of a bracelet she once bought from a craft fair in Vancouver, Canada.

Karen loves this bracelet made from silver wire decorated with gemstone and silver beads. It transforms into a chalice, atom, hour glass and so on. The accompanying 5-6 inch long wooden stick allows it to be worn as a hair ornament. Everyone admires it and Karen enjoys manipulating it much like worry beads to keep her hands busy. It has a calming effect.

She wanted to know where it comes from. Although it reminded me of collapsible wire puzzles for children, I really did not know. So I put out the question literally worldwide - as far away as Australia. And sure enough, my jewelry making colleagues offered the answer - probably from India.

One, Diana Norman, a veritable sleuth on the internet found this website, Mandalas by ZB. The jewelry page shows beautiful hair ornaments, large earrings and bracelets made from stainless steel and beads. The San Francisco based artisan, ZB Doros explains on his website that mandalas go back some 3000 years, most likely based on stationary ones used by Tibetan monks.

Karen wrote to tell me she is going to order several for her young relatives for Christmas for they do indeed make fun, unusual and pretty gifts!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cory's Bone Dagger Necklace

By on Thursday, December 13, 2007 1 Comments

At six years of age, Corey holds the current record for the youngest beader at a Beading Gem party ever. He was fascinated with the beads, particularly the organics. If I had had shark's teeth beads in my collection, his eyes would have lit up even more.

But he soon found an excellent substitute - a bone dagger bead. He added shells, some painted wooden beads and two more black bone beads to his design. His necklace was strung on a thin leather cord with adjustable knots, making it very easy for him to put it on himself.

It was a grand design for such a young lad and to mark the occasion, his mother made him change into a white tee-shirt for the photo. Little does he know, this is just the first of many occasions when he will be made to change into a white shirt!

His mother found him later sitting in the family room, desperately clutching his necklace. When she inquired if everything was okay, he fervently declared, " I JUST LOVE IT!"

Beader Design #: 239

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chinese Knotted Necklace with Poppy Jasper

By on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 0 Comments

Feature Designer

Chinese knots began as a folk art about a thousand years ago and is still popular today. Sometimes combined with tassels, they were used to decorate many things from ladies' fans to hairdos, coats and even sword hilts.

A modern day American jewelry designer, BJ, who credits her creativity to her passion for the art, was able to take that extra step and do something totally different. She incorporated this ancient craft in her striking necklace design featuring just a single large poppy jasper focal bead.

The gemstone's distinctive pattern and colours were perfectly balanced with the gold silk cord Prosperity knot just above it. Antique gold beads and a decorative clasp complete this unusual creation. Chinese knots are traditionally considered good luck charms so this necklace is doubly blessed with good fortune and great design!

You can check out the original design on her Etsy store, Adornments by BJ and read more about what interests her on her blog. Picture with kind permission from BJ.

Gemstone Information

Orbicular jasper is a type of jasper with many names, sometimes referring to where they are mined. Poppy jasper, also called poppy stone or poppy patterned jasper is from California. Ocean jasper is another name for the gemstone from Madagascar. Other familiar names are leopardskin jasper, Owyhee jasper and picture jasper. For a much longer list, check this website.

Chinese Knot Tutorials

Satin cord company has some excellent instructions on a variety of knots including the Josephine (double coin), Chinese button knot, adjustable sliding knot, Chinese snake knot and all sorts of resources. Also of note are their braided cord necklace tutorials.

Chinese Knotting covers the flower, stellar, treasure and connection knots.

Trinity London does not have tutorials but explains the meanings behind some of the knots.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cathy's Fancy Jasper and Moss Agate Necklace

By on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 2 Comments

Here is another necklace featuring a moss agate donut with matching cylindrical beads further up. The designer, Cathy wanted an earth toned necklace so she chose round multi-coloured fancy jasper gemstone beads for the bulk of the necklace. Smaller seed beads in muted hues completed the piece.

This particular type of donut does have drilled holes so Cathy centred a round fancy jasper inside the hole. She also added two tiny seed beads on either side to hide the wire and keep this gemstone bead central. Notice there are four notched channels on this donut. This would allow wire work if the designer so desires.

Beader Design #238
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Monday, December 10, 2007

Bonnie's Tiger Eye Donut Pendant Necklace

By on Monday, December 10, 2007 0 Comments

Bonnie is an experienced jewelry designer who has done many lovely pieces. She created this all tiger eye gemstone necklace using round beads in two different sizes with subtle touches of gold tone beads here and there, highlighting the donut in particular.

This is a creative hobby so it is fun to see what other designers do when presented with the same task : how do you attach a donut gemstone? Many people use cord or bead with tiny seed beads in order to get the loop through the hole. Bonnie shows you can do it too with smaller gemstones. To determine how long a section you need to make this loop, just start beading this part first and check the loop with the donut. Once you are satisfied you've cleared the donut, continue on with the larger beads.

Beader Design #: 237

Learn more about Tiger Eye
My previous post "In the Eye of the Tiger" tells more about this gemstone and other variants such as tiger iron. One of my favourite gemstones is the hard to come by Australian Marra Mamba tiger eye. Each piece is a work of art. Check out the Silverhawk's Designer Gemstones website to see some exquisite examples.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Last Queen of France's Pearls

By on Sunday, December 09, 2007 3 Comments

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was an Austrian princess who married the future King Louis XVI of France when she was 14 and he, 15. She was tall and pretty, with a lovely complexion and was destined to be one of history's most vilified and tragic queens.

Louis XVI was shy, awkward and unable to consummate the marriage for several years. Frustrated, Marie Antoinette amused herself with lavish balls, gambling and mixing with courtiers with dubious reputations. She was frivolous, spendthrift, politically naive and ignorant of life outside the French court. She paid no heed to good advice and court protocol. The French treasury had been in the red long before her time but she soon became an easy scapegoat, lampooned as Madame Deficit. The French also suspected her loyalties still lay with Austria and her domineering mother, the Empress. But in reality, she had little political influence.

The watershed to the French Revolution was the Diamond Necklace Affair in 1785. Ironically, this particular necklace did not belong to Marie Antoinette. The beautiful Madame de La Motte, an adventuress and mistress to the powerful Cardinal Rohan, hatched a scam of glittering proportions. She tricked her lover into believing he was helping the Queen purchase an incredibly expensive diamond necklace valued at 1,600,000 livres (or $100 million today) . He was so easily duped because he was desperate to return to the good graces of the King and Queen. The scandal broke when the two jewelers involved approached the Queen for non-payment. The trial eventually acquited the Cardinal of wrongdoing. But Marie Antoinette was the real loser. Vicious rumors circulated accusing her of scheming to punish the Cardinal.

After that scandal, everything went rapidly down hill for the royal couple. Unable and unwilling to implement crucial changes to save the French monarchy, they dithered until all was lost. Their indecision cost them their freedom during their failed escape attempt. Whilst under house arrest at Tuileries, Marie Antoinette gave her grey drop pearls (see picture above) to Lady Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, for safekeeping. As wife of the British Ambassador to France, Lady Elizabeth was able to smuggle them back to England under diplomatic immunity. Later on she also sent the French Royal family desperately needed clothes and linen when they were imprisoned under much harsher conditions. It was the last act of kindness anyone showed them.

The family's last few years in imprisonment were heartrendingly sad, hoping against all hope that some other European nation would step in to rescue them. Both were tried and found guilty of treason -Louis XVI was beheaded nine months before Marie Antoinette. Ill, she spent her last days peering out the window for glimpses of her son, Louis XVII, who was forcibly taken from her. Worse still, at her "trial", the little boy was coached to accuse his mother of sexual abuse. He later died of tuberculosis in prison. Only his older sister survived the French Revolution.

Picture Sources
Wikipedia : Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Franz Xaver Wagenschön in 1770, shortly after her marriage.

Christie Press Release : The Sutherland pearl necklace consisting of diamonds and rubies as well, was fashioned in 1849 with the original pearls (circa 1780) given to Lady Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland who ultimately could not return them to Marie Antoinette. The necklace is to be auctioned this coming Wednesday, December 12. The expected sale price is between 350K-400K British pounds ( US$700-800K).

References
Evelyne Lever (2000). Marie Antoinette : The Last Queen of France. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shelley's Howlite and Cat's Eye Necklaces

By on Saturday, December 08, 2007 0 Comments

Not many people really closely look at beads. But Shelley did. She enjoyed examining individual beads and appreciated the unique colours and patterns of gemstones. So she kept the designs of the two necklaces she made simple , altering the beads she favoured with neutral and smaller beads.

The necklace on the left was made up of purple fibre optic cat's eye beads. These are always popular because the distinctive vertical stripes are "eye"-catching. The necklace on the right featured round dyed howlite beads and metallic silver cube beads.

Howlite is usually a milky or chalky gemstone with black or brown veining, patterning which caught Shelley's attention. As it is quite porous, it accepts dyes very easily thus simulating the colours of other gemstones such as lapis lazuli in this case.

Did you know howlite was named after a Nova Scotian (Canadian) chemist, geologist and mineralogist Henry How (1828 - 1879)? He received the honour for being the first to describe this gemstone in 1868.

Beader Design #: 236

References
Mindat Organisation : Howlite
Webmineral Data : Howlite
Cally Hall (1994). Gemstones. Dorling Kindersley Ltd., UK
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Dee's Blue-Green Bracelet and Earrings

By on Friday, December 07, 2007 0 Comments

I just love the blue-green colours of this bracelet and earrings set, right down to the small two-tone faceted beads. The refreshing design was not surprising for the creator is a graphics designer by profession.

Although this was Dee's first try at jewelry making, she knew what colours went together and was confident about playing with shapes and placement. The little squiggly bends to the earring dangle showed her playful side.

Beads were from Widget's Beads' collection.

Beader Design # : 235

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bridal Tiered Pearl Choker

By on Thursday, December 06, 2007 2 Comments

Feature Designer

Donna is a human dynamo and one half of Sew and so, an alterations, custom dressmaking, monogramming and embroidery business in Steubenville, Ohio. She has been sewing since she was 4 which means at 44, she has FOUR decades of sewing experience, half of that professionally. She can pretty well sew anything, including shoes for men with bunions!

Sewing is what puts bread on the table but she also enjoys jewelry making. Her uncommon set of skills means she is able to deliver a unique combination service to her clients. Take Tiffany for example. She was a Florida based bride who sent Donna pictures of the style of gown she wanted AND a five tiered pearl choker. But Tiffany wanted just three tiers. So Donna not only designed and sewed the gown, she also created the jewelry, veil, and pearl decorated comb as shown on this page. Now how many of us can do all that?

The pearl choker was made using memory wire. Donna has generously written out the instructions on how to make it on her website, alongside her other jewelry designs. In her tutorial, she explains how to place the connectors and calculate the number of pearls needed between.

Like a lot of creative people, she has other outlets including basketry, cooking and rug making. She also enjoys selling on eBay. Given her dressmaking skills where measurement and calculations are key and her creative flair, I was not surprised to learn she is also a logic puzzle fanatic and is addicted to Conceptis Puzzles. She has even written puzzles for Penny Press. Donna's day must consist of 48 hours or more for she has also managed to find time to start a blog - an instructional site for seamstresses!

Photos with kind permission from Donna.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Amy's Elegant Necklace and Bracelet

By on Wednesday, December 05, 2007 0 Comments

I am frequently amazed at how good some absolute beginners are. I almost want to squint my eyes and look squarely at the beader and ask "Have YOU done this before?"

Well, Amy may just found herself a new hobby after her first attempt at making this elegant set. She used mainly round glass pearls for the bracelet in a purple and pale buff-pink colour combination. She expanded on that design theme, incorporating just the right number and shape of purply-pink beads to her necklace. The same light coloured glass pearls also turn up along with clear faceted rondelle beads.

This example shows it's often not the individual beads but how they are put together that matters.

Beader Design # 234

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bead Therapy : Inspiring Stories

By on Tuesday, December 04, 2007 0 Comments

Chantel is ten years old and like many of her peers, she is fond of this bright shade of blue. Unlike them, Chantel has difficulty with her motor skills. So the necklace and earrings she created marks a truly remarkable effort for this young designer.

She listened intently to instructions at the beginning and once she started designing, she really concentrated on getting the beads she wanted on the wires. The smaller ones were challenging but this little girl did not quit. The look of accomplishment and triumph on her face once she finished was priceless. For me, a rare teacher moment to be savoured.

Beader Design #: 233

OTHER INSPIRING BEADERS

For many of us, beading is a soothing therapeutic activity. It represents our quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Creating something beautiful somehow satisfies our souls and we are rewarded by the smiles and thanks of the recipients. But for those of us who have full use of our hands and are in good health, we take much for granted.

TERRI JACOB is a bead artisan who survived a horrific accident several years ago which almost robbed her of her ability to walk. She is now housebound with only the use of one hand. And yet, she has overcome the odds and creates beautiful jewelry as can be seen on her Artisans Market webpage. Her bio there tells of her dogged determination to first walk and then take up a hobby which really requires two hands.

LENA MCNEILL is a 10 year old Canadian girl who went through intensive treatment including removal of her leg and physiotherapy for osteosarcoma or bone cancer - the same type of cancer Terry Fox had. For Lena, the beaded necklaces she made are much more than just trinkets. Each coloured bead represents a difficult procedure - yellow beads for hair loss, purple for physiotherapy, white for blood sampling and a big blue bead for her 12-hour surgery. When she finally got to go home, she had made three heavy necklaces in all! Read her story in the full CTV Canada article.

Many pediatric cancer centres offer Beads of Courage programs.These young patients barely understand what is happening to them and yet have to endure so many unpleasant therapies. Creating these necklaces one bead at a time motivates them to continue on. Beading also gives them a chance to play a more active role during treatment and help them communicate with their caregivers and other patients. For the medical staff and other adults, those necklaces are visible reminders of how much each child has already gone through along their difficult journey.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Anne's New Year's Party Jewelry Set

By on Monday, December 03, 2007 0 Comments

Anne was already thinking well ahead of most people, to the New Year's party she will be attending, and naturally what she would be wearing. She already had the outfit, so designing her jewelry was easy as she knew what colours to go for.

She chose this gorgeous red cut glass pendant as her focal piece. The flat rectangular beads of the earrings then echoed the shape of her pendant. The heart shaped beads (some seen in profile) also make this pretty piece suitable for Valentine's day. She added little black drops in a rainbow finish in pairs which gave the necklace a clustered look. Metal beads often provide the finishing touch as is the case here.

I reckon Anne is ready to party this December 31st looking her very best with this creation. Perhaps even become the belle of the ball?

Beader Design# : 232
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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Six Most Useful Jewelry Making Tools

By on Sunday, December 02, 2007 2 Comments

Newly hooked on beading, many beginners rush out and buy the first tools they come across. Some fall victim to shoddy tools or tool sets consisting of tools they will never use.  So it is worth buying good tools. Worse, some of these cheap sets actually contain chain nose pliers with teeth - these are the hardware store variety and will mar the delicate wires you will be using.

So here is a round-up of the top six tools the Beading Gem found most useful. I use them all the time. The first three are absolutely essential and are recommended for those starting out who either don't want to shell out too much initially or are unsure if they will continue with the craft. But once you are certain you like making jewelry forever, then by all means invest in the next three.

1. CHAIN NOSE PLIERS
These are used to do flat crimping, their tapered jaws allow access to narrow spots. Also useful to hold the jewelry piece when doing wire-turning. They must NOT contain teeth. If you cannot get one, you can try wrapping the jaws of a regular chain nose with some tape but I would not recommend this other than as a very short term measure. Y
 

2. ROUND NOSE PLIERS
These are used to make wire loops. The size of the loops depends on the position along the tapered jaws when turning the wire. Your loops will not work out if you try and make do with just chain nose pliers - I did that when I first started and learnt the hard way. For consistent loop sizes, either mark your pliers with a marker pen or put a little piece of tape at the spot you want.

3. FLUSH CUTTER
Sometimes called nippers, these cutters allow you to cut thin wire or thread as close as possible. Electricians use this tool so check electrical supply stores if you are not near a craft or jewelry making shop. To save money for the first little while, you can substitute with a toenail clipper which does the same thing for most situations but it's curved cutting edges are trickier to manage. You'll not regret buying a flush cutter. Do not use this cutter on memory wire - just use regular wire cutters instead.

4. CRIMPING PLIERS
These are alternatives to making flat crimps with chain nose pliers. This is a two-step operation These pliers first apply the crimp tube to the beading wires and then reform it into a rounded tube again. Just to be sure, reposition the pliers again and redo the reforming step a second time, or if you're paranoid like me, a third time.

For a visual tutorial on crimping using specialised pliers like this one and the flat crimping method, check out Karla Kam's video " How to Crimp".

5. NYLON JAWED PLIERS

No one is perfect. Wire doesn't always bend to your will. Straighten it again by gripping one end of the wire and stroking the rest of it a few times between the soft jaws of these pliers. A real wire saver when you are working with more expensive metals like sterling silver and gold.

6. SPLIT RING PLIERS
Split rings (looks like key rings except way smaller) are much more secure than just a plain jump ring which can accidentally open. However, trying to open split rings ruins your nails and could expose your children to cuss words they shouldn't hear. These pliers do a wonderful job of keeping the beginning of a split ring open whilst you slide something on it. Just apply the hook end in between the double ring to start.

OTHER USEFUL TOOLS

BAIL FORMING PLIERS
These come in a variety of sizes.  Highly recommended for making ear wires, clasps and all sorts of wire designs.

How to Use Bail Forming Pliers Tutorials

CHASING HAMMER AND ANVIL
The completely flat side of the hammer head is ideal for flattening wires against an anvil or metal block. If you know a machinist, a scrap block of metal will do! The process also hardens the wire making it "remember" its shape. I like the look of hammered metal especially copper but if you'd rather not see the marks, hammer the item flat between pieces of thick cloth like denim.  If you want to just harden wire not flatten it, use a nylon hammer.

Hammers and Steel Blocks for Jewelry Making

METAL FILES
Small metal files from the hardware store will help you remove the sharp edges to freshly cut wire. The burs must be removed if you are making ear wires yourself as these are threaded through pierced ear holes. You can also use a nifty little tool call a cup bur where you twirl the cut end of your wire in a tiny cup filer.

How to Debur Ear Wires

BENT NOSE PLIERS
These are like regular chain nose pliers except they are bent. They are useful in situations where the closing action needed is awkward for your wrist. They are also handy as a second pair of chain nose pliers. Chain maille artisans like using this with a pair of broad nose pliers.

Chain Maille Jewelry Making Tips

PIN VISES
These are small pen-like vises that grip two wires so you can twist them together creating prettier wires. See this tutorial.

How to Twist Wire using Pin Vises

WIRE COILERS
There are all sorts on the market as well as simple things at home that you can use.  My favorites include knitting needles and the Artistic Wire Coiler (now available from Beadsmith)

4 Ways to Make Short Wire Coils

Definitely some gift ideas here either for yourself or a budding jewelry maker you know!'

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON TOOLS.
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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Linda's Crystal Bead Necklace and Earrings

By on Saturday, December 01, 2007 0 Comments

This necklace and earrings set with the look of old-fashioned charm was created by Linda. She used a number of clear faceted crystal beads of different sizes. Garnet coloured seed beads were placed in pairs throughout her design.

The earring dangles were initially hung on the ever popular French ear wires. Many women love this type of earring findings because they are quick to put on the morning. Some also find these more comfortable than the post with backing types especially if they are on the phone a lot.

As it turns out, Linda later decided to give the set to her mother who doesn't have pierced ears. So clip-back earrings were easily substituted. Making your own jewelry has its advantages!

Beader Design#: 231
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