March 27, 2015

Tassel Bird Pendant Tutorial

I have been obsessing over tassels lately - from cute and trendy to elegant and flapper-inspired. Tassels have been showing up in jewelry designs forever but they have been enjoying a resurgence and have been shown in quite a few jewelry designs on runways recently. So after looking over some Pinterest inspirations I decided to give it a try and share how you can whip these fun little tassels up for your jewelry.
You'll need:
6 strands of 18" of embroidery floss
1 strand of 12" of embroidery floss
1 1/2" by 1" piece of cardboard
Sharp scissors
15mm jumpring 

1. Start with the floss at the bottom of the cardboard, wrap around until you reach the end of the floss. Trim the floss if it doesn't end at the bottom so that both the start and end of the floss are at the bottom of the cardboard. 

2. Hold on to the bottom of the tassel, insert the jumpring at the top of the loops, making sure it goes through the all the threads. Close the jump ring. 
3. Remove floss from cardboard.
4. With small piece of floss, wrap several times around the top of the tassel, under the jumpring. Tie very tight, wrap around one more time and tie again in a double knot. Trim ends of tied floss. 
5. Cut the loops at the bottom of the tassel, trim the ends so the tassel is even at the bottom. Really sharp scissors are key at this step! 
The pendant is created using 8" of 20 gauge wire. I wire wrapped a loop, added the round bead, faceted bronze spacer, disk bead, 5mm flat spacer, bird bead and created a wrapped loop on top. I added a faceted bead on a 7mm jumpring at the bottom of the bird loop. I attached two 12" lengths of copper chain with a 7mm jumpring to the top of the pendant. The clasp was attached with a 7mm jumpring. 
I thought this was a fun project to showcase my new Bird Spring Mix sets that have the Wedgwood inspired beads since they are so colorful and would look great with a tassel design.
Customize it:
You could make a tassel of leather, waxed linen, chain and even gemstones.
Use colors to match your beads or use one color.
Add in metallic embroidery floss for a little sparkle or use only metallic floss for a metal look.
Wrap the top in a contrasting color for a pop.
Bird sets can be found in my Etsy shop.
25 tassel inspirations - including a few more tutorials. 
Jumprings: Vintaj

March 25, 2015

Bead Therapy: Mindfulness Practices

2015 has been non-stop with events and amazing opportunities. I've been traveling, teaching, finished one book and will soon to start on my third book! My life is a stack of deadlines and to-do lists.

Some days my head feels like it's going to pop. I love being busy, traveling and teaching. And I am ever so thankful for such an awesome, creative life.

But I have one fatal flaw - when I'm stressed, I like to eat sweets. And not just an innocent cookie - if only! Which has caused all sorts of problems that I fight against daily. I know I'm not alone in this. Oh how comforting a Cadbury egg can be when I am barreling through a crazy day!

I thought I would share a few mindfulness techniques that I've learned over the years to help me combat stress and avoid a binge when I'm stressing. I use my beads and creative process as stress-battling skills!


Practicing mindfulness is just getting really zen and not thinking about anything other than what is in front on you.
  • If a wayward stressful thought tries to make it's way in, acknowledge the thought and refocus on what is in front on you. 
  • Use all your senses and focus on one thing during your mindfulness practice. 
  • Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking and if you are feeling stressed out from too much on your plate, give it try for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Engage the Senses

I may decide to calm down by sorting beads mindfully.

I'm going to look at the beads, touch the beads, notice the noise they make when they clink together. I look carefully at the beads, notice any patterns or imperfections that make a bead interesting. Notice the difference in colors or textures as I sort through them.

Sorting them, I let the world fall away as I focus on the tray or bowl in front of me. The goal isn't to get a lot done during this session, but to enjoy the process.

Working Effectively

There are tasks you do as a jewelry-maker that are repetitive and could lend themselves toward mindfulness.

Maybe it's grabbing a bowl of Czech glass flowers and creating wrapped dangles with fancy ball headpins. Or it might be stringing seed beads onto wire, focus only on the task and let all other thoughts fall aside.

Do these simple tasks with no other distractions, focusing on working quickly and effectively.

One Task

The creative process can be a mindful practice, especially if you are doing it instead of a negative behavior like scarfing down a pan of Nutella brownies. (What?)
  • Create a space without distractions: turn off the TV if it's in the background, put your phone out of reach and turn off the ringer. 
  • Pull out your materials for one project only, gather everything you need. 
  • Listen to calming music while you work. 
  • Don't be critical or judgemental of your process. 
  • If something isn't working, think of it objectively. "How can I improve the balance of this design?" or "What feels off?" instead of thoughts like "This sucks."
  • Set a timer if you need to get back to reality after a certain time. 
  • While you are creating, really take notice of what you are touching, seeing, hearing. 

Be there, don't let your mind wander to stressful thoughts. Again, if one creeps in, acknowledge the thought and let it go. (How? Just say, yep that's reality but right now I'm working on this necklace. Or yep, I'm so angry about that but right now it's just me and these beads.)

Level Up

The next mindfulness idea is to engross your mind in a very challenging project. Focus only on the task at hand working on mastering the new skill. This should be something that needs 100% of your attention.

Stress Buster

If it helps, have a piece of paper next to your work. If you have a thought nagging you, jot a note down about it and tell yourself you will get to it as soon as you are done with this time.

Treat your mindfulness time as sacred, schedule it in and give it a try. Let's those beads be a tool to bring some calm into your day!

So instead of grabbing a Snickers, go grab those beads and de-stress! Give one of these mindfulness exercises a try this week and let me know how it goes.

March 22, 2015

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge

Mother of dragons, winter's coming! I have very few television shows that I must watch and they are totally guilty pleasures. Game of Thrones is definitely in my top 10 of shows I never miss. Not only is it a crazy addicting story, it's quite a visual treat with amazing costumes. So to help pass the time until the April 12th season premiere, I thought it would be fun to put out a Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge. Whether you are fan of the TV show, the books or maybe this is your first time hearing about but - uh, dragons, then join me!

1. Sign up and let me know you are planning to play along.

To join the challenge, sign up here:

1. Create a piece of jewelry inspired by Game of Thrones - it can be a character, a kingdom, a quote, a scene from the show/book, the costumes from the show, etc. The sky is the limit as long as it was in some way inspired by Game of the Thrones.

2. Blog about your creation. You need to have a blog to play along.

Post your challenge piece by April 8th and then head back here on the 9th to enter your link in our challenge link party! (Crowns and direwolves are optional)

Tip: When you post about your jewelry share more about the inspiration of your piece than the technical aspects - ask yourself what would a fan of the show want to know about this piece of jewelry.

Reveal date: April 9th

Inspiration Overload: 

First, you must check out these amazing costume design details here. I had no idea what kind of thought and detail went into the costumes on the show. Don't miss it!

Psst...I'm not sure about the rules of using images from the TV show or book since they are copyrighted, so to be safe I made the graphic above that you can use. If you find out if it's okay to use GOT images on your blog, please let me know.

Pssssssst...I also don't think you can use the name Game of Thrones or character names when you list your jewelry for sale, you may want to check into that.

March 9, 2015

Baltimore Bead Society

If you are are in the Baltimore area you must make plans to join us tomorrow night at the Baltimore Bead Society's monthly meeting. 

I will presenting on easy tips to Promote Your Jewelry Business Online. I will also have beads, jewelry and books available. The meeting starts at 6:30pm. You can find all the details here

Not able to make it? Hop on over to my Creative Biz board for over 300 great small biz articles and tips. Read one a day and imagine where your business could be in a year!

March 4, 2015

Are Artists Time Travelers?

When I think back through the years of my creative life there is one artist that stands far and above all my other inspirations. My beloved Vincent Van Gogh. Like most high school students in art class I was introduced to his Starry Night painting. I was intrigued. 

Many would say Van Gogh is their favorite artist but more than the beauty of his paintings or the tragedy of his story, I would say Van Gogh was the first artist that pulled me through time to that sacred space where artists become more than themselves. 

There was a moment in my life when I knew I was connected to something bigger and that vast idea had a name. I was an artist and Van Gogh was my first kindred spirit. 

Van Gogh's hand stretched through the years with each stroke of the brush as I stood in awe in front of his paintings. I wasn't just a witness to his amazing work, he was part of my story. That kindred spirit inspired me to create during those formative years in art school. 

As my life became filled with beads, young children and a need to make a living, my dreams of painting took a backseat. But my connection to finding inspiration in Van Gogh's paintings soon crept into my mind and hands as I worked his colors and images into polymer clay and interpreted them into beads.

If Van Gogh was my only inspiration for the rest of my beadmaking career I would have more than enough lessons to learn from his paintings. Although many other artists and sources are part of my visual vocabulary I will always return to Van Gogh.

There will never be a moment when I'm not breathless when standing in front of his work. When I need to be reminded of sublime experiences I know a few moments studying his work will transform me to that place where art stirs the soul and lifts me above the busyness of life. 

Who inspires you? What artist makes you feel like a time traveler, transported to another time and place?

(Time traveler, Van Gogh - who are my fellow Whovians?)