Monday, August 29, 2016

Jean reviews Metalsmithing Made Easy, A Practical Guide to Cold Connections, Simple Soldering, Stone Setting, and More! by Kate Ferrant Richbourg

Metalsmithing Made Easy
A Practical Guide to Cold Connections. Simple Soldering. Stone Setting, and More!
by Kate Ferrant Richbourg

In her introduction, the author says, "You and I have something in common. We both like to make metal jewelry."
She goes on to add, "The more you learn and build on your technique, the easier new or difficult things become. That's why I wrote this book. 
I'm here to share my tips, steps, tricks, and methods, to answer your questions, and to coach you through the tough spots."

With those heartening first words, off we go into the exciting world of metalsmithing. It begins with a brief but thorough explanation of how to use the book, including how to set up your studio. The author suggests that the reader follow the book from beginning to end before a tool is even picked up. 
This overview will come in handy when you work with this book. 
The first chapter is titled "Lets Talk about Solder". This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. It anticipates and answers the numerous questions a reader might have about soldering, torches, the how-tos of soldering, and more. 
The second chapter introduces you to "Tools". One of the most helpful aspects of Metalsmithing Made Easy is that the author explains each tool that the "DIY Metalsmith" might need very well. Because of this, the reader will be prepared and will have all of the tools needed. The few you might not have will be addressed by the author and there will be suggestions for substitutions. This is a wonderful chapter.
Chapter 3 covers "Metals and Materials". It includes metals such as copper, fine silver, sterling silver, gold fill and brass and looks at the forms they come in. It also discusses stones, patinas, and polishes. The photographs are excellent. The reader will see and understand how different patinas affect different metals.
When the reader reaches Chapter 4, it is very exciting, as this chapter is all about the rotary tool, a very useful tool for a metalsmith to understand. It will be covered in this chapter every which way plus loose! 

Chapter 5 is titled "Sampler". These little beauties are 1 X 1 inch and each one is packed with information from the author to the reader about a specific metalsmithing method. For example, one square ("sampler 7") teaches dapping and soldering domes. Sampler 15 instructs the metalsmith reader how to make a tube setting, which has a stone bezel set in it. 
Once Chapter 5 is mastered, the reader is ready for Chapter 6: "Projects".  As the author writes, "Time to make your skills shine!"
This lovely chapter offers earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants. All the projects are amazing and you will be able to make them because of this book. If you like one but are looking for a slightly different look, there are design alternatives, too! Gorgeous, lovely and hip designs which you can make yourself and add your own signature touches to. 

This is art jewelry of the highest quality and the reader will be thrilled to know that is is possible to create these pieces from this fun and fabulous book by Kate Ferrant Richbourg. It has everything you need to get you started on the path to metalsmithing. 

Metalsmithing Made Easy is a brilliant book by a great instructor and designer!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Beadbloggers and some photos of a Blythe by jean

This girl is from Spain. I only have one other girl from Spain and her name is Bebe. Bebe wears my most outrageous outfits when she models. This is Freckles. Freckles has beautiful red hair and "cat eyeliner"--waaaay before that was in,  and, as a contrast, she has all these freckles! At the time she was customized, no one was doing the freckle look, so I was really happy I got her. 
She is just totally cool. 
She is wearing a dress by Cindy Sowers and a bow by Mab Graves. I bought so many bows from Mab Graves she may have stopped making them just because of me. Well, it's a possibility!--jean


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

beadshop's lookbook and my bracelet--hooray for the lookbook and a second autumn challenge, this year

Simply irresistible!
is running another Autumn challenge! You must check it out!
You can see my bracelet, and what inspired me, in their wonderful "lookbook" from last year! You can download the lookbook by going to,<-- here. They are having some great discounts right now, as well! Simply irresistible!--jean

In this collage they made, my photo of my bracelet is on the top right!

Friday, August 19, 2016

BEADBLOGGERS and a Blythe photo by jean

Jewels all decked out in Pollymakes, wearing a Pollymakes couple of adorable dolls, Dusty and Floss! Here are some further adorable designs by Pollymakes, now know as Jane Pierrepont. She is ravishingly successful on ravelry!


Beading Arts
Cyndi explores how to make a Shamballa bracelet using larger beads!

Snap out of it, jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews the book for knitters, Self-Striping Yarn Studio by the wonderful instructor and knitter/designer Carol J. Sulcoski!

Clay Pottery Repair of Heirloom Cookie Jar 
Seamless clay pottery repair can be a challenge sometimes. But unless the pottery is in smithereens, you can DIY one with a few simple supplies. Here's how.

Swirly WIP
Check out Connie's latest stitching project and find out the materials she's using for it.

Sewing for the Home
Home Sewn is a new book out that has lots of creative and simple sewing projects for household items.

Jewelry Redo
Terry Jeanette, aka Tappingflamingo, shows another jewelry redo. This time, a pair of earrings becomes two necklaces...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jean reviews Self-Striping Yarn Studio Sweaters, Scarves, and Hats Designed for Self-Striping Yarn by Carol J. Sulcoski

Self-Striping Yarn Studio
Sweaters, Scarves, and Hats Designed for Self-Striping Yarn

Featuring Patterns from Fiona Ellis, Sandi Rosner, Brooke Nico, and more

Carol J. Sulcoski
author of Sock Yarn Studio and Lace Yarn Studio

This  book by the wonderful author Carol J. Sulcoski, is a part of her Yarn Studio series of books, preceded by Sock Yarn Studio and Lace Yarn Studio.
As it states on the back, the "Yarn Studio series...selects a category of yarn that's often misunderstood and provides clear and accessible technical instruction for using the yarn accompanied by more than 20 creative patterns."
In this, her latest book in the series, the reader will learn through the "extensive technical section how to use and manipulate self-striping yarn, gradients, and 
ply-shifters through detailed knitting illustrations and instructions, photographs of sample swatches, and example color charts--something no previous pattern collection has offered."
After learning the instructions and tips, the reader will look forward to trying one of the 25 new designs, 11 of which are easy, 12 intermediate, and 2 experienced. 
The knitter is offered patterns for shawls, scarves, sweaters, fingerless mittens, and more. Contributors include Marlaina "Marly" Bird, Barb Brown, Fiona Ellis, Erika Flory, Amy Gunderson, Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, Patty Lyons, Elizabeth Morrison, Brooke D. Nico, Sandi Rosner, and Andi Smith as well as the author herself.
This brilliant book begins with lessons by the author on how to understand self-striping yarn. This is titled "all about self-striping yarn". It contains explanations of yarns which have different lengths of color in them and and what to expect from them, and it discusses true stripers versus gradients. It explain ply-shifters and has a section on troubleshooting. It discusses felted joins, which are useful for animal fibers, and has a section called "The Case of the Backward Skein". The author will fill you in on how to understand why your colors won't pop. too, and how to fix that. 
There is a discussion called "Matching Fiber to Project" which is very illuminating for a beginner and interesting in any case. The piece on pattern selection is explained extremely clearly and excites the reader's imagination, especially when we see the photos. Finally, the book's last opening piece is called "On Oddballs". 
This explains to the knitter what to do with all those little leftover bits of yarn: use them in stripers! And how to do it properly. 
Following the thorough first section, come the first projects, in a section called "fingering weight patterns". Knitters' eyes will light up with pleasure and delight at the designs shown. The first sweater, an intermediate project, is the Hexagon Sweater, with a pattern designed by Amy Gunderson. You will see a photo of the sweater being modeled, an explanation of how the color changes were made by the yarn itself, sizes, finished measurements, materials and tools required, gauge, and notes. In the following pages knitters will get the pattern stitches, the instructions for all the sections of the sweater, including the edging, and then on to the sizes. The knitters will be able to alter the sweater and knit any size from extra small to 2X/3X. This one sweater gets six pages of instructions plus an opening beauty photo.  And it is beautiful! 
Not all of the patterns have or need that many pages. For example, the Chamounix Mittens, designed by the author, with a skill level of easy, appear to have a Fair Isle look but as the author says, "the yarn does most of the work". They don't come in multiple sizes so they only require 2 pages of instructions. There is a full, adorable beauty shot of these mittens being worn, and a smaller picture of them lying in the sand by the seashore. It will be a snap for the knitter to picture making these for a friend for the holidays. They are knit in the round.
The next section is titled "dk weight patterns". This section contains a number of easy and intermediate patterns to try, from a tam to scarves, to a brightly striped jacket for a baby. The pretty pillow which winds it up is designed by the author. Called the "Hillaire Pillow", she says above the instructions, "Watch how the colors of this DK weight yarn repeat and play off against each other when they are knit multidirectionally." Just one more of the stunning offerings in this book you will want to try immediately, and it is in the easy skill level. The gorgeous colors of the yarn perfectly illustrate what the author meant when she explained in the beginning how to work your striped yarn to its best effect.
In the section called "worsted weight patterns", there is a lovely stole designed by Brooke D. Nico. It has a skill level of experienced. The description of it goes as follows: The rich colors of a self-striping yarn form the center motif of this shawl, which was inspired by a stitch pattern from a vintage counterpane. The long "wings" of the shawl wrap around you like a knitted hug. 
There is so much beauty in the color of this Sunflowers Stole the knitter will look forward to learning more and more until she can make it!
Carol J. Sulcoski is a wonderful teacher and designer. It is incredibly exciting to have her book, Self-Striping Yarn Studio, Sweaters, Scarves, and Hats, 
Designed for Self-Striping Yarn, the third in her "Studio" series, available for us to learn from and love. She and her contributors have created a stunning book for knitters everywhere! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Beadbloggers and a photo of a custom Blythe named Tea

Here is Tea, my custom-from-Japan Cinnamon Girl. I actually have more Cinnamon Girls (they have a tanner color to their skin tone and only came out for one year way back when EBLs were being made (somebody correct me if I am wrong!)* than any other type of girl. Tea looks fab in her Andy Warhol T shirt I got just for her and with her elegant sparkly nose piercing!  That was rare back then! She also has around 4 earring hoops in graduated sizes on each of her ears and her lips are perfectly done. This customizer was a superstar. I love that multicolored mohair, too. One girl I will never let go!  --jean

*Cinnamon Girl (CG) Release#/mold: EBL-7 Release date: February 2003


Beading Arts
Cyndi shares a way to free-form wire wrap a special stone or cabochon

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews the dazzling new jewelry design book, Make It Sparkle! by Lindsay Burke.

Wish Upon a Star
So, it's past Independence Day, but some people stitch patriotic designs all year round, so check out the latest pattern added to the Connie Gee's Designs Etsy shop.

Crafty Podcast
The Crafty Princess and Tappingflamingo are podcasting together again.

Travel Journal: Capture the Memories & Avoid the Clutter 
As summer draws to a close, think about reducing the mementos into concentrated personal memories with a travel journal..

Monday, August 8, 2016

Jean reviews Make It Sparkle! 25 Dazzling Jewelry Designs to Make Any Occasion Special, by Lindsay Burke of Fusion Beads

We designers admittedly adore the flash and sass of crystals in almost every piece of jewelry we design. They bring out so much beauty and elegance.
Furthermore. the better the designs, the more wonderful the addition of crystals becomes. That's where this book come in! It is a virtual Aladdin's treasure of entrancing crystal designs. 
Make It Sparkle!, by Lindsay Burke of Fusion Beads, is for all of us who can't resist the beauty of great design combined with the loveliness of sparkling crystals.
The author has invited a few talented friends to join her, as well. They also contribute to this dazzling book. Between them all, they have come up with some great projects; easy and fun to make, and fabulous to wear!

The author explains in her introduction that she has always been inspired by her friends, the artists and designers who have surrounded her all her life. She says, "They are always pushing me to be creative and innovative in my own jewelry designs."
Then she adds, "Just as I am constantly being influenced by and learning from others, I hope that this book will inspire and encourage you to create amazing pieces of jewelry."  She continues on to suggest that we readers feel free to change the designs to fit our own unique personalities. 
Make It Sparkle! 25 Dazzling Jewelry Designs to Make Any Occasion Special, definitely gives the reader all sorts of new, exciting techniques and ways to add sparkle to her jewelry designs. It lights the way from beginning to end! 

The color combinations in the designs range from poetically subtle to brilliantly flashy. The reader will be drawn to the innovative designs as well as the colors. This book is totally fun as well as sophisticated. 

The twenty five projects include necklaces, stacking bangles, memory bracelets, charm bracelets, earrings of all sorts (including a lovely pair of threader earrings), and more.  

The author's friend and fellow jewelry designer Katie Wall opens the book with the first offering: the "Bejeweled Necklace". It is a sophisticated bib necklace with a sort of a boho look, very dancy and flirty. It is made of gun metal, combining a beautiful palette of crystals in fern green, fuchsia and indicolite. You will be making simple loop units which will later be attached to each other to make this gorgeous necklace. It is definitely a necklace to love, and one to try in different colors, as well!

The "Frost Flower" necklace which follows is totally breathtaking. Brides, take note of this one! It is also perfect for any sort of celebration in the winter especially. It uses AB clear Preciosa beads in the olive shape. Each bead is connected to the next using sterling silver plated jump rings. This too is a bib necklace, however it is entirely different in look than the first necklace. They are two of my favorites in this lovely book. 

If you love earrings, check out the project by Cody Westfall called the "Dazzling Earrings". All heads will turn as you enter the room wearing these, whether you choose her palette, which is stunning, primarily in iridescent green crystals and pearls, or make up your own.
The shape of these earrings is a drop from a curved ear wire with the smaller beads catching the light below the main drop. This project is positively glorious and one you will adore.

Are you hip? Try the "Pink Party Bracelets", a project designed by Samantha Slater. As the heading for this one says, "Wrap. Stack. Party!" These bangles in antiqued silver or brass each are wire wrapped with craft wire, using fabulous Preciosa bicones in all sorts of colors of rose, pink, and Indian Pink. Futile to resist! 

Allison Hoffman designs a beautiful bracelet which combines clear with gold tones. The "Evening Gold" bracelet is impressive and would be lovely at any special event. The balance of Preciosa Crystal AB rounds and bicones, as well as gold plated crystal rhinestone chain, all attached to a pewter gold plated toggle clasp is just totally WOW. It is brilliant in more than one way!

If you are feeling feminine and spring-y, try the author's "Raindrops and Lilies" earrings. They combine chain wire wrapped with peridot opal day lily pressed-glass beads and 3mm  and 4 mm indicolite crystal bicones. They are outstandingly pretty. 

Another project I love is the "Watermelon Bracelet". It is named Watermelon because one of the beads has that terrific red and green combination sparkling away, catching your eye. The reader learns how to create her own bracelet and add the charms of her choice. These bracelets are very fashionable and to be able to make one is really a terrific idea. Make one for yourself, and make one for your best friend. Then start counting how many best friends you end up having--I predict a zillion! 

The "Hanging By a Thread" earrings are glamorous in a simple way. Threader components and  Amethyst Swarovski Crystal Emerald Cut Beads are wired together, using head pins. It couldn't be easier, yet it is extremely lovely. 

At the end of this book you will be able to see a glossary, and every technique which you will need for the projects. There is also a bit about each contributor (they are all terrific! This book is seamless in its creativity and style). There is also a collection of sources for supplies, which is wonderful to have on hand.

What a wonderful, diverse collection of chic jewelry projects flash before the reader eyes here. It is mesmerizing. 

I look forward to the next book from this author, Lindsay Burke. She makes it all seem so simple and fun! She has put together a super sparkly book for all of us to love! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Beadbloggers and a photo of two almost twin Blythe dolls

These girls are not really twins but they look a lot alike. The one on the right is Ziggy, my Prima Dolly Ebony, a much sought after doll who was one of the first ones that people began learning to customize on. Mine has some light customization but you will recognize her by those awesome red lips and her cool summer tan. The other doll is a customized FBL--a Prima Dolly too, but with the fairest skin color--she came out much later in time. Mine is named Jewels because each set of her eye chips resemble different precious jewels (shown are the diamonds!). I love her--the custom work was done one year for my birthday. There is always an occasion, if you a Blythe lover, to get a new Blythe!!!
The best, most fun thing is that these girls are wearing their crochet dresses by Tammy Powley, the Crafty Princess herself. They are keeping cool and looking cool at the same time! Tammy rocks!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Jean reviews Modern Beaded Lace Beadweaving Techniques for Stunning Jewelry Designs by Cynthia Newcomer Daniel

 Modern Beaded Lace 
Beadweaving Techniques for Stunning Jewelry Designs 
by Cynthia Newcomer Daniel

As the reader can see right away from the cover, this is a beautiful book. The author teaches her own techniques of beaded lace from every sort of can possibly imagine, and each project is extremely lovely in its own unique way! She offers earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces. Each one captures the flirty, airy feeling of lace in a fresh manner.
In her introduction, she explains what led her to create this book. "Beaded lace is a hybrid of lacemaking and beadweaving, and both have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. In traditional lacemaking, threads are knotted together to make patterns; beaded lace mimics those patterns. When I was younger, I loved making lace using traditional methods; my threads and beads coexisted happily together. As time passed, I became more interested in beadweaving: lace takes a very long time to make, while beads are bright, shiny and work up into something pretty in much less time."
The author goes on to explain how she experimented using beads until she got to the point where she learned to bead the three main elements of lace: figures, cordonnets, and ground.
In this book, each project uses one or more of these elements. She adds that she hopes that we will go on to use them to create additional pieces of our own design. With a book as unique as this, how can we resist?
Part 1, The Basics, has all the materials and tools needed to create the projects, with photos.
Following that are the Elements of Beaded Lace.Here you will see how the author ties in the lace to the stitches you will be using in this book. She is a very clear instructor, and has combined these lace making and the beadweaving techniques together so that the reader will understand how one transfers to the other. This is where you learn which stitches go with the Cordonnets, which with the Figures and finally which with the Ground.  There are illustrated instructions for all the stitches used in the designs. Finally, there is an explanation of all of the types of lace which she chose for her projects. There are many more types of lace but this collection is pretty, plentiful and very interesting as it stands. Her section on designing beaded lace is really helpful as well, explaining and demonstrating some of what to expect in the projects.
Then the reader will be ready for the projects in Part 2.
Wait until you see what awaits you! Some of these project will be appropriate for all beadweavers, and some may be best for more experienced beadweavers, however all of them are gorgeous and extremely motivating! The author recommends working each piece as a springboard, if you are interested in designing your own jewelry later. And you will want to! Just looking at the pieces, each project fully photographed from many different angle, will delight you.
I found the "Dogwood Chain" to be an elegant reminder of my love for those trees when they bloom in the spring. Each lacy flower is attached to the next in a very simple manner, One could make earrings from this pattern, as well,
Add some color to your life with the "Cirque Earrings". They are shown as dangles and express the popularity of round figures and shapes in lacework. The earrings are enchanting with their centerpiece focal Tanzanite rivolis and their pearls, and their dangles finished with 8mm Tanzanite rounds. What a perfect play of color!
Speaking of pearls, let the "Heartstrings Necklace" tug at your own heart when you see it. It is an amazing piece which you will want to try right away. The lacy chain on either side of the focal is created of tiny bronze seed beads centered with seductive, dusky golden vintage pearls. Clasped with your stitches at the focal, is a formal double swirl of larger bronze seed beads in mirrored S shapes, holding a beautiful vintage gold 10 mm pearl. The design is like double hearts, with the pearl at the bottom. It is breathtaking!
I don't want to neglect to mention the "Ruffled Ring". It is fabulous and can be changed (as can many of the authors designs) into a pendant or earrings or whatever you fancy, once you have mastered the technique. This saucy, chic ring has a center pearl in dark gray, which is surrounded by seed beads of silverplate, and nickelplated seed beeds. With the addition of clear crystals in 2.5mm, this ruffled lacy ring will become one of your favorite pieces, I expect.

As it says on the back of the book, "It's easier than you think to make showstopping beaded-lace jewelry!" I agree. Get your hands on this glamorous jewelry design book by the wonderful Cynthia Newcomer Daniel, Modern Beaded Lace, Beadweaving Techniques for Stunning Jewelry Designs  !