Friday, July 29, 2016

Beadbloggers and a photo of a Blythe doll

Vesper--I got her around December--she was a birthday gift. I love every inch of this girl! :)



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jean reviews Cool Copper Cuffs 25 Metal and Wire Projects by Eva M. Sherman

Cool Copper Cuffs 
25 Metal and Wire Projects 
by Eva M. Sherman

If you have a bit of  a wild streak, but your insistence on impeccably designed and properly constructed jewelry holds strong, you will love this new book by Eva M. Sherman. As everyone knows, copper is a wonderful metal to work with, especially when you learn from a teacher like this author! It is indeed extremely hip looking. And as the author says in her introduction, "The warmth and economy that copper offers are just a couple of reasons I love working with this versatile metal. As an added bonus, all of these cuffs can be made in silver or brass, or any other combination of non-ferrous metals.The myriad combinations are left only to the reader's imagination." Very true!

This book begins with a Basics section, which covers metals and tools you will require for the projects. It continues with a really nice Techniques section which has everything you will need to know to use this book properly (and to go on to use other books or to make your own projects).

Then come three chapters of full-on artwork cuffs, each chapter covering a different type.
Chapter 1 concerns "Wire Cuffs". There are eight of them. I think you can get an idea of the charm and brilliance of the author by the titles of some of the cuffs, for example: "The Perfect Storm", "Gypsy Woman", and "Calder Cuff". The "Perfect Storm" is going to begin your love affair with Cool Copper Cuffs right off the bat. As the description says, "Create consistency out of chaos with a freeform wire-wrapping technique! This design leave a lot of room for interpretation." This gorgeous cuff has a large oval focal bead with copper wire encircling it. It is embedded in the surrounding entwining wire which curls indeed in a perfectly stormy manner (yes, in that book, as you may recall, there was a center to the storm) and it's perfectly beautiful.
Another project from Chapter 1 which I really like is "From the Ruins of Pompeii". This one has a terrific ammonia fume patina which is then sealed. It is curvy and mysterious and looks like you might have found it on a dig, hence the name. Very pretty!

Chapter 2  is simply called "Metal Cuffs". I fell over flat when I saw the "Corset Cuff" in this chapter. It is fabulous and totally fun. The author calls it "Edwardian", and it is, however those of us who are die-hard Steampunk lovers will also be attracted to this amazing cuff. Another delightful cuff from this chapter is the "Margarita Cuff" which has enchanting and colorfully colored Swarovski Margarita beads wired on, adding some glint and sparkle to the design of the cuff.

Chapter 3 covers projects with both sorts of cuffs: it is titled "Metal&Wire Cuffs". I exclaimed out loud when I saw the first offering. It is titled "Bezel Wire Cuff" and uses riveted bezel wire to create a twisting and turning adornment on the cuff's base. The author says, "Create dramatic texture using bezel wire! Remember: there are no mistakes, only happy accidents." What a cool cuff. Later on in Chapter 3, you will see an eye-catching cuff for a bead lover. If you like borosilicate beads, for example, try "A Ribbon Runs Through It". It is a cuff which features a flow of copper winding along aside a flow of beads. It is perfectly meditative in a way.

I found Cool Copper Cuffs, 25 Metal and Wire Projects, by Eva M. Sherman to be a very inspiring and exciting book. If you are interested in working with copper (or other non-ferrous metals, as she mentions) and like the look of cuffs (who doesn't?) try this wonderful new book. It is super!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Jean reviews Guide to Beading with a Loom From Start to Finish and Beyond by Jamie Cloud Eakin

Guide to Beading with a Loom

From Start to Finish and Beyond
by Jamie Cloud Eakin

As the author says in her introduction, "Beading on a loom is one of the oldest beading techniques. It's fun, fast, and the results are fantastic."

Even if you have never used a loom before, you will agree, when you use this book as your guide. You will be shown every step from start to finish, including some fascinating, cool variations, and some excellent troubleshooting advice I wish I had seen before.

Chapter 1 begins by explaining the various looms available. The reader will learn that certain looms are more appropriate to some beading projects than others. Therefore, if you end up falling for beading with a loom (and you will definitely do that if you read this book!), you may end up with more than one loom. All of them are explained here, very clearly, with excellent photographs. As the loom will be your basic tool when you bead with a loom, this chapter is excellent and very helpful.

Chapter 2 discusses the process of bead weaving. The reader will be shown how the process of bead weaving (for example, stitches like peyote or brick stitch) require the addition of one bead at a time. With a loom, you will be adding multiple beads. You can follow patterns from this book, from other books, or make up your own. It is terrific.
In Chapter 2 you will get the five key steps to loom beadwork. They are each examined one by one so that the reader can understand, even if she is a beginner.

Chapter 3 follows Chapter 2 in that it is a discussion of how to complete step 5 of the process of beading with a loom, which concerns "Finishing the Warp Threads". The author discusses the Traditional Finishing Method, a method called Pull and Pray (I love that name), The Knot and Cover Method, and the Weave and Cap Method. Each of these has great diagrams and close up photos to help the reader understand. 

Chapter 4 is a discussion of Other Loom Techniques. It has tons helpful information, starting with setting up your work space and covering a variety of attachment methods which will add special touches to your projects. These techniques include beaded ends and end loops, how to fold over, and surface embellishing. You really will begin to "get" how loom beading can be something which you will love doing!

Chapter 5 concerns Edging Techniques. 
As always, the photos help the reader to understand. For example, there is a nice photo duo depicting the "weave side" and the "warp" side of a bracelet. Then it is onward to the square stitch extension and the brick stitch extension, as well as the simple bead edge. All of these are beautifully and thoroughly photographed and explained. Even better, there are six more edgings for you to try. Beautiful!

When you arrive at Chapter 6 you are ready for the Projects. These will progress from the simplest to the most complex, and are offered in numerous color variations. As the author is known for her ability to express beauty through design and color, this chapter is worth its weight in gold. You will definitely want to experiment and also add some of her previously shown techniques depicted earlier in this book to your loomed projects! I particularly love Project 8, a wide cuff in Turquoise, Cranberry and Rose triangle beads. When you change the color and add fringe to it, it is a total knockout that way as well. Then see how the author has designed a technique she calls "beyond tradition" and the bracelet she has designed. I expect you'll totally flip, as I did.   She goes out of her way to explain her finishing techniques here, too. Guide to Beading with a Loom is consistently excellent and thorough in that way.

Chapter 9 is an astounding collection of projects titled Projects Beyond Traditional. 
What does the author mean by this? When you see the very first project, you will understand.
Beneath the photos of two outstanding bracelets, it says, "Dagger beads? On the loom? Yes!" And off we go, learning that we can do anything if we don't just give up before giving it a try. These bracelets have two techniques to finish them. The one in bold purple dagger beads has one finishing method, and the other, in spicy orange, has a different method. You will be tempted to make them both! They are wonderful projects to kick off this chapter. 
By the time you are done, you will have studied 20 projects and tons of variations. I love the amulets, and the fascinating black, white and red Tila bead bracelet. What a stunner that is! The variations on that one are super, too. 
When you reach the bracelets which include fibers you are nearing the end of the book. However there has been much to learn and enjoy. 
Ultimately, you will get a chapter on Supplies and Basics, and a superb "Troubleshooting" chapter which I mentioned previously. Why doesn't every book come with one of these?

Jamie Cloud Eakin is one of our most treasured instructors and an enthusiastic, inventive beader. She has published numerous books, and each one focuses on a specific aspect of what she loves about beads. You will want to get all of her books, if you really love beading and want to learn from the best! Guide to Beading with a Loom, From Start to Finish and Beyond is a beautiful knockout of a book which you will love having in your library!

Jamie's other books:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of a Blythe

Did you know my first interest in photography was when I was 16. I learned to develop, print and put together a portfolio at that age, when I was in school. I had a private teacher because I had chosen to do this for my independent study project. I used a camera which was my instructor's: an Olympus Pen D. You have to be my age to know what one of those is!
I stopped photographing when digital photography rolled in, because I didn't understand it. Initially, a digital camera was very expensive, as well. This is a huge disappointment to me now because it would have been so great to get those wonderful shots of my beautiful kids, as so many young parents have now!
I am terrible with my cell phone but I am working on it! It is why I wanted to upgrade my cell phone in the first place.

These photos are simply shots taken with my dependable Canon Powershot--it has a high enough DPI to suit me (after working with magazines I understand why this is important), and I get it.
This pictures are of Regina, who is a custom by Moon Rouge, my dear friend. Regina is wearing a dress and headband with scotties by Fae, Pomme Pomme on Etsy. Fae is in Tokyo for the Blythecon taking place there.  How exciting!  Here is the link: 
Regina has a scottie with her--a little dog from my original Bow Wow Trad Blythe--get it? Scotties all over!!! --  jean

Moon Rouge make the most gorgeous eye chips!  :)


Beading Arts
Cyndi experiments with using the new albion stitch to add beads to objects. It's easy, fast, and fun!

Snap out of it, jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a soon to be released book with an original twist: Manga Origami!

Make It, Wear It
Crafty Princess vlogs about how jewelry designers need to wear their own jewelry designs.

Custom Size Card How-to 
Don't feel locked into the size or proportions of a card layout that you're fond of. How to easily create custom size card using mockups.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jean reviews a soon to be released book: Manga Origami: Easy Techniques for Creating 20 Super-Cute Characters

Super wonderful Origami book with a twist!

Learn more about the Japanese art of Manga, comic books, and Origami by studying this super fun book, Manga Origami: Easy Techniques for Creating 20 Super-Cute Characters. Manga characters are intended to be adorable, and when you check these out, you will immediately see that they are!
Get some brightly colored paper, learn the basics, including the folding directions and how to print out the eyes, and you are on your way! There are 20 characters to work with, such as Ronin Samirai, Tea Picker, and Shrine Maiden. I find that all of them are extremely charming and interesting.
All the characters you will be making share a common head and body, which is an excellent extra balance if you would like to create you own collection, for learning and for eye appeal. All of the characters are approximately four inches tall.
Got a rainy summer day coming up during vacation? Make sure you have your materials, this book, and some friends to join you. You will all have a ball learning from this wonderful book by Origami masters Márcio Hideshi Noguchi and Seth Friedman!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of a Blythe

Sadie is a girl who traveled all the way here from across the pond a few years ago. She is a custom by jenink from Australia and arrived in a dramatic black princess dress, made by jenink, and matching black princess crown, She has three colors of  hair, cut in an edgy style.
Sadie the queen of everything
There is a little chair next to her in this photo that you can barely see, but if you enlarge the photo you can see it better. It adds to the regalness of Sadie's je ne sais quoi. 
I took a few photos recently of Sadie wearing red, black and magenta--I am really happy with that color 
combo on her! --jean

gitl with attitude beyond attitude!


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jean reviews Colorful Wirework Jewelry: Twist, Wrap, Weave by Kim St. Jean

Do you love color? Is it one of the number one reasons you make any sort of art, including jewelry?
This lively book understands you! Kim St. Jean has been involved in creating super things since she was a little girl, when she made doll house crafts like little baskets from scraps of telephone wire. Moving forward, she became an Swarovski Ambassador. When she eventually revisited wireworking, it had changed notably. We all love the colors we can work with now, which only just a while back were not available to us.
Kim shows us how to use these to their best effect in her playful, charming, and even glamorous designs. Get ready to rev up your jewelry with colored wire!

Colorful Wirework Jewelry is a book for all level designers. The reader will learn wrapping, coiling, and weaving. The projects are less expensive than ones we all learned on when silver was the only game in town, but that doesn't mean that they are any less elegant at times. The author has an excellent eye for unique designs which are artistic, drenched in color which has tons of joy, and will urge you to look forward to making them.

The reader will learn how to expertly cage a focal (like a smooth rock or a bead). He or she will be spiraling in orange wire, making the prettiest earrings in town!
Don't miss the "How It All Began Ring"--it is a collection of super colorful spirals you will love making!
In the Coiling Section, soon you will be curling and coiling in hot metallic ( the hip "Bold and Bitters" earrings). Then you'll be making a matching set of earrings and a bracelet in a soothing shade of blue with brown accents which are so calming and pretty, resembling the ocean (the "Blue Fish" set). It is a delight to proceed on to making a charming charm-like bracelet called the "Beachcomber's Bracelet", which is fascinatingly full of real shells of all sizes and colors, wired with a number of sizes and techniques of colored wire.That bracelet has matching earrings as well. It couldn't be prettier.
When the reader arrives at the Weaving section, it is a wonderful treat to learn how to weave with colored wire. Not many books offer weaving with wire--get this book for this reason alone--it is great!
The large cuff on the cover is a woven bracelet, "The Mardi Gras Bracelet", offered in two colorways. It is very charming and guaranteed to get compliments galore!  Viking Knit is also offered in this section, in a bracelet in lime green with blue and purple, and in some earrings which are made to match but really can stand alone.

Kim St. Jean has a project in this section I found very funny as it is called "The One that Got Away".
It is a ribbed and coiled wire fish that you make and wear on a rubber necklace--charming!
As you near the end, do not miss her dragonscale bracelet or her "Groovy Godseye" pendant.

The cover says: "Twist, Wrap,Weave" and that is what you will be doing, all in color, when you learn from Colorful Wirework Jewelry Twist, Wrap, Weave by Kim St. Jean. She is a very special teacher who clearly has enjoyed every second of her colorful life and successfully shares it with all of us!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jean reviews Discover Torch Enameling: Get Started with 25 Sure-Fire Projects by Steven James

My image here of the cover of this book doesn't show how brilliant and full of depth the design is. More than "just jewelry",  it is like an art work. You will see and understand it far better when you hold this book by Steven James in your hands. And another piece of wonderful news is that these projects are easy to make. This is torch enameling: the author uses a hand-held torch and easy to find materials. In Discover Torch Enameling  the reader will enjoy 25  super-fun projects, well taught, very clearly, so you don't lose your way.

Steven James begins his introduction with one word which says a lot about the kind of teacher he is:
"PLAY!"  He explains that in our work-oriented culture, we just don't get enough of that. He even invites the reader to contact him if he or she gets stuck and really needs a hand (although his projects are so well explained, I doubt that will happen).
Discover Torch Enameling begins with a comprehensive section of basics: tools, materials, and even something the reader will really appreciate later on: the scientific explanation of "COE" which is imperative for understanding how glass melts or softens, as well as its fit with the metal you are using. It sounds confusing the way I have written it, but it isn't, and the reader will catch on fast. I appreciate the mindful way it is pointed out by the author.
The five chapters in this book entice you before you even get to them by introducing you to the projects with thumbnail photos and the names of the projects, along with the pages on which they are located. Even if you begin at the beginning (always a great way to learn), you will be able to look forward to what to expect down the road. And the author has an great imagination and tons of artistic energy to inspire you !
Love comic book art? Be prepared for your next Comic Con with his very first project, the "Embedded Metal Comic Book Earrings". Although they sound funky, they are extremely chic the way he has designed them.
The author repeatedly takes the reader by surprise with his originality and artistic flair.
One of the projects I was extremely fascinated by is in Chapter 2: the "Ready to Raku Bracelet".
As an art glass collector, I have loved the raku style in ceramics since forever. However, the author has added another dimension to raku by using torch enameling. It gives an aged effect to this bracelet, which is made of copper plumbing tubes which have been cut apart and enameled. They are then attached to each other using jump rings and a 2-strand bar clasp to make a cuff. This cuff looks ancient and exquisite. I picture myself wearing this with a toga, wandering the streets of Rome, in 500 AD. Or maybe I just picture myself wearing it with a T shirt and jeans, any place, any time.

If you are a "delicate flower", consider the elegant "Bouquet Garni" necklace in Chapter 3. The author got his inspiration for this necklace after a day of yardwork. He was working with nature's best when he designed this, The wire is enameled in blues and greens, and shaped to resemble rosemary. What a feminine, pretty look this has! The colors are dreamy, too.\
Chapter 4 has a divine heart bracelet for those of us who adore anything with hearts. This design is enameled in lavenders, reds, purples and pinks. The hearts alternate in shape from convex to concave as they link. This is flat-out pretty and it isn't trite in any way. This could easily become your signature bracelet.
Chapter 5, the final chapter, offers a bull's eye ring which will knock the reader's socks off. It is shown three ways. It is easy, has great impact, and, as the author says, "your finished piece will be right on target!" This is so true. As will all the other projects, this has marvelous appeal. Anything which the reader makes from this book will be commented on by everyone, and if given away as a gift, completely loved.
Discover Torch Enameling: Get Started with 25 Sure-Fire Projects, by Steven James is  a great introduction to this form of easy enameling. I hope the author writes a follow-up to this wonderful book very soon!