Snowflake forms are the quickest way I’ve found to whip up beaded ornaments in a hurry. The only hard part of using these pre-made wire forms is fitting your beads into the sharp angles at the center of the form. But you can use today’s tips to make a whole flurry of sparkling snowflakes!
The key to building a perfect snowflake is using small or tapered beads at the center of the form, where there’s the least amount of space, and adding larger beads as you work outwards. Planning your design like this keeps your beads from crowding each other at the center and getting pushed out of place.
Our Frosted Flake Snowflake does this by starting at the center with tiny Fire Polished Round Glass Beads and working outwards with progressively larger Preciosa Czech Crystal Flower Beads.
And our Ice Storm Snowflake starts with Round Japanese Seed Beads before transitioning into Bead Frames by TierraCast®. It uses two different sizes of bead frame too, alternating large and small frames on the spokes to make sure there’s no crowding.
Our Yuletide Cheer and Holly Berries Snowflakes both use small beads at their center, followed by tapered beads with their narrow ends facing inwards.
You can use larger beads at the center of your snowflake, if you alternate their spacing on the form. Push your beads into the center on the first, third, and fifth spoke of the form. Then add a bead to the second, fourth, and sixth spoke, letting them rest on the first beads you added.
Check out all of our fun Snowflake Ornaments and get inspired for the holidays!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen
Polyethylene beading threads, like FireLine, are some of the most durable bead weaving threads available. If I use FireLine to weave a project I’m confident my jewelry won’t break or tear over time. But the durability that makes a project last longer can also wreak havoc on your beading scissors. Luckily you can use today’s trick to cut your FireLine cleanly and preserve your tools!
Cutting FireLine with the wrong type of scissors will damage your tool and your thread. It can take 2-3 tries to cut through FireLine with a regular pair of beading scissors, a process that dulls the blade of your scissors and frays your thread. Instead, I keep an old pair of wire cutters in my tool kit just for FireLine! These cutters are tough enough to cut through the FireLine, but are already so battered and well-used that I’m not worried about them dulling down and ruining a tool I’ve invested in.
You can also use scissors with a special blade to get a perfectly cut piece of FireLine. The Xuron Thread and Fiber Scissors have serrated edges that snip right through FireLine! These scissors are great for all kinds of fiber stringing materials and keep their edge well over time.
What tricks do you use to get the best results with FireLine?
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen
Moving onto the letter B!
Blackstone (also called Black Jasper)
Black Jasper is a completely black stone with a highly protective healing energy. It is said to bring good luck to the bearer in any kind of fight. It can also be used for protection against lightning. Physically, black jasper is said to be helpful for relieving pain, stomach ailments, foot problems, and hip dysplasia. Black jasper is related to the root chakra.
Bloodstone is a deep green stone with small red specks. (The small red specks are where the stone gets its name, as they make the deep green stone appear to be spotted with blood.)
Bloodstone is excellent for centering and grounding. It is said to help with calming, particularly in survival situations. It brings mystical energies of increasing adaptability and organization, and lessening confusion, stress, and anxiety. It is said to be a stone of courage, bringing mental, physical, and emotional renewal by releasing blockages. It is said to be particularly good for helping emotional traumas and grief. It also enhances the intellect. Bloodstone is mystically used to bring abundance, success, and prosperity. It is also said to smooth the way with legal issues.
Bloodstone is said to be helpful in treating anemia and other diseases of the blood, blood pressure, bleeding, cardiovascular system, cramps, diabetes, lupus, colds, endocrine system, kidney, bladder, physical strength issues, flu, physical traumas, and post-surgical issues.
Bronzite is a golden bronze color and is used often to help with certainty and with taking control of our actions. It can also help one to think ahead about things, which also enhances the ability to take control of our own lives. Because bronzite helps dispel uncertainty, it can help us also take necessary actions for our own benefit while still being loving, polite, and principled in our behavior. Bronzite is also a good grounding stone. It is excellent for these same reasons to promote change in a harmonious way. Physically, Bronzite is used in crystal healing for ailments related to the solar plexus chakra, assimilation of iron, lessening muscular tension, and dispelling restlessness caused by emotional and psycho-physical ailments.
Botswana agate is sometimes called the “change stone” because of its mystical property of helping one handle change in a positive way. It is said to gently help one make transitions of any kind in such a way that the change is not as difficult or painful as could be without it. It is a comforting stone; carrying a bit of Botswana agate in your pocket is said to help one cope easily with the minor changes that life throws at us daily.
Relief from depression and/or grief is another metaphysical energy of Botswana agate. It is said to help us focus on solutions instead of problems, and thereby increases creativity as well as the power of one’s intuition. Botswana agate is noted in crystal healing to be helpful in overcoming addictions and other self-destructive compulsive behavior patterns, as well as dealing with repressed emotional issues. As a success stone, it is said to help one achieve and cope with success. It is also a stone of sensuality. In crystal healing, it is said to be beneficial to the nervous system and can help rid the body of toxins, as well as help in the healing of broken bones.
Lanyards make great gifts for teachers and one special teacher I know is getting a custom beaded lanyard for Christmas this year! Since I know this lanyard is going to be in an elementary school with lots of little grabby hands, I asked my co-worker Rebecca for advice. You can use her trick to make your crimping projects extra-secure!
Attach one end of your project to a clasp or a center component with a crimp as normal, leaving a 2-3 inch tail of beading wire. Add three of your beads, then add a second crimp bead and crimp your tail to your main beading wire. Leave a little extra space around your crimps if you’re using crimp covers. Feed your wire up into three more beads, then trim the remainder of the tail. Having a second crimp means that if one crimp fails under stress or if it wasn’t attached properly, the second crimp will be there as a failsafe.
Add beads to the rest of your project. When you get towards the end, string a crimp bead, three more beads, another crimp bead, and then the other side of your clasp or component. Thread the tail of your beading wire back through these beads and crimps. I’m finishing my lanyard with a Sterling Silver Oval Wire Component. Make sure you don’t have too much slack in your beading wire, but do leave enough room for your project to flex and for your crimp covers to fit. Crimp right next to the clasp or component, add your cover, then crimp the back-up crimp bead and add its cover.
You can use this trick any time you’re worried about the durability of a crimped project. I use it for pieces I know will take abuse, like lanyards, or when I design with heavy gemstones or crystals.
See more ways to make a lanyard in our Inspiration Project Gallery!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen
Using memory wire for fun festive holiday decorations is a wonderful DIY option to wow your guests! I decided I wanted to make wine markers for Thanksgiving this year, but also had the idea to match them with napkin rings and to decorate the candle holders/vases I’ll have at the table. First I grabbed the sizes of memory wire I would need. I used our 1 3/4 in. diameter Small Bracelet, 2.25 in. diameter Bracelet, and 0.75 in. diameter Ring.
I wanted the colors to really have that autumn feel so I picked out the following beads:
Size 8 Matte Mustard Yellow Round Japanese Seed Bead
Size 8 Ancient Matte Chartreuse Round Japanese Seed Beads
Size 8 Matte Brick Red Permanent Galvanized Round Japanese Seed Beads
Size 8 Matte Saffron Permanent Galvanized Round Japanese Seed Beads
Size 8 Matte Dark Green/Brown Round Japanese Seed Beads
and the following charms:
23x13mm Celery Feather Leaf Lucite Charm
23x13mm Cranberry Feather Leaf Lucite Charm
23x13mm Paprika Feather Leaf Lucite Charm
23x13mm Gold Feather Leaf Lucite Charm I strung the seed beads in a block pattern for the napkin rings and candle holder/vase rings and did the wine markers in a solid color. I added the charms with a jump ring for fun movement. If you have more than 5 people you can find additional colors to compliment the theme you’re going for. I looped the ends of my wine markers with round nose pliers using the Finishing Memory Wire technique. For the other pieces, I used our 5mm Silver Plated Memory Wire End Cap with 5 Minute Epoxy for a more finished look.
Check out how fun it looks on display! Can’t wait to use these for Thanksgiving! (You could also switch out the colors and use them for any holiday of your choice!)
Happy Beading – Allie
I love our Golden Moss Earrings and wanted to make my own version of these sparkling earrings. The leaf chain featured in this design has two little leaf charms attached to each closed link of the chain. As I cut my chain to size I realized I had two loose leaves for each cut. Don’t throw them out – instead use my trick to make the most of this fun chain!
Add the trimmed leaves back into your design for an even denser look or save them for another fun project. I used jump rings to add some of the leaves into my earrings for a fuller look. I also wanted to make a matching necklace, so I added the leftover leaves to a delicate chain to tie these two pieces together as a jewelry set.
You can use this trick with any of our ornate chains that have a dangling charm or shape!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen