Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210The way soutache folds and curves is unique and often surprising. Surprises don’t matter much if you’re making an asymmetrical design, but it does create problems if your design is symmetrical. You can use today’s tip to keep you next soutache project on track!

I was inspired by the Lily Pin from Amee K. Sweet-McNamara’s Soutache & Bead Embroidery: Three Basic Shapes Booklet. To make sure my design stayed symmetrical I worked each section of the project separately, creating a small area of beading on the right and then mirroring that same area on the left. Using this method, instead of beading the entire right side of the design and then switching to the left, lets you make small adjustments to maintain the symmetry as you work!

I started this project with a center bead, then curved my cords around to the right to add my first row of beads.

Anchor your center bead & stitch the right side

Once I was back at my center point, I added a new thread to the left of my center bead and started adding the first row of beads to the left side. You can use small travelling stitches to move the thread from one side of the project to the other, but I prefer using two separate threads because it saves me time and doesn’t waste thread on extra stitches.

Add a new thred to stitch the left side

I anchored the right and left stacks of cord together at the bottom center of my project and added a small bead to fill the gap created when I joined my two sides together. Then I switched to my right-hand thread and curved the cords up to add my second row of beads.

Add extra beads to fill any gaps at the center

With the second row finished on the right, I switched to the left side and added that second row of beads. My cord curved in a wavy shape on the right, so I tried to mimic those same curves when adding the row on the left.

Copy any design quirks on the second side

By alternating which side of my project I worked on I was able to make a piece that’s pretty symmetrical!

Make a symmetrical soutache design

Check back next week to see how to finish a soutache project!

Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen



Customize your Ear Wires!


Making your own ear wires is a great way to add that handmade feel to your jewelry and save money! Follow our step by step technique for Making an Ear Wire and you can create customized ear wires in no time! It is so easy to customize your ear wires to fit the feel of your jewelry. The photo above shows how I did six different variations of the same basic ear wire technique. I made the ear wires at the 12 o’clock position by following the technique and then using a chasing hammer to flatten the front a little. On the next ear wire, I added a small coil of 26 gauge copper wire; you can use any color of wire to match your design! On the third ear wire, I added a 4mm Fuchsia Swarovski Crystal Bicone to give it a bit of sparkle. Check out our great selection of 4mm Swarovski Crystal Bicones to see all the color possibilities! For the next ear wire, I referred to our Flattening a Wire Form technique to hammer the entire ear wire. On the fifth ear wire, I added a 3mm seamless silver-filled bead; search our selection of metal beads to find the perfect one for your design! For the last ear wire, I made it a little longer so I could wrap sparkling 3mm crystal bicones to the front. I just love the look of this one!

Why stop at ear wires? Check out all of our Handmade Findings Techniques to give that special handmade feel to the rest of your findings!

How would you customize your ear wires?

Happy Beading! – Cody


Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210Crystal pearls and glass pearls are made by applying a lustrous pearlescent coating to a round bead. Because of how this coating is applied, there will always be one hole in your pearl that’s easier to string through than the other. If you’re having trouble stringing your glass or crystal pearls, use today’s trick and flip the bead around to try the other end of the hole!T&T 1editedT&T 2 (editedIf you still can’t string that pearl bead, grab a wire scrap or beading awl and open the hole by pushing any excess coating inside. Don’t be tempted to pull or scrape it away – you could take off a much larger section than you want, peeling the coating away to expose the core underneath!T&T 3 edited

Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen




Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210There are lots of ways to keep your beading thread tangle-free, but eventually every beader encounters a seemingly impossible knot. Keep today’s tip to use a beading awl in mind next time you’re faced with a knotted mess!Use an awl to untangle knotsMost beaders’ first instinct with a knot is to try untangling it with their fingernails. If that fails, the next step is to pick the knot apart with a needle. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve accidentally poked myself or broken a needle doing this. Using the right tool for a task makes all the difference! A beading awl has a fine, sharp tip that’s easy to work into tight knots. More importantly it has a handle, so it’s easy to hold and safely maneuver while maintaining a good grip. The toughest knot is no match for a beading awl!

Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen




Festival Feather Earrings!

My co-worker Farrah has an amazing brood of chickens, and the other day she delivered some really beautiful feathers to my desk. I was so inspired by them that I decided to make some feather earrings that would be perfect for the music festival I’m going to in August!

I looked all over Pinterest and found some fabulous inspiration for feather earrings:
Pinterest Feather Inspiraiton(There are a lot of options if you don’t want to take the feather route. We carry a great selection of feather charms, or you could bead some using brick stitch!)

I chose to first make two fine silver components using Fusing techniques. Then, I tweaked the Covering a Briolette technique and wrapped the chicken feathers onto the components and added ear wires. What do you think?

Another co-worker, Gretchen, made a similar version with chicken feathers, and a second pair using peacock feathers:
Gretchen Nibbler Earrrings

I’m so excited about my cute feather earrings and so grateful to the little chicken who made them – thanks, Nibbler! (And Farrah!)


Happy Summer!

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210I was recently gifted with a pair of my grandma’s clip on earrings. Since my ears are pierced, I knew I wouldn’t wear these pieces traditionally. Fortunately I used today’s trick to turn these vintage clip on earrings into a different kind of heirloom!Turn clip on earrings into a sweater clipSweater clips give an instant 1950s glamour to any outfit and are a great way to keep your cardigan secure without buttoning it up. They’re also a fun alternative to a necklace and can be just as fancy! You can use vintage earrings for this project or start from scratch with our clip on earring findings. You’ll also need chain and jump rings, plus crystal beads if you want to make a chain that matches your earrings like I did! Keep your design lightweight so it isn’t too much for your clips to support.Use crystal beads to match your chain to your earringsMost clip on earrings have a loop on the front or holes in the back of the clip like mine. Attach one end of your chain to each earring with a jump ring, making sure your additions don’t interfere with the hinge of the earrings. You’ll have a ready-to-wear sweater clip in no time!Sport a sweater clip instead of a necklaceHow have you given new life to old jewelry?

Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen