It takes practice to master a new bead weaving stitch. Each time I learn a new Technique I make a 1-2 inch sample piece of bead weaving. Making these swatches helps me learn something new without committing to creating an entire piece of jewelry. I often use bigger beads that I would normally choose, like a Size 6 Round Japanese Seed Bead, so it’s easier to see which step I’m at and identify the inevitable beginner mistakes. Swatching is also a great way to use up leftover beads!
If I get on a roll a swatch can develop into a complete piece of jewelry, but I usually just add the completed swatch to my bulletin board. Keeping a swatch board means I have a quick visual reference for all of the techniques I’ve tried. It makes it easier to choose a stitch for a new project or can serve as a quick reminder for why I’ve been avoiding a particular Technique!
Can you name all the sample stitches on my swatch board?
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen
It’s that time of year – baseball season has begun! One of my favorite annual Opening Day preparations is to make new jewelry for the season in Detroit Tigers colors, so I decided to rework two of our existing inspiration designs for this season’s pieces.
Our sports jewelry designs are easily customizable; you can switch out one team’s colors for your team’s colors with no hassle at all! I took our Opening Day Earrings and changed out the colors for the Tigers’ blue and orange hues.
You can even take a design and switch out the beads and charms to feature an entirely different sport! Our sports theme page features a huge selection of all the sports motif beads, charms, and stamping tools that we carry, making it even easier for you to find the right pieces for your personalized design! I chose one of our soccer designs, the Eternal Blue, Forever Green Necklace, and made it into a baseball design by switching out the charm and changing the crystal colors.
Not sure what color beads will best fit your team’s colors? You’re in luck, because we’ve done all the work for you! Check out our Swarovski Crystal sports team color charts, available for all MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, and NCAA FBS (Division I-A) football teams, and get beading!
Eat ‘em up, Tigers! -Gabby
With Earth Day just around the corner it’s a great time to think about giving new life to old jewelry! I love scouring thrift stores for jewelry to take apart and turn into something completely different. You can use today’s tips when you’re picking out jewelry to upcycle!
Before you buy jewelry at a thrift store, make sure that the piece is usable. Check for any stains, cracks, breaks, chips and even strange smells on all of the jewelry you handle. You wouldn’t buy a sweater with all the buttons missing, so find out if the clasp works on a bracelet and see if all of the crystals are intact in a rhinestone brooch. Check for loose findings, rust, tarnish and rotten thread. These don’t matter so much if you’re taking the piece apart, but do make a difference if you plan on wearing the piece as is!
Sometimes even a broken piece will catch my eye. Make sure you can easily fix anything that is damaged or missing a part. Often the projects that require the most work are the least likely to ever be finished. If you instantly have an idea of the finished piece, you’re more likely to use the item!
Keep your eyes open as you browse. Strands of beads can be cut apart and reused. Single earrings can become pendants. Parts of several jewelry pieces can be recombined together into something completely new! Lots of thrift stores keep their pricier items in glass cases, so you may have to ask for assistance. Look for bargain bags of broken jewelry and findings – you never know what treasures you’ll find!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen
I know how difficult it can be to work with neon hues, so I decided to come up with some alternative color ways for the Neon Time Bracelet to give you some ideas (white, grey, blue and teal work very well with neon yellow as does coral).
Here they some of the seed bead color options I came up with (skus are listed below).
(From left to right) I used
1. SB1459 – Size 11 Opaque Robin’s Egg Blue Round Japanese Seed Bead.
2. SB1805 – Size 11 Transparent Cobalt Blue Round Japanese Seed Bead.
3. SB1788 – Size 11 Matte Metallic Silver Round Japanese Seed Bead.
4. SB1405 – Size 11 Matte Opaque Dark Pink AB Round Japanese Seed Bead.
5. SB2042 – Size 11 Opaque Blue Round Japanese Seed Bead.
6. SB2066 – Size 11 Turquoise Lined Transparent Matte Iolite Round Japanese Seed Bead.
7. SB2235 – Size 11 Matte Opaque White Round Japanese Seed Beads.
8. SB1599 – Size 11 Matte Ceylon Light Gray Round Japanese Seed Bead.
9. SB244 – Size 11 Opaque Pale Sky Blue Round Japanese Seed Beads.
What color ways would you use?
Pantones Color of the Year; Radiant Orchid will definitely be on trend this spring, and all year round! This color is perfect with its versatility for both professional and casual settings! Add a pop of color to your look with jewelry designs that shine with this fun hue! Our Plum Orchard necklace and Purple Romance earrings are perfect examples of how to wear Radiant Orchid this spring!
Jewelry with a chevron pattern or any pointed edges are continuing to be on trend. You will see work with metals a lot in this trend instead of bright colors. The chevron, with its triangular points are also referred to as zigzag effects. Jewelry using these fun patterns and shapes are very in style with the rocker-chic aesthetic celebrated in punk-inspired fashion! It gives any outfit that little extra edge. Check out the trend in our Modern Cut and Deco Delight necklaces!
Punch up your wardrobe with a fun statement necklace this spring! It’s also a great way to add a pop of color to your ensemble! Adding large, chunky crystals or pearls have been on trend for quite some time, and now that it’s starting to get warmer, you can pair them with your favorite flowing spring dresses! Our Queen Anne’s Lace and Caribbean Getaway necklaces are perfect for this season!
What trends will you be rocking this spring?
Happy Beading! – Allie
Swarovski Elements Crystal Mesh Balls are a gorgeous way to add high impact sparkle to your jewelry. These beads are made by wrapping a Swarovski crystal pearl in a layer of crystal mesh. The mesh can rotate around the pearl, creating some unique challenges for a jewelry maker. When I first used one of these beads in a necklace I was stumped – where was the hole?
If you’re having trouble finding the hole in a Swarovski Elements Crystal Mesh Ball find a bright light. Hold the bead up to a sunny window or in front of your work light and slowly rotate it until the hole is illuminated. If that still doesn’t reveal the hole, remember that the crystal mesh is mobile and could be covering the hole in the pearl. Gently shift the mesh and rotate your bead to find the hole!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen