“Diamonds are Forever”

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

The last week of the school term was more hectic than usual as my eldest daughter was leaving her Prep School. Her year group put on an impressive programme of Shakespeare plays and Music concerts in the evenings, culminating in their “Diamonds are Forever” James Bond themed Leaver’s Party.

And how could she go to a “Diamonds are Forever” party without the right jewellery? No I didn’t splash out on diamonds for my 12 year old – I’m not that sort of mother. But I DID enjoy making her this sparkly necklace to go with her black sparkly dress.

“Diamonds are Forever” necklace

So how did I make this? With lots of Swarovski crystals – 4mm bicones in both clear and AB finish, 6mm bicones with AB finish, 8mm faceted rounds with AB finish and 8mm Helix crystals. To create focus around the large crystals, I added 5mm sterling silver stardust beads. The Helix crystals I bought from Spoilt Rotten Beads, with everything else purchased from Cookson.

Coming up with the concept was the easy bit. What I found more tricky was actually stringing the crystals so that the large crystals were balanced against the smaller crystals on all four strands.

Working on a bead board helped:

Work in progress – figuring out the right combinations and positions so that the random effect also looked balanced

Each strand is 10mm shorter than the strand below. Each in turn is fastened onto a 6mm closed jump ring with a tube crimp.

Although I did consider using organza ribbon to finish the necklace, I ended up opting for a less fussy, simple silver chain that sits comfortably under long curls. To the end of the chain, I used 6mm jump rings to make a little chain for the clasp so that the length of the necklace could be adjusted. Finally, I added a little heart charm that said “Made with Love”.  ♥K

Drops of Sunshine

July 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’ve been desperate for summer weather in England. We’ve had lots of rain and not enough sun. When I was making this necklace for a friend, I couldn’t help thinking of the warm sunshine that I so miss. (I’m from Singapore, now living in England – crazy I know but needs must!) Hence, I thought: Drops of Sunshine…

Citrine Teardrops and Silver Bead Necklace

Drops of Sunshine necklace made from faceted Citrine teardrops

The faceted Citrine drops are from The Beadstore. After trying out various sizes of spacer beads, I finally settled on 3mm sterling silver round beads.

This is made with one string of Citrine stones and comes up choker length. I’ve added a piece of silver chain with a Swarovski Bicone on a beaded headpin at the end as an extender so that the necklace can be adjusted to suit. You might want to consider buying two strings of Citrine to have the option of  picking the best stones and creating a longer length necklace.

My friend loved this and it goes perfectly with the pale lemon cashmere cardi she owns. Looked lovely on her. ♥K

Celebrating the Jubilee with Jewellery

May 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

You can’t possibly not celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee– even if you are a republican. You’ve got to admire the Lady. There is a sense of serenity about The Queen that is charming and so mesmerizing. I’ll be celebrating the first weekend in June – we have a street party planned for the 3rd – and I can’t wait to watch The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Here’s a clip about it:

And of course, I’ve been making my Jubilee Jewellery for friends and family …

Jubilee Shamballa Bracelet

These 12 mm Union Jack beads are from The Bead Store I visited last week. Only seven are required as they are larger than the more common 10 mm shamballa beads found in most stores. I’ve used  1 mm waxed cotton cord down the centre and 1.5 mm nylon cord to tie the macrame knots around the beads. Swarovski helix crystals finish off the pull cord ends. (See my earlier post for how to make these Shamballa-style bracelets and the origin of the Shamballa bracelet.)

The beauty of this Shamballa Bracelet is that it is versatile:

Alternate Blue and Union Jacks bracelet

Yes, it’s the same bracelet. Just rotate the beads a round so that the vibrant blue half of the bead shows.

A single Union Jack stands out against the vibrant blue

I then made another Jubilee Shamballa bracelet, this time with just four Union Jacks but the lots of macrame knots in blue nylon cord. Again, I’ve used two sizes, 1 mm and 1.5 mm, both nylon cords are from The Beaderie in Cambridge. As this is a smaller bracelet, meant for a child or small wrist, I’ve used smaller Swarovski cubes to end the pull cords.

Union Jack and Blue Cord Jubilee Bracelet

Inspired by Jubilee party buntings, I decided to make a swag bracelet, mixing plain, floral and foiled glass beads with Union Jack beads for the first strand. This proved more tricky than I anticipated as the Union Jack beads swivel round on elastic chord or beading wire. I then decided to use two strands of Beadalon stringing wire and thread one strand through the bead and the other around the bead to fix it’s position. (You can see this below)

Jubilee Swag bracelet

The second strand, is made up of light blue faceted crystals and red frosted glass beads. And of course, we have to have pearls – the Queen  rarely goes without them. I chose to string button pearls spaced with silver lined seed beads for the third strand in the swag. The swag is fastened with a lovely silver box clasp to finish it off.

My oldest daughter wanted a Union Jack pendant to hang from her chain, so I made this really simple pendant by adding a single Swarovski bicone and using a beaded head pin to create a wire-wrapped loop.

Wire-wrapped Union Jack Pendant with a single Swarovski bicone

We’ll be sporting our Jubilee Jewellery during the celebrations and after that – well – there’s the Olympics and Team GB to cheer for.  ♥K

Behind the scene at The Bead Store

May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

My lovely friend Susanna has wanted to introduce me to another of her friends for sometime now. So after lots of texting, we eventually settled on a date when we could all meet. And what a treat it was. Her friend was none other the Elise, new owner of The Bead Store!

When I first entered, I was quite speechless. It is one thing to browse a web site, scan a page in a category and look at an item one at a time. But seeing rooms full of beads – floor-to-ceiling shelving of beads, in a myriad of colours, assorted textures, in all sizes – it was almost too much to take in. It was unlike entering a bead shop and I think it was the sheer quantity of beads that just made it feel like bead heaven.

Bead heaven

Elise shared with us how she had spotted that the business was for sale and then discovered that the Bead Store was in Mevagissey, Cornwall, where they had booked their holiday cottage. So that holiday last summer resulted in her and her husband buying the Bead Store. In the four weeks after, they converted their garage space into what is now their work space for the Bead Store, and took over running the web-only Bead Store.

Elise walked us through each section, showing us the Czech pressed glass beads, the TOHO beads, the Swarovski collection, the finely detailed lampwork beads, the shelves laden with TierraCast findings… the Union Jack Shamballa beads perfect for the Jubilee celebrations in June… how cool are these?

Union Jack Czech crystal beads – perfect for the Jubilee celebrations in June and for cheering on Team GB at the Olympics

And then I found, we were sitting on the floor surround by beautiful semi-precious gem stones…a whole variety of agate stones, Citrine teardrops, crazy pink agate. It was surreal. I was in seventh heaven. I absolutely love stones. I find handling gem stones very therapeutic and uplifting. The Citrine teardrops for example – the faceted cut of the teardrop stones, shower light and warmth, the sunshine that cheers you up, encapsulated in those little stones:

Citrine Faceted Teardrops – Droplets of Sunshine

And of course I fell in love with these:

Vibrant Ruby Swarovski Crystal Flat Briolettes

And couldn’t help playing with these:

Czech Glass Nuggets in such yummy colours

I can’t really do justice to everything The Bead Store stocks. Nine months in, Elise is now introducing new beads and has lots of ideas for the store. It was a privilege to spend two hours with someone as passionate about beads as I am. This is definitely a Bead Store I’ll keep going back to. And a massive Thank You to Susanna for making the introductions. ♥K

From Bubbling Becks to Crystals

April 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Feeling delirious from a very-needed, totally lovely spring break in The Lakes, I wanted to make something pretty to add to a beautiful world. Inspired by the enchanting spring light and the many bubbling becks around Buttermere, I made these:

Cascading crystal cluster around Amethyst earrings

Cascading clear Swarovski bicones over Amethyst Earrings

The glass is from Cumbrian Crystal in Ulverston. I fell in love with the design as it reminds me of the swirling water of the Becks and Lakes.

Mill Beck rushing towards Buttermere - a lovely place to picnic and play.

Buttermere looking towards Fleetwith Pike (on the right) and Honister Pass

If you would like to see more pictures of The Lakes, visit my Pinterest Board: http://pinterest.com/kbeading/lake-district-uk/

Wishing everyone a Beautiful Spring! ♥K

Shamballa Variations

March 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

Very on trend and very easy to make, once I started I haven’t been able to resist going back to this style as it lifts a casual look to chic.

See my earlier post for how to make these Shamballa-style bracelets and the origin of the Shamballa bracelet.

Here are my recent variations on the theme:

Shamballa style with red floral glass beads

With red floral glass beads and Swarovski AB Crystal cubes

I fell for this lovely red beads when I saw them in The Beaderie.  The glossy layer of glass over the painted floral design gave these a translucent appeal and provided vibrancy to the red. Teaming it with the black cord for contrast was a no-brainer which also enhances the pastel florals.

Silver Stardust Shamballa-style bracelet with Swarovski Helix crystals as end beads

Silver Stardust Shamballa-style bracelet with Swarovski Helix AB Crystals

This stardust version is incredibly effective if you want the hint of sparkle without spending a fortune on the Rhinestone pave beads of the original Shamballa concept. You  can also get the stardust beads in bronze, gold and carbon which are tantalizing in their own right. Here I’ve used the 1 mm waxed cotton cord as the base cord but gone for a 2 mm woven nylon cord for the macrame work around the beads (you will need 120 cm for the main part and another 40 cm for the overlap section). This creates a more solid frame effect around the beads. In the overlap section, I’ve added another stardust bead. You can do this with the stardust beads as the hole is large enough for the 1 mm cord to be threaded crossways. Add the Swarovski Helix AB crystals on last.

Red agate stones and glass coated bronze beads in a shamballa style bracelet

With faceted red agate stones and glass coated bronze ceramic beads

The eagle-eyed among you will recognise this as part of a set that has evolved since Decemeber. I first made a necklace with these 12 mm red Agate stones and glass-coated bronze ceramic beads last Christmas as a special request. Then I made the earrings for the birthday present and now here’s the bracelet for Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day in the UK is the third Sunday of Lent instead of being in May).

Shamballa style with red floral glass beads

Dark Blue and Navy Shamballa with Swarovski Helix AB Crystals on the tail ends

These lovely dark blue and cobalt beads are amazing when worn with denim. Again, I’ve gone for the thicker cord on the outside to frame the beads. The solid look is softened by the delicate sparkle of the Swarovski Helix AB crystals waving on the tail ends. ♥K

How to make easy dangle earrings

February 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

I have to confess that I’ve always preferred neat ear-studded earrings and only started making dangle earrings recently to match the other items I’ve been making. There are two online resources that I recommend before you start making your earrings.

The first is this YouTube clip on how to make a Wire Wrapped Loop. It’s by Juliet of Spoilt Rotten Beads. She does make it look easy and it is after a bit of practice. I had lots of practice making these loops for my Profusion of Pearls necklace. You can make the loops tight and neat as Juliet demonstrates or go for a more casual layering wire wrap.

If you also want the close-up view to examine exactly what is going on at every stage, have a look at this Beading Daily article: Six Steps to Perfect Wrapped Loops. To make open loops, cut your wire after you ‘swing it under’ (step 3) instead of wrapping.

Once you have learnt how to make the wrapped loops and the open loops, the variations are endless. If you are joining multiple loops, as in these stardust earrings, you need to make sure the loops face the right direction – the loop below needs to be perpendicular to the loop above. To give you an idea of what you can make, here are some earrings that I’ve made:

Silver stardust beads with bead caps, accentuated by clear Swarovski bicones

Bronze glass beads, red agate with delicate waving-in-the-breeze leaves

Made these to match a necklace of bronze glass beads and red faceted agate

Carnelian and silver net ball earrings

Used the neat wire wrapped loop to secure the silver bead in place

Sweet Heart Earrings with Swarovski  Bicones

Murano Glass Hearts with 4mm Swarovski crystal bicones

Have fun! ♥K

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